As we all hit our sleeping bags the night before the planned attempt to trek to Everest Base Camp we could all hear the wind building and see the snow falling so we all had our fingers crossed for improving weather overnight. As we woke to howling winds and several inches of snow we knew we were in for a massive day, it normally takes around 4 hours to do the round trip from Gorek Shep to EBC however with the conditions all bets were off.
We started strong full of excitement and trying to ignore the high winds and snow but soon after we realised that today Everest was going to try its best to prevent us from making our goal. We had with us for the trip 3 Sherpa dogs keeping us company from the Tea House and our 3 best Sherpa’s all helping to keep us focused on the end game but nothing could help with the worsening weather. For this part of the trek there did not seem to be a track to follow just a direction to head in which gave us a bit of trouble as the ground was covered with snow but our dogs and Sherpa’s kept us on track.
As we trekked on the weather started to get worse but we made the decision to push on as we knew we only had one chance to do this, some of the track was totally hidden by snow by now and as we followed the Khumbu Glacier we were continually crossing frozen rivers and the glacier itself, the rocks and boulders were covered totally with snow and ice by now so it was slow going.
We had a very scary moment when we heard a call from Mylar (our lead Sherpa) avalanche!!! As we looked up to the 500 metre ridge above us we could all see the falling rocks some the size of baseballs others the size of basketballs and all travelling at high speed, we luckily managed to dodge the rocks apart from Dwight who caught a small rock on the knee, we checked him out and all was good so again we pushed on.
Finally Base Camp was in sight, it was still an hours walk but the end goal was within reach. As we neared the Base Camp we could all see the rock and prayer flags that identified the centre of the camp and the site where all the Everest Summit Attempts begin.
The guys were very gracious and let me walk up to EBC in front and get there a minute or so before them, this gave me a few minutes to realize my dream and have a moment to suck it all in…..then the Rockstars all came in….. one by one the team arrived, all with hugs and hi fives, we were all so pumped congratulating each other and soaking in the moment. Besides my wedding to Lisa and the birth of our wonderful sons it was by far one of the most emotional and physical highs of my life. We spent around 30 mins taking photos and exploring the area with its ice blue glacial peaks all the while the wind had approached 100 knots and the temp was at -20 with the wind chill up to – 30. Ang and Mylar our two most experienced Sherpa’s have been to EBC 120 times between them and they both agreed that this was the worst weather conditions they had ever come across.
The guys started back and Dave and I wanted the whole package so Ang stayed back and we set off down onto the Khumbu Glacier where the official start of the Everest climb starts, this now means that we both can put on our t-shirts “Everest Summit Attempt” the experience of the Glacier was magnificent and I can wait to get back to look at the photos.
We then started back over the ice fall and frozen rivers both of us caught up with the rest of the team around 30 mins into the walk back. Then the fatigue set in and the adrenalin wears off and the struggle back begun. The wind was at its strongest and in our faces so it didn’t take long for the fur on our faces to turn to ice and the feeling of any exposed areas to turn blue. We kept our spirits up and the pace as steady as we could, the dogs stayed with us and Ang was keeping a close eye on every detail. After 6 hrs of gruelling trekking the tea house came into sigh, the relief was enormous. As we entered the cabin all we could do was collapse onto benches, chairs and in my case the floor boards, as Sherpa’s and tea house keepers came to us with hot drinks. I fell instantly asleep sitting in front of the heater for almost an hour along with most of the guys then we spent the next hour or so trying to get our heads back in the game.
Due to the blizzard we decided to stay another night rather than face the conditions again for another 4 hour walk so this concluded our massive day to Everest Base Camp with amazing highs and very challenging lows. We will all be better for the experience, however it may take a few days to fully recover and appreciate the massive goal we have achieved.
Cheers Sherpa Mike