Day 49, May 29 – What may be happening right now….
May 29th was the date that Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary climbed Mt Everest in 1953.
There have been no updates from Grant. I assume he is packing up at ABC and taking the hike down to BC into warmer climes and thicker air. This should take a leisurely 6-8 hours for him in good conditions. Returning after a hard fought campaign without the victory of the summit is always tough, but coming back from Everest with all fingers and toes is a bonus. A rule of thumb which I have lived by can be summed up by the late Roger Baxter-Jones (talking about the most important aspect of climbing):
Come back alive
Come back friends
Get to the top
(in that order of importance)
I will leave all of Axe’s supporters and friends with a last excerpt from my 2nd book, Against Giants: The Life and Climbs of a Disabled Mountaineer – which tells of what I felt like returning to Rongbuk basecamp without the summit.
I will continue update this blog for Grant until he gets back to a more reliable Internet connection where he can truly share, in depth, his adventures. Until then, cheerio!
"We rested for a day at ABC before leaving. But not before we were roused by the clanging of the beating of a saucepan. Often, this was a celebratory signal by ABC cooks that someone from their team had summitted. I looked up in the clear blue sky to see a puff of white appear near the summit. It got bigger as it glided down slowly, like a small, white postage stamp. It was the ace team of Bertrand and Claire Roche making a world record for the highest paraglider launch next day. Many years previously, a young Betrand and his father were the first father and son team to summit Mt Everest, he was just 17 years old. They descended to the flat saddle of the South Col and then promptly paraglided their way back to basecamp. Now, I marvelled at the Gallic flair of doing these sort of things. It was a beautiful sight watching people doing what they do best and a sight probably never to be enjoyed ever again. I do not think that the wind conditions on the summit of Everest can be timed so perfectly again. And yet, I felt a stab of disappointment . That morning of May 22nd would have been our summit day – and what a glorious, perfect day it was. I endured the 11-hour hike down to basecamp largely alone except for a lunch stop above Intermediate Camp. Here, I met a relaxed Roz and good-humoured Gil. They were taking an easy hike down and would be back hours ahead of me. As I drained my water bottle, I fantasized about drinking a cool mug of my favourite grape-flavoured Tang. There had been only a small packet of it at basecamp and I had not seen it when I left for the summit push. I kept that thought going as the sun rose and then sank over the horizon. Thoughts of the summit day filled my hours. Each boulder and landmark brought be closer to the end of my journey. The sun began to creep down the horizon as I tried to hurry my tired legs onwards. As I approached basecamp, I saw only a few tents left. Many of Eric’s clients had finished their treks or climbs and had gone home. A small figure loped up the final stretch. It was Wilfred. Thoughts of our climb on Aconcagua came back to me and suddenly my vision blurred as I felt a warm trickle run down my face. We walked the last few metres to my tent where Eric was standing, awaiting my eventual return. He had a ‘all-is-forgiven’ grin on his face and a hug signalled the end of my journey to Everest. Then Tara, the cookboy appeared, offering me a tin mug. I lifted it to my cracked lips and drank heartily. It was grape-flavoured Tang and it was heaven to be back safely. From: " Against Giants" - published by Epigram, 2003