Today’s Squatting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to poop while climbing Mt. Everest? Well, wonder no more with this excerpt from an article by Matt Dickinson entitled “The Other Side Of Everest” which details his 1996 expedition!
Al’s long years of Himalayan expeditions had taught him the enviable knack of pissing into a pee bottle whilst lying on his side. Lacking the confidence to risk a sleeping bag full of urine by getting this wrong, I relied on the surer but less energy-efficient technique of crouching on my knees to perform the act.
The minutes ticked by, and with them came another dreaded bodily demand.
“I need a crap.”
“Me too,” Al was in the same state.
The prospect of putting on the boots and going out into the freezing night wind was extremely depressing. Just the thought was exhausting and demoralising.
“Better do it,” Al advised. “Nothing else for it. No point in taking any excess baggage up. Besides, if you’re shitting yourself now, imagine what you’ll be like on the second step.”
As an avid consumer of Himalayan climbing books, I had always been mystified by the high-altitude mountaineer’s obsessions with bodily functions. What, I had wondered, was the problem?
It took nearly fifteen minutes to prepare ourselves to exit the tent. Taking our oxygen cylinders with us was not a realistic option. Moving carefully to avoid the cookers, I crawled out of the front of the tent. Doing so, I nudged an empty cylinder which had been propped outside. It fell on the ice slope and accelerated away quickly. There was a clanking sound as it hit rocks once – twice – and then cartwheeled out of sight down the North Face to land on the glacier some six thousand feet below.
Stumbling across the ice slope, I realised that what I was doing was extremely stupid. I should have crampons and an ice-axe. One slip and I would follow the oxygen cylinder down the Face. With a shudder I remembered that this was exactly how one of the Taiwanese climbers had fallen on the southern side just days before.
I found a narrow ledge and managed to pull down the down suit and thermal underclothes. Calf and thigh muscles protesting, I squatted for what seemed like an eternity, puffing and panting for air. A few metres away, Al was doing the same. There is no such thing as embarrassment at 8,300 metres.
At the Col and above I found myself experiencing acute pain when going to the toilet. This time was by far the worst, bringing tears to my eyes. My whole system was completely dried up, and it felt like I was splitting inside.
“I’m having a baby here, Al.”
An answering grunt came in reply.
With the pain came blood – quite a substantial amount. I closed my mind to the implications of this, putting it down to that well-known climbers affliction, piles, even though I was pretty sure I didn’t have them.
Collapsing back in to the tent I strapped on the oxygen mask and gulped hungrily at the clean-tasting air. In the warmth of the sleeping bags I thrust my hands under my armpits to defrost, another surprisingly painful process.
Al came in. “You all right?”
“Fine,” I replied, not wanting to let on how I really felt. Close to vomiting, with a skull-splitting headache, I know knew why a visit to the toilet above 8,000 metres inspires such dread amongst mountaineers.
Culled from: High: Stories of Survival from Everest and K2
We’re about six weeks away from the greatest of all holidays, so I thought I’d start sharing some vintage Halloween pics with the newsletter. (Culled from Halloween: Vintage Holiday Graphics.) Enjoy!
Spectral Legend Du Jour!
Situated on the Thames some fifty miles west of London, Bisham Abbey is said to be the most haunted house in Berkshire. In its earliest form, the abbey was the thirteenth century community house of the Knights Templars, a mystical-minded sect of medieval crusaders. Over the centuries, other owners expanded and embellished the mansion, which still stands today.
Resident there during Elizabethan times was the Hoby family, a titled assemblage of scholars and diplomats. Lady Elizabeth Hoby, well educated and brilliant, was a confident of Queen Elizabeth I. According to legend, she was also a child murderer.
Lady Hoby supposedly had six children, among whom her youngest son, William, was an anomalous dullard, averse to any learning. He so angered his proud, ambitious mother with a messy lesson in his copybook that she beat him to death. Variations on the story say Lady Hoby locked the boy in a closet as punishment or tied him to a chair with directions to amend his work; she then went to visit the queen and returned days later to find him dead.
All versions of the brutal tale may be fables; no records exist of William’s birth. Still, during renovations of the abbey in 1840, workmen found between the floor joists in the dining room some faded copybooks that bore signatures of the Hoby family. In one of them, the lessons were smudged and blotted on every page.
If Elizabeth Hoby did kill her son, she lived a long time with the guilt. By some accounts she died at eighty-one; by others she was in her nineties. And perhaps even death did not end her remorse. Among the ghosts reportedly seen at Bisham Abbey, Lady Hoby’s shade is said to walk there with sorrowful mien. Before her floats a bowl of invisible water into which she dips her hands, trying like some spectral Lady Macbeth to wash away her guilt.
Culled from: Hauntings (Mysteries of the Unknown)