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First Day in Tarap: Altitude Sickness, Death and Helicopters

October 28, 2011

Was drop-kicked by altitude sickness yesterday morning, my first full day in Tarap. I was as useless as a sack of barley in the corner of Lhakpa’s parents’ house as I could only sleep and lie still from morning to night.

The only thing I managed to write during this day was, “My stomach is in knots, my breathing is rapid and my heart-rate must be 110bpm. This feels terrible.”

Now it’s morning, sept 11, and I’m feeling better, over the altitude sickness. The family is getting ready for the Dho-Tarap festival and initiations with Rabjam Rinpoche. They’re putting on their finest chubas, oiling their hair and digging our their silver, turquoise and coral jewelry.

Every person from every family in Tarap will be there as well as pilgrims coming from other valleys farther away. I think I am the only American here, thought there are some German and French and Austrian.

As I walked into the valley on my way to Lhakpas’ parents’ house two days ago, I watched a helicopter fly in, landing next to Jampa Gonpa in order to pick up the body of one dead Westerner who passed away the morning before I arrived in Tarap. He was from Austria and had been here for two days and was in good health. We guessed he either had a stroke or aneurysm brought on by altitude.

Its wise to know the risks of heading somewhere remote.  Death may come quickly, even to those well-suited for the journey.  The video below shows the helicopter coming to pick up the body of said Westerner.  Welcome back to Tarap.

Rushing River next to footpath

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Dee Hawa permalink
    October 28, 2011 2:06 pm

    Beautiful photo of the young girl!
    The whole altitude sickness thing must
    be a horrilbe experience. Love following your
    news from southern Spain. Blessings

  2. November 14, 2011 9:11 pm

    Oh, thank you Dee! Yes, the altitude sickness was quite uncomfortable but always worth it in the end! Best wishes to you!

  3. sebastiendugas permalink
    January 11, 2012 1:57 pm

    Hi, I was in Tarap when the guy died. My father and me stayed all the day near the body with his girl friend, dolpo tulku, Herve Tiberghien (french cameraman).
    Bad memories for us…
    I think we met at crystal mountain school ?

    • January 11, 2012 2:03 pm

      Hi Sebastien,
      I think we did meet. Nice to hear from you.
      Did you ever hear what happened to him? We were thinking either stroke or aneurism, but no way to know for sure.

      One good thing is that he at least died doing something he loved, being in the mountains and with his partner.
      Take care,

  4. sebastiendugas permalink
    January 16, 2012 8:01 am

    Yes, he died because of altitude sickness.
    He was cremated in Kathmandu.

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