Monday, 25 May 2009

Summit update

I am sorry that this update has taken a little while to get through to you but what with the bad weather (little solar power) and everyone wanting time on the computer to send e-mails and reply to e-mails it has been a little difficult. Even now there is a queue of 5 or 6 people wanting to use it so I will have to keep this update slightly more brief than I would have otherwise liked.

Photo number:

1: Playing cricket at camp 2 (6,400m). If you remember earlier in the trip we had gone down to 5,000m to where 2 English teams had come to play the highest cricket match in the world. I don't think our game will count as we just had a knock around but it was great fun and it took our minds off the impending climb. It was fantastic to have a knock around with the Sherpas who really enjoyed it and relaxed a little before the next 4 days of hard work.

My trip from camp 2 to camp 3 was very difficult. I had a very churney stomach and felt very bloated. Half way up the Lhotse face I heard on the radio that Thomas, one of the Norwegians had to turn back due to a stomach upset - he found he had no energy at all. It was very worrying for all of us as a couple of people (including Chris Jones my tent mate) had only just recovered from a 36hr bug. At Camp 3 I had very bad wind problems and spent the whole day terrified that I had the bug and I would not be able to proceed to Camp 4 the following day. Everyone that had had the bug so far had not been able to climb for 36hrs!
When I woke at Camp 3 feeling good and less bloated the relief I felt was incredible. I had a poo into a poo bag (very difficult at -15C in a down suit on an ice cliff) and popped a couple of immodium. There was one other person who had had the same symptoms and again seemed much better this morning. I think we had both been very lucky and had only picked up a mild version of the bug going around.
Thomas tried again yesterday afternoon to get to camp 3 but failed half way. He then tried 36hrs later with the second group coming up behind us and failed again. It was very sad as he was one of the stronger members of the whole team. Likewise a member of the second team, Jim, was also struck down by the bug which led to him passing out just before the Lhotse face.

2: Picture from South Col camp 4 (7,950m). There are only 14 mountains higher than 8,000m so here where our last camp is we are sleeping higher than every mountain in the world arpart from the 14 that are in the Himalaya.

We started using Oxygen at camp 3 to help us sleep. We used a low flow rate of just 1/2 litre per minute but it enabled me to have a really good night's sleep. We left Camp 3 for Camp 4 on an oxygen flow rate of 2 litres per minute and for a few hundred metres it felt wonderful. After that it felt just as hard as without oxygen but I am sure we were moving much faster than we would have without it.

3: A couple of our tents at South Col with the large pile of oxygen bottles to the right. These, as well as tents, sleeping bags, roll mats and cooking equipment, had all been carried from BC to the South Col by the Sherpas over the previous days and weeks.

4: Edward on my tent at the South Col.

5: The sky finally getting light after around 4 hours of climbing. This picture was taken at the South Summit of Everest 8,700m

After arriving at the South Col we immediately set to work melting and boiling water to rehydrate ourselves. Chris Jones and I managed to eat a little salami and cheese as well as a tomato soup. We again slept on Oxygen at 1/2 litre per minute. We finally finished at 6:30pm and tried to get some sleep. I amazingly managed to sleep for 3hrs. We had to get up at 9:30pm to again start boiling water for our climb. We spent 2 hrs boiling water and getting ready and left at just after 11:30pm.

Our first objective was a place called the Balcony (8,450m) where we were to dump one of our oxygen bottles and continue on the other one we were carrying. We arrived after 3hrs still in the complete dark. There was very little light from the moon, although we did get some wonderful views of a thunderstorm over Nepal.

We then continued onto the South Summit.

6: Looking towards the Hilary Step from the South Summit. Taken at 04:33 in the morning.

7: Five minutes later, beginning to climb the Hilary Step.

8: On the final snow ridge to the summit.

9: Still on the final snow ridge to the summit but looking towards the sun rise.

10: Finally on the summit after 6hrs and 5 mins of climbing from the South Col. Note the shadow of Everest on the clouds in the background. The Top of the World - Fantastic!

11: Dad and me.

12: Kim, Harvey, Safia and me.

13: Harvey and me.

14: Safia and me.

As my father never met my children, I felt that there would be no better or closer place to introduce them to each other.

15: Everest's shadow on the clouds.

16 and 17: Pictures of me on top of Everest next to the prayer flags and little Bhudda.

18: Picture taken on my way back down from the Balcony looking down onto the South Col and our camp.

I expected to find summit day a day from hell which is what you read in most books, but due to the all the aclimatisation and training climbs that Russ made us do, the quality of the food and camps, plus the fact that I probably had more adrenalin pumping through me than I have ever had, I really enjoyed the whole day. I was lucky to have Phuba leading me up and on many occasions we unclipped from the fixed ropes to get past people, this kept us moving fast and warm and I think had a great deal to do with my enjoyment of the day. While it is not something I would want to do again, it will be a warm and fantastic memory of a great day's climbing with wonderful people. A day I will certainly never forget.

Thank you to Russ and all of his team for such wonderful support in every respect, this summit would not have been possible without all of them!

Thank you all also for all the supporting comments I have received during this trip. They have brightened the long, cold days spent at base camp and inspired me to achieve my best.

Look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Love Chris


jdovell said...

Incredible Chris...well done for photo's of dad and family....i think that is what ultimately took u to the top and in such speed. All credit to Russ and the team [ he kept his promise of keeping u safe]. Now all we have to do is listen to your stories over the next 40yrs !!! Very relieved and proud of you Chris....Brother-John

Tamsin Dovell said...

Chris...lovely to see all the photo's, how incredible, really can't believe it...and dad would have been so proud of you, and so too am I...
hope you have a safe trip back and looking forward to a great big hug in a couple of weeks time!!!
lots love

sean.ofarrell said...

This in a truly inspiring story. Just one thing though Chris, while we follow your every move with great anticipation, the blow-by-blow account of your bowel movements is perhaps best filed under "Too Much Information"!! A simple "I had an upset tummy" would have sufficed. Personally, I don't like to think of my heroes that way.... ;-)

Now get yourself back to London and let's celebrate this properly!!

Rachel said...

Holy shit - you made it!! We never doubted you would but it's still incredible to read about your summit climb and see you standing on the top...WELL DONE YOU!! We feel privileged that you took us all along with you :-) See you in July for champers on ice...or have you had enough of that for a while?!
Rachel & Jarrod

ukbasque said...

Great work Chris - very envious! Sounds like you and Phurba had a great day out .....

See you soon,


Paul M said...

Fantastic Chris.. Speedy safe travels back to London. Great pictures and wonderful stories. I look forward to seeing you on this short list.. I'm going to miss my daily dose of Everest news! Roll on next years assault on the North route.. hi Kim xx

Anne P Smith said...

Lovely pics - I shall definitely have one framed and put in pride of place! Your Dad would have just been SO proud of you. See you soon. Lots love MUM xxx

Anders S said...

Congratulation Chris
What a great achievement! K2 next?

Greetings from Norway

Sarah/Steve said...

Well done Chris a fantastic achievement! Good to see that Kim & the kids (& Edward) got to the summit too!!!
Glad that you got back to base camp safely.
Fantastic blog - it has kept my office entertained for the last month!! Although i've just had a bizarre conversation with a colleague about going to the loo on top of Everest!

Safe trip home. Sarah, Steve & Jasmine xxx

Yann said...

Un très grand bravo! Toutes mes félicitations. Vous pouvez être très fier...
A bientôt


Linh said...

WELL DONE Chris! Love pics especially ones of you and your Dad, Kim and kids. Hope you are back in England with the family and enjoying all the yummy food and wine. We hope to speak to you soon. Congrats again and can't believe we can say we have a good friend who stood on top of the world. Have enjoyed the journey with you. Paul and I became obsessed and tried to outsmart each other with Everest facts. P,L, J and Bump x

Stephan said...

Hi, Chris absolutely breathtaking!(In the very sense of the word!)You are not writing about the little tear you had in the corner of your eye overwhelmed by the sight and by the physical effort it took to reach this summit!Hope to see you soon to get a first hand report!
Hugs from H,F,and S