12 2002 Report Wrom: LBXFGGMEPYOQKEDOTWFAOBUZXUW
stuff at the end of long dispatch]
of emails! That's what we have come back to and
we've only just finished reading through them! I
thought we were getting excited about the top,
but summit fever is catching on! Particularly
liked the one that said 'You make Everest come
alive for us, the human story, the trials and
tribulations, the decisions, the daily life, the
humour. Thank you all so very much, we're just
sorry we can't reply to them.
just too many and things are getting a bit busy
here now. But rest assured every single one is
read, mulled over, laughed about and considered.
One thing is for sure, we're not alone up here.
And teamwork is the key. Will and I, apart from
welding into a strong team on the hill, have not
spoken a word in anger yet; in fact we've
managed to maintain a high degree of common
sense and humour. This was helped by our recent
holiday down at Base Camp where thick air and
good food awaited. We never realised how tired
fitful sleeping up here, which is par for the
course, we slept as if we were in hibernation at
BC! Will went into a particularly deep sleep
whenever cooking had to be done. Even his
raucous snoring failed to keep me awake though.
We ate like horses. Plates of fried potatoes,
whole tureens of soup and noodles and sides of
yak meat disappeared in double quick time.
the day it was all we could do to move outside
into the sun where vital repairs to body and
spirit were made. Split fingers and lips healed
miraculously, sunburn marks paled away, scabby
feet came good and our bowels, keen to keep in
the conversation, restored themselves to normal
functioning. In, fact, if the only thing that
Will and I ever suffer from on this expedition
is continual HAFE (high altitude flatus
expulsion) then we will have done well; how
unfortunate that it is one of those afflictions
that can turn a happy interlude in a tent into
an eye-watering, throat-constricting maloderous
for one has yet to learn the advantages gained
by warning people in the near vicinity that
there may be need for a rapid exodus.
humorous moments come up and here are a few:
Will, do you want to listen to one of my CD's?
Will: Oh no, not that house music stuff.
Gav: Well, what about Dido then ?
Will: (pause)...you mean you brought one of them
sex toys up here?
I've got this big lump of phlegm at the back of
my throat that I can hardly breathe past.
Gav: Hold on 'til I get a straw
Tirta, whats this for lunch?
Will: From the glacier?
Tirta: (pause, doubtful )...erm, yes
Just look at those thighs, thems will carry me
up to the top of Everest!
Gav: Will, put your pants on!
Camps a lot easier to find when you've been
there before isn't it?
(on the headwall to the north col, calling down
the way ) Will, is this our rope?
Will: It's the only rope.
Will, where are those gas canisters you carried
Will: I left them up at interim camp.
Will: (pause) I thought they were too heavy
Will, what're you doing?
Will: I'm writing the word 'left' on my boot so
that I'll know which is which when we get higher
Gav: No, I meant why are you writing 'Left' on
your right boot!
Gav, remind me again why we're going without
oxygen or Sherpas
Gav: Because it's a bigger challenge, harder,
more purist, more of an achievement...
Will: And what's the downside?
Gav: Well there's hypoxia, massive deterioration
of bodily functions, loss of mental actuity,
danger of oedema, physical exhaustion on a level
you can only hint at, degeneration of brain
cells, hypothermia and little or no chance of
Will: Well that's me convinced.
(hailing another climber on the way down ) 'Scuse
me sir, is this the way to Everest?
Climber: (bewildered)...erm, well yes
Will: Thanks be to .... Goodbye now !
(plastered) Oh well okay then, one more
is a serious side too. Tomorrow there is a big
pow-wow in the Swiss Camp to discuss timings for
the summit bids on this side. Most teams have
got gear in place, Sherpas have been busy all
the way to 8300 metres, clients are rested,
dreams held in abeyance over the past weeks are
now being given free rein and everywhere the air
is filled with plan and counterplan, tactic and
reminds me so much of spring 2000 when we were
all glued to the weather forecasts, waiting to
go up, waiting, waiting. What would the mountain
do? Would we summit? Would we come back?
Questions and thoughts, some too delicate to
voice. Tension in the air. And then we ended up
summitting first on the south side..pow !
complete surprise, to us most of all.
such plans for Will and I.
of us without oxygen, self-contained in an
Alpine-like ascent. We want big, huge trenches
in the snow to follow in! Dot-to-dot route
finding! We have our good days and bad days.
Sometimes we look up and quail, Everest can be a
menacing sight. Other times we say to each
other: "But look, we've been up to 7000
metres six times , overnighted twice, up to 7600
metres twice carrying loads - once in a storm;
we've got combined experience of 8000 metres
plus between us that is far in excess of most
other people here, we've not even suffered a
headache up till now, we've done things right,
we've got to have a good chance !"
times we question every minute that we've been
up here. For Willie it's a lifetime dream to be
so close to the top of the world. "I'm here
as an Irishman, for the common people, to
achieve my dream of becoming the first climber
from Ireland to summit Everest without oxygen.
It's a new boundary to be pushed for high
altitude mountaineering in Ireland. It's a big
chance for me. Not for the establishment, but
for all those folk out there in the Irish hills,
perhaps dreaming same as me of coming to the
high places in the world. I'm just a simple
person from the foothills of the Sperrins, just
like a thousand others. There's nothing special
or elitist about this, I just believe we have
the right attitude up here; no arguments, just a
dream and the determination to make it
both know that with determination, good luck and
a nod from the Big Man upstairs, we have a good
chance to do this. Now, with just a day or two
to go, those hundreds of emails we've been
receiving become more important, more
meaningful. For Gav, it's not just a case of
back 100 metres from the top on the south side
always meant for me that I would have to come
back. I just hope it doesn't turn out to have to
be third time lucky ! But for me this is also
about my business Adventure Alternative; since
1995 I've been building it up the way I see an
expedition company should be, and now things are
expanding very fast.
is the second Everest Expedition I've organised,
I know that I can put together some great
adventure holidays around the world, especially
now with Helen, Chris and Richard on board.
Climbing Everest and of course doing the Seven
Summits in the Millennium Year is all part of
that process. I want to see it develop now.
there is Moving Mountains, the charity I started
following on from all the work myself and my
friends have done in Kenya. Hundreds and
hundreds of street kids being educated, being
given an opportunity to live. Now the programme
is extending to Nepal where we're planning a
school, clinic, micro hydro project and clean-up
campaign on the trail to Everest. There's so
much happening, so much future to plan and so
many wonderful people to do it with. For me, it
is my life. It's nothing to do with silly
posturing over fame or whatever, but if by
climbing this big auld hill then people get to
know about all of this, and want to be part of
it, then it's been a success. I owe that much to
kids like Peter and Kelly in Kenya, like sons to
me now, who in their own way taught me about
those things in life that are most essential.
Oh, and I'm also doing it for a certain person
in Galway. (Will: OHHH, who's that then ? Gav:
Never you mind)
today we have been watching and listening,
waiting and talking. I know it's dangerous to
build these things up; it may all end up in
anticlimax. But we owe to it to all you people
to let you know what goes through your head when
you're up here, when the big black triangle of
Everest is always just outside the tent door and
the top is within your reach, within your dream.
bit of unrelated news. We hear that Andy and
Louise, new parents to baby William, are all
doing very well and that the newborn is healthy.
to both of you for your words of encouragement.
Can't wait to wet the baby's head in a few weeks
! We'll keep you updated with the latest after
the meeting tomorrow.
"Hello, good morning, good afternoon and
see you later!"
Base Camp, Everest.