Heading up the mountain for our summit push tomorrow 3am, latest Irish Times article published

Heading back up Icefall to camp II tomorrow morning, we’re targeting a window around 25/26.

There are a lot of teams looking to summit in the next 48 hours, going to be busy up there so wishing them all a safe climb. We’ve already seen some choppers taking a few people off the mountain in the past 24 hours from some of the higher camps. The winds are then expected to pick up 23/24 before the jet stream again shifts off the summit from the 25/26th.

Latest Irish Times article published this morning in weekend sports section (back page and online)

Everest Diary: Here we go again in summit quest
Wait brings challenges as we witness joy and despair on slopes ahead of our final attempt

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Namche Bazaar – where we spent most of last week

Back in base camp, we’ll be heading up soon(ish), much patience required!

We got back to base camp yesterday afternoon in the end as the fog lifted around 5pm and choppers managed to take off from Lukla. The valley was buzzing with choppers as they all frantically tried to make a few flights before dark.

We had to run up to the helipad at Namche at short notice, check out the first chopper coming in to land through the fog in this video:

Sometimes it feels like we’re running around to stand still. After stressing out and legging it back here we spent the evening with Tim looking at the forecasts and ultimately decided to let the main crowds go for the current 20-21-[22] window and aim for the one after. There are a significant number of large expeditions on the hill now targeting this window slowly moving up to the higher camps to get into position and while we wish them well but for sure its going to be busy and there are associated risks. We had initially focused heavily on positioning the early window and now we’re going to be looking at the late ones. This has been a real test of our patience over the past few days, bear with us!

The exception was that the Lhotse weather window and lower crowds meant that Ronny headed up at 2am this morning up to Camp II and will be making for Camp III tomorrow. We’re following him closely from base camp. We’re now just down to the full Everest team of Blake, Jon and myself waiting with Tim at base camp.

Won’t be long now……surely….

 

Stuck in Namche

Arggh

We’re trying to get out of this place and back up the hill for a summit push but the fog has set in and there have been no helicopters flying in or out of Lukla or Namche today.

Feels like Groundhog Day. The same song plays on a constant loop in the background of the Barista Cafe.

One by one each of us go off in a tantrum about one thing or another. At least we take turns.

We’ve had a good rest break here and I now feel like I’ve recovered from a lousy stomach upset but we want out bad. Please someone lift this fog and let us get out of here.

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“Not paradise”

Aborted summit attempt, followed by a chopper to Namche

Greetings from Namche Bazar where we’ve now been chilling for a couple of days as we refocus our efforts following an initial summit attempt.

For all the info on last week’s excursions on the hill, check out this mornings article in the Irish Times:

Everest Diary: An aborted summit attempt, faulty ropes and R&R
Part eight: Rory McHugh and fellow climbers make their first attempt to reach the topIMG_5671.JPG

Once we got back to base camp, and with no clear window available to give it another go in the next few days Blake, Scott and I decided to grab a chopper to Namche, check out this cool video Blake took leaving base camp:

Now in Namche we are enjoying showers and beds and cafes and bars. There is even an Irish Bar here although they ran out of Guinness! 🙁 very annoying

In reality though, a couple of days in, we are already finding that there isn’t much to do here and we’re looking forward to finding the right weather window and getting back on the hill.

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Namche Saturday Market

I’ll be back with another post from Namche over the next day or two. I think we’ll stroll up to the Monastery this afternoon and then watch a movie in the Nirvana Cafe after. Nothing too exciting!

 

Rotations complete, R&R in Gorak Shep, awaiting the right weather window

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Jonathan Guidry preparing for higher up

We’re back in the relative civilisation of Gorak Shep. We’ve got wifi and a bed.

Jonathan Guidry and I came down yesterday to spend the night and we decided to spend another after snoozing all morning in our beds.

The very idea of an afternoon and evening doing the same was too appealing to us. We aim to return to base camp tomorrow, just as we aimed to return today this time last night.

Earlier this week we returned to base camp from our second and final rotation up the mountain to prepare ourselves for the summit push.

On return we also found from expedition leader Tim that we’d be splitting the group into 2 for Everest and that Jonathan and I would be heading up on the first acceptable weather window. Hence our visit to Gorak Shep.

The rotation itself was not particularly eventful – on Saturday we left at 3am and went straight past camp 1 to sleep at camp 2. We took 8.5hrs with a few breaks and a heavy pack as we were bringing up supplies for our summit push.

We then had a rest day at camp 2 and unfortunately we aborted our attempt to get to camp3 at 7200m in strong winds. Our long acclimatisation schedule meant we were comfortable aborting this without needed to repeat before the summit attempt.

The Expedition Charity flag at Camp II, Billy’s shadow cast on the lower right. To support please visit virginmoneygiving.com/letsbuildschools – we’re getting close to funding the second school building in Makwanpur. Thanks to everyone who has supported thus far!

On the way down the icefall on Tuesday we encountered several collapses which slowed us down and maintained a high level of adrenaline – I’ll go into more detail in this week’s irish times article – out in print and online this Saturday (need to get that done this evening as soon as this is posted!)

In advance of our summit bid, we’ve done some training with our oxygen bottles and syringes and spent time with our personal medical kits – this even included giving a shot of Dex to an orange! In all seriousness, I do feel ready to get out that syringe even when wearing high altitude mitts, and to give a hypoxic climber with HACE a life saving shot in his thigh!

Given the last Irish Times article came out while we were up the hill, if you haven’t see please check out here:

Everest Diary: Crossing crevasses and frisbee golf in the snow
Part six: Enduring a hard night at Camp II and trying to acclimatise to the Khumbu Icefallroryladder

The next article will be out on Saturday in print and online. Check it out.

 

 

Successful first rotation through the Khumbu icefall to Camps I & II

Camp I Everest
Camp 1, Everest, 6050m

We’re back from our first rotation! Greetings all from Gorak Shep. This morning, we made the hour long walk down from Everest Base Camp to the nearest collection of teahouses (some might call this a village) and decent internet connection.

The last week has seen us pass through the Khumbu Icefall for the first time, reaching Camp I, and then passing through the Western Cwm up to Camp II.

The Khumbu Icefall is by far the coolest mountaineering terrain I’ve been through. If it wasn’t so dangerous it would be a veritable Disneyland. Just think hours of crossing an obstacle course made of glacial ice, with ladders crossing crevasses and up ice walls , abseiling down ice cliffs, towering seracs everywhere. We left base camp at 3am in order to ensure we passed through the icefall early in the day and to ensure it is at it’s most stable, most serac collapses happen in the late afternoon due to the strength of the sun.

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We initially were only intending to be at Camp I for 2 nights with a hike up to camp II the day before moving up to sleep there but some instability in the icefall which lead to a Sherpa being evacuated by chopper for Kathmandu (we understand he is recovering well) meant our Sherpa turned around that morning and we instead spent a third night using our spare rations at camp I.

In the extra day at Camp I, we created a massive dart board using crampons, ice axe, tent cord, and climbing slings for a fantastic game of Frisbee darts in the morning sunshine. The afternoon brought snow and winds so we returned to our tents and continued the process of melting snow and brewing up to stay hydrated while reading books. I’m currently reading Shoedog on the kindle.

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We then moved up to camp II on Tuesday and settled into new digs:

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At 6400m we all had an unsettled evening. I felt like I woke every 10 minutes all night but I know from my crazy dreams I got some sleep between the tossing and turning. Camp II is the other location on the mountain where we have a cook team and heated mess tent and we’ll be back and sleeping better next time!

On Wednesday we legged it back down the mountain, making it back to base camp in under 4 hours.

It’s absolutely amazing to have now experienced these mythical places: Khumbu Icefall & the Western Cwm. Now time to write the next article for Irish Times (check it out on Saturday morning for a more detailed account of our first rotation) and have a well deserved beer tonight in Gorak Shep before returning to Base Camp tomorrow and back up the mountain 3am Saturday.

I was on the mountain when the last article was published, check it out here:

Prevention always better than cure for trusty icefall doctors

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Finally found a photo which has justified wearing these red sunglasses! I’m in my Cat 4 Julbo’s for the rest of the climb now.

Heading up the icefall, should be back Tuesday

After the best part of a week at base camp, we are excited to be heading up through the Khumbu icefall tomorrow to Camp I (6000m). We expect we’ll stay there for a couple of nights and then head up to Camp II (6400m) for a night before returning to Base Camp.

I can send update messages to twitter on @realrorymchugh through my satellite communicator (haven’t worked out how to send through this blog).

We’ve had a little snow tonight, this is our camp this evening, that’s my tent on the most right hand side

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And this was me going through the icefall on a “recce” earlier this week, we’ll be having breakfast at 3am tomorrow and heading at 330am, we’re expecting it will take us somewhere between 5 and 8 hours to cross the icefall and make camp II

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Latest Irish Times article should be out tomorrow morning, I won’t see it till I get back down tuesday or Wednesday though, feel free to do a google search or I’ll share when I get down.

With the early start its going to be tough sleeping tonight

All the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Base camp Puja, entering the Khumbu Icefall, tea with the Ice doctors, good luck to our good friend Blake on his trip home

We’ve been at base camp for 5 days now, and starting to feel very much at home. Regrettably, Blake’s injured left ankle wasn’t getting any better and having assessed it over several days his prognosis was trip over and he got a chopper back to Kathmandu earlier today. We’re now down to three for Everest. We’re all gutted to see him go but wish him a quick recovery and safe journey.

Last few days have seen us enter the Icefall for the first time on a “recce”. This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time. The Khumbu icefall is part of mountaineering history.

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Professional photographer Steve Brown and I also went to photograph and interview the Icefall doctors earlier this week during a rest day at base camp:

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The Icefall doctors are the guys who fix the route through the Khumbu Icefall. Think ropes, ladders across crevasses, and generally keeping the complex route open. Without them it would be total chaos. They are employees of the Sagamartha Pollution & Control Committee and there are 8 of them on this hill, supported by two cook staff and friendly manager Tshering Tenzing Sherpa who invited us in for tea and a nice long chat after the photoshoot. We also spent some time with the Everest base camp ER doctors, who have already had to send down ten Everest hopefuls, mainly with HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). Our relaxed acclimatisation schedule significantly reduced these risks.

Those who know me well, probably appreciate that my tent might be a bit messy by now so its good that we’ve had some extra days to get organised here before moving further up the hill.

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Today we had our base camp Puja ceremony. Set in the middle of our camp, a buddhist monk arrived at around 9am and the ceremony took just over two hours and included, putting out the prayer flags, banging drums and chanting, and drinking: first tea, then chang (local brewed alcohol from rice), and then beer.

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Most importantly, the Puja is a blessing for the expedition ahead. All our climbing Sherpa are buddhist and while we thoroughly enjoyed the cultural experience this is a critical part of the preparation for going on the mountain. We fully enjoyed the morning.

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Wishing Blake all the best down in Kathmandu.