I remember reading as a kid – with fascination – about climbing Mount Everest (8,848m / 29,029ft), and thought that would be the ultimate achievement…
In early April 2012, I left London to go on a career break, after 10 intense years working in both London and New York. I had started my research on climbing Mount Everest in early 2012, and when I left London I commenced a year-long program of preparation and training with the Everest project as the (secret) ultimate goal in the 2013 season. I combined my training with a round-the-world trip designed around endurance exercise and adventures, combined with cultural experiences (and, admittedly, a little bit of fun along the way).
I also went to Nepal in December 2012 to trek to the Mount Everest Base Camp (“EBC”), which served as my on-location “due diligence” / inspection of the “gravel pit” where I would be living for the TWO MONTH (!) Everest expedition. To be honest, my initial reaction was “Uh-oh! Two months in this deserted horrid place – hmm…. Not a dream come true exactly”, but actually the more I have researched it, the more I’m actually looking forward to life in EBC! We were there in December when it was deserted (and very freezing), and during the climbing season (April/May) it is much more bustling with activity, and I think it will actually be a very interesting test to live there in a tent for the two months.
Below is an image of Everest and EBC, which links to a super-high resolution picture created by photographer David Breashears where you can zoom in and check in detail the base camp, the Khumbu Icefall, and the mountain itself. Now you can visualize my home for the next two months… Then imagine going all the way from base to summit – and back!
I have a separate page on my preparation/training for this challenge (for those interested in details and some photographic evidence) – but in short: it has consisted of a year-long program of general fitness/endurance training, a climb of Aconcagua (7,000m) and technical mountaineering training in New Zealand.
When visiting Nepal, I was also charmed by the Nepalese culture, and its people who are – as a general rule, I found – exceptionally kind and friendly. Nepal remains a significantly underdeveloped country, in particular in its more remote areas. The “main strip” of the Khumbu valley between Lukla and EBC where the popular EBC trek goes is actually a lot more developed than other rural parts. If that’s on the more developed side, those who have been doing some trekking in Nepal can probably begin to imagine what the more rural and remote areas must be like.
Since leaving London, I have also been seeking to be actively involved in a charity project. Whilst I have been donating on a monthly basis to various charities for the last several years, I also wanted to get more involved in a specific project where I could have a more direct, and more significant, impact. I have been able to find the perfect charity in the dZi Foundation, to work on a specific project where we will raise funds to construct a school in the remote village of Chhitre in the Sotang area of the Mount Everest region of Nepal, with a budget of USD27,000. I’m hopeful that we will significantly EXCEED this target – through Your donations, in which case dZi has a multitude of other projects for sustainable improvement through their “RAV” (Revitalize-A-Village) program which are ready to implement.
On April 1st, I will meet my 10-strong Everest climbing team in Kathmandu and we will set of April 3rd with a flight to Lukla and start our initial trek to EBC. Then we will commence a (roughly) one month altitude acclimatization program before being “declared” ready for the summit. After that the “waiting game” begins – to patiently anticipate the right window for our summit bid, based on when the weather is expected to be “benign” – if you can call anything benign at nearly 9,000 meters! All-in-all, the project takes about two months!
Whilst commercial expeditions have operated on Everest since the early 1990s, and modern technology, bottled oxygen, support by Sherpa climbers and porters etc. has made the mountain more accessible to mere mortals (and yes, despite “Machine” being one of my nicknames among my London buddies, I definitely count myself in that category!), still: Climbing Everest remains a formidable challenge. Success is by no means guaranteed, as both (a) external factors – mainly weather, and (b) personal factors – such as general physical shape, acclimatization/handling of altitude, unlucky strikes of the dreaded “Khumbu cough”, to mention a few – will determine whether (i) the expedition is successful, and (ii) whether an individual climber makes it to the summit. I will join a team led by very experienced guides with one of the leading operating companies in the field with an excellent track record for safety, so I think we will have a strong chance of making a safe and successful climb to the Top of the World…!
After my intense training program, I feel like I’m in a position to give this challenge of a lifetime my best shot. And in any case – whether or not our expedition/I personally end up summiting – I am convinced the charity fundraising project will reach or exceed its target, so that underprivileged children in a remote village in Nepal will benefit regardless – thanks to Your donations!
Thank you for your support!
– For instructions how to donate to the charity please see the DONATIONS page
– Click here for a detailed charity project description
– You can read more general information about the dZi Foundation at www.dzifoundation.org
– You can follow my progress on Twitter (in addition to this blog): @TS_2013_Everest