Nov 4, 2012

This blog is about people... and thank you's...

Perhaps an unusual statement about an adventure which, in the physical sense, has been purely ‘vertical’, freezing-cold and oxygen-limiting...! Reflecting both on the extensive preparation Makalu / Ama Dablam expedition and the two-months spent on the snowy cold slopes, this adventure has really been brought to life through the amazing people that I have met along the way....people who have inspired me, helped me, and joined me in some shape or form on this incredible adventure to just over 7000m on Makalu and the 6800m summit of Ama Dablam.
Some of these people have dazzled me with their genius and art. Others have shared with me insights about how I can live. Others have devoted their life to helping others. Some have conquered mountains while others have built business empires. Some are great artists while others have entertained with their brilliant musical talents. One thing that they all have in common is that they are passionate, talented, and amazing people who have added colour to my life and have helped to shape the moments that have made up this journey.

Autumn Himalayan Wrap-up
This autumn season in Nepal has been an incredibly memorable one with both highs and lows and lessons learned. The lows  remind us of the risks inherent to mountaineering and the fragility of the decisions made on its slopes - on Manaslu, one of the biggest accidents in Himalayan history, an accident that both guides and Sherpa had been fearing might happen but hoping to avoid since the mountain became commercially popular in 2008. All of us on the Makalu team knew someone involved in the accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy.
My nervous-decision to attempt to climb Makalu was driven primarily because of the closure of Tibet and concern about the resulting crowds and conditions on Manaslu. Looking back, I am so glad that guide Adrian Ballinger convinced me to join him and the Alpenglow Expeditions team in exploring this incredible and remote mountain. We experienced safe and stellar climbing conditions, a stunning valley and gorgeous mountain camps and reached a final altitude of 7100m. While an early jet-stream bringing 150kph winds prevented us from our final goal of reaching the 8500m summit in early October, we all left the mountain happy and healthy, and committed to returning next year to have another ‘go’. This is a fantastic result and I am incredibly proud of our performance on this formidable peak and look forward to building on this reconaissance in the autumn of 2013.
And then Ama Dablam – an iconic peak for which I’ve been training over the past two years. With its dizzying exposure, narrow ledges and knife-edge ridges I was worried that I’d love my nerve. However, it all worked out even more perfectly than I could ever have imagined. With my body fully acclimatised to the lack of oxygen post-Makalu and fully supported by a strong and talented Sherpa team and excellent guides Adrian Ballinger and Chad Peele, it was a thoroughly enjoyable climb with a straight-forward 13-hour summit day which brought us back to base camp for dinner. Conditions were incredible on the 26th of October - perfect neve on our summit push above high camp, lots of good ice on the Grey Tower, and dry granite down low between Camps 1 and 2. Our summit day offered incredible views From the summit of Ama Dablam we were treated to incredibly stunning views of the south Face of Lhotse, Nuptse, Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Shishapangma, Makalu, and the Khumbu Himal. Standing there looking out over the surrounding peaks was worth every second of the work that I’d put into this journey.

Thank you’s...
Throughout this journey I’ve been inspired by so many of the people that I’ve met along the way. These people have inspired me to push on to find additional strength and motivation to reach the summit of these mountains – or make my way as far as possible up their snowy slopes…! These people have included the likes of David English OBE, MBE; Christine Mills MBE; Alex Trapnell and the Hope for Tomorrow team, Sir Stirling  and Lady Moss, Charles Finch, the team at Sherpa Adventure Gear, Katy Biddulph from Striders Ege, Piers Morgan, Peter Elliott, Isabelle Santoire, the girls from the Sisterhood, the team of builders volunteering their time at the Khumbu Climbing School, Captain Ashish at Fishtail Air, our cook / chef Tashi, guides Adrian Ballinger, Chad Peele and Monica Piris, my fantastic colleagues at PwC, my family and friends… plus many, many more.
Without the tremendous support of these people life would not be nearly as fascinating and mountains would be significantly higher.


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