Don't freak out. This is temporary. I'm down in Kathmandu just for a couple days.
Believe it or not, taking a few rest days at lower elevation is very common in the Everest season. Once you have your acclimatization rotations done and you're waiting for your weather window for the summit, you can (if you choose) trek down to one of the lower villages to gather up some strength. In 2011, we had a team member go all the way down to Namche (11,000 ft~) and most of the rest of the team went to Pheriche (13,000 ft~). Historically, there have even been people who fly back to Kathmandu. And that's what we decided to do. Is it overkill? I don't think so. Is it cheating? Hell no. Why would it be?
Think about it like this. We've just spent a month at altitude and 3 straight weeks at 17,500 ft or higher. Your body does NOT like you at those altitudes. Just to give you an idea, at the start of the trip I forgot to wear light gloves and didn't put sunscreen on my hands. The result? A gnarly burn and now a couple of festering boils that just won't heal. At sea level, this burn/rash would have cleared up in a few days. Up at altitude, it has stayed and scabbed over a dozen times, not getting any smaller. There just is no oxygen here to heal things well. You don't sleep well, you don't eat crazy well, your nails don't grow well, etc. While I'm strong and feeling great, there is nothing like a blast of strength to your system than sea-level oxygen, copious amounts of food, and creature comforts that you've mentally been missing. THAT's what Kathmandu has to offer. So why not?
So here we are (all except Barbara and Phil, who decided to stay up at Base Camp) at the Hyatt, recharging our systems, feeding our systems (both physical and mental), before we go back up in a day or two.
Will we lose our acclimatization? Nope. Well, if we stayed here long enough, yes. But over 2-4 days, no. According to Phil, if you've been acclimatizing for 3 weeks, then it takes roughly that much time to lose it. The big picture is that we are gaining more by being down here than by sitting around up there.
So, voila. Here I am in Kathmandu, taking lovely showers, eating mad amounts of pizza and drinking coke, hanging by the pool in the hot, oxygen-heavy air. It's glorious. I'll be catching a flight back up to Lukla tomorrow, then a chopper to BC or near BC and then I'll walk.
Ropes are still supposed to be fixed on the 4th, and once that's done, the summit is officially open. Phil seems to think it will be an early summit window for all, so maybe (seriously, just guessing), May 12th? If the summit were May 12th, we'd have to leave BC on the 8th or so. Let's see. That's quite soon. Can't wait!
In the meantime. I'll be by the pool.