THE EXPEDITION – ALL CHANGE

After a few days acclimatising at Base Camp(BC) at 5200m and following a practice with oxygen tanks, regulator and mask we moved up to Advanced Base Camp(ABC) at 6300m via an overnight stop at intermediate camp. 2015-04-20 09.14.44

The route took us along the East Rongbuk Glacier with towering pinnacles and glacial moraine.  The trek took 11 hours over the 2 days and was a bit of a struggle.  Breathing was hard work and the effort felt like the last mile of a marathon repeating itself.  No energy!

2015-04-21 10.39.23 ABC itself was ok with my own tent, a mess tent and a toilet tent.  Everything you’d need!  A thicker sleeping bag was required as temperatures ranged between +7 by day and -20 degrees C at night.  Once the sun dipped below the frozen horizon, the mercury plummeted.2015-04-22 11.09.23

After a day’s rest, we tackled the North Col.  It’s a 500m wall of ice and snow at the head of the valley with added hazards of looming seracs (overhanging crests of snow) and cavernous cravasses.  It’s angled between 40 and 80 degrees.  Fortunately, the Chinese Mountain Association rope it up at the beginning of each season so all you need to do is haul yourself up using an ascending device, ice axe and crampons.  I struggled at the back of the team but persevered.  Whilst everyone else turned around I carried on to 7000m.  With no one in sight, I made my solitary retreat back to ABC, returning dead on my feet by 6.30pm.  it had been a big day!

We went back to BC the next day, allowing us to rest and recover before returning to higher altitude.  Food was plentiful but not often popular.  Breakfast would consist of porridge or rice pudding followed by egg and toast (without butter).  Typically lunch would include chunky garlic soup and a rice dish.  Dinner was similar; soup followed by Dahl Bhat (rice, vegetable curry and lentils).  Oh, and hot canned fruit salad!  It would vary but not much.  Our Nepalese cook tried his best.

Rest and recovery continued for a few more days.2015-04-14 17.17.16

Saturday 25th April started like any other day.  BC is a square mile of flat stony ground in the middle of a steep sided valley of loose rocks.  Just after lunch the ground started moving from side to side.  We all ran out of our mess tent and stood and stared.  It felt like a fairground ride.  There was no noise but the ground under our feet was shifting side to side by a couple of feet while the hillsides appeared still.  Some people were sitting on the ground.  Such was the force of the earthquake, you would have fallen over if you were still walking.  After 30 seconds it was over, except from the rock fall on one of the sides of the valley.  Boulders the size of cars were crashing down the slope, gradually smashing themselves up as they fell over 1000m towards the valley floor, half a mile away from our tents.  Nobody was hurt.  At first it seemed it all seemed a bizarre curiosity.  Gradually we started to receive messages letting us know what had happened on the south side of the mountain and across Nepal.  Our mood turned sombre.  We all let our loved ones at home know that we were safe.

Everything had been normal, now it wasn’t.  As the impact of the earthquake grew, rumours spread that the Chinese government were going to close the mountain.  We were devastated, but at the same time understood that this was the only decision to be reached.

Our focus over the last 12 month or more had all been about reaching the summit of Everest.  Suddenly, it was now all about getting home safely and quickly.  Firstly, we had to revisit ABC to pack up out kit left up there.  Next, the yaks had to be called in to collect our bags, tents and other equipment from ABC and return them to BC.  Then, arrange our transport away from the mountain before arrange transport for the sherpas back to their families in Nepal, along with tons of equipment and supplies.  Returning to Kathmandu by road was out of the question and landslips had destroyed many miles of the route back to the city.  Our only way out was further into Chinese Tibet, to Lhasa.

Ten days after the earthquake we were finally on flights home via Lhasa and Cheng Du.

It had all been quite an experience.  Now, the big question is will I return some day to try again? ……..Maybe

 

Saturday 28th March Kelsey Plant Hire’s Andy Clark flew out of Heathrow with Air India bound for Delhi with an onward flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. Many hours later he arrived at his hotel and after one night in relative luxury Andy set off with the group for Syabrubensi.

After a rough 10 hour winding, precipitous drive he finally arrived at his tea lodge in Syabrubensi. From here the group trekked for a few days through the area of Langtang gaining height along the way.

On Friday 3rd April Andy and 5 others climbed to the summit of  Yala Peak (5500m) There was a snowstorm the night before but on the ascent they had brilliant weather and excellent views all round.

Andy said that he has had a bit of a dodgy tummy which is not much fun when toilet facilities are basic in the extreme! Apart from this all is good so far and he is acclimatising well.

Acclimatising NepalThe expedition team of  nine returns to Kathmandu 9th April for 2 nights before heading for the border, into Tibet and up to the northern Everest Base Camp at 5200m. From then on the expedition starts in earnest.

The summit weather window is expected between 17th and 28th of May. Good luck Andy.

Please visit www.justgiving.com/andyceverest and show your support as he raises money for the very worthy charity – SHINE.

At the time of writing this there were just 20 days to go before departure for the big 10 week expeditionimage. The 8000m+ gear arrived in the office on Thursday and has made it feel very real suddenly.

This weekend, with a last training weekend in the Scottish mountains, it was a chance to meet another two members of the expedition and all were feeling apprehension at this point.

Training has been relentless and a huge focal point for every weekend over the past 14 months – it will be good to get back to some normality after this!

Andy Clark is now very fit and as ready as he’ll ever be to tackle the mountain. e is also looking forward to putting on a few extra pounds before he leaves as we’ve been told that its not unusual to lose a couple of stone in weight due to sheer physical output and high altitude deterioration.

Climbing Everest is Andy’s personal challenge but we thought it was a perfect opportunity to raise funds for SHINE – Please take a look at Andy’s JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/andyceverest/

Copy of TEW07916669_01181
Everest 8848m

Countdown to 28th March 2015.

Well, time has flown by and Andy Clark of Kelsey Plant’s admin department has spent the last year training hard for his summit attempt. He is no stranger to mountaineering and is under no illusion about the seriousness of what he is about to undertake.

“Apart from regularly walking in the hills for up to 9 hours with 20kg on my back, I’m supplementing my training with running, swimming, Versaclimber, cycling and circuit training. Its tough fitting it all in around normal home and work life but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and peak fitness is essential.” said Andy.

Copy of Crevasses

Above 7925 metres there is insufficient oxygen to support human life and even with supplemental oxygen the body and mind are under enormous stress. Therefore its very important to be physically prepared to reduce the strain on the body as much as possible. At extreme altitude the body deteriorates and injuries fail to heal. Altitude sickness can strike anyone at any time regardless of fitness levels and avalanches and sudden severe weather changes are very real and dangerous threats.

Why would you want to climb Everest given the risks to life? I hear you ask.

025

Andy answers “My childhood interest in the hills grew into an adult passion for the mountains. Its the attraction of the outdoors, being out of my comfort zone, the awesome challenge of it all, embracing life itself. To me, life is for living not just sitting on the sofa watching the lives of others. I am fortunate to be in good health and good physical shape and I believe its important not to let life pass you by. When I see a mountain I want to stand on top of it and appreciate its raw beauty and the physical and mental challenge of climbing it. Everest is not the most technical mountain to climb, but there is nowhere higher on this planet so, for me, it’s the ultimate and it doesn’t get better than that! If the risks involved in mountaineering are managed by the right experience, preparation, training, equipment, backup and proper support they are no different to many other activities.”

Follow Andy on Twitter @aceverest

See www.justgiving.com/andyceverest  – raising money for SHINE the charity supporting those affected by neural tube defects, spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Island Peak
6189m The summit of Island Peak, Himalayas 2012

Countdown – 353 Days To Go 

Kelsey Plant Hire director, Nadine Clark, has started training with mountain climber husband, Andy. He leaves for Tibet in 353 days to attempt the summit of the highest mountain in the world. Among many others, Andy has previously climbed the Matterhorn, the Eiger, Mont Blanc  and together with Nadine, Aconcagua in Argentina. Nadine says we have planned training over 12 months and so far this has included running various double figure distances over the North Downs, the Seven Sisters, Ashdown Forest, the South Downs and mountains in North Wales.

Seven Sisters 080314In the coming months the couple are taking on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks again, the South Downs Marathon and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon followed by seven months of harder training with long days, plenty of ascent and heavy packs.

Everest is probably every climbers goal and it is certainly Andy’s dream to stand on top of the world if the mountain is willing to let him.

Andy and Nadine have chosen to raise funds for spina bifida & hydrocephalus charity, www.shinecharity.org.uk , throughout the training and climbing of Everest. If you would like to support Andy Clark’s summit attempt and make a donation there will be further details on this site soon.