After guiding a team to Everest Base camp in 2010 as part of the Global Schools Project a smaller team of us headed back into the Himalayan mountains from Kathmandu. For the past six years I have had some good friends who have also acted as guides for me on polar and mountain expeditions.
On this occasion there was Mark Kelly who had been with me on the Arctic Schools expedition in 2008 and had also guided for my company Snowball Expeditions to Mount Everest Base Camp. Jon Geldart had been a strong part of the Geographic North pole team in 2006 along with being supportive in expedition logistics and UK training. Finally Pete Bradley who at a young age has already an incredible back log of mountain and trekking expeditions.
Due to bad weather covering Nepal and surrounding countries we headed into the mountains by helicopter three days behind schedule. These missing days were defiantly on our minds as we wanted to move slowly to acclimatise.
We worked as a team calculating the ground to cover against how we felt individually. It took just one day to trek from Lukla the airport 2700m to Namche Bazar – 3450m. As we caught up on one of our days we decided to rest at this level for a further twenty four hours before proceeding to Pheriche.
On route we stopped in Tengboche Monastery – were the local Lama blessed the expedition and team members. I’m not a religious man but you need to have a respect for the areas you operate in. It was a great moment for all of us.
After another rest in Pheriche we headed towards Dingboche and on towards Island Peak base camp. We found it hard to sleep in the tents as the hours ticked by until we could get up and start ascending the mountain. At four in the morning in darkness we started to progress. As we trekked slowly up the mountain side Jon and Pete decided that the quick assent had been too much and they headed down towards base camp.
Mark Kelly and our guides Mauli and Singi reached the snow line and we fixed our crampons for the final stage. Shortly afterwards we crossed a crevasse and headed to the steep final section. Hanging off the static line one hundred metres from the top Singi our leader who had climb Everest and many peaks around the area before warned us of soft snow and potential avalanche. Mark and myself looked at each other and laughed – we had got so close!
We headed down to be met by Jon who had made tea (how British) for me it was one of my favourite expeditions as I was with a group of good friends – working as a team in an incredible area of the world. The helicopter flight back through the Khumbu valley from Namche Bazaar was a great end to the journey.