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