Friday, June 20, 2008

Everest 2008- Final Thoughts & Photos

Hello All,

From speaking to many of you, I believe you have been missing tuning into my blog of a morning, so I thought I would do one more dispatch to satisfy your cravings!

It's been 3 weeks since I returned back to the UK and have finally started to upload my photies and so I have posted a link to my flikr site at the end of this dispatch, where you can have a peek at a sample. Unfortunately there are no photos of the summit day, as you may remember I reached my high point at around 4 am and was in complete darkness and my return leg.. well lets just say taking photos was not on the agenda!.

Many of you have asked me about the football match with the Nepali Special forces and I had forgot that I hadn't blogged the outcome so here's the story..

With many of my players either missing in action or still climbing the mountain I worried that we wouldn't be able to field a team on match day. With the carrot of the match being filmed for the History Channel I managed to sign up a couple of German centre forwards on a mad night out in the Namche Bizarre pool hall on the trek out. Also on our first day back in Kathmandu we managed to sign up a local Nepali shop owner with the small fee of buying some of his fake North Face T-shirts. I set about trying to get us stripped, by approaching some well known restaurants and bars in Kathmandu but to no avail, so on match day we played with our tops off ..skins!

It was our first night back in Kathmandu and as you can probably imagine we were eager to unwind after what we had all been through in the last 10 weeks and so with the knowledge of the match being scheduled for 10 am the following morning we thought it was a good idea to hit the town and boy did we hit it. A mad, very late, but good night was had by all and gathering at breakfast the following morning I was worried to see that some of the team were missing in action, although I was pleasantly surprised that our 2 German friends, from Namchee, had somehow remembered and turned up. Those that had trapped, me included, were either still drunk or feeling the worse for ware. I had organised the bus for 9 am and so set about trying to assemble a team, which required the rapid recruitment of 3 American students that were attending classes at the Hotel. I had negotiated the release from their studies with the white lie of we were doing this for charity and again used the History Channel carrot...thankfully it worked.

So it was a squad of 13 players that boarded the bus and myself and Ian Taylor set about trying to sort out a formation and allocate players to positions. Now Nepal isn't renowned for their football prowess and this was the main plank of my team talk..but either is America hmmm, but I thought we would be okay. We arrived at the park in good time where I met my good friend, Major Rana. He was certainly taking this game seriously and had recruited a referee, 2 linesman, netted the goals and had decked his team out with matching strips. Quite a crowd had gathered and with the film crew's cameras rolling we lined up for the pre-match photos. To our great surprise, a goat was then presented onto the pitch, as is the way in Nepal, and got a respective but somewhat surprising round of applause. It seemed quite pleased with itself not knowing that the winning team had the 'honour' ! of cutting it's throat before it was sacrificed to the post match barbecue!!.. what can I say "when in Rome?!"

Okay so I'll get some excuses in early ..1.We were a team that were pretty much spent from 10 weeks at extreme altitude 2. It was +37 degrees Celsius 3. Most team members were either still drunk or worse for wear from our crazy night out. Never the less, my team talk plank was quickly shot down in flames as the Nepali team ran rings round us, showed some real footballing skill and it was with dejection that our team red faced..more so from the effects of the previous night, left the field 4-0 down at half time.

I changed the formation for the second half going from a standard 4-4-2 to a 4-4-3, and the early minutes of the second half brought encouragement. The American boys, maybe for the fact that they hadn't been climbing Everest or been out the night before, were probably our best players and we managed to create a few chances. I was very surprised at the skill, pace and footballing prowess that the army boys displayed and they managed an other 3 goals before the end of the game. So it was with a sound 7-0 thrashing that we left the field to head for the barbecue and a few 'hair of the dogs'!. Big thanks to my good friend Major Rana for not only helping organise the football match but also for all his help in his role as Liaison Officer throughout what was an extremely tough political season on Everest....Top Man.

Again I would like to thank everyone who supported my expedition and hope you enjoy the pictures.

Best wishes


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Everest 2008- Summit Story

A 5 am start on the 22nd saw the team leave our Camp 3 tents, on the Lhotse Face, knowing that very night, we would be going for the summit. We were now sniffing supplementary oxygen on a low flow rate, as we continued up the steep icy face and the traversed left across the Yellow Band and up the Geneva Spur onto that famous of Everest landmarks, the South Col. We met a stream of climbers coming down from camp 4, and as we carefully negotiated our way around them on the fixed lines we heard stories of 3 deaths the previous night which, as if we needed it, re-emphasised what dangers lay ahead.

James, my 24 year old tent mate, and I got to Camp 4 on the South Col, around midday, which gave us 9 hours to rest and hydrate before the summit push. As much as we tried, no sleep would come and before we knew it, the 8pm alarm sounded and time to get ready. The 9 pm start replaced the usual 10 pm start, in an attempt to get out ahead of what we had predicted would be a busy summit night. As we popped out our tents at just before 9pm we quickly realised that other teams had had the same idea, with a long line of headtorches already making their way up to the Balcony. James and I had been teamed up with Mingma (going for his 13th Summit) and Tshering Sherpa, and were to lead out the team. Mingma seemed to be on a mission and we quickly started passing all the other teams on the way up to the Balcony. We were joined by David and Pasang and within an hour had passed around 60 climbers topping out on the Balcony in under 3 hours, we were motoring as a usual time would 4-5 hours to this point. It is usual to change oxygen bottles at this point but as we had been so quick we hadn't used a lot of the gas and so continued up the ridge a bit before we changed.

We made good progress up the ridge and were cresting the South Summit at 4am when I started to get a suffocating feeling, like someone was holding a pillow over my face, quite frightening at 28,000ft. A quick diagnosis revealed a frozen up valve on my oxygen mask. With hard blowing, banging and prodding of a knife, the valve was freed and I could breath again and the dizziness that ensued quickly disappeared.

From the South Summit you can see the main summit with only the knife edge ridge and the Hillary step guarding the upper slopes, only around 100 vertical feet still to climb. I started along the ridge but part way along my vision went and I was only able to make out shapes not the best position to be in when you have to climb along an icy trail, only a foot wide in places, with a 12,000ft drop on one side and a 10,000ft on the other. Tshering, at only 19 years old, was brilliant and got me back along the ridge to the South Summit and down a few hundred metres where my vision started to return. He made sure I clipped in properly to the fixed line and got my feet placements verified as we negotiated some steep and very exposed terrain, he truly was a hero and I owe this young man a hell of a lot. Half way between the South Summit and the Balcony my vision returned and I could make own way down. That was just the thing, heart, lungs and legs I was in good shape and felt really strong and was able to cruise down to Camp 4 pretty quickly.

The next day I boosted down to Camp 2 and today made it safely through the icefall, for the last time, down here to basecamp. Despite losing 10 kg I physically felt pretty good and am happy to be safe, however I am gutted to have got so close. I am sure I will get over it in time but at the minute it's a bit sore. I have to realise that without the support of my team mates and sherpas I could have been like one of the 5 climbers that didn't make it down on the day before and the day after our summit day.

I would like to thank all those that have supported my expedition and for all the kind comments and emails I have received. We are swinging out of basecamp tomorrow morning and will be back in the UK next weekend.

Best Wishes

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summit Push

Dear Friends, Family and Fans,

This is Mara writing, Jagged Globe base camp manager. Just a quick couple lines to let you know about the last 24 hours up here on Everest. Martin & co left the South Col for the summit push last night just after 9pm. I'll leave him to fill you in on the details of what was definitely an epic climb, but for now, just know that he's back safely at high camp.

Making good time through the early morning hours Martin got all the way up beyond the Balcony, the South Summit, and just beneath the Hilary Step when we got word down here at base camp that he'd lost vision, a hypoxia induced event. Needless to say the decision was made to descend immediately. It was an intense few hours as he descended with the assistance of Pasang, Tshering Pemba, and David. Thankfully, by the time they dropped down to 8000 meters he regained function and now reports that he's fully recovered and resting for the night with the rest of the team at the Col.

I'll leave the details for Martin to fill in himself on his return down here in two days' time, but he wants me to be sure and let you know that everything is well and he thanks you all for all your support.

All the best,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Everest 2008- It's Go Time

Just a quick dispatch to let you know that we head off on our summit bid tomorrow night ( actually 2 am on the 19th). The Sherpas have been working tiredlesly, stocking up Camp 4 and it's just about ready for us. The schedule detailed in the previous dispatch still applies at this time. Unfortunately I will be out of contact until I arrive back in basecamp next Sunday, so I have asked our basecamp Manager, Mara, to post a dispatch, for me with details of how it all pans out. Thanks for all the support this far and it's now time to sharpen the focus for the next 7 days.

Best Wishes and Speak soon


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Everest 2008- Golf @ 17000ft!!

A few of the team decided to stay up here in Basecamp until the summit push, and this gave us the opportunity to compete against Mark Tucker from International Mountain Guides (IMG) in the Khumbu Classic Golf Competition. Played on the edge of the Icefall with only a 3 and 9 iron, I guess it is probably the highest "course" in the world and definitely the trickiest. After a brief explanation of the course rules, which let's just say were unique!, we set off in a stroke play format under the glare of the History Channel Camera's. The game came down to the last hole, the par 5 "White Monster", with Jagged Globe's Ian Taylor and Tucker tied at level par. Two good drives off the Ice block made it difficult to split the pair until Tucker sliced his second into the rough, well when I say rough I mean a crevasse really!. Having to take a drop shot Tucker finished with a 6, which allowed Taylor's par 5 to bring him the title. Thanks to Mark for a real fun day out on the "course".

Anyway back on the climbing news, we have a proposed schedule for our summit bid, which of course is very dependent on the weather and getting logistics in place. Here it is;
19th May- Basecamp - Camp 2
20th May- Rest Camp 2
21st May- Camp 2- Camp 3
22nd May- Camp 3- Camp 4
22nd May/23rd May- Camp 4 -Summit-Camp 4 (Climb through night)
24th May - Camp 4 - Camp 2
25th May - Camp 2 - Basecamp

As I said this is all very provisional at this stage and so I will confirm nearer the time. Other than that all's good here.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Everest 2008- Camp 3 (7150m)

A 2 am start on the 9th of May , saw the team move up through the icefall with the aim of reaching Camp 2. Half way up the icefall a thunderous crack indicated a huge collapse/avalanche. Since it was dark all we could do was stay where we were and hope that we were not in the firing line. Fortunately we were not but frightening all the same. The ladders across the crevasses don't bother me, but as we approach the monsoon and the temperatures increase more and more serac collapses are likely and that is what is slightly unnerving each time we venture through the icefall. The good news is that, hopefully, we only have to venture through twice more.
After a brief stop at camp 1 to pick up some kit, we moved up the Western Cwn to Camp 2 and got caught in some real heat. Most people would imagine Everest to be a very cold place and it is but when the sun is out the Western Cwn is like a solar oven with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.

We had 2 nights in Camp 2 before setting off at 2 am on the 11th May for our climb to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. With very little precipitation this year so far the face was a very steep blue icey place, which required lots of front pointing on our crampons and jummaring all the way. With the ice so brittle people climbing above would shower ice down onto you, I took a few lumps onto my well justified helmet but unfortunately Ian took some ice in the eye and is seeking medical attention as I write this.

After a semi comfortable night in Camp 3 we descended to camp 2 in windy conditions where we had another night before making our way down here to basecamp this morning. James, Ian and myself were first down and were met by the film crew at the edge of the icefall where we shot off a bit of footage.

So that's us finished our acclimatisation cycles and are hopefully ready for our summit bid. We will now rest up here at basecamp or drop down the valley for a few days. The fixed lines have been fixed to camp 4 but the tents and oxygen have still to be moved up. So we wait for that to happen and keep studying the weather forecasts before deciding on a summit date. I will let you know as soon as we decide.

1. A birthday shout out to Davey Boy out in Cairns Australia. All the best Amigo.
2. Good luck to Glasgow Rangers for tomorrow Night.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Everest 2008- Lucky Number 8- Olympic torch


I was awoken by the now familiar sound of the small jet aircraft circling the Summit. Over the last week, the aircraft had been capturing the progress of the Olympic torch team as they made their way up the other side of the mountain. Making my way to the mess tent at 7 am news reached me that the Torch had in fact reached the top. Reports were that over 20 climbers had summitted by 6 am Nepal time. I guess it was always going to be the 8th that the Chinese summitted, being that it is their lucky number and the Olympics start on 08/08/2008!!.

The news of the summit was met with great cheer here on the South side basecamp; the army cheer because they can now go back home and the climbers can now climb without any of the restrictions that were in place. With that in mind we leave at 2 am tomorrow morning for Camp 2 and onward to Camp 3 in the next couple of days to finish our acclimatisation. The team will be back down in BC on the 13th May where we will be resting up and planning our summit bid.

Other news is that we have the film crew from the History Channel arriving today to document the build up to, and our summit bid from a basecamp viewpoint.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Everest 2008- Day 43!


Most teams have retreated down the valley in search of a more comfortable oxygen rich environment, but we have decided to stay here in what has become a very snowy Basecamp. Our hope is that things conclude elsewhere on the mountain in the next couple of days and we are in a position to get an early push up to Camp 3 to finish our acclimatisation.

We managed to freshen up our DVD collection with an exchange of films with the lads from the Adventure Peaks team. This has gone some way to relieve the boredom that is rapidly setting in around here. It is now 43 days since I left the UK, this amount of time saw me summit Cho Oyu and be back in sunny Kathmandu on my last expedition. Everest, especially from the South is a very long expedition and staying focused, with all this downtime, can be difficult at times so thanks for your comments they have been excellent for morale. On a plus point, after all the years of planning and waiting for this expedition, we hope to only have 3 weeks left on the nearly there.

I can't believe of all the years to come here that my team, Glasgow Rangers, gets into the UEFA cup final, and I am going to miss the final down in Manchester. Can someone from home, who hasn't switched to Sky +, record the game (DVD/VHS) for me, I will be truly thankful. Staying on the football theme, myself and Ian Taylor (Fellow Team Member) are trying to assemble a team to play the Nepali army back in Kathmandu on our return. Major Rana, our Liaison Officer and top scorer for the army, has assembled the Nepali team and it looks like it could be and entertaining conclusion to our expedition. That said playing the Nepalese in their own back yard at 3000ft above sea level might not be the most sensible idea but will be fun all the same.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Everest 2008- Latest News

Hey All,

Sorry for the lack of updates, but communications have been difficult lately. Everything is cool here, I have been busy with my acclimatisation cycles, with three nights spent at Camp 1 (6060m) and one trip to Camp 2 (6400m). The trip up to Camp 2, up the Western Cwn or Valley of Silence as it is sometimes known, was truelly awsome, with the huge walls of Nuptse and Everest's West face flanking us on both sides and the Lhotse face and Lhotse (World's 4th Highest Mountain) at the head of the valley providing an awsome background for our climb.

Acclimatisation is going well and my time to Camp 1 is now down to just under 5 hours. Not bad by normal standards until you get passed by Pem Chheri, one of our Super Strong Sherpas, carrying a 30kg load. He makes Basecamp to Camp 1 in 2 hours! and onward to camp 2 in a total of 3 hours. I spoke to Pem in Camp 1, the other day, as he was making his way back from Camp 2 to Basecamp.

"Rest day tomorrow Pem?"
"No, back to work on Camp 2" replied Pem
"Why don't you just stay up there tonight then?" I asked

His simple answer typified the incredible physical ability of the Sherpas

"Not necessary"!!

In between our acclimatisation cycles we have a fair amount of time here at Basecamp. Our 12" DVD player has been working overtime of late with a typical example being watching the complete season 2 of the excellent US series "Entourage" in just 2 sittings!. Also to releave a bit of boredom we took part in a research programme for NASA. Ok Ok I'm bigging it up a little truth, it was for NASA research, but was little more than a 400 question Physchometric test, which from what I could gather was analysing our perception of risk and how much of a nutter you must be to climb Everest.

We have got 2 more cycles to do on the mountain with the main aim of these to sleep at Camp 3 which we hope to have completed by early May. It will then be a case of watching the weather forecasts and planning summit bids.

Hope this finds you all well.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Everest 2008- Into the Icefall

With our team's Puja completed we have made some tentative climbs through the icefall in the last few days, with this mornings climb reaching a couple of hundred vertical metres from Camp1. Politics have re-emerged and we are being prevented from moving to Camp 1 until the Nepali army arrive in Basecamp!!.

The icefall was always the part of the route that I had slight worries about, but in reality I enjoyed my first 2 forays. Pemba Tshering (1 of our Sherpas), who accompanied us through the icefall this morning told us that the route is longer this year but safer..good news. That said, crossing a couple of aluminium ladders strapped together, with a bottomless crevasse beneath your crampons, making sure your spikes straddle the rungs and trying to ignore the towering ice serac above your head ensures that this is still not a place to get complacent or for anyone of a nervous disposition!.

On the health news a few team mates have gone down with the cold, but I have avoided it thus far and despite living with only 50% of the oxygen that you are enjoying I have no symptoms to report...well apart peeing like a racehorse as my body excretes all the bi-carbonates it needs to balance the pH for this altitude!..a minor inconvenience!.
Our plans are to head up to Camp 1 early in the week unless more Everest 2008 politics emerge..what a year!.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Everest 2008- Basecamp

Hello from Everest Base Camp. I swung into basecamp, fit, well and acclimatised, on Sunday after completing the trek with nights in Chukung, Loboche and Gorak Shep. We have only just got the Comms Tent up and running hence the delay between dispatches. It's great to finally get here and get into my individual spacious 4 man tent after the nomadic existence of the last 2 weeks. Its quite a change from the tea houses we have been staying in with -15 degrees Celsius temperatures measured on the last few nights and avalanches going off like jet aircraft flying over the tents during the night. I've also managed to enjoy my first shower in 2 weeks!..yeah I know what what your thinking..and your right..tad smelly..but that's expedition life.!!.

That's pretty much chapter 1 closed and I now focus on climbing on the mountain proper with the first leg climbing to camp 1. This involves negotiating the Khumbu Icefall, which is the most dangerous place on the whole mountain. A mass jumble of ice with gaping crevasses and overhanging seracs as big as houses. The ice fall is constantly moving which makes this place so dangerous. In order to forge a safe passageway through, each team, pays a group of sherpas called the Icefall Doctors a fee, to set aluminium ladders across the crevasses (sometimes 3 in length), fix ropes and anchors and maintain all these safety features throughout the climbing season. At this time only half of the icefall has been fixed so we are on rest days for a while.

The other thing we must do before going on the mountain is have our Puja. The Puja is a sherpa tradition where prayers and offerings are given to the mountain in order to ask for safe passage. The ceremony is led by a Local Lama, goes on for a couple of hours and will see our climbing equipment, crampons, ice axes, harnesses etc also being blessed as well as a few cheeky wee beers and a chang chaser. It all cumilates in the central flag pole resplendent in prayer flags being raised on our Puja stone where it will fly till the end of the expedition.

So not much climbing to report at this stage but hopefully by the weekend we will be into the icefall. Sorry for the lack of pics but is just prooving too costly and difficult at this time.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Everest 2008 - Permit!!

I stated in my last dispatch that I wouldn't be blogging again until Basecamp, but I thought this news was worthy of putting up with the frustration of extremely slow connection speeds and increasing on-line costs.

News reached us yesterday evening that Jagged Globe Everest Team i.e. my team were granted the first permit from the Tourism Ministry. Huge thanks are due to Adele, Kit and Sangey, who have been working hard on the permit back in Kathmandu. Although I have not seen the conditions of the permit, I am assured it offers a workable solution to allow a summit attempt. Adele now leaves Kathmandu this morning to catch us up on the trek into basecamp.

Everthing else is cool here and we continue our trek without the doubts of the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everest 2008- Dingboche (4300m)

We are here in Dingboche for the next 2 days. We had a good walk up the trail today and popped into the 600 year old monastery in Pangboche where the resident Lama gave us all a blessing for our expedition. I think this will be last update I will be able to do before basecamp which we hope to arrive in 7 days time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Everest 2008- Thyangboche

The team and I are all here in Thyangboche (3850m) fit and well and in good spirits. The trek from Namche was stunning with Everest looming large in the distance for the early part of the day and arguably the best looking mountain in the World, Ama Dablam, also providing an awesome backdrop throughout the day. Here in Thyanboche, I dropped into the monastery for some good Karma as you can see from the attached picture...hope we get some. We will have a night here before continuing up the trail towards Basecamp tomorrow. Our freight which has now been released from customs in Kathmandu is now chasing us up the trail..we hope to see it in Basecamp. Thanks for all the comments so far they are really appreciated, sorry for not responding but connection time is at a premium up here and so I am limiting myself to only updating the progress.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Everest 2008- Lukla landing

Here's some of my footage of the landing at the Lukla Airstrip on Tuesday Morning. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Everest 2008- Pictures

A good nights sleep here last night in Namche and enjoying a rest day right now. Another rest day is scheduled for tomorrow but we may stretch our legs a little in the surrounding foothills. The following day we will head up to Thyangboche (3770m) where we will get the chance, hopefully, to visit the famous Monastery. No news as yet of the permit situation but we continue to move towards Base Camp in eager anticipation. Here are some pictures from the trek so far.

Everest 2008- Namche Bazaar (3450m)

We had a super smooth start to the base camp trek with a seamless check-in for our flight up to Lukla. The flight, often labelled the worlds' most dangerous, was exhillarating but not dangerous. I sat up front, just behind the pilots in the wee Twin Otter and got fantastic views of all the surrounding vistas and of course the landing as we dropped onto the 20 degree angled runway. Watching the pilots bring the craft to an impressive handbrake turn into the disembarkment paddock was testimony to their undoubted flying prowess.

We set off that morning up the valley following the Dudh Koshi river to our first stop of Phakding (2600m) where we stayed in a tea house and spent the night playing some cards with the Irish lads showing the early form.

The next morning an early start saw us enter the Sagarmartha National park and press on up to Namche Bazaar which is the capital of the Khumbu Region. Many large suspension bridges were the highlight as well as our first sighting of Everest. We are set for a rest day here tomorrow as we allow our bodies to acclimatise to this increased altitude.

I am having difficulty attaching pictures right now but will post some from the past few days as soon as I can.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Everest 2008- Kathmandu

Hello and Happy Easter from sunny Kathmandu. A delayed schedule saw me arrive here late last night just in time for the staff at the Summit Hotel to stage a welcome puja ceremony for us all and then a quick dinner was followed by a couple of drinks as the team did a bit of bonding. Two off our team, commuting from Dublin, did not meet the Heathrow connection, and should arrive later today or tomorrow. We are a team of seven climbers, 3 Irish, 2 Scots and 2 English, with an Expedition Leader, Deputy Leader, Base Camp Manager as well as all our Sherpa., Porter and Kitchen crew. The news on the permit is that a joint proposal by all the teams has been accepted by the ministry but they have referred it up to the Nepali Cabinet for final approval. We should know tomorrow morning but the way things have been panning out of late I will not hold my breath on that one. All going well, we will start the 10-12 day trek into basecamp tomorrow morning. It will all start with the exhilarating flight up to the mountain airstrip of Lukla that I enjoyed so much back in 2005 and then it's on foot all the way. I hope to have a couple opportunities to post dispatches on route but no guaranteed dispatches until we get our communications set up at basecamp.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Everest 2008- Expedition Begins...Hopefully!!

The news from our man in Kathmandu, is that a lengthy 5 hour meeting was held at the Tourism Ministry on Thursday morning. The meeting was drawn to a close without any decisions regarding the nature of the permit restrictions being known.

So our teams decision is thus..we will head to Kathmandu, as scheduled tomorrow, and see what the permit states when we arrive on Sunday. If the nature of the permit contains restrictions that effectively make the summit unattainable, for instance by not allowing any access to the mountain before 10th May, then we will abort our Everest Expedition. We hope that the ever-increasing number of climbers in Kathmandu angry at the possibility of having their dreams thwarted by the Tourism Ministry's indecision might tip their hand. So, we should go and hope that the Tourism Secretary is good for his word and the permits to be issued are good for the summit.

Thanks for all the many good luck messages I've received and all those who came out for a drink last night. A good night was certainly had and I am just about recovered from the effects of a very late night.

Next dispatch will be from Kathmandu.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Everest 2008- Latest News

News reached me today from my Expedition orginiser, Jagged Globe, that their representative in Nepal met with Nepal's Prime Minister in Kathmandu this morning to seek resolution as to whether or not we will be able to climb this year. The Prime Minister passed the decision over to Nepal's Tourism Minister, who was busy campaigning in another part of Nepal for the forthcoming election on April 10th. The day was then spent with the Jagged Globe's representative getting in a Helicopter to track him down for a chat. I await the outcome of this meeting but hope to get news by tomorrow morning. This is a slight glimmer of hope. I was also advised not to unpack which was more optimism than I had shown by the fact I hadn't even started packing!

Meanwhile many expeditions who planned to climb from the Tibetan side are in a worse position. Their plans are toast with no entry being allowed into Tibet at this time. Many expeditions have also decided against trying to switch over to the Nepal side and have postponed their climbs until 2009. If we do get the opportunity to climb I think it will be a quieter year than previous on Everest which is the only positive thing I can take from the current situation at this time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everest 2008- Expedition in Doubt

Developments in China/Tibet and Nepal in the last few days have put my Everest Expedition in serious doubt. China, who are running an expedition to get the Olympic Torch to the summit, have closed the Mountain from their side until May 10th. This morning, after much pressure the Nepali authorities seem to have followed suit.

The reasons behind this seem to be that the Chinese fear that their expedition will be disrupted by "Free Tibet" protests. This was the case last year as they put a rehearsal expedition together on the China/Tibet side of the mountain.

The thing is that you just can't start an Everest Expedition after May 10th, you need the whole of April and early May to fix the mountain and get acclimatised, so this ruling basically ends any ones hopes of summitting. There is a bit of confusion about the statement from the Nepali authorities as it states ""Expedition teams will not be allowed to move from Nepal's Everest base camp from May 1 to May 10,". This would perhaps mean that teams could be on the mountain during April, but how they could ensure everyone was off by May 1st is questionable. It is also very optimistic of the Chinese to think that they will summit by May 10th as this is in the hands of the Mountain and more realistically the weather. If the weather delayed the Chinese, it would put back everyone's expedition which needs to be off the mountain before the monsoon arrives in June.

This untimely decision by authorities, of both countries, has not only a huge impact on hundreds of mountaineers, who are just weeks and days away from setting off to the mountain but also the livelihood of many locals, sherpas, porters etc.

I am due to fly out next Saturday and, like many others, have been planning and training for this expedition for years. To say I am gutted, by these developments, is a huge understatement. I can only hope that in the coming days things change and a compromise can be sought.

I have copied a link to some recent web reports that show the latest developments.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Everest 2008- Training

I'm often asked what training I am doing for going to Everest. Well, from what I have learned from my little experience on climbing 8000 metre peaks is that it is not all about physical fitness but that said you do have to be in good shape.

So to prepare, I do as much running as I can, lots of 10K's, half marathons and run the 2 miler at work at lunch time, always chasing my times. I'm also at the gym as often as I can, doing resistance training and get a game of football in once a week.

The most important thing though, in my opinion, is to be hill fit and getting out on the hills with a heavy pack ( I usually carry the ropes!) is the thing I strive to do as much as possible. Most weekends I try and get a Munro or two in or a couple of winter graded routes. On the big mountains, summit day usually involves climbing through the night and so to feel comfortable with that environment, this year I have also done a few Munro's at night. The weather is not always the best at this time of year but the training still needs to be done and so Sunday saw my friend Colin and I having a bit of a gnarly day in Stob Coire nan Lochan. A cold wet and extremally windy day saw us opt to tackle the sheltered NC Gully (II). With no-one else ahead of us we boosted up the route in 3 quick pitches and then got absoultely slammed by what felt like 80mph gusts as we topped out of the gully. We actually got lifted of our feet at some points as we negotiated our way along the ridge and then dropped in to the sheltered Broad Gully (I) which we down climbed and made a quick retreat to the car.

Unfortunately the camera wasn't working so here's a pic of the last pitch on NC Gully on a better day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sponser Announced

I have great pleasure in announcing EnergySolutions as the Major Sponsor of my Everest 2008 Expedition.

EnergySolutions is a full-service nuclear fuel cycle company that is committed to environmental protection, energy independence and a safe and growing industry. With their dedication to environmental friendliness, EnergySolutions is solving the problems of global warming and energy dependence in addition to cleaning up the environmental consequences of the cold war.

Climbing big mountains involves incredible preparation, dedication and teamwork. No amount of determination is able to get these big scale expeditions off the ground without the proper funding. I sincerely thank EnergySolutions for their vision, support and belief in my project.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Going South!

I have decided on the route I will attempt Everest. It will be the route that brought the first summits in 1953, for Hillary and Tenzing Norgay- the South East Ridge route ( this assumes Mallory and Irvine were unsuccesful !!). I have attached a picture of the route. Also, by double clicking on the picture on my first post, you can see the route, for real, from the summit of Cho Oyu in 2006.