recounts summit bid: Part Four
Everest with Love Part 4:
moved on and the ridge was not difficult. We cut
around a jumble of rock and a boulder and I
didn't even think of it until Will said
"That's the first step!". The first
step ! I thought they were supposed to be
technical sections ? That was easy ! I raised my
arms to Will and I could see him grinning, he
was thinking the same thing too. Now we descended
a little, not much, but the ridge became
narrower. At one point I looked down and to my
left was a monster drop of thousands of feet
down the south side of Everest and on my right
the north face plummeted away to infinity.
second step is notorious for it's ladder, put in
by the Chinese a long time ago. It's quite hard
to find, so we bypassed it the first time. We
actually followed a route around the base of the
second step and climbed further to 8600 meters.
Looking up we could see loads of abseil points
and ropes where people, in order to avoid
climbing down the ladder on their descent and so
perhaps causing congestion, had found easier
routes to come down. We were now actually above
and along from the top of the Second Step if
that makes sense and we could see how we had
bypassed our correct point. There was also a
dead body lying at the bottom of the ropes. We
turned around and headed now back down towards
the base of the Second Step. It wasn't hard, I
knew we'd be up it in minutes and the final snow
slopes would take about 45 minutes to the
I looked behind me. Will had stopped and was
bent double over, apparently scratching himself.
What the hell's he up to, I thought, and waited.
Some minutes later he came up very very slowly
and suggested we find a place to rest for a bit
and then try for the top. It was around 1pm, we
had time so I said yes. We moved on a bit
looking for a little resting place. There was a
body lying in a really useful crevice but it was
a dead Sherpa so we moved on.
found a place soon enough, just on the Second
Step itself really and Will lay down. "My
knee," he said slowly, "I think it's
gone". Gone ? Gone where ? I was
non-plussed. "Gav, I can't really walk too
much anymore, it's dislocated."
Dislocated knee at 8600 meters on Everest.
Immediate descent. Survival. Disaster. Death.
Thoughts ran through my, our, minds as the
reality settled like heavy stones in our
stomachs. The dead Sherpa over there died
because he took a five minute rest and never
woke up. Can I easily explain to you how hard it
is to live, breathe and think even quarter
rationally at over 27,000' ? Can I adequately
explain that every single one of your body
organs just doesn't work right ? Including your
brain which now was trying to cope with a
problem the enormity of which I can not even
begin to exaggerate.
needed to pee. The knowledge hit me seconds too
late and I struggled with five layers to, well,
get it out in time. Panic completely overtook
me, and I mean that sort of panic when your
mental destination board flashes 'Toilet' but
your body knows that it's sadly all too late and
your eyes, peeled wide open like a startled
deer, register simultaneous realization,
resignation and humiliation. With a long
drawn-out cry, hand pressed uselessly into
crotch, I peed long and hand. Instantly the
liquid that coursed down both legs went
depressingly cold. Moving was utter dejection.
"Mate," I gasped, "I just peed
myself". We didn't know whether to laugh or
cry. It seemed appropriate for both.
one is here.