A final “hello” from Base Camp!
They say a week is a long time in politics, but I bet the politicians have never tried to climb a mountain! First off, I think the best thing to establish is the fact we are all safe, well and happy back at Base Camp (EBC) enjoying the sun.
Here is a quick synopsis of how our final week on the Big ‘E’ went:
May 13 (Day 51): We left EBC at 0300h and headed for Camp 2 again. This time we made it through the Khumbu Ice Fall and up the Western Cwm three hours faster than our first trip.
May 14: (Day 52): We spent the day resting at Camp 2 in gorgeous weather, enjoying views of the steep-looking Lhotse Face.
May 15: (Day 53): Today we moved to Camp 3, going up the Lhotse Face for our second time, but using supplemental oxygen for the first time; and what a difference it made – we arrived at Camp 3 two hours faster than our first effort.
May 16/17: (Day 54/55): Into unknown territory – today we climbed from Camp 3 to Camp 4. Coming out of camp 3, we went immediately on to the steep slopes leading to the Yellow Band, on up to the left traverse leading to the Geneva Spur and finally the South Col. Arriving in late afternoon we had little time to prepare and rest for our summit attempt, as we would be leaving at 2200hrs this very same day. To our slight dismay, we found one of our tents had been damaged and therefore three of us, (Jacob, Ross, myself,) had to squeeze into a tent with all our gear. At 1800, we attempted to sleep for three hours (pretty much impossible!) prior to rising at 2100hrs. Getting ready was a challenge: boiling water, eating, filling water bottles, putting on harnesses, big boots; but we were eventually walking toward the final section of the mountain at 2200hrs.
With our three experienced climbing sherpas alongside us, we were finally on the last push. Unfortunately, Ross had to make the tough decision to turn around only about 90 minutes out of camp 4; he was experiencing painful rib cramps, making every breath and step very uncomfortable, despite the assistance of supplemental oxygen. Tough call, but the right call. Jacob, myself and our two companion Sherpas pressed on in the dark, our headlamps occasionally illuminating the snow and rock we were moving over, the moonless night offering little natural light.
From a personal point of view, having ‘lost’ my climbing partner at this early stage, it was quite a knock to both my confidence in my ability to continue on the journey, and also my desire to do so, but it was at this point Jacob, seemingly without knowing he was doing it, gave the rest of us a “fist-bump” and inspired us to ‘get on with the job’ and kept us all motivated.
From then it was many hours of hard work, simply putting one foot in front of the other, on steep, difficult terrain, doing what I would call basic hard graft, your mind just repeating the phrase “keep going and you’ll get there….” which is what we did. Hitting a few benchmarks along the way, “The Balcony”, “South Summit” until we finally reached our goal at 8,848m. We took the required photos and embraced each other, whilst all the while remembering we were only halfway there – we had to descend safely, which we did after 25 mins on the summit.
After a supreme effort, we made it back to camp 4 at around 1100hrs, exhausted but elated. However, there was little time to celebrate as our plan was to make the tough descent all the way to Camp 2 – consider that challenge – after a 12 hour summit day we were going to descend the Geneva Spur, Yellow Band and Lhotse Face – a very tall order. But we did it.
May 18: (Day 56). We took a much-deserved rest day.
May 19: (Day 57). Camp 2 to Everest Base Camp. We said farewell to Camp 2 at 0600hrs, occasionally glancing back over our shoulders at the higher mountain, and casually walked to down the Western Cwm to Camp 1 and then for our final trip through the Khumbu Ice Fall. As we moved through the icefall, we noticed how certain sections of the route had changed completely, reminding us that we were on dangerous, shape-shifting terrain. But we moved through it efficiently and safely, finally to arrive at Crampon Point, where Phurba met us with cold, refreshing Everest beer. We’d done it!
So I will sign off from Everest Base Camp. What a journey this has been. We now look forward to heading down valley to warmer climes and finally, the hustle and bustle of Katmandu. From a personal point of view I want to thank everybody who has been involved in my journey from having climbed nothing more than a ladder 2.5 years ago, to now having achieved my dream of climbing Everest – THANK YOU xxx
Thanks for following,