Sorry it's been a while but we've been a bit busy of late and in some communication black spots.
The latest news is that Ilina and Steve made the summit on 23rd May in fine style and in super quick time - summiting at just after 3 in the morning. The downside is that this meant they didn't have a view. Anyway since then we have all returned to BC, packed up and trekked out.
Last time, when Adam Booth and I made the summit, you may recall that the conditions were rather inclement and we had windchill well in excess of -40. Consequently, despite getting WiFi connection, and Simon in Melbourne receiving my call request, we didn't actually get connected. Shame as it would have been a world first for video conferencing from the top of the world. In the meantime there are a couple of other guys out there with corporate sponsorship who have therefore beaten me to it. Hey ho.
After our ascent of 13th May I later found out that we were the 3rd and 8th Westerners to summit this year (2 had summited a day or so before). There were two others on the summit with Adam, there were 2 others from Himalayan Guides (and indeed we had been sharing with from BC onwards - well done Jan and Mel), there was a random guy on his own when I got there and that was it.
There were two Westerners with their Climbing Sherpa who turned around at The Hillary Step (soooo close but, in the conditions we had soooo far), there was an Australian chap with snow blindness who turned around with his Climbing Sherpa below The South Summit (and who Padawa, one of our Sherpas, went BACK up to The Balcony to assist after we'd descended to The South Col - for no reward) and there were another 3 random individuals descending having not summited as well. So all in all 7 (plus 5 Sherps) summited and 6 (plus 3 Sherps) didn't. By all accounts a quiet day in Everest (except for the roar if the wind).
Since then the floodgates opened and other teams had been trying to summit in the wake of our success ... but there were a few teams who obviously hadn't been checking the forecast (or didn't have access to one) because they were trying in ludicrous conditions and, as a consequence, failed dismally.
On a later visit to C2 Ilina went over to see a lady she's met along the way and described their C2 set up as being akin to part of a shanty town with the situation inside looking like the retreat from some winter battlefront. Dishevelled people who had been mismanaged, abandoned (that's right - one lady was left to her own devices to get down from C3 and was eventually piggy backed by our own Dorje Gyalgen back to C2), who had set out from The South Col in totally inappropriate conditions for their experience, without having strict Climbing Sherpa support and who then returned in dribbs and drabs on the verge of panic, and close to death, back to The South Col.
For them their trip was over. 0% success rate and 100% dissatisfaction. The piggy back lady still had 5 bottles of oxygen unused but, to get permission to try again she had to return to Base Camp to call the boss in Kathmandu to find out if it was possible to reascend. So they had no comms with BC and no BC manager who could make executive decisions. And you can almost guarantee that by the time she got down and was rested enough to try again time will have run out.
Anyway I digress ... but I do get angry when people are charged an extraordinary amount of money to attempt this beautiful mountain only to find that their personal dreams are swept away by sheer incompetence, utter mismanagement and a complete lack of understanding of logistics, acclimatisation, health issues, weather forecasting etc etc. And at the end of the day some of these situations become completely unravelled at the edges and people's lives are at stake. The client, their Sherpa (if he's around), other people's Sherpas who get involved in rescues and other climbers who are already at the edge of looking after themselves, let alone assisting others.
Anyway that was a while ago and since then Jon, Ilina and Steve have all realised their dream of standing on top of the world. Jon, under a bit of pressure because of UK work commitments, made his ascent on a reasonably busy evening bit managed to keep ahead of the crowds and negotiated his way safely down to C2 that day.
Meanwhile the rest if the team waited patiently and eventually made their ascent on pretty much the last day of the decent weather on a clear, still evening by the light of a full moon. What a great way to be rewarded for waiting. And to top it all they were on the mountain on a quiet(ish) night with around 30 other climbers.
Anyway the trip is almost over and we are due to fly to KTM from Namche Bazaar early tomorrow morning. We're certainly looking forward to a few luxuries that we have been without for the past 2 months ... namely a decent shower, a proper shave, clean sheets and a proper bed etc. We're also looking forward to bring able to eat in restaurants and choose what we'd like to eat and drink etc etc.
As the trip draws to a close I'd like to thank you for following and supporting our venture with your comments, likes and shares. Whilst I'm at it I'd like to thank Mark Ashford for configuring some of the electronic equipment to make communication possible, Suzanna the housekeeper at our B&B who has had to work flat out in my absence, my Dad for helping out with the school run and, last but not least, to Ali, Grace and Max for putting up with me being away for such a long time.
And , again, to you, dear reader, for following our progress.
Many thanks - Tim