Every slight movement of the jaw hurts up to the ears, even speaking. Anyone who has ever had toothache at high altitudes knows what Nirmal “Nims” Purja is going through in Shishapangma Base Camp. “I’m having a massive trouble with my wisdom tooth. It’s so bloody painful and it’s getting me fever,” the 36-year-old Nepalese climber writes on Facebook, adding ” Yes I have been brushing my teeth and have been using dental floss too.” Toothaches are anything but ideal conditions for a summit attempt on the 8,027-meter-high mountain in Tibet – the last one that Nims still needs to successfully complete his ambitious “Project Possible” (all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months).
It is not for nothing that before each expedition the participants are urgently advised to have their teeth checked again so as not to experience any nasty surprises in the high mountains. The phenomenon that has already caused despair among many climbers is called Barodontalgia. Gas bubbles can form under dental crowns or fillings, for example through caries. The gas cannot escape. If you now ascend to altitudes above 3,000 meters, the external pressure decreases considerably. The gas in the tooth smells its chance and inflates. The result: bad toothache. And no dentist far and wide.
Storm expected to ease this weekend
“Unlike many big expeditions, I had no luxury of having doctors or physiotherapist etc.,” writes Nirmal Purja. “I hope once I start the climb the voluntary pain of climbing in extreme high altitude mountain will supersede this involuntary pain.”
It’s “pretty cold” in base camp at the moment, Nims continues. Until Saturday, wind speeds of 100 and more kilometers per hour are predicted in the Shishapangma summit area. As of Sunday, suitable weather conditions are expected for a summit attempt by Nims and his bear-strong Sherpa team. “Anyway not to worry,” writes the climber. “We have the good weather coming soon; we will deliver our promise, as always.”
Update 26 October: This is the plan for the summit push that Nirmal Purja announced today: Camp 2 tomorrow, Camp 3 on Monday, summit on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed!