Free delivery on all UK orders

Arms braced on his legs and sat hunched over, our latest patient a Nepalese porter, gasps for breath. His oxygen saturations, a measure of the amount of oxygen in his blood, are an alarming 50%, a figure that is well under the 85% we would expect for this altitude. On listening to his chest, it sounds like he is breathing through a packet of crisps, and with each barking cough he brings up pink frothy sputum. New to altitude, he has ascended too quickly and has high altitude pulmonary oedema, a condition unique to high altitude where your lungs fill with fluid. Ideally he needs evacuation by helicopter, but the five thousand dollar price tag precludes this. His descent will be on foot.

[caption id="attachment_6232" align="aligncenter" width="450"]A porter carrying a load A porter carrying a load[/caption]

Our patient is typical of many of the patients seen at the Machermo Rescue Post, based at 4410m in the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalaya. It’s a common misconception that porters don’t suffer from altitude illness because they are Sherpa and have a genetic advantage. While most of the high altitude porters on Everest itself are indeed Sherpa, they make up a very small proportion of the porters in Nepal. In fact the large majority of trekking porters are of an ethnicity with no natural altitude advantage who usually reside at lower elevations. They are therefore just as susceptible to altitude illness as a Western trekker visiting the region.

[caption id="attachment_6240" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Checking the grab bag Checking the grab bag[/caption]

It comes as a surprise to most people that porters suffer from more accidents and illness than visiting Western trekkers. This is largely due to carrying excessive loads and lack of appropriate clothing, shelter and food. Most people couldn’t comprehend the idea of carrying 100kg for 30km at sea level, let alone at altitude whilst wearing a pair of flip-flops; yet anyone who has visited Nepal trekking will testify that this is a deplorably common sight. Following the death of a 20 year old porter with severe altitude illness in 1997, the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) was formed to prevent such tragedies from recurring and to promote porter welfare. Since 2003 IPPG has been responsible for providing the only source of healthcare in the Gokyo valley.

[caption id="attachment_6233" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season[/caption]

At the beginning of March 2014, with night time temperatures dipping into the minus twenties, we left Lukla Airstrip and began the 6 day walk to the rescue post in Machermo. For the duration of the 10 week trekking season we would be attending to the complaints of porters and Western trekkers on behalf of IPPG. The Gokyo valley, where Machermo is located, is adjacent to the Everest valley but is significantly less developed and arguably more beautiful as a result. It has become increasingly popular with trekkers who seek a more peaceful approach to Everest base camp and has consequently seen a surge in trekkers and porters in recent years. However the Gokyo valley has been dubbed ‘death valley’ because it is very difficult to descend quickly, the only cure for severe altitude illness. The location of the rescue post is therefore key, and over the course of the last 10 weeks we have seen patients with a variety of altitude and non-altitude related problems. Largely cut off from the outside world and with only basic medical equipment, the demands of working here as a doctor are very different to back in the UK!

[caption id="attachment_6234" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post[/caption]

As the season progressed, life in Machermo developed a reassuring routine. Mornings tended to be quieter lending themselves to a quick trip up the 5000m ‘hill’ behind the post. From its rocky peak, Everest can be seen clearly with the jet stream casting a plume of cloud from its summit. Closer to home the 6000m plus peaks of Kyajo Ri, Machermo, Cholatse and Taboche encircle the post. Following lunch back at the post we would do the rounds of Machermo village lodges, drumming up business for our afternoon altitude talks. The goal of these talks is to raise awareness of altitude illness and porter welfare amongst visiting trekkers. These were generally very well attended and we received very positive feedback from trekkers. The period following our afternoon talks seemed to be our busiest time for ill trekkers and porters to turn up. The large majority of cases could be dealt with in a GP style consultation but a small minority of patients were too ill to leave the post and would stay with us overnight, receiving drugs and oxygen until the weather cleared in the morning allowing a helicopter to evacuate the patient.

[caption id="attachment_6236" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Clinic opening times Clinic opening times[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6235" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers[/caption]

Over the course of the season we had 728 trekkers attend the daily altitude talk and approximately 130 patients. Seven of these were evacuated to hospital in Kathmandu with life threatening altitude illnesses.

[caption id="attachment_6238" align="aligncenter" width="450"]The pre-monsoon 2014 team The pre-monsoon 2014 team[/caption]

The whole team would like to thank Rab for their generous sponsorship. Down gear has become an everyday part of our lives and sitting in our freezing clinic room at 4am monitoring our patient’s breathing, would have been a much colder experience without it.

[caption id="attachment_6237" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A Rab washing line A Rab washing line[/caption]

For more information on porter welfare and the work of IPPG please visit www.ippg.netArms braced on his legs and sat hunched over, our latest patient a Nepalese porter, gasps for breath. His oxygen saturations, a measure of the amount of oxygen in his blood, are an alarming 50%, a figure that is well under the 85% we would expect for this altitude. On listening to his chest, it sounds like he is breathing through a packet of crisps, and with each barking cough he brings up pink frothy sputum. New to altitude, he has ascended too quickly and has high altitude pulmonary oedema, a condition unique to high altitude where your lungs fill with fluid. Ideally he needs evacuation by helicopter, but the five thousand dollar price tag precludes this. His descent will be on foot.

[caption id="attachment_6232" align="aligncenter" width="450"]A porter carrying a load A porter carrying a load[/caption]

Our patient is typical of many of the patients seen at the Machermo Rescue Post, based at 4410m in the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalaya. It’s a common misconception that porters don’t suffer from altitude illness because they are Sherpa and have a genetic advantage. While most of the high altitude porters on Everest itself are indeed Sherpa, they make up a very small proportion of the porters in Nepal. In fact the large majority of trekking porters are of an ethnicity with no natural altitude advantage who usually reside at lower elevations. They are therefore just as susceptible to altitude illness as a Western trekker visiting the region.

[caption id="attachment_6240" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Checking the grab bag Checking the grab bag[/caption]

It comes as a surprise to most people that porters suffer from more accidents and illness than visiting Western trekkers. This is largely due to carrying excessive loads and lack of appropriate clothing, shelter and food. Most people couldn’t comprehend the idea of carrying 100kg for 30km at sea level, let alone at altitude whilst wearing a pair of flip-flops; yet anyone who has visited Nepal trekking will testify that this is a deplorably common sight. Following the death of a 20 year old porter with severe altitude illness in 1997, the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) was formed to prevent such tragedies from recurring and to promote porter welfare. Since 2003 IPPG has been responsible for providing the only source of healthcare in the Gokyo valley.

[caption id="attachment_6233" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season[/caption]

At the beginning of March 2014, with night time temperatures dipping into the minus twenties, we left Lukla Airstrip and began the 6 day walk to the rescue post in Machermo. For the duration of the 10 week trekking season we would be attending to the complaints of porters and Western trekkers on behalf of IPPG. The Gokyo valley, where Machermo is located, is adjacent to the Everest valley but is significantly less developed and arguably more beautiful as a result. It has become increasingly popular with trekkers who seek a more peaceful approach to Everest base camp and has consequently seen a surge in trekkers and porters in recent years. However the Gokyo valley has been dubbed ‘death valley’ because it is very difficult to descend quickly, the only cure for severe altitude illness. The location of the rescue post is therefore key, and over the course of the last 10 weeks we have seen patients with a variety of altitude and non-altitude related problems. Largely cut off from the outside world and with only basic medical equipment, the demands of working here as a doctor are very different to back in the UK!

[caption id="attachment_6234" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post[/caption]

As the season progressed, life in Machermo developed a reassuring routine. Mornings tended to be quieter lending themselves to a quick trip up the 5000m ‘hill’ behind the post. From its rocky peak, Everest can be seen clearly with the jet stream casting a plume of cloud from its summit. Closer to home the 6000m plus peaks of Kyajo Ri, Machermo, Cholatse and Taboche encircle the post. Following lunch back at the post we would do the rounds of Machermo village lodges, drumming up business for our afternoon altitude talks. The goal of these talks is to raise awareness of altitude illness and porter welfare amongst visiting trekkers. These were generally very well attended and we received very positive feedback from trekkers. The period following our afternoon talks seemed to be our busiest time for ill trekkers and porters to turn up. The large majority of cases could be dealt with in a GP style consultation but a small minority of patients were too ill to leave the post and would stay with us overnight, receiving drugs and oxygen until the weather cleared in the morning allowing a helicopter to evacuate the patient.

[caption id="attachment_6236" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Clinic opening times Clinic opening times[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6235" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers[/caption]

Over the course of the season we had 728 trekkers attend the daily altitude talk and approximately 130 patients. Seven of these were evacuated to hospital in Kathmandu with life threatening altitude illnesses.

[caption id="attachment_6238" align="aligncenter" width="450"]The pre-monsoon 2014 team The pre-monsoon 2014 team[/caption]

The whole team would like to thank Rab for their generous sponsorship. Down gear has become an everyday part of our lives and sitting in our freezing clinic room at 4am monitoring our patient’s breathing, would have been a much colder experience without it.

[caption id="attachment_6237" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A Rab washing line A Rab washing line[/caption]

For more information on porter welfare and the work of IPPG please visit www.ippg.netArms braced on his legs and sat hunched over, our latest patient a Nepalese porter, gasps for breath. His oxygen saturations, a measure of the amount of oxygen in his blood, are an alarming 50%, a figure that is well under the 85% we would expect for this altitude. On listening to his chest, it sounds like he is breathing through a packet of crisps, and with each barking cough he brings up pink frothy sputum. New to altitude, he has ascended too quickly and has high altitude pulmonary oedema, a condition unique to high altitude where your lungs fill with fluid. Ideally he needs evacuation by helicopter, but the five thousand dollar price tag precludes this. His descent will be on foot.

[caption id="attachment_6232" align="aligncenter" width="450"]A porter carrying a load A porter carrying a load[/caption]

Our patient is typical of many of the patients seen at the Machermo Rescue Post, based at 4410m in the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalaya. It’s a common misconception that porters don’t suffer from altitude illness because they are Sherpa and have a genetic advantage. While most of the high altitude porters on Everest itself are indeed Sherpa, they make up a very small proportion of the porters in Nepal. In fact the large majority of trekking porters are of an ethnicity with no natural altitude advantage who usually reside at lower elevations. They are therefore just as susceptible to altitude illness as a Western trekker visiting the region.

[caption id="attachment_6240" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Checking the grab bag Checking the grab bag[/caption]

It comes as a surprise to most people that porters suffer from more accidents and illness than visiting Western trekkers. This is largely due to carrying excessive loads and lack of appropriate clothing, shelter and food. Most people couldn’t comprehend the idea of carrying 100kg for 30km at sea level, let alone at altitude whilst wearing a pair of flip-flops; yet anyone who has visited Nepal trekking will testify that this is a deplorably common sight. Following the death of a 20 year old porter with severe altitude illness in 1997, the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) was formed to prevent such tragedies from recurring and to promote porter welfare. Since 2003 IPPG has been responsible for providing the only source of healthcare in the Gokyo valley.

[caption id="attachment_6233" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season Ngawang Friendship Lodge where the IPPG clinic in Gokyo was run from this season[/caption]

At the beginning of March 2014, with night time temperatures dipping into the minus twenties, we left Lukla Airstrip and began the 6 day walk to the rescue post in Machermo. For the duration of the 10 week trekking season we would be attending to the complaints of porters and Western trekkers on behalf of IPPG. The Gokyo valley, where Machermo is located, is adjacent to the Everest valley but is significantly less developed and arguably more beautiful as a result. It has become increasingly popular with trekkers who seek a more peaceful approach to Everest base camp and has consequently seen a surge in trekkers and porters in recent years. However the Gokyo valley has been dubbed ‘death valley’ because it is very difficult to descend quickly, the only cure for severe altitude illness. The location of the rescue post is therefore key, and over the course of the last 10 weeks we have seen patients with a variety of altitude and non-altitude related problems. Largely cut off from the outside world and with only basic medical equipment, the demands of working here as a doctor are very different to back in the UK!

[caption id="attachment_6234" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post[/caption]

As the season progressed, life in Machermo developed a reassuring routine. Mornings tended to be quieter lending themselves to a quick trip up the 5000m ‘hill’ behind the post. From its rocky peak, Everest can be seen clearly with the jet stream casting a plume of cloud from its summit. Closer to home the 6000m plus peaks of Kyajo Ri, Machermo, Cholatse and Taboche encircle the post. Following lunch back at the post we would do the rounds of Machermo village lodges, drumming up business for our afternoon altitude talks. The goal of these talks is to raise awareness of altitude illness and porter welfare amongst visiting trekkers. These were generally very well attended and we received very positive feedback from trekkers. The period following our afternoon talks seemed to be our busiest time for ill trekkers and porters to turn up. The large majority of cases could be dealt with in a GP style consultation but a small minority of patients were too ill to leave the post and would stay with us overnight, receiving drugs and oxygen until the weather cleared in the morning allowing a helicopter to evacuate the patient.

[caption id="attachment_6236" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Clinic opening times Clinic opening times[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6235" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers Giving the daily altitude talk to trekkers[/caption]

Over the course of the season we had 728 trekkers attend the daily altitude talk and approximately 130 patients. Seven of these were evacuated to hospital in Kathmandu with life threatening altitude illnesses.

[caption id="attachment_6238" align="aligncenter" width="450"]The pre-monsoon 2014 team The pre-monsoon 2014 team[/caption]

The whole team would like to thank Rab for their generous sponsorship. Down gear has become an everyday part of our lives and sitting in our freezing clinic room at 4am monitoring our patient’s breathing, would have been a much colder experience without it.

[caption id="attachment_6237" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A Rab washing line A Rab washing line[/caption]

For more information on porter welfare and the work of IPPG please visit www.ippg.net