Thursday, 24 April 2014

Last Blog from Everest.

Today appears to be the day when even the most optimistic expeditions gave up hope. Why has this come about?
Obviously we have had a tragic accident with 16 deaths and multiple injuries. Some Sherpas no doubt feel that the mountain should close in honour of the dead. Some may feel the risks are too high to continue. Some see this as an ideal time to extract concessions from the government. Some are struggling to balance loyalty to their employers with solidarity towards their families, friends and community. There are some rumours of intimidation as well. Decisions taken now whilst feelings are raw may not be in the long term best interests of the Sherpas. Some western tourists will no doubt be revising their choice of Nepal as a trekking destination.
It has been a big disappointment to miss out on climbing Mount Everest. But I now understand much more how such an achievement would have depended upon massive logistical support to compensate for my own lack of strength and experience. The Sherpas would have provided most of that support and borne most of the risk. If this is the year that they re-balance the risk/rewards in their favour then good luck to them.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Helicopters buzzing around with unusual colours. Could be the men from the ministry or perhaps rich Americans bailing out the fast way.
The best source of information is the blog maintained by Alan Arnette and it would appear that a critical mass has been reached now that the large American company IMG have cancelled their expedition. Future Everest expeditions will no doubt change. They will become more expensive as Sherpa benefits improve and more use is made of helicopters to bypass the Icefall.
Our Yaks should be here on Sunday morning for our bags and we can begin the 3 day walk out. Looking forward to a hot bath.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Well at last the news we have been half expecting. David Hamilton (our leader) is prepared to hold out until all hope is exhausted but has informed us that realistically the Everest climbing season is over. Too many of the Sherpas are simply unwilling to climb the mountain this year. A few hard core mountaineers will do it without Sherpa support but we are not in that league.
Yaks have been summoned from Luckla and will be here in 4 days. Its then a 3 day walk back to Luckla followed by flights home via Khatmandu. Should be back in the UK the weekend of May 2nd.
Naturally we are all disappointed but it is sobering to think that we would have been passing the avalanche site at just that time of the morning a few days later. It could have so easily been us.
Anyone want to buy high altitude gear - reasonable prices.....
A big meeting of everyone at base camp this morning (after a memorial service for the dead Sherpas). Representatives of the Sherpa community and the western climbing companies spoke. The missing party was the government (understandable as no-one can come straight up from Khatmandu to base camp without getting very sick).
The majority of the Sherpas clearly want to quit the mountain in respect for the dead. They have issued a 13 point set of demands to the government which look on the face of it unachievable. There are so many possible outcomes to this but time isn't on our side.
In the meantime the glacier is melting. The floor of my tent is getting very uneven and there are little rivers running throughout our camp. The JG food is still much better than the tea houses but how I long for Helen's cooking !

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Groundhog day again. The sherpas appear to be on some sort of strike without any leadership. They are putting a list of 13 demands to the government today - most of which are reasonable but unlikely to make any difference. They are cutting off their nose to spite their face but the wiser council of the older sirdars doesn't seem to be effective. The first problem is there being enough experienced sherpas at base camp to get the fixed rope secured safely to the summit. Then there is the specific problem that JG do not have enough sherpas to form a viable expedition - although of course more can be recruited.
I am taking each day at at time. I am eating well, resting rather than excercising to give my throat chance to heal. It is so frustrating looking up at the icefall and wondering what lies beyond the narrow neck 2,000 ft higher up. Hopefully we might get a chance to find out but the odds are lengthening. The sherpa dispute will be resolved as all disputes eventually are - but we don't have unlimited time.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The icefall has been closed for 4 days by agreement between the teams. The shortest route is the most dangerous. A longer route away from the avalanche danger may have to be created. The extra days in base camp might give my sore throat chance to heal. Every time I swallow it feels like a knife is being thrust into it. A chance to wash some clothes as well. Our Sherpa team is seriously depleted - down from 13 to 6 we understand (1 death, 5 injuries , and 1 on compassionate leave. The Sherpa community is very close and all of
them have been touched by this tragedy. My own motivation has certainly taken a knock. Helen will be in the air now on her way back to civilisation. There are some very strange clouds above Everest. I think they are lenticulars indicating very strong winds on the summit.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Well todays plans were cancelled as news came through of a major avalanche in the Icefall which caused multiple injuries and fatalities. I believe our own Sherpa team has been affected although I wouldn't like to offer any detail as there is so much misinformation around. One of the most serious accidents ever on the mountain. A very sad day indeed. For more news you might google the American reports such as NBC.