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Rope fixing on Everest (and Lhotse) has stalled temporarily.

Everything is on hold above Camp 3 for the moment. The ropes have been fixed to within about 400m of The South Col but over the last few days there have been some missed opportunities to complete fixing to The Col.

Which means that teams can’t supply The Col in readiness for the summit push.

Which means that the first decent weather window won’t be a summit window.

Which means that those teams who could be ready aren’t.

So they won’t be able to summit and clear off the hill making for a quieter time for the next window.

Which means there’s much more likelihood of queues and the intrinsic risks and difficulties when the first summits do happen.

There are a few teams like ours where the Climbing Sherpas are ready to push supplies up the hill from C2 (in fairness they’ll probably carry them rather than push them) but this will have to wait for the time being – meaning that what could be the first summit window will be a logistics day instead.

The way things work regarding ropes on the hill is that the SPCC (Sagarmartha Pollution Control Committee) are paid from each team on behalf of their team members and the SPCC are then responsible for equipping and maintaining the route through the Khumbu Icefall.

Beyond there, however, it becomes a bit less structured. Money is again collected from each team but this is collected in KTM and the kitty is banked. This pays for the summit ropes, snow bars, ice screws etc etc to be delivered to EBC. This year there was a heli lift of gear to C1 (to reduce the number of journeys through the icefall for the Climbing Sherpas) which was also paid for from the kitty. Then what happens is that ANY Climbing Sherpa from ANY team who carries or fixes is paid a bonus from the kitty. Their daily wage is paid by the expedition team but the carry / fixing bonus is topped up from the kitty … but not here at EBC as cash in hand. They have to go and claim for their bonuses in KTM and unfortunately this often takes WEEKS to be paid.

This, understandably, puts some of the guys off making themselves available for work.

Another glaring issue with the current model is that some teams never ever contribute whilst the burden is mainly taken up by a few of the regular contributors.

This is obviously slightly unfair for those who contribute as the daily wages are being paid by that team and their Sherpas are working longer and harder than others.

Having said that there are definitely some teams where it’s better that they don’t get involved because their Sherpas are not knowledgeable or skilled in the art of fixing ropes (mind you they could still carry and assist on fixing days).

Then there are always going to be the slip streamers and hangers on who don’t contribute but are certainly willing to clip the ropes. Occasionally teams manage to slip through the net and not even pay in to the fixing kitty!

So, the model that kind of used to work with mutual cooperation and a sense that it was all for the greater good hasn’t quite proved to be as successful this year as it ought to. The previous 3 days have been almost perfect for getting that final stretch fixed to the South Col but there’s been either miscommunication, insufficient willingness to release staff or, in one case, staff on stand by that others didn’t realise were available. The result has been no fixing for 3 decent enough weather days and now we are faced with a few days where cloud and wind are forecast (which probably means no fixing).

Evidently the model definitely needs renewing and it’s only a matter of time before we will have either a dedicated fixing team from C1 to summit or it will come under the remit of the SPCC guys.

The only issue of SPCC taking on responsibility is that not all of their team are capable of fixing above the South Col. Indeed any Climbing Sherpas who are suitably well qualified and capable for fixing above the South Col would probably want to be working with their regular team where a) if they get involved with fixing they get the bonus (available in KTM) AND b) they can then summit with clients and get the additional summit bonus.
Why would they forgo the additional income to work for SPCC?

The answer is of course that whether it be a separate dedicated team or a branch of the SPCC they will need to be suitably remunerated.

Presently their equipment allowance, insurance and daily wages (plus food, BC tents, mountain tents etc) are covered by their team and the carry / fixing bonus comes from the kitty so the figures will need to be looked. But if we are going to have a dedicated fixing team there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work. They should be paid up front for their contractual period and then paid as they depart Base Camp for any additional work for carrying and fixing.

Indeed there would be no reason why some Climbing Sherpas from other teams couldn’t get involved in the same way as they do now (especially if there had been delays through, say, illness or weather delays). At least that way everybody pays in, there’s no lack of collaboration, there’s one team who know exactly what their task is and there’s no political manoeuvring / shirking / brownie points / criticism / not pulling ones weight etc etc.

And who knows – perhaps the fixing Sherpas could also be available afterwards for some summit action with clients as well (but I’m not quite sure how that would work but it’s got to be worth looking at).

Which ever way you look at it it needs changing and we all hope that a more streamlined and efficient system will be in place by next year.

Post Script:

We’ve just returned from a meeting organised by the leader from the Indian Army team that was called about fixing ropes on Lhotse.

The task in hand is that 9 loads need to be taken to Lhotse High Camp and 4 Climbing Sherpas are needed for fixing. The Indian Army team offered to take 3 loads & provide 2 fixing Sherpas. Our team are currently ferrying 12 loads to from C1 to C2 so we are a bit stretched but we’ve promised to get a load to Lhotse High Camp. IMG promised some load carries. Himex are busy focussing on S Col fixing but are supplying oxygen for the fixing team.

Then there was just awkward silence with team representatives looking at their shoes and avoiding eye contact. After a bit of gentle coercion we were eventually one fixing Sherpa short of a full compliment. It’ll be sorted but it really was like pulling teeth.

And guess what? Some teams haven’t paid!

P.P.S.

And even better there’s a team who have 15 people on Lhotse permits but they claim that none of them are climbing – they’re just going to C2. Everyone needs to be on a permit to be at EBC or above but if these people aren’t climbing Lhotse then why, oh why, didn’t they put them on a Nuptse permit? This would still allow their clients to go to C2 but would be US$1,000 per person cheaper.

There’s something fishy going on off the coast of Grimsby.

To pee or not to pee? – that is the question.

Clearly Tim has gone off his rocker I hear you say. But this is just one of the aspects of high altitude mountaineering that I thought I’d share with you.

Chris and I are off to Camp 1 tomorrow night and even though we’ve been getting to know each other for the past 4 weeks we are about to be thrust in to a new level of intimacy (perhaps thrust isn’t the best turn of phrase).

What generally happens on the hill is that after we’ve eaten we are tucked up in our down sleeping bags by around 8 because it is just too cold to be sitting around playing cards or standing outside staring at the stars.

So after a few minutes wrestling out of clothes and in to sleeping bags it’s time for a quick read and then slumber. And when sleep comes it can be really really deep. I generally have a fantasticly deep sleep and then wake up bursting for a wee (a side effect of being at altitude is that the body makes you pee more because of a pH imbalance that occurs).

But it’s cold out there and I’m all toasty in my bag. And, hey, I can hang on for a while until it’s time to be getting up. Or can I? I generally doze on and off for ages trying to get back to sleep but the feeling of discomfort is soooo overwhelming that returning to sleep is nigh on impossible. Best check the time to make sure I can make it until breakfast, and it’s then that I discover that it’s only around 11.30p.m. Aaarrrggghhh!

So clearly I’m not going to make it until getting up time, in which case it’s pee time. Now I used to always get up and go outside and admire the view of the stars whilst having a tinkle but that was on lower peaks where the temperature is generally a few degrees warmer. But since having been introduced to the ‘pee bottle’ I have been converted. I won’t go in to the gory details but basically you pee in to a bottle and do the top up. Depending on the time of night depends on whether you are advised to empty it straight away or not. If you empty it straight away then this tends to send a shower of frost crystals from the inside of the tent over your unfortunate tent partner as you open the tent zipper and discharge the contents at full arm stretch outside into the snow. But if you decide not to empty it then the risk is that it freezes, thereby rendering the bottle unusable again that night – which could be a BIG problem if you decided you desperately needed to go again. And when you sometimes have to go three, four or even five times a night this could suddenly become a BIG problem.

Anyway, enough of that, I’ve had a pee in a bottle and emptied it. Back to sleep? Er, no. What happens next can only be described at H.A.T.A.T. (High Altitude Tossing And Turning). You try for all your worth to sleep but it just doesn’t happen. Every time you turn over you get showered with ice crystals. Your tent partner does the pee bottle thing and showers ice over you. You get bouts of sleep apnoea and feel that you are suffocating. You breath freezes on to the inside of your sleeping bag and forms an icy crust around your head and shoulders. Your sleeping bag liner acts like a boa constrictor as it winds around you every time you move. And so it goes on. All the way through the night. Until about 5 in the morning when you eventually doze off only to be woken up at soon after 5 when the tent starts getting very light as the sun come sup. So another hour or so of tossing and turning until it’s time to get the stove on and start preparations for breakfast. And then the frost starts melting and dripping in your ear.

And that just about sums up the average night on the hill.

Now that we have been at Base Camp for a few nights we are generally getting some really deep long sleeps. Until tomorrow night, that is, when we are off to Camp 1 (6,000m) where we will start the whole ‘peeing at night’ process all over again.

It’s all part and parcel of ultra high altitude mountaineering. No one said it was going to be easy!

Ama Dablam interactive 360° panorama from Camp 3 – you won’t be disappointed

So here it is … the latest mountain panorama this time featuring Ama Dablam from around 6,300m at the site of Camp 3.

Have a look at the interactive high resolution Ama Dablam 360° vista.

You need to go to www.mpano.com/2015M1

A big thank you to Thomas Worbs from the Mountain Panoramas website for the stitching, and to Gerald Blondy from Bushman Panoramics for the Gobi panoramic head and tripod.

For more of my work there are some 360° panoramas on my website.

And don’t forget that you can follow the next Everest Expedition on FaceBook (timmosedale) and Twitter (@timmosedale) where we will be posting snippets of information and photos along the way.

via Blogger http://ift.tt/22XZKSz

‘Supported’ – a film by Matt Sharman.

Here’s a brilliant film by Matt Sharman about the mega triathlon that I did back in July.

A huge thanks to Matt and the guys at Coldhouse for giving their time and expertise to produce this amazing movie.

Please take some time out to enjoy … and then spread the word.

Time lapse compilation from Ama Dablam

I’ve just put together a compilation of time lapses that I captured on the latest Ama Dablam expedition.

I hope that you enjoy the spectacular scenery of moonlit mountains, starry starry nights, a full moon rising behind Ama and clouds scudding by …

 

The ‘Tim Mosedale Tri’

Back in July I undertook a bit of a challenge to raise some funds for some families in Nepal.  When the earthquake struck and caused an avalanche that wiped out most of Everest Base Camp we lost 3 members of our staff. Guys I had worked with for 12 years. They had left behind 9 children and I wanted to do something to help their families.

For some reason, that seemed quite logical at the time, I decided it would be a good idea to cycle the Fred Whitton (having only ever ridden a bike in my teens to go to the pub) and then swim 2 lengths of Derwentwater (having only swum a mile before) and then complete the Bob Graham Round (having previously only ever linked 2 legs together).

I started off with some training where I swam and / or cycled and / or ran every day for 50 days. Realistically this was nowhere near enough training for such a massive venture but I realised that if I didn’t get it done by the end of July then I wouldn’t be getting it done at all. So 50 days it was. Which actually proved to be a whole lot of fun. It was a great motivator to get out training no matter what the weather and no matter how busy I was with other things that I might have otherwise managed to fill my time with.

Meanwhile there was money coming in and a lot of people offering their support … which really put the pressure on to make sure that I could complete the crazy venture.

Next thing you know I was meeting a bunch of people in the market square in Keswick and getting ready to set off in to the unknown.

Some of the team ready for the off …
and I still had the house keys in my pocket.

I was honoured to to meet up with 6 riders who were going to cycle with me for the first 3 passes as well as having 2 support vehicles and some photographers and well wishers. And then we were off. The conditions were perfect and we made good headway down Borrowdale and tackled the first of the passes – Honister. To be honest it’s a bit of a bitch low down (around 1 in 4) before easing off to about 1 in 5 until another section of 1 in 4 brings you to the cattlegrid and a sectrion of a kilometre or so of easy cycling until the final haul to the col. Where we were met by Charmian and Steve who were ready and waiting with food and drink. Back in the saddle, down to Buttermere (a brilliant descent but you need to be on the brakes for quite a while otherwise there’s a very good chance of being wiped out on the chicane at the bottom when you cross the bridge), along the side of the lake with amazing views over the Red Pike, High Crag and Haystacks and then on to the second pass … Newlands. It’s slightly easier than Honister but it’s still a L O N G way and there’s a sting in the tail right at the top … where we were met by Charmian and Steve again for another fuel stop.

Down off Newlands is a seriously fast, fun, descent and then there was some great riding all the way along to the village of Braithwaite before tackling the next pass up to Whinlatter which, compared to the others, is a piece of cake.

More fuel and then 3 riders departed to return to Keswick. Down to Lorton where another 2 went their separate way and that left myself and Stuart Holmes to continue to Fang’s Brow (another fuel stop) where we were joined by Les Barker. Bearing in mind that it was soon getting dark Les was a huge asset to have along because his knowledge of the route, the forthcoming dangers and the best line to take was invaluable.

After various other fuel stops Charmian and Steve were relieved of their duties for a couple of passes on account of the fact that their motorhome probably wouldn’t make it over Hardknott and Wrynose and in stepped Frances Clark who fueled us over the next 2 passes.

I ought to mention that Carl, Chris and Hannah (who were doing quite a bit of photography as well as taking some excellent drone footage) were also trailing us … every inch of the way. I’d chosen to take on The Fred first so that a) I wouldn’t be going from cycling legs to fell running legs but also b) to do it at night so that the roads would be quieter. But even bearing that in mind it was still very reassuring to have a vehicle along behind us every peddle rotation of the way.

Next thing you know were are at the top of Hardknott (1 in 3!!) and then on to Wrynose either side of midnight. Down to Elterwater and through Clappersgate and then I did the route to Grasmere … and back again. It’s only a few miles but I knew that if I didn’t do this bit then someone somewhere would say that I hadn’t actually done The Fred (which for the last few years has started and finished in Grasmere).

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Martin Bell was sat in his car a couple of hundred meters up the road in Grasmere watching us on the tracker and getting ready to join us. But the tracker went round the roundabout and headed back to Ambleside! So he jumped on his bike and started out to catch us up … but we pulled in to the Ambleside car park for soup and sandwiches and Martin sped past desperately trying to find us. When he got to the top of Kirkstone, and we weren’t there, he realised what had possibly happened and waited for us to arrive … and then he joined us for the rest of the route.

So now we were four (and 2 support vehicles) and whizzed down off Kirkstone (another awesome, fun descent), alongside Brotherswater and on to Ullswater before heading up to Troutbeck via Dockray. It doesn’t count as a pass but it still has a substantial amount of climbing and by now I had been on the go for around 9 hours. So it was utterly delightful to be met at the next fuel stop by my wife Ali and our good friends Fiona and Suzanna (as well as Charmian, Steve, Carl, Chris and Hannah).

A welcome stop after 9 hours in the saddle.

Les organised the group and made sure that we whizzed down the A66 getting me to Keswick in good order by creating a bit of drafting for me. And so I said goodbye to Stuart Holmes (who had accompanied me on the entire route), Les and Martin and dropped down to the lake shore to meet up with Paul Weller (not THE Paul Weller) who was on hand to paddle alongside and keep me in a straight line along the length of Derwentwater and back.

Perfect swimming conditions

Another reason why I had chosen to ride through the night was to have flat calm conditions on the lake and get the swim completed before the launch started. And it could not have been better. It was a bit chilly but it was idyllic, and flat, and calm, and the sun rose whilst I was halfway along to the far end. All great stuff.

Really really cold …
and quite tried already (only 12 hours or so in)

Except … for the last kilometre or so I was swimming in to cold water where the river was joining the South end of the lake. Consequently when I got out for a breather I was quite literally chattering with the cold and verging on becoming hypothermic.

Ali, Suzanna and Fiona had walked along the lake shore and had food and supplies for me and Paul popped a couple of jackets on me as well as a buoyancy aid to warm me up. 20 minutes later we poured the last of the flask of tea in to my wetsuit and I was back in the water to swim back to Keswick.

Taking on fuel and warming up after the swim.
Some of the runners for Leg 1 of The Bob.

Charmian and Steve were back on duty and gave me breakfast whilst I warmed up in a duvet (not a duvet jacket … but an actual duvet!) and then I changed in to my fell running gear and mooched up
to The Moot Hall …

to be met by 9 (!) runners who wanted to be a part of the event and help me along the way. 2 guys had come up from Retford! Tremendous stuff. I’ve supported a few people when they have been doing their Bob Graham Rounds but I have never realised just how much of a difference having people alongside makes. It’s all very well feeding the runner, giving them juice, keeping them on the route, carrying their poles etc but I now know that just being there is possibly the most important psychological aspect.

So we started out in perfect conditions and it stayed that way for the whole day. Up Skiddaw (another chap joined us from half way up), over to Great Calva and along to Blencathra (where another guy joined us as well as a few folk who had made the effort to be on the summit for when I came by). Down to Threlkeld to be met by a veritable posse and a change of runners.

A surprise welcoming committee on Blencathra.
With great views across The Northern Lakes … but with the dawning realisation that I will need to ascend pretty much every peak on the horizon of this photo. Only 3 down of 42 so far …

Just finishing Leg 1 of The Bob …
to be greeted with a whole selection of goodies.

Up to Clough Head and along the Dodds to the Helvellyn range (where we were met by some photographers), down to Grisedale Tarn and then we opted for the direct route up to Fairfield.

Another summit ticked off but many many more to go. 
The steep climb up to Fairfield by the direct route.

It’s steep and continuous but I had good climbing legs and we made good progress. All great stuff but I had a toenail issue and had done irreparable damage. However there was the welcome distraction of the fact that the light was absolutely fantastic and we enjoyed a superb sunset as we descended to Dunmail Raise.

And another change of runners as well as a fuel stop and I opted for a cat nap in the van. I was, not surprisingly, feeling a little bit jaded.

Just before my lowest ebb … about to set off on Leg 3.
Just starting out on Leg 3 of The Bob … into the night.

Going up Steel Fell was surprisingly ok … but it wasn’t long in to the darkness that I started to feel totally, and utterly, drained. By now I had been on the go for around 30 hours but I hadn’t slept for over 42 hours and it was a struggle. I always knew that I would be doing part of The Bob in the dark but I didn’t want to be doing it over 2 nights .. again partly why I had opted for the Fred at night to have me doing a day, a night and a day on The Bob … I definitely didn’t want 2 nights on the Bob.

The navigation on Leg 3 is reasonably tricky by day … but at night when you are working on straight lines with map and compass it is just a slog. Even with a GPS and 2 meters accuracy it is very easy to be just to one side or the other of the trod and be getting wet feet, missing the best footfall and dealing with grassy hummocks and awkward rocky steps. Martin Bergerud was doing most of the navigation and, along with Donald Ferguson, was going to be accompanying me on Legs 3 AND 4. A friend of Martin was along for Leg 3 as far as the Bowfell area and a good friend of mine, Giles Ruck, was keeping by my side throughout the night.

Interestingly Giles was with me on Everest in 2011 and had a really bad time of it for a few days when we went up to Camp 2, on up to 3 (an aborted summit bid because the weather changed) and then back to 2 where we waited for the next weather window. It would have been pointless to expend all our energy dropping to EBC for possibly only one night before returning to C2 so we stayed put at 6,400m and Giles really suffered. Thankfully we were sharing a tent and I was able to chat him through a variety of different options which meant that he then didn’t go to EBC for a rest (we both realised that he would have just kept on walking and gone home). Anyway after a bit of supplementary oxygen and a morale boosting chat it turned him around and he went on to summit a couple of days later in fine style. And now the tables were completely and utterly 180° turned around and it was Giles who was talking me through a really dreadful night. I was woozy, tired, hallucinogenic, stumbling (and mumbling) and a liability to myself. And when I just asked for a 5 minute ‘power nap’ he dutifully sat by my side and allowed me to have ten. This happened a couple of times before we started up Bowfell and then, utterly spent, as the sky was just starting to brighten I needed another lie down. Out for the count.

Unconscious somewhere along The Langdales

But, miraculously, when I woke (was woken) 10 minutes later not only was I revived but, with the sight of the sun rising and with the clouds below us, I was totally invigorated and didn’t need another lie down. There’s something about the wave length of the light that just got me going and kept me going. It’s not as if the end was in sight because I reckoned I still had another 15 hours or so to go. But something happened that just changed everything.

Martin contemplating the route … and the view … and the fact that he had just spent an ENTIRE night on Leg 3 of The Bob
Everything changed after this nap. Dawn really lifted my spirits.
What’s there not to like about a sunrise in the hills?

Meanwhile we had now been on the go on Leg 3 for about 8 hours! And still hadn’t reached Scafell. Martin and Donald were going to be in for a 20 hour day at this rate. Martin rang home and before he could even ask his wife Lisa whether she could muster some troops she told him that it was all taken care of. Lisa, and Kate Simpson, had pre empted and done it already. They had both been with me on Leg 2, gone home, showered, ate, slept, got up at 5, checked the tracker, realised I had slowed down and had done the necessary ringing around. So when we got down to Wasdale there they were with Ella (from Leg 1), along with Steve and there were 2 others who were due to meet us on the hill. Bloody brilliant.

And the legend that is Joss Naylor came for a chat and a pep talk. Double bloody brilliant.

Words of encouragement from Joss Naylor.

Yewbarrow. It’s a steep hard climb straight out of Wasdale and strikes fear in to the hearts of tired Bob Grahamers. It is a crux of the whole route and more people stop at Wasdale (or go part way up Yewbarrow and give up) than at any other part of the whole route. Rather surprisingly I found it to be pretty ok … but then I didn’t have the constraint of trying to get round The Bob in under 24 hours (and indeed I had now been on The Bob for 26 hours!!). The rain was due in at 11 and at 11:05 pitter patter. By 12 we were all fully togged. By 12:30 it was really quite blowy and by 2 in the afternoon it was absolutely dreadful.

Leg 4 has got a lot of BIG hills and ascents – Yewbarrow, over to Steeple, Pillar, Kirk Fell and Great Gable. All credible hills in their own right but linking them all together, along with the various hummocks and bumps along the way, as well as tagging on Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts on to the end, makes Leg 4 a big day out. And my toe was giving me quite a lot of grief but you just have to get on with it … and we did. All the way down to Honister to be met by another posse of fresh runners (10 in total!!) as well as the usual road support crew and a whole host of well wishers.

The end was possibly in sight and completion, at long last, seemed feasible. It wasn’t in the bag but we had definitely broken the back of it.

It’s another stiff climb out of Honister up to Dalehead but with a fresh crew and new banter we pegged it up in good order and, after Hindscarth I was finally approaching the final summit, Robinson.
Gnarly conditions … just what you don’t really want when you have been on the go for more than 48 hours. 
41st top – just one more summit to go. 
It’s still a way to go to get back to Keswick but it was (mostly) down hill all the way and then when we were on the road there were more people joining, clapping, meeting and greeting and wishing me well along the way. Utterly, utterly uplifting.

And so, 52 hours after starting out on the Fred Whiten I had cycled over 6 high passes (as well as various other hills and climbs), swam 2 lengths of Derwentwater and made a circuit of 42 Lakeland Peak covering something in the region of 180 or so miles with a cumulative ascent of nearly 12,500m. Now that, I reckon, is a reasonably big day out!

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As well as the memories of my kind Sherpa friends, the company of fellow cyclists, canoeist and runners, my support crew and my friends and family one great aspect that kept me going, and made me realise that this was far FAR bigger than I had ever imagined, was that the donations came in before the event, kept coming in throughout the venture and, indeed, have still been arriving to this day.

So it is with great GREAT thanks that I salute everyone single one of you whether you watched and clapped, got sweaty and wet with me, donated, nodded your head in acknowledgement or posted an uplifting comment at some stage during the whole process. I did it … but I couldn’t have done it without you.

Many many thanks one and all.

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Oh, and by the way, the total now stands at just over £52,000 and is going to make a huge difference.

Indeed I am now sat at Abu Dhabi international waiting for my connecting flight to Kathmandu and I have about my person some of the ££s that have been donated that I will be handing over to the families I have been raising funds for.

The majority of the money won’t go to them directly but instead will be used to pay for the childrens’ school fees. But hopefully, when I see the families in the next few weeks, they will realise that people out there are helping in a whole variety of different ways and that the future, whilst being bleak at the moment, at least is a future with a glimmer of hope.

Especially for their children and the possibility that they might still be given the opportunity to better themselves.

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Age, ability and experience – prerequisites being proposed for potential clients on Everest.

Everest would appear to be in the news quite a lot right now.


(If you can’t be bothered to read the blog and would prefer a short video taking a light hearted approach to getting round the ‘rules’ have a look at my interviews with wannabe Everest climbers in Keswick).

If, however, you have the time and inclination for a more serious look in to the subject then please read on …

People don’t die on Everest from being too old or too young (although it’s only a matter of time). They don’t die because of a disability (although it could be a contributory factor). They certainly don’t die just because they previously hadn’t been on a different mountain that was 6,500m high (previous experience at altitude on one trip doesn’t mean that you will perform well on another … but psychologically it may well help as you have taken away an unknown).

What people die from on Everest are generally (low down) mistakes accidents and mishap and (high up) lack of oxygen, exhaustion or altitude related complications such as HACE / HAPE / AMS.

But the good old Ministry of Tourism are considering imposing an age limit for those wanting to become the youngest / oldest summiters.

I can see where they are coming from but in reality this will only affect one or two people a year.

They are also talking about experience … but they are placing experience in to the realm of having summited a peak of 6,500m. With all due respect to everyone who has summited, say, Mera Peak (just short of 6,500m but will probably be seen as the benchmark) you can walk / trek up Mera without any previous experience but does that suddenly qualify you for the next expedition to Everest? I, personally, would say no. What about the Uber Alpinist who has over 20 years of hard climbing and mountaineering under their belt who has just forged a new route on Denali? I’m afraid that it is ‘only’ 6,194m and therefore you DON’T QUALIFY. What?

Experience is hugely subjective and there should be due diligence from the client AND the guides / companies to determine who is suitably experienced. If you are a liability to yourself then you are a liability to everyone around you. And perversely the really inexperienced, if they ask around enough, will eventually manage to get on to Everest with a shoddy outfit where they won’t be looked after, their Climbing Sherpas will be as inexperienced as they are, they won’t have enough (or spare) oxygen and they will become a problem for not only that team but for everyone else on the mountain. The likes of David Sharp and Shriya Shah-Klorfine spring to mind. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place and they died trying.

(Dis)ability though? Pah! There are plenty of (dis)abled mountaineers out there who are far more proficient and experienced than some of the fools I have seen on the mountain. This is a totally subjective area and cannot / should not be regulated. I agree that there are certain conditions and ailments that people may have that mean that they are going to be a potential liability. But, with the right training, a critical eye for what is achievable given the disability, the right guidance, staffing and provision of expertise there is no reason why, say, a blind mountaineer shouldn’t be on the mountain (and indeed a few blind mountaineers have now summited along with one legged, no legged, no armed etc etc people have succeeded and are surely pioneers who have shown just what is possible to those that they represent).

But to say that these people, from now on, would be excluded doesn’t sit well with me. They are being discriminated against by people who don’t understand the nature of the event that they are policing. In Nepal a person who has lost a leg probably can’t work and will inevitably end up as a beggar on the street or a person in a village who needs to be looked after by the wider community. To that end people view disability differently in Nepal and they are likely to see what the person CAN’T do as opposed to what they CAN ACHIEVE. They see the wheelchair rather than the person in it. Evidently the officials at the Ministry of Tourism have never heard of, or never watched, the Para Olympics where sportmen and sportwomen are performing almost as hard, fast, long and high as able bodied athletes.

And, for that matter, how can someone who is a disabled person who is a competent mountaineer be discriminated against in favour of the totally inexperienced inept person who wants to tick off Everest? Even if they have summited a 6,500m peak?

As long as they are catered for in the correct manner and are not going to endanger themselves, their staff and other mountaineers around them then why shouldn’t partially sighted, hearing impaired, club footed, hair lipped, ginger haired mountaineers be on the big hill?

Obviously I am being slightly flippant in my list but where, exactly, do you draw the line?

The officials at the Ministry of Tourism do not actually understand mountaineering in the slightest.

For a flippant look at the issue read Mark Horrel’s update.
For another good write up have a look at Alan Arnette’s update.
Have a listen to my radio interview with BBC World Service.
Or to see why people actually fail on Everest have a look at my previous blog post on the subject.