Tag : hibu

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How To Climb Mount Everest

So, you want to climb Mount Everest. Chomolungma or Sagarmatha as they say in Tibet and Nepal. Standing at 8,848m above sea level, Mount Everest is the highest mountain on earth and hence it is on the to-do list of many high altitude climbers including those aiming for the seven summits or even the 14 eight-thousanders, but as with any obstacle this massive, the question of how to climb it is a tough one to answer and requires more than a simple knowledge of good footwork.

To answer this question, I will put myself back into my own shoes from January 2011. At that point, my plan to climb Everest was well underway, but I lacked almost every necessity required to make the climb. I had no high altitude climbing experience, I didn’t have any real cold weather kit, I had never been to Scotland – the hallowed training ground for Everest (despite having been to Australia and living only 6 hours away from Edinburgh), I didn’t really have any money, and worst of all, I didn’t have a clue.

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A positive was that I was on the cusp of graduating from university, but from my above position, I would expect that most people wanting to have their dream shot at the world’s highest mountain are either in a similar or slightly better off position than I was; to be in a worse position would probably require the loss of a limb and a significant amount of blood, in which case I would advise you seek help from the Walking With The Wounded team who are incredible at showing what is possible even without limbs.

There are a number of fundamentals when it comes to climbing Everest which I will outline below and then aim to elaborate upon thereafter. You first need to realise however that the financial element of climbing Everest is a mountain in itself, and so if you don’t already have the money to make the climb, this should be your number one priority.

1) Plan

2) Training

3) Raising the funding

4) Training

5) Philanthropy

6) Choosing a team

7) The jet set to Everest

So as you can see from this 7 part plan, all the elements have been simplified so that each piece can be digested as bite sized amount, rather than seeing the mountain that’s in front of you and panicking, as it would be all too easy to do with an undertaking of this magnitude. Think of these steps as camps up the mountain, so just like every camp between base camp and the summit is designed to breakdown the overall climb, these steps are designed to do the same.

The very first thing to do before checking your bank balance to see how much money you don’t have is to make a plan. This is the basis for your financial proposal, should you need one, and will help keep you on the straight and narrow should you lose your original objectives down the road. There have been many attempts on Everest, including those who wish to ski back down the Lhotse Face, and even paraglide from the summit. When planning your expedition to Everest, the most advisable method is to plan the actual climb of the mountain, and then work backwards. So how do you want to climb Everest? I’m not talking of cheap gimmicks here like becoming the first person from Prestwick to take a rubber chicken to the summit, but instead, I’m thinking more along the lines of your expedition style. Do you want to simply(!) climb the NE Ridge with a commercial team, or do you want to attempt an alpine ascent of one of Everest’s many faces? Do you aim to climb with supplementary oxygen or without? Or do you want to conduct scientific research during your time on the mountain to investigate a hypothesis which really interests you?

To create your plan is to write your intentions of your expedition to Everest, and then state your time scale which you can do once you have factored in your training. So for example, if you want to climb the NE Ridge, you can expect to have been on multiple high altitude expeditions previously, going above 7,000m and preferably on supplementary oxygen in order to stand a good chance at making the summit and returning in one piece. This could take 2 years, or it could take 15 depending on your resources, and your commitments, however if you are starting from scratch and are wanting to make a more alpine orientated ascent, you will clearly need a lot more than 2 years of training before setting out on your bold expedition to climb the Kangshung Face.

For many mere mortals though, it is the commercial routes of the Southeast ridge and North ridge that appeal, and so if it is one of these routes which appeal and will become the focus of this article, then you need to write your plan accordingly.

Of course, everyone is different, and whilst some people will adapt to altitude relatively quickly, others will take longer to cope with the rigors of low oxygen, and so it is important to keep your plans flexible in order to account for more training should you need it.

On planning my expeditions, I soon realised how important it was to firstly learn the skills as close to the ground as possible, and then work upwards. For me, there is only one place to learn how to climb Everest, and this is Scotland. A Scottish winter season is infamous amongst climbers due to the notorious weather that is often encountered, the severity of many of the climbs which range from the mile long North Face of Ben Nevis, to the absolute wilderness of Torridon, and indeed the fact that climbing in Scotland is steeped in history.

After my first Scottish winter season, I began to meet new people and connect with many people with similar aspirations; all of which is a part of the learning curve towards Everest and indeed any challenge in the Greater Ranges.

On completion of that first Scottish winter, I knew for sure that I wanted to continue my pursuit for Everest, and so the next phase of training begins. Up until this point, things have been very cheap. Climbing in Scotland, if you know the right people, can be done very cheaply, and so it’s not until you start to venture overseas that the lines between training and financing start to become blurred.

The first thing to note is how unnecessary it is to climb Mount Blanc. Climbing in the French Alps, especially with Chamonix as a base will always be ultra expensive when using guides, since they all need to hold the IFMGA carnet, and being the highest mountain in western Europe means any ascent of Mont Blanc with a guide is generally going to hurt the bank and also your view of alpine refuges when you find yourself crammed inside the Goûter Cabin the night before your ascent.

Since Everest isn’t in Europe, it is also a good idea to introduce yourself to the culture shock you can expect to receive when entering foreign cities such as Mumbai and Kathmandu. So instead of Mont Blanc, consider replacing this with a 6,000m mountain such as Peak Chapayev in Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan, or even Island Peak in the Khumbu valley of Nepal which will give you a direct introduction to Everest.

Whilst these bigger expeditions may be as expensive or slightly more than a Mont Blanc ascent, you get infinitely more for your money, such as the invaluable experience of looking after yourself on a ‘proper’ expedition, something which is worth its weight in gold by the time you reach Everest base camp.

After your first foray into the Himalayas or Greater Ranges, it’s time to consider something bigger and more technical. For me, it was the combination of Mera Peak and Baruntse, but others have done Manaslu, Cho Oyu or something similar in preparation.

And so this is your plan. Or rather it is my plan, but something that needs to be adapted to your own personal taste and desires, remembering that wanting to climb the same mountain as someone else doesn’t mean that you can’t make your expedition your own, embarking on a journey which no one else has taken, despite eventually ending up at the same point.

As for the training side, this is far easy to answer. Firstly, have a read of my blog on specificity: The Need for Specificity. Your preparatory peaks prior to Everest form the most specific element of your training, which includes the fundamentals of travel at altitude, personal admin, the mental capacity to summit big mountains, and the ability to cope with the extreme levels of stress of all different types faced on extended trips. If you are a guide, this stress will be focused upon keeping your team, and also yourself safe. For the climbers, the stress is usually centred on staying as healthy as possible and keeping up with the rest of the team so you have the best possible chance for the summit.

Whilst you’re at home however, training doesn’t need to be as complicated as you might believe. Keeping fit by running and cycling are all key, plus a number of big days out on the hill with a heavy rucksack will also aid your progress. The biggest key is dynamic apnea training which can be simplified as swimming under water. For the full explanation, see my Apnea Training Article.

Climb in Scotland and the Lake District as often as you can, and try not to focus any of your attention on ‘bulking-up’ with muscle. Muscle is hungry for oxygen when it’s working, and so your aim is to be as lean and strong as possible without looking like Mr. Universe.

Now that you have your plan, you know if you are going to try and break a record or two, and know what training you are left to do, the absolute necessity is now to raise the money. For most people, the situation will be similar to mine. You have either just finished university, or are in a full time job. You have cash, but nothing which amounts to that which you will need for Everest which as a rule of thumb is around £30,000 – £40,000. You also might have working commitments, and also financial commitments such as a mortgage or wife/husband to take care of. In this case, asking for a divorce and renting out a council house is a sure fire way of quickly raising capital, but it isn’t necessarily the most practical method.

The problem is usually described as, “you either have the time but not the money, or you have the money but not the time; people rarely have both”.

And this describes the situation for the majority of Everest hopefuls. The truth is, many could summit, but most struggle with the one thing that you don’t ordinarily associate with climbing; money. For some, their commitments outweigh their desire to make the climb, but for those who are absolutely determined, and would go to the ends of the earth to make their Everest dreams a reality, this is what you need to do.

Lets first outline the possibilities for funding:

1) Family & friends

2) Remortgaging & quitting job (with the hope of finding something on your return)

3) Religiously saving

4) Corporate funding

As you can see, there are four options; only you can decide if the first three are viable, but usually, and just like for me, number four was the only option, and if you too decide to go down this path, you have a second mountain to climb, infinitely more frustrating than Everest, before you even make it to base camp.

The simple solution here is that you have to become an entrepreneur, and you have to become one fast. You need to take your plan, your dream of climbing Everest, and sell it to a company or organisation; in other words, quite simply, you need to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Your offer of partnership should be written as a proposal, it should be short and concise, less than 3 pages, and in it you should write three fundamental things. Firstly, who you are and what you are aiming to do. Secondly, how much you are asking for. And thirdly, what you are going to do for the company to prise a small fortune from them.

This all sounds simple, and it really is common sense, but time and time again I get asked “why is my proposal not working” or “why is no one sponsoring me”.

In terms of the actual proposal, it needs to be professional. This, in my opinion, is too long, however the proposal for the South expedition is your benchmark proposal in terms of quality and professionalism:

http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/files/SOUTHbrochure.pdf

Now you know what the proposal should look like, you now need to know what to put in it. As I said earlier, there are three fundamentals, so I will expand on these a little. When writing about you, be as short as possible. You have to imagine you have 2 minutes to impress a CEO, so hearing about your successes on Bronze DofE won’t cut it unfortunately.

The second part of the first fundamental is to explain what you are doing. The key here is to think BIG. I will give you two examples, which do you think sounds better to a multinational corporation?

1) I am aiming to climb Mount Everest via the SE Ridge, and in doing so, raise £5,000 for my local charity.

2) I am set to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, from where I will fly your flag, and raise £1 Million for Comic Relief and Cancer Research.

Just remember, when you are talking to a company with a net profit in excess of £1 Billion per annum, money talks, and they are much likely to support you if you set your sights high. Equally, you might never make your target, but setting your sights high and missing is always better than comfortably hitting a target with no effort.

Think of what your target company wants to hear. They want big publicity and they want their brand associated with someone doing big things. As much as you want to help a local charity, doing this alone usually won’t cut it, so think of your current plan, and simply make it bigger. Even if you don’t know how you are going to raise £1 Million for charity, put it out there, you’ll work it out somewhere between the Hillary Step and the summit.

The second part of your proposal is what you are asking for. Don’t shy away from numbers. I made a sponsorship pitch to DHL who in 2011 had a revenue of €52.82 Billion. I made my pitch for £50,000, which is 0.00009% of their revenue, absolute pocket money.

Do not worry about odd £000’s either. If you work out that you need £48,581, just round it up to £50,000. It is true that once you get your foot in the door, you can ask for whatever you want within reason, the hard part is having someone believe in your proposal to get your foot in the door in the first place.

This section of your proposal should also be brief. The CEO doesn’t want to know how much money you are spending on sat-phone calls vs. food. Just group costs together logically, and make the total as obvious as possible.

Finally, you come to the section that needs to hold the attention of the busiest CEO or CSR Exec. What are you going to do for them? Whilst this section, just like the rest of the proposal needs to be brief, you also need to make your claims massive. Unfortunately in this day and age, saying you are going to get their brand to the top of the world isn’t enough. You firstly have to think of how the company might use your expedition, and usually it will be for marketing or rebranding purposes.

So the key with marketing is think of something big, and then do it bigger. Companies want publicity, and so one photo of their banner on the summit is not enough. Let’s say for example you are approaching a phone company such as Apple. You want to take their iPhone to the summit.

Your proposal to them needs to state that you are going to film the entire expedition in broadcastable quality. This will then be live-streamed from your website which currently has an audience of 10,000,000 people. For a company like Apple who have many competitors when it comes to the iPhone, to be able to show their customers that their phone works on the summit of Everest shows how tough, user friendly and reliable their phone is. You might also suggest that you are going to develop an App in conjunction with Apple that documents a specific element of your expedition, and lets other Apple users interact with you on the mountain.

This is the scale of what you need to pitch. Having a potential audience of 10,000 people is not enough. Your expedition needs to be global, with the sponsoring companies help of course. Your personal web page should be number 1 on Google, and you should be using that platform to scream out your expedition intentions. You need the world to be talking about you, and then once you have achieved this, your chances of securing your required funding become significantly easier.

The key is, be innovative, resourceful, and try every avenue possible; never give up.

Take a look at Daniel’s Everest Million page: http://www.everestmillion.com/

He is aiming to summit Everest in 2013. Take a look at his supporter’s page. Do you recognise any of his sponsors? HTC? Coldplay? Rab? Daniel is aiming to raise £1 Million for Comic Relief, and he has the backing of some big brands. His expedition claims aren’t small; they are the type of claims that will make people stop and notice.

As a final word on funding, do you know who you should be sending your proposal to, now that you have crafted a piece of literary genius? Of course, you will send it to all your contacts, but who next? Are you googling HTC and then sending your email off to info@htc.com? If you are, you are absolutely wasting your time. The first rule is that your proposal HAS to get to a person, not a robotic info@ address which will end up on an admin assistants desk prior to being thrown in the bin. Secondly, who are you targeting? You need executive level. You need to target the CSR Exec, CEO, CFO, Chairman, or a board member. There is no point in going lower than this as it will go no further than your email. Now for the final part, you need to do your research. If you want to contact the CEO of HTC, do your research. When you eventually find the name of the CEO (Joe Blogs), you then need to find the email format for that particular company. It’s usually Firstname.Lastname@company.com/co.uk. If you do some more research and find a contact address for Johnsmith@HTC.com there is a good chance that the email address you need is JoeBlogs@HTC.com. Whilst this is a lengthy process, you need to be prepared to do this to get your proposal to the right people.

The key is never to give up, and take rejection on the chin. I sent out 3,000 individual proposals, received roughly 1,000 rejections, but received just one ‘yes’. You only need one.

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As for the rest of the answer, once you have the funding, things become much easier. Your philanthropy is simply centred around the charity that you are raising awareness and funding for. You might not want to do this, especially if you are attempting a cutting edge new route, and are keen to avoid any potential gimmicks of a ‘charity expedition’, but realise that companies will usually like to give money to charity to fulfil their requirements of CSR.

Choosing a team will also become easy since you will have done enough climbing to know who is out there and what they offer. Stay reputable; don’t cut costs by going with a ‘dodgy’ operator who runs the risk of running out of oxygen mid way through your summit push. And finally, research the mountain. Know which side you want to go from, these are two great articles for that: http://www.thebige2013.co.uk/everest_2013/south_vs_north.htm and http://www.everestexpedition.co.uk/everest_south_col/everest_s_vs_n.pdf.

This article from Al Humphreys is also worth a read: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/10-tips-towards-finding-expedition-sponsorship/. Despite it not being orientated to Everest which makes a few points inapplicable, most of the article contains pearls of wisdom for you to use.

And the final point was number seven: The jet set to Everest. If you think outside the box, use your newfound entrepreneurial spirit and start to see your expedition as a CEO will see it, there is every chance that you will secure the funding you need. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a shot. Some people get one, some get more, but if you are lucky, you might just find yourself jetting out to Kathmandu to attempt the trip of a life time. This is where the fun really begins.

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In terms of answering the question, how do you physically climb Everest, I don’t think I need to. You will realise that the question was metaphorical in that climbing Everest isn’t just about the time you are on the mountain, it is that relentless journey towards it, all the way from day 1 where the plan was hatched, and all the way until you step back through the double doors at Heathrow Terminal 4 having achieved your wildest dream only days before. Once you are ready to climb Everest, you won’t need to know how to physically climb the mountain, and you won’t need to know where the route goes. You will have had enough time on big mountains to know how to deal with most climbing situations, and have the ability to look after yourself when the going gets tough.

If you are really serious about climbing Everest, and indeed the biggest mountains on earth, and are prepared to follow the endless hunt for sponsorship and funding, then go for it. Sourcing the funding for these climbs is often identical to the relentless struggle faced at altitude, but just like when you are plodding up a never ending snow slope with the summit above and in the distance, if you can but persevere, you will start a journey that is like no other. It will change you, and once you have seen the earth from a mountain top, you will never be the same again.

As a final piece of motivation for those attempting Everest this year, remember just one thing. Once you have climbed through the night to the South Summit and the sun is starting to rise, you will be blessed with a view that you will never forget.

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Mount Everest 2012 Success

After a rather long gap between the last blog post, and an extended rest following the completion of the Yell Diamond Jubilee Everest 2012 Expedition, I thought it the right time to write a quick blog on the expedition, and what is to follow on from here.

I’m not actually going to write a lengthy blog on the ins and outs of an expedition which, at around 70 days in length, had more than enough content to write a large J.K Rowling novel. There are 2 reasons for this; the first being that I haven’t quite been able to piece the whole expedition together in terms of the mental stress of being at over 8000m, and also the emotions of which I can’t quite yet explain. The second reason is I have a train to catch…

So what I can give you is mostly factual.
Starting with the walk-in which was as described, a walk-in, where I was ill numerous times and almost ended up on a long term rental contract with a tea house owner in Phakding.

On arrival at Base Camp, I was ill again as I waited for the arrival of our guide, Dr. Rob Casserley. So after 5 days of sleeping off an illness at Base Camp, Rob arrived and on the next day, we both had a quick foray into the ice fall which was made up of the craziest formations of ice I have ever seen. Imagine a blender full of ice cubes, all blended up for a few seconds, then increased in size millions of times, this is the chaos of the icefall.

After many, many day of climbing through this ice fall, climbing to camp 1 (which was promptly destroyed in an avalanche just 30 minutes after I had been resting there with the team), then to camp 2 and 3, with many rest days in between, including my birthday celebrated at 5,500m, it was time for the summit push.

This will be a very condensed version of events, which will give you just enough page turning motivation, without spoiling the best bits, to purchase my bestselling book which will be out later this month, at all good book shops including your local Poundland, published by… Any takers?!

The summit push consisted of a push from Pangboche where we had spent a few days resting, eating, sleeping and doing not much else, back to Base Camp. After a rest day, we pushed on to Camp 2 missing out the beloved Camp 1, again with another rest day. After this rest day, we had gained enough strength to make another concerted push to Camp 3, a camp on the Lhotse Face which had been destroyed the same morning by a falling wall of ice (Serac) which left one Sherpa with two broken legs, broken arms, and possible broken back, but was saved thanks again in part to our guide Rob. Rob had already saved another Sherpa who was buried in the avalanche at camp 1, and had the same unfortunate injuries except for the broken back, which was replaced with broken ribs, broken sternum, and lacerated tongue.

After a night at camp 3 where with my tent buddy Rick, we used supplemental oxygen for the first night, we were again ready for another push. This time we pushed on up to camp 4 on the South Col behind a group of 200 climbers, which had to be seen to be believed. Before leaving camp 3 however, I had the horror of seeing Rob going to the toilet, completely in the open. I later learned that both Becky and Mollie had to go to the toilet in front of 100 passing climbers who subsequently tried to get to Camp 4 as fast as possible. This was no easy feat for Rob or the Girls who had to negotiate an awkwardly positioned zip on the down suit, and the 100 person audience-induced stage fright.

After a long but successful push up to Camp 4, we were tired, but prepared to continue. We hadn’t slept since leaving Camp 3, but here we were at Camp 4, prepared to leave at 8pm the same evening, ready for a summit push which could take a further 16-24 hours.

As you can probably tell at this point, to summit Mount Everest requires a lot of pushing. I felt this first hand when I felt it my turn to go to the toilet whilst waiting in the tent for the start of the summit attempt. I got out of the tent on the flat South Col, and just wearing my inner boots and down suit, waddled over to a place in the view of every tent on the Col. I then had to expose myself for a good 10 minutes in -40 degree winds, gasping without my supplemental oxygen. This was by far the hardest push so far.

Finally, at 8pm, we got the go-ahead. All our team members clambering out the tents, to see a mass of head torches, as 200 climbers from different teams prepared for the climb of their lives. I found my Sherpa, Chhewang Dorjee, and together we climbed into the darkness. I followed Rob, his Sherpa, Becky and her Sherpa for the first many hours. Time stood still as we climbed into the darkness, electrical storms flashing in the distance. I had no concept of time, and my watch was buried under a down suit which I wasn’t going to remove in these -40 conditions. Behind me, a trail of head torches a mile long followed slowly, as each climber crawled up the hill.

Eventually we reached the balcony, a place half way on the climb, where we changed our oxygen cylinders, or more precisely, our Sherpas changed them for us. Then all of a sudden, before I knew it, Chhewang Dorjee was pulling me up and we were off, ahead of the queue. I looked in front, then behind. There were no climbers in front of me, somehow we had overtaken everyone at the balcony, so side by side with Dorjee, we climbed onwards into the darkness, seemingly alone. Physically this was the hardest part of the climb, effectively pace making 200 climbers behind me. Apparently Rob thought I was going too quick and had a risk of summiting in the dark, but I had no concept of speed, I just kept plodding with Dorjee. I saw the first summit, the South Summit of Everest. Aiming for this must have taken another two hours, and by the time we reached the peak, it had started to get light. The alpine glow crawling over the Himalayas sprawled out for hundreds of miles all around us. Reaching the peak of the South Summit, I knew we would make the summit, it was just a matter of the Cornice traverse with an 8000ft drop into Nepal, and a 10,000ft drop into the Plains of Tibet to negotiate. After this came a series of rock steps before the notorious Hillary Step. Along this traverse, there was space for 2 feet, either side was simply vertical space.

Then I saw it, the summit, I was 50m away, but slowing down. All of a sudden, I seemed to be gasping for air, and knew instantly that my oxygen had run out. I pointed to my oxygen system, letting Dorjee know, then simply collapsed to my knees. Dorjee managed to change my cylinder quickly, although it seemed like an eternity. Seconds later, I was back up and climbed to that place where dreams are made of.

To explain the feeling of reaching this place would be impossible, and the only vocabulary that I have found which comes close is euphoria. Try to imagine how you might feel; you may then get an idea of all the emotions which come flooding in.

I had summited at 6am on the 19th May 2012. I became one of the youngest Britons to do so. Becky Bellworthy became the youngest British female, and together with Mollie Hughes, we made the youngest ever team to summit Mount Everest. Dr. Rob Casserley made his 8th summit, and Chhewang Dorjee made his 7th. Later in the expedition, he made his 8th summit whilst guiding Kenton Cool to his 10th summit.

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The descent was horrendous. Rob narrowly avoided frost bite in his feet, Becky wasn’t so lucky. As new channels all round the world depicted, the queues on summit day were crazy, and summiting in the first group, I struggled to descend with so many people on the mountain, especially in places just wide enough for 1 person.

Fortunately, Chhewang Dorjee came to my rescue again. He climbed back up from the South Summit, past the groups of ascending climbers, and managed to negotiate a way back to the South Summit for me. Often unclipped with an 8,000ft drop below us, I trusted him with my life, as he held it by a piece of dyneema.

Eventually we made it down, back to Camp 4, then to Base Camp, and after a great deal with the insurers, got a great deal on a helicopter back to Lukla, then onwards to Kathmandu and Home.

This is a very condensed version of events, but hopefully one which puts the main points across. Of course the main point is just about to follow.

I have to thank many people who made this expedition and dream possible. Chhewang Dorjee, my Sherpa brother who saved my life many times, I owe my summit to you. To Dr. Rob Casserley who was there every time Dorjee wasn’t, and again, made the summit possible.
To Henry and the team with Himalayan Guides, this would not have been possible with all your expertise and wisdom.
And of course the team, Mollie, Becky, Rick, Rob, the full team of Sherpas and the rest of the team on Everest and Lhotse, it was a privilege to spend such an experience with you all.

Closer to home, the expedition was made possible by Yell Group, who believed in me and my ability to make the expedition possible.
Additionally, Wardour And Oxford who gave me the commercial expertise to make the expedition sellable.
Finally to my Mum who has always believed and supported me on every step of my journey and to all family and friends, again thank you so much to everyone for their support.

I must wrap this blog up now, for I have a train to Penzance to catch. I will be spending the next 2 weeks cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats. After another rest, I will be repeating Lands End to John O’Groats again in September, before the Dublin marathon and future expedition planning in October. There are many opportunities now on the horizon, and I hope to write my experiences in more detail. All I can say is thank you all for following, and watch this space. Everest 2012 isn’t quite finished just yet, and there’s plenty more adventures to be had!

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“Her Majesty’s sends warm good wishes for every success to you and to all those involved in the expedition, for the achievement of your goal and your safe return.”

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

 

“Matthew is a remarkable self-motivated young man who possesses a strong determined drive and zest for all he aims to achieve. His maturity and inner strength far belies his young ages, and I wholeheartedly support him in this, the jubilee year on his expedition to summit and return safely from Everest, and achieve his goal in supporting Global Angels and Climate Unchange; a challenge which will push him to his limits and beyond.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

 

“Matthew is extraordinary. In him, we have an ambitious, academic young man, in the pursuit of excellence. Global Angels and Wardour And Oxford are proud to partner and support Matthew in his quest to climb Mount Everest. He embodies the spirit of both our brands and we wish him safety and well-wishes in his pursuit.”

Molly Bedingfield, CEO, Global Angels.

Wempy Dyocta Koto, CEO, Wardour And Oxford

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Wishing all these brave climbers a safe journey

As climbers reach Camp 3 located at 7,470m there is a further 500m to Camp 4 at 7,920m this taking approx 9 hours to reach.
Additional challenges on this route include Geneva Spur and Yellow Band.
Camp 4 is at nearly 8000m on the Lhotse face typically known as the Death Zone. The body slowly begins to deteriorate due to lack of oxygen and therefore most climbers will use oxygen to sleep and climb at this altitude. Climbers will not want to stay any longer than necessary to ensure, that under the circumstances, they can stay as healthy as possible to complete the summit attempt and come back down to base camp safely.

Camp 4 is the final major camp for exhausted climbers coming up from Camp 3 and ultimately those returning from the summit (both successful or not).
From Camp 4 climbers will push through the Balcony at 27,500 feet to Hillary Step at 28,800. The 70ft rock step is named after Sir Edmond Hillary who in 1953 with Tenzing Norgay became the first people to summit Everest. Only one climber at a time can climb with fixed ropes up Hillary Step. Sometimes this can cause a bottleneck for climbers, all of whom will be anxious to be moving on as fast as they are able to. At sea level this climb would pose little problems but at altitude this is considered technically challenging.

The summit contains less than one third of the oxygen than at sea level and so once reached an awareness to take in as much as one can in terms of views, realization of the journey reached and not to mention to take pictures, all has to be done swiftly before descending.

Wishing all who are attempting the summit over the coming hours a very safe journey. Our thoughts are with you all.

TeamMDT

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Tough Days and Nights Ahead!

I am updating my blog prior to the intended final push to the summit. The past few days have encompassed rest, food and sleep with the last village being Gorak Shep prior climbing back up to Base Camp. Hopefully you will have heard my latest phonecast where I explained we had spent the last few days at Pangboche, a small village lower down the valley. We have been able to rest and build up strength for the higher mountain climb. There is an obvious increase in oxygen lower down the valley and as we were about 200m lower than at Base Camp it has been really good for eating and drinking and doing as little as possible.

The weather window is always an important topic of conversation and to date the forecast shows in our favour from 18th May onwards and that will hopefully stretch through to 24th May. This has not been confirmed yet and is only a prediction at this stage.

So at the moment, Sunday 12th May, rest day at Base camp and on Monday 13 heading straight up to Camp 2 which will be a long day as we bypass Camp 1. Tuesday 14 will be rest day at camp 2. Wednesday 15 climb to Camp 3 with rest day then onwards to C4.

Dependent on the situation at that time we may have a rest day at C4 as the mountain will be very busy with all the climbers, 300-400 who are all keeping a keen eye on the weather window. Some may want to go straight up or we may choose to do our attempt when it is quieter. Our summit attempt will start round about 9.00 pm where we would leave from Camp 4 then hopefully we would summit between 7.00 am-9.00 am the following morning which would make the climb an 11-12 hour upwards slog!!, then back down. This is only the predicted plan over the next few days but obviously we need to take this day by day. Fixing of the ropes at the South Col have still to be secured so this really is a busy time for all on the mountain.
All very surreal as it has taken me 2 years in planning and preparation to get this point and what an amazing journey this has been.

The weather is changeable on the mountain and at the moment at Base Camp it is cloudy and fairly windy, hopefully the wind speed will decrease and give us a good time for onward progression. The main issue for this final push is the wind on summit day. I know I mention the ‘window summit’ frequently and that is because severe weather conditions on Everest summit are experienced outside of May-June. Hence, we have an influx of climbers during the period when the jet stream which blasts Everest nearly all year is pushed northwards over Tibet before the arrival of the monsoon. Mount Everest is so high it actually sits in the jetstream where prevailing winds are unforgiving.

Thank you all once again for your ongoing support and donations to Global Angels. Your support really does make a difference and makes life easier on the mountain to know that people are donating to such a good cause. Thank you to all for writing on my facebook wishing me a happy birthday and I do apologise for not being able to reply but I will try and catch up on ‘admin’ as soon as communication links allow.
My focus now is firmly on the job in hand, that being summiting and returning safely to Base Camp. It will be difficult to stay in contact for the next few days but I am trying my hardest to be able to report from the summit.

This is Matthew over and out as I snug into my sleeping bag for a final nights rest at Base Camp

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Thank you Yell

Hi this is Matthew and this is a message for Yell, my Everest 12 Expedition Sponsors. I met many people at the Yell Offices in Reading and I shall try and remember names whilst at altitude!! Mike, Kimberley, Julie, Christian, Sue, Jon, Demelza, Jin and Sandra. I hope I have remembered everyone but forgive me if I have omitted anyone this is not intentional. I would like to kindly thank all the staff at Yell for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

Over the past month I have been travelling about 100 miles from Katmandu to Everest Base Camp and once at Base Camp which is where I am speaking to you now, I have spent a large amount of the time with my leader Rob Casserley and fellow climber Becky ascending and descending the mountain in an effort to acclimatize and now we have reached an altitude of around 7200m this is great. Over the past few days I am pleased to report we have made the climb to Camp 3 successfully and have now returned to Base Camp which basically means our acclimatization is now complete and we are waiting for a window of good weather which we can make our summit attempt on. This will fantastic and as we were behind most of the other groups we have now caught up by touching Camp 3 at 7200m a few days ago and then down to BC at 5300m so very much appreciating the increase in oxygen. Next time we visit Camp 3 we will be using supplementary oxygen but for the time being we are making our way down the valley for much needed R & R and then will return to Base Camp to trial the oxygen systems.

So again, thank you to everyone at Yell for all your support which of course is invaluable and I would not be here without you. Yes a huge thank you to everyone and now with 10-14 days to wait for better weather to attempt a summit bid I will go for some rest and update you prior to the final push.

This is Matthew from Base Camp, Over and Out!

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Acclimatization Complete!!

Sorry but it has been a bit of a struggle to get through an update due to poor reception since my last phone cast on 30th April. So I am able to update at 9.00 pm sitting snuggle in my tent.

Since 30th April I am pleased to say I have been all the way up to Camp 3 (7200m)and back. On 1st May Rob – our guide, Becky and I left from Base camp and went all the way up to Camp 2 (6500m) on this occasion missing out Camp 1. The climbing route from C1 to C2 is through the Western Cwm which is a flat gently rising glacial valley with huge crevasses located centrally. It is also caIled ‘Valley of Silence’ as the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route. I felt pretty strong and at Camp 2 had a relatively good night’s sleep . On 2nd May we spent all day in the tent resting which is a good opportunity for reading and sleeping and eating. Unfortunately I had too much sleep and woke at 1.00 am which resorted to me having to play music on my ipod until 4 am in an effort to get off to sleep again.

On the 3rd May we climbed from Camp 2, also known as ABC (Advanced Base Camp)at the base of the Lhotse Face to Camp 3. This was an extremely hard day although I did feel strong after resting the previous day. The route to Camp 3 has been altered due to rock falls and the route now takes you to the far right had side of the Lhotse Face. At the start of the route the fixed ropes follow a very steep climb which would probably be equivalent to a Scottish Grade III. It is strenuous hauling yourself up the fixed ropes but eventually we crashed into some empty tents at Camp 3 and took advantage of time to have some snacks and drinks. It was also good to have some shelter from the obvious drop in temperature and constant howling wind.

Unfortunately we did not have great views as the weather came in and the decision was made to descend. At the base of the Lhotse Face we had a complete whiteout for about an hour and this made getting back to Camp 2 pretty difficult. Due to it being a new route, it was very hard to follow any path which also involved narrowly missing many crevasses on the way but fortunately we made it back to Camp 2 in one piece. (Don’t worry Mum!!)

Now that Camp 3 has been reached the acclimatization process is complete which great news. We now have to wait for the good weather window and this really is a waiting game as we plan patiently for our summit attempt.

On 4th May we had a late start, yep a lie in! and left at 9.20 am. We had a pleasant and uneventful trip down through the Khumbu Icefall and arrived at base camp for lunch. By this time it was really hot in the icefall as the weather started to turn for the better. Due to the heat of the sun during the day it made coming down the Khumbu Icefall quite difficult and strenuous as the sun bounces off the ice and snow .

Since being back at Base Camp the weather, pardon the pun, has been hot topic with approximately 400 climbers all waiting for a good weather window to attempt the summit. However, before all this can happen the ropes need to be fixed, firstly from Camp 3 to Camp 4 which is near the South Col (check this on your maps) and then from Camp 4 to the summit. The South Col is the death zone where typically a maximum of 2-3 dates only can be endured with the aid of oxygen in a bid for the summit. Until this happens no one can really hope to summit so it is a waiting game for the next 10/14 days when hopefully everyone can have their chance in a summit bid.

I checked the weather for 7 May and 5 days onwards but it looks unlikely that everything will be in place for us until maybe atleast 10 days time. This is frustrating but if we are patient and let nature happen then perhaps the weather will turn good for us.

So, at the moment we are taking full advantage of the rest days and today I had an awesome shower and tomorrow we plan to head down the valley and stay in a lodge. Communications should be much improved so I will try and send some pictures back for you all.

As always I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and as I near my attempt at the summit bid it would be great to push forward donations for Global Angels and if you are interested in donating please visit http://www.justgiving.com/matthewdthornton and as always you can follow my progress on www.matthewdthornton.com and via facebook.

Matthew
TeamMDT