Exercise – Everest Dreams 2012 – Al Sylvester


This document was copied from Al Sylvester’s files and converted for uploading to the website by Jim Morrison


Post Expedition Report

Team Members

Al Sylvester Defence Academy, Shrivenham, KMRT, SMRT, LMRT
Ian SylvesterGreat Ormond Street, Charity co-ordinator
Bob BallingerHewlett Packard installation manager
Simon UnderwoodNexen Offshore safety advisor, SMRT, LMRT
Ian Ellis Outreach, Outdoor medical specialist, SMRT, VMRT
Rick Young Offshore Specialist engineer
Pete Caulton Mechanical Transport, RAF Leuchars, SMRT, LueMRT
Kev Franklin IT specialist, LMRT
Kev EatonHQ Air Command, RAF High Wycombe

Finances

Breakdown of costsIndividual Total
Flights636:00
Kathmandu to Kathmandu855:00
Insurance50:00
Nepal Visa35:00
Culture tour (Kathmandu)12:00
Shared cost of wiring money5:00
Expedition Polo shirt7:00
Total  £1,600:00

Each troop also took approximately £200 each on the hill in Nepalese rupees to pay for water, fizzy drinks, battery charging and showers.

Itinerary

5 Apr  –         Depart London Heathrow T4 

6 Apr –          Land Kathmandu, accommodation in Hotel Manaslu

7 Apr –          0900 hrs – Guided tour around Kathmandu, including getting trekking Permit, watching open air cremations, visiting the Monkey temple and Sample local traditional lunch

1600 – 1830 packing gear and deciding what to leave behind at hotel

1900 hrs       Evening meal in Thamel

8 Apr –          0530 hrs breakfast

                    0600 hrs depart to airport, flight from Kathmandu to Lukla

On landing, pick up Sherpas and trek to Phakding

9 Apr –          Trek to Namche Bazar, also enter Sagamartha National Park

10 Apr –        Acclimatisation day, trek to Japanese Everest View Hotel

11 Apr –        Trek to Tyangboche

12 Apr –        Trek to Dingboche

13 Apr –        Acclimatisation day

14 Apr –        Trek to Lobuche

15 Apr –        Trek to Gorak Shep, go to Mt Everest basecamp

16 Apr –        Trek to summit of Kala Patthar, then back to Dingboche

17 Apr –        Trek to Namche Bazaar

18 Apr –        Trek to Phakding

19 Apr –        Trek to Lukla

20 Apr –        Flight back to Kathmandu, accommodated in Hotel Manaslu

                    Visit local orphanage and school, evening meal with guides

21 Apr –        Morning sample the delights of Thamel  

21 Apr –        Afternoon depart Kathmandu 

22 Apr –        Arrive London Heathrow T4 and disperse

Nepalese Visa’s

To ensure a quick entry into Nepal we visited the Nepalese Embassy in person 6 weeks prior to our departure. To achieve this, I needed the troops to fill in the paperwork and send it back to me signed with 2 x passport sized photos and a cheque for £35.

http://www.nepembassy.org.uk/visa.php

Inoculations – Diamox

All team members were advised to speak to their local GP to confirm which inoculations should be received prior to departure. The Foreign and Commonwealth Officer website holds a master list of which drugs should be taken.  For personnel who have not experienced high altitude before, you may want to consider using a prophylactic called Diamox. Beware it is a diuretic which does make you pee more hence you must drink more fluid. One team member used Diamox to great effect.

Fitness

Nothing can prepare you for altitude and there is no system to acclimatise quickly, but all of the team did partake in some training prior to our expedition which undoubtedly reduced the aches and pains at the end of the trekking day. I personally think that working out on a cross trainer or treadmill with an incline does reap many benefits.

Next of Kin and Passport Details

Everyone submitted NoK forms and copies of their passports (with 6 months remaining on them) to me which were carried on the hill by my deputy and I. A further copy was held by Mrs S-W as a back up.

Training Weekends

Ian E organized 2 excellent training weekends. One in the Lake District, the other at the Outreach Outdoor Centre in Bethesda. Both weekends provided an excellent opportunity to gel the team together and provide time for the team to ask questions during Al’s mammoth presentations.

Communications

Prior to our departure, Kev E and Kev F arranged with Vodafone to provide us with an Iridium Satellite telephone to use in the event of an emergency during our trek. As it transpired, apart from Dingboche and Lebouche the team experienced 2 way communications using their own personal mobile phones. In addition, Kev F, brought an IPAD2 with him and having set up a Skype account prior to the expedition, could make calls to landlines at one pence a minute.

Photographs

During one of our training weekends, the team had all agreed to share all photographs and film footage with each other. This concluded with just under 3000 photos being taken and a little over 4 hours of footage, providing the team with life long memories.

Trekking Permits

During the teams’ cultural tour of Kathmandu our lead guide DR purchased and organized each team member with a trekking permit. Beware you need to take 2 x passport sized photos with you as they are required to authenticate your permit.

The following diary is a personal account of events during Exercise Everest Dreams, anyone disagreeing with any points or comments should not forget that you should not let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Thursday 5 and Friday 6 Apr 12

The day started by driving back from Steve and Debbie Cox’s house having had a great curry the night before, so I drove back slowly with my windows open as Coxy really can cook a mean curry. While at home I made my last few phone calls and packed up my last bits of admin before Bob B and Bev arrived to pick me up and take us both to the bus station in Swindon.  Two coffee’s later, the London Heathrow bus arrive, making a 90 minute journey to Terminal 4, where on arrival we found Pete C having already arrived as his flight from Edinburgh had been much earlier this morning. It wasn’t ironic to find him by the Windsor bar though.  As we waited, one by one the troops arrived, bonding their friendships once more using a kitty’s worth of beer. 1900 saw the team together and all heading down to the terminal to pick up our tickets. Bob B using his finest Arabic, processed us all through, basically working a deal with the air desk that we were a team of 9 troops, we all had around 30 kgs allocation so as long as we didn’t exceed 270 kgs we were all systems go. This worked but I don’t think it should be taken as a given just in case you meet an air desk receptionist who’s having a bad day.  Up in departures the troops made their last calls and dare I say I sank a couple of bottles of water to rehydrate; I must be getting old, well older.

On board we were scattered all over the aircraft, settling in with good food, a glass of red wine and a pretty restless sleep. Our plane was quite old but thankfully achieved its aim as we landed in Bahrain 6 hrs 20 mins later. We headed straight for the business lounge as we had a 5 hr wait ahead of us, what was first seen as an $8 bonus actually turned out to cost us around $75 each, but I must say with the shower, lots of scrummy food , champagne and beer, I think we got our monies worth.  While sitting in the lounge we spotted the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix trophy which unfortunately 2 weeks later was won by Alonso. But also we spotted a Boeing 737 with Manchester City Football Club on the side of it, I think it was Ian E who guessed the plot, it was picking up its prestigious Arabic supporters for the game the following day. The flight between Bahrain and Kathmandu was a lot more comfortable and a newer aircraft. The 4 hrs 15 mins flight was uneventful landing at Kathmandu just a little over 16 hrs after setting off. After finding our bags we started to exit the airport but were stopped by security who verified that we were the correct owners of our baggage. A 5 mins chat and we were through to be very warmly greeted by “DR” our main guide and “Bus stop” his assistant. As the troops placed their bags on the back of our transporter each troop was gifted with a garland of flowers around our necks which added to our very warm reception.  A quick 20 mins journey brought us to the Manaslu hotel, where we were allocated our rooms, followed by a quick turnaround to return to the restaurant for a beer and meal.  A tasty meal, a couple more sherbets and a wee chat for tomorrow’s plan and then it was off to our beds to relax after our lengthy journey.

Saturday 7 April 12  –  Kathmandu 1350 mtrs

Rising at 0730, we took breakfast with the team and DR and passed him our final payments in cash. We also presented DR with over 45 kgs of clothing which had been donated by many of our extremely kind friends and loving families, these we will present to the orphanage on our return from the expedition.  Our first location we visited on our days tour was the Monkey Temple, which was no mean feat as we had to ascend 360 steps to reach our destination which was definitely worth it. The steps take you past lots of Stupa’s and many monkey’s that have taken up residence in the local vicinity, most of which live off the food gifts given to the Gods by sneakily pinching it once the donator had left. As long as you don’t impose into their space they leave you alone. As this was my 3rd time to the temple I found my visit to be very humbling as I had not realized that many of the visitors had spent the majority of their savings to reach this impressive and religious stupa. We took many photos of the Stupa and of the many eagles flying in very close proximity around the temple.

Our next location was to visit where the deceased of Kathmandu are openly cremated by the side of the main river leading through the city. As this was an extremely emotional experience, only a few of the troops wished to see it. Our guide for the day told us that his mother had only died 24 days before our visit and showed us the jetty where she had been cremated. There appeared to be almost a conveyor belt of people being cremated as it was explained that within 3 hours of death, the person would be cremated. The only people, who may lay in rest for up to 3 days in a temple, would be people who held some status within the city, for example, the mayor, a head school teacher or head of the police. If this was not harrowing enough, what really took our breath away was the elderly lady some 30 mtrs downstream who in the remains of the ashes was washing her clothes in the river. Is this barbaric or are we in the UK just so sheltered from the realities of poverty?

Meeting up with the remainder of the team, we then visited the Hindu temple where 1000’s of barefooted pilgrims complete their journey by offering food, flour or money gifts to the Gods, as it is believed that after presenting their donation, the individual will have a greater opportunity to rise to heaven following their death. While having the ritual explained to us, we also witnessed a Police Officer punishing a beggar/thief who was caught stealing shoes from the pilgrims. His intention was to sell the shoes on but as he was violently hit with stick behind his knees, the policeman persuaded him otherwise and sent him on his way. A short journey brought to another huge Stupa where we took lunch and sampled our first Mo Mo’s and the most traditional Nepalese dish of Dal Bhat, a diet of rice, lentil and curried vegetables that is the solid diet of most the porters and guides within the Himalaya’s.

As we had arrived late last night we headed into Thamel the main shopping area of Kathmandu to exchange money as there would be no time tomorrow with our flights leaving first thing in the morning. Returning to the Manaslu Hotel we reduced our main bags to 15 kgs and our hand luggage to 5kgs, as these are the maximum weights that are allowed.

DR then arranged for transport to take the team to a restaurant/theatre where we enjoyed a 4 course traditional Nepalese meal, while local music and dancing took place on the stage. An excellent evening was enjoyed by all as the excitement of knowing that tomorrow we would be flying into the Himalaya’s was at the forefront of all our minds.  On returning back to the hotel a few troops nipped out to buy postcards which were written and posted before heading to our beds.

Sunday 8 April 12 –  Lukla  2860 mtrs to Phakding 2640 mtrs

An unsociable but exciting 0500 start was softened by receiving a box breakfast with sandwiches, fruit and juice to start our day. By 0600 we were on route to the airport, where while standing in the queues to check in were once again surrounded by monkeys and the occasional stray dog.  After spending so much time trying to reduce the weights of our bags we were astonished to see the old type Royal Mail weighing machines that could only provide a very rough estimate of weight, I think now we could have easily have added a few kilos extra; then again, the porters can only carry a maximum of 30 kgs each due to the Government regulations. After receiving several calls of 15 mins to go, we finally took off at 0940. As I filmed the team embarking on to our Dornier 228 aircraft, I couldn’t help noticing a few extremely nervous troops who were about to experience a flight of our lifetime to the world’s No.1 most dangerous airport. Once on board we rapidly taxied along the side of the runway until we stopped for our catapult start. Within 30 seconds we were airborne rapidly rising above the stupa that we’d visited the previous day.  Watching the troops on board in particular Ian S and Kev E, they had what can only be described as the fear of God in their faces, but this was the flight, the experience that many of them had feared, dreamt about, heard about and watched after I sent them a copy of a “You Tube” video which showed them why this was the world’s most dangerous airport. But this was it; after almost a year in the waiting, we were now going to the Himalaya’s. Climbing to around 5000 mtrs we met a wee bit of turbulence, followed by narrowly missing a ridgeline which threw the aircraft into a little rattle and roll. Within 5 mins of landing, I managed to swap seats with one of the troops closer to the front so as we approached the runway I could film the whole experience. Everything was going to plan until our impact with the runway which with an incredible bump and horrendous loud reverse thrust of our engines, thankfully the aircraft reduced its speed sufficiently enough to take a very sharp right turn to enter the parking area of the airport; we had made it. For me the emotion was overwhelming as 5 years ago after all my exploits in Antarctica, I thought this day was out of the question but here I was back at Lukla, it’s absolutely fantastic. After collecting our luggage from the fuselage, we nipped into arrivals for a quick brew, swapped around our kit and at 1215 we were taking our first steps of the expedition. It was very strange as we started our trek as we had all waited around 10 months for the expedition to come around, but we were now here, feeling very excited but actually quite spiritual and humbled to take our first steps into the Himalaya’s.  Passing several shops and tea houses we stepped through the commemorative archway and pulled out of Lukla starting our 220 mtr descent to our first nights stop at Phakding.

The trek followed the fast flowing river which was surrounded by beautiful forestry and green capped mountains of around 5 – 6000 mtrs. We also crossed a couple of bridges which during the crossing of one of them we bowed to the giant horned Yak train coming in the opposite direction as once they start you bow or I’m sure it would get very messy with us losing a limb or two or being garroted. After the end of the first hour we experienced our first rain shower, lasting only 20 mins it cleared the air and making it taste even sweeter. As we stepped into Phakding you could see that the troops had all thoroughly enjoyed their relaxing start to our trek. Tonight we were blessed with en-suite rooms and quilts on our beds, although we didn’t use the quilts as you’re never too sure who had used them previously. We took a wee walk through the village, where we met such colourfully dressed and beautiful children who were just beaming with character and smiles.

Tea was enjoyed by all, for me I enjoyed another Dal Bhat and Mo Mo’s while it threw it with rain down outside. Our thoughts tonight are with the guys at Everest base camp who must be being pounded by snow.  What was astonishing was that I still had a signal on my mobile phone and I could text Clare, I had only brought it to look at pictures of my family but it is lovely to have contact, even though selfishly I have mixed feelings about being able to use my phone in the Himalaya’s, then again who am I but a tourist who would leave in two weeks’ time. Tonight, the guys played cards while Kev F entertained our porters with his IPAD 2. We also watched a Chilean expedition swapping Secret Santa presents to each other, which gave us a great idea to conclude our expedition with.

My first impressions tonight is that it has been very emotional for me returning back here. Thoughts of being away from Clare and Joshua again after my last exploits and recovery from the South Pole have come flooding back making me question as to why I’m still doing this. Also, I know that I am carrying a small box of Dean Singleton’s ashes which is pulling at my heart strings, as I’ve not told anyone else yet.

Today’s interesting facts.  A monk collected morning dew drops to mix with the fixing concrete to build the largest stupa in Kathmandu.

Monday 9 April 12 –  Phakding 2640 mtrs to Namche Bazaar 3440 mtrs After only 3 hours sleep, I lay awake for 2 hours soaking up the atmosphere as to where I was, I then fell asleep until 0645 when I was awoken with a coffee in bed. This brought back so many memories of my last trip to EBC as this would be the way each day would start for the next 2 weeks. The troops were all up by 0700, I had scrambled egg and toast for breakfast and by 0815 we were stepping into our second day. As the rain and low clouds had cleared, we were startled by the amazing views of vertical cliffs surrounding us. A very steady walk took us over several more incredibly lose wire bridges, one of which had a drop of at least 100 mtrs, which made Simon U extremely worried, which is ironic considering his past history of employment around the world. We did cross this bridge together but with only seconds to spare as yet another Yak train started its traverse.

Stopping for lunch after 3 ½ hours we were served very efficiently as this tea house was an obvious choice for many of the passing trekkers. Setting off after a bowl of Ra Ra soup (spicy noodles) the clouds started to build but fortunately no rain followed. Our terrain steepened giving the troops a good example of how to maintain a steady slow pace at altitude. After 7 hrs we arrived at the terraced haven of blue buildings of Namche Bazaar. After a quick brew and sorting out our personal admin, a group of us headed into the shopping area, where I helped Ian S and Simon U in the art of bartering, oh it is was great fun. Returning back to the Zamling Guest House I noticed the new glue on my soles of my boots had started to come away, a wee bit of glue soon resolved the problem but hey these were almost new boots. The great news is we have free power, so I’ve charged up all my camcorder and camera batteries. For dinner I had another bowl of Ra Ra soup followed by Spaghetti Bolognaise, which was delicious. I then discussed the route with DR and decided with the troops that after our rest day tomorrow we would trek to Tyangboche monastery to experience our puja, a religious spiritual ceremony. The remainder of the evening was spent writing this diary and playing cards.

Interesting fact of the day.  28 million people live in Nepal, 3 million of them live in Kathmandu with an unemployment percentage of 33%.

Note. Once again I’m astonished to see people using mobile phones; I’m not in a position to say whether it is right or wrong, but the option is here. Sitting in the dining room, there are 7 Eastern block athletes who we can only guess are training for the Olympics, as none of them will talk and they seem to spend most of their time sitting at their laptop screens, could they have not just left them behind for a week or two?  Well, I’ve just eaten my words and eaten a large portion of humble pie as Kev F has just loaned me his IPAD 2 to Skype a phone call to Clare costing only 1 pence a minute, I’m honestly blown away with modern technology, then again what’s my trade in the RAF?

Today’s interesting fact. You can be imprisoned for a minimum of 12 years for killing a cow.

Tuesday 10 April 12Namche Bazaar 3440 mtrs to Japanese View Hotel 3880 mtrs

Unfortunately, we had no requirement for DR to wake the team up at 0500 as with the heavy rain and low cloud our first potential glimpse of Mt Everest had disappeared into the abyss of the weather. Rick Y and I slept in until 0830 although the remainder of the team had awoken an hour before. After breakfast we took a slow stroll through the cloud, climbing around 400 mtrs passing the makeshift dirt track runway to reach the Japanese Everest View hotel, which is renowned for its famous oxygen fed rooms, all to reduce the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness. Although we only stopped for a brew, I fortunately gained access to a room, which for $150 proved there is such a huge mark up on price but also proves that if you have money it can almost buy you anything.  As we departed, we descended about 30 mtrs where the troops found the highest marked out volleyball pitch in the Himalaya’s at a height of 12000 ft. The game was hilarious as within seconds of any fast movement each troop was gasping for air while everyone looked on laughing. A 1 hour walk back with the clouds slowly lifting presented us with excellent views of Namche Bazaar. This was followed by a torrential downpour followed again by an evening of clear breathtaking views of a peak set around 7200 mtrs. In the dry the troops visited the shops buying lots of fake equipment much to their satisfaction. I’ve also now edited the contents of my camcorder to ensure we have enough space and power for our ascent up to EBC. Once again we had a lovely evening meal, followed by playing more cards in between the intermittent power cuts.

Today’s interesting facts. Nepal used to have around 90% arranged marriages, but now due to the internet and Facebook, the figure is more like 80%!! 

Note.  DR and his team are so attentive to all our needs; he is an outstanding person who bonds with everyone so well. He has already remembered everyone’s names so he actively seeks to help encourage everyone in their moment of need.

I loved today giving the children sweets and toys, their faces just light up with joy and excitement.

We have four porters, tree guides. The porters leave in advance with our equipment, while DR plus one trainee guide from Kathmandu and one qualified guide from Lukla walk with our team.

DR has commented several times already on what a close knit team we have and how supportive of each other we all are.

Wednesday 11 April 12Namche Bazaar 3440 mtrs to Tyangboche 3867 mtrs
Unfortunately arose at 0700 as once again the weather was to overcast for a sunrise view of Sagamartha. A pleasant relaxing breakfast, a refill of water and by 0815, we set foot on day four’s exploits.  In slight drizzle we departed from the comfort of Namche Bazaar to ascend 900 mtrs in a relatively short distance to the highest and most prestigious monastery in Nepal in Tyangboche.

Shortly after starting our day, we spotted a Danphe bird, which resembles a very colourful pheasant and is the national bird of Nepal. We hand railed the river leading from the Khumbu glacier some 300 mtrs below as we passed a monument in remembrance of Sherpa Tensing who summited Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. After around three hours we slowly descended to our lunch time tea house which I must say was slightly smelly but hey, we are now in the middle of nowhere. Our relaxing lunch came to an abrupt halt with a 600 mtrs steep ascent through some lovely forestry, which we all paced out very well in just over two hours, bringing our height to 3880 mtrs. After a brew and time to organize our admin, we traversed across the plateau to be welcomed to the Tyangboche Monastery by a young monk who had lived there for the past 6 years. With a donation of 1000 Nepalese rupees around $15 we were allowed to light a candle in front of the very large Buddha which is a form of a puja. Five troops received a piece of red string which was tied around either their neck or wrist which had been previously blessed; the remaining four troops can collect their string on the walk out. This wasn’t the puja that I had envisaged for the team, but it was a huge privilege to gain access to the monastery which is a lot further than I was allowed to venture last time. Returning back to our tea house, we all enjoyed a bowl of soup and sat around writing our diaries. At 1745 our first clear view of the day blessed us with a view of the incredible mountain Ama Dablam and in the very far distance our first glimpse of Sagarmatha herself some 30 miles away. It’s ironic but I’ve been walking around all of the prayer stones with my right hand to the Gods for the past three days asking to see Chomolungma which is Tibetan for Mt Everest, where actually I should have been asking to see Sagarmatha, I’m not religious but if that is what I’ve got to do to ensure we see her from Kala Patthar that’s what I will do in future.

Today’s interesting fact. Nepal has very few divorces even though women can have seven husbands.

Notes. The team is genuinely respecting the altitude, with everyone taking their time on the ascent while enjoying the incredible views.

What a surprise to turn my phone on again to receive a text from Clare, what a morale boost.

Thursday 12 April 12 –  Tyangboche 3867 mtrs to Dingboche 4260 mtrs

Fantastic news as we awoke at 0515 with a tap on the door, with DR advising us that Sagarmatha was glowing in the morning’s sun. Within minutes the team were walking around the plateau, taking in the dramatic mountainous scenes that surrounded our 360 degrees. Breathtaking, emotional, rewarding and for me a dream come true to see the Goddess of all mountains once more.  After 30 minutes of absorbing the beauty that surrounded us, the clouds began to engulf the peaks, so I went back to bed until 0715. A quick breakfast and with our mountains once again radiating their beauty we set off through the rhododendron plants while we once again paralleled a roaring river below seeping from the Khumbu ice field some 25 miles away. Very soon we started our ascent for the day only stopping to step aside of the oncoming Yak train, who once again with their huge sharp horns take the priority every time. The paths are wider in comparison to my previous visit, and I feel this is due to the volume of visitors from around the world to this mountainous region. As we approached lunch after around 3 hours of steady ascent, the heat and altitude was taking its effect on virtually everyone. After an hour’s lunch we then plateaued for 40 mins passing many land scape terraces of crops. We then descended and crossed the river to start our final ascent which, as we are now above 4000 mtrs was very hard work. During the latter half of the day, I had about 30 mins on my own, during which I became very emotional with thoughts of home and the achievement of returning to the Himalaya’s.  A little over 2 hours effort brought all the team into Dingboche and our tea house named The Moonshine Guest House at 4385 mtrs. The final hour we had encountered a snow shower with strong winds, dramatically reducing the air temperature. I must mention that Bob B put an incredible show of strength and determination to complete the day. DR and Ian S had shared the final couple of hours with Bob, who on completing the day was absolutely shattered but after a brew and huddle with Simon U started to show signs of recovery, what an incredible effort by everyone today but we know we have an acclimatisation day tomorrow. Also, while in the dining room we had the honour of meeting a seven times Mt Everest summiteer. At 27 years old he has now ironically retired from mountaineering and works out of Kathmandu advertising specialist watches selling at between $10K to $50K. He was such an unassuming gentleman who we all looked upon in awe of his outstanding achievements.  The remainder of the evening was spent once again playing cards and writing diaries.

Today’s interesting fact. There are over 500,000 motorbikes in Kathmandu which has resulted in 25 motorbike fatalities happening on one junction in one month.

Note. Ian E is weak with possible food poisoning from eating a fried cheese egg dish.

Simon U has been ill since Namche Bazaar, he now has bad diarrhoea.

Rick Y is showing signs of an abscess in his front tooth which is extremely painful.

Personally, I’ve had one of the best days walking for many years, the atmosphere and just being back in the Himalaya’s is just brilliant.

Friday 13 April 12  –  Dingboche 4260 mtrs to hill behind bothy 4565 mtrs
After virtually 10 hours sleep, I felt a slight headache but well rested. Arising at 0715 on our day off I organized my admin to lighten my hill bag for our acclimatising day. After a leisurely breakfast of coffee and toast we started slowly to ascend the hill behind the bothy. The altitude was now very noticeable with all the troops taking their time. The team stopped at different altitudes depending on how well they were feeling with one group of guys reaching around 4875 mtrs, then staying there for around 30 mins to admire Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu, all 3 peaks are over the death zone of 8000 mtrs. We were also rewarded by watching a pair of eagles soaring above us as they glided in and out of a thermal. A steady descent brought our acclimatizing day to an end after a little over 4 hours, but this was enough, at this altitude and it was after all our day off.

Having lunch in the sunshine, with a backdrop of Ama Dablam we recharged our energy levels, followed by having a shower and washing some of our smelly kit. At 1600 l took my daily intake of Ra Ra soup followed by a wee walk around the village with Ian S, where we witnessed Yaks ploughing the fields with farmers throwing the seeds into the troughs behind; things are so basic but obviously it works. I took the next hour lying on my sleeping bag with the sun shining through the window; it was a luxury relaxing time where I checked out pictures of Clare, Kieran and Joshua. Once again for my evening meal I enjoyed the delights of a vegetable Dal Bhat as I have the theory that if it’s good for the Sherpa’s and guides then it must be the way forward for me.

Today’s interesting fact. 98000 people are in the Nepalese Army

Notes. Consider my 4000 mtr training schedule

Bring 3 dried food bags as a back up

Saturday 14 April 12  –  Dingboche 4260 mtrs to Lebouche 4985 mtrs A leisurely 0700 tea in hand was warmly received as I had had a poor night’s sleep. After a tea and toast breakfast we set off at 0815 retracing our steps from the previous day up to the Stupa’s, then crossing the plateau which parallels the ridge line of the mountain clinic below at Periche. After around an hour the terrain steepens and pulls an ascent of around 450 mtrs, where we stopped for lunch and to catch our breath. With the troops struggling to eat anything more than a bowl of soup, we cracked on with the next ascent taking us to a huge memorial shrine area, where locals would be cremated and several Mt Everest summiteers who had perished on their descent were remembered here, marked with a cairn or plaque built into the a pile of stones. One noticeable cairn was in memory of Scott Fischer who perished on his descent in 1997, when over 16 people paid the ultimate price over a period of 2 days on the mountain. An excellent account was written by Jon Krakauer called “Into Thin Air” probably one of the most horrific stories ever encountered on the Nepalese side of our highest mountain.

A pleasant traverse with another 100 mtrs ascent brought us into the village of Lebouche at around 1400. After checking on the troops and swapping rooms with Simon U as while resting he could smell kerosene coming up the stairs, I had a quick brew, completed my admin and went for a walk to loosen off my leg muscles. Lebouche is only around twelve tea houses big, but it’s strategically placed in an excellent position to have a night’s rest before the onslaught of an attempt of Mt Everest base camp. After only a few minutes walking I could see Simon U and DR having what look liked a heated discussion which is totally out of character for either of them. As we couldn’t run, we walked quickly over to see Simon as he appeared very confused with pinpointed pupils and showing signs of aggression which are clear signs of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or even the first signs of High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). A very quick discussion with DR and I asked him to immediately start reciprocating our walk today and head down towards Periche the location of the Himalaya’s Mountain Clinic. I nipped back to the bothy to collect my hill bag and to pack Simon’s equipment so that one of our guides Bowla could carry it down for him. While sorting my kit, Kev E volunteered to join me as we could both see that the weather was deteriorating and having company would be essential. We actually set off running downhill which was exhausting but realizing we had such a long descent ahead we reverted to a very fast walk. After catching up with DR, Simon was obviously still showing signs of AMS/HACE as he was struggling to walk without assistance. Even with only ½ mile to go to Periche, Simon was still extremely confused not really understanding what was going on around him. We reached Periche in just under 2 hours which was an awesome effort but knowing that descent was the only way to improve Simon’s condition; the effort we put in dissolved into insignificance watching Simon struggle. On arrival at the clinic, I gave the Doctors a brief on Simon’s condition and history of events leading up to our descent. Simon’s vital signs were poor, so he was administered oxygen and several drugs which within minutes saw him showing signs of improvement, much too all our relief. It’s hard to describe my thoughts of having virtually ran down the mountain blowing out of my backside, then seeing Simon laid on a bed wired up to an oxygen mask and then see him raise his hand up to acknowledge that he was starting to feel better, I must admit it brought a smile to my face and close to a tear to my eye, as I know only too well what fatal effects HACE can have. Leaving Simon with the doctors to stabilize further, Bowla and I headed off for a brew and to review our options. DR and Kev E had persevered with the poor telephone system to establish communications with the team at Lebouche so they were up to speed with what was happening down with us. The four of us sat in a cold tea house enjoying a brew while the weather outside deteriorated further with a persistent snow fall. We had several options, but my main concern was for Simon’s health and welfare which could only be decided by the Doctors. On returning to the clinic an hour later, the Doctors were satisfied that Simon’s condition had stabilized sufficiently to allow him to stay in overnight for observations and then would 99% guarantee to release him the following day. We discussed our options with Simon and decided to leave Bowla with him to walk back down to Namche Bazaar together over the next few days while DR, Kev E and I would return back up the mountain to Lebouche to rejoin the team so that we could all attempt base camp tomorrow. At 1815 we put on all our warm clothing and Gortex, refilled our water bottles, fitted our head torches and started our second ascent of the day in blizzards and poor visibility. The first two steep ascents we paced out reasonably well, sticking together as a team, occasionally speaking but concentrating mostly on breathing and keeping going. We stopped at the tea house where previously that day we had taken lunch to have a brew and warm up as the conditions outside were not improving. Heading back out into the darkness and blizzards we once again stuck closely together and battled our way back up to the memorial area and then worked our way through the final plateau to see the flicking lights of Lebouche. We had walked over five miles and climbed back up over 1000 mtrs in a little over 3 hrs 45 mins, as we walked into the bothy, disguised as snowmen, we were shattered. Peeling off our wet kit, we enjoyed a lovely brew in the dining area, where the porters and other Sherpa’s were resting/sleeping around the edges of the room. On heading to bed, it took me over 2 hours to control my breathing and to reduce my heart rate under 90 bpm, I was totally exhausted. Thankfully, Rick Y who I was sharing a room with, patiently talked to me, calming me down from the day’s events. I then fought with myself to sleep as I knew we were arising at 0600 to start our ascent up to base camp. What a day!!!

Today’s interesting fact.  Best season to visit the Everest area Oct to Dec and Feb to May.

Sunday 15 Apr 12  –  Lebouche 4985 mtrs to Everest Base Camp 5365 mtrs
After a very unsettled night; maybe only achieving 90 mins sleep, l repacked my day bag to prepare for our assault on Everest Base Camp via Gorak Shep. A quick breakfast, followed by a brief to the troops on Simon’s condition we set off with a light covering of snow on the ground but thankfully with the sun shining brightly. A 3 hour noneventful trek brought the team to Gorak Shep, where we had a quick brew while our guides scouted around to confirm our accommodation for the night as the place that had been provisionally booked had let us down. Once confirmed, we prepped our sleeping admin in our rooms and then set upon our big push to EBC. The weather conditions deteriorated rapidly becoming colder, windier with low cloud but this couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm to reach our ultimate aim. Trekking for a further 3 hours we took our final steps to the prayer flags, marker stone and the view of the dozens of tents paralleling the Khumbu glacier, the team had made it. Following numerous photos including ones for our charities, the schools we were representing and obviously our personal shots, you could see the emotions shown on the troops faces of sheer delight but also of tiredness as the trek had definitely taking its toll on everyone.

All of us had thoughts of Fletch, who undoubtedly would have been with us if it had not been for his unfortunate illness at Lebouche. To conclude our momentous achievement, the troops who knew my very close friend Dean Singleton who passed away last year shared the honour of scattering some of his ashes over Everest Base Camp, as ironically Dean had been originally on our planned trip in 2005 but due to the Maoists activities at the time, resulted with the expedition being cancelled only 4 weeks before departure.  Having said a few personal words, I cracked open a hip flask with Singleton 15 year malt a fitting dram, for everyone to toast this great man.

For me, returning to EBC felt like it was bringing back into line with organizing expeditions and actually getting back into the mountains where I feel I belong. Incredibly with a phone signal, I spoke to Clare and to Linzi Singleton Myall both of which appeared quite shocked not only from the phone call but the fact that I could hardly breathe due to walking and talking at the same time, hey this was at 18400 ft ladies!!! Incredibly within 20 minutes of our arrival, we decided to start our descent back to Gorak Shep as with the photos taken, the magnificent views absorbed we knew that we had all succeeded our goal on this trip of a lifetime. Arriving within 2 hours, the tea houses at Gorak had really improved since my last visit here 8 years ago but as this is such a bottle neck with aspirant EBC and Kala Patthar ascendants, all of the tea houses were occupied to their limits. While waiting for a brew, DR managed to achieve communications to confirm that Simon had started his descent this morning, potentially stopping at Tyangboche or if feeling stronger they would descend all the way to Namche Bazaar, it’s a great relief to know the big man is strong enough to descend. After struggling to eat my tea (Dal Bhat) I immediately went to bed as the last 2 days had physically and mentally taken its toll on me. My final job before sleeping was to confirm who wanted to ascend Kala Patthar the following morning. This question once again confirmed the immense effort the troops had committed to reach EBC as only Kev F, my brother Ian and I were in a position to leave at 0400 hrs tomorrow morning.  I’m so proud of what the troops have achieved as I’ve known all of the guys for a long time and to see them bow to the challenge of Kala Patthar, proves how physically shattered they were.

Today’s interesting fact. As of 2012 there have been 220 climbers killed on Mt Everest.

Monday 16 Apr 12  –  Gorak Shep 5164 mtrs to Kala Patthar 5555 mtrs
DR, Ian S, Kev F and I all arose at 0330, had a quick brew and by 0400 set across the plateau to ascend the 391 mtrs of Kala Patthar to our highest point of 5555 mtrs, around 18650 ft. Starting off in pitch dark with only a half moon and stars providing ambient light, we set up the steep zig zag path, making us breath through our behinds as it was so still, holding a maximum of -5 degrees Celsius temperature. Using my poles, I started to struggle with my hands, so within 20 mins I gave the poles up to don my Dachstein mittens, which followed with acute hot aches, drawing me to tears while still breathing twice for every step. As dawn broke around 0445 the skyline view of Mt Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Pumori was “gin clear”; we were now racing against the rising sun so that we could witness the sun crowning Mt Everest.

After pushing ourselves again for 75 mins to our physical limits, we summited Kala Patthar at 0557, rewarding us with stunning breath taking views of this mecca of all mountainous ranges, we were almost at one with Gods of Nepal, “Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, Mt Everest” was almost in touching distance.  The slight breeze on the summit reduced the temperature to – 15 degrees Celsius, which resulted with us quickly taking lifetime memorable photographs and irreplaceable live footage. Within 15 minutes, all three of us although almost drawn to tears with emotions accepted our stay on the summit was over as being stationary had rapidly dropped our body temperatures. DR and the team started the descent while in the distance; dozens of aspirant summiteers who had not seized the opportunity of experiencing the sunrise on Mt Everest steadily worked their way up the mountain. Our descent took 90 mins as with the rising sun changing the scenery so frequently, we regularly stopped to take photographs and absorb the magnitude of the mountains surrounding us. On arrival at Gorak we were welcomed by the remainder of the team with celebratory hugs and handshakes. Even though I only tried to eat two pieces of toast and drink a mug of hot orange, I physically struggled to swallow anything. Although this was essential as now the team was to embark on a 7 hour walk back to Dingboche. In glorious sunshine we departed taking our last views of Gorak Shep, realising what an extremely remote existence the locals must lead. As we passed the trekkers ascending, we gave them lots of encouragement as we’d been in their boots only 2 days before. Several people stopped and probed us into our new experience, which made us feel proud and humble of our achievements. The further we descended the more impressed the trekkers were bearing the distance we had covered that day.  As we pulled into Lebouche, still blessed with glorious sunshine, we stopped for a brew, knowing we were still to repeat the 1000 mtrs and 5 miles that Kev E, DR and I had descended and ascended only a few nights ago. Slowly we traversed the ridgeline above Periche bringing us to the Stupa where we’d started our acclimatizing day 3 – 4 days previously. As Ian S and I descended into Dingboche, we were not only relieved to complete our mammoth day but to know we could now relax, have a shower and rest, was just an awesome feeling. After completing our admin and having a great meal of more Dal Bhat I started to catch up with my diary, which included writing about Simon’s descent, it was only then after reviewing what I’d covered in the past 60 odd hours and realizing that the team had decided to walk out to Namche Bazaar which is another 8 hour trek tomorrow I headed to bed as I was shattered, once in bed I completed a solid 11 hour marathon sleep.

Today’s interesting fact. As of 2011 there has been a recorded 3100 people ascended Mt Everest from over twenty different countries.

Tuesday 17 Apr 12  –  Dingboche 4260 mtrs to Namche Bazaar 3440 mtrs
At 0645 DR woke us with a lovely brew, but I was suffering with a terrible headache probably due to not drinking any water throughout the night, but the sleep was obviously more important to my sub conscious mind. After a relaxing breakfast we set off with clouds building in the distance, but knowing we were descending to warmer temperatures I reverted back to wearing my shorts and T-shirt. Knowing we had a long day ahead, we paced ourselves chatting to various parties most of which were aspiring to ascend EBC or Kala Patthar. I did notice a large number of Japanese people, who really, I shouldn’t judge by the cover but some of them were being actually pulled and pushed up the mountain by their guide, it makes me question as to who’s got it right, me or them??? We steadily approached Tyangboche monastery where the team rv’d as due to the various energy levels the team had spread out over a large distance of approximately 30 mins. As I passed Dingboche a village approximately 30 mins before Tyangboche I spotted a young lady meditating on her head, it was very spiritual and soothing witnessing her chanting her prayers carefully perched on an edge with a 300 ft drop to the glacier river below. After a brew at Tyangboche the team agreed to descend/ascend to a tea house some 2 hours in the distance. I don’t think anyone had remembered the terrain we had previously covered but this time with our weary legs the terrain was extremely tiring. As we climbed into the tea house we received a fantastic, wonderful heartwarming surprise, as Simon rejoined our team looking fully refreshed and so much healthier than the last time I had seen him in a bed in Periche, wired up to an oxygen mask. A refreshing bowl of soup led us to our final 2 hour push into Namche Bazaar. Catching up with Simon and comparing our experiences made us both conclude that he had been in extreme danger and that descending so quickly had undoubtedly saved his life. At the Zamling Guest House we refueled on drinks, turned our admin around and had a lovely shower followed by descending down into the village to stretch our legs and pick up several souvenirs for Ian S and I. That evening knowing we were in comparable safety, I treated myself to a buffalo steak and vegetables, which was delicious. As wine and beer was still off the menu for me I drank 2 litres of water as I’ve now picked up a cough and a temperature. Historically due to the dry climate in the Himalaya’s this is known as a Khumbu Cough, I was just lucky that this hadn’t struck me any earlier in our trek.  At 2100 I headed to bed, knowing we had two smaller days ahead before returning to Lukla.


Today’s interesting fact.  Nepal is the only country that has five sides to their national flag, every other country has four sides.


Wednesday 18 Apr 12 –  Namche Bazaar 3440 mtrs to Phakding 2640 mtrs
I’m afraid I had a horrible night as within 2 hours of laying down I was soaking, suffering with fever like symptoms. I rearranged my admin, eased springs, put on my next to skin and laid on the outside of my sleeping bag. Even after this I still only managed around 90 mins more sleep. It’s quite difficult to describe my condition but after chatting to Simon, he explained that I was showing signs of exhaustion, following my previous 4 days’ worth of effort. A quick chat to organize our porters and guides tips I headed down to breakfast. Here once again I witnessed the Eastern block Olympic team lifting weights and prepping for a day of altitude training, they showed no character, emotion or communication skills. On returning to my room, the troops were all being entertained by one of the Olympic teams shot putters who was very skimpily dressed bathing in the sun, well troops will be troops. Following another wee walk around Namche we set off on our penultimate day to retrace our steps down to Phakding. A wonderful, relaxed walk was originally destroyed by various yak and mule trains and trekkers climbing up the narrow paths, some of which were clearly heading to Namche for the following days market. This market which is held twice a week serves 100’s of local communities with produce both dead and alive. Once we had passed the crowds the peace and tranquility of the descent through the forest with the roaring river beneath us was outstanding. Shortly after lunch we were honoured to visit a local government funded school, where Bob B donated lots of the Hewitt Packard donated produce to the local head master, who very warmly accepted our gifts. This was reciprocated by presenting all of the team with silk scarfs and hot sweet tea; how humbling was it for us all to enjoy such a warm welcome into some strangers living room, once again the people of Nepal have bowled us over with their hospitality.

A final 2 hours of varying descents and ascents brought us into Phakding, where a shower and hot drink brought yet another wonderful day to a close. For dinner I enjoyed a chilli buffalo with veg, I’m feeling much stronger but at 2015 I went to bed to catch up on my “George Clooney look alike beauty sleep”. Tomorrow, we arise at 0530 to surface in time to bring our trek to a close by arriving in time to experience the Lukla local market. I also spoke to Clare who made me feel complete and wanting to hold her, Kieran and Joshua in my arms, although this would still be another few days yet.

Today’s interesting fact. The Himalayas in Nepal contains over 250 beautiful peaks which all exceed 6,000 meters in height.

Thursday 19 Apr 12 –  Phakding 2640 mtrs – Lukla 2886 mtrs
0530 arrived with a coffee after a cough filled night, with my nose bleeding to add to the equation. After 2 pieces of toast and another brew we started our rolling ascent/descent to Lukla airport. Passing many school children and porters carrying a variety of goods including a washing machine and a group of around 10 guys who were carrying beams of wood which must have weighed in the region of 150 kgs. The weight made their body shudder with every step; these guys are either bionic or desperate to make as much money as they physically can.

As we passed ever thicker greenery, the view of the 5 to 6000 mtr peaks were now dressed in blossom and even more forestry. The roaring river below reminded us of our accomplished goal of the Khumbu glacier which we had reached many days before. Within 5 kms of Lukla we could hear the Twin Otter planes or Dornier 228’s approaching the airstrip. With a final 50 mtr ascent we triumphantly reciprocated the archway gates which we had passed 12 days previously. With celebratory hugs we slowly walked through Lukla’s main path which is set aside with kit shops, cafes and anything else you would like to get your hands on. We also passed lots of trekkers who were taking their first steps to their trip of a lifetime; we only hope that they can be as lucky as we have been. With heads held high, we entered our tea house for the day/night and immediately headed out to the local market.  Here we experienced an open air butcher selling meat that had been caught 6 days previously and had been carried dead all the way to Lukla, even the boy with a stick and a plastic bag on the end wafting the flies away, improved the sight very little. Barbaric even Neanderthal but this is Nepal at 2700 mtrs and it works for the locals. The remainder of the market was filled people selling clothes, pans, house hold goods oh and of course live chickens. This archaic sale was ironically followed by a visit to a Starbucks, which for once in this country of fake merchandise was authenticated with the best tasting coffee of our stay. The music, ambiance and coffee gave us our first task of reality, well apart from the Pringles that some of the troops had purchased on our trek!!

The evening was traditionally superb, with nine weary and happy troops, four porters, two assistant guides and DR still as sharp as razors with their service, we all thoroughly enjoyed a six course Nepalese meal with several cans of beer. This was followed by some 1960’s traditional dancing which could have been mistaken for traditional Nepalese dancing, at 2150 we headed to bed full of the joys of the evening and the memories which we will treasure forever. Simon and I stayed up chatting for a while, reminiscing on the different emotions we had both experienced since Lebouche. Although so enlightened by my own personal achievements, I was desperately disappointed for Simon, who for no fault of his own had fallen to the effects of HACE. Simon is an extremely fit and a top mountaineer who has proved to anyone reading this diary that Acute Mountain Sickness or HACE can affect anyone.

Today’s interesting fact.  Himalayas remain the least most visited part of the earth, which makes them the most virginal part of the earth after Antarctica.

Friday 20 April 12  –  Lukla 2886 mtrs – Kathmandu 1350 mtrs
Incredibly even on our day of departure we were awoken at 0550 with a brew, although for me this was the first time I had got up before the tea arrived, as I was packing my sleeping bag into my rucksack already. By 0600 we headed for breakfast but within 15 mins we were shepherded to departures some 3 mins walk away from our accommodation. As the team made their way through security, I noticed the internal grins and raising of eye brows, as apart from a security guard who obviously enjoys his job of sweeping his hands over the various sized male passengers, security was none existent. Stepping down into the awaiting departures sty/lounge we only waited a matter of 30 mins before we were approaching our aircraft with the rotors still turning. Jumping into the front passenger’s seat, within minutes we were braced at the end of the 250 mtr runway with a 20% descent. With a roar of additional propulsion from the props we catapulted into action, reaching take off speed with only 50 mtrs of runway to spare, wow what a relief, we were airborne. A very graceful flight of 25 mins brought the team into Kathmandu airport landing at 0750. Within less than 10 mins of landing we had disembarked, collected our luggage and were sat in our awaiting transport, thinking security what security?

The transfer from the peace and tranquility of the Himalayas to the squeezing in between petrol tankers, mopeds with four passengers and cows sat in the middle of the road was like being hit by a fish on sale at Namche Bazaar that had been there for 3 days basking in the sun.

As we arrived so early at the Manaslu hotel, we were invited by the morning sun, cool swimming pool and hydrations requirements to sink several bottles of ice cold “Everest” beer, well why not, we had deserved it. Although I think the on looking guests taking their breakfast looked upon us with frowned expressions.   Did we really drink 3 bottles by 0830? Once showered and changed into fresh clothes we took on our next challenge of embarking into Thamel the centre of Kathmandu, where one fake shop is engulfed by another fake shop allowing only the occasional genuine shop to peak out now and again. With many fake items bartered for at “this morning’s best price” we completed our shopping before heading off to the school and orphanage that we had brought so many donated items for.

Firstly, visiting the school, DR introduced us to the headmaster and a teacher who provided us a guided tour around the three 12’ x 8’ classrooms which hosted 12 children each, benched seats and a white board. It was roofed with corrugated iron which acted as an oven in summer and a deep freezer in the winter. Although so basic, it was extremely humbling to witness what a little donation could provide to ensure the education of a few children. We had the privilege of presenting the school with a laptop which was so warmly received as they could now process data but also teach the older children the basics of computing as Kev F had also provided the software to build upon to assist the students. After swallowing a large humble tablet our next location was the orphanage where we were greeted by 12 lovely children who cautiously accepted us into their precious sanctuary of bedrooms, cooking, eating and play areas. They had even spared some land to grow their own vegetables all within a 12 mtr square area. The beautiful children all lined up to individually introduce themselves and proudly announce which class they were in and at what level their level of English language they were at.  With open hearts we gave them frisbees, pens, rulers, footballs but most importantly our time and attention. These children were not there of their own choice but had been made homeless due to the death of one or both of their parents. Hosted with herbal tea and biscuits served by the girls we were honoured to be accepted into their sanctuary. Leaving over 45 kgs of clothing donated by our wonderful friends and families seemed insignificant at the time but also heartwarming to know that these and many other children would greatly benefit so much now and for the coming years ahead.  Our 90 mins came to a heart wrenching end by saying our farewells to these wonderful almost forgotten children. The minibus journey to our next stop was eerily quiet with everyone deep in thought as to what we had just experienced and as to what these children’s futures held.

We soberly walked into a restaurant selected by DR for the team to host our hosts, as DR and Prem had been outstanding for the whole of our stay. We were honoured to also meet their families enjoying a wonderful evening with Indian food although I know at the back of everyone’s mind was the children whom we had shared a wonderful time with only hours before. We concluded the evening by presenting DR and Prem a small token of our appreciation as we had all been treated so well by these incredible people. A short journey brought us back to the hotel where the troops completed their packing before taking their last night’s sleep in Nepal. It has been a roller coaster of emotions today. From departing from the mecca of mountain ranges, to taking off with only 50 mtrs of runway to go, drinking beer at 0750, witnessing a school in poverty surrounded by wealth and to share a small time with children who have nothing but live for everything. We are so lucky……..

Today’s interesting fact.  To see a link to Lukla’s Hillary Tensing Airport, please follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqgZvb37NX0

Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 April 12

Arising just after 0800, Ian S and I immediately packed to start our journey home back to our loved ones in the UK. Taking only 20 mins, we headed for a relaxing breakfast followed by carrying out a kind of team secret Santa of presents. Each present was delivered to the recipient with a small speech explaining the bond that they had built over the period of the expedition; this was a lovely way to once again confirm the bond we had shared throughout our whole time together. An entertaining 5 mins taxi ride brought us into Thamel once more, where the team purchased lots of fake goods once again at “this morning’s best price, honest Sir”.

It is so much fun bartering with these colourful characters who obviously want to make a profit while entertaining their audience. A visit to Thamel would not be complete without a visit to the Rum Doodle bar. Here all Mount Everest summiteers conclude their triumph by signing the infamous boards in the mecca of all mountaineering bars in the world.  This was almost the perfect way to conclude our visit to Kathmandu. So, to put the cherry on cake, Ian S and I decided to take our life in the owner of a rickshaws hands by allowing him to cycle us back to the Manaslu hotel. I thought the flight to Lukla was scary, well sitting on the back of a rickshaw comes very close, as we were passed by cars, motorbikes on the in and outside resembling something from a Grand Prix at Monaco as they didn’t leave much room, thanks to our driver he pedaled quick enough to save our lives. After a quick shower and freshen up we started our journey home by saying our farewells to Prem and his family at the hotel, which 25 mins later we said our fondest farewells to DR and his family at the airport. It was strange saying goodbye to DR as the past 2 weeks had passed so quickly but had left us with so many wonderful memories for life; he truly is a remarkable guide.  I’m glad to say the security at the international airport was taken a lot more seriously, although we were processed very quickly, it was efficient and achieved its aim.

To conclude the expedition had been a resounding success. Eight of us had reached Everest Base Camp, three had summited Kala Patthar, but everybody had learnt something about themselves and about the team with memories that we will all share to our graves. As an appreciation of the work that went into organising our expedition, Clare and I have been given vouchers for a weekend away as a wonderful thank you to us both for the time taken to make the trip happen. Thank you team you are all so very kind, now what’s next; was that the Annapurna circuit or 2 weeks on the beaches of Ibiza I hear????

Kit list – Main kit bag not to weigh more than 15 kgs for internal flight to Lukla, hence you can leave belongings behind at Manaslu Hotel during our trek. 5 kgs for your hand luggage

Rucksack
Day sack      –         sun cream, camera, water, warm jacket etc
Sleeping Bag –         4 season, it gets a wee bit nippy at night
Z Rest or CarryMat

Waterproof jacket and trousers
Long sleeve shirt x 2
T shirts x 2
Fleece
Walking trousers or Ron Hills
Shorts
Underwear (light and loose)
Outer Socks x 3
Socks (inner socks if you get blisters) x 3
Bandana, Buffy etc (this is optional)
Warm jacket for night time (Buffalo or small duvet jacket)
Walking boots, please break them in before hand
Trainers for evening use
Sun hat
Gloves, various thin and outer pair
Woolly hat, mountaineering hat – North Face etc
Walking poles – put them inside your bags!!!
Torch with spare batteries and bulb
Water bottle or thermos flask
Whistle and spare boot laces

Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Shaver, Razor, cream
Sun tan lotion
Talc for feet
Lipsalve
Ear Plugs
Towel
Nail clippers
Vaseline

Passport + photocopy
Cash
Credit card – optional
Vaccination certificate, back up in an emergency


Camera + batteries
Camcorder + charging unit
Binos
Glasses or contact lenses
Hard boiled sweets
Cord or string to hang kit out to dry at night
Note book and pen, if you intend to fill in diary
Pens or pencils you want to give to the kids during our trek
Inflatable footballs or any lightweight gifts you want to give to the kids on our trek
Watch
Plastic bags for dirty or wet kit

First Aid Kit – the team will carry a small back up kit, but you may want to take your own personal supply
Aspirin or paracetamol
Various sized plasters
Compeed (second skin)
Imodium
Dyoralyte

Fake Kit list
North Face now becomes Southern Face
Marmot now becomes Marmite
Mountain Equipment now becomes Fountain Equipment
Karrimor now becomes Carryless
Lowe Alpine now becomes Blow Alpine
Craghopper is now Grasshopper
Rab is now Rob
Millet is now Mullet
Peter Storm is now Peter Porn
Tag 24 is now Tog 25
Gortex is now Artex



Leave a Reply