My last blog was reportedly the last of the expedition, and I suppose now as I sit reclused at home in Cheshire, that would be accurate. I should be at Camp 2 or Camp 3 at the moment for our final acclimatisation rotation right now- but that doesn’t matter. The ordeal is over; or at least for my family. Sadly for Nepal, the long and convoluted road to recovery is only just beginning.
Since the 25th of April when tragedy literally swept down the mountain, for the second consecutive year, I guess I had to be resilient and deal with the situation. Mentally, I had to numb myself- it was not the time to break down or sit idle. Toughening my skin to sights and experiences that will stay with me for life, for the wrong reasons. But when I got on the flight home via Doha, that locked-up emotion found a crack in the seams.
Thousands across Nepal lost their lives in the quake but three lives in particular have not left my mind- three of our team who were killed at base camp whilst we made our way to the comparative relative safety of Camp 1. Pasang Temba, Kumar Rai and Tenzing Bhote. Ang Kajji, one of the climbing Sherpas, has also broken his arm. I continuously question why they were taken from their families and not me. Simple fate or innocent logistics could have had me and the rest of my team at base camp when I am certain most of us would have been wiped out too. I believe that the majority, if not all, of the fatalities occurred in the central area of base camp which was most directly hit by the avalanche from Pumori. We would have been in our own tents, torn by large rocks and buried under ice, or in our mess tent, a mangled mess of steel thrown about ten metres into the next camp. As one team member said, we’d probably have seen the approaching tower of snow and just zipped up the tent door- beknown to the deceiving 200mph winds and wall of snow carrying rocks, ice and boulders.
I will never know why I was spared and given life. But I know that whatever it is, I have been kept here to serve a purpose and that’s to make the biggest difference I can, savour life, and smile like Kumar always did. And right now, to fundraise for people who give so much yet have now lost everything in their lives.
Already I am being asked whether I will return to Everest. Being a speaker and ambassador trying to inspire people to achieve their dreams, it would be hypocritical if I then stopped trying- but ultimately life is precious and the risk shouldn’t outweigh the willpower. Many are saying to me ‘third time lucky!’ but the mantra of us creating our own luck, doesn’t apply to Everest. The mountain doesn’t care how hard you’ve worked or trained. Most of all, my luck is that I’m home. I’m already thinking of new adventures and challenges that will mean something to me, but there’s very little that hasn’t already been done within my reach. Put simply, I’m clearly not destined towards mountaineering, and I’m the sort of guy who can train 30 hours a week yet get lapped by the guy who lifts weights once a week and spends the weekend getting sh*t-faced. If strength is not my asset, then I need to find one.
Seen as I can’t summit it, in a few weeks I will climb the height of Mount Everest on my bike- 29,035ft of ascent in one continuous effort, less than 24 hours. This will involve multiple repeated ascents of one of the high passes in the Lake District. Hopefully it will raise more funds for Nepal too.
Over £4,900 raised for the Himalayan Trust UK now. Thankyou all for your incredible generosity- I’m extremely grateful that so many people have donated at a time when it’s so urgently needed.
Bye for now,