Everest 20 years on ! A few thoughts.

I saw this written by a friend:

“Happy Anniversary to all involved. I’d not been on MR long when they got back from Everest and I went to the lecture they did at Kinloss in the mess. It was inspirational and fuelled my passion for the mountains ⛰. I remember it like it was yesterday. These seemingly professional mountaineers talking about climbing the highest mountain in the world, like it was nothing. Amazing.”

It’s 20 years on since we had our trip to China and an incredible expedition . We all knew each other well all apart from our Doctor were RAF MRT and had few problems with each other. This is unusual when your away for over 3 months. How many trips go like that ?

It was as I have written a trip of a lifetime. The photos that Nerys and Rusty put up of Everest and the team were incredible and a huge reminder of how privileged we all were?

I was only the Base Camp manager but it was incredible to be there in Tibet on such a mountain. It was a busy time and o often got away into the rarely visited places like the West ridge alone. I also got to know our Sherpa team so well we built up a trust hard earned.

On summit day when Dan and Rusty were heading for the summit we could see them on the final pyramid through the telescope . We had radios that were rarely used we left them to it. When they summited it was a quick “we are there” but then the long wait till they were safe. It was some of the hardest times watching and waiting at Base. To hear later Dan and Rusty talk of how shattered they were after there long summit day. They were together no Sherpa support and had to rely on each other. Yet both said there was little they could do if one had a problem on the mountain.

The rest of our team were going well and we had several teams behind the first summit team using the tents in a “hot bed system” Unfortunately one of the troops got sick at the high camp. It was then a great effort by all to help him off the hill. His partner Willie Mac got him down to the North Col.

At the North Col the Doc filled him with fluid and he manage to get down the fixed ropes and then walked off later.

The Sherpas took medical kit up the hill to ensure this happened. They did not want to summit but they would be there if needed and did not let us down. What a support and back up.

It was a worrying time but all the troops gladly gave up their summit attempt to ensure our sick mate was okay.

There were other summit attempts but the winter had arrived. I was up at Advanced Base with the Sherpas as a big storm hit. Everyone else was gone from the hill. Our little tents were alone on the mountain.

Ted Atkins, Jim Groak and the Doc were at the high Camp. The weather stopped them and I was so pleased to see them come down safely.

I then spent a few days alone with the Sherpas sorting out ABC and collecting 50 bags of rubbish left by other expeditions.

The troops were supposed to come up to ABC . To help clear the camp but the weather broke again I was alone with the Sherpas.

We then cleared the mountain sadly several had died that year as happens. It was an insight into another world. I saw the best and worst of the world of High Mountaineering.

Our Sherpas and team had assisted in Rescues but it seemed to me that some folk were only interested in their summit!

Yet as I walked alone ahead of the porters and the Yaks back to Base at the end (a big day of 20 plus Kilometres from 21500 to 17500) I was alone with my thoughts. The weather was wild I felt so alone and got my last views of Everest as the snow fell. I got back to Base the sanctuary bog our hut and seeing all my pals. The Sherpas and Yaks were not long behind.

We were all safe thank God all still pals, happy and could not wait to see our families again.

It must have been hard for the families who worried for us all! We only had the overland journey back to Nepal to go!

Looking back :


Ted is gone now taken by the mountains. A man whose idea it was to go as a pure MRT group he knew we would work for each other. We had the best Sherpas on the mountain who did such a job for us. They were our team mates and they kept a wary eye on us all.

I will never forget Rusty and Dan speaking from the summit and then the hours of waiting for them arriving at the high camp tents. They still had a long way to go and it was not till I met them as I was heading back up to Advanced Base Camp.

We had our big Boss with me and it was magical to meet them they looked knackered but what smiles they had.

We continued up to ABC our Big Boss had his Everest moment just getting there!

20 years on seems a lifetime to me. We are all still mates and it would be great to meet up again before we get to old. ????

Thanks to all families for your support to many to mention sadly.

In memory of Ted Atkins and Al McLeod who gave us the dream to go and see this incredible mountain.

The Sherpas

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Enviroment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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