Wrapping up.

Dear Family & Friends,

My Everest adventure is nearly at an end!

I left base camp as planned yesterday and hurried down the valley, dodging heavily laden yaks and trekkers with bipolar disorder, to the village of Pangpoche – I did not look back once. It is wonderful seeing greenery and trees again after so long amongst nothing but rocks, snow and ice.

This final dispatch is beamed to you from Namche and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following this Everest blog – thank you for your prayers, thoughts and positive energy!

To Lakpa, Sumit and all the staff at Himalayan Ascent; thank you for a superb base camp setup. It was always a joy to return off the mountain to what was without a doubt the best/largest BC personal tent complete with 4-inch mattress and Tibetan rug!

Congratulations to all the members of the Himalayan Ascent team: Chris, Raul, Sharon and Al for reaching the top of Everest on May 20th.

Please have a read of Sharon’s blog on   http://www.climbingforacause.com.au/

Thank you of course to everyone at World X for your continuing support; Sue & Kate – the Dragon was with me the whole time.

Soren

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It shall remain a dream

Dear Family & Friends,

3rd time lucky perhaps?     Absolutely no way – I’m spent with zero left in the tank!

My second summit attempt ground to a halt just below the Balcony (what is it with that place?) in the early hours on May 20th, Happy Birthday Jamilla!, when I had to face the fact that I had nothing left, that my strength failed me and no matter how I tried I just couldn’t fill my lungs with that precious oxygen. To me mountaineering has a lot to do with self-sufficiency and so you have to ask yourself the question; what’s the point of reaching the top – the halfway-point! – if you can’t get yourself all the way back down again?

I’d always wanted to try and climb Everest my way, on my own terms, with no guide and minimal, if any, Sherpa support – but in the end no matter how good your planning, acclimatisation, fitness, strength etc. you need a little bit of luck.

Long line of climbers crossing the Yellow Band heading towards the Geneva Spur and the South Col

Traversing beneath Lhotse towards the Geneva Spur

Crossing the Geneva Spur

C4 tents on the South Col

Climbers returning to South Col from the summit

I will close the door on my Everest adventure; close it gently but firmly! This was always going to be a one off expedition for me and no doubt there will be some tears for what could have been, but that’s all right; I know I did my hardest and tried my best.

Looking down into the Western Cwm from the South Col with Cho Oyu in the background

Crevasse in the Western Cwm

Clearing the mountain with all my stuff...

Sherpa in the icefall with rubbish load from the South Col

Looking back up the icefall one last time

Lake forming in the Khumbu Glacier

I’ll be leaving base camp for the 4-day trek to Lukla on the 23rd.

Back down in BC

Soren (who almost climbed Everest – twice)

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Base camp is melting…!

Dear Family & Friends,

Base camp is melting away….!

As soon as the sun hits in the morning, rivers of melt water starts forming around and under our camp. The sound of running water increase during the day and slowly the carefully constructed rock-beds on which our tents are placed are being undermined, the ground becoming uneven and running repairs are required to stop us from sliding down the valley.

Rocks and some massive boulders sit isolated on top of ice pinnacles/towers threatening to come tumbling down any minute. There is one particularly large rock immediately above my tent here at BC which is concerning me somewhat; the sherpas seem to think its not dangerous at all….

Should I be worried...?

The icefall is very different from when we first arrived and there are almost daily collapses requiring the urgent attention of the Icefall Doctors. The snow is turning to slush and what used to be solid ice-lakes on the glacier between BC and the icefall are now knee-deep ponds.

Some rich client finished his Everest expedition and chartered a helicopter from BC back to Kathmandu yesterday morning – great news for the rest of us as it’s a means of receiving fresh supplies…. 25kgs of chicken, a case of beer and big box of vegies to be exact!

Bon appetite!

Soren

 

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Close – but no cigar.

Dear Family & Friends,

I couldn’t believe it!

Kneeling in the snow with my back to the 70km winds I was yelling and swearing (in 2 languages) at my fingers desperately trying to force some warmth into them.

It was sometime before 3am on May 12th, I was on the ‘Balcony’ at an altitude of 8400m with no sensation in fingers that suddenly looked and felt about as useful as claws; they began to freeze almost instantly as I removed my mittens trying to switch my regulator to a full oxygen bottle. Turning to the wind the spindrift would sting my face, but I had to get my bearings and see if others were around; no I was alone.

The summit of Everest, 8848m, was still hours away but I felt I was so close….

In BC late on May 7th 3 independent weather forecasts suggested summit conditions would be perfect on May 11 & 12th with the temperature expected to be a balmy minus 27 degrees Celsius and max wind speed around 5km an hour.

All right then I thought, better go and pack – looks like my summit push is on!

I had decided to go it alone and left for C2 early the next morning, thinking this would be my last trip up the icefall. Camp 2 was a mess after strong winds had destroyed several tents during the night and some of my personal belongings (a down bootie, primaloft pants, a sock, stuff sacks etc….) had vanished down a crevasse somewhere. The 9th was a rest day and I moved to C3 on the 10th feeling strong and confident.

The Big Show and his sidekick having fun in the icefall

Approaching C1

Climbing up the Lhotse Face to C3

The 11th was a big day and getting to C4 on the South Col took me close to 9 hours; climbing up the steep Lhotse Face, traversing to the Yellow Band and up and over the Geneva Spur to the South Col at 8000m while wearing a full down suit and carrying a big pack was energy sapping to say the least.

Traversing to the 'Yellow Band' with the 'Geneva Spur' and Everest in the background

Sherpa on the 'Yellow Band' with the Western Cwm below

The summit pyramid with a plume of the Everest South summit. The Balcony is the snowfield in the midle of the right skyline

The first thing you notice when you round the Geneva Spur is not the South Col, but the impressive summit pyramid of Everest. It nearly to my breath away and for some reason I had the thought I was about to set foot on Everest for the first time; that getting through the Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwm and up the Lhotse Face were obstacles and barriers you had to overcome before facing the real thing.

On the South Col I busied myself putting up a tent and brewing up in preparation for the final summit push later that evening.

The South East summit pyramid of Everest from the South Col. The true summit is not visible from here.

I left C4 at 8.15pm and arrived, 6½ hours later, at the scheduled stop on the Balcony, a snowy rocky feature on the South East Ridge of Everest, and where a change of oxygen bottle usually occurs. It was as I approached the Balcony the wind unexpectedly started to pick up and I knew my change of oxygen bottle had to be done as quickly as possible…

It took 30 minutes before the warmth – and with it the pain – finally returned to my digits, but at least I knew I wasn’t going to loose my fingers to frostbite.

Looking down at the South Col and the tents at C4 with Lhotse behind. Tibet is to the left and Nepal the right...

Early morning @ 8200m. Very windy conditions with lots of spindrift....

Looking and feeling slightly shell-shocked at the South Col after my aborted summit attempt

I also realised that to continue in these rapidly deteriorating conditions would be nothing short of stupid and made the decision to abandon my summit attempt and return to the South Col. Back in C4 I rested for a few hours until the winds died down somewhat and I managed to descend all the way to camp 2 later that afternoon and finally down to base camp shortly after midday on the 13th.

May 12th afternoon light on Pumori. C2 is visible bottom right.

I’m not giving up and will be having a second go at Everest, but for the next 3 days my plan is to do absolutely nothing!

Soren

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Reflections on Liaison Officers.

Dear Family & Friends,

Some trivia for you…

Whenever you organize an expedition to a big peak anywhere in Nepal the law says you must be assigned a Liaison Officer. The role of the L.O, other than being the official link between your expedition and the authorities, is to ensure you do not exceed your permit and accidently climb the wrong mountain (or additional ones!), enter a restricted area and in the event of serious problems with local staff some retrospective ear-pulling of said staff. Because they rarely accompany you on the expedition, and have little or no mountaineering background, in reality the L.O is of little value, he or she is often a nuisance as well as a major drain on resources – not that you would know; their posturing often suggests theirs is a role of immense importance.

During the Ministry briefing for an expedition to Annapurna IV a few years ago I was wondering where in the scheme of things the elderly Nepali man, half asleep in the chair next to me, fitted? Next minute he was introduced as our Liaison Officer and I panicked thinking this guy will never make it to base camp; how will we inform the Ministry that our only means of contact with the Ministry died upon leaving the Kathmandu valley?

The problem was solved in the car park outside the Ministry 10 minutes after the meeting had finished when we quietly bundled the still sleepy bureaucrat into a taxi and drove him to a secret location. He stayed there, out of harms way, until the expedition had finished and emerged refreshed and well fed for the end of trip briefing. (We quickly briefed him first…)

L.O’s are required to be present at the pre and post expedition briefings at the ‘Ministry for Civil Aviation and Tourism’; there, wearing a suitably serious facial expression, they shake hands with everyone, sign various documents, smile and nod.

For this effort an Everest expedition L.O will receive around US$2500.00.

Most don’t even bother to turn up at base camp (cost of Lukla flight, food and lodging to BC not included in above) to check on the progress of their assigned expedition.

At least our Everest Liaison Officer made the effort this year and arrived here on May 4th.

Sadly he didn’t agree with the rarefied air at BC and promptly passed out, spending the next 24 hours on oxygen at the ‘Everest ER’.

Useless!

Soren

(‘Everest ER’ is a non-profit medical clinic here at base camp. Since its inception 9 years ago doctors at Everest ER have looked after locals as well as foreigners during the spring climbing season on Everest – March to May).

 

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The South Col – well not quite…

Dear Family & Friends,

I was hoping to be able to share some photos and a story of my successful round trip to the South Col, but unfortunately I didn’t quite make it.

After an uncomfortable night in camp 3 I donned my big red Everest Hardwear down suit and set out at 5.30am on May 5th with my load of 3 oxygen bottles destined for the South Col. The weather was great with little to no wind, but it was very cold and I struggled to keep my toes warm. It was tough going from the start and I found it hard to get a rhythm going; foot placement was awkward on the steep terrain and so after 3½ hours of huffing and puffing I finally hit the proverbial wall @ around 7650m (a large one in the form of the Lhotse Face) and decided to turn around and return to C3 and later that afternoon all the way down to base camp.

A view 'out of this world' - a few hundred meters higher and that statement would in fact be true....

Having fun at 7500m

Sherpas carrying loads just below the rock formation known as the 'Yellow Band'.

Everest from the Lhotse Face

Looking across at Everest and the South Col

Of course I’m disappointed, but I have to accept I need a little help and will pay a Sherpa to carry my oxygen bottles to the South Col. The timing for my summit attempt rests with the weather gods and I now relax at BC while waiting for a suitable window to appear.

Camp 2 with the Lhotse Face in the background

The trail on the Lhotse Face - just below the sharp left that begins the traverse to the 'Yellow Band' is where I turned back on May 5th

Coming up through the icefall to C2 on May 2nd we discovered that part of the upper trail had been obliterated by a huge avalanche; standing next to the remains of a ladder was an ‘icefall doctor’ – wearing a bright fluoro jacket he was directing traffic and the only thing missing was him holding a lollipop!

Crossing a ladder in the icefall

Did you know that altitude promotes youthful looks, hair and nail growth? 2 out of 3 ain't bad...!

I smuggled 2 bottles of coke from BC to C2 thinking an occasional mouthful of black magic would be a nice treat @ 6450m. Well it certainly is, but it turns out that leaving the bottles in the tent during the day will transform the drink to a flaccid near boiling liquid one minute or a frozen, slushy like ice concoction the next. What you’ve got to do is sit there and wait, forget about climbing Everest for a while, and then when the temperature is just right – pounce!

Nothing up here is easy.

Soren

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Soren’s plan

Dear Family & Friends,

As I write this Matt is standing outside the dining tent here at base camp shaving off his beard.

That can only mean his decision to return home is final!

I know how very difficult and emotional the last few days have been for Matt and feel extremely sad to see him depart our expedition. We have planned and carried the dream of climbing Everest together for many years and for Matt to have his dream cut short in this manner is cruel.

Matt’s decision to return home was not taken lightly and I fully support it.

I will stay to continue the expedition and leave for C2 tomorrow morning to complete my load carry to the South Col in the coming 3-4 days. This will finish my rotation and I will be ready for a summit push when the first stable weather window appears. I plan to return to BC for a few days rest before leaving for the summit.

Soren

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Matt’s injury

Dear Family and Friends,

This blog is from Matt. The last blog described our last foray up the hill and mentioned that I strained my Achilles tendon on the Lhotse Face on the way to camp 3. When the injury occurred and I descended to camp 2 it didn’t feel too good. Whilst sitting in the tent at camp 2 I had some time to think about the consequences. The descent to base camp made me realise my footing was unstable; I was favouring the injury which was making things worse. After a visit to the doctor at Everest ER I started thinking of the consequences of tearing the tendon further and doing it again on the Lhotse face would be quite problematic. I also know what it feels like and the instability in the foot makes me realise that it is not in a condition to try and climb 3500m from Base camp to the summit. I have decided to leave the expedition with enough strength in the foot to walk back to Lukla slowly. We came to climb self sufficiently, and that means self evacuate. There are a number of other reasons for erring on the side of caution that I will not go into here. Obviously it has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the last 3 days, and Soren has been a great support. Something like this in a small climbing team can really test a friendship, and it has made it stronger, which is always one aim of a mountaineering expedition, come back as friends. I wish Soren the best in continuing on up the hill, and fulfilling his dream of summiting Mt Everest. He’s a strong determined climber who deserves the success in the manner in which he continues to climb.

Matt

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Even the best laid plans………!

Dear Family & Friends,

It took a serious amount of will power to convince our bodies that getting out of an exceedingly warm and comfortable sleeping bag in the middle of the night to haul 25kgs 700 vertical meters from EBC to C1 was in any was a sensible idea.

After much procrastination, the weather was also looking dodgy, we finally left base camp at 8.45am on April 24th, our pack laden with, mostly, important stuff.

The Khumbu Icefall - not a place to linger...

5 hours later we were back in C1 and proceeded to brew up while settling back into and doing some minor repair work to our tent. (A pole had broken during the strong winds the previous week, but that was hardly worth worrying about when several tents from other groups had disappeared entirely – blown off the mountain and buried somewhere in the icefall…….!)

Allan, Sharon & Matt enjoying a cuppa - al fresco style - in C2

Standing outside our tent I noticed movement to my right and jumped when a black dog appeared next to me. What the…? How on earth it got through the icefall is a mystery, think lots of ladders….., but it looked right at home and was happily running back and forth between C1 and C2. Its attempt at becoming the first canine to summit Everest came to an abrupt end the next morning when it was caught, put on a leash and escorted out of town and down to BC by a bunch of sherpas. (Climbing Everest is a very competitive business.)

Camp 1

Crossing ladder in Western Cwm with C1 and Pumori in background

Matt crossing ladder in icefall

The next couple of days were spent carrying loads to C2 and we had a well-earned rest day there on the 27th. What better place @ 6450m, beneath the mighty South Face of Everest, to enjoy the spectacular Western Cwm while pondering how to get those damn loads up the Lhotse face to C3 and the South Col.

The South Face of Everest - Bonnington's boys climbed this face in 1975.

Matt & Soren in C2 @ 6450m

Matt in C2 with Lhotse face behind

Climbers ascending the Lhotse Face towards C3 - bottom right corner

Matt at the bottom of the Lhotse Face

Soren on the Lhotse Face

Looking down the Western Cwm towards C2 & C1

Climbing the Lhotse Face

At the bottom of the Lhotse Face

We set out on the 28th and while I managed to get my load to C3 @ approx 7200m, Matt was desperately unlucky and hyper extended his right Achilles tendon on the steep blue ice 200m above the base of the Lhotse face and was forced to return to C2.

Looking back up the Western Cwm towards the Lhotse Face

Matt in the icefall

Back in C2 we discussed our options and decided to return to base camp the following morning for a proper medical assessment with the western doctors at HRA – Himalayan Rescue Association.

The prognosis is not encouraging and Matt will decide what to do in the next couple of days.

Matt & Soren

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EBC lassitude.

Dear Family & Friends,

After 3 days of slothfulness at EBC we realised there’s such a thing as too much rest and as we both suffered from medium to severe cases of ‘high altitude lassitude’ we figured it was about time we ventured further than 50m from our dining tent…!

Our first effort on the 21st was sluggish at best, but we did manage to make our way down to Gorak Shep, via Pumori BC, for lunch.

However, our second outing yesterday was excellent and confirmed our theory that up here you’ve got to stay active to feel good. We left camp mid morning and it took 1½ hrs to reach Pumori C1 @ 5700m; the views were outstanding and we got some great photos of Everest and surrounding peaks.

EBC & Khumbu Icefall

Everest, South Col & Lhotse

Everest & South Summit

North Col, Everest, South Col, Lhotse, Nuptse & EBC

Khumbu Icefall

Sumit, Lakpa and their 4 members, Alan, Sharon, Chris & Raul, left for C1 early this morning, but Matt and I have decided to rest another day before heading back up the icefall tomorrow morning. We’re hoping that by waiting an extra day we can make sure the ropes are in place above C3 so we can do a load carry to the South Col/C4; by the sound of things the route will be open on the 29th -30th. We expect to spend around 7-8 days on the mountain, mainly based at C2, before we return to BC.

Remember – no news is good news.

We’re both well, feel strong and although we know there are a few days of hard work ahead of us we can’t wait to get stuck in.

Matt & Soren

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Hanging out at EBC……

Dear Family & Friends,

Why do today what can be postponed…?

Doing ones laundry is nowhere near the ‘Top 5 Things To Do when Resting at BC’ and a social visit to some of our neighbours is usually preferable.

The other day we caught up with Argentina’s favourite son, Angel E Armesto, regrettably without his trademark goatee. Despite this lack of facial hair he was in fine form and clearly enjoying his role as Everest guide for Peak Freaks. He’s currently with his group in C1 and will return to BC in a couple of days.

This morning we wandered over the moraine searching for Summit Climb and Gavin Vickers aka ‘Big Show’; not particularly hard to find we enjoyed several fun hours with him, Dan Mazur and a few of their clients, one of whom is planning to skydive from the summit of Everest (1st woman to do so!).

Of course we couldn’t refuse lunch and a polite “no thank you” was equally out of the question when Lakpa Nuru Sherpa, a friend of many years, popped in the dining tent with a bucket of his mothers home made ‘rakshi’. He claimed his sister had carried the precious liquid on her back all the way from Phakding (not far from Lukla) to EBC so all we could say was; ‘Just a small cup please Lakpa dai’.

‘Rakshi’, we think, is Nepalese for ‘headache’.

Returning to camp seemed to take longer but luckily our fellow expedition members Chris & Sharon had refreshments ready; an amazingly delicious chocolate slice cake! (half of which was already eaten…).

Another notable friend who appeared outside our camp today was Dhana Rai who’s here in his role as Liason Officer for a Japanese Lhotse expedition, camped right next door. Great to see him again and we look forward to catching up properly over the next few days.

Life is good.

Matt & Soren

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C2 & the Western Cwm

Dear Family & Friends,

Our 2nd load carry through the Khumbu Icefall on April 15th went well.

Early morning in the icefall

Knowing the route, when to stop and when to speed up through a particularly dangerous area, like the 50m sprint beneath a huge leaning tower of blue ice midway through an area known as the ‘Popcorn Field’ (this tower had collapsed and large chunks of ice was strewn all over the track by the time we returned yesterday) meant for a comfortable and relatively easy 5hrs to C1.

Matt in C1

We did a load carry of 8 oxygen bottles and a tent to C2 @ approx 6500m on the 16th and were excited to cover new ground, but distance was deceptive and although we could see the site for C2 on the moraine beneath Everest, for a while it never seemed to get any closer.

Matt in Western Cwm with C1 & Pumori in background

The Western Cwm is, well, absolutely huge and almost defies description.

Sherpas carrying loads to C2 beneath Nuptse

The altitude gain between C1 and C2 is about 400m and for the most part up an easy angled glacier. The trail weaves in between cavernous and seemingly bottomless crevasses and to your right the gigantic frozen north face of Nuptse stands impassively and as you pant your way past you silently wonder when the next avalanche might come thundering down.

Matt looking at the Lhotse face

When the sun is out, living and working in this place is a lot like being inside a giant solar disc; light and heat is reflected of every surface and when combined with physical exertion you soon feel incredibly hot. In desperation you shed some layers until you’re just wearing a t-shirt and a pair of light pants/thermal long johns, but you’re still carrying 20kgs in your backpack.Then suddenly the sun disappears behind a cloud and you feel cold; you start layering up only for the sun to reappear and once again you begin to undress…

Not that we’re complaining; being in this awesome place is a dream come true and lets face it – a bit of suffering and deprivation is part and parcel of climbing a mountain like Everest.

The Lhotse Face. The site for C3 is just to the left of the middle.... (and the South Col is out of picture in the top left)

Looking at Lhotse and the traverse from C3 to the South Col was exciting, but after returning to yesterday’s BC meeting with most of the expedition leaders + sirdars (head sherpas) present, it looks like the fixed ropes to the South Col wont be in place until the end of the month and the ropes to the summit not until the first week of May.

That’s Everest for you – a game of patience.

We’ll be resting here at BC for the next 3 days before heading back up to C2 where we hopefully can do some load carries to C3 and C4.

Until then – here’s to sleep-ins, good food and loads of movies on the iTouch.

Matt & Soren

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EBC Puja & C1 load carry

Dear Family & Friends,

In the Himalaya it is customary not to set foot on a mountain until you’ve had your Puja ceremony; this usually involves a blessing from a Lama who is seeking safe passage on the mountain for all members of the expedition.

According to people in the know April 12th was an auspicious date to have our BC Puja and the ceremony began just before 9am.

Basecamp Puja

The altar, Lhaptso, was prepared with photos of the Dalai Lama, ceremonial cloth and objects to be blessed (including our climbing gear, boots, ice-axes etc.). Incense was burning while the Lama chanted the Buddhists scriptures.

A flagpole was placed in the centre of the Lhaptso and 5 long strands of prayer flags tied to it.

Lhaptso with prayer flags

At the end of the ceremony rice and flour is thrown in the air as an offering to the Gods (any leftovers are then smeared on our faces….)

Soren & Matt @ EBC Puja

Events concluded after a couple of hours with the consumption of offerings; an assortment of biscuits, nuts, chocolate, frozen (& exploding) beer and a healthy measure of whisky!

Feeling confident we thought it prudent to have a quick explore of the Icefall before our planned load carry on the 13th and made it approximately half way before returning to EBC and a late lunch.

First icefall ladder crossing

The icefall is a maze of ice towers and crevasses that are linked with ropes and ladders for a safe as possible route. It is quite a surreal place but not a place to linger, as you never know when things want to fall over.

In the afternoon we loaded our backpacks with tents, stoves, gas, food and oxygen bottles (approx 25kgs each) – ready for our 3.30am start!

Well it’s fair to say that we both felt rather weary (understatement) at the end of April 13th! It was a bit of a wake up call for what we have ahead of us.

Matt negotiating the Icefall

The round trip to C1 @ 6100m took longer than we expected and we were both hungry and dehydrated when we finally staggered back in to EBC after 2pm. We dumped our gear in C1 and caught our first glimpse of the Everest South Col, the Geneva Spur, the Lhotse West Face and Everest South Summit. Didn’t look that far…… Getting through the icefall was tough going, but once we got to C1 and saw the awe inspiring view further up the valley, we were both keen to get those other loads up to C1 and establish our first camp in the Western Cwm.

Matt crossing ladders in the Icefall

Anyway, today is a rest day and no doubt Robin will cook up a storm.

We’re both feeling well and have settled in to the rest day @ Base Camp routine without too much trouble; watching movies on the iTouch/iPhone is a great way to pass time in between meals….! We may even decide to have a wash/shower sometime in the not too distant future. (Until then we highly recommend baby wipes)

Matt & Soren

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Acclimatisation

Dear Family & Friends,

Human beings aren’t really supposed to live above 5000m; the highest village in the Everest National Park to be permanently inhabited is Dingpoche @ around 4300m. This altitude is close to the ceiling for growing crops and keeping livestock (and a pretty cold place to hang out in winter!)

On the summit of Everest @ 8850m there’s only one third and at Everest BC @ 5350m only about half of the oxygen available compared to sea level.

It is however possible to live and function at these extreme altitudes for short periods when your body is properly acclimatised.

This process takes time and helps explain why an Everest expedition can take up to 8+ weeks (weather is another factor).

As your body acclimatises/adjusts to the altitude one of the main physiological changes is the increased production of red blood cells; there’s less oxygen available so the body needs more red blood cells to carry around what little oxygen is there.

The acclimatisation process begins on the approach walk and is it important to let your body adjust slowly with plenty of rest days; in our case Namche, Dingpoche and Lobuche.

The process continues on Everest while we establish our 4 camps; this involves doing load carries (food, stoves, fuel, tents, oxygen cylinders and personal equipment) between EBC to C1, C1 to C2, C2 to C3 and finally C3 to C4. This cannot be done in one go and several days are spent resting in BC in between ferrying loads to and sleeping at the various camps, slowly making our way higher.

Once we’ve done our final rotation, been to C4 on the South Col with a load carry, we return to BC to rest and eat while we wait for a stable weather window and our shot at the summit.

Matt & Soren

 

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The Khumbu Icefall

Dear Family & Friends,

Immediately across from Everest BC is the formidable looking ‘Khumbu Icefall’.

When climbing Everest from the South, the Nepal side, there’s no avoiding the icefall and in many ways it is considered the most dangerous part of the climb.

EBC tents with the Khumbu Icefall in the background

Above the icefall is a huge valley known as the ‘Western Cwm’ (pronounced ‘coom’) and as snow and ice compacted in this valley is carried down over the bedrock it fragments, creating a mess of countless crevasses and broken chunks of ice, some as big as 4 story buildings  – the ‘Khumbu Icefall’.

Every Everest season a group of sherpas known as the ‘Icefall Doctors’ are charged with finding and maintaining a route through this frozen, but unstable, high altitude maze.

Can you find the route through the icefall?

Our first load carry through the icefall to C1 will be on April 13th.

Matt & Soren

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Hello from Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp at last!

We arrived here on the 7th after an easy 2 hours walk from Gorak Shep @ 5140m, the last cluster of lodges before EBC. It was our intention to update the blog from Gorak Shep, but we experienced some technical problems and it’s taken a couple of days to set up the system here at EBC.

Since our last dispatch we’ve been busy but unfortunately our acclimatisation climb on Lobuche East didn’t work out quite the way we’d planned…. (We’d hoped to spend at least one night camping close to the summit of Louche East @ approx 6000m, but…)

After 2 days in Lobuche village at the Alpine Inn we moved up to camp 1 on Lobuche East @ 5300m; pitched our 2 tents, settled in, got a brew going, ate some snacks, enjoyed the view, ate some more snacks, cooked freeze dried spag bowl for dinner and agreed we we’re exceedingly happy to be up there.

Well things didn’t exactly improve from then on!

A storm hit that evening (April 3rd) with lots of thunder, lightning and steady snowfall and we basically didn’t move, except trying to get comfortable in our tents (+ filling & emptying our pee bottles), for the next 36 hours.

On the morning on the 5th, rather reluctantly due to the icy conditions, we decided to make the most of it and climbed to a ridge @ 5600m overlooking the Khumbu Glacier and, way in the distance, the tents at Everest Base Camp.

Descending back to C1 we packed up everything and hurried down the mountain to the comfort of the Alpine Inn; chips, buff meat balls and sweet nepali tea.

What a couple of heroes!

The setup here at EBC is fantastic and our BC operator, Himalayan Ascent, have done an amazing job ensuring our stay will be as comfortable as humanly possible – especially when you consider we’re camping on a great big glacier @ 5350m!

Robin, now there’s a traditional Newari name, is our BC cook and if he continues to dish up all this great food we’ll find it difficult having to leave for our higher camps!

It’s great to finally be here and a little hard to believe the tents we spotted from Lobuche East is now our home for the next 7 weeks.

It is with great sadness we inform you that our dear friend Ringi Norbu Sherpa died in a car accident outside Boudhanath in Kathmandu on Wednesday April 6th.

Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Ringi’s wife Ang Dali, daughter Dolma and son Dawa, Ringi’s business partner Sambu Tamang and all the staff at Himalayan Guiding Institute (formerly ‘Sea to Summit’).

We will miss you Ringi dai.

Matt & Soren

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Rest day in Dingpoche.

Dear Family & Friends,

We arrived in Dingpoche yesterday morning after a quick 2 and a bit hour’s walk from the village of Pangpoche.

Today is a scheduled acclimatisation/rest day and after breakfast we’re heading up the hill behind the village hoping to reach 5000m. (That’s the acclimatisation bit – the rest bit is lunch back here in Dingpoche followed by a movie on the iTouch!)

The morning we left Namche the weather was clear and we had spectacular views of Thamserku, Ama Dablam, Tawoche, Nuptse, Lhotse and of course Everest.

Clear morning in Namche with Kwangde mountains behind

Khumbu mountain panorama (click to watch video)

We enjoyed a pleasant walk to the small settlement of Kyang Juma where the lodge owner invited us in for hot lemon and coconut biscuits. Superb view from her lodge across the valley to Tengpoche monastery and the peaks further up the valley.

Plumes of the summits of Lhotse and Everest

Descended through a pine forest to the Dudh Kosi river and climbed all the way back up (a classic case of ‘Nepali flat’) to Tengpoche and lunch; egg and vegie fried rice, chips and more hot lemon. Back on the trail and we arrived in Pangpoche around 2pm, just in time for (you guessed it) a nice cup of hot lemon and delicious meat dal bhat for dinner.

At this stage our adventure is more like a culinary tour of the Khumbu as opposed to a hard-core mountaineering trip.

No doubt this will change.

Ciao for now,

Matt & Soren

 

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Namche Bazaar

Dear Family & Friends,

So far so good!

After a hectic one and a half days in Kathmandu we arrived in Namche yesterday morning after a quick 2 day trek from Lukla. The bulk of our time in Kathmandu was spent packing and repacking the loads with all the equipment we need for the next couple of months, as well as picking up our custom made down suits, shopping for super duper high altitude mittens and various other bits and pieces, meeting with our local operator, buying extra high altitude food and most importantly enjoying some chilli momos and a San Miguel at the Radisson Splash Bar!

Our hotel room was a mess with stuff strewn everywhere and we both just sat there for a while not quite knowing where to begin….

We eventually divided the loads and packed 4 kitbags with some of our climbing gear and clothes for the trek to BC and the acclimatisation climb on Lobuche East.  Everything else (5 drums and 1 kitbag) is going straight to Everest BC and will hopefully be there when we arrive in a couple of weeks.

After 2 nights here in Namche we leave for the small Sherpa village of Pangpoche before continuing to Dingpoche for 2 nights; then its on to Lobuche village which will be our base while we ascend the 6000m peak of Lobuche East.  The plan is then to spend a night in Gorak Shep before arriving at Everest BC on the 9th of April.

The weather still feels a bit wintery and snow is falling steadily as I write this. 

We’re both feeling well and excited to be here. Life up here is pretty simple (eat , sleep, walk…..) and our biggest decisions are usually to do with food; Dal Bhat or Mixed Fried Rice, how many eggs to have in our breakkie omelettes and, considering todays weather, when to sample our first slice of apple pie.

Ciao for now,

Matt & Soren

 

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Two Amigos

Dear Family & Friends,

2 weeks to go….!

Matt & Soren


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Everest – maps

Dear family & friends,

For those of you yet to visit Nepal or the Everest National Park we have uploaded a few maps of the area as well as the camps on Everest.

Matt & Soren

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Welcome

Dear family & friends,

Welcome.

This is the official blog/dispatch/news site for our Everest expedition this coming March/April/May.  We will endeavor to keep you up to speed on our progress, but as we  do not have regular access to the internet our dispatches will most likely be of a weekly nature…..!

Our itinerary will be something like this.

March

23 – Depart Australia

24 – Arrive Nepal

26 – Fly to Lukla, stay in Monjo

27/28 – Namche (rest & acclimatisation)

29 – Pangpoche

30/31 – Dingpoche (rest & acclimatisation)

April

1/2 – Lobuche

3 – Lobuche C1

4 – Lobuche C2

5/6/7 – Lobuche summit (acclimatisation climb)

8 – Gorakshep

9/10/11 – Everest BC

12/30 – Everest climbing period

May

1/19 – Everest climbing period

20/27 – Contingency

28/30 – Lukla

31 – Kathmandu

June

1 – Kathmandu

2 – Depart Nepal

Apart from our arrival in Nepal the dates will no doubt change so stay tuned….

Matt & Soren

Happy Xmas

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