Exciting times! A week today and I'll be travelling to Nepal and meeting up with my illustrious group of would be Everest summiteers. They all have great potential and there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't all be standing on the summit - maybe even together. Suffice to say that I only take people who are suitably well qualified by experience ... and these guys and gal are all suitably well experienced.
I have worked with Adam, Ilina, Steve, Stuart and Jon on Ama Dablam and I have been out quite a few times with Tom in both summer and winter conditions.
It has the makings of a great team and a fun trip. Just as we did in 2011 we'll be taking a leisurely 3 weeks to trek to Everest Base Camp and the aim is to arrive fit, healthy, acclimatised and well bonded. We'll be sleeping just below, and then crossing, 3 passes that get progressively higher and then ascending Pokalde which is a tad below 6,000m.
Then it's time to arrive at Base Camp, settle in, get sorted and start the acclimatisation rotations on the big hill. Having crossed the passes and climbed a peak during the trek in we'll be able to spend less time toing and froing through the Khumbu Icefall and we'll be sleeping at Camp 1 (6,000m) on our first visit followed by a couple of nights at C2 (6,400m).
After a couple of rest days at EBC our next visit on the mountain will be straight to C2 and then a foray to 'touch' C3 (7,100m to 7,300m depending on where it's situated) and then back down again (a 4 or 5 day foray). And that's it - we'll be ready and waiting for the summit weather window.
Oh, I forgot to say - along the way we'll also be discussing topics such as how to avoid frostbite, what causes hypothermia and how to avoid it, the importance of hydration, the benefit of concurrent activity, how to assess risk whilst keeping moving in The Khumbu Icefall, medical protocols, how to draw up an injection (whilst wearing BIG mitts), where to inject people should the need arise, oxygen protocols, radio procedures, how to deal with fixed ropes in ascent and descent, how best to pass people on the lines etc etc.
We will also be discussing the very distressing subject of dealing with death on the mountain.
Unfortunately people die every year on Everest ... and I am going to stick my neck out here and say that most of those deaths were avoidable. Not necessarily avoidable on the day, mind you. But they were probably avoidable well in advance in the respect that if the clients had been better prepared before arriving to attempt Everest, or that they had come up with a sensible training regime and identified what skills they required (and accomplished all those objectives to a very high degree), or that they had a better overall grounding in being an independent mountaineer in their own right from prolific experience in the hills and on expeditions, or that they had practiced with their kit and equipment before using it in the summit day environment (oxygen systems for instance), or that they had showed better (or even in many cases, some) due diligence in their choice of expedition provider. Or that the expedition provider they had signed up with had more oxygen, spare oxygen, that they had high altitude medicines on summit day (and the knowledge of how to best use them), that they had better Climbing Sherpa ratios, a better grasp of logistics on the hill, clearer lines of communication, etc etc.
In all those respects and if all those criteria had been fulfilled then I'm afraid to say that many of the deaths on Everest were avoidable.
Let's hope it's going to be safe and successful season all round. There's a lot that is beyond our control, mind, so we are definitely prepared to give it our best shot but without feeling that we are somehow invincible.
It's an environment that demands a lot if respect.
We'll try and keep the posts coming but it's not always that easy. If anything the easiest option out there is tweeting and sending FaceBook updates so have a look at timmosedale on twitter and tim.mosedale on FaceBook and we'll try and keep a steady stream of updates.
Thanks for following and showing interest and hopefully we'll get some summit shots, videos and movies to show you at the end if it all.
Cheers - Tim Mosedale