So we have spent nearly 2 months touring Europe in our newly converted van.
We’ve been ticking the highest mountains of each country as we enjoy these amazing areas; Germany (Zugspitze), Slovakia (Gerlachovsky), Poland (Rysy), Czech (Snezka), Austria (Grossglockner) with more to come.
On 16th May 2017 I stood on the top of Everest. I wasn’t the youngest on the summit. I wasn’t the first Brit. I probably wasn’t even the first from my street in Sheffield. We did have the first Slovenian success from the North side. Ever. We didn’t make a big fuss about it. When we first met we didn’t talk about the mountains we had climbed before. Some of us had climbed mountains before. This was the first time in the Himalaya for some of us. We didn’t take DJs to basecamp. We didn’t use breathing mask trainers while back home at work. We didn’t build 2 meter walls around our tents at basecamp and instruct Sherpas to keep everyone out. We didn’t make a TV series of our experience. We didn’t have 16 bottles of oxygen per client. We didn’t have 2 Sherpas per client. We didn’t have 1 Sherpa per client. We didn’t think of going up the north and down the south. Some of us were polite and humble to our Sherpas and Tibetans. We didn’t care if some grumpy, old bearded Italian who lived in a castle didn’t like what was happening in a time well past his own #killyouridols. We didn’t post statements over inflating the difficulties we were facing. We did sigh when we saw philosophical posts about “reaching your own Everest”. We did use a jumar for the first time. We did learn to put crampons on at Advanced Basecamp. We did start walking and stopped when we got to the top. We did not depict every daily routine as a drama designed to leave lesser mortals hanging by a thread. We didn’t run out of oxygen. When we did we used another bottle our Sherpa was carrying for us. We did have a crampon fall off a boot on summit day on a fixed ladder. We did put it back on. We did continue. We didn’t write stories about crawling to the summit on our knees. We didn’t think it was any more crowded than any other mountain. We didn’t sleep in oxygen tents before arriving. We spent less time on the mountain and summited before teams on a “rapid ascent”. We did walk past dead bodies on summit day. We didn’t take photos. We did meet a family visiting basecamp out of respect for a brother they had lost on the mountain 5 years earlier. We sniggered at but we didn’t suggest people shouldn’t be on the mountain. We drank lots of coffee. We didn’t claim to do it without oxygen only to really be pulled up by a team of Sherpas on oxygen. We did bring most of our equipment down from high camps. We all made it back safely. We didn’t claim innovative diet plans. I did from Camp 1, eat only Jelly babies. We didn’t claim pieces of geography of the mountain had changed to drum up publicity. We didn’t throw our toys out of the pram when the Sherpas couldn’t fix the ropes because it was too cold. We used our own oxygen. We did share our tents and used others tents in mutually agreed cooperation. We talked with other teams about their plans and the weather. Our Sherpas did help everyone. We used drugs that are banned in Olympic competitions to help us get to the top. We didn’t have a western chef at basecamp. We didn’t take awesome summit shots because it was 2am in the morning and pitch black. We did care about getting summit certificates. We did return all the way from the summit to ABC by 4pm on the same day. Some of us got drunk a lot at every opportunity. Some of us didn’t have much experience before this. Some of us didn’t know which side of the mountain we were on. All of us worked together. All of us supported each other. We didn’t pay 80 000$ or more to stay in the same hotels, travel in the same jeeps and climb the same mountain as others. We didn’t walk nose to tail in a group of 10. We drove as far up the mountain as possible before starting to walk. We helped pitch our own tents when possible. We didn’t use helicopters to get down or stock the mountain with supplies. We stroked the stray dogs in Tibetan villages. We stayed healthy. We did have lunch with another climber at basecamp who died a week later on the mountain. Some of us did interviews for TV and radio on returning home. We did eat at Fire and Ice every day in Kathmandu. We didn’t comment on how other people went about their business on the mountain or the methods they were using. We did have a car crash on the way to BC which hospitalized our driver. We didn’t have massive sponsorship. We did have full time careers and work for companies that saw the benefit of what we were doing and supported our efforts. Our Sherpas slept in the tents with broken zips without us knowing. Some of us didn’t complain about the food. Or even when yaks trampled the toilet tent and destroyed our sit down seat forcing us to squat for 5 weeks. We didn’t post step by step accounts on summit day. Our doctor helped everyone. We attended meetings with the Chinese and Tibetan Climbing Association. We posed for photos with their media as trash was brought down the mountain. I did argue with the Chinese when they tried to charge us an extra 200$ per person to fix the last few 100m of rope to the summit. I did get it down to 50$ per head and was quietly happy with that. Don’t tell the Chinese though. We didn’t carry ice axes on summit day. We moaned it was hard sometimes. We didn’t claim it was impossible. We did hang out with Kilian. Some of us went running in Lhasa and lost our credit cards. Some of us were always late. Some of us were fast. Some of us were slow. We all had good and bad days. Some of us had altitude sickness. We did identify our personal limits. We remembered our promises to family and friends. We did claim we would never do it again on the way down. A week later we wanted more.
This is Everest.
One of the steps on summit day at about 8600m
Another version of what happened in 2017 can be found here.
Some of it may or may not be true.
That is Everest.