Everest Photos  

Personal Expedition Emails - Everest 2011

Everest Photos

Based on emails sent from Everest Base Camp, Nepal (Jagged Globe Expedition 2011 Everest South East Ridge) by Dave Gott

Trekking to Everest Base Camp - above Namche Bazaar
above Namche Bazaar

Ama Dablam on the trek to Everest Base Camp (from Chukhung side valley)
Ama Dablam

Everest (just right of centre) from Kala Patthar, the Khumbu Icefall is in the middle and Everest Base Camp barely visible to the left of that
Everest from Kala Patthar

Email 1 of 5 (20 April 2011)

This everest trip may be the silliest in a long list of very silly things I have done!

You know how the experts (+ folks with common sense) say u shud b v fit and not significantly overweight to have a chance to climb the big E? well I am finding they are quite right!

It is really big, everyone else is really fit and they all go really fast, starting at 2am - it is a bloody nightmare!

Yesterday we climbed thru the khumbu icefall and slept above it at camp1 (6100m)

Today we descended thru the icefall back to basecamp.

I have developed a cough - which the doctors say is asthma - which doesn't help.

I forgot I hate high mountains - above 5000m - total pain & suffering! base camp is 5300m.

I was planning to leave the trip - since there is no chance of me summiting & don't see much point enduring the icefall again just to see camp 2 (god I hate big mountains) - but have decided to endure just a bit more torture to try and reach camp 2

How can athletes be bothered to push their bodies? isn't it just massively unpleasant?

All the things I like about mountains are absent here - you are on a fixed rope all the time and have to clip in to the next rope every few feet and get out of the way for Sherpas speeding by etc. there is no time to look at the scenery or eat or drink or rest or take photos.

Am I selling this trip? - its only US$54,000.

On the plus side?
erm ...
nice weather on the trek in.

The organisation of Jagged Globe & the Sherpas is impressive, I have my own 5 man tent at Base Camp.
We camp for 2 months on ice & rock - it creaks at night
Base Camp is in a very impressive circle of mountains which avalanche every hour or so day & night - but we hope not enough to reach us.

The other clients are very nice & quite amusing (2 are joining us later as they return from the north pole)
One of the clients, Adam Potter , fell 1000 feet down a scottish mountain at the end of January breaking his neck & back in 2 places - but here he is looking fit and likely to summit everest - amazing!

Our chef, Gavin, is a Wizard - his meals often exceed those of our Kathmandu luxury hotel - prepared at 5300m in a tent without running water and the nearest road 2 weeks walk away!

Our excellent Expedition Leader David Hamilton has been up Everest 4 or 5 times and our Mountain Sirdar, Mingma Tseri, has been up 17 times!

However, climbing everest is bloody stupid and not a very impressive boast as :

  1. It's tedious, difficult and overcrowded
  2. Jagged Globe & Sherpas help so much
  3. Even the fit clients (ie. everyone but me) are like wee kids at these altitudes compared with the Sherpas
  4. Some of the climbing days are probably easier than a typical working day for a local porter
  5. It's largely a game for middle aged men who want to prove something and have more money than sense (or in my case more re-mortgage than sense)

(in the incredibly unlikely event of me summiting the above will of course be radically revised).

lots of love, Dave

I think we have some beer tonight - hoorah, and a movie

My Base Camp tent for 2 months. The ice at the top left skyline hit Base Camp in the April 2017 earthquake, killing 18 Climbers

Erecting prayer flags, Base Camp Puja ceremony
Erecting prayer flags, Base Camp Puja ceremony

Our fabulous Sherpa Team, Base Camp
Our fabulous Sherpa Team, Base Camp

Email 2 of 5 (29 April 2011)

Hope you have been enjoying your Royal Wedding day off.

Many thanks for the encouraging emails some folks sent - much appreciated.

There must be easier ways to get fit than climbing the khumbu icefall with a huge backpack trying to keep up with a Sherpa (Thundu - who admittedly was doing his version of slow) - but it kind of works.

We recently had 3 nights at camp 2 (approx. 6500m) and are now back in the lush 5300m base camp air.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we do it all again and just add on 1 night at camp 3, high on the Lhotse wall.

Then back to base and that's it - apart from the little matter of going to the top - which may be approx. mid may depending on weather etc.

It has been colder and more snowy than usual apparently. Everest heat is bonkers - so extreme, maybe -7c in tent at night, then when sun hits tent soon climbs to around 30c.

Have enjoyed several visits to the beautiful doctors at the Himalayan Rescue Association (aka Everest ER) re my asthmatic cough - now have 3 types of inhalers - which seems to help - previously any exercise & cold air had me doubled over with uncontrolled coughing and dry vomitting.

The khumbu icefall is sensational - when I first saw it from basecamp I thought "You've got to be kidding!" (it's the most ridiculous route up a mountain you've ever seen) - but the Icefall Doctors forge and maintain a route through it each year. Shame we always seem to be racing - so I will at this rate have few photos of the mountain.

For 2 weeks before we arrived at Base Camp the Sherpas were here carving platforms for tents from the ice & then building stone platforms on top and a stone base for our Puja ceremony (which all expeditions have).

The ceremony involves a visiting Lama and is based at the stone base where incense is burned and the Lama reads millions of written prayers while we & the Sherpas tuck into rice wine, whiskey, beer etc and throw flour and rice at each other - its great (an enjoyable religious ceremony - does Europe have such a thing?). At the same time long strings of prayer flags are unfurled and fixed from a mast at the centre of the ceremony to rocky outcrops all around at approx. 50m radius. This is repeated with each expedition over a period of days so Base Camp soon becomes very colourful.

someone else wants the laptop now.

love from skinny Dave.

The unstable 2500 foot Khumbu Icefall - not the most straightforward way up a mountain!
Khumbu Icefall

Climbing in the Khumbu Icefall - which we usually began around 3am by headtorch.
Khumbu Icefall

Khumbu Icefall upper section
Khumbu Icefall upper section

Camp 1 above the Khumbu Icefall
Camp 1 above the Khumbu Icefall

Camp 2 with the Lhotse Face behind. Half way up the Lhotse Face a tiny ledge is cut out to provide Camp 3 at 7,200m (23,625ft)
Camp 2 and the Lhotse Face

Email 3 of 5 (5 May 2011)

All is well here at Everest Base Camp - just had a great lunch.

We have just got back here from camp 3 - where we spent one night - at about 7200m - higher than any mountain outside Asia.

Climbing up the Lhotse face to camp 3 was reasonably easy as the snow/ice conditions were good - but camp 3 is only 1/2 way up the face.

We slept without oxygen but tried it a bit - it was like marijuana in conjunction with my ipod shuffle - enhancing the music and allowing my brain to invent visuals!

Anyway, that is our acclimatization finished, now we wait for ropes to be fixed to the summit and a suitable summit weather window forcast - before we have to climb up the damn thing again and do the 2 extra days to try and reach the top.

I hope to make it to the south col and beyond that we will see. The team, leaders and Sherpas are excellent so the support should be good.

Might hike down the valley for a few days while we wait.

lots of love, Dave

View across South Col to Lhotse (World's fourth highest mountain). Camp 4 is just visible on the right as is the path cutting across the Geneva Spur
View across South Col to Lhotse

Preparing to descend from Camp 4 at the South Col
Preparing to descend from Camp 4 at the South Col

Email 4 of 5 (18 May 2011)

Many thanks for the congrats that many of you have sent who have followed the Jagged Globe blog (we can't see it from here).

I've always said that climbing Mount Everest is undoubtedly the highest (literally and metaphorically) achievement a person can hope to accomplish here on Planet Earth, pushing to the limits of human physiology, determination and endurance in an alien hostile and potentially lethal environment, and anyone who makes it should get a huge medal, a statue dedicated to them in their home town and a national holiday in their honour.

Six of us plus 2 guides and several Sherpas summited on Monday morning - myself at around 7am - only for 5 minutes - details to follow.

2 guys (Mark and Adam) had turned back with minor health issues but are now ready to try with our late joining sports superstars - so hopefully they will all make it - and some of the Sherpas will have to pop back up with them.

It was every bit as hard and dangerous as described in the Bear Grylls book, I thought - except I dunno where he gets his stat that 1 in 6 people die on the descent! While we have been here 3 people have died on our side of the mountain (out of about 250 climbers), 1 old body began melting out of the icefall and 1 trekker who managed to fall in the glacier 6 years ago finally emerged from the end of it - his poor parents have been coming from America every year to search for him.

I had imagined (from various accounts) that I would get to the summit on a sunny calm day, it would be busy, there would be time for a drink & food & lots of photos & a rest. The reality was very different - but its a long story and this is the only Base Camp laptop so I will maybe send another email from an internet cafe on the hike out.

We are all safely back in Base Camp now - which is melting. Many of us have minor frostnipped fingers (it was v windy & cold) and I have alarming scabby cheeks from wind burn / frostnip - if they dont repair may need to join leper colony - but folks in the know think they will be ok.

Now looking forward to a beer, then a leisurely hike back and a few days chilling at the KMD hotel garden swimming pool.

If u climb everest you get free dinner for life in Rum Doodles - but they dont start it until after a weeks delay when they know everyone will have flown home!

cheers for now, skinny Dave (with boils on my bum and a scorpion on my cheek!)

self at 8848m (the top) - you can tell it's me from the bowed legs!
post summit scorpion windburn

Martin, Alan and Geoff, tired, happy and relieved, descending from the South Col to Camp 2
Martin, Alan and Geoff

self with post summit "Scorpion" windburn
post summit scorpion windburn

Email 5 of 5 (22 May 2011)

Just one last email on this Mt Everest thing - to try & describe my summit day experience - which was a tad surreal.

Lets start at Camp 3 (7200m) half way up the Lhotse Face - where I shared a tent with Martin. In front of the tent is 1 foot of snow and then it drops down for a couple of thousand feet. Alas our tent had steps and slopes under it (we had drawn the short straw) so we could hardly sleep at all.

Next day we struggled to get ready - grumpy and tired. We put on oxygen masks for climbing for the first time and at once hit the steepest and iceiest section of the Lhotse Face.

Immediately there was a problem - we couldn't breathe! We ripped the masks from our faces and gasped at the thin air. Checks confirmed the masks were ok & we just had to try & be calm and slow - eventually we could breathe!

The Lhotse Face eased after the yellow band then we climbed over the Geneva Spur and traversed into the south col.

So we had a demanding day on top of no sleep with the wee problem that at 9pm that day we had to set off to the summit of the big E - when we really just wanted to sleep.

By 9pm (in the dark) everyone emerged at the south col fully kitted out in their down gear, including all the Sherpas - this was the first time the Sherpas would be climbing with us.

Most folks describe the south col as being like the Moon - so lets go with that - its very alien & hostile. In full down gear & with oxygen masks and with hoods up you cannot tell who is who or hear anyone speak - so it was like setting off with a load of unidentified spacemen on the moon in the dark up a giant snowy mountain by head torch.

The oxygen regulators (I feel) are primitive - but seemed to work after a fashion (you can't see or adjust then yourself so you have no clue what the flow rate is or how much is left - running out would be serious - but this is where my personal climbing guide (Sherpa Thundu) was vital to check this (and carry a spare tank), and to manage the ropes when my hands were too cold). Compared with scuba diving the masks / tanks / regulators and total lack of pre-planned communication method seems to be very primitive, and then the (potentially) strong winds, freezing conditions and mental impairment through oxygen starvation greatly compound this. Our masks are allegedly a recent improvement - I think they may work quite well under supervision in the garden of the hotel in Kathmandu, but take them somewhere very windy and very cold and it's a different matter.

After the second oxygen bottle change (near the top of the South Summit I think, at 8,749 metres (28,704 ft) - higher than the second-highest mountain on Earth, K2) we were in v strong winds when my mask stopped working properly - the external air inlet valve (which is meant to combine ambient air with oxygen from the tank) repeatedly froze over and resisted my attempts to unblock it. So in frustration/desparation I chewed off the inside of the blocked valve - which meant I could breathe but was possibly breathing more of the surrounding air than oxygen - which is when my hallucinations started. I saw pretty good firework displays at the top of the south summit - which nobody else did, and a man sitting in the snow setting up some apparatus for a scientific experiment - apparently he wasn't there - unless he was the dead Japanese man. And the rope in front of me appeared to have an inch or so of fur round it. Also I thought I saw a mountain restaurant at one point.

The rest of the climb had a dreamlike quality to it - which I think may be largely due to lack of oxygen and perhaps partly due to fatigue / lack of sleep.

In the strong winds, wearing 3 or 4 pairs of gloves, it was alas far too cold to get my camera out (my fingers were already frostnipped and my down jacket zip was in anycase jammed with a thick coating of frozen exhaled water vapour) - though Thundu managed to get a snap of me on the summit with his camera (Sherpa blood circulation is something else).

The views were incredible but conditions meant we only spent a few minutes enjoying them before heading back down.

Folks were affected differently by the wind - I got windburned cheek marks - one cheek came out in a cool scorpion pattern (but now its just a scabby mess!).

Poor Alan went blind at the top (he is fine now) - so he paid US$54,000 to climb Everest and went up it in the dark and down it blind! He did really well - helped by the Guides - he said to Andy "I am quite worried about descending the Hillary Step" - to which Andy said "We did that 1.5 hours ago!". The Base Camp Doctors later explained Alan's temporary vision problem was probably because he had previously had laser eye surgery leaving his eyes more susceptible to being re-shaped by extreme low pressure (my own vision also changed slightly for a week or two and then reverted to normal). I guess they don't warn customers about this at laser eye clinics?

I have lost quite a bit of weight but not in a biologically sensible manner - my big fat belly remains & my arm and leg muscles have atrophied!

Alas now we have summited my slipped disk pain has come back - was it magically postponed by my body (and lashings of diclofenac) to allow me to summit? Probably the diclofenac did it's job and then the exertions of summiting brought it back.

Am in Namche Bazaar now and hope to meet 3 other guys from our trip for a beer, then Lukla tomorrow (where we may try the Irish bar) and flight to KMD due on 24th, watch Man utd win footie thing (or not) on 28th in summit hotel bar and aim to fly KMD to LHR on 29th or asap after.

lots of love, Dave

Tengboche Monastery (a magical place) on the trek back down to Lukla
Tengboche Monastery on the trek back down to Lukla

Back in Kathmandu - this is how everyone travels - with the wheels operated by small children
kathmandu transport

Postscript : February 2017

Naturally I now disagree with the negative email above (20 April 2011) which states "climbing everest is bloody stupid ...". At the time I was probably in a state of shock after our first climb through the Icefall which was excessively hard due to my folly of turning up overweight and unfit. Overall the expediction was incredible*, providing memories and photos that will be treasured for life. Given the avalanches and earthquakes of subsequent years I realise how lucky we were to enjoy a 100% successful expedition.

* Thanks to Jagged Globe and our Sherpas, also thanks to fellow Clients, Himalayan Rescue Association Doctors and the Icefall Doctors.