I sit here like a wimp after a wee fall and my bruised ribs on the bike so no bike or hills for a while and the sun is battering down and so many are having fun. It is great to see everyone out climbing, walking, biking and so many other things in the great weather.
This picture below of me looking really old at our Base Camp in Tibet in May 2001 came up on my Facebook Page as Dan and Rusty were heading for the summit. They were on the North Ridge and had a long hard day from the top camp.
They had no Sherpa’s support as the Sherpas had put the camps in and had done all the work and set up a summit attempt. The Sherpas were offered to go on the first summit attempt but they did not fancy the summit day as most had done it before. It also meant if anything went wrong on the summit push we had help from these incredible unselfish people our Sherpa’s. Therefore it was just the two of them Dan and Rusty and various others groups on the summit day. Communications were poor and we left them alone, during the attempt waiting for their calls. I was up all night as the summit day was long and hard and it was great to hear that they were on the summit but still a long way from safety. The next long hours were awful as we lost comms and it was not till late on that they were back at the high camp, exhausted. They made it down next day to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) and safety. I was the Base Camp Manager and it was a scary watch after a few tragic accidents and deaths to big groups. In the end we were all okay, a few more of out team tried to summit but sadly due to illness and weather were unlucky.
I was moving to to ABC the next day with a VIP and met them on their way to Base and it was an emotional meeting, they were looking great but later told me they were exhausted and just wanted down to the comfort of Base.
It was great to meet them but for the rest of the trip they were recovering at Base they had given everything. We had a few more effort and one of the troops took ill at high camp and they self evacuated, great team work that was a worrying time but all helped and after fluids at the North Col they continued down. The Sherpas rushed up with some kit for our Doc to the North Col 23000 feet (what men) and it was then a great the efforts of Brian our Doc and our mate recovered to get down.
They had a day at ABC and then continued down to Base a massive few days when unwell and they did it on their own steam. A long walk out an a great outcome but we were a strong team who looked after each other.
Later on another, when all the teams had left after a storm. We had 3 others go after all and we were on our own. The weather hit them at the top camp and they made the right move to come down, safe thank God. I was with the Sherpa’s at ABC and it was great to meet them safely off the hill. It was a worrying few days and the winter storms had come in and I was alone with the Sherpa’s when Jim, Ted and Doc made the last attempt. Jim came down after finding the ropes from the top camp, after he had to dig them out so the others could continue in the morning.
Thankfully Ted and the Doc stayed another night at 8300 and then when the weather got worse made the key move of getting down. I would imagine it is not easy making decisions at 8300 metres with no one else on the mountain. Myself Jim and the Sherpa’s were at ABC 21300 feet a long way off if they needed any help,
So a few memories of a special time in May with great pals and we all came back safe and still pals. The success was due to the great work of our Sherpa pals who were there for us at all times.
Thanks to the RAF who let us off for 3 months and my Boss Dave Morris for letting me go. Also all those who covered for us while we were away.
My best pal Pete Greening wrote this today:
On this day, 17 years ago, I reached my high point on Chomolungma. Having set out from our camp on the North Col, my climbing partner, Nigel Kenworthy, and I both knew we wouldn’t be going for the summit, as the jet steam (high altitude wind) had returned to sit over the summit, bringing with it stronger winds and poor weather conditions lower down the mountain. On our journey to Camp 2 (7700m), both of us were blown off our feet and peppered by small stones that had been picked off the north face by the wind. It wasn’t long before Kenny saw sense and made his decision to turn back. I, however, wanted to attempt to get above 8000m, so pressed on. Struggling against the wind and the altitude (I wasn’t using supplementary oxygen), I stumbled into a lone tent, left by the Australian military expedition at 7530m. Here, I sheltered from the elements l, made a brew, and took stock. Effectively alone on this side of the mountain, I felt strong (thanks to a really good acclimatization strategy courtesy of Ted Atkins) and capable to continuing higher, but on the other hand, if I were to come into difficulty higher up the mountain, other members of our team would have to put their lives at risk for mine, to come to my aid. The decision to descend wasn’t an easy one, but the benefits of turning back have been immeasurable. I am lucky to still be here, as are my team mates. I have all my fingers and toes, I have seen my children grow up, and have been many adventures since (and hopefully more to come).
Originally a reserve for the expedition, I am just grateful to have had the opportunity to have set foot on the mountain and to have been with a great team.
RAF Mountain Rescue Service Everest 2001.
“The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.” – Hervey Voge.
“Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.” – Ed Viesturs.
“..going to the right place, at the right time, with the right people is all that really matters. What one does is purely incidental.” – Colin F Kirkus.