1st June 2011 // Hi guys, I got home yesterday from Kathmandu. I got upgraded to business class on the way home and was so excited about this that I hardly slept on the flight! I did attempt to lie flat and sleep for a bit but then started playing with the bed controls and it was too much fun! Ha! I watched lots of films, relaxed and ate 3 breakfasts. I was given a choice of Salmon Gravlax, Fresh Fruit and Lobster Omelette for breakfast so I said “what’s the chances of having all 3!!”
When I got home I slept for 16 hours, a mammoth sleep. Now it is all about finding out as much information as I can and getting as much advice as I can. I am seeing a vascular surgeon today about my toe and this week I will be getting more opinions off the best people. I’m seeing a various amount of experts in High Altitude medicine, frostbite and vascular surgery. Next week I will then be going to Jagged Globe in Sheffield (my expedition and logistical partner) and talking through all my options with Simon Lowe. I’m not making any decisions at present and am just doing everything I’ve been told to do to help the toe recover and taking in all the advice I am receiving from the best people. Next week I will be able to let you all know the plan but right now it’s all about rest and thinking things through.
28th May 2011 // After a few whiskeys with David Hamilton and the rest of the team at base camp I slept like a log...or it could be the relatively thicker air at base camp! I'm so disappointed about my toe but feeling less sorry for myself today. The helicopter came to fly me to Kathmandu this morning. It was sad to say goodbye to the team at base camp after an emotional 3 weeks - they were all trekking home today.
The helicopter ride was amazing - flying down the Khumbu valley retracing my trekking path from 4 weeks ago. The valley had changed so much, much greener. On arrival in Kathmandu an ambulance picked me up at airport to take me to the NIC clinic, which felt a bit overkill ha! They doctors at the clinic confirmed what the specialist Jagged Globe had emailed over to me yesterday after looking at my toe picture (see below) Its a grade 1-2 frostbite which at first glance seems as if it will heal but with time! And not to re-expose it to high altitude or cold!!!
I'm now hoping that the Jagged Globe team back in Sheffield can change my flight home, so I can get my toe on the road to recovery asap and hopefully in time for Denali. I thought the thicker air of Kathmandu would give me more energy, but instead I'm double shattered! My toe is starting to really swell in size now as the fluid begins to flow back through the micro capillaries that have been burst by the freezing. I'm expecting it to become very painful, but not yet. Now it's another lonely couple of days resting in my hotel room. Thank you for all your get well messages on Facebook and Twitter.
THE LATEST FROM JAGGED GLOBE – THE 737 CHALLENGE EXPEDITION AND LOGISTICAL PARTNER
Prof. Chris Imray, Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon and Dr. David Hillebrandt, medical advisor to Jagged Globe have assessed Richard based on the photographs they have seen of Richard’s toe.
David Hillebrandt, Medical Advisor to Jagged Globe stated; “In terms of facts it appears that Richard Parks has Grade 1 or Grade 2 frostbite to the great toe with possibly some very mild damage to the index toe. As a general rule the treatment of frostbite in the acute phase is thawing once the person is safe and then efforts to prevent infection and to let nature take its course over several weeks or months. Normally somebody with this degree of damage would be expected to keep their toe in the long term but may have later susceptibility to future cold injury and possibly long term nerve damage with odd toe sensations. This assumes the person has conservative treatment with simple dressings and time to heal. Time is the great healer. The greatest risk to a mildly frostbitten digit is from further damage once it has thawed (which this now has) and before it has fully healed. The doctor in me has to advise him to rest until healed, which could be a couple of months but every bit of rest is potentially beneficial. The climber in me sympathises with a desire to keep climbing and go on to Denali”.
27th May 2011 // We’ve just arrived back at base camp after 2 days of the toughest down climbing. Mentally and physically I'm drained, but you have to be on it as that's when accidents happen. It still hasn't real sunken in, I've been trying to process everything. I’m also a little embarrassed that I was blubbing on the phone to everyone!
The summit push couldn't have gone more to plan, although one of the toughest days of my life, it was a genuinely enjoyable climb across the razor sharp balcony ridge, up the mixed climbing of the large rock section, the summit ridge, Hillary step and finally the feeling of stepping onto the summit was out of this world. The nature of this challenge and indeed mountaineering and sport in general is it's a bit like snakes and ladders!
I had no indication of this on summit day, in fact I thought I'd bruised my toe nail on the front of my boot on the down climb, but on arriving back in base camp and visiting the medical centre I've just found out that I have frostbite in my right big toe. I did everything right and didn’t make any mistakes, it's a case of circulation and hypoxia at 8950m. Nevertheless it's serious, at the moment I'm being helicoptered out tomorrow to get back to sea level asap. Denali is 50:50 as is losing my toe. Jagged Globe, my expedition partner have ensured I'm being looked after by the very best high altitude medics and I will do everything I can to get through it. I'm shell shocked, gutted and angry.
I would like to say a massive thank you to David and Andy the exped leaders, Rachel and Jen the doctors at the Everest base camp medical centre and all the team back at Jagged Globe HQ in Sheffield for being awesome and helpful. I would also like to thank the rest of my summit team - Adam, Mark and Steve (who are taking the mick out of me now!) Gavin made lamb shank tonight to celebrate our summit.
I’m being flown back to Kathmandu tomorrow in a helicopter to get back to sea level as soon as possible and to avoid any more trauma to my toe - giving me the best chance of a recovery in time for Denali. Catch you tomorrow guys!
25th May 2011 // I passed Steve on the south summit. He was pretty tired, not using o2 between camp 3 and camp 4 made it extra tough for him. Fairplay he summited about 2 and a half hours after us. It was great to see him and I’m made up he topped out. We got back to camp 4 at 12.15pm. Totally knackered, staying here at camp 4 tonight. My oxygen mask died at the balcony, about 8300m, Mingma Tseri Sherpa was awesome, he gave me his and climbed to the south summit without o2 so then I could fix it. It was his 17th summit.
UPDATE LATER IN THE AFTERNOON FROM JAGGED GLOBE LEADER AT BASE CAMP
Steve arrived back at Camp 4 a few hours after Rich pretty exhausted. He, Rich and the group will rest, eat, recover and refuel. Tomorrow they will move down to Camp 2.
25th May 2011 // Richard summits Everest at 7:42am local time/2.57am UK time today.
Steve summits Everest at 10.10am local time/5.25am UK time today.
Click below to see news story and how to listen to Richard's interview from the summit of Everest.
24th May 2011 // Our Sherpa Sirdar has been awesome. All in good spirits and attempting summit tonight. Leaving at 9pm. It was a windy night but toasty in my rab exped bag. Camp 4 might as well be the moon, broken tents, wind-strewn debris, abandoned camps and you cant do much around camp without using o2. We have been in our tents all day trying to eat and hydrate. Much of day spent ice melting! Weather has settled, we had snow this afternoon but winds dropped and now its clear. We have eaten well and have good comms to guys at base camp. Andy Chapman is on standby at camp 2 as well.
24th May 2011 // UPDATE FROM DAVID HAMILTON (TEAM LEADER) FROM JAGGED GLOBE AT BASE CAMP
"With the summit team poised at Camp 4 on the South Col the Base Camp staff gathered in the mess tent to follow their progress throughout the night. At 21.30 Mingma Sherpa, leader of the summit team, called Base Camp to say that conditions on the upper mountain were too windy for the team to proceed.
The climbers at Camp 4 have adequate supplies of food, fuel and oxygen. They will spend today (24th) resting in their tents and will reschedule the climb to the summit for tonight. The weather forecast for the next 48hrs predicts low wind speeds high on the mountain and this should give ideal conditions for the team to reach the summit.
The planned departure time from Camp 4 is around 21.00 / 22.00 local time, and the climb to the top should take between 8 and 10 hours given favourable conditions. As far as we are aware there is only one other team climbing Everest from the Nepalese side that is on a similar schedule and can be expected to attempt the mountain on the same day as the Jagged Globe team. This is a team from a Japanese film company that are making a documentary about young Nepali Sherpa climbers. There have been very few ascents of Everest from the Tibetan side this season, perhaps because the ropes were not fixed to the top until a few days ago. It is possible that there will be several teams attempting Everest from the North in the next few days, and our team from the South might meet some of these climbers on the summit.
Wind speeds are low for the next couple days. At summit the speeds are around 10-30 km/h. Towards the end of the month the wind speeds up again.
The weather seems to be friendly today and tomorrow. In the afternoon of the 26th and the 27th the convection at Everest is enhanced. Showers are probable, maybe combined with a thunderstorm. In the following days, convection is reduced to lower altitudes. The diurnal change between sunny mornings and cloudy afternoon continues.
23rd May 2011 // Winds too high have had to abort summit push. Extra 24 hours in death zone. Going tomorrow night got plenty of o2, a good tent so we are all safe.
23rd May 2011 // We left camp 3 at 7am, which is later but to avoid high winds. We climbed using o2 for the first time. Steve climbed without o2. Climbing the Lhotse face was awesome but a tough day. The mixed rock, yellow band was pretty full on and then we had high winds up and over the Geneva Spur at times. I had to just plant and wait for the gusts to pass. Climbing above cloud is spiritual and seeing Cho Oyu is amazing. After 8 hours at 3pm we arrived in Camp 4 - 7950m. Steve is shattered but we are all in good shape. In tent on o2 recovering, melting snow to rehydrate before summit push. Leaving for the summit at 10pm, weather permitting. High winds here at the moment, aiming to summit at 8am Nepal time, 3am UK time, although can’t be accurate. This is it guys!
Today (Mon 23rd) the wind is blowing strong. At summit there are winds of 50 km/h, with gusts reaching 90 kmh. On Tues 24th the speeds decrease from 40 kmh (morning) to 20 kmh (evening).
Wed 25th- Fri 27th a period of weak winds follows. From SAT 28th the wind is increasing.
Today and tomorrow (23rd/24th) the weather is rather sunny with some cumulus clouds and showers in the afternoon (today more than tomorrow). Snow can fall below 8000m.
From 25th expect more cumulus clouds and the clouds reach higher levels (beyond 11000m).
22nd May 2011 // Steve, Adam, Mark and myself made good time to camp 3 (7100m) all arriving with plenty in the tank. It took us 4.5hrs. We had to climb up the Lhotse face into spin drift and gusts blowing down from the south col. Camp 3 is a ledge cut out the face just big enough for our tents. Steve and I have spent the day melting snow and testing o2 for the climb to camp 4 and resting in our tent. Had to climb past a dead Japanese guy in a body bag at the bottom of the Lhotse face.
Andy Chapman (one of our leaders) climbed with us to the bergschrund at the foot of the Lhotse Face and then descended to Camp 2.
Andy helped members of the Japanese team to evacuate the body of the climber who had died high on the mountain a few days ago. A stretcher owned by Jagged Globe that had been at Camp 4 was used to lower his body to Camp 2 from where a helicopter pick up was requested.
Our team of sherpas who will be climbing to the summit with us left Base Camp in the early hours of the morning and are now resting in Camp 2. Tomorrow morning all 8 of us (Steve, Adam, Mark and me and 4 sherpas) will climb to Camp 4 (7,950m).
21st May 2011 // We are climbing to Camp 3 tomorrow morning. Leaving at 5am to avoid the sun on the Lhotse face. Happy to leave Camp 2 as camp is crumbling around us. Avalanches, rockslides and glacial ice cracking around us. It’s very obvious that the end of the season is very nearly upon us.
20th May 2011 // All change again..40kph winds gusting up to 70kph on the 23rd now means we are waiting at camp 2 tomorrow. Climbing to camp 3 on the 22nd May. Conditions look to be improving after. It’s patience, holding our nerve and one day at a time.
EVEREST WEATHER UPDATE
Here is the latest forecast for summitting Everest.
The situation has not changed since yesterday. A branch of the subtropical jet lies south of the Himalaya and moves away and weakens. The period of weak winds continues until the 22nd. Then winds turn up, weaken on the 24th and are quite weak during the following days.
Expect speeds between 20 to 40 km/h until the night of the 22nd.
22nd and 23rd: Speeds of 30-50 km/h are probable at summit. Gusts can reach up to 60/70 km/h.
24th: Wind decreases and stays weak in the following days.
20th and 21st: Showers in the second half of the day. The sky should clear in the night to the 21st.
22nd-25th: Less clouds and showers. 22nd and 23rd only few clouds reaching 8000 meters. Promising weather at the 25th.
Outlook: Convective weather with showers especially in the second half of the day.
20th May 2011 // Mark, Adam, Steve, Andy and I all got to camp 2 safely and in reasonably good shape. We left at 2am after a quick Puja blessing. The rest of the team got up to see us off. The icefall was very different again, there were a couple of avalanches in and around the icefall although scary we were safely away from them. We had some fun on the 5-ladder crevasse on the Western Cwm…genuinely scary! After getting caught in the inferno heat after sunrise we arrived in camp in just under 8hrs. The 1000m took it out of us, we’ve spent the day recovering, drinking and eating in our tents. We are waiting for weather updates from David Hamilton, our leader at base camp before moving up to camp 3, possibly tomorrow.
19th May 2011 // It’s been a funny few days. Yesterday I had mixed feelings. The main Jagged Globe team arrived back in Base Camp from their successful summit and it was great to have them back safely. It's been hard for me though, some are exhausted, some elated and for some it was the scariest day of their lives; either way, respectfully, I didn't want to hear, they can switch off, but Steve and I are still very much in game mode. Steve and I spent most of the day in our tents for that reason.
Another reason yesterday was so tough, is that after seeing the new weather forecast and heavy snow in base camp, we had to delay our summit bid. It's been really reassuring to have David Hamilton's input (he came down yesterday), between him and the experience in our sherpa team, as frustrating as it is, I'm confident it's the right thing.
We have to hold our nerve. It looks like we will be one of the last teams on the mountain, as to my knowledge all other teams are already in the higher camps, the ice doctors (Sherpas that maintain the route and ladders in the icefall) are saying that they're going to start pulling the ladders up and closing the icefall on the 27th. Both Steve and I are ready and in good shape and ready to leave tomorrow. One of the main group had retina freezing on the summit and lost his eyesight temporarily on his descent, he's fine now though. In fact I want to say thank you to him, Alan, as he's lent me his steel grivel crampons as my lighter aluminium grivel crampons have snapped. There is a lot of rock/mixed climbing on the upper mountain, which my crampons aren’t designed for. Top man. We have to react to both the good and bad days the same up here, but I felt a little flat after yesterday, but still think Sargamartha wants us to summit though and today am feeling good!
We are leaving base camp tomorrow (20th) for our summit bid, heading for camp 2. Today has been the quiet before the storm, mostly chilling, hydrating and eating! I've been packed or at least sorted for a while now waiting for my chance! Were planning on leaving at 2am to climb through the icefall when it’s coldest and most stable. This is it I guess! No excuses and no second chances. As always in the mountains, a little lady luck from mother nature would be much appreciated!
EVEREST WEATHER REPORT
A branch of the subtropical jet lies over northeast India. For the coming days the jet moves away. Wind speeds are low to moderate at summit. Wind gains speed at the 22nd and 23rd of May. Afterwards the wind weakens.
Today-21st: Speeds around 15 to 25 km/h at summit. The direction changes from northwest (20th) to west (21st).
22nd-23rd: West/Southwest, 30-50 km/h mean wind speed. Gusts can go up to 60/70 km/h.
24th: Decreasing wind speeds.
Outlook: Low wind speeds.
Today-21st: Convective weather. Showers are probable especially in the second half of the day and possible in the night for tomorrow. Night to 21st should be clear.
22nd-23rd: Sunny forenoon, some cumulus clouds in the afternoon. At high altitudes the weather remains fine.
24th: Some showers in the afternoon.
18th May 2011 // Hey everyone, here's my update from yesterday:
It's getting close to that time! I'm feeling a mixture of nervous, apprehensive, excited and confident! I know its gonna be tough, my plan is a 4 day summit push without a rest day, but all things considered its the safest option. Mostly I just want to get on with it now. Still studying the weather charts, as they become more accurate the closer we get. Went to the Everest medical tent to get something to clear my sinuses for my summit push. The docs are awesome in there, they were quiet so we had a proper cup of Tetley's tea!
It's been a particularly cold season, with relatively high numbers of frostbite, snowblindness and because of high winds retina freezing. Also this is the earliest season since 1999 on the south side, typical when I come in late! The Sherpas came back late last night from the main Jagged Globe team summit. I just want to say congratulations to everyone who summited. It was Pasang's 7th and Mingma's 16th summit! (our lead Sherpas)
They are planning a few days rest in base camp and they're going to catch us up and meet us at camp 3 on the 21st to climb to the summit. Weather permitting.
It's like pre-game nerves, but 7 times worse and without the changing room!
Thank you to everyone following my blog and for all my messages of support on Facebook and Twitter. I am humbled by all your amazing words and best wishes. THANK YOU, RICH.
Here's an update from the Main Jagged Globe Team who made the summit…
Update from Gavin at base camp on 16th May:
The Jagged Globe team had great success with all of the six members, two guides and seven Sherpa team that left camp 4 at the South Col last night making it to the summit of the worlds highest peak. They left at 9pm on Sunday the 15th and all arrived on the summit around 6am the following morning. They battled stronger than forecast winds which were reported by the expedition leader David Hamilton to be around 30-40 miles per hour. They all arrived safely back at camp 4 by 11am, where they have been resting today. They will start the two day descent back to base camp tomorrow.
Update from Jagged Globe on 16th May:
We have word that all six members who left the South Col last night summited at 0600 with eight of our Sherpas, plus leaders David Hamilton and Andy Chapman. That's 16 on the top of the world. We will update more when they are safely back at the South Col. Congratulations Team Jagged Globe and best wishes for a safe and speedy descent! Don't forget, we have Rich Parks, Steve Williams, Adam (and possibly Mark) still to go in the next few days... stay tuned.
16th May 2011 // Yesterday was another needed rest day at base camp . Steve had a rest day at camp 2 after spending the night at camp 3. My shower yesterday was the first since leaving Kathmandu! Ha! One of the main Jagged Globe team, Adam Potter, has joined mine and Steve's summit bid. He's a top guy, strong climber and earlier this year in January he fell 1000ft off a Scottish Munro and obviously survived! He got sick as the group moved from camp 2 to camp 3, but he's feeling good now.
I’ve been looking at the weather forecasts, and it looks like the 21st will be our best chance of summiting. 20-25 knot winds, -38c and no snowfall. The forecasts are only accurate for 4-5 days so we still have to wait and see. Patience is such a massive part of this climb, it's mentally tough, especially seeing people summiting, but I have the upmost confidence in my strategy. It was very cold in base camp yesterday, so I spent most of the day in my Rab sleeping bag, which I love! It's like getting back into the womb!! Adam and I have been sharing dog stories, I miss Ben my dog so much! Yesterday we also watched Quantum of Solace! With popcorn! On Everest Base Camp! My favourite bonds in order; Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton! I love bond! Speak soon guys.
14th May 2011 // Hi Guys. Arrived back in base camp today after my acclimatisation strategy. 6 nights above 6000m was tough, mentally-very little to do and physically-very little you can do! but I feel good for it.
When I got back I had a chorizo, Spanish onion & gruyere cheese omelette and a hot shower!
I'm ready! I believe I could have gone with the main group. Never the less I have 4 days at base camp to recover before my summit bid, which I'll use wisely. It's bizarre how your body shuts down at that altitude, as nobody on the planet lives above 6000m, the contrary is how my body has started working again at base camp today. I've needed the toilet 3 times as my digestive system kicks in. The thicker air almost makes you feel sleepy! Steve is on his 3rd rotation in his acclimatisation schedule. He's sleeping at camp 3 today with the main Jagged Globe group who are also at camp 3 on their summit bid. I haven’t seen much of him but I heard he was strong to camp 3 today and was feeling good up there. I've also been sleeping in the communal dome tent at camp 2 for the last 5 nights, as my tent up there was too short, so it's great to have my own tent back at base camp!
12th May 2011 // The main team left this morning for summit bid. Wished I was with them. I feel really strong. Today was a rest day at camp 2 for me with the sherpas who are climbing tomorrow. The waiting is the hardest bit now. Steve had a rest day at base camp.
11th May 2011 // Steve went back down to base camp this morning. I climbed to camp 3, 7100m with Passang (our Sherpa leader). We left camp 2 at 6.15am and arrived at camp 3 at 10.20am. Steve is going good, he went down following his strategy.
I carried a small load up to camp 3 and felt strong. It’s a real honour to climb with Passang Tenzin Sherpa. He’s one of 7 brothers who have summited Everest 43 times collectively! He’s 27 and this will be his 7th summit. He’s summited Ama Dablam 3 times as well. A top guy. Feeling confident about my summit strategy today was a big step so it was a good day.
10th May 2011 // We all slept well last night at camp 2. Steve, Andy and I climbed to the bottom of the Lhotse face, 6790m. The main group arrived at camp 2 this morning on their summit bid. Sadly they climbed over the body of the 82 year old Nepalese man that we met on the trek in to base camp, his body was on the icefall. He must have died yesterday. It has made me sad as he was lush and we had a good chat. Heavy snow at camp 2 this afternoon. Steve’s looking good, we are both finding the days in tents challenging but its all about patience and perseverance here and one day at a time!
from Associated Press confirms 82-year-old death:
An 82-year-old former Nepalese foreign minister has died on the slopes of Mount Everest while attempting to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain, an official said Tuesday.
Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay was returning from the first camp set on the slopes of Everest back down to the base camp when he collapsed Monday evening, Mountaineering Department official Tilak Pandey told The Associated Press by telephone. He was going back to the base camp to get medical attention because he was not feeling well.
Upadhyay's climbing companions gave him some water and oxygen after he collapsed on the icy trails, but he died, likely from high-altitude sickness, a common cause of death among mountain climbers, Pandey said. His body was expected to be airlifted to the capital, Katmandu, later Tuesday. Upadhyay served as Nepal's foreign minister from 1986-90 and was the country's representative to the United Nations from 1972-78. He was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese climber who scaled Everest at the age of 76.
EVEREST WEATHER UPDATE:
General situation: The subtropical jet over the Himalaya is weakening.
In the next days Richard and Steve will experience a phase with low to moderate winds and rising temperatures.
Weather forecast: Today and tomorrow: Expect deep convection. This means big cumulus clouds in the afternoon after quite sunny forenoons. In the afternoon some showers of snow. This effects also the high camps. Amounts of fresh snow are similar to the last days. The wind in the summit area is weak with around 10 to 20 km/h. Strong thermals close to showers lead to locally stronger winds. Temperature on the summit: Around -25c.
Thursday to Sunday: Diurnal cycle of convection. Sunny in the forenoon and cumulus clouds in the afternoon with local showers. The cumulus clouds won't reach higher altitudes, so in the high camps and in the summit area it stays mostly dry or only small amounts of snowfall. The wind is still weak to moderate with around 20 km/h in the summit area. Towards the weekend the wind is getting a bit stronger to about 30 km/h (maybe 40 km/h in gusts). The temperature is rising to about -22c.
9th May 2011 // EVEREST WEATHER UPDATE
The subtropical jet over the Himalaya is weakening on the 9th of May. The wind direction does not change. The summit remains in a southwestern flow. Cyclonic conditions will bring more convection and therefore also more snowfall. The temperature at summit: is around -28 degrees Celsius.
This feels like -40 degrees with a wind of 20 km/h.
Strong wind at summit. Mean wind speeds: 50-80 km/h. Ceasing in the evening. Friendly morning. Towering cumlus in the afternoon. Showers are probable. They can last during the night to the 10th of May.
Deep convection. Snowfall especially at the south side of Everest.
But also at the north side expect some snow. Weak winds.
Diurnal cycle with good climbing conditions in the mornings.
Increasingly cloudy in the afternoon with fog at the mountain.
Showers are probable in the second half of the day at the south side of Everest. Moderate wind speed at summit (20-40 km/h).
9th May 2011 // Left camp 1 at 6am this morning, arrived at camp 2 at 8.15am, 6400m. All feeling good. Camp 2 is on glacial moraine 2/3 up the Western Cwm. We had to cross a 5-ladder crevasse today, pretty scary with full 100 litre rucksacks on!...The climb this morning was around -20c, but that’s better than the inferno when the suns up! I’ll be up here for the next 5 days now, weather and health permitting. Happy Monday everyone!
FACT: A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial, which can occur in currently glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, such as those areas acted upon by a past ice age. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced or it may have fallen off the valley walls as a result of frost wedging or landslide.
8th May 2011 // In camp 1, 6,025m. Left base camp at 3am arrived 7.25am. Climbed here with Andy Chapman and Steve. Very windy up here, some tents in camp have been destroyed that were not secured properly. Still amazes me how much the icefall changes every time I climb through it and it’s hard work, sapping. I have spent all day in my tent on my own, only speaking to others if passing or getting snow for water. Just chilling and getting rest now.
7th May 2011 // Okay, where do I start! Today (7th) is a rest day at base camp. Both Steve and myself are feeling good and enjoying Gavin's cooking and the company of the main Jagged Globe team. Amazingly Gav, wearing his Welsh - feed me till I want no more apron, which I gave to him in Antarctica, made sushi for lunch. There's a really good buzz in the Jagged Globe base camp as the main group have finished their acclimatisation rotations up the mountain and are all ready for their summit bid soon.
Which brings me on to the main part of the update; today Steve and I had another long meeting with David Hamilton (our team leader), Andy Chapman (our assistant leader), mingma sherpa, and nima sherpa the climbing sirdar (Sirdar is a Nepali trek leader) and camp sirdar respectively. Steve and I have climbed to camp 1 - we climbed through the icefall in good time and slept/ate well in camp 1. Based on the llama (holy Nepalese) calendar - which suggests that after the 23rd there will be no weather window, we have revised our summit strategy to make it even more ambitiously short. Weather permitting we're hoping to be ready to summit on the 22nd May.
After discussing ideas between all 6 of us, Steve and I have decided to run two different summit strategies, but join together for the final summit bid.
Having come into this off the back of 5 months of expeditions, and having 2 more mountains after, my concern with a traditional acclimatisation programme is climbing up and down the mountain expending energy. For me the climb through the icefall is the biggest energy sapper, which is only going to get worse as it melts making the route more complicated. With this in mind, knowing my own body at altitude and having discussed it through thoroughly with the leaders, I've decided on less acclimatisation rotations up the mountain but to spend longer up there before my summit bid.
Steve on the other hand is following a more traditional acclimatisation strategy by returning back to base camp in between time at higher camps.
Tomorrow, the 8th, both Steve and myself will climb to camp 1 for 1 night.
9th - we both go to camp 2, 6400m
10th - rest day in camp 2 together
11th - Steve climbs down to base camp. I stay at camp 2 and climb to the foot of the Lhotse face and back to sleep at camp 2
12th - I rest at camp 2. Steve rests at base camp
13th - Steve climbs direct from base camp to camp 2. I climb from camp 2 to above camp 3 up the Lhotse face taking me to 7300m without using supplementary o2 and back to sleep at camp 2.
This is controversial as most people sleep at camp 3. I am against that as nobody actually sleeps there as it’s too high, so I would rather climb there and a little higher (camp 3 is 7100m) but descend to sleep at camp 2. On the summit bid when we do have to sleep there I will sleep with a low flow of o2. I will meet up with Steve in the evening at camp 2.
14th - Steve will climb from camp 2 to camp 3 and stay the night there. I will have a rest day in camp 2.
15th - Steve will climb down from camp 3 and rest in camp 2. I’ll climb down from camp 2 direct to base camp.
16th – I will rest in base camp, Steve will climb down from camp 2 to base camp.
17th - both of us will rest in base camp
18th - both will rest in base camp
19th - both of us together will leave base camp for our summit bid.
The pros with me are obviously less climbing up and down the mountain saving energy in the legs, but the potential cons are the possibility of getting weaker living at the higher altitude above 6400m for 6 days. Secondly I don't get a trial run of sleeping at camp 3. I'm confident that this is the best strategy for me right now in the physical condition that I am in and in the context of the full 7 months.
We've been given radios each so we are always in contact with Gavin or nima sherpa at base camp.
FACT: The western flank of Lhotse, a peak which is connected to Everest via the South Col is known as the Lhotse Face. Any climber bound for the South Col on Everest, including Richard and Steve must climb this 1,125m (3,700 ft) wall of glacial blue ice. This face rises at 40 and 50 degree pitches with the occasional 80 degree bulges. Two rocky sections called the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur interrupt the icy ascent on the upper part of the face.
6th May 2011 // Updates for 3 days below – sorry my phone has been a nightmare! Both Steve and I slept well at camp 1, 6035m, which is a great start to our acclimatisation and summit strategy. We left c1 at 6.20am and descended down through the icefall to base camp. I was blown away by how much it had changed over night! The ladder I'd spoke about had gone and crevasses that you could step over, now had to be jumped! Amazing! We arrived at base camp at 8am. We heard news that the Sherpa teams finished fixing ropes to the summit yesterday at 4ish and 4 people summited at 6ish making them the first of the season. It's officially open, let the games begin! I'm still working to the strategy we decided on, although we might tweak it. It's still one day at a time! The main Jagged Globe team are all back in base camp fit and well from their night at camp 3. It's good to be in camp together! Rest day today and tomorrow.
NOTE FROM 2011 JAGGED GLOBE TEAM’S DISPATCHES:
(Who are a couple of weeks ahead of Rich and Steve)
Our Sherpa team have been working hard and have placed most of the equipment needed for the summit push at Camp 4 (7,950m). The sherpas are returning to Base Camp today and will rest for several days before making their next trip onto the mountain. Following the example set in recent years the sherpas from the leading expeditions have worked together in recent weeks to place fixed ropes from Camp 2 to the summit. Several of our sherpas have contributed to this effort, carrying ropes and equipment from BC to Camp 2 and also from Camp 2 to Camp 4. Yesterday (May 5th) an 8 person fixing team reached the summit of Everest making the first ascent of the mountain in the 2011 season and opening the way for other teams to climb to the top in the weeks ahead.
5th May 2011 // Steve, Passang (our Sherpa) and I climbed through the icefall to camp 1. We left at 4.20am from base camp and arrived at camp 1 at 9am. Compared to previous years the icefall is in good condition, never the less we had to cross several ladders. Some more solid than others. One was anchored in the ice one end and the other end was just flapping in the air secured with rope to an ice anchor. The acclimatisation day at camp 1 was tough. Once the sun rises over Nuptse the temperatures become unbearably hot due to the solar glare from the glacier and snow covered walls of the western cwm. I sat in my tent in my pants all day trying to hydrate! My tent was +38c, yet in the evening the temperature drops to around -18c. We had snow in the evening, which played havoc with my phone!
FACT: Nuptse is a mountain which lies two kilometres WSW of Mount Everest. Nuptse is Tibetan for “west peak”, as it is the western segment of the Lhotse-Nuptse massif.
FACT: Often called the Valley of Silence, the Western Cwm (cwm, pronounced coom, is Welsh for a bowl shaped valley/cirque!) is
is a broad, flat, gently undulating glacial valley basin terminating at the foot of the Lhotse face of Mount Everest.
It is traversed by climbers using the southeast route to the summit of Everest. The central section is cut by massive lateral crevasses which bar entrance into the upper Western Cwm. In this section, climbers must cross to the far right, over to the base of Nuptse to a narrow passageway known as the Nuptse corner. From here, climbers have a stupendous view of the upper 8,000 feet of Everest - the first glimpse of Everest's upper slopes since arriving at Base Camp. The last 5,000 feet on Everest, including its distinct black pyramid summit, are not visible from Base Camp. The snow covered, bowl shaped slopes surrounding the Western Cwm, reflect and amplify the solar radiation, warming the valley basin despite its high elevation of 6000 to 6800 meters (19,600-22,300 feet). Some of the most difficult days on Everest are in the Western Cwm, when on a sunny windless day it is desperately hot, up to 35c (80-95 degrees Fahrenheit).
4th May 2011 // Rest day today. Last night my Petzl head torch died! It’s had a good innings, but I’ve had to ask a porter to buy me a new one in Namche! I realised today that I’ve also either forgot or lost my Grivel helmet, which is a pain in the ar*e! I'm borrowing a lid from another team for higher up the mountain! It sucks as I love my Grivel lid, it's mega comfy and light. Nothing to report really, did some laundry, been sleeping, eating, watched Heat the film and packing for our first climb and carry to camp 1 tomorrow. We are staying the night up there too.
3rd May 2011 // Steve and I left at 4.30am this morning for our first venture into the Khumbu Icefall. The objective was to climb half way up for acclimatisation and to get used to the ladders without heavy packs. We climbed to 5725m. The Icefall is compacted but still has a handful of ladders crossing open crevasses, not as many as previous years but enough! We were back in time to see Dai leave after breakfast, which was sad! I miss the banter already! The rest of the day I spent in my tent watching the second season of lie to me on my iPod. Both Steve and I went well this morning, feeling good at altitude and moving pretty fast with Passang our Sherpa. I feel a little tired and run down today, I've avoided the Khumbu cough but am having a little trouble with blocked sinuses so I was grateful for the rest this afternoon. Tomorrow’s another rest day, which is nice and I’ve already been sent some handy hints on unblocking sinuses from the challenge’s PR manager who appears to know pretty much all there is to know on the subject, I think she may have used the internet for research!
2nd May 2011 // Today's another rest day, which I'm grateful for, as I didn't sleep that well last night. The temperature has already significantly risen, to -10c in the nights, causing the glacial ice to creak and produce avalanches. Normally I sleep like a log, but my mind was racing!
This morning I washed my clothes, but it started snowing so now they’re frozen on my line! Typical!
We heard news this morning that sadly somebody died between camp3 and 4 yesterday. A heart attack we heard, we also heard that some amazing person did CPR on him for over 1.5hrs above 7400m, with all the teams in the area helping out. Everest gets a bad rap for people not helping each other, but that was amazing. It’s a sobering reminder of what’s ahead of us.
Steve and his dad are arguing over who's cheating at scrabble, which is funny! It's Dai's last night in camp tonight. I'm going to miss him! Tomorrow Steve and I make our first trip into the Khumbu Ice fall. Leaving at 4am when it's coldest and most stable. Were planning on climbing half way and back for acclimatisation and practice on the ladders without loads.
FACT: The Khumbu Icefall is an icefall at the head of the Khumbu Glacier. The icefall is found at 5,486m (that's 18,000 feet and only about 400m shy of the same height as Mount Kilimanjaro) on the Nepali slopes of Mount Everest, not far above Base Camp and southwest of the summit. The icefall is regarded as one of the most dangerous stages of the South Col route to Everest's summit. The Khumbu glacier that forms the icefall moves at such speed that large crevasses open with little warning. The large towers of ice or seracs found at the icefall have been known to collapse suddenly. Huge blocks of ice tumble down the glacier from time to time; they range in size from cars to large houses. It is estimated that the glacier advances three to four feet down the mountain every day.
1st May 2011 // We had a Puja ceremony in the morning, which was fantastic. The Llama blessed us for the climb and some of our gear. Our grivel crampons and ice axes, plus some Nepalese prayer flags that I've got. It was about an hour long. In the arvo Steve, Passang (our Sherpa leader) and myself went onto the ice to run through some scenarios that we might face up there. Abseiling over knots, jumaring over somebody or an obstacle in the fixed lines. We just had some fun for a couple of hours, nothing we didn't know but a valuable refresh. There were lots of avalanches around base camp in the evening. One massive one whilst I was having a pee in the dark. It sounded like it was right on top of me, it wasn't, but I did question if this was how I was going to go! Steve and his dad spent the evening playing monopoly, which Steve won.
FACT: Jumaring, also referred to as jugging, is where the second climber (the one who belays the lead climber on the route) uses ascenders to climb the rope instead of climbing directly on the rock.
30th April 2011 // We've been grateful for a rest day today to allow our bodies to catch up with the altitude. Base camp was eerily quiet as most of the teams are higher up the mountain. It's been snowing all afternoon. I've been trying to switch off today to give my mind some space from the climb, a full wet wipe wash!, writing, listening to music and Dai and I watched quantum of solace this arvo. The Jagged Globe team left at 2.30am this morning to climb to camp 1. They're all well at camp 1. Tomorrow Steve and I will make our first trip onto the ice.
29th April 2011 // Yesterday we arrived at Gorak Shep and after a few hours of rest we met up with David Hamilton our Jagged Globe 2011 Everest team leader. I had met David in Antarctica on Mount Vinson so it was great to catch up with him again, also for Steve to meet him too. Everyone got on really well and we had a really good chat yesterday about how the team is getting on at the moment and our summit strategy.
It was great to speak with David, I feel very confident that we have the very best advice. He’s incredibly experienced. David is leading Jagged Globe’s 15th Everest expedition and this will be his 6th expedition to Everest, having previously summited in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009.
We have come up with a strategy that we all agree on and that we have all bought in to and I do feel really confident being part of team Jagged Globe. Having great logistics on the mountain means we have got the very best chance of making the summit, however the realisation of talking through the attempt yesterday made me pretty nervous to be honest. We always knew we would be cutting it fine and that it was going to be difficult to get from the North Pole back over here but the reality is something quite different.
The main team are leaving tomorrow morning for a final trip up to camp 3 and when they get back down for that they are ready to rock and roll. They have been here for 3 weeks so we are a long way behind from all the teams on the mountain.
It looks like we are going to run a similar schedule to what the Jagged Globe team have been running on the mountain, except we are going to do it over half the timeframe which is obviously putting ourselves under a lot of pressure.
We had 2 options really – We could either really cane it and try and be ready at the same time as them but risk burning ourselves out and becoming ill with altitude.
The second option is a more conservative approach aiming for a window end of the season but the problem with that is that we are putting all our eggs into one basket and should anything happen from food poisoning to bad weather, we have missed the opportunity, so we came to the conclusion to run a similar programme to what the team have done except we will half the rest days and do it over half the timeframe.
Steve and I will be running a completely separate itinerary to the rest of the team. We will be moving up the mountain independently with one of the head Sherpas. We hope that when we are ready to summit we will do so with David Hamilton as well but we will be moving completely separate to the rest of the team but using the same logistics throughout the mountain.
The news from the mountain is that the Khumbu Icefall, which is a notoriously dangerous part of the climb (The icefall is at the head of the Khumbu Glacier at 5,486 metres and is one of the most dangerous stages of the South Col route to Everest's summit) is pretty compressed this year which means there are not as many crevasses and ladder crossings which is good for us.
The bad news is that the temperatures are warming drastically so we should see a fair amount of movement in the next few weeks. Just walking up from Gorak Shep you can hear avalanches cracking all the time all around, none dangerous towards us though, in fact just as I am talking to you now a massive one has gone off somewhere, not near though!
It’s gonna be really tough. I am confident that we have the very best chance of making the summit being part of Team Jagged Globe. The realisation of the task ahead though is pretty sobering having such a short time to acclimatise to be ready for a potential summit window at the end of May but it’s great to have the support of David Hamilton and Andy Chapman (our assistant leader) and our amazing Sherpa team.
Steve is in good spirits he’s looking really strong. Both of us are acclimatising well. We have had a few long days now so we will be making the most of the next few days at base camp just resting, eating, allowing our bodies to catch up.
Dai camera is also in good spirits. We were joking that Dai has aged about 20 years in the last 4 days! but nevertheless he arrived in base camp in good spirits and got some good footage too.
Wow that was a long one! Speak to you all soon from Everest Base Camp. Rich.
28th April 2011 // Hey guys, apologies for being quiet - here's my updates for the last few days, here and below!
We left Lobuche this morning for the 3hr trek to Gorak Shep. Gorak Shep (5,220m/17,126ft) is the site of the 1953 expedition's base camp. It is the last stop before base camp tomorrow. We trekked along the Khumbu Glacier and got our first sight of the Khumbu Icefall and base camp, which was awesome. I'm excited to get there tomorrow. We've met a few of the Jagged Globe team in our lodge, who have come down from base camp to recover in the relatively thicker air. I'm spending the afternoon sleeping and will meet David Hamilton our leader tonight.
27th April 2011 // We had breakfast with the trekkers. David and Rakesh took the highway to Lobuche (also spelt Lobuje) and Steve, Dai and myself climbed the Kongma la pass 5527m to Lobuche. It was a tough, 10 hour day. Fresh snowfall made route finding challenging to say the least, which is why we took so long. There was also some challenging scrambling which was fun. Dai Camera said it was his toughest day in the mountains, harder than Kili. Anyway, we dropped back to Lobuche in time for tea! I had 4 dinners! Yes, soup, 2 Dal Bhats and chips!
26th April 2011 // We had dinner with the 737 Challenge trekking team which was cool. It was great to meet John and to see Howard Lewis again. They've had a good week and it was good that we could have dinner together and share stories. Howard, awesomely, got a signed welsh flag by the 2011 welsh squad for me to take to the summit and auction for Marie Curie after which was awesome!
25th April 2011 // We had a really good day today. Slept at Chukung. We trekked up to Chukung hills, which are about 5,005 metres and felt really good. It’s also the highest Steve’s dad has trekked to which is great. Then Steve’s dad went back down and Steve, Dai and myself trekked on to Chukung Ri peak, which is 5,540m. There was snow on the peak. We descended in good spirits to Dingbouche. Tomorrow is a rest day and tomorrow night we are meeting with the 737 Challenge trekking team for dinner, it will be great to meet up with all of them and I am especially looking forward to seeing Howard Lewis who has been raising funds for the 737 Challenge constantly over the past year. Originally I was meant to trek in to base camp with everyone on the 737 Challenge trekking team but the delays to my challenge meant they started their trek before me so it will be great to meet up.
The weather has got considerably colder, when we came back down it was snowing today, again a real eye opener in to how quickly things can change in this environment. My kit is holding out really well. My Scarpa boots are fantastic and as per normal all my Rab kit is brilliant. Feeling really good and acclimatisation going really well.
24th April 2011 // Steve and his dad brought Easter eggs with them which was a nice surprise! We trekked to Chuckhung it has been snowing. Dai and I just went halfers on an out of date pack of chocolate digestives for £3.50 - awesome at 4770m! Hope everyone had a great Easter day.
24th April 2011 // Happy Easter everyone!
Apologies no update for the past few days, sat phone and mob reception is not great here in the Valley but today I found an internet café so I was able to send you all my updates I had written for the past few days so check out below as well.
Myself, Dai and Rakesh were planning on dropping down to Pheriche this morning to visit the medical centre there as Rakesh hasn't been feeling well, however after a few days of medication from the first aid kit he's feeling much better and didn't want to go. So instead Dai Camera and I went for a wander and found this place - the internet cafe! I've been in contact with the 2011 Jagged Globe Everest team, which is great. I've received an email from David Hamilton and it's great to start discussing thoughts for how best for us to acclimatise and devise a summit strategy. The banter has already started, the group are made up of English, Scots and Irish and they're all running out of mick taking between them so I am looking forward to 2 Welshy's to add to the mix! I have my game head on though! Ha! I'm really looking forward to getting on the mountain now, the trekking is beautiful, but patience is a massive part of Himalayan climbing! This after noon we're trekking to Chukung at 4730m where we'll spend the afternoon and night.
23rd April 2011 // We were greeted with amazing views of Everest and Ama Dablam in the morning leaving Debouche. We trekked from Debouche to Dingbouche today, about 6hrs. We're sleeping at the Sonam friendship Lodge at 4380m. We had a few amazing river crossings today on very high suspension bridges, which weren't for the faint hearted! After lunch the weather closed in on us, reminding us of where we are! We lost sight of Everest and Ama Dablam. On arriving into Dingbouche, we found another bakery! After checking in to our lodge we went back to the bakery only to find some of the Jagged Globe Khumbu Climber group! We had a top afternoon resting and smashing cake and hot drinks into us! It's considerably colder up here and snowing outside the bakery! Dhal bhat for dinner again, it rocks!
22nd April 2011 // We're sleeping in the Rivendell Lodge in Debouche at 3800m. Today was a long 8hr day but at a leisurely pace and taking lots of breaks. We dropped down into the valley to cross the Imga Chola river and had a 500m climb in the afternoon. We're all acclimatising well and feeling good. We were surprised by another bakery and coffee shop en route at Tengboche next to the monastery at 3850m! Obviously we all stopped and had coffee and cake! Possibly one of the best cakes I've had! It's actually a good sign that we all have healthy appetites. I've embraced Dal Bhat- the Nepalese dish of rice, a soup type sauce made from lentils and Veg. Today was a double Dhal bat day for me! At our lodge we have uninterrupted views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam in all their glory. Sargamartha looks awesome! It really is a special place, the scale of everything is mind blowing. We've also made some friends on the path today with a group of Aussies and were lucky enough to meet and speak with Shailendra K, Upadhyaya. He's an 82 year young Nepalese man aiming to become the oldest man to summit Everest. Awesome! We're on a similar itinerary so I'm sure that we'll bump into him again.
21st April 2011 // We are still in Namche. Today has been a rest and acclimatisation day. We all got up for breakfast early this morning and then Dai Camera and myself went back to bed and slept until lunch. Steve and his dad wondered around the museums in Namche. After lunch Steve, his Dad and I did some interviews with Dai for the 737 Challenge BBC documentary and then all 4 of us headed down in to Namche for vital acclimatisation fuel - more coffee and cakes!
Dai Camera and I are sharing toilet paper as we are sharing a room and we ran out today so it was Dai’s turns to go and buy the toilet paper in Namche. He got confused between a 500 rupee note and a 50 rupee note so instead of paying 50p for a toilet roll, he paid £5 for one roll, which was very funny! It’s been a chilled day to get some rest. Tomorrow we are trekking up to Dingboche, which is a 5-7 hour day. We drop down in altitude in the morning and then it’s quite a challenging afternoon. On the whole everyone is acclimatising well and in good spirits.
20th April 2011 // We've spent today acclimatising and resting. We trekked up to the summit view hotel, 3880m, where we could see Everest before the clouds came in. I was more blown away by Ama Dablam though. Such an amazingly, beautiful peak. We then spent the afternoon chilling in Namche, which is quite a busy town, made up of very narrow streets dodging the yaks! Dai Camera and I spent all afternoon in the Everest bakery eating cakes and coffee! Steve and his dad had a cake but didn't do the whole shift! It's vital that we allow our bodies to adapt, producing red blood cells, by resting. There is a Nepalese guy in town who is aiming to become the oldest to summit Everest at 81! Nuts! I'm feeling good, acclimatising well, a little tired still but getting back on track.
19th April 2011 // We trekked to Namche today, 3450m. 7 hour day, but we are taking it really easy. In Monjo where we had lunch we met a couple from Cardiff, Dale and Julie, on their honeymoon, which was cool. We got caught in a mega thunder and hailstorm after lunch, the hail was so big we had to take shelter. They were like paint balls!
We also met Steve's dad David today, which was cool. He's a very nice man. On the trail, Steve got trapped in the middle of a herd of mules which was funny. I'm loving the Dal Bhat, which is the most common recipe you get here in Nepal and I really like all the Nepalese food. Our Sirdar Rakesh (Sirdar is a Nepali trekking leader by the way) has been fantastic and we've stayed in really nice tea houses. Steve even had a shower today, me, no chance! Ha!
18th April 2011 // We flew to Delhi on Saturday then on to Kathmandu. Steve, Dai our Cameraman (who for the purposes of my blog will be named as Dai Camera) and myself didn’t sleep that well on flight but our excitement is getting us through! We met our Jagged Globe team and have been talking itineraries. It’s finally starting to sink in really now. Have been planning for this moment for so long and now it’s come around and we are very excited.
We then flew in to Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla airport in the town of Khumbu, Solukhumbu district in Eastern Nepal.
We got 4 out of 5 bags and had to wait for the last one, which was on a different flight. The runway and landing was genuinely scary! Lukla airport is one of the most dangerous airports in the world and I can see why! We met our sirdar (local head of porters) and were due to have a 5-hour trek up to Monjo where we would sleep. Monjo is at 2835m. As we had to wait for our bags and started late we’ve stopped in Phakding overnight at 2670m. We have eaten well, local dishes. Tomorrow we trek to Namche.
We are hoping to bump into the guys who all signed up for the 737 Challenge Everest expedition. Due to our delays on the North Pole most had to start their trek to Everest Base Camp ahead of us but we are hoping to meet up with them at some point. We have their itinerary and we are trying to work out ours so we bump in to them on the trek up to base camp.
Steve and I have enlisted Dai Camera to our Top 5 club which is already causing a few disagreements on what should be in each Top 5 ha ha!
Speak soon guys.