Category Archives: Everest 2011

Day 27 – 7 May – Pain pain go away…

The day I arrived in the festering flea pit of Tashyzom at 4200m in an effort to try and recover from Pulmonary edema, my front tooth started to become very painful. I had left basecamp in a hurry to drive the 2 hours down to Tashyzom, and hence had packed very minimally. The only medicine I had was toothpaste, 6 panadol, some toilet paper and a strip of strepsils. After some remote consultations by email (thanks to Dughal and Marie Aitken), we were pretty sure it was an abscess. As the closest dentist was a few days drive away in Kathmandu, the only practical option was to control the abscess with penicillin (which was back up at basecamp).

The length of my stay in Tashyzom therefore became a trade-off between staying at the lower elevation long enough to recover from Pulminary edema, as to how long I could withstand the pain from my abscessing tooth and also how long I could remain in Tashyzom without getting food poisoning.

The answer to the above question was 3 days and nights. By the 3rd day I had used up all my panadol and it was no longer strong enough to control the pain. I had tried David Lim’s homemade recipe of holding strepsils to the infected gum area without sucking them and leaving them there as long as possible. I had developed diarrhea which was no surprise. I cannot begin to describe the filth of Tashyzom. Attached below is a photo of the toilet. If you wipe your backside with dirt and then cook someone dinner without washing your hands then its only a matter of time before they will get sick.

The Tashyzom toilet - the dirt piled up around the edges is to wipe yourself with.

A highlight of my stay in Tashyzom was on the second day when I decided to go for a walk down the road and came across about 20 snotty nosed school kids who after requesting money (and not getting any from me) then pelted me with Yak shit. Between this, the filth and not being able to sleep at all during night-time due to the wild dogs barking and fighting incessantly I was pretty happy to getting out of the place.

After making contact with basecamp on day 3 to let them know I needed to get back urgently, I was informed that the only way I could get back that day was on a motorbike as all the 4WD vehicles were busy. So for 3 bumpy and dusty hours I sat on the back of a small 150CC chinese motorbike as it bounced its way up to basecamp. Every jolt was soothing to my face, kind of like someone sticking a red-hot needle into my tooth and jaw. I was happy to reach basecamp.

As fast as I dropped my pack at basecamp I dived into a course of Amoxycillin. I had been told this would probably not take effect for 24 – 36 hours. By now the pain had started to make it difficult to concentrate on other more positive things in life. I woke up yesterday morning with a fever and spent the entire day in my tent running hot and cold and dozing on and off while sucking painkillers and praying to my Amoxycillin tablet every 8 hours as I chewed it down to please start working soon.

Never have I been more glad of small white pill’s than this morning when I woke up. The incessant shooting pain in my jaw has gone to be replaced by pain only when I touch the tooth. I also am over the fever and for the first time could start to think about the future.

I had a long talk with Jamie (team leader) this morning and I told him that I want to try again to re-ascend. Based on advice from Jamie, my independent research and also from a doctor in New Zealand, I realise the risks are high for developing pulmonary edema again upon re-ascent. Therefore any re-ascent needs to be carefully controlled, I need to listen to my body very carefully and at the first sign of any problem come down. I also cannot afford to be by myself and must have support with me, in terms of someone who will be carrying oxygen. Thus we will try to minimize the risk as much as possible, as if it does happen again, it will be more severe than the first time and I will need immediate assistance to get down asap. It will really be one step at a time, ascend camp by camp and see how I feel at each camp.

So that’s the situation at present – I have not set a date to re-ascend – however it maybe tomorrow or the next day. The last few days have really been a miserable and stressful time. Thinking and planning the re-ascent is also a nerve-wracking experience. I know the risks. Its my decision ultimately. I pray my body will support my decision.

I have to say a huge thank you after my last blog to all the people who sent me comments and messages. I read and savor every single message and they do an enormous effort in terms of boosting my morale. In my weakest hours it’s this support (and Amoxycillin!) that I have needed the most. A special thanks to Blair and Phillipa, Greg Moore, Linda, Helen, David Lim, Tom and Barclay, Dr Terri Bidwell and Dughall and Marie Aitken. And to Stephanie – sorry for putting you through this worry, as you say, maybe I am due for some good luck soon.

Over and out from Everest Basecamp at 5150m

Axe

Day 24 – 3 May – H.A.P.E

H.A.P.E = High Altiude Pulminory edema.

High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a life-threatening form of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs) that occurs in otherwise healthy mountaineers at altitudes typically above 2,500 meters (8,200ft).Some cases, however, have been reported also at lower altitudes (between 1,500–2,500 metres or 4,900–8,200 feet in highly vulnerable subjects), although what makes some people susceptible to HAPE is not currently known. HAPE remains the major cause of death related to high-altitude exposure with a high mortality in absence of adequate emergency treatment.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The last two posts to my blog have been brief. These have been created by me sending short 120 character SMS messages (at 6000m in -25 degrees at night in my tent using Satellite phone) to David Lim in Singapore who updates the blog. So for the people who have commented why the posts are so short, now you know why!

After spending 5 days at 5150m at basecamp, we left on what turned out to be an aggressive acclimatisation cycle. Instead of the 3 or 4 rounds of cycles that many teams do, we were informed that our plan was to do one big push up to 7500m, then return to basecamp and wait for a summit opportunity.

The first night we trekked 9.5km up 600m of height gain to 5750m to our Interim basecamp, or what I quickly renamed ‘Yak Shit’ camp. Yak Shit camp is located smack bang in the middle of the East Rongbuk Glacial moraine and tent platforms are made by hacking into the ice and rocks. Unfortunately the yaks need to sleep here as well, and as space is a premium, the entire area is covered in yak shit. Growing up on a farm – a little cow shit to sleep and eat on for two nights does not put me off too much, however its not the most pleasant camp I have stayed at.

I arrived at Interim Camp with a stunning headache and some impressive nausea and spent 2 hours loading up on water and Ibuprofen whilst grovelling away in my tent lying on yak shit. I felt good enough after 2 hours to eat one spoon full of pasta and mug of tea before disappearing back into my tent and sleeping bag for a beautiful nights rest only to be woken every 45 minutes by the need to pee (a consequence of taking the high altitude drug Diamox) or by the feeling I was suffocating (Cheyne-styokes breathing).

After a rest day at Interim Camp we then pushed on for 5.5 hours upto Advanced Basecamp (ABC) at 6350m. Another 600m vertical climb in boiling 33 degree heat – however nothing could have prepared me for the heat that we experienced once we arrived at ABC. Once again I arrived with a headache, promptly took a mug of boiling water (all the water is made from melting ice and is boiled for hygiene purposes. However it is too hot when you get it to drink which is quite frustrating when you are feeling so thirsty). Diving into my tent, I stripped down to my underwear, put on my sunglasses and sunscreen (as even in the tent and heat and reflection of the sun off the snow will easily burn you) and popped more Ibuprofen to ease the thumping in my head. At 4PM the sun dip’s down below the North Col and the temperature would drop from +33 degrees to -15 degree Celsius in the space of a few minutes.

The next day at ABC I lay in what felt like a microwave oven all day until 4PM when the sun left. I then felt bold enough to emerge from the tent and huff and puff my way for 30 minutes to the top of the hill above ABC where you can see the entire North Col and the climbing route up it. It was an impressive site, around 400m of steep snow and ice and I was excited about finally getting onto something more technical.

The following day I felt well enough to wander upto the base of the col, strap on my crampons and climb up some rope lengths till I reached the memorable height of 6666m. I then wandered back to basecamp in the sweltering heat, feeling quite tired and thirsty by the time I returned from my 4 hour jaunt. I popped the now familiar Ibuprofen and drank some water.

View up the North Col

It was about this time that I first thought to myself that I had pushed the acclimatisation enough for the first round,and wouldn’t mind descending to basecamp for a rest. I felt a little tired and that I wanted to use the climb high sleep low principle more. However during dinner that night it was decided we would all ascend to the North Col Camp at 7050m tomorrow and spend 3 nights there. I thought to myself that this is going to be hardwork, especially hauling all my gear (some team members use personal sherpa’s to carry the bulk of their gear – a good idea it seemed to me as I lay in my tent thinking of the next days task).

The next day with a laden pack, I set-out with Jim. We had been getting long well on the trip and elected to climb to the Col together slowly as we would be both carrying our own gear. After 45 mins I knew something was wrong. I could not keep up with the very slow pace that Jim was setting, I put this down to the fact that my pack was too heavy. So reluctantly I returned to ABC and spoke to team leader Jamie about the fact I was struggling with the heavy pack. He asked what I would like to do and I said I would throw out all absolute non essentials and try again early in the morning before the sun came out. Jamie kindly offered to carry up my sleeping mat and cooking pot to save some weight also.

I then lay in my tent for the rest of the afternoon, nursing my by now continual headache (a couple of Ibuprofen helped – man I love that stuff) and I noticed two things.

  1. There was a rattling sound in my chest when I breathed deeply
  2. I was feeling extremely lethargic and lacking energy
  3. I was struggling to catch my breath even at rest

As the rest of the team was up at the North Col I had dinner alone in our small dining tent. But I had zero appetite and forced down 3 pieces of broccoli and some hot water before disappearing into the bliss of my sleeping tent at -25 degrees (-25 degrees at 6300m elevation feels much colder than it does at sea-level!)

At 4AM I realized I had a serious problem. I needed a crap. The crap was not the problem. Getting up out of my sleeping bag and putting on all my down and walking down the 5m to the toilet tent left me gasping for breath as if I had just been through a boxing round. I felt like I was suffocating and continual panting did not seem to relieve the situation. I also noticed my breathing was making more pronounced gurgling noises and I coughed up a huge ball of bloody spit. I am not a doctor but have read screeds of information about altitude sickness and the different forms and symptoms. I immediately knew that I was suffering the initial stages of H.A.P.E.

Lying alone in your tent in freezing conditions at 6350m knowing you have serious altitude sickness is quite a lonely experience. I was in two minds: I knew the only effective cure for H.A.P.E (which is deadly), is to descend immediately to a lower altitude fast. But I also knew that team leader Jamie who was higher up on the North Col would not be in radio contact until around 7AM, at which time he could arrange for some assistance to help me down the mountain.

As I lay there I could feel myself getting weaker by the hour. Should I wait for 4 more hours or should I head off down in the dark by myself? I decided to wait but it was a long 4 hours lying in my sleeping bag, not sleeping a wink until the sun hit the tents.

Jamie immediately confirmed over the radio what I had self diagnosed. He had one of the Tibetan crew carry my pack with some water and food and a Sherpa name Nima to carry oxygen and walk with me. As I sat in ABC waiting for the guys to make some last-minute preparations I took the opportunity to inhale bottled oxygen. Whilst descent is the only reliable cure – breathing bottled oxygen is the only other really effective thing which can temporarily assist with the symptoms of H.A.P.E until which time as you can get low enough to recover.

At 7:30AM we left ABC. We had a short 30m uphill scramble to get onto the moraine ridge to get out of basecamp. This was where I knew I was in more trouble than I realised. I had no power at all in my body to move uphill, and every step upwards left me gasping for air as if I was suffocating(which was in fact what I was doing). It was an awful sensation as I staggered up the hill, 2 steps at a time then bend over my trekking poles gasping for air and spitting bloody phlegm into the snow. The continual thoughts that if I did not descend then I would die however was a strong enough motivating force to keep me going.

I could just manage to stumble slowly downhill under my own power, however any uphill sections left me bent over my poles gasping for oxygen feeling like someone had taped up my mouth. We soon developed a routine where I would stumble along for 45 mins until I was too exhausted to walk further. Then I would collapse onto a rock and Nima would hook the oxygen mask over my face for ten minutes. After 30 seconds on Oxygen I would promptly fall asleep – or into a semi-sleep state where I could here my self gurgling and moaning. After ten minutes breathing gas, Nima would awaken me and we would continue down. After 4.5 hours of stumbling I stood with Interim basecamp in site, the only obstacle between me and the camp being a 50m high moraine wall. In a fit state I would have run up in this in a couple of minutes. In my current state I stood at the bottom swaying and looking up at it and it looked more formidable than Everest itself. Nima turned to me and seeing the fear in my eyes said “no worry Grant – I give you more oxygen for this”.

I was to weak to even carry the oxygen cylinder myself. Nima hooked the mask over my face and left the canister in his backpack, put his arm around me and started hauling me up the hill. At rest – breathing the oxygen was a soothing and relaxing sensation. However under stress as I tried to move up the hill the opposite happened. I felt a terrible claustrophobic choking sensation, the mask seemed to be not working and I continually snatched it from my face and tried to gulp air which made it worse. “Nima – have you turned this on” I continually asked – “yes its on 4litres per minute” he kept telling me. It took almost 30 minutes to get to the top of the hill by which time I was very close to passing out. I stumbled into the Interim basecamp tent, collapsed onto the floor and promptly fell asleep for 20 minutes until Nima woke me again, fed me a boiled potato and three cups of strong sweet black tea.

A familiar site on the way down - me bent over my poles spitting up blood and gasping for air

The good news was I had stopped coughing up blood by now. I was still gasping and struggling for breath and knew I had to make it down to basecamp that day – another 600m of descent. So at 1:30PM we set off again in driving snow. For hour upon hour I slowly plodded and stumbled down. By this time I was completely on autopilot, my mind had left my body and I was day dreaming of all sorts of things.

At one stage I thought to myself “I really am quite lucky to have my pack carried down the hill for me – this has never happened before” – then in the next breath “you f$%ing idiot – you have pulmonary edema and you could have died!”.

11 hours after leaving ABC I stumbled into basecamp feeling as if I could have kept walking downhill for ever on autopilot. However once I fell into a chair in our basecamp dining tent a wave of exhaustion washed over me and I felt paralysed. Our cook placed a plate of food in front of me – I stared blankly at at for 30 minutes before forcing down a small bowlful of soup then with Nima’s help again staggered out to my tent with my trusty oxygen bottle and collapsed into a deep slumber.

All day long – over 11 hours, Nima was never more than one step behind me. Whenever I staggered or was about to fall I felt his hand on my shoulder supporting me. When I was to tired to move, he would quietly strap the oxygen mask over my face and sit beside for ten minutes until I regained enough strength to move. He fed me food and water. He never once complained or asked me to try and move faster. He was my guardian angel and the compassion of the man whom I hardly knew at all brings a tear to my eye.

The next morning after reaching basecamp – I wandered across to visit a doctor from a Russian expedition. He listened to my lungs(all clear), took my blood pressure (120/80), noticed my oxygen saturation in my blood was a little low (68), but said in faltering english: “you have have altitude sickness – you go down for 2 or 3 days – you rest – you come back up – if you feel ok you go back up mountain”.

I then spoke to Andrew Lock – the first Australian to climb all 14 of the worlds 8000m peaks. He reminded me of the NZ climber Gary Ball(Rob Hall’s teammate) who got HAPE one time and it kept reoccurring every-time he went high until it killed him.

So I left basecamp and drove 2 hours down to a small Tibetan village at 4200m. I am feeling much better, each day getting stronger and getting my breath back. I have only been in prison twice before and both time the cell had:

  • a door
  • a toilet to sit on
  • an electric light
  • a washbasin with running water
  • was free of charge

Unfortunately the hotel I am staying at now has none of the above. There is a hole cut in the second floor which you can crap onto the footpath below and pail of dirt beside the hole to wipe your backside with. I have not been to keen on trying this system out however.

So is my expedition over?

Mentally I am definitely not finished with this mountain. However it is my body which will make the decision. And also my team leader Jamie who will also need to decide if we want to try and give it one more chance. I am currently trying my best to stay positive, although staying in a flea pit by yourself eating biscuits and water with no company while trying to recover is definitely a character building experience.

The next three days will be a very interesting time to see if I can recover my strength enough to try for one more push higher up the mountain. If I can’t it will basically mean the end of the expedition for me, something I find hard to bear even thinking about at this point in time.

I hope all of you reading this are in better health than me and enjoying nice clean food, flushing toilets, cotton sheets and warm showers, and most of all the company of your loved ones.

From 4200m in Tibet,

Axe

Day 17-18, April 28-29 At ABC preparing for North Col

( via SMS messaging and David Lim)

Hi there, yesterday I went for a hike from ABC (6380m) up to the base of the ice wall that is the start of the climb to the North Col ( 7000m). Hot work. CLimbed up the first 2 rope lengths to get a feel of the route. My brain is baking like a large cupcake in the intense sunshine. Gotta fix the dehydration issue. At least I did a bit better than the 8 Malaysian who tried to go up today – only four made it.

Tomorrow. I’ll be heading for North Col proper and will be away for 3 days. Wish me luck as I try to get some minerals or some kind of drink mix into my water t help me hydrate better. Axe Out

Day 16-17 – Advance Base Camp at last, April 27-28

(by Thuraya SMS message)

Arrived ABC  (6380m yesterday from IC< taking  4 hr 40 mins. SO hot it’s suffocating – like being in my car without the airconditioning in Singapore! Another headache upon arrival so popped some ibuprofen and felt better. Today 28th April is a rest day where i will attempt to clean myself up with a few wet ones ( which would be the marker ” Radioactive – Dispose with Care!”) and have a look around. Axe Out

Day 15 – Apr 25 -At Intermediate Camp, 5800m

(from Thuraya SMS to David)

Made it from  basecamp to intermediate camp in just under 4 hours. Bad headache and nausea from dehydration last night. Lots of yakshit around. not a pleasant spot. Weather is very changeable from hot, sunny climes to snowing the next hour. Tomorrow , am off to Advance Base Camp ( ABC ) at around 6500m and several hours hike upwards.

Grant

Day 14 – 24 April – Leaving for the North Col

Its been snowing quite heavily here for the last 24 hours and more snow forecast for the next one week. However tomorrow we will leave for an acclimitisation cycle higher up the mountain – hopefully to the North Col at 7000m.  This trip will take 10 – 12 days.  The main purpose of the trip is to acclimatise our bodies, to a point where hopefully we are ready to have an attempt at the summit once we return and rest up for a few days. It should be a fairly miserable time of more headaches, extreme cold and nausea however I am very excited about getting up higher, especially upto the North Col where the real climbing begins!

Attached is a small video of the climbers memorial here at Basecamp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-eu9s9oVVw

Axe

Day 13 – April 23 – The yaks have arrived

About 50 yaks arrived at our basecamp yesterday morning, accompanied by their extremely tough Tibetan yak herders. Each climber had packed a duffle bag of personal items to be carried by the yaks the 21km to our Advanced Base Camp at 6350m. As well as personal items, communal gear including tents, food, kitchen gear, cooking gas etc had to be carried up as well. In total 1.37 tonnes of equipment on 40 yak loads, was weighed, distributed and loaded onto the yaks. Each yak can carry around 20 kg in each side, so in total 40kg.

Attached below is a short video of the yaks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmap8CT7G-U

The Sherpa’s kept a keen eye on each load as it was weighed. As is usual there is a lengthy negotiation process between the yak herders and the expedition sherpa crew, as to how much each yak can carry, how much it will cost etc.

The Yaks and their herders really are remarkably tough. They will carry our gear up the Rongbuk Glacier, then branch off onto the East Rongbuk Glacier, all the way to our advanced basecamp – a vertical height gain of 1200m, (from 5150m here at basecamp to 6350m at advanced basecamp). This is an incredibly physically demanding job, in the very thin air and high altitude, coupled with the intense cold and wind, all the while negotiating a steep loose rocky glacial trail.

It will take us climbers 4 days to reach advanced basecamp. The recommended safe altitude gain for a person to ascend per day is 300m. Thus to get from 5150m here to 6350m will require us to have some stops along the way. We will use an interim camp at 5800m which we will stay at for two nights to allow our bodies adjust to the altitude.

I am starting to feel better here at basecamp in terms of adjusting to the altitude. During the last 3 days I started taking very short walks around basecamp with Jim, and we have both found ourselves huffing, puffing and panting in the thin air. Any form of more extreme exertion would bring on a headache very quickly. Mentally I was also struggling with basic things. I kept forgetting what I was doing and found myself making multiple trips back to my tent to pick something up only to forget what it was once I got there. All effects from the reduced oxygen.

Yesterday we had a longer walk (16km return), down to the Rongbuk Monastery. This is the highest monastery in the world (that I am aware of), and I went for a quick look though it.

The Rongbuk Monastery at 5000m elevation

I am not sure where the monks were as we only come across 2 ladies with 2 small children and a sheep, the sheep was much cleaner than the humans hence I had a photo with it. The kids were very cute as small kids always are however they looked malnourished and I don’t believe they would ever have had a shower in their lives.

Friendly Rongbuk Monastery sheep

Snotface

Today we went up 500m vertically above basecamp to 5650m. I took the opportunity to give my body a blow out and test my acclimatisation and pushed things along fairly hard, gaining 500m in 1hr and 10mins. My lungs felt good and it was a great feeling to be giving my body a workout.

I am not sleeping that well at night and had stopped taking Diamox three days back, so started it again last night, it helped somewhat but the side effect of needing to pee saw my one litre pee bottle full by 1AM! In -15 degrees I was not so keen to get out of the tent and have a pee so had to hold on with a full bladder for the rest of the night.

It now looks as if the 25th will be the day we will leave for Advanced Basecamp and higher up to the North Col at 7000m.

Over and out from Everest Basecamp,

Axe

Day 11 – April 21 – Video post from basecamp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTskhSRdbIw

Day 10 – 20 April – Video post from basecamp

Hi all,

Attached is a short video clip of our Sherpa team setting up the Puja ceremony this morning, and also the basecamp site itself and the view of Everest.

The Puja is a very important ceremony which is run by our Sherpa team, and is to ask permission and blessing from the mountain spirits for our climb.  We each bring our crampons and ice axes and these are blessed as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueY3JS_KxQE

I spent the rest of the day packing gear for the yak team which will arrive tomorrow night to carry our gear the 21km and nearly 1000+ vertical metres to advanced basecamp, sewing sponsors logos onto my climbing suit and also taking short walks around the area.

Yesterday I visited George Mallory’s memorial and found it incredibly moving, especially when I turn and look high up on the mountain and know his body still lies up there.

At the site of Mallory and Irvine's memorial

Tomorrow will be an acclimatisation walk to the Rongbuk Monastary.  It’s very windy here, and around 2 degrees at basecamp so I am permanently wearing my down jacket,pants and UGG boots!

Over and out,

Axe

Day 9 – 19 April – arrived in Everest basecamp

With great happiness we departed the flea pit of Tingri for a bumpy and dusty 5 hour drive up to Everest Basecamp. As we crossed the Pang La pass at 5200m the whole of the North face of Everest became visible. The North Ridge was clearly visible and cloud was billowing off the summit. It was still another two hours drive until we finally arrived at the head of the Rongbuk glacier where our basecamp is located at 5150m. You can see the position from the GPS spot tracker:

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=01D7vLV7CeAEhkhXFxOP0hG9RNPnPzqrV

As we drove in I reflected on my journey so far to Everest Basecamp and compared it to the early expeditions and especially George Mallory who in 1924 took many months to sail from England and walk for weeks across this barren inhospitable countryside before arriving at the foot of the mountain. All this with no communication with their families back home, apart from the occasional mail bag which may arrive several months after being written. My journey has been slightly simpler and has involved flying to Kathmandu in 5 hours from Singapore, followed by a 5 day drive – all the while having full 3G mobile phone reception the entire time!

I did not come away completely unscathed from the drive through Tibet, and have a slight stomach upset. No diarrhea but it lets me know some strange stuff has been consumed. Another team member contracted a much stronger dose and has been in the toilet very frequently since we arrived.

Our sherpa team arrived 2 days before us and did a magnificent job of setting up the camp before we arrived. We each have our own personal tent to sleep in and unpack all our gear. There is a kitchen tent, with some carpet lining the floor and a dining table, cooks tent, toilet tent and even a shower tent! I am extremely impressed by the set-up and having being used to climbing lightweight and independently most of my life this kind of lavish arrangement makes me feel slightly guilty! I am consoling myself with the fact that after time spent up higher on the mountain in the brutal conditions then it will be nice to get back to basecamp and recover. There are several other expeditions here, some much larger and more luxurious than ours with table tennis tables in their mess tents!

Everest Basecamp at 5150m with the North Face of Everest behind

We were greeted into basecamp by a snow storm which lasted around 2 hours and obliterated our view of Everest. Since then most of the time the entire North Face of the mountain is visible and it is hard not to stand in awe and stare, up, up, up for what seems like for ever, following the North Ridge until it meets up with the North East Ridge and onwards to the summit. Oh my god it looks like a long way. It also looks very cold, windy and steep up higher. Quite an impressive sight!

Its been a rapid rise to basecamp here at 5150m, I have had a slight altitude headache and am taking things very slowly. We will stay at basecamp here for the next 5 nights doing day walks and acclimatising, until the 24th April when we will leave for a 10 – 12 day acclimatisation trip, up as far as the North Col located at 7000m, maybe slightly higher.

Until then its rest, walk around, eat, sleep, read, rest, walk around, eat, sleep etc until the 24th when we will head for higher ground. We have the Puja ceremony tomorrow run by the Sherpa team to bless our trip higher up the mountain, I will probably post another blog tomorrow or the next day.

Axe

Day 7 – 17 March – Video post from Tingri

Hello from Tingri, backside of Tibet! I don’t mean to sound too negative about the last few days stay at the Tibetan towns of Zhangu, Nyalam and now Tingri, however there is not too many positive things to say about them either! The standards have been declining town by town, and it would be hard to imagine things to be much more rough than what we are staying at in Tingri. Luckily the scenery more than makes up for it the squalidness and filth.

It was a spectacular drive here over the 5100m Thong La (pass), where we stopped for some amazing views of the worlds 14th highest mountain – Shisha Pangma (as seen above my head in the photo below.)

5100m on the Thong La pass with Shisha Pangma over my right shoulder – worlds 14th highest mountain (8024m)

Arriving at Tingri, was like driving into a scene from the wild west. We stay in a part of the town along the main road, which is lined with single story mud buildings. We stay in a ‘new hotel’ which even has sit-down toilets and electric lights. Only problem is there is no running water(not even cold) and no electricity! So the only thing that works in the little bathroom is the mirror!

The main drag of Tingri

The town itself is absolutely full of wild dogs, dogs everywhere which are quite scary and we always carry stones and sticks and walk in groups as they regularly attack people. The people are filthy and crap and pee in the dust in front of their homes(as I have witnessed a number of times), which along with the dog faeces, dries out and then blows everywhere as you walk around the town. Hence I wear a facemask. Ladies, men and children are constantly coming up and asking for money. The food is crap and I am just hoping I won’t catch some bug here before we leave for basecamp tomorrow. It really makes Kathmandu seem like paradise!

Every cloud has a silver lining and we have our first views of Everest from here – still 80+km away in the distance from Tingri – attached is a video showing the panorama.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vQ1bY3wJhQ

I have been sharing my room for the last few nights with fellow kiwi Jim Morrow. Jim is as down to earth and as solid as they come, at 60 years old this is his 4th trip to the Himalaya, and has 40 years of rugged New Zealand tramping, alpine travel and climbing under his belt. Jim epitomizes the typical kiwi bloke, tough, uncomplaining, fit and completely humble of his achievements. (Quite a rarity in today’s species!) We have quickly settled in as room mates and he will be good to have on the mountain when things start getting tougher.

With Jim Morrow on the Thong La

It will be the last nights sleep in a bed tonight for 50+ nights. Our elevation gain is 800m tomorrow, from 4300m here at Tingri to 5100m at Everest basecamp. This is a rapid ascent and almost three times the recommended normal daily rate of ascent of 300m/day, so am expecting to have some headaches and feel rough tomorrow night and for the following day or two.

Thanks to people for the comments and messages of support, it really means a lot and is a tremendous boost to morale. So to Mika from Singapore, Darren from UFIT, the father and mother of that little sh%t Kevan Mitchell!, Xray Lloyd in Australia, Josh in Norway, Kevin from Sri Trang in USA,Max Gough in Wellington and Michelle Wan in Singapore thanks very much!

Next update to come from Everest basecamp!

Over and out,

Axe

Day 6 – April 16 – Video post from Nyalam

We are about leave Nyalam this morning on a 4 hour drive further up the valley to the town of Tingri at 4300m. Yesterday we did an acclimatisation walk upto 4300, I felt good on the walk but got back down with a slight headache and spent the afternoon taking it very easy. Feeling great this morning after a good sleep last night.

Attached is a link to a short 1min and 40 sec video I shot yesterday of leader Jamie McGuiness explaining the significance of prayer flags from on our walk. This is the first time I am experimenting uploading video. I can’t access youtube from China(they block the site as with many other sites including facebook) so I have to compress the video to a smaller size as possible so that I can email it to Stephanie who uploads it to you YOUTUBE in Singapore then sends me back the link.

If you like the video and want to see more, or have some comments about it, please do let me know (leave a comment on the bottom of this page or email me at rawly@singnet.com.sg) and I will start to upload more short video segments along the way if you people like it!

Here is the link:

Have a great weekend,

Signing out from Nyalam, Tibet at 3750m.

Axe

Day Four – 14th April – Nyalam don’t make me sick

I reported last night from the border town of Zhangmu located at 2300m. Today we drove for one hour up the steep sides of the gorge to another small town named Nyalam, located at 3750m. We have stopped here to rest for two nights. It was a spectacular drive up the steep, narrow gorge as you can see from the photo below and a real engineering marvel to see how the road was literally chiseled into this inhospitable landscape.

View back down the gorge we drove up with the road above left and the river down below.

People are beginning to feel the altitude already, especially with walking up the stairs to our hotel rooms on the 5th floor. For those kiwi’s reading this we are staying tonight at the approximate height as the summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest peak). This leaves us panting much more than useful. I started taking the acclimatisation drug called Diamox today. This aids in kick starting the physiological changes in the body to start the acclimatisation process. Side effects include needing to pee every 30 minutes which can be frustrating.

One of the keys to getting up Everest is surviving for as long as possible without getting sick. Climbers become extremely paranoid about their health, down to the point of wearing face masks around, using portable hand sanitizer regularly, only drinking bottled water and eating in a few select places, and making sure no one who is sick passes on their bugs to anyone else. Why is everyone so paranoid? Because once we get higher, generally above 5000m (where base-camp is located), your body cannot recover from any illness, even a cough or a small cut will not recover. Hence getting something serious like the flu or a respiratory infection can and often does spell the end of your Everest expedition! Already this morning one team member woke with a throat infection. The truth of the matter is – this place is so filthy that it is very difficult to stay healthy.

The main drag of Nyalam

Nyalam is a tiny place that suits no purpose other than a stop off point to acclimatise as you get higher. Its one one main street is lined with feral looking restaurants and some basic hotels which charge an arm and a leg. Where we stay and where we eat here is all controlled by the Chinese Mountaineering Society (as with all expeditions that pass through). We have no say in the matter.

Some of the dogs are not so healthy

Pack’s of mangy dogs (and the occasional Yak) roam the streets and occasionally attack people, we are warned to walk in pairs. Small grubby children with snotty faces (but still cute nonetheless) get a great kick of saying ‘hello’ to us repeatedly. The air is thick with smoke from yak dung fires which is very hard on the throat.

Tibetan child

My advice is don’t put Nyalam as your next holiday destination! For those of you reading this in 1st world countries, please enjoy the lifestyle and luxuries that this allows, because as I have seen today, the people here really do live in harsh and squalid conditions.

Axe

Day 3 – 13 April – Arrived in Tibet!

Quick update to say I have finally arrived in Tibet in the border town of Zhangmu.  Am testing out my Chinese roaming USB modem kindly supplied by Ms Fanny and the comms system works great!  We arrived today at 4pm after a 5 hour drive from Kathmandu.  I will update the GPS position shortly so you can see where we are at the following link:

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=01D7vLV7CeAEhkhXFxOP0hG9RNPnPzqrV

Great to be here. Its cold and wet and I am in my thermals and woolly hat already and  its only 2300m elevation,  This town of Zhangmu is nothing pretty at all. It smells of urine!  Attached is a photo of the bridge we crossed over which is the border between Nepal and Tibet. The Chinese are very strict what we bring across – especially any items, posters/photos etc to do with the Dalai Lama, and any tiger skins or other rare animals which people try and smuggle across. So they checked our bags very carefully.

Over and out from cold and wet  Zhangmu..

Axe

Bridge in the centre is the border between Nepal on the left and China (Tibet) on the right

Goodbye Kathmandu – Hello Tibet!

After 7 days here in wonderful Kathmandu, tomorrow morning we will leave around 9AM to start the drive into Tibet and our final destination, Everest Base Camp at 5300m.

I have had a very relaxing time here. The first 5 days with Stephanie was as an enjoyable time together as we have ever had. It also allowed me to catch up on some much needed rest and sleep which the past few weeks had been lacking.

I am now getting itchy feet and mentally starting to switch into expedition mode. The focus on reaching basecamp is my next priority. Many people have asked me why we don’t drive directly to basecamp in one long day, or fly straight there. Well flying to basecamp in Tibet is not an option – there are no flights! However if there were flights available and I did indeed fly straight up to basecamp(5300m ASL), from Kathmandu (1200m ASL) then I would develop severe altitude sickness and would most probably be dead after around 12 hours.

Hence, the drive in will take us 5 nights, and we will be stopping to allow our bodies time to acclimatise slowly to the ever-increasing changes in altitude as we get higher and higher. This is the start of the acclimatisation process which we will then continue once we reach the mountain and will last for some weeks. Until such time as our bodies have adapted to the point where hopefully we can make a quick dash to the summit of the world and back down again before we shut down completely!

The rest of the climbing team has now assembled in Kathmandu and attached below is a photo of us at dinner last night. A quick introduction of the team as follows:

 

Dinner in Kathmandu seated L to R: Jamie McGuiness, Jamling(climbing sherpa), Kenneth Koh, Jim Morrow, Esther Tan, Ismail Askerov, Grant Rawlinson

Jamie McGuinness (45 something) – New Zealander but now based in Kathmandu. Expedition Leader. Jamie is a very seasoned Everest climber having summited 4 times over the last 7 years.

Kenneth Koh (46) – Singaporean. Retired SIA pilot, and freelance writer/photographer. Kenneth is tweeting on his climb and you can follow his progress on: http://twitter.com/adventurenomad

Jim Morrow (60) – New Zealand. Jim is a seasoned tramper and climber from West Auckland in New Zealand.

Luke Smithwick (31) – USA. Luke is a professional mountain guide, making his first attempt on Everest this year. He will be leading a group to the North Col, then will join us for the summit attempt towards the end of the trip.

Ismail Askerov (43) – Azerbaijan. Ismail is a lawyer and has climbed throughout the Tienshan, Pamir’s and Caucasus mountain ranges.

Ether Tan (35) – Singaporean Adventure Racer, Works for Singapore Naval Diving Unit.

As with all commercial expeditions, the team members joining up with is outside of your control. However so far at least, all personalities seem to be relaxed, down to earth and fairly easy going so it is a positive start to the trip. Lets see how things pan out once we get to the mountain and the stress of acclimatising and pushing our bodies hard will affect the team dynamics.

Joining us at basecamp, and only for basecamp support, is the Australian climber Andrew Lock, who has climbed all 14 x 8000m peaks in the world, and will be attempting Everest this year without the use of supplementary oxygen. You can follow his progress on: http://www.andrew-lock.com/

Well one last day to go. I have a busy schedule today of buying some last-minute supplies including wetwipes (which will be my main method of showering for the next 50+ days!), more vitamin C and a Kite to fly at basecamp to help while away the sparetime. I also need to pack my gear into plastic barrels to allow it to be transported safely to basecamp in Tibet (it’s a very strenuous journey!), go to the gym for one last workout and do one last round of laundry.

I cannot use FACEBOOK from China so if you want to send me a message please do so at rawly@singnet.com.sg

I will be turning on the SPOT tracker over the next few days so you can click on the below link to follow our progress on google maps as we progress towards basecamp.

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=01D7vLV7CeAEhkhXFxOP0hG9RNPnPzqrV

Over and out from Kathmandu. Next update to come from Tibet. Lets hope my 3G internet connection will work as planned from China!

Axe

UFIT has arrived in Kathmandu!

Kathmandu – S$%t hole or paradise?

I arrived here with Stephanie on Wednesday lunchtime after a 4 1/2 hour flight from Singapore, and was greeted by a sweltering 29 degrees of dry burning heat. Even though this is approximately the same temperature as Singapore it felt much hotter due to lack of humidity.

The visa upon arrival line went very fast at Kathmandu airport and before we knew it we had collected our bags (I had estimated I had 50kg of check-in baggage and it turned out I had 51kg, so so not a bad guess – 20kg of that is food and supplements so only 30kg of gear), and passed out into the chaos of taxi drivers and young men all tempting you to come and stay at their hotel.

Even having spent the past 12 years visiting countries throughout the Asian continent on at least a monthly basis for work, Kathmandu still shocked me as it did the last time I visited here 12 years ago. The heat, pollution, terrible traffic, the incessant car horns, the stray dogs, people spitting everywhere, the filth, and in between all this a cow will be wandering down the street or standing in the middle of a busy intersection eating litter! Your initial reactions would probably point to Kathmandu as being a major… S$%^ Hole!!

However Kathmandu is all this and much more. It is a city of contradictions. As well as having the above ‘issues’, it also has some very friendly people, fascinating layout of streets /lanes and back alleys, all teaming with everyday life and street vendors selling everything from cellphones, BBQ corn, live goats and chickens, dead goats and chickens, fish (all unrefrigerated), amazing temples, and the colorful tourist district of Thamel which you can spends days wandering around. Here you can buy second hand books, outdoor clothing(mainly fake North Face), marijuana, copy CD’s and the latest DVD’s, art and knickknacks, foot massage and the list goes on… Kathmandu must also surely boast the highest amount of Coke and Pepsi advertising billboards of any city I have ever visited in the world!

Experiencing this city leaves me feeling intrigued, fascinated, humbled and happy. Just walking down the street the multitude of different shaped faces you can see is a past-time in itself(a reflection of the melting pot of cultures living here). It really is hard not to be captivated by this amazing place.

Some of Stephanie’s thoughts are listed below:

“The first thing Grant said to me when we landed in Kathmandu airport was not to be too shocked by what I see. Be prepared as we are in one of the poorest countries in the world. As we drove from the airport to Hotel Marshyangdi, I thought the roads were a little rough and dusty and the houses look pretty old and run-down and on the verge of collapsing but I wasn’t shocked. I thought to myself that Grant had once again underestimated my ability to suffer a little bit of hardship. But the reality of how poor the country is really hit me as we took a walk out from the touristy area of Thamel and into Kathmandu Durbar Square and onwards to the Monkey Temple.

The roads were so polluted that there were occasions when I felt that I could hardly breathe. It was normal for everyone to spit anywhere, and I really mean anywhere. In the morning before we went to Durbar Square, Grant went to a really old gym on the second floor of a shop house and he told me that he saw a guy walk to a window and spat out without even looking if there were people walking right outside! I don’t know if it was my imagination acting wild but I thought I had felt a couple of droplets when I was walking past shop houses!

I still can’t get over how drivers can maneuver their vehicles so well through narrow lanes and without hitting any stray animals or people on the roads. There are stray dogs everywhere and the streets are constantly hustling and bustling with activity. As we walked to the monkey temple we crossed past the filthiest river I had ever seen. The water ran black like thick oil which was basically raw sewage and the banks of the river were the towns rubbish tip. I saw a lady throw her bag of rubbish right in front of me into the river. Another old lady crouched down and lit up a huge joint and proceeded to smoke it as she wandered down in front of us. The biggest fattest pigs seemed to like the river and we saw them feeding on the rubbish and sleeping in it!I don’t think Grant has ever seen my mouth hang open so wide.

As we reached Kathmandu Durbur Square, we were swarmed by peddlers. The place was crazy. There was a concert going on and there were so many people. We felt like we had to get out of the place soon. We decided to head to Monkey Temple which took us an hour to walk there. It took us longer as we got lost along the way. Monkey Temple was much nicer and serene. It is on top of a hill and the paranomic view was breath-taking, [Grants note: partly also because the haze and pollution made it hard to breathe!]. It would have been much nicer if it wasn’t so hazy from the pollution. We spent some time there, watching the monkeys being chased by the stray dogs and watching people turn the prayer wheels. It was also sad to see many beggars and street children asking for money.

It has been a real humbling experience for me to be in Nepal. The fact that there are power cuts for several hours every single day, the water is filthy and can’t be drank straight from the tap and the extreme poverty has made me realize how spoilt I am. When I’m in Singapore, I take it for granted that I can turn on the air-conditioning in my house any time of the day. With the turn of a tap I can get clean water. The transportation system is extremely efficient and safe. The roads are clean and nice to drive on (though the drivers can be so rude and inconsiderate). I can eat at any of the food stalls and restaurants without having to worry about getting sick. I am never hungry. In fact I eat far too much and then complain that I am fat and need to lose some weight. The people in Nepal live very hard lives. They make me feel guilty for being so spoilt, materialistic and whiny.

If someone asked me if I would have still gone to Nepal if I had known earlier how it would have been like, I would have said “Hell Yeah”. That’s the beauty of traveling. The more places I go to, the more I want to see and experience. At the end of the day, it makes you appreciate what you have at home even more. “

I wanted Stephanie to see some mountains on her brief trip to Nepal so after two nights in Kathmandu, we took a scenic flight for one hour to the North East region of Nepal, for some spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges. As soon as I saw the unmistakeable dark triangle way out in the distance my stomach tightened, as gradually Everest herself came into view. Whilst the bulk of her huge might is hidden behind the Lhotse-Nupste Ridge, she still was a formidable sight with huge amounts of cloud billowing of her Southern Flanks indicating strong winds from the North, which is where I will be approaching from.

After the flight we drove 1.5 hours up to the hilltop area of NagerKot, which at an elevation of 1900m is around 800m higher than the city of Kathmandu, has a cooler climate, and boasts some spectacular mountain and hill scenery. Everest herself is even visible on a clear day. We spent the day sleeping and taking walks up to the viewing platform to watch the sunset. Unfortunately the pollution from the valley also affected the view from here, with no rain for some weeks to clear the atmosphere we could not see any mountains.

The rest of the climbing team arrives today and tomorrow in Kathmandu. Stephanie departs tomorrow for Singapore which I am not looking forward to. We have had a beautiful time together here in Kathmandu, exploring and spending some much needed quality time together which has been missing over the last few months due to the wedding, training and work travel schedules.

We are scheduled to depart Kathmandu on our drive along the friendship highway into Tibet on the 13th April. Spending the first night at Zhangmu (border town between Nepal and Tibet), second night at Nyalam, then two nights at Tingri. These stops are required to allow our bodies to acclimatise to the enormous height gain from Kathmandu at around 1200m, to Everest Basecamp at 5300m.

That’s all from Mr and Mrs Axe reporting from sunny and hazy Kathmandu,

Stay tuned for the next update and you can also follow my journey to date geographically by clicking on the following link below, I am updating this using the SPOT Tracker GPS system, kindly loaned by Ian Mullane who tomorrow sets off on his own adventure in a race to the North Pole, good luck my friend!

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=01D7vLV7CeAEhkhXFxOP0hG9RNPnPzqrV

Enjoy the photo’s!

 

Typical Kathmandu street scene

 

 

 

Street kids checking for lice in each others hair.

 

 

Looking down the steep stairs of Monkey temple.

Cloud streams over Mt Everest as seen from the plane.

Sunset from 1900m above the Kathmandu valley at Nagorkot

The most revolting river EVER!! Raw sewage and trash... GROSS!

At least the pigs enjoy the rubbish on the river banks.

Stephanie spins the prayer wheels at Monkey temple

Bodies being cremated publicly in Pashupatinath Hindu temple.

Dustbins are useful not for trash but for sheltering from the wind so you can light your HUGE joints!

The fishmongers - no refrigeration of course!

 

 

April 6,2011: Off to the Airport for Everest!

And so there we were, sipping Javas and lattes in airconditioned comfort in Changi airport and being seen off by friends and loved ones. Off to Everest and 2 months of a distinct lack of the usual pampered luxuries in Singapore. Learnt a new, critical Nepalese word today.  Toilet = charpee. Hope I dont have to ask for directions for that too often. If I get sick from Kathmandu Kwickstep, that word will be mighty handy to use.

 

Me and, David Lim, two-time Everest team leader at the airport today

Is this enough gear to get me to the top of the world?

All the gear is packed and as you can see from the photo, one duffel bag, one pack, one mini suitcase, one small back and a computer bag.  I am not sure of the weight yet, but am guessing around 50kg+. I have 40kg baggage allowance on Silkair and with Stephanie’s 20Kg allowance I am hoping they will let me through without being charged any excess!

Is this enough to get me to the top of the world and back safely? I hope so!!

 

Finally all the bags are packed!

 

So what to have for the last meal in Singapore before leaving for an extended period? Of course a TIGER Beer and some famous Singapore crab! Thanks Ching for supplying dinner and some good luck charms.  I am sure I will need them!

 

I will miss Singapore food that's for sure!

 

Also – further to last my last email there were some people I need to thank which slipped through the last time..

To Ms Fanny from Shanghai, thank you for arranging the Chinese Telecom SIMCARD’S and other communication items I needed help with.

To my employer Kongsberg Maritime and M.D Mr Stene Forsend, thank you for allowing me the generous time off work.

And to Danon The – who I thought I had killed one day in Bukit Timah Nature reserve when he collapsed in the line of duty taking photo’s of me! Thanks for the great effort above and beyond the call of duty.

Ok time for bed – early start in the morning!

Axe

 

Good-bye and thank you

After years of dreaming, months of planning, training and fund-raising, tomorrow morning at 9:10AM I will takeoff for Kathmandu, to start my journey to Everest.
Working right up until the day I leave has made things hectic. I feel rundown.  I will leave for Kathmandu tomorrow requiring some quality recovery sleep.  In the last four weeks I have been to India,  Bangladesh, China and Indonesia.  Coupled with trying to keep up with my training program, spending time with Stephanie, getting my gear prepared, fund-raising and conducting presentations,  I will welcome the sense of relief that boarding the plane will bring.  As that plane lifts off tomorrow morning, the weight of many months of hard work will also be lifting off my shoulders.
I could definitely not have got to this point without the help and support of a number of wonderful people.  It seems like a good time now to say thank you to these people who have allowed me to get this far.  To even have the opportunity to attempt to accomplish a long-term dream is something I wish everyone can experience.

For my sponsors:

To Graham Copland and Gregory Dickerson from John Foord, my knights in shining armor at the final hour! Thank you gentlemen, for your faith and confidence.

Adrian Lee and the gang from thePRelement -you have been with me from day one, great guys with a great spirit and its no wonder your company is going so well.

PIAS – John Hunt – you have a great heart Geeza and I know you would be coming with me if you could!

Sri Trang Group – Kevan Mitchell, never has one man made me laugh so hard and I will be remembering some of your jokes on the mountain when I need some cheering up.

Singapore Cricket Club – Thank you for support and I will try my hardest on the mountain to uphold the proud spirit of the SCC and its members.

To my expedition partners:

UFIT –  To Darren Blakeley,  I have literally entrusted my life in your hands through following your training program and I do not know anyone else I would trust the same way.

Balanced Living – Dana, Caitlin and the team – you all welcomed me into your home from day one, and fed me all sorts of wonderfully healthy and nutritious food.  Lovely people, lovely products, lovely to feel so great before my challenge and lovely work with you!

City Osteopathy – Thomas, I will miss our private sessions when you have me stripped down to my underwear and rearrange my tired body back into working order again!

Fitness First – For the great support supplying training facilities – I love your gym’s and will be straight back in them when I get back!

Everest Motivation – David Lim, my favorite climbing partner and tent mate, you give the most sensible and trustworthy mountaineering advice of anyone I know.  If I get into trouble on the big hill its you I will be calling on the Sat phone! Thanks also for updating my blog when I am away.

Expat Living – thanks to the team for publishing my story and organising an excellent presentation evening to raise money for Humaneity and the CAI.1-Altitude – Steve and the team – awesome support for the two events we had in your amazing bar and restaurant.  Truly the coolest place to hang out at in Singapore!

To the boys from SCC who organised the fund-raising evening and donated awesome prizes, Scotty Duncan, Chris Lloyd. Robby Wilkins, John Hunt, Billy McCormack, Wyn James, Stitch, Russel Chalon and Kevan Mitchell – awesome job.  From when we all first met 14 years ago playing rugby  on the Padang, it once again proves that the friends you make doing battle on the rugby pitch truly are friends for life.  Mike Rehu from ESPN Star.com, what a great job as an MC – you should change career!

To Greg and Yoke Moore – I will be carrying your ascender with me on the mountain. It will keep me safe.

To Calven Bland – it’s great to be a part of your whanau. You have crap jokes but I may remember at least two of them and repeat them as if they were mine.

To Humaneity – Mark, Fiona and the team.  Its been a great journey with you so far, you also have a huge challenge you are facing in setting up HUMANEITY, a bit like climbing Everest, it will take alot of guts and hard work, maybe even a little luck at times.  I know you guys can do it.  I wish you all the best for your journey and it has been a pleasure to help you out.

To the people who have donated to the foundations HUMANEITY and the CAI – great job!

To Lamby – my training partner and friend, what you have done for me by keeping me laughing through many long and gruelling Sunday morning sessions on the rock walls and stairs of Bukit Timah quarry, introducing sponsors and organising the fund raising events has been both humbling and touching.  But the biggest gift you have given me is your unwaivering support and unquestioning belief. You are a very fine person and I am honored to count you as a friend.

To Mum and Dad – sorry for making your worry – I know you are supporting me in your own ways and I look forward to getting back to show you photo’s and tell you more stories from far away lands, as I have done so many times over the past 14 years.

To my wife Stephanie, thank you for being my soul mate.  Thank you for accompanying me to Kathmandu these few days before the expedition starts.  Thank you for allowing me to be me.  Sorry for making you worry.  You will always be with wherever I am.

If I have missed anyone I truly apologise – you all know what you have done, I know what you have done and that’s what counts.

Next update to come from Kathmandu! The excitement builds….!!!!

Axe

John Foord signs on as main expedition sponsor!

Being passed the John Foord banner by Graham Copland, Managing director, John Foord International

In a last-minute deal, Singapore based Industrial Valuation specialists John Foord signed on as the main expedition sponsor for Everest 2011 – Climbing for Humaneity. The deal includes banners and logos on my summit climbing suit, regular updates and photo’s from the mountain and speaking engagements post expedition.

Well it’s a crazy rush with two days to go to finish up work, pack the bags and catch the plane for Nepal on Wednesday morning.  More updates to come soon!

Axe

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