Climb Everest in 2016 / 17 / 18 etc with 4 times summiteer Tim Mosedale

Everest Expedition via South Col 2016 / 2017 / 18 / 19 etc

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Am I being too hard on this chap who wants to climb Everest?



Dear xxxx,

Many thanks for your time earlier this week and I understand where you are coming from with your interest in going to Everest.

On a personal note, however, I am concerned about your lack of experience and, as a result of that, would feel uncomfortable about you being with my group. I know that you plan on going on a climbing course in January but I only recruit people who are already climbers and mountaineers, and have been for some time, and are therefore suitably well qualified by experience. It is only with years of experience that things become second nature.

I know that you feel that you may pick up all the skills very quickly but the mountain demands a lot of respect. If the conditions take a turn for the worse, or if your Climbing Sherpa were to become incapacitated, then you may find yourself on your own and need to be wholly reliant on your own ability to deal with steep terrain in a potentially very demanding and ever changing environment.

I can’t have a situation where more experienced climbers, or my Climbing Sherpas, have their lives, or their summit bid, jeopardised as a result of a very inexperienced member in the group.

It is an all inclusive trip and is already very competitively priced. There are a couple of operators out there who are similarly priced, or slightly cheaper, but generally they don't provide as comprehensive a package. Anyway perhaps they will be open to negotiation - but I’m afraid that I am not.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Mosedale


So come on folks ... am I being too harsh here? Any thoughts?

The worrying aspect is that 'I'm good in the gym' and 'I can learn skills really quickly' just doesn't cut the mustard with me. I find it worrying that some people are completely naive and feel that they can watch a programme, or read a book, and then 'give it a go.' Everest is too big and too serious to just come along and 'give it a go.' It demands a huge amount of respect and it is this approach that will be the undoing of people every year. And unfortunately that then tarnishes the reputation of Everest and undermines the achievement of the climbers and mountaineers out there who do approach it with the right background and mountaineering pedigree.

'It's been my lifelong ambition for the last 5 years.' Well unless you are only 5 years old then that isn't a lifelong ambition. And why haven't you done something about it in the last 5 years then (which, with a bit of hard work and plenty of time on the hill, would possiby be long enough to get yourself suitably well trained by the way).

I am all for people venturing in to the realms of ultra high altitude mountaineering - personally some of the most rewarding experiences that I have had have been on expeditions with like minded people. But start at the beginning and work your way up. I know that not everyone feels that they have the time, or money, to go on loads and loads of trips and work their way up through the ranks. But even so, don't just dive in with Everest. UK hills, UK rock and UK (Scottish) winter all provide fantastic opportunities to further your skill level and be subjected to some ever changing and demanding conditions (as well as some fantastic memorable days out). If you can get to The Alps and maybe an expedition or two as well then this will be a bonus.

But don't turn up to Everest to 'give it a go' and be surprised when it spanks your arse.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Everest - it's pretty big


Everest on the South (Nepal) side

Not even in my wildest dreams did I ever think that this is where it was all potentially leading.

I started out my outdoor career at a centre in Wensleydale and after 7 years I’d worked up to being Deputy to head of Centre and Senior Instructor. It was a great job at a small centre - I was out on session a lot but also responsible for staff training, the off duty, the group programmes, the fleet of vehicles, risk assessment etc. The boss wasn’t going to be moving on and eventually it was time to spread my wings.

When I first arrived in Keswick I had 8 part time jobs – anything to pay the bills. At about the same time I was offered some work in Nepal and I jumped at the chance. It had never previously occurred to me that it was a possibility but I knew that it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. This then led on to me working for KE Adventure Travel who are based in Keswick, where I’d settled after the Yorkshire Dales. I’d sent in my cv and resume and followed it up with a phone call a week later. In the midst of being told that they were ‘very busy’, ‘lots of leaders already’ and ‘Keswick is a long way to come for a chat’ I mentioned that we had the same postcode. ‘Oh I’ll get the kettle on then, see you in 5 minutes.’ I was there in 3.

It was great employment and I loved the culture and environment as much as the landscape and work. I’d lived in Cambodia for 6 months in a previous life and whilst I was there I’d had a quick whistle stop tour of Asia and been hooked. To be back in Asia and working in the mountains was just awesome.

I’d often been asked ‘as a mountaineering instructor you must want to do Everest,’ which I’d never quite understood. Now that I was working a lot in The Khumbu I was now getting ‘as an expedition leader you must want to do Everest.’ The answer was always an emphatic, and honestly from the heart, ‘no thanks.’ I’d then go on to explain that it’s very cold up there, potentially pretty dangerous, very expensive, loss of income whilst away, potential loss of digits and life etc etc. And anyway, without the experience I’d never get employed and I definitely didn’t want to go along as a client – not that I wanted to go anyway. Not for me thanks. No siree.

And I genuinely meant it too.

My previous life had been as a commissioned officer in The Royal Corps of Transport and so I had a bit of an understanding of different types of leadership, motivation, delegation, logistics etc. I’d also been on the Arctic Warfare Instructors course which was a pretty challenging 8 weeks in Norway (one of only a few military courses where you are officially on double rations). Out of 35 on the course only 5 of us passed. I saw grown men in tears during the 8 weeks because of the cold, because of the knarly desperate conditions we were in (with pretty flimsy gear at times) or from trying to ski wearing planks of wood carrying 80Kg and because, at the end of the course, we then had to ski in to a hole in the frozen fjord and get ourselves out. It was all fairly brutal stuff really. I hadn’t realised at the time, but it was another pivotal experience for me.

All this experience and training came in to play whenever I was on an expedition and I found it to be a remarkably fortuitous background – totally alien in many ways to being ‘a civvy,’ but leadership skills and an understanding of logistics are all so transferrable. As are the skills required to look after yourself, and still lead others, in the worst of conditions, even when you are at your lowest ebb.

Ama Dablam in the heart of The Khumbu
I’d been lucky enough to have a friend in Keswick ask me if I could put together an Ama Dablam trip and I jumped at the chance. It was a great trip – just a bunch of mates having a go at a very impressive mountain. No Climbing Sherpas or High Altitude Porters - just a cook crew, some porters to Base Camp and a Sirdar. We had a great laugh and it was then that I found out that I was also pretty good at altitude.

Having put in all the effort to run that trip, I decided to advertise and I’ve been going back every year ever since.

It’s amazing that people ask ‘don’t you get bored of climbing Ama Dablam every year?’ It’s the most amazing mountain in the heart of some pretty spectacular mountainous terrain where I get to see and work with Climbing Sherpas who have summited Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Manaslu, and Everest (one chap 18 times) who are now family friends. I’ve been working with Kame, my Sirdar, for 9 years now and it’s a privilege to be with them every time. When I compare that with climbing Snowdon, The Ben or Mont Blanc a few times every season then I realise I have managed to manoeuvre myself in to a very privileged position. Sometimes you have to make your own luck I guess.

The North side of Everest - a very serious place to be
In 2001 I heard about a bunch of mates who were off to have a go at Everest in a few years’ time. The approach was the old style of expeditioning – just a bunch of mates on the hill. I was sort of tempted because, although I knew I’d never have a go at Everest, I also knew that if I did have a go it would be in that style. However I already had another commitment – my own group on Island Peak and the 2 overlapped by at least fortnight.

I was back from Ama Dablam (again) at the beginning of December 2004 and I was chatting to Matt Sharman about the forthcoming Everest expedition and he said he was arriving in Kathmandu on the 19th April. My 3-years-in-the-planning-private-Island-Peak-group were departing KTM on the 18th April! I realised that, whilst the two trips overlapped by a few weeks, that in actual fact it was a possibility after all and this was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. I made some hasty phone calls – one in particular to a chap called Baz Roberts.

I’d just been on his Wilderness Medical Training course (very highly recommended by the way) and he’d shown us all some Everest video and photos from his trip with Russell Bryce on the North side that Spring (2004). He had wanted to go on the hill from the age of 9 or so, and everything had been leading up to that experience. He’s a very methodical guy and even though I didn’t really know him at the time I rang and asked him a bunch of questions. He advised that I ask my friends about our relationship with Russell Bryce (Tom Richardson and Ian Wade both knew him), how much oxygen we had (enough), our Base Camp support (Mick had a friend who was a doctor (another +ve) who had researched the 1996 disaster and written a paper on high altitude meteorology (perfect)), what comms did we have (Ross was ex forces and had some friends who were lending us a VHF set) etc etc.

The guys had been planning this for 3 or 4 years and absolutely everything was in place. Not only were we the smallest, cheapest trip on the mountain but also the most experienced. Ian Wade, perhaps the most prolific of the lot, had summited over 65 6,000m peaks as well as Cho Oyu and Gasherbrum II – both without oxygen. Tom Richardson had done more than most people will ever do in their lifetime. Ross, Dan, Mick and Matt were all full time, or certainly far more than part time, expedition leaders and Stuart Holmes … well very bright light under very large bushel springs to mind.

I was to be in the company of some of the nicest (and most experienced) guys I could ever hope to be with and my wife knew most of them too. So whilst Ali (and I) found out on Boxing Day 2004 that ‘it’s turned blue!’ and I was going to be a daddy, she still gave me her blessing to go on the trip. I signed up at the end of December and was going away in March. I started eating pies and doughnuts and, despite working every day in Scotland that winter, managed to put on 2½ stone. It’s the hardest training I have ever done.

These guys had invited along (only) 4 Climbing Sherpas who were their friends – 2 of whom I already knew having worked with them previously. So it wasn’t climber and guide or employer / employee – it was a bunch of guys (and their Sherpa friends) on a BIG mountain. It was a low key, low budget, but highly professional effort and, considering not a crossed word was said for the whole trip, was a roaring success. I went along just thinking that I’d see how it went. I had no aspirations for the summit (having only been to 6,856m previously) and just approached each day as a new day and a new challenge.

After a while it was obvious that we were all having a great, fun time and that we were all so much at home in the harsh environment that is the North side of Everest and I honestly thought that we would have 6 or 7 (if not all 8) out of the 8 westerners on the summit. As it happens things conspired against a few of the guys towards the end of the trip and before you know it there were only 3 of us on the top. But all 4 Climbing Sherpas also summited which was superb. Phendan had been on the top before but the others Sherpas hadn’t. They had all worked so hard and Zambu, for example, had carried loads to the top camp 11 times. 

Everest summit 30th May 2005
On the North side the top camp is at 8,300m (so 99m higher than the summit of Cho Oyu) so this is an amazing feat and we couldn’t have done it without them. Thankfully it has opened a door for all of them and they are regularly employed on Everest (or Cho Oyu / Manaslu) and have managed to break away from the trekking peak trips that they so often did.

I knew that if I had the chance that I’d love to go back. But I also knew that I wouldn’t go back on the North side. It’s a particularly serious summit day and if a client got in to difficulty then you may as well get out your rosary beads. Also it’s the Climbing Sherpas who generally get involved with rescues and I didn’t want to have the onus of endangering their lives, let alone those of any clients, even more so now that I knew them all so well.

A few Ama Dablam trips and a Cho Oyu trip later and an opportunity arose. I was asked to lead a group to Everest Base Camp for a chap who would then stay on Everest. I mentioned that I may know of a few people who would also like to have a go at Everest. ‘You’ve got the job.’ I cherry picked from my database and e mailed 23 people who I thought had not only the aspiration and experience but also the right approach and temperament as well as the ability to afford it and get time off work. 12 were interested. That soon dropped to 7 or 8 and then the credit crunch happened. We were down to 3 so we delayed a year and eventually, in April 2011, myself, a friend of mine who was to be our Base Camp doctor and 5 hopefuls started trekking.

Rather than racing up to EBC, sitting there for a fortnight with headaches wondering how we would ever climb Everest feeling like this down here, we trekked for 3 weeks elsewhere. It was a great acclimatisation schedule but it also allowed everyone to forget about work etc and to relax and enjoy the experience without having the overbearing nature of ‘Everest’ dauntingly in view. Whilst we would never get away from the fact that this was definitely an organised trip I wanted to try and recreate the style of expedition I’d been on in 2005. To that end I was very conscious of the fun factor and for everyone enjoy each other’s company.

There was not a headache in sight for the whole trip and we arrived at Base Camp as a team, a unified dynamic group, rather than a bunch of clients. We were enjoying ourselves, and the environment, and the rapport was noticeable. I’ve seen other trips where the clients are so tense (and intense) that it is just no fun at all. Indeed you can see people calculating and trying to out manoeuvre each other in a dog eat dog slow race for the prized summit. They certainly don’t lift a finger for each other as they definitely don’t want to risk their own chances.

My team went the extra mile for each other. When we were on the hill, whoever arrived first at a camp got a brew on and then, after admiring the view and getting their breath back, started sorting the tent, roll mats, sleeping bags etc for themselves and their tent partner. The sort of thing that comes naturally to experienced mountaineers who realise that synergy is so important. You don’t count the cost or take turns – it just happens.
In the mighty Khumbu Icefall
When we first entered The Khumbu Icefall it was quite an emotional experience. Suddenly we were in the steps of the great pioneers. We’d all read the books and it was all so historical and evocative. Everyone upped the ante and changed from fun trekking mode to fun expedition mode and it was noticeable that everyone just sharpened their senses.

Looking up The Western Cwm with The Lhotse Face in the centre and The Geneva Spur the obvious rocky outcrop just left of centre leading diagonally off to the left and on up to The South Col.
A few forays up and down the hill through the icefall and up The Western Cwm and we were ready for our summit bid. In the old days folk used to camp higher and higher on the assumption that they were acclimatising. Nowadays we realise that round about 6,500m is the threshold and beyond there a) you don’t acclimatise and b) you just deteriorate.

The weather was all over the place for a few days and indeed we arrived and slept at Camp 3 (7,100m) on the way to the summit only to have to come back down to C2. It wasn’t bad enough for long enough to warrant going to Base Camp so we stayed at C2 for 5 nights. Then back to C3 and on up to The South Col. Again the wind spiked and we stayed at The South Col for 24 hours and then set off in to the night. Exciting stuff. The downside, however, was that not only had some other teams sat it out as well but others had then arrived the following day for their summit bid - so there were twice as many people as we’d have hoped.

It turned out to be a fantastic moonlit night, but at times a painfully slow journey. There was a queue pretty much most of the way up to The Balcony. My feet got pretty cold and were getting colder due to inactivity. I pondered this for the interminable minutes standing still and couldn’t work out why. I had the same boots as 2005 when it had been colder and windier. I had smartwool liners and mountain socks, the same as last time. I had some foot warm up sachets and I’d checked thast they were working. Yes, we were going slowly, but why were my feet this cold? Ponder, ponder.

The only reason I could come up with was that the liner socks were my wife’s and were too tight for me and were constricting circulation, albeit ever so slightly. So on arriving at The Balcony, when everyone else was changing cylinders or taking on fluids and food, I whipped my boots off, took off my mountain socks and removed my liners. They froze the instant I’d removed the inner boot and it was paramount that I get my big socks back on and my feet in to my boots before they froze as well.

I’d been rehydrating along the way whilst waiting for folk to move so there was no other reason for me to stop. Within a couple of minutes I’d managed to sort my feet out and was on the move. I over took about 30 to 40 people who were still loitering and being tended to by their Climbing Sherpas. The rest of my group had sensibly moved straight through, as we had agreed previously in the event of any queues, as they could change cylinders later.
Looking back down to The Balcony and some of the people we'd managed to zip past.
I soon caught up with Jen and Susan who were going fine. We fragmented slightly around the South Summit, as I’d encouraged everyone to go at their own pace. Yes we were a strong, dynamic, closely bonded group – but not on summit day. You go for it with your Sherpa and don’t wait for the others – don’t jeopardise yourself. Maybe we’ll meet on the summit, maybe not. Giles had managed to get ahead of the crowds and summited at just after 5 in the morning and Partha summited at around 7.30. I’d seen them both as they were descending and they seemed to be suitably chuffed. Smiles and handshakes, a brief chat and then onwards. Ever so slowly. Onwards and upwards.

I summited around 9.15. Jen and Susan and their Climbing Sherpas arrived whilst I was still on the summit – which is hardly surprising as I spent an hour and a half up there. It was a great day to be on the top again. Not too cold and no wind. The view was as spectacular as I remembered albeit spoilt slightly by the cloud that meant only the very highest peaks were visible. In 2005 my camera only had the facility to do 30 seconds of video but I managed to fit in a 360 panorama and we only stayed for maybe 15 minutes. This time I had unlimited video capacity and managed to get a slower more comprehensive video. I get a lot of comments from folk on YouTube about how good it is which is a great compliment.

It was a fantastic culmination to a great expedition. Without a doubt it the best and most exciting work I have done. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going back again next year! Watch this space.

On the summit of Everest.

Monday, 10 October 2011

WINNER!

Well I'm obviously delighted to have had 2 photographs win across the 11 weeks of the photo comp on Adventure Eyes - but I'm double pleased to have been selected to be the overall winner.

Busy getting ready for Ama Dablam in just over 2 weeks - it's all getting a bit manic now but I still have my head above water. Looking forward to seeing my Sirdar and Climbing Sherpas again not to mention my friends in Kathmandu and along the Khumbu Trail. How exciting.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Everest photo.

Just been sent this photo from Dave Hill (he who I mentioned in my last Blog post about our meeting on the summit). He very kindly popped this across to me - it's on descent from the Summit of Everest with The Hillary Step just in the background.

Cheers Dave.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

An exclusive club

You know how sometimes you meet people and you get chatting and the conversation turns up some vague similarities, or the fact that you live in the same vicinity (county level usually but sometime country or even land mass!) - and you end with 'Yeah, that would be great ... of course I'll pop in next time I am passing your town.'

Well ... on the 20th May this year I was doing a piece to video from the summit of Everest. The guy next to me says 'that's a northern accent ... where are you from?' 'Keswick' says I, 'you from Canada or somewhere?' (for he had that twang). And it turns out that whilst he now lives in Canada (and has done for 20 years) he is originally from Barrow (in Cumbria).

So we chatted idly for a while (like you do on the summit of Everest) and I told him about the B&B and stuff. He then signed off with the not unusually unexpected 'Well... I'm visiting the UK in September and we'll be staying in Windermere so we'll pop by and catch up.' 'Cool, safe journey down and I'll see you again,' I said and I thought nothing more of it. Just another chance meeting with someone and a pleasant chat. Albeit in rather special circumstance.

Well .... how cool is this? Dave Hill (for that is he) rang the doorbell this week and fulfilled his promise. Naturally we stepped straight out and went to The George for a pint with his wife and friends and had a great craic. And what a nice guy.

Totally laid back and genuine but you could also tell that he had worked long and hard to get himself to the level of being on the big mountain. He summited ... and rightly so. In fact he's exactly the sort of person that I think should be there - a competent climber and mountaineer in his own right with an excellent mountaineering pedigree.

So ... Dave (if you are reading this) one day (but I haven't got a clue when) I shall reciprocate and drop in to see you when I'm passing.

And good luck with your plans to go back to Everest and have a go from The North side. It's a totally different undertaking ... but he's the sort of guy that has a great chance of success. And if that is the case you'll be one of the few to have summited from both sides.

It's an exclusive club!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I'd blow my own trumpet ... if I could reach it.

Recently received some more feedback from the Everest 2011 expedition.

Having been on several expeditions with Tim before, there was really no question of going to Everest with anyone else.

His logistical planning are second to none, and he uses, in my opinion, the best support crew on the mountain. Added to that, his expeditions are always, always brilliant fun, largely due to his undampable upbeat and subversive sense of humour.

The three-week trek into basecamp worked marvellously, with the team getting to know one another, getting to see some amazing places off the well-beaten path from Lukla to BC and basically having a LOT of fun.

All this in the name of arriving at basecamp with a good degree of acclimatization and health (by avoiding the pestilent hoardes), allowing us to go straight on up the mountain instead of kicking around at basecamp getting bored.

On the mountain Tim is super-strong, & the consumate professional, managing things seamlessly to give us all the best chance of summiting, which, apart from one member leaving early on for medical reasons, we all did!

Jen Larsen, Everest Sumiteer, TheBigE 2011


So if you are thinking of going to Everest in 2012, 2013, 2014 ... then why not get in touch and be part of one of the best trips on the hill.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Onwards ...

Have eventually managed to get the Everest 2011 summit day photos optimized and uploaded. Took longer to do that than to go on the entire expedition.

Having a quieter year at the B&B this season (hardly surprising given the weather we are having)... but Ama Dablam has gone bonkers. Had 16 to look after in one form or another on Ama and 4 for Island Peak and have just taken on another small independent group of 6. So I now have 10 different itineraries to put in place for the various Ama clients and 2 itineraries for Island Peak folk. It's going to be a very busy season with a certain amount of cranial scratching to get my head around it all. But I will.

Just been perusing the interweb comparing dates that other teams may be on Ama (I always do this so I can anticipate if there are going to be any bottle necks or busy days with other groups being around) and unbelievably 2 companies are advertising that they have held their price yet again (some sort of credit crunch buster) - but what they have failed to mention is that whilst the price is the same the inclusions have been reduced!!!! So same price but less service.

Anyway - had a very good meeting today with the marketing manager of a well known UK brand and there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon for TheBigE2012 'Project X.' Watch this space.

In the meantime enjoy the photos from Everest 2011.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Feedback

If you are thinking of coming along on an expedition of course I would tell you to come with me and that it will be safe, well executed, great fun and an amazing experience. But really you need to hear it from a third party.

So ... I have just received the most amazing feedback from Dr Abi who was on the recent Everest expedition. She came along for the 3 week acclimatisation trek and stayed with us for a further 4 weeks as our Everest Base Camp doctor:-

'I have known Tim for many years and had the privilege of working with him on a couple of expeditions.

I cannot recommend him highly enough in all aspects. He is a highly professional mountaineer and guide in addition to being a very approachable, energetic and personable fellow. He undertakes the organisation and planning of an expedition with the utmost diligence and meticulousness. This excellent preparation makes for a smooth running, well balanced, flexible trip that ensures safety is paramount, both from a mountaineering and medical perspective.

The medical kits on his trips are second to none, and Tim has a broad lay understanding of how to manage acclimatisation and minor medical problems. In this sense, he really stands head and shoulders above other 'non medical' guides.

Tim has a wonderful ability to enthuse and encourage team members even when the task at hand is tough. He provides a highly professional and supportive service throughout a trip tailored to each individual's needs as the expedition evolves, and for the team as a whole.

I have had the opportunity to see how other larger commercial teams function on mountaineering expeditions and Tim's professionalism, meticulous organisation and enthusiastic support of individual team members is above and beyond any other company out there by far.

Added to which, even though you will be undertaking a serious expedition, you know you will also have an incredibly enjoyable experience. Tim goes that extra mile to ensure that when you have 'down time' to relax at base camp, it's made as enjoyable and entertaining as possible.

Personally, I would not go on an expedition with anyone else.'

So there you have it - praise indeed. Have a look at my Ama Dablam and Everest expedition pages for further testimonials and information.

Why look further?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Western Cwm pictures

Just managed to get round to uploading some more pictures for your pleasure and entertainment. These are in and around The Western Cwm.

Other than that it's been a pretty busy week. Out Tues and Weds with a lad who's only been climbing a short while. We managed to rattle off Little Chamonix (VDiff), 2 routes on Brown Slabs (around MS), CDM (VS) and Fisher's Folly (VS) and then the following day Troutdale Pinnacle Direct (VS), Brown Crag Wall (MVS), Brown Slabs Crack (VS) and Creeping Jesus (HVS). All in all a fine effort.

Got a couple of runs in this week and a daddy day as well (aaah). Also a few more Ama Dablam enquiries so that's starting to get pretty full now.

The B&B is now chocker for the next few weeks and I have a couple of meetings lined up with folk for Everest so pretty excited about that. Also putting the finishing touches to my winter lecture dates - I'll let you know as soon as anything is in the diary.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Trip Advisor abuse ... again (and again)

I don't read The Daily Mail myself - but I was interested to see this article about good old Trip Advisor.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Pictures

Have managed to get round to adding some more photos from the recent Everest expedition. Hope that you enjoy them.

Another 2 bookings taken for Ama Dablam! It's going to be another busy year as there are some people trekking in before us to meet at Base Camp when we arrive and get straight on to the hill. Then there is the main group that I'll be looking after for the full duration - and some more folk arriving right at the end as the main group are vacating the hill.

Then there are the folk doing Island Peak as well. It's getting complicated.

Off for a run shortly over Blencathra. Been a pissy day but it's nice now so looking forward to that.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Trains

Organising a trip to see a client in London and the train tickets are £38 for 2nd class or £29 1st class. Now let me think about that one for a few minutes.

Ama Dablam - limited space available

I'm not quite sure what is so special about Monday 4th July (apart from in the USA of course) but for some reason I received an unprecedented 5 enquiries about this year's expedition to Ama Dablam. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but I'm just surprised it was 5 all on the one day rather than being spread through the week.

A couple of them are for the regular KTM to KTM trip but the rest are for bespoke itineraries taking in a bit of trekking initially and then meeting at Base Camp so I'm cracking on with those schedules today. There's now only a few places left so if you are thinking of coming along then please get in touch sooner rather than later.

This is on top of the 3 enquiries I've had about Everest 2012 just last week so at this rate it looks like it's going to be over subscribed. There are also folk interested in Everest 2013 and '14!

Helped out on a Bob Graham leg 5 a couple of weeks ago - a great family event with loads of kids involved from Littletown back to Keswick. But commiserations to the friend of Roel and Kerry (Ama 2009) who completed in 24 hours and 8 minutes.

The B&B is looking pretty busy for July and August with some weeks having limited or no availability. Our housekeeper Suzanna is doing a sterling job and maintains the highest standards, as you would expect from a 4* establishment.

As ever I've had the usual calls selling advertising in far away counties, or buying top places on the interweb, so I've added a couple of links on to the Elm Tree Lodge home page for advertisers and webmasters to click. Perhaps when they read that we are already on Page 1 or high on Page 2 of Google, and that over 60% of our enquiries are from search engines, of which 50% are our organic listing on Google, they will leave us alone. We'll see.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Ama Dablam 2011 and Everest 2012

Another busy day. Looked after the kids because Ali was on the 10 in 10 event (10 mountains around Buttermere in under 10 hours raising money for MS. Unfortunately in the pouring rain and thick mist). Met up with them fleetingly at Honister.

Took a booking for Ama Dablam so that expedition is now nearly full. And have managed to get some more pics from the 2011 expedition on to the Everest 2012 website.

More to follow ...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Everest 2011 - Expedition pics

Have finally managed to get round to uploading some proper pics from the recent Everest expedition.

Check out the first instalment.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A slideshow for a small audience

Gave a small slideshow presentation ... for Grace's class. Really great to manage to show them all what it is that 'Grace's Dad' does when he goes away. Just kept it short as they are 5 & 6 year olds but it was nice to get them answering questions about what they thought the various pictures were of like; 'what's in the cylinder?', 'so why do we use oxygen?', 'what's that animal?' etc etc. Loads of questions at the end as well - so they seemed to have been interested in it all. Which is cool.

Have eventually managed to get back to being on the top page(s) of Google and Yahoo again. Hadn't realised that being away for 2 months would have such an impact on the various websites and we were on a lowly page 3 and even Page 4 for some keyword combinations. Yikes!

Launched a new website last week and we're on Page 1 of Yahoo and Page 3 of Google already. Yip yip. Page 1 here I come.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Climbing, Ama Dablam and Project X

Well it's been a while but I've managed to clear my post Everest in tray, catch up with the family and start to get out and about a bit.

Supported Fiona Grove on her Bob Graham Round and what an effort she put in. I was sort of (post expedition high) tempted to join her but I'm glad that I didn't. Supported leg 5 and when we got in to Keswick it felt like I'd done 3 or 4 of the legs back to back. Absolutely nothing left in my legs after being severely depleted on Everest.

Have had quite a few Ama Dablam enquiries for this year and next (the mailing list for enquiries for Ama 2012 has topped 20 already) and have met various people for the next couple of expeditions.

Got out climbing with Ali the other day and turned up to the crag without my harness (it's been a while. In fact this was my first summer rock route since last September). So I tied in around my waist and climbed old school - but I tell you what you don't half feel vulnerable when you haven't got a comfortable padded harness on. So we pootled up Eve and had a great time.

Have managed to get some interest for me to do a lecture circuit next winter. Not quite sure how many venues but it will probably just stay in county. Although, as I write, I've just remembered a couple of venues who were showing interest before I went away. So I'll get that lined up and publish a programme accordingly.

Am also in talks with various people and comapnies regarding 'Project X' - a massive personal undertaking that I have planned for next year.

In the meantime don't forget to check out the various video clips from the recent Everest expedition (embedded in the Blog - see below) and I have added a 5 part series to YouTube of an hour long film I made of the expedition. If you are interested in having your own copy then get in touch and I'll drop it on to dvd for you (there's a £5 charge to cover P&P).

Sit back and enjoy the show.

And lest we forget there's the B&B. We appointed Suzanna as housekeeper to run the show whilst I was away and are keeping her on until the autumn. She is doing a terrific job and keeping the place in tip top condition. This is great because not only does it mean that we can go away for our first ever summer holiday, but it also frees me up for the climbing bookings that I have throughout summer and will make the run up to the next Ama trip that bit easier as well. Plus plenty of time and energy to devote to 'Project X!'

Watch this space.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Trip Advisor or Trip Abuser ?????

Always thought TripAdvisor was flawed and open to abuse. Interesting piece in The Times today. Made me delve further and guess what ... loads of articles about the site being undermined by fake reviews (both +ve and -ve) by people either bigging up their own site or undermining the opposition. I guess I've always been wary of single entry comments.

Check out bit.ly/bUW98N, thetim.es/QpKmR, bit.ly/jSTfHA, bit.ly/iyowE0 & The Times today.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

... summit push continued

So ... Giles was at C2 and the rest of us holed up at The South Col. We could have perhaps made it down further but we were very tentative about the fact that we would have then been on The Lhotse Face in the heat of the afternoon having probably not really had enough to drink through the previous 4 or 5 days. Not a great combination. So we dived (crawled) back in to the tent and brewed up and rested. Effectively this made it our 3rd night at, or above, the South Col. Quite a long time to be loitering at around 8,000m but with a little bit of oxygen every so often and with pretty much constant brewing up we maintained and looked after ourselves and kept in good order. Well worth the investment in time and effort.

May 21st - up and away and down the ropes towards C2 (and Giles was off down to Base Camp). A longish day but reasonably straight forward given that it was pretty much downhill all the way. Nice to be back down to a more oxygen rich environment compared to the altitudes we'd just been subjected to for the last week or so.

It was a great shame to find ourselves sliding down the ropes past a dead Japanese climber. We'd seen him on the summit push - just sitting in the snow with his hand held out - but he'd already died on the 12th and the weather had been such that recovery of the body had been impossible until the 20th. The long and short of it is that we'd heard it was his 3rd attempt on Everest and, for whatever reason, he'd had an argument with his Climbing Sherpa. He'd told his Climbing Sherpa to piss off, which he duly did, leaving the Japanese chap to his fate. Anyway it was a poignant reminder about the environment we were in and a suitable focus to make sure that we were going to make it down to C2 safely.

May 22nd - Spent the night at C2 and then up (at 5) and away early (6) to make sure we were down through the Khumbu Icefall before it started hotting up too much. It was amazing to see the differnce between how it had been a fortnight ago and what it was now like. There had been many subtle (and some not so subtle) changes and movements and it was definitely better to be there early morning whilst everything was still cold and frozen.

Talking of cold ... when we got to Base Camp we were given the BEST bottle of coke EVER.

R.I.P Chris Walker. A brief tribute from the summit.

Summit push round up

So ... where to start? It's been a while since we managed to give a proper update and so much has happened that it is difficult to remember exactly the order of events.

Anyway it went something like this ...

10th May - left Base Camp for Camp 2. An exciting day as we were effectively heading for our summit push.


The view from the top of The Khumbu Icefall looking towards Nuptse

11th May - rest day at Camp 2. Situated at 6,400m it only has 2 further camps above it whereas on the North side of the mountain the equivalent camp at 6,400m is ABC and has 4 (or perhaps 3) camps above depending on the size of your group and the logistics involved. Camp 2 on the South side is a much more pleasant place to be and catches a lot of sun. Yes it is chilly at night and, being at 6,400m, is a tiring place to be, but the North ABC by comparison doesn't get the sun until about 11 in the morning and is pretty much baltic all the time.

12th May - summit push is on and we are heading to C3 with a view to continuing to the South Col the following day and setting out for the summit on the night of the 13th / summiting on the morning of the 14th. Having arrived at C3 and sorted all the tents, arranged everyone's mattresses, started brewing up, put the food and Os in the right places the radio cracked in to life. Giles was having an appalling day and was very downbeat and Jen was also having difficulty having pulled most of her intercostal muscles from coughing fits she'd been having. For Giles this partly seemed to be on the back of a bout of illness he'd had at Base Camp prior to the 10th which had laid him low for a few days. But even so he seemed to be struggling more than he should have been - especially when compared to the relative ease he'd been experiencing earlier in the trip. I dropped back down to assist Jen with her rucksack and then back down again to assist Giles by just being there with him as he ascended. It turned out to be quite a long hard day.


Sunset view from Camp 3

13th May - weather window has changed and high winds are forecast. The South Col is not the place to be in poor weather so we head back down to C2. Giles was quite subdued and we had a chat. We came up with 3 options. 1 - he drop to Base Camp for a rest. 2 - he drop to Dingboche for a rest. 3 - he try sleeping on a low flow of oxygen at Camp 2. We realised that options 1 and 2 would probably develop in to options 1a or 2a which would be returning to Kathmandu.

14th May - not quite sure what the weather is doing and are reluctant to head back to Base Camp just in case we find ourselves down the mountain when we should be heading up. It's a good place to rest BUT it's quite a lot of effort to descend and, in particular, a big effort to reascend. So we decide to stay put. Thankfully Giles had had his best night's sleep for a long time and was a changed man.

15th May - another rest (!) day at C2.


Full moon rising over Lhotse from Camp 2

16th May - Looks like it's going to be good for the night of the 18th / morning of the the 19th so we're off to get ourselves in the right place at the right time. How exciting.

17th May - Traipse back up to C3 (7,100m) en route to ...

18th May - The South Col. Exploring new territory as we make our way to 7,950m and move in to our temporary camp at The South Col. Interestingly I met this chap ... who had his crampons on the wrong feet. I'd mentioned it to him as tactfully as possible about 3 hours previously and his excuse was that he'd been in a rush to go to the loo (oh, that's ok then). He did nothing about it despite often stopping for rests. The fact that he was letting his Sherpa do absolutely everything for him at every rebelay (from unclipping karabiners and jumars to feeding and managing him) says a lot and he was so totally out of his depth that it was worrying. Needless to say I decided to put a lot of distance between us.

A day of legendary terrain as we make our way further up The Lhotse Face, across to The Yellow Band, over to The Geneva Spur and arrive at The South Col.


Continuing up The Lhotse Face above Camp 3


The Yellow Band with Everest in the background


Approaching the South Col (in very windy conditions)


Oxygen stashed at The South Col

Unfortunately the weather has changed again and so, instead of just being there for a few hours in preparation for our summit bid we have to stay for the night.

19th May (morning and afternoon) - Amazingly it is possible to be reasonably comfortable at nearly 8,000m. We rest and rehydrate through the day having listened to the maelstrom through the night. Just as well we hadn't set off in to the squall or we'd have returned without the summit under our belts and possibly missing digits to frostbite.

19th May (night time) - it's our time to go and we busy ourselves getting ready. It took almost 2 hours just to pack sleeping bags, don our down suits, boots, harnesses and busy ourselves with last minute preparations.


Ready for the off

Then it's out in to the bitter cold night, pop crampons and oxygen on and set off in to the dark. Unfortunately the number of people who'd been set to go the night before (like ourselves) along with those scheduled for the 19th makes for a busy night. We moved desperately slowly with little chance of overtaking those that are slower than us. The terrain is such that to unclip from the rope and over take is an invitation for disaster - and the way from The South Col to The Balcony is no place to be courting danger.

20th May - Gradually we get ever higher on the hill. I had to stop at The Balcony and take my boots off! We'd been going desperately slowly and I'd realised that my feet were getting colder and colder. I could just about feel movement but knew that if I didn't do something soon I would either be going down or wouldn't be able to play 'This little piggy' or be able to wear sandals without scaring people.

I'd been pondering for a while what the problem was (apart from the ambient temperature) and realised that the crux was that either my feet had gone up a couple of sizes (possible but not probable) or I'd put Ali's liner socks on instead of mine (probable) which meant that my feet were getting squeezed a tad which was restricting my circulation. Therein lies a problem Mr and Mrs Smartwool - your socks aren't marked with the size on which means that it is very easy for pairs to get mixed up in outdoors families drawers and cupboards.

So ... outer boot off, inner boot off, instant freezing of socks due to -30 degree temperatures, outer sock off, inner sock off, outer sock back on, inner boot on and outer boot on. Do up various straps and laces and attempt to rewarm hands. And repeat with the other foot. After this I quickly changed to my second oxygen bottle so that I probably wouldn't have to stop again on the way to the summit.

This didn't take too long but I noticed the difference straight away. The Balcony is a popular stopping point for teams to quickly rest, change oxygen bottle, take on some energy and reassemble. Luckily once I'd managed to take the all too small socks off I was able to pop in front of a few teams and found myself with Jen and Susan (plus their Sherpas).


Jen all frozen up on the way to The Balcony

Gradually we made our way higher as the sun started to rise and were able to start to enjoy the ever changing views. Some amazing sights.


Looking back down to The Balcony (and the queues we'd managed to get ahead of)


But even so - there was a bit of a queue ahead as well.

Managed to gradually get past a few more people where the terrain allowed and then suddenly we're on the ridge and making our way towards the South Summit. I saw Giles making his way down (he'd summited at 05.15!!) and I could see The Hillary Step and the summit in the distance. I met Partha on his way down as well and then the next thing (about 2 hours later!!) I was on the summit as well.

Hurrah!

It was a bit breezey and quite cold but I busied myself with doing some video footage and enjoying the environment.


After a while Jen and her Sherpa (Dorje Gyalgen) joined me followed by Susan and Padawa. I left some ashes on the summit of a great friend who had tragically died in Scotland the year before and by now I'd been on the top for an hour and a half and it was time to go. We made our way back to The South Summit, rested for a while, and then on back to The Balcony where I collected my socks and an empty water bottle I'd left there. I also changed back to my first (half full) bottle of oxygen and sent some texts (most of which it subsequently turns out didn't get through). Not quite the first text from the summit slopes of Mount Everest but not far off it.

I popped down the ropes rather tentatively as I was adamant that I didn't want to relax and have a lapse of concentration. Only when I was a few hundred metres from the South Col did I dare do a piece to camera reflecting on the success of the day.



20th May - (night time). Giles had been so far ahead of the rest of us that he had made the decision to go to C2 (a massive day).

to be continued ....



Video from the summit

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Summit day photos

Just a quick update as we have been away for nigh on 10 days or so (I've lost count). Basically we went up for a weather window which closed so we dropped back down to C2 but then another window opened so we didn't have time to drop down to BC so we sayed at 2 to then go to 3 and on to the South Col. That window promptly closed so we spent a night and a day at the South Col waiting (and hoping) and then set off in to the night.

It was a desperately cold night and, because of the foul weather the night before, there were a lot of people setting off for the summit. Even though we set off at 8.30p.m. we were still in a big long queue of very slow climbers. Anyway we trudged and waited and climbed and eventually, after an inordinate amount of time, we reached the top of the world. Giles arrived first, then Partha, then myself followed by Jen and Susan.

All now at Everest Base Camp and chilling. Trerkking out tomorrow and hope to be in KTM Weds morning.

I'll expand on the story another day. In the meantime ... some photos (which are sort of out of order I'm afraid and the connection is too slow for me to move them around).

Moonrise over Lhotse





Full moon over Lhotse from C2




Approaching the Yellow Band



Giles on The Geneva Spur


The top of the Geneva Spur


Relaxing at The South Col


Ultra relaxing at The South Col


The view from our tent looking towards the route for the summit bid.


Looking back down towards the Balcony


Kanchenjunga (far) and Makalu (near) around sunrise



Jen - all frozen up




Setting off in to the night


Looking down towards the Balcony


Makalu


The Khumbu


Looking back towards Lhotse


Jen on the summit


Tim on the summit

Strange ice formation

Sunset from Camp 3
Setting off from C2 for the summit bid

Twitter News!

All now safe back at BC having summited on the 20th. Hurrah! Well done us! We're on 00977 98131 65232 if you want to txt. KTM here we come!

[not in tweet but helpful advice] Please remember to start your txt with the name of the person(s) you are sending it to (where appropriate)

Friday, 20 May 2011

Summit Tweet

The world's highest update from the summit of Everest! An amazing view. Off down to C2 soon once we've taken the obligatory photos. Tim

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

WAITING FOR A WINDOW

By Abi at Base Camp

Well, a few days later at Camp 2 and the waiting game is ongoing. The weather is being rather fickle at the moment and this is making robust forecasting for summit windows rather difficult. Its not that the weather is dreadful, but at this altitude, you only get one chance at summiting mainly because ascending from the South Col to summit is so demanding. So, climbers do not want to waste their reserves on a summit window that is not a definite bet, so to speak. There is a lot at stake......so its important to save physical and emotional reserves for a clear window that provides enough time to allow for a serious summit bid.

Everyone in the team is raring to go and awaiting starters orders eagerly...........

Unfortunately I am having to depart before the team has had a chance to summit. It has been a privilege to be able to help contribute to the team's progress over the weeks of acclimatization and initial ascents up to Camp 3 on Everest. The team have been wonderful to travel with and get to know over our time here in Nepal. Tim, as ever, has been a superb leader of the highest caliber, and great friend to all team members. He has approached this expedition with the utmost professionalism, providing everyone with the tailored support they have required as the expedition has evolved.

So, my part in the story ends here, but the adventure is not yet over..........

Saturday, 14 May 2011

WATCHING AND WAITING

(By Abi at base camp)

Well, there have been ups and downs (quite literally) over the last few days with Tim's team on the mountain. The team ascended to camp 2 in excellent time and then rested for the following day.....building up the strength for the Lhotste Face and ascent to camp 3 the next day. So, next day was a pre-dawn Alpine start from camp 2 to avoid the searing midday heat and energy sapping effect of the sun while exposed on the Lhotse Face ascending to camp 3. The whole team reached the camp in good order, but understandably exhausted from the effort involved. Rest and rehydration was the order of the day, while weather forecasting information reaching base camp was indicating that wind speeds higher up the mountain appeared to be looking unfavorable for the following few days. Stay put or descend? That was the question........

After much deliberation, the decision to descend to camp 2 next morning was taken. To stay poised on the mountain, but rest at a more tolerable altitude until a window of opportunity arises. The team have had an excellent night sleep and awake with the hope that today's forecasting might indicate an easing of conditions sometime soon. Apart from some minor aches and pains from the efforts of ascending/descending Lhotse Face, everyone is in good health and clearly in the mood for a serious summit bid. We're all watching and waiting.........

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Tickety tockety

Well sometime in the not too distant future we'll be heading up the hill on our next foray. It may well be our summit attempt but I'm afraid I won't be able to divulge dates to you just yet.

Abi (our illustrious trip doctor) will be able to update Twitter and FBook and in turn J'thong (our illustrious UK comms man) will be able to keep the Blog updated.

We have one piece of unfortunate news - Chris had to leave the expedition early and is now back in the UK. I won't go in to the medical details but suffice to say he is fine - he just had an episode that we felt warranted further investigation in Kathmandu and returning to altitude was not an option. He was a very strong climber and a valued member of the team and it has been very sad that he has had to depart. We'd have all put money on him summiting.

It's just as well that we have had a few rest days as the longevity of the trip, and the time spent at altitude, has had it's impact with virtually everyone being ill or run down in one way or another. Thanks to Abi, and her extensive medical knowledge, we have managed to get everyone back to pretty much full strength, albeit that some of the team are now rattling with the number of pills they are taking.

So ... as I said it may well go quiet from these here parts for a few days so please be patient and don't fret.

Exciting times!

Wish us luck....

Tim & Co

Sunday, 8 May 2011

From Twitter

Kenton & Seb have just returned to Base Camp after summiting Everest yesterday. Both looking very well considering. Congrats well deserved.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Lhotse Face


Well we are back at Base Camp and so it's time for an update.

We set off back up the hill 4 days ago and went straight to Camp 2. Our previous journey had been broken by a couple of nights at C1 but we decided to miss that out this time and go straight to C2. What a big day. We set off in the early(ish) hours to avoid being in the heat of the day too much. But even just getting to C1 is a reasonable outing. So we stopped for a while there and had a brew and then set off again for C2.

Thankfully later in the afternoon it clouded over somewhat and made the trip in to the Western Cwm a bit more tolerable. But even so it's the best part of 5 to 8 hours of walking at altitudes in excess of 6,000m and so is inevitably quite tiring.

After a rest day we then made our way over to The Lhotse Face to gain some more altitude and touch Camp 3. It's quite a way and it's a lot of effort to go and sleep there so generally people touch C3 (7,100m to 7,300m depending on where your tents are pitched) and then drop down again to C2, and then on down to EBC.

The Lhotse Face ... another of those names steeped in the history of Everest and the pioneers of old. It's amazing. From C2 we could clearly see the line of little dots making their way up the slopes to C3 and then on to the beginning of the diagonal traverse over to The Geneva Spur which leads onto The South Col. It took around 2 hours to even get to the bottom of the Face from C2 and then suddenly the angle changed quite dramatically and it was time for the jumar (a device with teeth which grips the rope) to be called in to action. By now it was quite warm and we were all in the intense light and heat of the day but there's not a lot you can do about it. So ... move the jumar, step up, jumar, step, jumar, pant, pant, cough, pant, breathe, don't look down, jumar, step, jumar, step .... and so it went on for the best part of 2 hours. Relentless but absolutely exhilarating.

And that's about it - we've done our rotations at altitude and are now ready for the green light. Obviously there are all the logistics to make sure are in place, and that everyone is still fit and healthy, the Climbing Sherpas are rested, there's enough tents and oxygen in the right places on the hill, and the winds are low, the temperature is acceptable etc etc. But intrinsically the next time we go to C3 will be to sleep there, and then make our way on towards the South Col and so on to the summit. How exciting.

To pee or not to pee? - that is the question.

Clearly Tim has gone off his rocker I hear you say. But this is just one of the aspects of high altitude mountaineering that I thought I'd share with you.

What generally happens on the hill is that we are all tucked up in our down sleeping bags by around 8 because it is just too cold to sit around in the mess tent. So after a few minutes wrestling out of clothes and in to sleeping bags it's time for a quick read and then slumber. And when sleep comes it can be really really deep. I generally have a fantastic deep sleep and then wake up bursting for a wee. But it's cold out there and I'm all toasty in my bag. And, hey, I can hang on for a while until it's time to be getting up. Or can I? I generally doze on and off for ages trying to get back to sleep but the feeling of discomfort is soooo overwhelming that returning to sleep is nigh on impossible. Best check the time to make sure I can make it until breakfast, and it's then that I discover it's around 11.30p.m. Aaarrrggghhh.

So clearly I'm not going to make it until getting up time, in which case it's pee time. Now I used to always get up and go outside and admire the view of the stars whilst having a tinkle. But that was on lower peaks where the temperature is generally a few degrees warmer. But since being introduced to the pee bottle I have been converted. I won't go in to the gory details but basically you pee in to a bottle and do the top up. Depending on the time of night depends on whether you are advised to empty it straight away. If you empty it straight away then this tends to send a shower of frost crystals over your unfortunate tent partner as you open the tent zipper and discharge the contents outside. But if you decide not to empty it then the risk is that it freezes, thereby rendering it unusable again that night - which could be a BIG problem if you decided you desperately needed to go again. And when you sometimes have to go three, four or even five times a night this could suddenly become a BIG problem.

Anyway, enough of that, I've had a pee in a bottle and emptied it. Back to sleep? Er, no. What happens next can only be described at H.A.T.A.T. (High Altitude Tossing And Turning). You try for all your worth to sleep but it just doesn't happen. Every time you turn over you get showered with ice crystals. Your tent partner does the pee bottle thing and showers ice over you. You get bouts of sleep apnoea and feel that you are suffocating. You breath freezes on to the inside of your sleeping bag and forms an icy crust around your head and shoulders. And so it goes on. All the way through the night. Until about 5 in the morning when you eventually doze off only to be woken up at soon after 5 when the tent starts getting very light as the sun come sup. So another hour or so of tossing and turning until it's time to get up.

And that just about sums up the average night on the hill.

Thankfully we are now down at Base Camp for a well earned rest. When we first arrived here and this was our highest altitude then all of the above was part and parcel of being at altitude. But now that we have been sleeping far higher, in actual fact Base Camp produces really deep long sleeps.

I'd write some more but I'm off to bed.

Night night.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Injections and oxygen (some rest day)


Well we are in the midst of a thoroughly good rest session. We've been practicing injections today just in case we have an issue on summit day and need to start administering some high altitude drugs. Also chatted through the drugs that we will be carrying on summit day as well as discussing our plans and contingencies for getting from Camp 3 to The South Col and The South Col to the summit and back.


This afternoon we then had a look at the masks and oxygen system so that everyone in the team is now thoroughly coherent with everything that we may / will encounter between now and the top.

We're having another rest day tomorrow when we'll be having a gentle jaunt to Pumori Base Camp (or C1) for a leg stretch and hopefully views across to The South and North Col.

We've been having a bit of snow here and there but this morning awoke to the best views yet - crystal clear blue skies and an awesome mountain vista.

We're sharing our Base Camp and mess tent with Kenton Cool (and his friend Seb Rougegre - Seb's first time on the hill) who has very kindly been sharing plenty of info with us - particularly with regards to summit day - which has been extremely useful for the team to be able to visualise what is coming up sometime in the next few weeks.

Hopefully we'll be able to drop another update before we head for C2 on Tuesday.

Until then ...

Saturday, 30 April 2011

It's snowing at Everest Base Camp.

We're just back from 3 nights on the hill. The journey to Camp 1 (around 6,000m) was totally stupendous. Having only ventured a third of the way in to The Khumbu Icefall the day before we suddenly found ourselves covering a lot of new terrain. In particular - LADDERS. Ladders over small gaps, ladders with broken rungs, wobbly ladders, bent ladders, ladders against walls and ladders over huge yawning crevasses. Top tip? DON'T LOOK DOWN! But you have to look down to see where you are going to put your feet. And depending on the size of your boots and crampons, and depending on the make of ladder, depends on whether your crampons fit nicely across two rungs or whether they don't quite reach and you have to balance and slide around on the instep. Most of the ladders have ropes on either side and, with a bit of help from people behind pulling the ropes taught, you can maintain some kind of balance whilst gingerly stepping from rung to rung. But occasionally the angles are all wrong and you find yourself being pulled sideways and off balance. Or there are other times when you get to a ladder on your own and so you have to lean forward, taking up the strain from the anchors behind you, and you end up looking down even more! Of course after a sweat inducing 2 or 3 minutes you are safely on the other side only to witness some Climbing Sherpas dance across in a couple of steps and continue, virtually running, uphill along the trail.


Anyway we arrived at C1 and got ourselves moved in for one night. Unfortunately it was pretty windy and snowy and as a result the trail was blown over. We were a little concerned that we may find ourselves heading to C2 and end up in a white out, in crevasse territory and with no way of knowing where the safe route went, so we opted for a second night at C1. This was a good and a not so good move. It was good in that when we arrived at C2 the next day we were all very well acclimatised from the benefit of 2 nights at C1. But it was bad news because when you have to spend 36 hours in a tent you go slightly stir crazy and when the sun comes up it is like being in a furnace. Solution?Open the tent doors. Unfortunately this wasn't quite as easy as hoped because the tent just started to fill with very fine spindrift being blown in - a bit like being inside a snow globe. Close the doors and it was overheating time again.


Anyway we survived the ordeal and made our way to C2 and everyone got there in around 3 hours or less - which is a brilliant time for the first foray. Not that we were racing. Just gently gently catchy monkey and suddenly we're all at 6,450m. C1 is a sort of temporary stop gap and now that we've used it once we probably won't need it again. Whereas C2 is permanently manned with a cook tent and a dining tent so being tent bound isn't as much of a problem.

So we heard that there may well be some snow coming in and opted to come on down after 3 nights on the hill. A fourth night would have been good but in the end we preferred to be at Base Camp if it snowed, than to be at C2. And guess what - it snowed. Having said that it was only a slight flurry but we are all feeling so much better for the drop in altitude and having had a shower and a great sleep.

The journey down was reasonably straight forward and everyone was down in 4 to 5 hours. Not quite sure how long we'll be down for but we envisage having a couple of rest days and then heading straight back to C2 for a 3 or 4 night foray with a visit to C3 (7,100m). We'll be chilling for the rest of today and we'll have movie and some snacks this afternoon.


Tomorrow we'll be doing drugs. I don't mean that we'll be sitting around smoking pot - but practicing drawing up and giving injections as well as swotting up on the high altitude drugs that we'll be carrrying (but hopefully not needing). Everyone will have their own supply - just in case. We'll also be having a session using the oxygen sets and masks so that we are getting tuned in and ready for the summit push - whenever that may be.

Friday, 29 April 2011

From the Tweets

Down at Base Camp after 3 nights on the hill. Khumbu Icefall & Western Cwm amazing.
As was the hot shower I just had!

Monday, 25 April 2011

from the tweet

Just had a foray in to The Khumbu Icefall - what an amazingly AWESOME place. Off to Camp 1 tomorrow for 2 or 3 nights.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Touring the Khumbu & the ascent of Pokalde

After nearly 3 weeks touring the Khumbu we finally arrived at Everest Base Camp yesterday in rather snowy conditions. The acclimatisation schedule seems to have worked a treat and everyone has had a great 1st night. Today has been a day of unpacking bags and boxes and discovering what we all sent out in the freight nearly 8 weeks ago - our Base Camp equivalent of an Easter egg hunt. Talking of which, we had mini easter eggs and chocolate selection boxes (Hello Kitty for the girls and Toy Story for the boys - which had all travelled better than expected).

The ascent of Pokalde a few days ago was a great success and everyone reached the summit in under 2 hours from the Kongma La. It was nice to have great views and be able to chill at just over 5,800m for ages taking in the panorama. Back down at the Kongma La camp (around 5,450m) Jen's artistic flair came to light when she decided to stamp out 'The Big E 2011' in 20 foot long letters on the frozen lake. Personally I would have preferred 'elmtreelodge-keswick.co.uk - vacancies available but book early to avoid disappointment' - but it would perhaps have taken up too much space.

EBC is quite a sprawling area and from the first tents we had to keep going for another 20 mins or so before we got to our camp. The whole site is an amazing area on a rubble covered glacier with another pristine glacier dropping down from the Western Cwm. Tomorrow we'll be venturing in to the Khumbu Icefall - which apparently is in great condition this year with the widest span across a crevasse being 3 ladders connected together.

The following day our intention is to pop up to Camp 1 (around 6,000m). When I say 'pop up' - it could take anywhere between 3 and 8 hours depending on how quickly folk can move in the increasingly rarefied atmosphere, how everyone takes to the ladder crossings and how much traffic there is. To put it in to perspective the Sherps tend to go to C1 in around 2 hours!

All being well we'll be at C1 for 1 or 2 nights and then on up to C2 (6,400m) for a night.

So we'll be off the air for a few days but hopefully will have some photos to send soon. We'll try and keep you all updated as much as possible but when it comes to summit push time we may go quiet for a while. Partly because we'll be on the hill (!) but also because we are aware that there are other teams out there who are following our progress (and therefore our weather forecasting as well). It would be somewhat silly on our part to shout from the tree tops (tent tops?) about our summit attempt to only find that it then made for a congested few days.
That's about all for now ... Tim and Co


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