I was last in Pakistan in 2006.
Things have changed somewhat and their excitement at having Imran Khan as PM is clear.
The summer season started with a lot of snow which meant great climbing conditions once it had consolidated and we were the first to summit Gasherbrum 2, well ahead of the other groups.
We used no fixed ropes and broke trail til the summit.
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.
It has been a while since the last post but a lot has happened.
The Fall in Nepal saw awesome weather and me and a team of 5 friends summitted Manaslu, 8160m.
This is the 8th highest mountain in the world and absolutely stunning.
We did not use bottled oxygen but had a strong team of Sherpas who helped with the setting of high camps and the ropes.
Updates on expeditions will be here but more often than not on Instagram due to restricted bandwidth.
A lot has happened since we left the Summit Hotel in Kathmandu on the 19th April.
Our flight to Lhasa was delayed 6 hours due to bad weather and no plane being available.
We finally took off and got some views of Everest below us in the clouds before descending to Lhasa airport only to divert to Chengdu because of turbulent conditions. Chengdu is another 90 minutes flight away and we arrived at midnight. The whole plane was bused to a hotel, given 3 hours sleep and picked up again at 04.50 to catch another flight, hopefully to Lhasa. Finally landing at 10.00 the next morning. Only 24 hours delayed.
Our young, friendly and keen Chinese Liason officer apologized profusely for the weather and we spent the next 2 nights exploring Lhasa and the Potala Palace.
The usual general maladies and sicknesses such as colds and GI problems hit the group and will be gone hopefully by the time we hit basecamp. On leaving Lhasa we paid a quick visit to a dentist to cap a tooth broken the night before.
Last night we stayed in Shigatse, 3800m and Tibet’s 2nd city we had a quick walk around the Tashilhunpo Monastery before dinner to stretch the legs. We are now quite high and climbing the stairs of the hotel is testing our lung capacity. Luckily we were presented with disposable oxygen cyclinders.
Tibet has changed a lot since last year and everything is looking very new, tidy and ready for tourists.
In a few days, I’ll be returning to Kathmandu. It will be the 3rd time I’ve led a group on Cho Oyu, 8201m. The 6th highest mountain in the world.
Last time we had a weather window and were lucky with great views from the summit.
You can follow progress on the following links –
Thanks to Thuraya and CygnusTelecom in Dubai for supporting all communications with an XT Pro satphone and IP+
Monte Fitz Roy
In addition to leading a number of commercial expeditions I’m super excited to be climbing in Patagonia and Chile in February and March this year
Let’s hope the weather is kind and we can crack some of these stunning lines
The steep climb to the North Col.
This is the first technical piece of climbing on #everest.
A 400m steep ice and snow slope that finishes at camp 1, #northcol, 7000m.
It is equipped with fixed ropes and requires a #jumar – a mechanical device that fixes from your harness to the rope to stop you slipping.
Large numbers of “climbers” on a single rope can cause delays and getting cold is a serious problem.
Although a part of climbing, many people on Everest are inexperienced in moving up and down fixed lines, relying on their #sherpas to clip them in and manage the change overs at anchors.
A great lengthy article in the Guardian recently tried to describe the current Everest season antics.
On an Everest expedition there is always lots of time free.
Team members find many different ways to amuse themselves: Reading, writing, growing strange facial hair, discussing the Bristol Stool Scale, making rock sculptures, listening to music…
Here ex-headmaster Andy is restimulating his interest in art. Kept company by a local cat, he will have a fine collection by the end of the 2 months.
Even at only 4800m it’s cold and windy.
We will be climbing nearly double that to 8850m in a few weeks.
On our trek out we had to avoid an angry confrontation with teahouse owners who thought they had our booking.
14 western trekkers with dinner and breakfast is a lot of income to miss out on.
The men of the village threatened to beat our Sherpas who called the local police.
Today we arrive back in Kathmandu after our 10 days trekking to acclimatise.
We are 14 people and will say goodbye to 3 before heading to Everest Basecamp in China on the north side.
We reached an altitude of 5600m and as a team have got to know each other.
The barriers have dropped and the initial excitement and questions have died down.
Hopefully there will be less questions and probing -what have you climbed before?” or “how high have you been?”.
The 9 remaining Everest team members, all with varying degrees of experience and none having climbed above 8000m now know what they are up against. The trek was not without its problems and we had to overcome cases of altitude sickness, GI problems, gear breakage and loss.
How many will be there on the summit in the middle of May?
Our day in Kathmandu will be time to collect our thoughts before we head to China where we await our turn to enter the Death Zone and claim our prize for 2 months of hardship.