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Gavin Bate Everest 2002 Expedition

MON MAY 13 2002 Report The waiting is over. Now the fun begins. A forecast five day spell of good weather has settled on the worlds highest mountain and there is frenetic activity at Advance Base as everybody prepares for their summit bid. High temperatures towards the end of week - minus ten on the summit - and low wind speeds of between 10 and 12 knots indicate that the window is here!

Today no fewer than forty people have gone up, many of them Sherpas taking in last amounts of stores for clients. But also clients with tight anxious faces, and probably the odd tight sphincter as well, can be seen trekking up the glacier towards the Big E .

This morning's meeting was good. Most of the team leaders were there. We discussed each person paying some extra money towards the Sherpas who have so far put in 5,000 metres of rope to 8,300 metres. Super humans. We agreed readily.

We discussed the issue of rubbish and keeping this environment up here clean. Each team will hire an extra yak to carry out rubbish. I am pleased to say that Will and I did that last week already. So now the hubbub about Camp has an added tension in the air, and no more so than in our little mess tent where Will and I pack and repack, weigh and reweigh, and look longingly at our drum of oxygen bottles! Aargh! But no turning back now, the decision is made, the die is cast. We go without and the two of us discuss, with no great excitement, the difficulty of carrying everything on our backs to high camp at 8300m, about 27,000'.

Today we talked about getting oedema and what to do if either of us were rendered incapable. There is no room for sentimentality now, the issue is real; what do you do if your partner has a head like a pumpkin, can't breathe properly and has trouble standing? Issues.

We leave tomorrow morning. I have my phone with me, so all contact from now on will be audio messages. Richard, whizz kid in UK, will translate these into text messages. A warning. We plan to try and summit on Friday morning at around 10am our time - which is early UK time!  Our nerves are frazzled with the waiting, but it is a double-edged sword. Nervousness about going up and relief at going up at last! So much hanging on the next few days! Is there any mountain in the world that can generate such a melting pot of emotion, of dreams and ambitions, of fear and trepidation?

Helen, sitting in the Adventure Alternative office in Glasgow - I have a piece of your wedding cake carefully tucked into my rucksack. In fact Will and I are eating some of it now. I promise to take it as high as I can. Andy and Louise - we take the very best wishes for your new baby to the summit of Everest.

Back in Sydney - Will takes you in his heart with him to the summit and can't wait to get married to you in August. A case of another dream coming true... So many people to think of, to thank for all the wonderful support and emails over the past weeks. Now we focus on what is ahead and all that has happened in the past will count towards it. We truly believe we have done this the right way, but now comes the test and if all this sounds dramatic then so be it. It is. Come here and stand next to us and look up at the sky, at that unforgivable black triangle of rock, and you will see.

Somebody once pooh-poohed the whole Everest thing to me, describing it as a well-trodden path to the top, all been done before, Piccadilly Circus on the summit etc. Unsurprisingly it came from someone who had never even clapped eyes on the mountain. Let those people stay at home for fear of being disillusioned.

Wish us luck and God speed, and we will do our best.

Willie and Gav

Advanced Base Camp Everest


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Everest, showing approximate camps.