Well what I can say? Some of you out there are looking absolutely radiant – an inner glow, a knowing smile… You seem to have something about you….probably having trouble fending off members of the opposite sex – or quite possibly the same sex?? … The rest you, well I’m sorry, you have that down trodden Thursday look. You clearly haven’t discovered the joys of “CAN”. Want to learn more? It’s a painless process, no surgery is required, no anesthetic either. 2 minutes is all it takes to get that radiant CAN look – that rather warm inner glow and to have a wonderfully smug smile as you stand in that Starbucks queue. Still interested? Then follow the instructions here http://www.justgiving.com/foxoneverest On a serious note, a million thanks to all of you who have so kindly donated – I’m really blown away by your generosity. It’s a charity really close to my heart and every penny will make a real difference. The rest of you, give it a go and feel the difference!! The Community Action Nepal difference
So back to the expedition and the rather interesting events of the last week
It’s now over a week since a rather ramshackle bunch of climbers headed out to “intermediate” camp – a halfway stop between BC and ABC at 5800m Little did we know what was to come. The walk was lung busting but stunning and we were accompanied most of the way by the sound of the yak bells –
We reached intermediate camp late afternoon and our Nepali and Tibetan team had done a great job making camp and providing a much needed hearty dinner. The yaks slept between the tents and their gentle snorting and bell tingling soon got me off to sleep
On Thursday the views entered a different league as we headed up to Advance base camp. I’ve seen a few glaciers in my time – but nothing on the scale or beauty of this. Miles upon miles of sculptured shark fins – if we weren’t all gasping for breathe we probably would have really enjoyed the trek to ABC.
There are no adequate words to describe reaching almost 6500m and how bad you can feel. If you want to try how it feels though – wake up from a record breaking drinking session, then sellotape your mouth and nose up and try to breathe through a straw – as you sprint 100m – hey presto you’re at 6500m
Friday saw us taking a much deserved rest day – in fact the first of two such days – not much to do, but let your body acclimatise. And soak in the views.
Saturday started well. It would not end so and for thousands their lives would change for ever. I was snoozing in my tent at 1200 when the biggest quake to hit Nepal in 80 years struck -later confirmed at 7.9 on the Richter scale. My brain had no way of computing what the hell was going on – and it took a few seconds for me to react – imagine the floor you are standing on being balanced on top of thousands of steel ball bearings – then imagine the whole thing moving violently back an forth …That’s almost how it feels. Now add in the sound of Avalanche and rock falls. We were lucky – in Nepal several thousand souls were lost in those brief few seconds.
None of us knew the tragedy unfolding in the south. We were hit by a few after shocks. With limited comms it wasn’t until much later that news trickled in and the full horror became known. Our Sherpas used our sat phones to call home and discussions continued late into the night about what was to happen. On sunday we made the Puja – the blessing of our climbing kit by the Buddhist priest – a great ceremony which is hugely important to the Sherpa. Blue skies and we were all in good spirits
The ceremony goes on…And on…and on… It all seemed such good fun and all was going well – until at 1300 the second earthquake struck. Not a good omen for our expedition.
Very little happened over the next few days – limited comms made making any decisions tricky and we were very unaware of the true scale of what had hit Nepal. But soon news filtered up that the Chinese were closing the mountain and all climbing was over
It’s not easy to describe the feelings of realising your climbing dream is over – others have lost their lives and yet you want to scream and shout that it’s not fair! You have to temper your frustration with the realisation that you’ve been fucking lucky – and others have not. We’re all going through a mixture of highs and lows and as we decamped yesterday and made the journey back to base camp we were all in our own worlds trying to make sense of all that has happened. For me seeing the CAN donations rolling in has made a huge difference to my mood and made some sense out of this chaos – thank you all.
We are trying to sort out getting home – we can’t get back to Nepal so it’s going to be a fun round trip via lhasa and China. Will I be back? I’ve never given up on any of my dreams so far …