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

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

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ama Dablam 2013 by numbers (if you are interested)

A quick breakdown in figures about the recent Ama Dablam expedition that you may, or may not, have been following:

Time planning - 18 months
E mails - in excess of 1,000
Duration of trip - 28 days KTM to KTM
Including:
Trekking - 5 days in, 3 days out
Stay at Base Camp or above - 17 nights
Including:
ABC - 3 nights
Camp 1 - 3 nights
Camp 2 - 1 or 2 nights depending on whether people slept there on the way down or continued on down to C1 or BC
Camp 2.9 - 0 nights as there wasn't anywhere to pitch tents this year
Camp 3 - 0 nights this year due to the excessive snowfall in October

Freight from the UK - 175kg
Including:
Haglofs clothing for the Sherpas - 30kg
Meaning - they all got a pair of approach shoes and 2 items of clothing
Plus:
Fudge bars - 1 box of 60
Which lasted - 11 hours
as well as :
Tunnock’s bars (more than 5,000,000 are made and sold every week) - 48
Jelly babies, Licquorice Allsorts, Tangfastics etc - 108 packets
Beef jerky - 40 packs
Fizzy cola bottles, tangy strawberries etc - 6 boxes
Tuna sachets - 42
Beef jerky - 35 packets
Swiss Roll / Golden Syrup cake / Soreen Malt Loaf - 55
Boil in the tub jam sponge pudding – 32

and
Cheese from the UK:
Babybel- 48
Mini cheddar portions – 60
Vache Qui Ri - 72 triangles
Primula squeezy cheese - 30 tubes
Mature Cheddar - 7kg
Immature cheddar - 'knickers'

Excess baggage KTM to Lukla - 640kg
Total loads Lukla to Base Camp - 33
Carried by - 12 yaks & 15 porters
Including:
Full (to overflowing) super market trolleys in KTM - 5 (trolleys left in KTM as the trail is a bit uneven)
Consisting of (amongst other items):
Gherkins / olives - 17 large jars
Dried fruit - 104 packets
Biscuits - 254 packets
Nuts (peanuts, cashews & pistachios) - 112 packets
Pate - 45 tins
Chocolate - 220 bars
AAA batteries - 120
AA batteries - 80
Ground coffee - 5kg
Cafetieres - 3

Total loads to Base Camp from Pangboche - 17
Including:
Kitchen tent - 1
Store tents - 2
Toilet tents - 2
Shower tent - 1
Other Base Camp tents - 27
Mountain tents - 18
Cookers - 17
Pan sets - 15
Rope - 600m
Gas cylinders - 115
Toilet rolls - 120
Blue barrels - 7 (my personal gear)
Blue barrels - 10 (expedition gear)
Kitbags - 8 (misc items)
1st aid supplies – 1 kitbag (weighing 17kg)
Walkie talkies - 30
Playing cards - 3 decks
Connect - 4

Estimate of eggs consumed - in excess of 450

Medication administered:
Paracetamol - 57 strips
Strepsils - 28 strips
Diamox - 9 strips
Amoxycillin - 7 strips
Cipro - 3 strips
Sudafed - 5 strips
Dressings - 2
Plasters - 3
O2 sats measured - 11 times
Stethoscope used - 3 times
Dex, Nifedipine, Oxygen - 0

Number of expedition members - 18
Plus - 2 leaders
From - 6 different countries
From - 6'5" down to 5'2.5"
Number of Climbing Sherpas - 7
With - 59 Everest summits between them (& over 70 ascents of Ama Dablam)
Successful summits - 18 Western & 12 Sherpa summits
Meaning that - Jon Gupta and 5 of the Climbing Sherpas summited twice in the season
And also meaning that - The Climbing Sherpas now have over 80 summits under their collective belts
Quickest ascent from Camp 2 - 5 hours

Sirdar -1
Who I have known for - 10 years
And we have worked together on - 14 expeditions
Cook - 1 (Pasang Temba) who has cooked at Camp 2 on Everest for 19 years running)
Cook crew - 3
With – Kumar based at Camp 1 for the majority of the summit wave providing endless amounts of very welcome hot water
Tips for the crew - in excess of £1,350
Sherpa summit bonuses - over £1,500

Liaison Officers - 2
Seen - Nonce

Friends I met whilst here:
Nepali / Sherpa friends - 48
Westerner friends - 19
Not including - the group of 18 clients who I now consider to be friends (of a fashion - using the word friend in the widest possible context)

Temperature range:
Low - minus 20 (first night at Base Camp)
High - plus 27
Wind chill - down to -30

Movies watched:
Now you see me
Lucky number Slevin
And something else that I missed as I was busy

Time to get to the reception for texting and calling area - around 20 minutes (down) and 30 (back again)

Average number of showers per person - 2
Average items laundered - 7

Most memorable conversation:
Dave - 'These binoculars are work issue.'
Carl - 'What are they for?'
Dave - 'Looking at things that are far away.'

Most memorable view - watching the full moon rise behind Ama Dablam

Altitudes :
Lukla - 2,850m (top of the runway)
Base Camp - 4,660m (when the tide is in)
ABC - 5,450m (middle row of tents)
Camp 1 - 5,850m (our pitch around the corner)
Camp 2 - 6,050m (it's not big enough to differentiate between different tents really)
Summit - 6,856m
Seito on the summit - 6,858m

Summit panorama - uninterrupted for 360 degrees

Fun factor - Type 2 fun

Achievement factor 100%

N.B.
Number of people signed up for Ama Dablam 2014 - 7
Meaning - there are limited places available
So - get in touch if you are interested
On - climb@timmosedale.co.uk

In the meantime - the next expedition is Everest Spring 2014.
With updates available on - twitter.com/timmosedale
And - www.facebook.com/tim.mosedale

So - stay tuned
And - I hope that you enjoy the show.

Yours - Tim

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Ama Dabber Dooo!

It’s that time of year again – Ama Dablam 2013 is a go!

I’m on the way to Kathmandu and there are a few people there already with more to follow. Andrew (UK) and Sean (Canadian) are already trekking in The Khumbu with their respective wives (who will be flying home imminently) and hopefully they will be very well acclimatised by the time we get to meet them in Pangboche.

Jamie and Mitchell (both UK) are jumping on the permit and doing their own thing. First off they are going to trek up to Gokyo and over the Cho La and then climb Lobuche East (just over 6,000m), after which they’ll be using the teahouse below Ama Dablam Base Camp for their operations base.

The main group consists of Alasdair (UK), Carl (Netherlands), Dave (UK), Febbie (S. Africa), Ian and Cat (UK), Jon (UK), Mark and Chris (both UK – he’s climbing, she’s trekking), Richard (Ireland) and Sieto (Netherlands) and they are all due in today or tomorrow.

The next wave follow a week later and consists of Jon (UK - assistant leader, 4 times Ama Dablam summiter and 1 times Everest summiter), Jason, Aeneas, Paul, Rick, Simeon and Jeremy (all UK) and Marcus (Switzerland).

So all in all quite a multi cultural group with a wide range of experiences under their collective belts. I’ve managed to meet over half the group prior to the expedition and it’s fair to say that yet again we have the makings of a great, fun trip.

Both groups will start with a sightseeing tour in Kathmandu followed by a frantic afternoon of unpacking, repacking, making last minute purchases, unpacking again, nearly getting run over, parting with money to a friendly chap who has painted a red ‘tikka’ on their foreheads and generally getting over the jet lag and trying to accustom themselves to the sights and sounds of Kathmandu. We’ll be eating at the likes of Roadhouse Café, Krua Thai, Mike’s Breakfast etc and I’ll no doubt take a bit of a side trip to Himalayan Java to catch up with some friends who live in Kathmandu. We’ll also be found in Sam’s Bar being looked after by Verena and Sam – a great couple who run THE BEST bar in Kathmandu.

But we’re only in the city for a day and then it’s time to fly to Lukla and start trekking.

The flight is an experience in itself and proves to be a very exciting start to the next phase of the trip and gets us to Lukla airport which is the gateway to the Khumbu Trail – the main access trail to the Solo Khumbu region and Everest itself.

Iswari and the guys at Himalayan Guides usually work their magic and get us on to one of the first flights which means that, weather permitting, we may be in Lukla as early as 8 o’clock (I’ve even landed there at 07:15). The process of getting through the domestic terminal can be quite disorientating in itself with a lot of what appears to be chaos but in actual fact is how it works over here.

Invariably not all the bags can make it on to the tiny aircraft so we prioritise and hope to fly with the bags that we will need for the duration of the 5 day trek in. The rest of the bags and the few hundred kilos of freight can follow at a later date and will almost undoubtedly be at Base Camp by the time we arrive there (fingers crossed. There are only 2 bags that have ever gone astray (and that was because they hadn’t arrived in KTM) and still they arrived at BC before we were due to start working the lower slopes of the mountain).

So we’ll have breakfast at Paradise Lodge where Dawa Phutti will be our host and then we’ll sort what bags we have (if they need sorting) and in the meantime our trekking Sherpa will be organising our  porters. Then we’ll trek for a few hours to Ghat and have lunch at The Everest Summiter Lodge which is run and managed by Phendan Sherpa (we stood on the summit of Everest together back in 2005 from The North side) and his lovely wife Sonam. After that we’ll trek to Phak Ding and have a brew before making our way on to Monjo (time permitting) where we’ll stay with my friends at Top Hill Lodge. The great thing about staying in Monjo is that it makes the next day a shorter trek to the National Park entrance which means that we’ll be ahead of the crowds and get through in double quick time. After that we cross the main river (a raging torrent really) a few times on some quite exciting suspension bridges before negotiating the zig zags to Namche Bazaar where we’ll likely arrive around 11.30. After a coffee and chocolate doughnut at The Everest Bakery we’ll have lunch with the friendly chaps at Kala Pattar Lodge and then don our sacks for a further hour of trekking to Kyanjuma and stay with Tashi and Lakpa at Ama Dablam Lodge.

Now Tashi and Lakpa run one of the busiest lodges in The Khumbu despite the fact that it isn’t in one of the main villages along the trail – and the reason is all down to their hospitality and friendship. Trekking and Expedition Leaders like myself will endeavour to stay there because we know that they will look after our group and go the extra mile (as well as ply me with proper coffee and cheese toasties). It’s also a cracking location with a fantastic view of Ama Dablam and Tashi also allows my group to go and see her amazing prayer room (which is reserved for the minority). In fact I’ve even slept in the prayer room.

Interestingly there is a teahouse next door which is almost identical in size, aspect and view but it is rarely busy – a reflection on how hard working, friendly and conscientious Tashi and Lakpa are.

Amazingly HRH Prince Charles has invited Tashi and Lakpa to have an audience with him which will hopefully be coming to fruition in January or February next year.

Since Ama Dablam Lodge is at just over 3,500m we’ll stay there for 2 nights to start getting used to the altitude and will be taking in a side trip to The Everest View Hotel and the amazing village of Khumjung (which hardly anyone visits compared to the 000s who trek along the Khumbu Trail) where there are the most fantastic mani walls (walls made from stones that have been carved with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’) – it is a truly auspicious place boasting the longest mani walls in The Khumbu (and they are longest by a long chalk).

After staying at Kyanjuma we’ll make our way to Tengboche (huge monastery and great bakery) and on to Pangboche. As with our first trekking day, because we are slightly further along the trail we are ahead of the crowds and will be in Pangboche for afternoon tea at Sonam Lodge which is run by fellow Everest (x4) and Cho Oyu summiter Germin Sherpa.

The next morning we’ll mooch to upper Pangboche (again hardly anyone goes there) and visit the monastery for our first puja (blessing) before having an early lunch and trekking to Ama Dablam Base Camp which will then be our home for the next 17 nights. It’s situated at around 4,400m and certainly we will start to feel the effects of the rarefied atmosphere – so we’ll be staying put for the first 3 nights. There will be a technical training session to go through how to used fixed ropes as well as some time spent chatting about radio procedures, medical issues, logistics etc and some top tips and handy hints to do with admin and tent routine whilst on the mountain. There will be another puja (we need all the luck we can get) as well as an acclimatisation walk up to ABC which is about 900m higher. After dropping some gear there and returning to Base Camp then, and only then, will we consider going higher and sleeping at ABC before eventually progressing to C1 at 5,850m.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – I haven’t even arrived in Nepal. I’m sat in Doha having a coffee and waiting for my onward flight to Kathmandu. WiFi connections permitting I’ll try and post the odd missive along the way as well as Tweeting (@timmosedale) and updating FaceBook (timmosedale and / or everestexpedition).


I hope that you enjoy the show.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Another happy Everest client ...

Just a quick update having received another awesome testimonial:

"I have been on two expeditions with Tim, to Ama Dablam in 2009 and Everest in 2013. I would wholeheartedly recommend him as an expedition leader.

The fact that Tim is an incredibly strong mountaineer is self evident (4 Everest summits and counting), and the high summit rates for clients on his expeditions speak for themselves, but it's the things that go on behind the scenes that might not be so apparent if you haven't been away with him before - his planning is meticulous, his logistical skills are second to none, he communicates well before the expedition and during it, and he leads with a style that generates respect for his decisions. Even when the weather's not playing ball, you can rest assured that when it comes to timing for the summit push you will be in the right place at the right time.

As a doctor, I was highly impressed by Tim's medical acumen - I think it was testament to his planning that during our Everest expedition not a single member suffered with altitude sickness over the entire trip. I was also very impressed that everyone was given potentially life-saving dexamethasone injections to carry, and that Tim taught the Sherpas how to use them too.

Personally, one of the things I value the most about Tim is his sense of humour. You can guarantee that even when things get tough, Tim will be able to lighten the mood, which on long expeditions makes all the difference.

If anyone is thinking of signing up with Tim, I would be more than happy to be contacted for a recommendation."

Dr Adam Booth, Everest summiteer 13th May 2013.


I think that just about says it all.

Oh, and I've just had the most awesome few days out with a chap coming along to Ama Dablam this November as well as picking up another 2 bookings last week. The first trip (3rd Nov - 30th Nov KTM - KTM) is almost full but there are still a few places available on the second trip (10th Nov - 7th Dec KTM - KTM). So if you are interested you need to get in touch sharpish.

I've also received another 2 enquiries for Everest 2014 and 2015 as well as having a healthy mailing list for 2016 and a client I am getting trained up for 2017. So it looks like I'll be there for some time yet.

As ever I'll endeavour to keep the blog updates / Tweets and FaceBook posts coming whilst we are away. I hope that you enjoy the show.

Cheers - Tim

Monday, 17 June 2013

Everest feedback

I realise that I haven't managed to get round to giving a post expedition update but it's been pretty hectic since I returned from Everest. The B&B has been pretty chocker and I've been climbing with clients quite a bit - as well as trying to work through my 2 month in tray which is full of Everest and Ama Dablam enquiries.

Anyway I have just received some feedback from one of the guy on my trip, Jon Gupta, that I just wanted to share.

"I have climbed with Tim, guided for Tim, and been led by Tim. We have trekked together, shared a tent together and regularly I bounce ideas of him. As a climber his understanding and patience is invaluable to learning new skills and understanding the most efficient, yet safest way, to perform a task. Whilst guiding for him, he allows me to stretch myself and use my experience to lead and make decisions with his clients. As a leader, he has a profound understand of the needs of his team and leads by example and is inspiring.
His humour is really great, and there is always a smile to be had - his team is always the one having a great time. His card skills are sharp (watch out), and his Connect 4 prowess flawless.
An expedition with Tim is more than just a mountain, it ticks every box - and for most, this also includes summiting."
The other thing is that I'd like to thank everyone who has chatted with me over the past few weeks who had been following the expedition either through the local news and / or online. It's great that folk have followed and connected with the story and taken an interest in our progress. It means a lot.

Anyway if you are interested in the next Everest expedition then please get in touch because there are a lot of people interested but there's only limited availability. There are nearly 30 on the mailing list but the group will undoubtedly be restricted to around 7 or 8. It would be shame to have been following the updates, be interested in the style and approach that I use and find out that you couldn't come along because the trip was oversubscribed.

Over to you ...

Sunday, 26 May 2013

End of trip round up ... for now

Sorry it's been a while but we've been a bit busy of late and in some communication black spots.

The latest news is that Ilina and Steve made the summit on 23rd May in fine style and in super quick time - summiting at just after 3 in the morning. The downside is that this meant they didn't have a view. Anyway since then we have all returned to BC, packed up and trekked out.

Last time, when Adam Booth and I made the summit, you may recall that the conditions were rather inclement and we had windchill well in excess of -40. Consequently, despite getting WiFi connection, and Simon in Melbourne receiving my call request, we didn't actually get connected. Shame as it would have been a world first for video conferencing from the top of the world. In the meantime there are a couple of other guys out there with corporate sponsorship who have therefore beaten me to it. Hey ho.

After our ascent of 13th May I later found out that we were the 3rd and 8th Westerners to summit this year (2 had summited a day or so before). There were two others on the summit with Adam, there were 2 others from Himalayan Guides (and indeed we had been sharing with from BC onwards - well done Jan and Mel), there was a random guy on his own when I got there and that was it.

There were two Westerners with their Climbing Sherpa who turned around at The Hillary Step (soooo close but, in the conditions we had soooo far), there was an Australian chap with snow blindness who turned around with his Climbing Sherpa below The South Summit (and who Padawa, one of our Sherpas, went BACK up to The Balcony to assist after we'd descended to The South Col - for no reward) and there were another 3 random individuals descending having not summited as well. So all in all 7 (plus 5 Sherps) summited and 6 (plus 3 Sherps) didn't. By all accounts a quiet day in Everest (except for the roar if the wind).

Since then the floodgates opened and other teams had been trying to summit in the wake of our success ... but there were a few teams who obviously hadn't been checking the forecast (or didn't have access to one) because they were trying in ludicrous conditions and, as a consequence, failed dismally.

On a later visit to C2 Ilina went over to see a lady she's met along the way and described their C2 set up as being akin to part of a shanty town with the situation inside looking like the retreat from some winter battlefront. Dishevelled people who had been mismanaged, abandoned (that's right - one lady was left to her own devices to get down from C3 and was eventually piggy backed by our own Dorje Gyalgen back to C2), who had set out from The South Col in totally inappropriate conditions for their experience, without having strict Climbing Sherpa support and who then returned in dribbs and drabs on the verge of panic, and close to death, back to The South Col.

For them their trip was over. 0% success rate and 100% dissatisfaction. The piggy back lady still had 5 bottles of oxygen unused but, to get permission to try again she had to return to Base Camp to call the boss in Kathmandu to find out if it was possible to reascend. So they had no comms with BC and no BC manager who could make executive decisions. And you can almost guarantee that by the time she got down and was rested enough to try again time will have run out.

Anyway I digress ... but I do get angry when people are charged an extraordinary amount of money to attempt this beautiful mountain only to find that their personal dreams are swept away by sheer incompetence, utter mismanagement and a complete lack of understanding of logistics, acclimatisation, health issues, weather forecasting etc etc. And at the end of the day some of these situations become completely unravelled at the edges and people's lives are at stake. The client, their Sherpa (if he's around), other people's Sherpas who get involved in rescues and other climbers who are already at the edge of looking after themselves, let alone assisting others.

Anyway that was a while ago and since then Jon, Ilina and Steve have all realised their dream of standing on top of the world. Jon, under a bit of pressure because of UK work commitments, made his ascent on a reasonably busy evening bit managed to keep ahead of the crowds and negotiated his way safely down to C2 that day.

Meanwhile the rest if the team waited patiently and eventually made their ascent on pretty much the last day of the decent weather on a clear, still evening by the light of a full moon. What a great way to be rewarded for waiting. And to top it all they were on the mountain on a quiet(ish) night with around 30 other climbers.

Anyway the trip is almost over and we are due to fly to KTM from Namche Bazaar early tomorrow morning. We're certainly looking forward to a few luxuries that we have been without for the past 2 months ... namely a decent shower, a proper shave, clean sheets and a proper bed etc. We're also looking forward to bring able to eat in restaurants and choose what we'd like to eat and drink etc etc.

As the trip draws to a close I'd like to thank you for following and supporting our venture with your comments, likes and shares. Whilst I'm at it I'd like to thank Mark Ashford for configuring some of the electronic equipment to make communication possible, Suzanna the housekeeper at our B&B who has had to work flat out in my absence, my Dad for helping out with the school run and, last but not least, to Ali, Grace and Max for putting up with me being away for such a long time.

And , again, to you, dear reader, for following our progress.

Many thanks - Tim

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reporting from The South Col

At The South Col with Ilina, Steve & Stuart. Tom has descended to C2 unfortunately due to exhaustion. Setting off in to the night to try & summit early tomorrow. Sorry to be brief but saving batteries. Watch this space. T

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The first ever LIVE(!) video link up from the summit of Mount Everest using FaceTime - well, almost!!

Well I know it's been a bit quiet of late but that's because I haven't had a signal for sending updates ... and that's because rather sneakily Adam and I have slipped, unnoticed, under the radar to the summit of Everest.

Basically as I wrote the last update we were making preparations for a couple of us to try for a summit bid. It's still quite early in the season and not everyone in the group was well enough rested to be attempting the 7 or 8 day round trip. Adam has been cruising at altitude and so it was decided that he and I should go for it.

We arrived at C2 in great time on the 8th May and chilled for the rest of the day playing cards and drinking. The 9th was a very welcome rest day where we went through the last minute issues of what gear, food and supplies we definitely needed and what we could perhaps do without. It was another day of cards and rehydrating as well as some time dedicated to mending Sir Edmund Hillary's summit goggles! That's right - Adam has managed to borrow the original goggles that Sir Ed Hillary wore on the first ascent of Everest when he summited with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on the 29th May 1953 - making this year the 60th anniversary. Very fitting, therefore, that Adam has brought them back to the summit.

On the morning of the 10th we donned our down suits and big boots and made our way to C3 (7,100m) and set about drinking and snacking knowing full well we were probably not going to get much in the way of sleep. Partly through excitement, partly because it is so much colder up at C3 and partly because of the altitude induced sleep apnoea we'd be experiencing.

The 11th saw us up and brewing bright and early to enable us to get on to The Lhotse Face ahead of the crowds. Having said that it's been pretty quiet this last few days as a lot of the groups were unable to react so quickly to this weather window combined with the fact that a lot of their clients just weren't ready.

The journey to The South Col continued out of C3 up The Lhotse Face which is angled at around 50 degrees and it's a long way before the angle eases - not the best start to the day after a night of little sleep. The route then headed left across the face and up through a short steep section called The Yellow Band. After this there's a huge corrie to be negotiated before getting to The Geneva Spur - a short section of steep rock. After the GS it's an easy trail to The South Col where we got the stove on and rested (!) and ate and drank until it was time to set off in to the night.

Or at least that was the plan. In fact it was blowing an absolute hoolie and we sat out a raging storm with winds well in excess of 60mph which meant we didn't sleep a great deal! But at least we hadn't set off in the night because it would have been a very difficult task (and realistically it's plenty difficult enough already).

So after a day if resting, eating and drinking, we eventually donned our down suits, big boots and crampons, got hooked up to our oxygen supply and rather excitedly set off in to the night.

There are a few reasons for travelling by night and it's not just to catch a glimpse of the shadow of Everest being cast over the mountains below as the sun rises. Once at the summit you're less than half way there and it is much safer to be descending in the light of the day with the warmth of the sun.

At night as we travelled we managed to keep reasonably warm in our down suits despite the temp being around -30C because we were expending energy ascending the slopes to The Balcony (8,600m) and on to The South Summit (around 8,750m). There was a fairly constant wind and this created a windchill effect well in to the -40s.

Anyway we both made the summit with our respective Climbing Sherpas but there was no way we were staying there in these conditions. It was a great shame because as we were going towards the South Summit there was the most amazing sunrise with a fantastic 360 degree panorama. And of course because we were moving so slowly there was plenty of time to be taking it all in.

Anyway Adam summited about an hour ahead of me and very quickly started descending.

One of my aims (on top of summiting) was to make the first EVER live video link up from the summit. I'd had a few practice calls with a guy in Melbourne who was going to record the whole affair and distribute it accordingly.

However, although I managed to get a strong enough signal the ambient conditions didn't allow me to get all this done. Consequently the batteries I'd carried along with all the electronic equipment (all in around 5kg) didn't take too kindly to being woken up and after 5 minutes all decided to go back to sleep! In a way it's a great shame because this was going to be the first FaceTime call and Blog update etc from the summit. However in a way it's just as well that it all powered down otherwise my finger tips would be far far more affected by the cold than they actually are!

Presently they tingle quite a lot due to some (thankfully reversable) nerve damage but it's nothing you'd notice if I was wearing a glove (only joking, there's no visible damage). My ability to do fine delicate operations, like pluck my eyebrows, is slightly affected but other than that it feels a little bit like someone else's hand so there's always a silver lining - you just need to look for the positives in these situations.

Fingers crossed I'll be back up on Everest in a week to ten days with the rest of my group but I probably won't be bringing the 5kg of miscellaneous electronic items up here with me next time - it's taken a LOT of my energy and I need to be in tip top condition if I hope to be back for a second ascent in a season.

Sorry I haven't been able to post any pics with this update but I'll try and get some uploaded in a less challenging environment!

All in all we only met a few other climbers - 3 of whom turned around at the Hillary Step, 2 who turned around below the South Summit (one of whom had snow blindness because he forgot to put his goggles on when the sun came up), and another 2 who were dawdling their way back down below The Balcony. I'm not sure of the exact figures but it would appear there were 5 other summiteers along with their respective Climbing Sherpas so a quiet day ... except for the incessant noise of the wind!

Cheers and all that - Tim & Adam

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Resting and waiting ... and waiting ...

So now that we are done and dusted with the rotations and acclimatisatioin schedule it is time to wait, and be patient ... our time will come.

A few days ago it looked like there may be some favourable weather and a few of us were primed and eagerly waiting the green light. The weather changed significantly enough for us to realise that it would be far too windy to be venturing up the hill and so we all descended to EBC. That was a couple of days ago and we are now waiting and watching and listening and being patient.

For me this is a difficult period because folk often feel that sitting at Base Camp is wasted time. The weather doesn't look to be bad enough for long enough to warrant dropping down the valley for a rest at lower elevations - it would be a shame to go down to be called straight back up again when the weather was looking to improve. That would amount to quite a lot of effort being expended in the name of having a rest!

So we are confining ourselves to Base Camp for the time being and spending time chilling, reading, playing cards, stuffing ourselves with snacks and generally trying not to think too much about the reality of the forthcoming exertions .... whenever that may be.

For the time being I'll not even divulge any thoughts about dates and potential weather windows because I would hate for folk to start getting all in tizz and excited about nothing. The other reason is that there are some expeditions watching what we and other teams are doing. Not only are they watching at Base Camp but they are tracking our blog, tweets and updates. If I mentioned potential dates, only to find that I was unable to update a change of plan because of lack of reception on the hill, then this could have far reaching consequences for teams who are not so well equipped with weather updates. The other thing is that we are obviously keen to keep our cards close to our chest to try and make the best use of the information that we have.

We do have some great allies and are happy to be working in cooperation with some of the other well respected teams ... but we are VERY wary of the lesser equipped teams who have clients who are clearly out of their depth who have signed up with companies who have a very poor success rate and a very low pedigree.

So for the time being that is it - we are waiting and there is very little to add. Even if the situation  changes I may not necessarily update but please don't lose patience you'll find out about our successes in due course.

That's all for now. Except to add my usual thanks for all the messages of support. It means a LOT.

Cheers - Tim & Co

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Some photos from our last rotation.

 
In The Khumbu Icefall

 
A tricksome ladder crossing

 
Spectacular ice sculpture

 
The view up The Western Cwm

 
Camp 2 ... luxury!

 
The view from C2 to The Lhotse Face
 
 
That ladder .... mended with string.

Monday, 29 April 2013

First rotation done and dusted

We've just had a great 4 night foray on the hill and everyone is in fine spirits.

The Khumbu Icefall is on pretty good condition this year. Other than the recce we had on the 22nd Apr this was the first time the team had been all the way through it and, thanks to the 3 week trekking and acclimatisation schedule, everyone made it through to Camp 1 in great time, even though they were carrying reasonable loads.

We arrived between 9 and 10, having departed at 5a.m. and chilled for the rest of the day. When I say 'chilled' I mean rested in our tents with the doors open trying to get any breeze there may be and with sleeping bags over the tops of the tents to try and create some shade. It's absolutely baking at C1 … until the sun goes down.

The next day saw most of us go for a mooch along the trail towards C2 to gain a little height and then back to C1 again. Thankfully the second day at C1 was a little cooler with a smidgen of a breeze so was a little more tolerable.

As we were setting off to C2 on the 3rd morning a tent next to ours went up in flames. I went over to assist as much as I could and doused the burning gas canister in snow. Thankfully no one was hurt but the three occupants (one of whom was still inside the tent (and still in her sleeping bag!)) were clearly very shaken by the episode. A very close call.

Anyway we then mozzied on to Camp 2 which is situated at around 6,400m and the journey was over and done with in around an hour and a half to two hours. It's a gradual incline with a few ladders to cross but in the great scheme of things it's an easy(ish) day - as long as you start early or you get frazzled as the temperature quickly goes from -20 to +30 when the sun comes up.

At Camp 2 we have a cook crew, a kitchen tent and a dining tent. So most of the rest of the day was spent playing cards and chilling.

Everyone had a great night and them we had an early start to go for a walk towards The Lhotse Face. Again everyone was in fine fettle and we quickly gained altitude and stopped for a rest at 6,700m. We could see the Climbing Sherpas fixing ropes on the face but didn't venture up as we'd only get in the way.

We were quickly back down to C2 where lunch followed by an all afternoon cardathon took us through to dinner time.

Another headache free night for everyone, an early breakfast and we hit the trail. The trick about coming down to EBC is not to start in The Khumbu Icefall to early or we'll be in the way of the Sherpas who are coming up from Base Camp, but equally not to be too late or it just gets too hot. So we descended to C1 by about 08.15 and then after we collected a few bits and bobs we'd left there we started down in to TKI and had the first third of it pretty much to ourselves.

Having said that I did see two clients being short roped up towards C1 by heavily loaded Climbing Sherpas. Surely, if you can't make it to C1 without being dragged there, you shouldn't be on the mountain? Perhaps this would account for the helicopter we've just seen fly in to The Western Cwm?

Later on we came across quite a big group making very, very slow progress upwards at around 9. They were clearly suffering as by now it was boiling hot and they should have started earlier. Not quite sure who'd made the decision to start late but it was clear that they had compromised themselves. Ideally you want to be arriving C1 between 9 and 10 and clearly this group weren't going to be there until well after 12 (and some even as late as 2 or 3 by the looks of it).

All in all the passage through TKI is good going bit there is one area in particular where it's definitely not a good idea to stop and take a picnic. Most of the ladders are well placed and stable - with a couple of exceptions.

One section of the climb consists of a ladder leaning against a wall at about 50 degrees to the left on top of which two further ladders have been tied that kink back towards the vertical. It feels most precarious and off balance but at least it's sturdy.

Another couple of ladder sections are more of the horizontal type crossings and over some quite deep crevasses. One in particular consists of two ladders tied together on a 20 to 30 degree incline but the ladders aren't quite sitting level so there's a 15 degree tilt to cope with as well. And to top it all ... it's a little bit springy and moves around a little. Most disconcerting going up on the way to C1 but even worse coming down it on the return to Base Camp.

So we dropped down this morning from C2 & we're now back at Base Camp for a rest. Not sure when the next rotation is going to be but it will be soon enough for sure.

The only thing to add is that, as you may have heard elsewhere, there has been a hoo haa on the hill (not involving our group or Sherpas) and there's a lot of rumours and accusations being banded around and some associated negative press. For our part we are very well informed about what happened as one of our group knows one of the guys involved very well. However, despite that we are issuing a 'no comment' press release - it's not for us to quote or comment or to get misrepresented. Sorry and all that but the politics are complicated enough without us issuing a comment and by inference appear to be taking sides. Suffice to say it is a sad situation that appears to have blown out of all proportion. A mountain out of a molehill appropriately springs to mind.

I'll keep you posted. Tim & Co

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Khumbu Icefall

So we've been at Base Camp since the 20th and we are well and truly settled in. The first day involved us getting our hands on our freight from the UK and KTM and generally sorting ourselves out. Needless to say there was plenty of washing water and shower activity as well.

The next day we were supposed to be up at 5 for an early breakfast followed by a foray in to the Khumbu Icefall. However, it snowed most of the night and the visibility was pure white out conditions. I had a quick chat with the Climbing Sherpas and we decided it was prudent for me to stay put with the group.

The Climbing Sherps headed out and I woke people to tell them not to get up!

I was up and in the kitchen at 7 and the Climbing Sherpas came back having made it 2/3rds of the way in The Icefall - apparently in some quite challenging conditions so I was glad we'd stayed put (we later heard about waist deep snow being ploughed through between C2 and C1).

We were up for the usual 8 o'clock to get breakfast and it was still claggy but by now the wind & snow had stopped. Half an hour later and the vis cleared and we were eagerly scrabbling to get ready and go for a recce in The Icefall.

The start of the Icefall is only 5 minutes away from our camp and we were soon donning crampons and harnesses and taking our first steps on the lower slopes of the mountain. The initial 40 minutes or so of the route are relatively straight forward and unroped (glad we weren't in there in the early morning white out) and then when we hit the ropes I ran a tech session to acquaint everyone with safe travel techniques.

Another hour or so and we were encountering our first ladders. The first few are for climbing up and then a few horizontal ones are in place to aid progress over the increasing number of crevasses we were encountering.

If folk are together then they can assist each other by pulling the ropes tight to create a kind of bannister for the ladder crosser to use for balance. Once across the first person then pulls the ropes for the second person and so on and so forth.

What to do, however, when you get to a ladder and you are on your own? Well you clip in, as usual, pick up the ropes and lean forwards thereby taking up the slack from behind and creating your own tension. This position means that you're leaning forwards and looking down and into the vast yawning chasm that you are about to cross. It's all very well saying to yourself 'don't look down' but you have to to see where to put your feet. Needless to say it takes a bit of getting used to.

So in and out took around 4 hours and we were soon back having a late lunch followed by my usual array of snacks and goodies that I provide including pâté, crackers, cashews, liquorice allsorts, fruit pastilles, pistachios, olives and gherkins.

Unfortunately we were then unable to manage much of tea on account of being thoroughly stuffed, so we settled down to a couple of series of Green Wing - thoroughly recommended by the way - and retired to bed.

As generally happens when staying at Base Camp nights become better and sleep easier and it's great that there isn't a sign of a headache or any adverse reactions to altitude amongst the group.

That, however, is possibly all about to change as we ready ourselves for our first foray to Camp 1 (and hopefully on to Camp 2) tomorrow. All being well we'll have 3 or 4 nights on the hill before returning to Base Camp for a few days' rest.

Hopefully the luck we were all bestowed with at yesterday's Base Camp puja will see us well and the snow will have settled down. There have been the inevitable avalanches pouring down the usual faces and gullies following on from the snow fall we've had but the icefall is, by all accounts, in good condition beyond where we recce'd to the other day. Next time we're there we'll be carrying a reasonable load so it will make for fairly slow progress me thinks.

I'll keep you posted when we get back down.

Cheers - Tim & Co

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Arriving at Everest Base Camp

We've arrived at Gorak Shep in fine fettle. There's a lot of people on the trail and it suddenly feels quite busy (and impersonal).

The fact that we are all well, acclimatised and having a super great time completely justifies the leisurely 3 week trekking schedule.

The past few days have seen us sleeping higher than Everest Base Camp, we made a mass ascent of Pokalde (5,800m), crossed the Kongma La and descended to Lobuche.

We awoke to a snowy trail and cloudy skies but the trek here was super easy - especially compared to the hoards of trekkers who are having difficulty along the trail. They all seem to be having a great time, and I hope that they're enjoying the highlight of their trip, but I am sooo glad that my group are in much better shape both physically and mentally.

We're just having some lunch at Gorak Shep, the last 'village' on the trail, and then we'll be mooching the last hour and a half to EBC where we'll be settling in to 'home' for the next 3 to 5 weeks.

We're destined for a complete rest day tomorrow where we'll be unpacking all the freight and baggage that we've been separated from since departing KTM. I imagine the shower tent will receive some use as well as bowls of hot water for doing some laundry. On the 22nd we'll go and have a look see in the lower stretches of The Khumbu Icefall where I'll acquaint the group with how to negotiate the ropes and ladders. After that we are having a Base Camp puja (blessing) on the 23rd and then we're aiming to be sleeping at Camp 1 (and Camp 2) on the 24th onwards for 3 or 4 nights.

So this is the end of the (easy) fun trekking phase and the start of the transition to the more serious (but fun) expedition phase.

I'll keep you posted. Cheers - Tim & Co

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Resting

Just a quick update … we arrived Dingboche (4,400m) yesterday and are now having a nice day resting, washing, showering and generally chilling. Watched Monty Python & The Holy Grail last night which is being requoted and re enacted today with much hilarity.

Tomorrow we're off to a beautiful camp site above Bibre and after that we'll be gaining height up to the Kongma La (around 5,300m) - the campsite with the best views in The Khumbu. We'll be there for two nights before dropping down and making our way to arrive EBC on the 20th.

Comms may be limited until EBC bit if I get a chance I'll fire another update across.

Out for now - Tim & Co

Friday, 12 April 2013

Down and round

Today we dropped down from Gokyo to Phortse - a rarely visited village on the 'other' side of the Gokyo valley. It's reasonably inaccessible unless you make the effort - and we made the effort and have been dutifully rewarded. We saw only 4 other trekkers all day and this is the start of the high season!

The route drops down towards Machermo passing the 2nd and the 1st lakes which are in a stupendously brilliant setting. Just before the hike up towards the village of Machermo we hung a left and crossed a make shift bridge to be on the eastern side of the valley.

I haven't been along this trail for about 14 or 15 years and I had forgotten what a brilliant trail it is. It is much narrower than the more oft trodden trails in The Khumbu and Gokyo valleys and has precipitous drop offs for a lot of the way. It is quite an undulating path and follows around ridges and in to valleys quite a bit, so is generally furhter than you think, but generally the vistas that you are rewarded with are spectacular.

So we have dropped around 900m and are spending the night here before following the trail around to Pangboche - again a rarely trodden path by the multitude of trekkers (and thankfully so).

It's only a couple of hours to Pangboche so we'll be having a chance to catch up on some washing and laundry before mooching up to Dingboche.

 
A porter sparking up on the top of the Renjo La (around 5,350m)

 
Mani stones and the view across the 3rd lake to the Renjo La from Gokyo

 
Looking back towards Cho Oyu (8,201m) the 6th highest mountain in the world

 
Our team of porters on the trail.

 
The magnificent path to Phortse

 
Great trekking

 
A random Yak

 
Drying yak pattes on the walls in Thare

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Up the Thame valley and over the Renjo La


Sorry to have been off line for as few days but we have been up a fairly remote valley and over the first of our high passes. There’s been zilch in the way of signal which, in many ways, has been quite refreshing. We’ve been able to enjoy the trekking and the sense of isolation as well as having little in the way of distractions. And to that end we have started to enjoy each other’s company and the team are getting along really well.

We’ve had the first couple of our chats where we’ll be covering poignant issues before we get to Base Camp or on the hill. Subjects have included Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), HACE and HAPE as well as frostbite prevention, how to avoid getting cold hands and feet and the importance of concurrent activity. We’ve also been chatting through various permutations that we may encounter during our acclimatisation rotations on the hill and the group feel that they are actually a part of the expedition rather than just being treated as a commodity. I’d like to think that they are starting to have a sense of ownership of the expedition – after all it is the trip of a lifetime and it’s nice to know what is potentially going to be happening through the next few weeks. I also hope that they will all be taking away some top tips, handy hints and a sense of awareness of how to organise and run an expedition so that they can build on the skills and knowledge they have already.
 
The last few days, since departing Thame, have seen us trekking in almost complete solitude. We saw a couple of other trekkers on our way to Marylung where we stayed for a couple of nights and hiked up above the settlement to around 4,800m. Then we continued past the turn off for the Renjo La to go to Ayre (around 4,450m) where we had the place to ourselves. After a night here we trekked up the hillside to join the main trail over the Renjo La and are now camping in idyllic surroundings at 4,950m. So we are out of teahouses for the next week or so and under canvas and being tended to by Bhim, one of the best cooks I have come across. We have worked together a few times and he is exceptional and the great news is we have him with us for the next two weeks as well as for the duration of our stay at EBC.

 
This is the first of our high camps and we’ll be gaining height and trekking over the Renjo La tomorrow before dropping down to Gokyo. There seems to be a keen contingent to go up Gokyo Ri for sunset so we may be in for a long day tomorrow but this is then followed by a relatively easy day down to Tagnag the day after.

So apart from the odd tummy rumble (which have been successfully been blasted with a ‘Cipro Bomb’) everyone is in fine fettle, we’re all sleeping well and just enjoying the fantastic environment.

A selection of random photos and out for now.