Monday, 27 April 2009

The Khumbu Icefall

I am now enjoying a few rest days after sleeping near the summit of Lobuche. For those that like facts and figures here a few personal ones comparing my vital statistics between London, upon arrival at base camp and now.

Blood oxygen level 99+% / 80% / 85%
Heart rate 50 / 79 / 68
Weight 86.5kg / 83.5kg / 80kg
The next trip is likely to be up through the Khumbu Ice fall to camp 1 at 6,100m and then on to camp 2 at 6,500m. A large chunk of ice collapsed mid-week in the Khumbu Icefall while over 100 Sherpas were heading up to camp 2. No injuries were reported, but the route was blocked for most of the day. We will probably spend 2 nights at camp 2 before heading further up to camp 3 at 7,500m. I am expecting a very nasty and uncomfortable night at camp 3 from what everyone has told me, let's hope I am pleastantly surprised. After a night at camp 3 we will return to camp 2 for 1 or 2 more nights before returning to Base Camp. All being well we will then be in a position to wait for a weather window, strength and health to go for the summit. All plans can obviously change but it it is likely that the next posting will be after this aclimatisation trip and so not for another 8 or 9 days. Please keep the comments coming and I will try and reply to them as and when I can. (Particularly if they are from your school Harvey and Safia)

Paul and Linh : Thank you both for the stream of messages, I really appreciate the support and kind comments. Please keep it up.

Maggie and Francis (plus dogs): Hope you are both well and enjoyed your time in Chamonix. We do have one or two charactures that are begginning to fit the Epic Eddie mould - I will keep you posted.

Joe: Camera, charger and i-pods working well. Hope the new job is going well. If your kids want to ask any questions etc please let them, I try my best to answer them - no promises!

Sarah and Steve: Thanks for the comment. Glad to hear you had a good time in chamonix.

John: thanks for all the comments, please keep them coming. Have a great weekend with your new toy. HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR TODAY. Your an old git like me now!

Dover: Thanks for the comment and jokes.....they don't get any better! The easy part is done the hard part of this trip ie climbing Everest is about to begin. Fingers crossed.
I have already lost 6kg and have been eating like a horse!

Chris: Thanks for the comment. Keep them coming.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sleeping at the top of Lobuche

Just arrived back from another training climb to the top of Lobuche. This time we had to spend the night on the mountain to help with aclimatisation. We left Everest Base Camp on Wednesday to walk down to Lobuche Base Camp about 2hrs 40 and a decent of 450m, where upon arrival we had dinner around 6:30pm and settled ourselves down for an early night around 7pm. We woke at 5:30 had breakfast at 6:30 and left just after 7am for the summit a climb of around 1,100m. We arrived at Lobuche top camp around 11:30 and had some lunch. I then went back to the summit (went there 5 or 6 days ago but did not stay) with Chris Jones and Edward (the children's teddy mascot) to take some pictures. We then returned to our tents had supper around 6pm and I was asleep soon after 7pm. I woke a few times during the night but otherwise slept fairly well in spite of the high altitude. We got up around 5:30am and had some breakfast before heading down to Lobuche BC and then on up the hill to Everest BC which is where I am now. I now have a few days of rest before some more training climbs next week.
It is my brother John's 40th birthday on Monday. Thanks John for all your encouraging words on the blog and I am sorry I can't be with you this weekend. Best wishes from this far off land - happy birthday mate and I will raise a glass to you from the white pod bar!


1: Edward at top camp on Lobuche just outside my tent.
2: Top camp cut into the side of the hill. VERY EXPOSED! Turn right out of tent ok, turn left fall about 2km.
3: Summit ridge up from top camp to summit.
4 & 5 Me reaching the summit.
6: Look carefully......our camp is at the bottom of the picture.
7: Edward holding onto the summit flags on the summit.
8: Sunset on Everest taken from Lobuche top camp
9: Sun rise on Everest taken from Lobuche top camp

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Anyone for cricket?

I am feeling very well and strong on the mountain and have been put in the first team out of three which is good but they are all very strong and I have to work hard. We started the first of our training climbs this week by climbing a peak called Lobuche (6,050m). We walked from Everest Base Camp to Lobuche Base Camp then the next morning climbed up to Lobuche camp 1. The following day we summited at around 9am after starting at 6am. I stayed on top for around 50 minutes before desending all the way to Lobuche BC for some lunch and then a long long walk back to Everest BC. It was a long tough day but it was good to be climbing.

Whist in Kathmandu, we heard that Lords was sending out a couple of cricket teams to Gorak Shep (just down from Everest Base camp) to set the world record for the highest game of cricket. As a joke, I bought a cricket bat, stumps and balls in Kathmandu and brought them up to Everest BC. Russ then took over and provided 2 uniforms for 2 cricket teams - 1 sherpas and 1 westeners. We dressed up and carried our cricket stuff down to Gorack Shep and challenged the Lords team to a cricket match at camp 2 on Everest (some 1200m higher than their game) They took it very well and luckily for us did not take up the challenge since none of us can actually play cricket. We exchanged caps etc. and Russ offered to take one of thier official cricket balls to the summit so that they could auction it off to help their fund raising.

1:Adrian, one of our guides, leading the climb up through the rock band up to camp 1 on Lobuche.
2: David Tate just completing the rock band.
3: Lobuche camp 1 (5,400m)
4: Edward at camp 1 on Lobuche
5: View from the summit of Lobuche looking down the final ridge.
6. Picture taken from the ridge looking back up to the summit of Lobouche.
7: View of Everest from the top of Lobuche. Everest is tucked behind the Nuptse / Lhoste ridge, base camp is in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.
8: View from the summit of Lobuche looking back down to camp 1
9: Russ playing Scalectrix in the White Pod at Everest base camp.
10: Some of the Sherpas playing Scalectrix in the white pod.
11: Picture of the Sherpa cricket team - the Khumjung Tigers - with cricket bat and stumps.
12: Russ with one of the captains and the organiser.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Base camp blog

A number of people have been quite ill over the last 6 or 7 days with a mixture of coughs, upset stomachs and altitude sickness. Two people have had to desend to Lobuche Base Camp and others have had to use oxygen. Thankfully most now seem to be recovering.

Temperatures vary wildly from night to day. My tent has been getting down to around -10C at night so that all my breath freezes on the inside of it. Then when I start to move in the morning I get a shower of ice down my back! After that I have to put on clothes that have become stiff with the frost. The sun hits camp about 7:30 at the moment and things quickly warm up from then on. Yesterday at midday a little thermometer I have showed a temperature of 35C in my tent!

Yesterday Chris Bonnington, the very famous British climber dropped by the camp to say hi to Russ and today Mons, the Danish asmatic, who has appeared on the last couple of Discovery programs dropped by the camp to say hi to a few people. He is climbing with another party this year and is again going to attempt it without oxygen.

I think that that is about it for now. Having a rest day today and tomorrow and then potentially going to try and climb Lobuche. I will post another blog once I am back from that trip so probably a week or so.

1: Puja ceromony, the picture shows the pile of equipment that all climbers and Sherpas bring to the ceromony to be blessed. The smoke is juniper that is burned as an offering and of also burnt when any climber goes high on the mountain.

2: The food and drink offerings at the Puja.

3: Me after the Puja ceromony with flour on him. This flour was put on by the Sherpas and is meant to bring good luck in the mountains.

4: The whole team of Sherpas

5: The whole climbing team. (clients.....or members as Russ likes to call us)

6: Me standing on a nearby hill which overlooks the Base Camp and onto the ice fall and up to Everest. Everest is still a number of Kilometers away and is the black mountain in the background. Some of the other mountains in this photo look bigger but they are a lot closer. In real life it looks massive!

7: If you look closely Russ's Base Camp can be seen in the middle bottom of this picture the main base camp is further to the left at the bottom. Everest is the black monster in the background.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Home sweet home

I am now at Everest Base Camp 5,300m. We arrived on Thursday and are now having a number of rest days. Yesterday I spent most of the day lifting my tent up and re-doing the floor to try and make it a little flatter and more comfortable as it will be home for nearly 2 months. Today a number of us walked into the traditional Base Camp a little further up the valley. It really is a dump. One team almost on top of another, Mess tents next to toilet tents, trekkers walking right through the middle of the camps and a general smell of dirt and grim not to mention the Yak poo! Our camp by contrast is set up away from the rest and is so clean and nice. Russ certainly knows how to set up a good camp!

We have the Puja ceremony tomorrow. This is very important for all the Sherpas where they ask for a blessing from the gods before going high on the mountain. It starts very serious with lots of chanting, then continues with chanting and rice and flour throwing and then ends up with drinking and dancing. All the Sherpas have the day off.

Monday we will be off to a small peak of around 5,500m and from which there are supposed to be great views.

1: Lobuche Base Camp 4,910m - This is the first time we will be in tents. We will walk back to this camp from time to time from Everest Base Camp to climb on Lobuche for our aclimatisation. The idea is to try and avoid going up through the Ice Fall as much as possible as this is one of the most danderous sections of the whole climb. Tents can be seen at the bottom of the picture as tiny yellow and red dots.
2: On our way to Lobuche we passed an area with lots and lots of memorials to those that have died on Everest. Both Westeners and Sherpas.

3: Memorial to Scott Fisher who some of you who have read 'Into Thin Air' will remember died in 1996 along with Rob Hall and a number of others who were caught high up on Everest in a storm. These memorials were a poignant reminder of what we are trying to do and to make sure we minimise the risks at all times.

4 and 5: Pictures of Russ's Everest Base Camp. Notice the large white pod as it is known. We have a TV, and Bar in it! Unbelieveable, I was sitting there last night with my first beer since Kathmandu watching a film!

6: View from the back of my tent of the massive ice fall which we will have to climb up through to get to camp 1 and higher. I have to say it looks even more terrifying than I ever thought it would. I am glad that Russ's plan should mean we only have to go up and back through it twice.

7: This is a picture of the base that I laid the first day I was in BC. I lifted my tent and removed all the rocks and then re-layed them to make a flat surface on top of the glacier upon which we are situated. I thought that as we will be here for nearly 2 months it was worth sorting it out straight away. Some of the others have done the same today!

8: Picture for Harvey and Safia of Daddy in his tent with Edward and the 'DAD' sign above him that they gave me for my BC tent.

Thank you to MarkO who kindly gave me 2 i-pods to keep me company. Now that I am at BC I have started to listern to both of them.

Monday, 6 April 2009

We arrived at Khumjung (3,780m) on Thursday 2nd April and stayed at Phurba's house. Phurba is Russ's head Sherpa and has summitted Everest 16 times! This is also the village where Sir Edmund Hillary founded a school and hospital. We spent 2 nights here and left on Saturday morning after Phurba's father had given us all a good luck prayer scarf to take with us.


1. Phurba, his children and father.
2. Inside the region's largest and most holy monastery at Tenyboche 3,860m. (Sat 4th April)
3. First photo of Everest. Only the very top triangle can be seen in the photo. Most of what you can see is the Nuptse - Lhotse ridge. You can clearly see the summit being ravaged by the jet stream with spind drift coming off to the right. Everest is still 17km away in this photo.
4. The next morning. Close up of the Everest triangle on a calm day. Still in this picture the majority of what you can see is the ridge in the foreground. Everest is some 4km behind the ridge.

It is now Monday 6th April. I have not showered or washed apart from the odd wet wipe for 7 days! I really hope to get a shower this afternoon once the water has warmed a little in the sun. We head to Lobuche base camp 4,910m tomorrow and tonight will be tha last night in a bed. Tents from now on!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lukla to Namche Bazar

With porters and yaks helping us ferry our heavy equipment, we start the long walk up through the foothills, passing through some wonderful Sherpa villages on the way. A long wooden suspension bridge takes us across the gorge. It bounces well when you walk across but is more secure than it looks. We reach Namche Bazar from where we can walk up the valley to get our first view of the mountains. Unfortunately Everest was hidden by clouds but we managed to get a good view of Ama Dablam (a mere 6,000'er).

Arrived safely in Kathmandu

Arrived safely in Kathmandu, where we spent most the day checking over our kit. Pleased to see some familiar faces from my Cho Oyo trip in 2006 and looking forward to getting to know the others.

Managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing at Sawabunath Stupa, Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine. The sleepy, all-seeing Buddha's eyes that stare out from the top of the shrine have become the symbol of Nepal. They are painted on all four sides of the stupa's spire, represent the eyes of the Buddha and face the four cardinal directions--east, west, north, and south.

A quick spin of the prayer wheels which are set into the walls leading up to the gate. Inside the wheels are thousands of Tibetan Buddhist prayers and it is believed that when each prayer wheel is spun, all the prayers inside are recited and sent heavenward.
From Kathmandu we took an exhilarating flight to Lukla, from where it is all uphill (and by foot).