8 weeks, 8 days, 4 hours, 8 minutes and counting

Well it’s that time of year again when it all gets very hectic prior to my departure for my next expedition on Everest.

The final few weeks prior to departure are always crammed with lots of e mails from clients my who are themselves trying to organise their lives in preparation for their departure. Then there’s shopping for supplies, packing, sending freight, updating the agent in Kathmandu for them to make the permit application, updating my Sirdar with our requirements for Base Camp and logistics on the hill as well as taking bookings for the next Ama Dablam expedition, packing my stuff ready for my departure and making sure that the Bed and Breakfast is going to run smoothly in my absence.

And of course there is the all important issue of spending time with my family. I used to be ‘away’ for about a fortnight before I actually went away. But thankfully now that I am pretty well versed in the whole pre expedition build up I am able to be here right until the last minute which I think the children appreciate (probably more than they realise).

Despite losing our illustrious B&B housekeeper of 3 years we have managed to find a replacement who is rising to the challenge. So ‘tarra’ to Suzanna and ‘Olá’ to Juan. Juan will be taking the helm full time 7 days a week  for the whole of April and May (and then staying with us until at least September) and is obviously going to do a great job … but there is so much to hand over that it would be easy to overwhelm him with the task at hand. Yes there are breakfasts to cook, guests to meet and greet and rooms to clean but there are also all the other sundry naunces that he needs to be well versed in. Where to go for supplies, how to update availability, what information is required to take a booking, how much deposit is required to confirm a booking, where the receipts go, where are the spare lightbulbs, the stop cock, the electrics box and the fire alarm panel? When does the laundry go out, where do we keep the cleaning supplies and the spare top ups for the tea trays? Who do we order from when we are running low on x, y and z? Where do we keep the spare rolls for the pdq machine, what is our cancellation policy and what’s the WiFi password? Etc etc etc.

It’s only when you’re handing over the reins that you start to realise just how many different facets there are to running your own small business. It’s all very well telling Juan that he can ask my wife – but she is going to be up to her eyeballs with work, getting the children to and from school, answering e mails on my behalf, keeping the family entertained at the weekends and coping with the usual mundanity of shopping for food, making sure the car has an MOT etc etc.

But despite all that, I can thankfully depart next Thursday knowing that the B&B is in very good hands.

I’ll be arriving in Kathmandu a few days ahead of my group and a hectic few days always ensues where I have to go to The Ministry of Tourism, meet the agent, meet my Sirdar, go shopping for our Base Camp goodies, stock up the extensive first aid kit, split the gear down in to what is going straight to Base Camp and what will be accompanying us for the trek in etc etc. Then once we are all convened in Kathmandu we fly to Lukla and start trekking.

I use the trek in as an opportunity to train and mentor my clients so that we arrive at Everest Base Camp fit, acclimatised and switched on. Unlike most teams who sprint in to Base Camp in 8 or 9 days (and then wonder how they will climb THAT when they feel like THIS down here at Base Camp) we will be spending 3 weeks trekking in which gives my group a chance to unwind, clear their last minute in tray and start to comprehend the enormity of what lies ahead. We get off the beaten track, visit some amazing people and cross some high passes which means that we get to Everest Base Camp in really good order. We can then go from fun trekking mode to fun, but serious, expedition mode and start the rotations lower on the hill (up to around 7,100m).

The sessions I cover whilst we are trekking in range from avoiding frostbite and hypothermia to oxygen protocols and high altitude medical issues. We discuss the importance of concurrent activity and go through safe travel techniques. We will also cover issues such as avoiding other climbers who look like they are a liability to themselves (and therefore everyone around them), and the benefit of working as a team rather than a bunch of individuals.

I also discuss the rather sobering topic of death on the hill. Not so much death within our group, but the fact that other people from other teams may pass away during the expedition period for a whole variety of reasons – some of which, tragically, are avoidable. There are obviously objective hazards, such as a lump of ice or a rock bopping someone on the head, but there are the other aspects that people don’t fully comprehend. I have written elsewhere about the fact that some teams don’t provide a full range of inclusions or that there is small print that means that sometimes clients who thought they were getting a fully inclusive experience suddenly find themselves at The South Col without a Climbing Sherpa and not enough oxygen. These are the unfortunate people who may succumb to extreme hypoxia or be completely overwhelmed by exhaustion.

Whilst we do discuss these issues there can’t be any hard and fast rules about dealing with ill, dying or dead climbers because there are too many factors and different scenarios to comprehend. Obviously the primary concern has got to be the safety of my group and after that we then have to start deciding whether our efforts will endanger or jeopardise ourselves, whether there is help on the way, who the person is with and what is being done about their situation etc etc? Do we start injecting people with dexamethasone if that will then deplete our supply and jeopardise our health and well being? It is obviously an unsavoury subject but I firmly believe that it makes us mentally stronger and certainly safer if the people in my team realise just how vulnerable we all are up there. To that end my team are less likely to lie to me about how they are feeling during the trip (and therefore hide or mask symptoms I could otherwise be dealing with) and certainly less inclined to suffer from summit fever. Just because someone doesn’t feel great one day doesn’t mean that the expedition is over for that individual – but if they don’t tell me how they are feeling then what may well be a benign condition (that I can help them with) could otherwise deteriorate in to a life threatening situation.

A bit like all the information I am handing over to Juan in the B&B there are many, many aspects of ultra high altitude that need to be imparted to the group so that they can safely attempt to negotiate this HUGE mountain.

There are undoubtedly many self imposed pressures that my group will be feeling – especially in this day and age of social networking when everyone knows about each others intentions. Then there will be the unnecessary distractions that they will have ranging from a flat battery meaning that their camera isn’t working one day to not being able to get 3g working on their phone the next. Does it really matter? Well, yes, it does, but let’s not let it be a distraction.

So whilst all their distractions are valid to them at that time they will need to sift out what is, and what isn’t, important and deal with it appropriately.

Basically they will need to learn not to sweat about the small stuff.

And on the note of cameras … I have been loaned a Canon 5d mkIII and a Sony a7R along with tripod, various attachments for making panoramic photos, solar charging, a range of batteries and cables and LOADS of memory . Thomas from http://www.mountainpanoramas.com/ came across at the weekend and gave me a tutorial about what is required, how to use the equipment and common pitfalls (like not removing the lens cap!). We had a practice yesterday and he has stitched the result together and, all told, I’m fairly happy with what has been my first effort (click for a higher resolution image).

Whilst you are at it why not have a look here for the names of the peaks
I’m also delighted to have a prototype Rab down suit, a whole range of goodies from http://mountainfuel.co.uk/ and to have received word from Lakeland that they will be donating £10 per bag of garbage that we bring down off Everest (up to a maximum of £250) which will then be donated to a family that I sponsor in The Khumbu region.
Apart from that there’s plenty to do between now and our summit attempt and I hope to be able to keep you posted along the way.

Ama Dablam 2013 by numbers (if you are interested)

A quick breakdown in figures about the recent Ama Dablam expedition that you may, or may not, have been following:
Time planning – 18 months
E mails – in excess of 1,000
Duration of trip – 28 days KTM to KTM
Trekking – 5 days in, 3 days out
Stay at Base Camp or above – 17 nights
ABC – 3 nights
Camp 1 – 3 nights
Camp 2 – 1 or 2 nights depending on whether people slept there on the way down or continued on down to C1 or BC
Camp 2.9 – 0 nights as there wasn’t anywhere to pitch tents this year
Camp 3 – 0 nights this year due to the excessive snowfall in October
Freight from the UK – 175kg
Haglofs clothing for the Sherpas – 30kg
Meaning – they all got a pair of approach shoes and 2 items of clothing
Fudge bars – 1 box of 60
Which lasted – 11 hours
as well as :
Tunnock’s bars (more than 5,000,000 are made and sold every week) – 48
Jelly babies, Licquorice Allsorts, Tangfastics etc – 108 packets
Beef jerky – 40 packs
Fizzy cola bottles, tangy strawberries etc – 6 boxes
Tuna sachets – 42
Beef jerky – 35 packets
Swiss Roll / Golden Syrup cake / Soreen Malt Loaf – 55
Boil in the tub jam sponge pudding – 32
Cheese from the UK:
Babybel- 48
Mini cheddar portions – 60
Vache Qui Ri – 72 triangles
Primula squeezy cheese – 30 tubes
Mature Cheddar – 7kg
Immature cheddar – ‘knickers’

Excess baggage KTM to Lukla – 640kg
Total loads Lukla to Base Camp – 33
Carried by – 12 yaks & 15 porters
Full (to overflowing) super market trolleys in KTM – 5 (trolleys left in KTM as the trail is a bit uneven)
Consisting of (amongst other items):
Gherkins / olives – 17 large jars
Dried fruit – 104 packets
Biscuits – 254 packets
Nuts (peanuts, cashews & pistachios) – 112 packets
Pate – 45 tins
Chocolate – 220 bars
AAA batteries – 120
AA batteries – 80
Ground coffee – 5kg
Cafetieres – 3
Total loads to Base Camp from Pangboche – 17
Kitchen tent – 1
Store tents – 2
Toilet tents – 2
Shower tent – 1
Other Base Camp tents – 27
Mountain tents – 18
Cookers – 17
Pan sets – 15
Rope – 600m
Gas cylinders – 115
Toilet rolls – 120
Blue barrels – 7 (my personal gear)
Blue barrels – 10 (expedition gear)
Kitbags – 8 (misc items)
1st aid supplies – 1 kitbag (weighing 17kg)
Walkie talkies – 30
Playing cards – 3 decks
Connect – 4
Estimate of eggs consumed – in excess of 450
Medication administered:
Paracetamol – 57 strips
Strepsils – 28 strips
Diamox – 9 strips
Amoxycillin – 7 strips
Cipro – 3 strips
Sudafed – 5 strips
Dressings – 2
Plasters – 3
O2 sats measured – 11 times
Stethoscope used – 3 times
Dex, Nifedipine, Oxygen – 0
Number of expedition members – 18
Plus – 2 leaders
From – 6 different countries
From – 6’5″ down to 5’2.5″
Number of Climbing Sherpas – 7
With – 59 Everest summits between them (& over 70 ascents of Ama Dablam)
Successful summits – 18 Western & 12 Sherpa summits
Meaning that – Jon Gupta and 5 of the Climbing Sherpas summited twice in the season
And also meaning that – The Climbing Sherpas now have over 80 summits under their collective belts
Quickest ascent from Camp 2 – 5 hours

Sirdar -1
Who I have known for – 10 years
And we have worked together on – 14 expeditions
Cook – 1 (Pasang Temba) who has cooked at Camp 2 on Everest for 19 years running)
Cook crew – 3
With – Kumar based at Camp 1 for the majority of the summit wave providing endless amounts of very welcome hot water
Tips for the crew – in excess of £1,350
Sherpa summit bonuses – over £1,500
Liaison Officers – 2
Seen – Nonce
Friends I met whilst here:
Nepali / Sherpa friends – 48
Westerner friends – 19
Not including – the group of 18 clients who I now consider to be friends (of a fashion – using the word friend in the widest possible context)
Temperature range:
Low – minus 20 (first night at Base Camp)
High – plus 27
Wind chill – down to -30
Movies watched:
Now you see me
Lucky number Slevin
And something else that I missed as I was busy
Time to get to the reception for texting and calling area – around 20 minutes (down) and 30 (back again)

Average number of showers per person – 2
Average items laundered – 7
Most memorable conversation:
Dave – ‘These binoculars are work issue.’
Carl – ‘What are they for?’
Dave – ‘Looking at things that are far away.’

Most memorable view – watching the full moon rise behind Ama Dablam
Altitudes :
Lukla – 2,850m (top of the runway)
Base Camp – 4,660m (when the tide is in)
ABC – 5,450m (middle row of tents)
Camp 1 – 5,850m (our pitch around the corner)
Camp 2 – 6,050m (it’s not big enough to differentiate between different tents really)
Summit – 6,856m
Seito on the summit – 6,858m
Summit panorama – uninterrupted for 360 degrees
Fun factor – Type 2 fun
Achievement factor 100%
Number of people signed up for Ama Dablam 2014 – 7
Meaning – there are limited places available
So – get in touch if you are interested
On – climb@timmosedale.co.uk
In the meantime – the next expedition is Everest Spring 2014.
With updates available on – twitter.com/timmosedale
And – www.facebook.com/tim.mosedale
So – stay tuned
And – I hope that you enjoy the show.
Yours – Tim

Ama Dabber Dooo!

It’s that time of year again – Ama Dablam 2013 is a go!
I’m on the way to Kathmandu and there are a few people there already with more to follow. Andrew (UK) and Sean (Canadian) are already trekking in The Khumbu with their respective wives (who will be flying home imminently) and hopefully they will be very well acclimatised by the time we get to meet them in Pangboche.
Jamie and Mitchell (both UK) are jumping on the permit and doing their own thing. First off they are going to trek up to Gokyo and over the Cho La and then climb Lobuche East (just over 6,000m), after which they’ll be using the teahouse below Ama Dablam Base Camp for their operations base.
The main group consists of Alasdair (UK), Carl (Netherlands), Dave (UK), Febbie (S. Africa), Ian and Cat (UK), Jon (UK), Mark and Chris (both UK – he’s climbing, she’s trekking), Richard (Ireland) and Sieto (Netherlands) and they are all due in today or tomorrow.
The next wave follow a week later and consists of Jon (UK – assistant leader, 4 times Ama Dablam summiter and 1 times Everest summiter), Jason, Aeneas, Paul, Rick, Simeon and Jeremy (all UK) and Marcus (Switzerland).
So all in all quite a multi cultural group with a wide range of experiences under their collective belts. I’ve managed to meet over half the group prior to the expedition and it’s fair to say that yet again we have the makings of a great, fun trip.
Both groups will start with a sightseeing tour in Kathmandu followed by a frantic afternoon of unpacking, repacking, making last minute purchases, unpacking again, nearly getting run over, parting with money to a friendly chap who has painted a red ‘tikka’ on their foreheads and generally getting over the jet lag and trying to accustom themselves to the sights and sounds of Kathmandu. We’ll be eating at the likes of Roadhouse Café, Krua Thai, Mike’s Breakfast etc and I’ll no doubt take a bit of a side trip to Himalayan Java to catch up with some friends who live in Kathmandu. We’ll also be found in Sam’s Bar being looked after by Verena and Sam – a great couple who run THE BEST bar in Kathmandu.
But we’re only in the city for a day and then it’s time to fly to Lukla and start trekking.
The flight is an experience in itself and proves to be a very exciting start to the next phase of the trip and gets us to Lukla airport which is the gateway to the Khumbu Trail – the main access trail to the Solo Khumbu region and Everest itself.
Iswari and the guys at Himalayan Guides usually work their magic and get us on to one of the first flights which means that, weather permitting, we may be in Lukla as early as 8 o’clock (I’ve even landed there at 07:15). The process of getting through the domestic terminal can be quite disorientating in itself with a lot of what appears to be chaos but in actual fact is how it works over here.
Invariably not all the bags can make it on to the tiny aircraft so we prioritise and hope to fly with the bags that we will need for the duration of the 5 day trek in. The rest of the bags and the few hundred kilos of freight can follow at a later date and will almost undoubtedly be at Base Camp by the time we arrive there (fingers crossed. There are only 2 bags that have ever gone astray (and that was because they hadn’t arrived in KTM) and still they arrived at BC before we were due to start working the lower slopes of the mountain).
So we’ll have breakfast at Paradise Lodge where Dawa Phutti will be our host and then we’ll sort what bags we have (if they need sorting) and in the meantime our trekking Sherpa will be organising our  porters. Then we’ll trek for a few hours to Ghat and have lunch at The Everest Summiter Lodge which is run and managed by Phendan Sherpa (we stood on the summit of Everest together back in 2005 from The North side) and his lovely wife Sonam. After that we’ll trek to Phak Ding and have a brew before making our way on to Monjo (time permitting) where we’ll stay with my friends at Top Hill Lodge. The great thing about staying in Monjo is that it makes the next day a shorter trek to the National Park entrance which means that we’ll be ahead of the crowds and get through in double quick time. After that we cross the main river (a raging torrent really) a few times on some quite exciting suspension bridges before negotiating the zig zags to Namche Bazaar where we’ll likely arrive around 11.30. After a coffee and chocolate doughnut at The Everest Bakery we’ll have lunch with the friendly chaps at Kala Pattar Lodge and then don our sacks for a further hour of trekking to Kyanjuma and stay with Tashi and Lakpa at Ama Dablam Lodge.
Now Tashi and Lakpa run one of the busiest lodges in The Khumbu despite the fact that it isn’t in one of the main villages along the trail – and the reason is all down to their hospitality and friendship. Trekking and Expedition Leaders like myself will endeavour to stay there because we know that they will look after our group and go the extra mile (as well as ply me with proper coffee and cheese toasties). It’s also a cracking location with a fantastic view of Ama Dablam and Tashi also allows my group to go and see her amazing prayer room (which is reserved for the minority). In fact I’ve even slept in the prayer room.
Interestingly there is a teahouse next door which is almost identical in size, aspect and view but it is rarely busy – a reflection on how hard working, friendly and conscientious Tashi and Lakpa are.
Amazingly HRH Prince Charles has invited Tashi and Lakpa to have an audience with him which will hopefully be coming to fruition in January or February next year.
Since Ama Dablam Lodge is at just over 3,500m we’ll stay there for 2 nights to start getting used to the altitude and will be taking in a side trip to The Everest View Hotel and the amazing village of Khumjung (which hardly anyone visits compared to the 000s who trek along the Khumbu Trail) where there are the most fantastic mani walls (walls made from stones that have been carved with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’) – it is a truly auspicious place boasting the longest mani walls in The Khumbu (and they are longest by a long chalk).
After staying at Kyanjuma we’ll make our way to Tengboche (huge monastery and great bakery) and on to Pangboche. As with our first trekking day, because we are slightly further along the trail we are ahead of the crowds and will be in Pangboche for afternoon tea at Sonam Lodge which is run by fellow Everest (x4) and Cho Oyu summiter Germin Sherpa.
The next morning we’ll mooch to upper Pangboche (again hardly anyone goes there) and visit the monastery for our first puja (blessing) before having an early lunch and trekking to Ama Dablam Base Camp which will then be our home for the next 17 nights. It’s situated at around 4,400m and certainly we will start to feel the effects of the rarefied atmosphere – so we’ll be staying put for the first 3 nights. There will be a technical training session to go through how to used fixed ropes as well as some time spent chatting about radio procedures, medical issues, logistics etc and some top tips and handy hints to do with admin and tent routine whilst on the mountain. There will be another puja (we need all the luck we can get) as well as an acclimatisation walk up to ABC which is about 900m higher. After dropping some gear there and returning to Base Camp then, and only then, will we consider going higher and sleeping at ABC before eventually progressing to C1 at 5,850m.
But I’m getting ahead of myself – I haven’t even arrived in Nepal. I’m sat in Doha having a coffee and waiting for my onward flight to Kathmandu. WiFi connections permitting I’ll try and post the odd missive along the way as well as Tweeting (@timmosedale) and updating FaceBook (timmosedale and / or timmosedale).

I hope that you enjoy the show.

Another happy Everest client …

Just a quick update having received another awesome testimonial:

“I have been on two expeditions with Tim, to Ama Dablam in 2009 and Everest in 2013. I would wholeheartedly recommend him as an expedition leader.

The fact that Tim is an incredibly strong mountaineer is self evident (4 Everest summits and counting), and the high summit rates for clients on his expeditions speak for themselves, but it’s the things that go on behind the scenes that might not be so apparent if you haven’t been away with him before – his planning is meticulous, his logistical skills are second to none, he communicates well before the expedition and during it, and he leads with a style that generates respect for his decisions. Even when the weather’s not playing ball, you can rest assured that when it comes to timing for the summit push you will be in the right place at the right time.

As a doctor, I was highly impressed by Tim’s medical acumen – I think it was testament to his planning that during our Everest expedition not a single member suffered with altitude sickness over the entire trip. I was also very impressed that everyone was given potentially life-saving dexamethasone injections to carry, and that Tim taught the Sherpas how to use them too.

Personally, one of the things I value the most about Tim is his sense of humour. You can guarantee that even when things get tough, Tim will be able to lighten the mood, which on long expeditions makes all the difference.

If anyone is thinking of signing up with Tim, I would be more than happy to be contacted for a recommendation.”

Dr Adam Booth, Everest summiteer 13th May 2013.

I think that just about says it all.

Oh, and I’ve just had the most awesome few days out with a chap coming along to Ama Dablam this November as well as picking up another 2 bookings last week. The first trip (3rd Nov – 30th Nov KTM – KTM) is almost full but there are still a few places available on the second trip (10th Nov – 7th Dec KTM – KTM). So if you are interested you need to get in touch sharpish.

I’ve also received another 2 enquiries for Everest 2014 and 2015 as well as having a healthy mailing list for 2016 and a client I am getting trained up for 2017. So it looks like I’ll be there for some time yet.

As ever I’ll endeavour to keep the blog updates / Tweets and FaceBook posts coming whilst we are away. I hope that you enjoy the show.

Cheers – Tim

Everest feedback

I realise that I haven’t managed to get round to giving a post expedition update but it’s been pretty hectic since I returned from Everest. The B&B has been pretty chocker and I’ve been climbing with clients quite a bit – as well as trying to work through my 2 month in tray which is full of Everest and Ama Dablam enquiries.

Anyway I have just received some feedback from one of the guy on my trip, Jon Gupta, that I just wanted to share.

“I have climbed with Tim, guided for Tim, and been led by Tim. We have trekked together, shared a tent together and regularly I bounce ideas of him. As a climber his understanding and patience is invaluable to learning new skills and understanding the most efficient, yet safest way, to perform a task. Whilst guiding for him, he allows me to stretch myself and use my experience to lead and make decisions with his clients. As a leader, he has a profound understand of the needs of his team and leads by example and is inspiring.
His humour is really great, and there is always a smile to be had – his team is always the one having a great time. His card skills are sharp (watch out), and his Connect 4 prowess flawless.

An expedition with Tim is more than just a mountain, it ticks every box – and for most, this also includes summiting.”

The other thing is that I’d like to thank everyone who has chatted with me over the past few weeks who had been following the expedition either through the local news and / or online. It’s great that folk have followed and connected with the story and taken an interest in our progress. It means a lot.
Anyway if you are interested in the next Everest expedition then please get in touch because there are a lot of people interested but there’s only limited availability. There are nearly 30 on the mailing list but the group will undoubtedly be restricted to around 7 or 8. It would be shame to have been following the updates, be interested in the style and approach that I use and find out that you couldn’t come along because the trip was oversubscribed.
Over to you …

End of trip round up … for now

Sorry it’s been a while but we’ve been a bit busy of late and in some communication black spots.

The latest news is that Ilina and Steve made the summit on 23rd May in fine style and in super quick time – summiting at just after 3 in the morning. The downside is that this meant they didn’t have a view. Anyway since then we have all returned to BC, packed up and trekked out.

Last time, when Adam Booth and I made the summit, you may recall that the conditions were rather inclement and we had windchill well in excess of -40. Consequently, despite getting WiFi connection, and Simon in Melbourne receiving my call request, we didn’t actually get connected. Shame as it would have been a world first for video conferencing from the top of the world. In the meantime there are a couple of other guys out there with corporate sponsorship who have therefore beaten me to it. Hey ho.

After our ascent of 13th May I later found out that we were the 3rd and 8th Westerners to summit this year (2 had summited a day or so before). There were two others on the summit with Adam, there were 2 others from Himalayan Guides (and indeed we had been sharing with from BC onwards – well done Jan and Mel), there was a random guy on his own when I got there and that was it.

There were two Westerners with their Climbing Sherpa who turned around at The Hillary Step (soooo close but, in the conditions we had soooo far), there was an Australian chap with snow blindness who turned around with his Climbing Sherpa below The South Summit (and who Padawa, one of our Sherpas, went BACK up to The Balcony to assist after we’d descended to The South Col – for no reward) and there were another 3 random individuals descending having not summited as well. So all in all 7 (plus 5 Sherps) summited and 6 (plus 3 Sherps) didn’t. By all accounts a quiet day in Everest (except for the roar if the wind).

Since then the floodgates opened and other teams had been trying to summit in the wake of our success … but there were a few teams who obviously hadn’t been checking the forecast (or didn’t have access to one) because they were trying in ludicrous conditions and, as a consequence, failed dismally.

On a later visit to C2 Ilina went over to see a lady she’s met along the way and described their C2 set up as being akin to part of a shanty town with the situation inside looking like the retreat from some winter battlefront. Dishevelled people who had been mismanaged, abandoned (that’s right – one lady was left to her own devices to get down from C3 and was eventually piggy backed by our own Dorje Gyalgen back to C2), who had set out from The South Col in totally inappropriate conditions for their experience, without having strict Climbing Sherpa support and who then returned in dribbs and drabs on the verge of panic, and close to death, back to The South Col.

For them their trip was over. 0% success rate and 100% dissatisfaction. The piggy back lady still had 5 bottles of oxygen unused but, to get permission to try again she had to return to Base Camp to call the boss in Kathmandu to find out if it was possible to reascend. So they had no comms with BC and no BC manager who could make executive decisions. And you can almost guarantee that by the time she got down and was rested enough to try again time will have run out.

Anyway I digress … but I do get angry when people are charged an extraordinary amount of money to attempt this beautiful mountain only to find that their personal dreams are swept away by sheer incompetence, utter mismanagement and a complete lack of understanding of logistics, acclimatisation, health issues, weather forecasting etc etc. And at the end of the day some of these situations become completely unravelled at the edges and people’s lives are at stake. The client, their Sherpa (if he’s around), other people’s Sherpas who get involved in rescues and other climbers who are already at the edge of looking after themselves, let alone assisting others.

Anyway that was a while ago and since then Jon, Ilina and Steve have all realised their dream of standing on top of the world. Jon, under a bit of pressure because of UK work commitments, made his ascent on a reasonably busy evening bit managed to keep ahead of the crowds and negotiated his way safely down to C2 that day.

Meanwhile the rest if the team waited patiently and eventually made their ascent on pretty much the last day of the decent weather on a clear, still evening by the light of a full moon. What a great way to be rewarded for waiting. And to top it all they were on the mountain on a quiet(ish) night with around 30 other climbers.

Anyway the trip is almost over and we are due to fly to KTM from Namche Bazaar early tomorrow morning. We’re certainly looking forward to a few luxuries that we have been without for the past 2 months … namely a decent shower, a proper shave, clean sheets and a proper bed etc. We’re also looking forward to bring able to eat in restaurants and choose what we’d like to eat and drink etc etc.

As the trip draws to a close I’d like to thank you for following and supporting our venture with your comments, likes and shares. Whilst I’m at it I’d like to thank Mark Ashford for configuring some of the electronic equipment to make communication possible, Suzanna the housekeeper at our B&B who has had to work flat out in my absence, my Dad for helping out with the school run and, last but not least, to Ali, Grace and Max for putting up with me being away for such a long time.

And , again, to you, dear reader, for following our progress.

Many thanks – Tim

Reporting from The South Col

At The South Col with Ilina, Steve & Stuart. Tom has descended to C2 unfortunately due to exhaustion. Setting off in to the night to try & summit early tomorrow. Sorry to be brief but saving batteries. Watch this space. T

The first ever LIVE(!) video link up from the summit of Mount Everest using FaceTime – well, almost!!

Well I know it’s been a bit quiet of late but that’s because I haven’t had a signal for sending updates … and that’s because rather sneakily Adam and I have slipped, unnoticed, under the radar to the summit of Everest.

Basically as I wrote the last update we were making preparations for a couple of us to try for a summit bid. It’s still quite early in the season and not everyone in the group was well enough rested to be attempting the 7 or 8 day round trip. Adam has been cruising at altitude and so it was decided that he and I should go for it.

We arrived at C2 in great time on the 8th May and chilled for the rest of the day playing cards and drinking. The 9th was a very welcome rest day where we went through the last minute issues of what gear, food and supplies we definitely needed and what we could perhaps do without. It was another day of cards and rehydrating as well as some time dedicated to mending Sir Edmund Hillary’s summit goggles! That’s right – Adam has managed to borrow the original goggles that Sir Ed Hillary wore on the first ascent of Everest when he summited with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on the 29th May 1953 – making this year the 60th anniversary. Very fitting, therefore, that Adam has brought them back to the summit.

On the morning of the 10th we donned our down suits and big boots and made our way to C3 (7,100m) and set about drinking and snacking knowing full well we were probably not going to get much in the way of sleep. Partly through excitement, partly because it is so much colder up at C3 and partly because of the altitude induced sleep apnoea we’d be experiencing.

The 11th saw us up and brewing bright and early to enable us to get on to The Lhotse Face ahead of the crowds. Having said that it’s been pretty quiet this last few days as a lot of the groups were unable to react so quickly to this weather window combined with the fact that a lot of their clients just weren’t ready.

The journey to The South Col continued out of C3 up The Lhotse Face which is angled at around 50 degrees and it’s a long way before the angle eases – not the best start to the day after a night of little sleep. The route then headed left across the face and up through a short steep section called The Yellow Band. After this there’s a huge corrie to be negotiated before getting to The Geneva Spur – a short section of steep rock. After the GS it’s an easy trail to The South Col where we got the stove on and rested (!) and ate and drank until it was time to set off in to the night.

Or at least that was the plan. In fact it was blowing an absolute hoolie and we sat out a raging storm with winds well in excess of 60mph which meant we didn’t sleep a great deal! But at least we hadn’t set off in the night because it would have been a very difficult task (and realistically it’s plenty difficult enough already).

So after a day if resting, eating and drinking, we eventually donned our down suits, big boots and crampons, got hooked up to our oxygen supply and rather excitedly set off in to the night.

There are a few reasons for travelling by night and it’s not just to catch a glimpse of the shadow of Everest being cast over the mountains below as the sun rises. Once at the summit you’re less than half way there and it is much safer to be descending in the light of the day with the warmth of the sun.

At night as we travelled we managed to keep reasonably warm in our down suits despite the temp being around -30C because we were expending energy ascending the slopes to The Balcony (8,600m) and on to The South Summit (around 8,750m). There was a fairly constant wind and this created a windchill effect well in to the -40s.

Anyway we both made the summit with our respective Climbing Sherpas but there was no way we were staying there in these conditions. It was a great shame because as we were going towards the South Summit there was the most amazing sunrise with a fantastic 360 degree panorama. And of course because we were moving so slowly there was plenty of time to be taking it all in.

Anyway Adam summited about an hour ahead of me and very quickly started descending.

One of my aims (on top of summiting) was to make the first EVER live video link up from the summit. I’d had a few practice calls with a guy in Melbourne who was going to record the whole affair and distribute it accordingly.

However, although I managed to get a strong enough signal the ambient conditions didn’t allow me to get all this done. Consequently the batteries I’d carried along with all the electronic equipment (all in around 5kg) didn’t take too kindly to being woken up and after 5 minutes all decided to go back to sleep! In a way it’s a great shame because this was going to be the first FaceTime call and Blog update etc from the summit. However in a way it’s just as well that it all powered down otherwise my finger tips would be far far more affected by the cold than they actually are!

Presently they tingle quite a lot due to some (thankfully reversable) nerve damage but it’s nothing you’d notice if I was wearing a glove (only joking, there’s no visible damage). My ability to do fine delicate operations, like pluck my eyebrows, is slightly affected but other than that it feels a little bit like someone else’s hand so there’s always a silver lining – you just need to look for the positives in these situations.

Fingers crossed I’ll be back up on Everest in a week to ten days with the rest of my group but I probably won’t be bringing the 5kg of miscellaneous electronic items up here with me next time – it’s taken a LOT of my energy and I need to be in tip top condition if I hope to be back for a second ascent in a season.

Sorry I haven’t been able to post any pics with this update but I’ll try and get some uploaded in a less challenging environment!

All in all we only met a few other climbers – 3 of whom turned around at the Hillary Step, 2 who turned around below the South Summit (one of whom had snow blindness because he forgot to put his goggles on when the sun came up), and another 2 who were dawdling their way back down below The Balcony. I’m not sure of the exact figures but it would appear there were 5 other summiteers along with their respective Climbing Sherpas so a quiet day … except for the incessant noise of the wind!

Cheers and all that – Tim & Adam

Resting and waiting … and waiting …

So now that we are done and dusted with the rotations and acclimatisatioin schedule it is time to wait, and be patient … our time will come.

A few days ago it looked like there may be some favourable weather and a few of us were primed and eagerly waiting the green light. The weather changed significantly enough for us to realise that it would be far too windy to be venturing up the hill and so we all descended to EBC. That was a couple of days ago and we are now waiting and watching and listening and being patient.

For me this is a difficult period because folk often feel that sitting at Base Camp is wasted time. The weather doesn’t look to be bad enough for long enough to warrant dropping down the valley for a rest at lower elevations – it would be a shame to go down to be called straight back up again when the weather was looking to improve. That would amount to quite a lot of effort being expended in the name of having a rest!

So we are confining ourselves to Base Camp for the time being and spending time chilling, reading, playing cards, stuffing ourselves with snacks and generally trying not to think too much about the reality of the forthcoming exertions …. whenever that may be.

For the time being I’ll not even divulge any thoughts about dates and potential weather windows because I would hate for folk to start getting all in tizz and excited about nothing. The other reason is that there are some expeditions watching what we and other teams are doing. Not only are they watching at Base Camp but they are tracking our blog, tweets and updates. If I mentioned potential dates, only to find that I was unable to update a change of plan because of lack of reception on the hill, then this could have far reaching consequences for teams who are not so well equipped with weather updates. The other thing is that we are obviously keen to keep our cards close to our chest to try and make the best use of the information that we have.

We do have some great allies and are happy to be working in cooperation with some of the other well respected teams … but we are VERY wary of the lesser equipped teams who have clients who are clearly out of their depth who have signed up with companies who have a very poor success rate and a very low pedigree.

So for the time being that is it – we are waiting and there is very little to add. Even if the situation  changes I may not necessarily update but please don’t lose patience you’ll find out about our successes in due course.

That’s all for now. Except to add my usual thanks for all the messages of support. It means a LOT.

Cheers – Tim & Co

Some photos from our last rotation.

In The Khumbu Icefall
A tricksome ladder crossing
Spectacular ice sculpture
The view up The Western Cwm
Camp 2 … luxury!
The view from C2 to The Lhotse Face
That ladder …. mended with string.