You’ve read the blog now come and see the talk! 

Advertisements

Snow flakes and ladders.

00013-1

On the snow slope at 7400m, climbing up to camp 2

Our trip back up to ABC had been uneventful and I was happy to be feeling back to 100% after my episode of vomiting two days before. Any form of illness at altitude can ruin your chances of making an attempt to summit, so I was hugely relieved that the drugs had done their magic and I was feeling “normal”…

Monday 22nd May saw us all in good spirits as we began to realise that the summit push was only days away.  Kari and Julian had again been in contact with the Swiss meteo team and it was looking like the morning of the 27th would be the day… Things were beginning to feel very real indeed – not least when we finally got hold of our oxygen masks and had the detailed briefing on how to use them and more importantly, what could go wrong and how to attempt a repair…  Needless to say everyone managed a good Darth Vader impression.

DSC01833

Our oxygen masks

The rest of the day was spent packing kit, eating, drinking and in my case, listening to Podcasts… One of the saving graces for me was having a whole host of podcasts on my iPhone – I’d managed to download a stack of radio 4 show (desert island discs, In our time and the Archers omnibus!) but best of all was the fantastic Kermode and Mayo’s Film review. If you haven’t done so already I would really recommend downloading one of their shows….

Tuesday 23rd May. I had now been away from home for 47 days and the novelty was beginning to wear off.  Fortunately good team mates can always help drag you out of your reverie.  All things considered, it’s a testament to how good a team we were, that in all that time we had had no fallings out or disagreements.  I’ve often been on other expeditions where personalties clash and teams divide into factions… although in such conditions it’s not at all surprising!

On Tuesday we were also joined in our big tent by Kilian Jornet and Adrian Ballanger as they also  waited for the weather . Good company and much laughter proved a great tonic and also helped to calm many nerves. Many of us were now becoming  apprehensive at what lay ahead.  Everest cannot be overestimated – and perhaps some of us had tried to dismiss the all to real dangers.  As the season progressed, more and more reports were filtering back to us about incidents high up. The death toll was rising and we were about to head up there.  It’s a truly odd feeling to be contemplating your own mortality and being aware that you might be living your last few days.  The truth was, that above 7000m was new territory for most of us – none of us knew what lay ahead –  how we would cope with the technical difficulties or how are bodies would cope with the extreme altitude.   But we were about to find out.

Wednesday 24th May. A glorious morning heralded the start of our summit attempt.  It was certainly a case of eat as much you can for breakfast . After a few final photos of the team, we headed off to crampon point and the start of the ice wall…

DSC01836

The last photo of the team – a mixture of deep apprehension and excitement

The ice wall was almost an old friend at this point, but sadly it never gets any easier – or the dangers any less.With huge rucksacks filled with kit for several days, it seemed even harder than usual.  In addition,  an avalanche had occurred since our last visit and part of the fixed ropes had been wrecked…

DSC01843.jpg

Approaching 7000m on the the way to the North Col – and hoping none of those huge seracs decide to collapse …

In blazing heat we ascended and by 1330 I was at Camp 1 and having a well earned bowl of sherpa soup! The dream was now officially on and day 1 was complete – the team were all buzzing and 1800M above us we could see our goal…

DSC01847.jpg

Home sweet home  – Camp1 late afternoon, 24th May 2017

Thursday 25th May. We decided on an early start to avoid the intense heat on the snow slope up to Camp 2 at 7700m. The weather started off perfectly, in fact so perfect that most of us decided against our down suits, but instead carried them in our sacks.  We were carrying  only essential kit, but still our sacks weighed far too much – it was going to be a  long hard day…

DSC00508

Starting up the giant snow slope to camp 2 – I’m the second climber in the shot. Holger, Julia and Mark are following

The slope went on for what felt like an eternity, and only seemed to get steeper and steeper. Perspective seemed to have a played a dirty trick – as we looked out at Camp 1 it looked like an easy prospect  – yet here we all were, panting like dogs and suffering badly… (well, i was – Bruno the Swiss climbing machine was probably contemplating throwing in a few press ups..) And we hadn’t even reached the rocky section yet!! Several hours in and the snow slope finally relented and the rock section could be seen  – but now the weather was on the change – the wind began to pick up and the temperature began to plummet. Things were getting serious… We were being battered by the winds, and although we had only a hundred meters or so to go, that could take hours at this altitude.. Fortunately Holger and I made Camp 2 in time and found our  tent perched in a rather scenic spot…

00016-2

Tent with a view – you do think twice before going for a late night toilet break…

Mingma, our brilliant Sherpa joined us and was soon sorting out brews and soup as we tried to arrange room in our tent for three people to sleep.. “cosy” doesn’t really come close – but hey, the more the merrier and at least it was more warmth!  All three of us spent an interesting night wedged in on our tiny ledge, the wind smashing into out tent…

DSC01852

Sleeping on O2 at Camp 2 – I actually wrote in my diary that I had my best nights sleep in ages …

Friday 26th 2017.   Over the radio we all checked in and with Julian and it was good to hear the sense of humour was still strong.  We were all clearly  missing film night and the delicious spam.   The wind was still howling outside so it was decided to delay our departure until 10, when hopefully we could push on to Camp 3 at 8250m .  We were now   on the final push – we would not be properly sleeping until we reached ABC tomorrow afternoon – Camp 3 was just a brief rest spot before we headed ever upwards at 10pm…

It takes forever to kit up – thermals, down suit, gloves and of course boots and crampons – it’s blowing a hoolie outside and there are 3 of us to get ready. We move carefully, aware of the drop outside..and all the time we struggle for breath – even the slightest exertion leaves you gasping. We feel like astronauts about to leave the safety of the ISS.  And that’s not too far from the truth. Outside the atmosphere is just able to support life – but soon, above 8000m, the air will be too thin to allow us to reside there for all but the briefest periods… This place can kill you and today we will start to pass some of the bodies of climbers who have perished.

DSC01853

Holger leaving camp 2- you can the see the remains of a tent above him!

The morning started cold and windy and only got worse. Spindrift and high winds reduced visibility and made for awful climbing.. Nobody stopped for food or drink, we just pushed on, keen to make Camp 3 and get some respite from the wind and snow..

00017-1

Holger and Angus high up on the way to Camp 3 – Poor weather made for a seriously hard day

Occasionally the cloud would clear to give us a sneaky view of the majestic mountains that were now 1000’s of feet below us – but sadly these moment were all too brief…

DSC01858

Taking a brief rest with Julia as the snow continues to fall…

So we pushed onwards and upwards, minutes and hours merging into one long hard slog…

DSC01861.jpg

Mark and Gus

DSC01864

Mark and Julian continuing upward as conditions worsen…

After what seemed like an eternity we reached Camp 3 – the highest camp site in the world and higher than almost any other mountain peak!   Deep into the infamous “death zone”, Holger, Mingma and myself crawled into our tent to attempt some rest before we started ever upwards in a few more hours..  More brews and some toblerone helped matters and we even managed to listen to some Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin – Sadly my chance to enter the Guiness Book of Records for the Highest Air Guitar rendition probably won’t come to fruition….

The wind was dying down outside, and maybe, just maybe, the weather guys had called the 27th correctly.. Outside it was bitterly cold  – but the view was worth it…

Everest02 (350)

DSC00646

The final snow slope and the summit can be seen. As can the long ridge we climb at night..

DSC01871

Sunset at 8300m – in a few hours we will be on our way

Unable to sleep, we simply chatted and snoozed until 2030 when we began to kit up and get ready for our 22:00 departure. Outside the omens were good – a clear night with stars a plenty!  With Swiss efficiency we set off on time and headed upward, our paths lit up by the head torches we carried – the fixed ropes soon seemed to give way to a jumble of ropes and it was good to have our sherpas ahead to decipher the route and the best rope to use. Snowflakes began to appear and soon i was aware that the clear night sky and had gone and we were now climbing in snow flurries….  The route became a hard scramble as we entered the exit cracks which lead to the final ridge at 8500m. All too soon we were on the ridge – and aware of the darkness to our left – the immense Kangshung face – all 9000ft was just a step to our left… time to be very careful.

The ridge that leads to the summit is a precipitous rocky rib that climbs over 300m and consists of 3 major “steps” (note – not the Hillary step as this is on the South side)  each one is tricky but i knew that the second step would be the make or break one  – famed for a chinese ladder which overcomes a 40ft sheer rock face, the step was for me the place I was dreading . If I could overcome that, i knew I would summit.   Climbing in a massive down suit, unwieldy boots, crampons and a mask, even climbing your stairs at home would be tricky.   The snow was now falling heavily and head torch beams lit up the surreal landscape ahead – huge icy pillars and vast drops..  Keeping it “together” and not thinking too heavily became key – Just concentrate and don’t think of the dangers… The first step finally loomed into view and was soon passed – a few delicate moves and a bit of front pointing and I was over the worst of it.  Now for the second step.. I’m not sure what German is for “Holy crap” but I’m pretty sure that’s what Holger muttered as we finally came around a rock band and saw the step looming up before us . There are actually 3 ladders, and from a distance it looks horrendous  – this was my moment – get past this and you’ll be there… 8625m, just a few hundred meters more to go

DSC01872.jpg

Holger, Bruno, Julia and Julian on the infamous 2nd Step at 8625m

It was actually a lot easier than I had imagined. Maybe the adrenalin helped. But soon i was making the airy traverse out right and stepping out onto the ridge and on my way – and I knew I had done it.  Never did I really think i would summit. In fact I was always secretly thinking I’d be happy with camp 2 and giving it 100%. This is, after all, Everest. But here I was, above the second step, on my way in the darkness to the summit. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I would have  to come back down this way….

By now the snow was falling heavily and I had to stop on several occasions to  remove my goggles.  Climbing without them was proving near impossible as the icy wind and snow bit into my face – yet walking with them, covered now in ice and snow was almost as bad…  The third step was actually quite fun – and strangely reminded me of scrambles in Snowdonia – pulling hard on odd shaped rocks and heaving myself over small ledges… now only 100m to go. But still no sign of the summit – up ahead small torch lights could be seen  – was it the summit? The last snow slope proved utterly exhausting and ridiculously steep – I recalled reading about a hugely exposed rocky  traverse after – thankfully the dark was a good friend – but the traverse was committing and hard – only the final ridge is left  – was that the summit ahead??  I felt a punch in my arse from Julian “It’s Everest” he shouted at me…

DSC00651

Thanks to Julian for this photo! Just approaching the summit of Mt Everest at 0430 on 27th May 2017

At this point I could feel myself begin to well up – I was just about to achieve my boyhood dream and realise my greatest ambition –  And then I was standing on the summit of the world.  Six and half hours after leaving camp 3 we had actually done it!  The first light of dawn was beginning to lift the darkness and an eery blue cast filled the heavy snowy light. There was no amazing vista and no sense of the world dropping away below my feet – the chinese tripod had long since gone but the summit was abound with prayer flags and a picture of the Dalai Lama.  The emotion I had expected never materilised  and all I  could think of was  – I’ve somehow got to get down alive.  It was a terrifying prospect.  DSC01881I looked at my watch to see the time – it was 0440. Almost midnight in the UK. I had no idea that many people were following Julian’s GPS garmin tracker and were now celebrating  –  I decided to wait on the summit for the possibility of a spectacular sunrise and maybe, just maybe a view. But it wasn’t to be.  There are many things you wished you’d done on the summit – but time flies so quickly and you so easily forget those things – I took a brief piece of film footage – it shows the claggy weather, how dark it was and how the  snow and wind made it feel just like a winter munro day! Fortunately I did manage to get a few summit shots – and i did stand right on the top. But I’m still struggling to come to terms with what I’ve achieved… and all I wanted was that view….

DSC01882

looking down the summit ridge from the top…time for me to head back down

So after 45 mins and no chance of any weather improvement – I left the summit and began the long and dangerous trip back down.  I caught up with holger and we kept each company over some of the more “interesting” bits of the descent. For some reason I was totally on my own for long sections of the descent and have no idea what happened to all of our sherpas, although i do know a few were looking after some who had faired less well.  None the less it was a lonely and at times quite a tricky descent through the snow and wind.

DSC01887

Waiting with Holger as others sort out their ropes. The Kangshung face falls away 9000ft on the right…

Conditions were clearly getting much worse with the wind building and the snow reducing visibility to a few feet at times.  Holger and I reached the second step in good time and ended up down climbing the ladders rather than abseil on ropes which all appeared past their best.. A sherpa would have been a huge help at this time. Already suffering from stomach cramps, I ended up doubled up in pain at the bottom and gasping for breath… so much so that I had to remove my mask to breathe. It was only later when I bumped into Julia that I got her to check my O2 and it became apparent that the flow rate had been set to a much lower rate  – no wonder I’d been having problems…

It seemed never ending and I was hugely thankful for all the training I had done – Getting up is only half the job, getting down is the tricky bit…  Thankfully my body didn’t give up and I felt remarkably strong – save but for the damned stomach cramps…God knows what the hell I  had eaten…

DSC01891

a climber descends through the snow

DSC01893

A brief clearing in the cloud shows Camp3 below!

It’s true to say that it was the most difficult and dangerous descent I have ever done. I left the summit at 0530 and after descending over 2300m arrived at ABC at 1620 .  I finally felt safe and had somehow made it down without being killed.  By early evening all the team had returned with just our sherpa still high on the hill bringing down essential kit the day after.

800_9377

The team returns to ABC …

The rest is all rather straight forward! We all slept  like never before and the next day we all ached like never before. Oh and we had the joy of walking 25km back to base camp! But it was done and we all wanted to get back home  – it was time to wrap it all up and Kari got it all done with superb efficiency – a day later the yaks arrived with all our kit from the high camps, and the next day we were leaving base camp, unlikely to ever return to this place we had called “home” for 50 days.

DSC01908

If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog posts over the last few months, maybe I can tempt you into a small donation for my chosen charity? Just a  Drop do amazing work throughout the world and all the info on them and how to donate can be found here…Im trying to raise the sum of £8848 – I’m sure you’ll all appreciate the significance of that!!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/monarch-foundationpaulfoxclimbseverest

Every donation, no matter how much, big or small makes a real difference

 

Thank you all

Paul

Back to reality….

A clear night at ABC made for great astro photography


I seem to start most of my blog updates with an apology – so I suppose it would be rude not to do so on this occasion. So, please accept my apologies for not writing sooner.  I did promise to write an update “in a couple of days” and yet  two weeks have passed since I summited. So anyway, here goes with one of my last updates…

Nothing brings you back to reality as easily as unloading a dishwasher and hanging out the washing. It’s barely been a week since I returned but already the memories of those amazing two months spent on the north side of Everest are begining to fade and the whole expedition seems like a distant dream.  It’s an incredibly odd feeling to say the least. I’ve realised a childhood dream and stood on the highest point on earth. I’ve actually climbed the biggest mountain in the world and survived.  And yet nothing really seems to have changed. I’ve already been back to work – I’ve completed a simulator check, flown to Tenerife and back and tomorrow my alarm will go off at 0430 and I will again fly to Malaga…    This is coming back to earth with a very heavy thud..  

Some people I meet know of my exploits and are hugely enthusiastic to learn more. It really brings it home to me when someone has such enthusiasm and wants all the details. To be told, “I’ve never shaken the hand of someone who has climbed Everest” is incredibly strange and humbling at the same time – and all too frequently has me looking around to see who they are talking about…  but that’s the exception and certainly not the rule! The more common reaction is – 

Friend/acquaintance: “Ooh I haven’t seen you in a while – where have you been?” 

Me, ” I’ve been away climbing Everest..”

Friend /Acquaintance: “Oh that’s nice” 

And that, as they say,  is that.  No questions.  No enquiries. Not even “was it cold?”. Just that.   Thud. Back to reality. As I say, I’m finding the whole “being back home” very odd and strange. 

My home at ABC – I loved this little tent….


Well I did promise you all a much more detailed account of the last few days of the expedition (if you live nearby I suggest you come and take me for a beer or a coffee and I’ll bore you with all the details and you can skip the next hundred paragraphs…) As you will no doubt recall, this year the weather on Everest has been incredibly hard to predict. In the holy bible of Everest blogs, Alan Arnette has said it was the most difficult year to predict in over 12 years. Weather windows came then went, some teams were incredibly lucky and managed to summit whilst others were forced back after encountering severe and unpredicted weather. Getting it right is crucial – get it wrong and you may blow your chances at summiting, end up with severe frostbite or end up never coming back down.  It’s a fine art and many teams use multiple weather services to try and predict the best day. Everest is somewhat unique in weather terms. Being just over 29,000ft high, she sits high in the atmosphere, in fact so high that her summit is often in a jet stream – the super fast jets of air that reside in the higher levels of our  atmosphere – many of you will be aware that these jet streams are what airliners use to speed up their journeys across the Atlantic. As May approaches the weather begins to warm slightly and high above the Jetstream moves away from  Everest, allowing a brief respite from the hurricane strength winds which stop an ascent at any other time. But like an uncontrolled hosepipe on a lawn, these powerful jets will snake back and forth across the atmosphere and keep colliding with Everest. Ideally you need at least 4 clear days . But predicting that is as difficult as herding cats.   

a screen shot from the Everest 3D app showing the route and camps


We had hoped to go for an early summit day of the 16th May, and initially, a week beforehand, all was looking good. But as the day got closer the weather Gods decided to cut short our enthusiasm and the predicted window began to close as jet stream chart after jet stream chart started to show a level of unpredictability – a level too risky to rely on… By now many of the team were restless and frustrated.  Other teams seemed to be heading upwards and now we were being told that forecasts weren’t looking good until late May..  Little did we know that other teams would be beset with foul weather and many suffering frostbite as a result.  With financial pressures and climbers (clients) demanding to head upwards, there were clearly some teams who may have gambled when a clear head would have caused them to stay at ABC or BC 

Another cold snowy day at ABC


With no window in sight, it was decided that we would head back to base camp (bc) to rest and recover. I’d been at  advanced base camp for over 17 days and was beginning to feel the need for some warmth and a proper hot shower!! Living at 6500m isn’t really what the human body is designed to do, and certainly  nobody ever recovers at that altitude. So down we went – the joy of the 25km glacier and scree walk yet again. But if we had to wait fora week or even longer, then base camp was a much better place in which  to do it. Plus we also had our makeshift cinema down there and film nights were certainly a better way of whiling away those long and cold Himalayan nights. Sadly Mark’s hardrive had possibly the worst collection of movies known to mankind. I won’t tell you we watched “Paddington” as I don’t want you thinking that  us tough manly climber types (and Julia) spent an evening watching a film about a bear from Peru who eats marmalade sandwiches … and we certainly didn’t watch “Minions” either. Honestly we didn’t.  

25km of this and you get to base camp…


Life at BC took on a familiar pattern. Get up. Empty piss bottle. Have breakfast. Snooze. Have lunch. Snooze.  Have dinner . Watch a movie.  Interspersed with this,  we had  all the  other remaining teams visiting us in our big base camp tent and subtly enquiring about the weather reports and when we were planning to head off. It’s no word of a lie to say that once Kari picks a date, suddenly every other team magically picks the same date (looking at all the available Met data of course) It was all becoming quite sociable with the likes of Adrian Ballinger, Cory Richards and Kilian Jornet all “popping in” to say hello.  And still we waited…  I even managed a bit of running – just a few km’s down to the Rongbok monastery – but it was good to get running again and it felt surprisingly good – although not good enough to give Kilian a worry. If you haven’t heard, this man ran up Everest, without oxygen in under 24hrs. Quite simply,  amazing. For the geeks out there, his VO2 max is said to be in the top 10 in the world at over 92.. oh yes, he did it twice in under 2 weeks … 

Base camp had changed in the brief time I’d been away –  nights were becoming almost warm and the small glacial stream which had been iced up for most of the trip was now a fast flowing river, babbling noisily with the meltwaters from the rongbok glacier.  The place was changing and warming up. A host of small birds were now also occupying our camp. The sound of bird song, not heard for a month or so, was a true delight, as was the sound of the river.  I spent one glorious afternoon beside the river, basking in the hot sunshine and listening to the bird song … perfect recovery!!

Then one morning at breakfast we finally got the news we had been waiting for – a window was forming – the best one seen so far .. it was looking like the 26th or the 27th May would be ideal – minimal wind low down and the jet moving away.  It was time to get moving . Time to head back up to ABC and get ready to try and summit.  This was our chance. As the excitement grew in the base camp tent,  I looked out across the moraine and up towards the ever familiar shape of Everest over 25km away. Deep down I still had my doubts I could do it. This was Everest after all. Oh well, I’d give it everything and see what I could do . If I could get over 8000m I’d be really happy. But stand on the summit? Come on Fox, get real .

I helped a Chinese visitor to base camp repair his Nikon. As he had a rather nice 400mm zoom lens I cheekily borrowed it to snap this – the final summit ridge of Everest – seen from 25km away.

To be continued very soon – or soonish, you know me by now…

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten to beg!! Yes that’s right folks it’s time to click on the Just Giving Link below and help me raise funds for Just a Drop – an incredible charity which really saves lives of children and makes a real difference in many countries (including Nepal!). We take clean water and sanitation for granted in the first world – but sadly many aren’t so lucky. If you haven’t done so already please can I urge (ok beg!) you to click on the link below and give whatever you can afford – it really will make a difference!  It’s really simple to do, takes you a few minutes and next time you read this you can smile smugly knowing you’re one of my true supporters!!   
Click this to support me!

“We knocked the bastard off..” 

Apologies for the language, but as some of you will be aware it’s a direct quote from Sir Edmund Hilary when he returned back to base camp ….

Well, by now I think a few of you will be aware that at 0440 on the 27th May 2017. I managed to stand on the summit of Mount Everest and realise my childhood dream. This is sadly a quick update as we are now moving through Tibet on our way to Nepal. Once we get there I will write a huge report which will absolutely bore you rigid. I’ll also include lots of pictures of myself in my very colourful downsuit. But in the meantime I wanted to get a quick report out to let you know that the team are all safe and well. And unlike lots of other teams we luckily suffered no fatalities or frostbite injuries. Everest has again claimed her usual ghastly toll of climbers – some of which we saw – and our thoughts go out to all the family and friends involved.

The last few days have been without doubt some of the most exciting, exhilarating and terrifying of my life. I don’t think I have ever come so close to death (and trust me I’ve come pretty close in the past) and yet felt so alive as over the past few days.  I feel very lucky to be here and I think the whole team realise that we have been incredibly lucky to get up and down in one piece .

I’m still coming to terms with what I’ve achieved and I think it will take quite a while before it all sinks in and I can begin to come to terms with enormity of it all and what it means. I dare say  I will bore you with that in the coming days!! But it does seem amazing and strange to be  able to say “I’ve climbed Everest ”

Back to the last few days.. having decided that the weather would enable us a brief window to summit on 27th, we headed up from ABC to Camp 1 on the 24th and spent a windy evening balanced on the north col at 7000m. The 25th we moved up to Camp 2 at 7700m where are tents balances precariously on steep northern slopes. We also went onto supplemental oxygen and spent a tough evening listening to the howling wind battering the tents.  On the 26th we delayed matters till 9am when the winds became manageable and then climbed up in to the “death zone” and up to Camp 3 at a staggering 8300m – the highest camp site in the world. Arriving mid afternoon we simply tried to rest, eat and drink in the tents (most on big slopes!) until at around 10pm we started our summit push. All started well but as the night progressed the weather worsened and we ended up  with near zero viz and heavy snow! 6h 40 mins after setting off I stood on the world’s highest point. Not a place for hanging around, I soon descended, keen to get back to safety  and out of the worsening weather. I’ll save all the gory details of the arduous ascent and descent for the later posting.

Put briefly the descent was one of the hardest things I’ve ever known. The weather was no friend and in fact the wind was now picking up dangerously.  On the radio Kari made it clear things were worsening “get down to ABC – get down now..” sometimes it’s an option to stop at Camp 2 or more likely Camp 1 – but not today.  Mother Nature was showing she wasn’t playing ball. Down we went, limbs tired and minds becoming acutely aware of the precarious situation. Finally after 2500m of descent I made it back to ABC at 16:25 – if you don’t count the “rest” at Camp 3 , I’d been on the go since 9am the previous day – some 32 hours. But we were now all safe and sound. Everyone was utterly exhausted in the big tent , unable to comprehend the enormity of the events of the last 30 hours … to say I slept heavily is an understatement… and when I awoke my body felt utterly broken.  Oh but then we had to pack our expedition bags and make the 25km trek to base camp!! Followed by a caravan of some 90 yaks as ABC was taken down and all the kit sent to BC.

Well we left BC this morning and are now on our way to Kathmandu. Most of the German and Swiss leave KTM for Europe on the 1st whereas myself, Mark and Angus have a few days of r&r in Kathmandu.  It’s going to feel very odd being back in the uk…

Well, I’ve done my bit so it’s time I feel for some of you to do yours!! We’ve done brilliantly so far but we still could do with more!  Please donate to my Just Giving page here-

Paul’s Just Giving Page
Thank you for all the great words of syppprt and kind wishes – sadly I cannot get onto my FB page until out of China , but I will reply once I get to Kathmandu!

Best wishes all!

SUMMIT!!

IMG_8471

Successful summit at around midnight U.K. time!!!

Just had a very tired but happy sounding phonecall and they’re back down at Camp 3, aiming to return to ABC today.

Well done Paul, so bloody proud of you and everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve!! Xxx

Megan

And they’re off!!

Hi all! Megan here with a quick update on Paul’s progress.

The food poisoning (read: man flu) didn’t hold him back long, and he was a day behind the rest of the team ascending from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp but has now recovered and caught up.

IMG_8455

The obligatory ‘catalogue pose’ at ABC

They had a few days recovery at ABC, where they bumped into a few famous climbers. Notably, Killian Jornet the ultra runner who ran to the summit (???!!) earlier this week, and Adrian Ballinger from the US who is attempting to summit without oxygen later this week. Apparently only 2.5% of successful summits are made without supplemental oxygen so this is no mean feat!

IMG_8454

Modelling the very fetching oxygen mask!

The weather has held as hoped and the team set out on their summit attempt from Advanced Base Camp early this morning. Now they have safely arrived at Camp 1 on the North Col at 7000m. The plan is to summit on the 27th, probably early in the morning. They are 4hrs 45mins ahead of UK time so it’s likely to be in the middle of the night our time. I’ve heard camping at 8000+m can lead to a pretty sleepless night; I’ve no doubt Friday night will be just as sleepless back home as I’m online all night tracking their progress!

We don’t have any comms from now on (although there have been rumours of a 3G signal at Camp 2 occasionally) but you can track the team via the guide’s Garmin tracker. I will keep you all updated as and when I get any news.

Oh and before I forget, I’m under strict instructions to badger you about the charity fundraising again for just a drop. It’s a fantastic cause, please donate here. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far.

 

It’s on! 

Everest on the walk to intermediate base camp

Well after a week or so of being down at base camp and studying numerous weather reports, it finally looks like the jet stream which has been covering Everest is about to move away, leaving us with our weather window to attempt the summit!  It’s not an easy game judging the weather, but get it wrong and you blow your attempt -Unlike other mountains you can’t just come down and have another go – tents, supplies and oxygen all have to be moved up in a methodical way- and once those supplies are exhausted, it’s back to base camp. Also, get the weather wrong and instead of a nice calm day you could end up fighting for your survival.  We think we’ve got it right. We’ve decided against a few previous weather windows as we weren’t sure they would hold or give us enough time to summit – and get back down. Other teams have taken their chances, but kari doesn’t take chances and it probably explains why he still has all his fingers and toes and is regarded as the one or the best expedition leaders on Everest

Half the group set off to abc this morning – this will take two days with a stop at intermediate base camp   The rest of us set off tomorrow after breakfast.  I would have gone today but last night I must have eaten something which disagreed with me. -as a result I was up till the wee small hours heaving my guts up outside my tent. Those of you that know me very well will know I don’t do this quietly! I probably woke up most of the camp and sounded like a demented dog with a pole up its back end.  Good news is I’ve dosed myself up with some good pills and rehydration sachets and after an afternoon of sleeping I think I’m ready to start the joyous trek to abc 

High above BC on a quick leg stretcher


If all goes to plan the timetable should be 2 days to abc – 1-2 rest days at abc, then if the weather is playing ball, up to camp 1 (north col, 7000m) then camp 2 (7800m) and finally camp 3 at 8300m for possibly the worst night’s sleep known to mankind. Then late the same evening we set off for the summit at 8848m and if all goes according to plan it will be a rapid turnaround and try to make it all the way back down to camp1 or Abc.  Where hopefully tea and medals await. I will do my best to update the blog and keep you fully informed – but once we get to camp1 I fear comma may be a little intermittent. Someone did tell me there is a Starbucks’s on the summit with wifi and comfortable sofas…. 

So, please keep all your bits crossed and if you haven’t done so already why not add a few pounds, dollars or rupees to my Just giving page to help me on the last part of my journey?! Go on, you know you want to!!!!

Click here for Paul’s just giving page
Stay safe and have fun!! 
Paul