We’re going for the 26th!

After much debating last night it has been decided that we will have a further day’s rest at ABC and make a summit bid on the 26th rather than the 25th. While there were many good points for both dates the general feeling in the team was that we started this expedition together and we should all try and finish it together, and the best way to do that was to have an extra day’s rest to allow everyone the best possible chance of summiting. For me this is great news as I definitely fall into the category of one of those team members who would benefit from additional rest.

For the next couple of days we will therefore be eating, drinking and resting up as much as we can in preparation for leaving for camp 1 on the 22nd. The feeling in the team is very positive and now that a date has been decided people can start to prepare themselves both mentally and physically. There is a slight air of apprehension in the team, but having 3 people in the team who nearly summited last year and one who successfully summited, with the army a couple of years ago, has helped calm many fears and answered any questions other team members have about what to expect on summit day. This combined with the leadership of Zack and Chris, which has been superb throughout the expedition, and their vast experience of climbing the Himalayas, in my opinion, puts us all in a very strong position to summit. Fingers crossed!!

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25th or 26th May? Decisions!

The majority of the team arrived into ABC this afternoon after trekking up from either BC or interim camp.  I, and three other team members spent last night at interim camp as we felt we would be better prepared for our summit push if we took the long trek up to ABC in two stages. Other team members took different approaches, some favouring to leave a day early for ABC so they could have an extra day’s rest, while others were happy to leave BC as planned and trek up to ABC in one day. Irrespective of how we all got here, the whole team is now here and anxiously waiting to leave camp and progress further up the mountain! We just need to agree on a date.

In my last blog I said that the 25th was a possible summit date. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather on Everest this date may be changed. At present there is a potential summit window ranging from the 25th to the 28th. It takes three days from ABC to get into position at camp 3 for a summit attempt. Deciding on the best possibly summit date ahead of time is therefore very important as we don’t want to find ourselves spending extra nights on the mountain, thereby wasting energy, especially not above camp 1 where you are sleeping in the death zone and your body is effectively dying due to lack of oxygen.

The group is currently divided as to which date is best. A number of the team are not feeling great after trekking up to ABC and favour spending an extra day resting at ABC, while others want to attempt to summit at the earliest opportunity. Zack and Chris have dismissed the possibility of splitting the team into two as it would deplete our resources on the mountain, and potentially turn the second team into a rescue party instead of a summit team if something goes wrong with the first team’s attempt. My personal preference would be to have an extra day’s rest at ABC before leaving for camp 1, especially after having spent 8 days in Kathmandu, 4400 metres lower than BC and leaving immediately for ABC when returning.

After dinner tonight we will all sit down and discus the pro’s and con’s of each date. By then we should have received the most up to date weather report, which may alter things again completely. Once we have decided on a date I will let you all know.

Straight back into it.

I’m back up at base camp with the team!! I arrived at 01:00, just a couple of hours ago, 18 hours after leaving Kathmandu. It was a long journey and I am pretty tired now but very happy to be back. At some points I thought we weren’t going to make it back to BC today as our jeep kept breaking down in the middle of the desert or, alarmingly, my driver kept getting lost! But thankfully I have made it back safely, and now all I want to do is climb into my sleeping bag and sleep.

Very kindly Chris and George waited up for me, as the rest went to bed after dinner. It was great to see their faces and hear their news, well nearly all of it. Unfortunately for me the weather window has come early and I have been told that I will have to leave BC tomorrow, to begin the summit push, so as to be in position at camp 3 for when the weather window arrives. This means I won’t get any days’ rest at BC before leaving; in fact I will be departing BC just 9 hours after arriving.

I am slightly worried, therefore, about my acclimatisation. Moving up so quickly after having been down in Kathmandu for such a long period, 4400m lower than BC (nearly the height of Mont Blanc) may pose some serious problems. But after speaking to Chris I am reassured and agree with him that the best thing to do is leave BC tomorrow. There are a couple of team member who plan to spend a night at interim camp instead of going straight up to ABC in one day, and Chris feels that to give myself the best chance of summiting and not getting sick I should do likewise, even if it does mean leaving tomorrow.

The next few days will be pretty hectic, moving up to ABC and preparing to move on to camp 1, 2, and 3 and finally the summit (fingers crossed!!), so it may be hard to get blogs out. But I will endeavour to get at least one blog if not more out before I leave from camp 3 for the summit. We also now have a potential summit date of the 25thof May. Exciting, put it in your diaries now! Adventure peaks will also be posting a live feed on their website of the progress of each member of the team, so anyone interested can stay up and follow the action as it unfolds.

Great news!!! I am going back to Everest North BC to rejoin my team.

I am going back!! Just when I thought my expedition was over, and was getting ready to leave Kathmandu and return to the UK, my agent pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Iswari has been working tirelessly to obtain a new permit to allow me to return to Tibet and has finally managed to secure me a private tourist visa. This means I can re-enter Tibet via Friendship Bridge, as before, and will then travel to base camp in the company of my guide, before rejoining my team.

I am leaving early tomorrow morning and there is a lot to do and sort out here before I leave. I also have a shopping list of items to obtain, for other members of the team, before heading back up. This therefore is a very short update, but I wanted to give you all know the good news. Everest 2011 is back on!!

 

My permit has been refused!

In my last blog I told you all about the American woman who decided to fly a free Tibet banner while at the bottom of the Rombuk monastery. We have been told that because of this act Beijing has decided to issue no more climbing permits!

Basically this means my expedition is over. I had hoped to appeal the decision but have been advised not to bother, as apparently once Beijing has made its mind up about something it is very unlikely to change it. Both my agent and I are looking into other possibilities and even the possibility of climbing the south side of Everest instead, but being realistic it looks like I won’t be going back to Everest again this year.

If anything changes I will let you all know by posting the news here on my website. Otherwise as my expedition is effectively over, sadly, this will be my last blog. In a couple of weeks when I am back home and over the huge disappointment of having to leave the expedition prematurely, I will write a summary of my expedition to the point of my evacuation.

Thank you to all of you who followed my blog this year and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. Hopefully sometime in the future I will go back to Everest and summit, but for now it will have to wait!

Life in Kathmandu

My life in Kathmandu, over the past few days, has been very relaxed. The city itself is extremely busy, the number of people always going somewhere and the volume of traffic on their roads is quiet incredible. The tourist district ‘Thamel’ is no exception, but with a little bit of hunting you can find a quiet cafe, restaurant or poolside bar to relax in. It is in these places I have been chilling out, unlike previous trips to Kathmandu and Nepal when I visited numerous tourist attractions. Rather I have decided to rest as much as possible and recover my strength.

Two years ago when I arrived in Kathmandu for the first time, to climb Ama Dablam, I visited the local tourist sites in and around Kathmandu. The city has some amazing sights. One of my favourites is the monkey temple. A temple built on a hillside high up above the dirt and grime of Kathmandu, playing home to monks and hundreds of monkeys, as the name would suggest. A tourist standing at the top of the temple has a fantastic view of the city below and can enjoy feeding the monkeys.

RE; the progress of my permit. My agent Iswari has still not received confirmation from his contacts in China as to whether or not the authorities will issue me a new permit. I was told yesterday that an American woman flew a free Tibet flag at the bottom of the Rombuk monastery, this has created  problems for other English speaking westerns wanting to enter Tibet. All I can do, for now, is enjoy my time in Kathmandu and keep my fingers crossed that the Chinese realise that I will be no trouble and all I want to do is enter Tibet to climb Everest.

Never before did I think waiting for news could be so hard, it’s like I am a wee child again and time passes really, really, slowly.  It’s Christmas Eve and I am waiting to fall asleep so that I can wake up in the morning to see if Santa has come. Fingers crossed this year Santa will bring me a new climbing permit!

Waiting for a Permit

For the past couple of days I have been staying in Kathmandu, resting and recuperating, while waiting for a new permit to allow me back into Tibet. Iswari, my agent, is hopeful this should happen within a couple of days. When you leave Tibet your old permit expires, so you cannot re-enter without a new one. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) has to apply on my behalf, to Beijing, for this new permit.

Since leaving hospital I am feeling much better and with the medication I have been given I haven’t experienced any more pain. I even managed to play a game of tennis yesterday with some friends I met last year when staying in Kathmandu.

If and when I get my new permit, I am therefore hopeful that I will be able to attempt a summit bid with the rest of my team.