30/04/2010 - Chicken

The plan had been to go up to the North Col today, but last night we ate some chicken which had been cooked to normal altitude/temperature requirements. We were so stoked to get meat at last we were busy wolfing it down when I noticed blood (not mine) on my fingers. Needless to say a restless night followed and I have to confess to being relieved to seeing heavy snow in the early morning - we would get a days respite to recover before the climb. That day was spent in our tents groaning with the odd rush outside. I'll spare you any further information and hope that your imaginations aren't filling in too many more details.

29/04/2010 - Catching up with the schedule

 Ed hopes to catch up with schedule and spend the night up on the North Col (7100m) tomorrow night - barring any more heavy snow or emergency appendectomies. Will send more information on his return.

28/04/2010 - Good news

 We've heard from Sujan in Kathmandu and thankfully Dipen is going to be okay. He arrived in the hospital and was given an emergency operation to remove his appendix, he is now on the mend has even been seen smiling, it's a massive relief all round and everyone has been given a big lift by the news.

Kenny made his way down to Base Camp this morning in beautiful weather. The sun was shining and there was no wind so we took the chance to have a bucket shower. This involves sitting on a rock, on a glacier, in your boxers, trying to rub shampoo and soap over yourself as quickly as possible then chucking cups of warm water on before you lose feeling in your fingers, toes and other places. It wouldn't be worth the effort if we hadn't washed for about two weeks. Some of the water on my boxers turned to ice as I sat there, it will probably be two weeks before I try again (it does feel good to be clean though).

We had been told to expect a storm and it duly arrived in the form of heavy snow this afternoon. Its not really bad, but it means no climbing up the North Col for a day or so, which is a little frustrating. However our drainage channels are really impressive and we've created a small lake, should be interesting to see how the snow fills it. Thus we fill our time.

27/04/2010 - Waiting for news

I've just returned from another team's camp whose radio works through the bad weather. Anil went as far as the border with Dipen last night, who was then rushed to Kathmandu. Anil hopes to hear a report of his brother's condition soon but it appears the preliminary news is thankfully positive. Anil is now back in Base Camp and hopes to return up here to ABC with Natan Ji tomorrow. The weather report isn't great apparently (we haven't seen it but second or third hand info is more snow but less wind) and most teams have returned to BC but we hope to stick it out here for a couple more days at least to see how it develops. Kenny is returning to Base Camp tomorrow morning however as he is still struggling with the altitude.

Snow last night means the Col remains a high avalanche risk, and there's even discussions going on about changing the route up the face - though the current weather will make this difficult. It makes little difference to us anyway, we won't be going higher than ABC till we've heard about our friend in Kathmandu. Every himalayan peak I've climbed has been with Dipen. I hope I get the chance to give him a friendly b*****king for skipping out on the big one.


 We woke as normal and were having breakfast when Anil came and told me that Dipen was constipated and so might not make the trip up the North Col with us. I said no worries and asked if he needed anything, though unfortunately we don't have any laxatives here (okay, its a bit grim, but the cold and altitude do affect us quite badly in different ways). I suggested a mint tea as a stomach calmer and we went back to our breakfast before starting to organise our food packs for the higher camps. Maybe an hour later Anil asked me to go and see Dipen as he wasn't well at all. John and I went to his tent to see him and it was clear he was in a bad state. His face was ashen and he looked kind of dazed as we tried to talk to him. He pointed to below his belly button and described a constant pain. Neither John nor I are doctors but he looked serious and we asked if a doctor could be found as soon as possible in another camp. I guess nine times out of ten the problem would have been indigestion related as he had bowel trouble, or perhaps a hernia from the struggle up to Camp 2, but he looked deathly and we wanted a professional opinion as soon as possible. We made Dipen as comfy as we could and soon a doctor arrived from the Chinese team. He examined Dipen's stomach and quickly diagnosed a swollen, probably burst, appendix - S**t!

With that news we all went into action, the team wanted to get him on someone's back for the 12 mile walk to Base Camp but John felt a stretcher which didn't crush his abdomen would be better. I went in search of a stretcher and found one in another team fairly close by. The actual members of the climbing team had all returned to Base Camp and only a couple of kitchen hands remained. I explained as quickly as possible in my broken nepali that I needed a stretcher as we had a very bad patient. They replied they had a stretcher but there was no one there i.e. a leader, who could give it to me - "you are here, give it to me now" I persuaded them with little patience. He relented and I ran back to camp with the stretcher. They got Dipen inside a sleeping bag and John arranged the straps to hold him in place whilst others gave him oxygen etc. Even that short run had left me utterly breathless at this altitude so I sat down and watched them sort Dipen out. Then, incredibly, the Nepalis stood around discussing who should carry him, how far and how, then started fashioning the porters forehead straps to carry the stretcher etc. There were plenty of them and after a few wasted minutes I almost lost my patience again explaining to Anil, but loudly and angrily enough for everyone to hear, that they should stop ******* arguing, pick him up, and get him down to Base Camp as soon as ******* possible.

Anil, Natan Ji and a whole bunch of sherpas from other teams finally got the message and headed off down the mountain with Dipen. In all we found out that 17 sherpas who were friends with Dipen went with him from ABC, whilst 9 made the trip up from BC to meet him and help with the carry - a touching show of companionship in times of need. In terms of manpower Dipen was very well off, but a 12 mile trek with over a kilometer of descent, followed by a car or jeep journey of several hours to either a local hospital or more likely Kathmandu... all we could do was wait in camp for news.

As the glacier is melting quickly I distracted myself by helping Makka Dai, our chef, and Lhakpa clear out the drainage channels, add more gravel to the floor of the icy kitchen tent etc. John took a walk up to crampon point to clear his head but - in what must have been a pretty horrible experience for him - as he stared at the face we were supposed to be on an avalanche swept down it. At first people seemed too stunned to move (and indeed he said a large group simply stood still next to the site for ages). Eventually ropes were put in place to clear from the face those still stranded on it and a rescue party set out with more stretchers for those caught in the avalanches path. By the time John got back to camp we heard the initial news that three climbers had been killed. It was by far our worst day of the expedition. We sat in a stunned silence. People always say that their thoughts are with the family's of those killed, but I have to be honest and perhaps selfishly say that my thoughts were of my own family and Jen and what the team was doing here.

Later in the day news came that only one climber had been killed, apparently a Hungarian. I guess it was 'good' news that only one person had died, in the darkest imaginable sense. A second climber had been extracted from the snow with serious, but not critical injuries. We also heard that Dipen had made it to Base Camp and was on his way to Kathmandu. No one knew what condition he was in - though apparently he "didn't have a headache"?


 We've been camp bound for three 'rest' days and so I'm really looking forward to getting moving up the mountain tomorrow. The plan is to head up to Camp 1 to spend the night at 7100m then the day after get as close to Camp 2 at 7800m as possible before returning to either Camp 1 or Advanced Base Camp for the night. Advanced Base Camp is a strange yet beautiful place, only a few inches of grit and stone separate us from the groaning, creaking glacier beneath us. At night it sounds like when you're in a flat and people are closing doors on the floor below - luckily I've only felt a significant movement as such a couple of times, a sort of juddering motion in the night that wakes you very quickly. I feel fairly well adjusted to 6400m but we all suffer real lethargy in the thin air. The mornings are nice when the sun shines and its 'warm' enough to sit out in thermals, climbing trousers, down jackets etc. However in the afternoon it's always windy and the snow soon forces us into our tents and sleeping bags. The others have working ipods (apparently ours is too old and has a spinning drive which is why it can't cope) or iphones so they listen to music, books or play games while I just read. We are all getting on well though which is a big relief on a trip as long and challenging as this. Kenny is hoping to come up to the North Col tomorrow with us, though not to sleep - we are building in lots of rest days for him to hopefully catch up with our schedule. Dipen, my climbing buddy, came down from Camp 2 yesterday and he looked terrible, absolutely exhausted with a vaguely distant look and bloodshot eyes, he said the wind was just a constant, freezing, battering presence - should be fun! Will let you know how we get on.

23/04/2010 - Rest Day

Rest, rest, rest. Bit of clothes washing which freezes instantly (they dry eventually in the tents) and the melting of the glacier is increasing so our meltwater channels need attention. The toilet tent has been blown to bits in the wind but luckily it's not a job which requires our assistance. The afternoon snow comes and we retreat again to the tents for warmth.

22/04/2010 - North Col

 We had as much breakfast as we could stomach then got ourselves kitted up with harness, jumar (ascending device), crampons, ice axes etc. We were also carrying the satellite gear, I had the laptop and its protective case whilst John the technophile had the equally heavy Beegan receiver. It's a fairly long walk to crampon point from advanced base camp (crampon point being were you put on your crampons ingeniously). Whilst there I heard a familiar Irish accent and recognised Martin Storm (I think that was his surname) from the TV show Everest ER, where he had starred as an aspiring climber with altitude/chest trouble. We had a brief chat and it turns out he's never seen the show so I promised to get him a copy from a friend at Indus. The walk from crampon point to the start of the col is over a sheer glacier where the wind howls bitterly and I watched a couple of people lose their hats as they were whipped from their heads, they just shrugged as their head gear hurtled at great speed towards Sikkim. The wind is strong and cold but so long as no flesh is exposed the exercise and the sun keep you relatively warm. At the foot of the col we clipped into the fixed ropes and started the long, exhausting climb on snow and ice. Looking back the views where spectacular - ABC perched on the very edge of the East Rongbuk Glacier and an array of 7000m peaks standing sentinel at the edge of the tibetan plateau. It's hard to believe I'm really here.

We climb up with Lhakpa, one of our sherpas, leading the way and the only hold ups are a few folk having trouble and a bottle neck at one of the ladders spanning crevasses - it's really best not to look down at these points. We congratulate folk on the way down and the mood is good. Once at Camp 1 on the North Col (7100m) there's an old tent marked 'Himalayan Ecstacy - Anil'. It's an old tent because they get shredded quickly in the wind and the writing is to deter opportunist thieves after oxygen etc. John has been up to the edge of the Col and manages to get reception for the Beegan. I cower in the tent coaxing, pleading, cajoling and rubbing the frozen laptop back to life, then carry it over to John where we brace ourselves in the frozen hurricane blasting over the face shouting to be heard as we try and connect satellite and laptop. Eventually everything links up and our pre-written emails are sent and we receive a bunch from family and the KTM office before laptop, beegan and fingers concede defeat to the bitter wind and cease to function. John has frost nip on a thumb from the experience. I've escaped with a mild phobia of removing gloves to use the touch pad.

The climb down is much quicker and far less exhausting but the cloud and snow have come in so we need to move quickly to keep warm. Once back at crampon point a kindly sherpa from  Adventure Peaks gives us some warm orange juice and I chat to Stu, one of their leaders. They have the same satellite system as us and he seems amused when I tell him we finally got a reception on the Col. "Can't you get it in ABC?" he asks innocently - I should probably explain the trouble we have been having with the Beegan at this point. The nearest satellite is to the South West of us, somewhere over India or the ocean I think. This would be fine except for the fact that we are attempting Everest via the North East Ridge, and so have the worlds greatest and highest mountain sitting slap bang in the way. I explain to Stu we couldn't get a signal at ABC. "Oh, you should try the other satellite to the North East, works a treat, clear as bell"....

Back at camp its all I can do to stagger into the dining tent and sit in my harness and climbing gear grazing on popcorn and gulping down hot sweet tea. There's a big meal prepared for us but the altitude has ravaged our appetites. It seems a long walk to my tent for the precious, wonderful warmth of the sleeping bag and sleep. Its been an exhausting but excellent day.

19/04/2010 - 21/04/2010 - Advanced Base Camp acclimatisation

 ABC is hard work, and by that I mean everything we do leaves us tired and out of breath (but there's no way we are going to sit in our tents whilst the Sherpas do all the graft). I guess that's to be expected at 6400m, but it is still surprising just how exhausting clearing the tent platforms, even making a brew can be. That said, the sun is shining and we have found our small team a space right next to the stunning spears of blue glacial ice. The ground is a few inches of shale and rocks with rock hard ice below and the glacier that sticks up next to us is our water supply - we just hack chunks off with the ice axe and then melt it down. We've spent the last few days enjoying the sun in the morning, nesting our little glacial patch, putting up tents and then loading them with rocks to keep the fierce and bitter wind at bay. As it is spring, the glacier is melting, so we've had to dig small channels in the ice around the tents for the melt water - like adults making sandcastles and dams on the beach really. It's been good fun. Then in the afternoon, the wind picks up, the cloud and snow arrives and we hide in our sleeping bags as the temp drops below freezing. In the evenings we meet in the dining tent for food and shivering before dashing back to the tents to sleep in thermals, down bags etc etc. Everything freezes in the tents and it takes a while to defrost water bottles, even toothpaste etc in the morning. We've also found that any electrical equipment still working needs to share our sleeping bags otherwise there's no chance of coaxing it back to life in a hurry in the morning. In fact, as I write this, it's the first time we've had the laptop working properly for 5 days, partly due to the cold (I've had the battery down my front for a very chilly half hour) and partly due to a suspected virus picked up on the journey here. Today we washed some clothes which froze solid in the sunshine during the warmest part of the day. Ideas anyone?

 Tomorrow we hope that Kenny will join us here and Dipen, Lhakpa, John and I will head up to the North Col. With luck we will get a signal from the satellite and I'll be able to send this. I really hope it works as lugging several extra Kgs of equipment isn't ideal as we head up to 7100. 

 Best wishes all, I hope you're all warm and toasty wherever you are. P.S. Hands haven't healed in the slightest. 

18/04/2010 - Intermediate Camp 5800m to Advanced Base Camp 6400m

 The hardest day I think I may ever have had in my entire life. The stomach bug/nausea from BC returned and I spent a hellish 6 hours covering 6 miles, gaining 600m in altitude. Everyone was slow today bar the Sherpas. I found I couldn't keep anything down, not even water, so I was completely void of energy and I suspect badly dehydrated when I crawled into ABC. Somehow I'd still managed to overtake several people on the way (makes you wonder if they really should be here). Anil, Dipen etc had arrived half an hour earlier and fortunately had battled against the wind to get the kitchen tent and one sleeping tent up already. I had one black tea and crawled into my sleeping bag feeling terrible but warmed by the time I'd managed despite being unwell. Luckily, John arrived soon after and his good mood and jokes raised my spirits before I fell into a deep, deep sleep.

17/04/2010 - Base Camp 5200m to Intermediate Camp 5800m

 Long day but feels good to be on the move and getting higher up the mountain. I stick with Dipen's pace for a couple of hours but the weight of the rucksack with laptop etc is slowing me down, plus as we ascend the reduction in oxygen becomes more and more obvious. We spend the day walking over glaciers, stopping to say hello to groups as we pass each other, then rest as they pass us. It's tough going and when the clouds come in the mid-afternoon it quickly gets cold. Finally arrive in Intermediate Camp (IC) around 2:30pm after only 4 hours of walking, so I've made really good time and am one of the first to arrive, but it feels like so much more. Grab a life-giving black tea in the shared kitchen tent then wait for the others. IC is essentially a rocky outcrop at a bend in the glacier. There's no flora, just the odd crop picking at kitchen scraps. It's cold, grey and definitely feels like it is somewhere between two places you might want to be. John, Anil and the Yaks arrive with our gear and we climb into a couple of tents Anil has obtained for the night - I wouldn't want to climb Everest with anyone else. Everyone knows him and seems to owe him a favour, all to our benefit. 

16/04/2010 - Acclimatisation hike and packing

 Woke up feelng a little nauseous probably from something I ate as well acclimatised here now, but felt better after breakfast. It's our last day in Base Camp (for John and I anyway - Kenny has come from sea level and is taking longer to acclimatise). John and I head up the side of the valley looking for a good signal to send e-mails, which is when I was last in touch.

 We carried on up the hill and unfortunately my nausea came back. Got to 5850m but couldn't go on and turned back. On my way down a wave of sickness passed over me and I stumbled, cutting both hands on the sharp rocks - mistake - from experience nothing heals at this altitude and infection is a big risk. Idiot. Wrapped the cuts up in tissue then slid down the rest of the scree slope to camp where I washed them and wiped them with alcohol wipe and plastered up. The rest of the afternoon was basically trying to get everything I might need during the next 5-6 weeks into two bags and my rucksack. Left some clothes, books and the ipod behind as it has given up in the cold and altitude. 


 All well at basecamp. Forgot to say that the 14th was Nepali New Year, so Ramro Naya Barsha, or happy new 2067 everyone by their calendar! Yesterday was Puja day, some great images of us sat facing the cairn/flagpole scattered with food and climbing gear with Everest in the background. The Puja itself was good fun with lots of rice throwing, smearing flour on each others faces and having the Lama insist you drink beer and rum at the end. By far the most enjoyable religious ceremony I've been to. 

 Today we are on an acclimatisation hike up the hill side, with the added benefit of getting a satellite signal 300 vertical metres above camp. We leave for intermediate camp tomorrow, then on to Advanced Base Camp at 6400m the day after. Views are stunning but it is definitely getting colder with water bottles freezing inside tents etc. Kenny seems to be acclimatising at last, which is a big relief.  


We made it to basecamp no problems and it is great to be here. Lots of good food, stunning views of Everest, truly beautiful place. There have been storms overnight with lightning around Everest which  was stunning. Today we built the cairn/flagpole for the Puja tomorrow morning and then went to the Rongbuk monastery to be blessed by the Lama. All well with John and I, though Kenny has a little altitude trouble/headache. All looking forward to pushing on to Advanced Basecamp on Saturday. Cold at night (-7 in tent) but all my Vango gear like sleeping bag and mat have been great. 


Just a little addition as Ed has been in touch to say that the naming systems he has on the website are the Chinese style, but they plan to use the European system, which is as follows.....BC is BC, camp 2 is intermediate camp, camp 3 is now advanced base camp, camp 4 is now camp 1, camp 5 is now camp 2 and camp 6 (from where they hope to make the summit push) is now camp 3. Hope that prevents any confusion. 

08/04/10 - Tibet

First attempt at blogging on behalf of that ever so slightly bonkers husband of mine.....Ed has been in touch to say that the team of John, Kenny, Anil, Dipen, Lakpa, Tenji and Ed have safely got through the border into Tibet/China and after a night close to the border they are now up to 3700m in the trade town of Nyling. They have caught up with a couple of the other expeditions and the temperature has dropped significantly from Kathmandu. Acclimatisation trek tomorrow then they will go over a 5200m pass before dropping for a couple of nights on the road to base camp. Expected to arrive in BC on the 12th and will send an update as soon as the satellite gear is up and running. Ed also wants to say a massive thanks to all the kind folk who have donated - we've smashed the £3000 barrier without adding gift aid! Also a big thanks to sponsors, especially Vango whoch gear has been excellent so far and the fantastic guys at the Himalayan Ecstasy office in KTM. Best wishes to all. 

Expedition Blog

Due to the cost/difficulties of sending large amounts of info from the mountain the blogs are likely to be short and sweet from now on, like the missus  - who has a agreed to take on the challenge. She will be getting updates from me via sat phone and the Himalayan Ecstasy Office via email, so if the blogs are irregular I apologise, but we will be doing our best to keep everyone interested up to date with the latest news from the expedition.