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Gavin Bate Everest 2002 Expedition

 Read his Dispatches from 2002: Dispatch One

In the Millennium year of 2000 Gavin Bate tried to climb all the Seven Summits in one year and organize the whole event from a satphone and a laptop which he carried in his rucksack on all the expeditions (with a flexible solar panel strapped on the outside !). Organizing the whole thing single-handed was as much if not a bigger challenge than actually climbing all the peaks, especially since he invited around 150 people with him throughout the year to achieve their Millennium dream of climbing one of the Seven Summits.

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"In retrospect, I got obsessed with all the mountains, with Everest, with going to Antarctica, with tramping through Irian Jaya. In reality the best thing that happened in 2000 was the friendships I formed with all those people who came with me. We had an absolute ball," says Gavin, "and living in a tent for twelve months was unforgettable."

In fact the dream eluded Gavin because he turned back from the South Summit of Everest. "But my team continued to the top and we were the first there by the south side in the year 2000. It was a great achievement and I'll never forget it. I'll never forget tramping down to the South Col by myself either, not something I'm keen to repeat".

The whole Seven Summits dream relied so much on luck and keeping healthy. Following Everest with Denali was something that some thought foolhardy, just from a point of view of strength. "We were very tired and had spent two months living on a bloody glacier in Nepal. The last thing me and Andy (Gavin's climbing partner on all Seven Summits) really wanted was another month in freezing temperatures". But the Denali team who went with them was first class and through fantastic teamwork they weathered a week at 14,000' and then another week tent bound at 17,000'. "We very nearly gave up," remembers Gavin, "Andy and I ran out of food, we were weak as kittens, bored sitting in a tent, cold and Andy was still suffering massively from his sciatica". But the weather eventually broke and the team made a successful dash for the top.

Kilimanjaro and Elbrus were easily followed but political situations on Irian Jaya worsened on arrival in Djakarta. The little airstrip Gavin wanted to use was damaged by a landslip and there was fighting in the jungle. "We ended up forcing a new route to the mountain called Carstenz Pyramid with our half naked porters  living on a sack of bleeding rice and tins of bleeding sardines which was a harsh introduction to the world of New Guinea. When we eventually got to the mountain we had a fantastic day climbing the rocky slopes and everyone summitted. Then we all faked injuries to get a lift out of the place through the big gold mine there."

Gavin nearly gave up his Seven Summits bid when money ran out for the $30,000 price tag to Vinson and Antarctica was about as far away as the dark side of the moon. Then, as luck would have it, a benefactor stepped in and footed the bill for the whole trip. "How often does that happen in your life?" asks Gavin, "within days I was on that Hercules to Antarctica and a lifelong ambition to step on that continent came true. We started climbing on New Years Day in 2001 and summitted in something like minus a hundred and fifty five days later. God it was cold, but what a beautiful place to be!"

After two years planning and finding the money the whole thing was suddenly over. "I never got a sponsor" says Gavin, "although Tiso's in Scotland weighed in with massive support for all the kit on Everest without which we would have been utterly screwed. I got a Millennium grant from the Government for some of my administration but the sat phone bill for Everest alone was $12,000 which still makes me feel nauseous when I think about it" CONTINUED >>>>