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 Millennium Seven Summits Expedition

The Millennium Seven Summits Expedition led by Gavin Bate and John Barry join the EverestNew.com team. EverestNews.com will feature full dispatches and photos from this expedition. Please see below for information on them and their dispatches from Everest.

  • Millennium Seven Summits Expedition

The Millennium Challenge team will be climbing Everest in an attempt to make the first British ascent in the year 2000. The team of seven is made up of John Barry and Gavin Bate, Andy Salter, Polly Murray , Chris Tiso, George Barlow and Michele Santilhano. There will also be a back-up team of communications experts and cooks as well as the complement of high altitude Sherpas. 

Between the seven summits are the roof of our planet. Each one is a sizeable adventure. To stand on top of each of these mountains in the period of one year. A British record for the Millennium and a Millennium message from the Top of the World - it is a powerful image, and a realistic one.

Gavin Bate  http://adventurealternative.com 

Gavin Bate walked across the Sahara Desert on his own at 21 years of age and has been exploring and mountaineering ever since. From buying ships world-wide for scrap for his father in the Far East he has organized and presented documentaries of expeditions in Iceland, Tibet and Africa as well as an adventure series in Ireland. Gavin runs his own company, Adventure Alternative, and was part of the British team which successfully skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska and recently summitted the 6th highest mountain in the world without bottled oxygen. 
John Barry is the man who took the first British woman to the summit of Everest. He is one of Britain's most accomplished and active mountaineers, a man who has been to the worlds highest mountain four times. He has climbed on all the world's big mountain ranges, written books, and presented the BBC series Arctic Challenge. He was Director of Plas y Brenin Outdoor Centre in Wales for seven years and has since been leading expeditions to all corners of the world.

Dispatch: Everest Base Camp, 18,150'

The team is all keeping well. We have been back up to Camp 1 and have spent the night without any problems at 20,000'. Later some of us moved up to Camp 2 ( 21,500' ) for a day trip. Andy Salter suffered an attack of Delhi Belly at Camp One which was very unfortunate and one of our Sherpas, Nan Chumbi, had a really bad blister.

Camp Two is pretty empty, with most groups still in the process of putting in loads and storing them under rocks. Our Camp is quite well organized and will be fully stocked and ready in about four days. We are tucked up at the top end of the Western Cwm, right below the daunting Lhotse Face, our next massive obstacle on the way to the South Col. Walking up the Western Cwm is an incredible experience, one of the most incredible valleys in the world with the stunning sheer face of impossible ice of Nuptse on one side; and towering on the other side, the dark triangular peak of Everest jutting into the sky, black and forbidding. It is such a sight that knocks your breath away. The Lhotse Face is quite dry and icy, several thousand feet straight up, with the distinctive saddle shape of the south col etched against the horizon. It is quite clear that the real stuff begins from Camp 2.

We came down to Base Camp quite shattered and spent. Today we are just relaxing and rehydrating. Andy Salter is now completely recovered. It is amazing how exhausted you feel after being up high. We are now going down the valley to relax in Lobuje and climb Pokalde, a trekking peak of 19,600'. This diversion will aid in our training and more importantly allow us a change of scenery. We are in the happy position of being somewhat ahead of ourselves in terms of acclimatisation and logistics. Some teams are yet to make their first move up to Camp One. This means we have the luxury of being able to pop down to lower altitudes, see some green grass and breathe some thicker air ! We plan to be back on Thursday.

It is very cold at Base Camp these days. Last night it snowed. The next trek group is shortly coming out and we are putting in an order for luxuries for them to bring up to us - Stilton cheese, the Sunday Telegraph and so on. Some things in Life are too important to miss  !

Michele would like to say a big hello and thank you to all her supporters in South Africa. News has surfaced that Andy Salter  proposed to Louise as she left Base Camp after her trek in with us. She accepted !

We hope that everyone is keeping well at home, we heard about the drubbing that England got from Scotland in a game of 'unremitting savagery' ( which pleased Chris Tiso no end ) - and we would like to thank everyone for their notes of support and encouragement.

With very best regards from Base Camp,

Gavin Bate 

Second Dispatch: Everest Base Camp 14th April 2000 Greetings from the British Everest Expedition !

From 18,150' on the Khumbu Glacier, the British team is doing very well and enjoying the comforts of Base Camp. This afternoon it is snowing quite heavily and visibility is low - thank God ! sometimes the continual sight of the Khumbu Icefall is enough to drive anyone mad. Already the talk is of "what's the first thing you'll do or eat when you get back home" ! We have just come back from a relaxing week down the valley, climbing the trekking peak of Pokalde and basking in the relative heat of Lobuje ! Fortunately we are in the position to do this, because we have been here since more or less the beginning of April and we have already been up to Camp Two on Mount Everest, and put in a lot of our logistics. We have successfully climbed through the Icefall several times, slept at Camp One and almost all of our gear is sitting at Camp Two. Between ourselves, the big Canadian team, Mountain Madness and Babu Sherpa's lot ( he's the one who is trying for a speed ascent of Everest in 16 hours )we have put in rope to fix the route from Camp 2 to 3. At the moment the Sherpas are within 200 meters of reaching Camp 3 - this heavy snowfall now may well delay things by a day or two. Base Camp is heaving ! There's been a slight problem with the people who are supposed to remove all the feces from all the Camps (hardly surprising - would YOU be in a hurry to come up and carry 20 barrels of s*** down the valley ? ). We called SPCC today ( Sagamartha Pollution Control Committee ) and they're sending up a team tomorrow. Otherwise, everyone is settling in and the Base Camp grapevine is alive and well ! It's great fun listening to all the gossip, believe me. To be honest, all the foreign climbers would be best leaving it all to the Sherpas - those guys are heroic. Their strength on the hill is phenomenal, and their patience a real example to everyone. Our plan is to pop up to Camp Two on Monday 17th. We hope to sleep there for a few nights, then do a day trip to Camp Three, come down again and rest at Base Camp. We have a very useful contract with Bracknelll in the UK for the best weather forecasts and on the back of them, we'll then plan to make a summit bid around the beginning of May when the jet streams lift. Given that nobody has suffered any ill-health and that we've had no problems up to Camp Two so far, the team is quietly confident. You have to keep positive - perhaps the hardest thing up here is keeping patient, positive and motivated ! Climbing Everest is not so much about technical ability ( it isn't ) as about keeping healthy and happy and hoping that the lottery of weather comes up in your favor at the right time ! 

To introduce the team quickly - Gavin Bate ( poor sod who organized it all - based in Belfast ), John Barry ( illustrious climbing guide ), Chris Tiso Equipment sponsor, MD of Tiso the Great Outdoor specialists, corporate stormtrooper, Scottish ), Andy Salter ( ex-crocodile hunter, GreenPeace volunteer, rope access specialist ), Michele Santilhano ( South African nurse on the Seven Summits trail ), Polly Murray ( ski instructor, ex-Brit Olympic squad, Scottish ) and our wonderful Base Camp staff - Noel 'Computer Nerd and total Anorak' Bristow ( also the best expeditions comms man in the business, and Welsh ) and Amanda Fry ( Camp Totty ). Our Sherpa contingent is Ang Rita Sherpa ( Sirdar ), Dawa Tenzing ( Cook ), Jangbu Sherpa ( 4 times Everest summiter ), Pemba Gyaljen, Pemba Rinjen, Nan Chumbi, Chandra and another Dawa Tenzing. We take our hats off to these guys. 

Thanks to all our sponsors and to the New Millennium Company in Northern Ireland, and to Famous Grouse for keeping the evenings warm ! We're all looking forward to our chance on Everest and we'd like to thank everyone at home for putting up with our updates. Wish us luck ! 

Cheers Gavin Bate

Dispatch: Everest Base Camp Sunday 16th April 2000

Last night the team had a fantastic meal - Sherpa Stew - and spent the evening listening to the Corrs, drinking whisky and chatting. Lots of time is spent just doing nothing, acclimatizing and resting. It can get a bit boring, but obviously our minds are on going up to Camp 2 in the next few days and hopefully up to Camp 3. Now that the Lhotse Face has more or less been fixed with rope, we can make the move. We have heard that the Face is quite icy - not what we want ! What we want is about a foot of snow in which we can make nice big bucket steps ! There has been a lot of snowfall recently, which may or may not play in our favor. The last thing we want is to be breaking trail through thigh deep snow at 20,000'+ !!

To recap our position - we've got most of our personal gear (North Face sleeping bags and down suits, one-piece wind suits, mitts and clothing for up high, Thermarests) all in one tent at Camp One.

At Camp Two we now have all of our tents for the rest of the mountain, the North Face 2 meter Dome 2 which will be our main living quarters, all of the fresh food and Wayfarer mountain boil-in-the-bag food, all of the gas, stoves, radios, batteries and hardware for the rest of the mountain. All of it is buried under rocks at the moment to protect it from the elements and the birds; from Tuesday, the Camp will start to become habitable ( tents up and so on ).

The 400 meters of polyprop rope which I bought has been added to a few other teams donations, and the Lhotse Face has been fixed to within 200 meters of Camp 3 at around 23,500'. Bad weather has prevented the last bit being fixed but we are expecting it to be ready by Wednesday.

A word about our communication system on the mountain - it is a critical part of our movements on the hill. Noel Bristow is well-known in the mountaineering/expedition world as one of the best in the business (Makalu '92, Everest '93). He has linked our two Base Camp 32W solar panels to a bank of gel batteries which power all our laptops, sat phones, VHF radios and the music system ! We then have our handheld radios for each person and these are powered by flexible solar panels and gel batteries at each of the high camps. Sounds simple but Noel has hand-built all the control boxes himself.

A little bit about our equipment- for trips up to Camp 2 we are wearing full thermals, polartec midlayer, North Face fleeces, gloves and mitts, fleece hats, Rab one-piece wind suits if necessary, woolen socks and Everest One Sport boots. We all wear a harness with a jumar and a cows tail for clipping on when crossing crevasses and going through the Icefall. We use a combination of sticks for balance and a standard ice axe for some of the steeper sections. Our specialist high altitude kit is The North Face and Rab (tents - VE25's and Evolution 45's, one-piece down suits, wind suits). Plus of course the oxygen from Zvesda in Moscow.

So everyone is really looking forward to making a move next week, since it can get a bit wearing just sitting here. It basically takes a month before our bodies are ready in terms of acclimatisation, so we are nearing our optimum time for making a summit bid.

Thanks to everyone for their support and best greetings from Everest. We'll keep you posted on our progress.

Best regards 

Gavin Bate

Dispatch: Everest Base Camp 17th April 2000

It is very cold tonight and we are preparing to leave Base Camp tomorrow morning very early to go to Camp One, then onto Camp 2 and hopefully up to Camp 3 over the following 5 days. Radios have been charged, films changed in cameras, kit checked, boots tried on again and loads of liquid imbibed (not whisky this time ! ).

There is a lot of movement on the mountain now with teams making their first forays up to Camp One. Yesterday unfortunately one of the ladders spanning a crevasse collapsed with one of our Sherpas on it. He was clipped into a safety line but was still left dangling some 25' down into the crevasse. Thankfully he was not hurt, but it shows the fragility of the Icefall route. Later that day one of the ice cliffs with a number of vertical ladders attached to it actually moved and all the ladders came away. A number of avalanches in the Icefall last night have rendered some of the crossings a bit delicate - we'll find out tomorrow !

We're still doing fine. The Lhotse Face has now been fixed to above Camp 3 and we are hoping to take a trip up there on Thursday. Wish us luck and thank you for all your support.

Gavin Bate

Dispatch 4/19/200

Noel Bristow. For Gavin Bate

Check our News Page for all the Updates on the Millennium Seven Summits Expedition and all the other expeditions on Everest.

Dispatch: We've just come back from a big excursion on the mountain and we're now back in Base Camp, resting and relaxing. It's been a big adventure with no shortage of drama as well as, thankfully, success for our team.

We left Base Camp for Camp 1 again and made the now predictably exhausting ascent up the Icefall Route. Since we first went up there, it has changed quite a lot. Seracs have fallen, new ropes put in, snowfall has blanketed the blue ice and many of the ladders have buckled and bent. It's still incredibly exciting picking your way through the ice, though, a massive playground !

In the beginning we were so careful about crossing crevasses on the ladders. Now we just clip in to the rope with hardly a break in stride and walk straight across ( no more creeping across on all fours or, in some cases, flat on our stomachs !). Sometimes we run and take a jump, taking a quick glimpse of the yawing abyss descending into blackness below us.

At Camp 1 we settled into the tents and boiled up liquids. We need to consume at least eight pints a day to stay on form, so it's lots of soup and tea ! One of us has to rush out and collect bags of snow and ice to melt, making sure we avoid those areas were people take a pee ! (that's a really good way of leaving the hill with horrendous stomach cramps, doubled over like a question mark ). There is a narrow crevasse a few feet away which people use for a toilet by squatting astride the gap out in the open ( no pretence at privacy here ! ). The problem is that people don't always stick to the right place!

Anyway we all sleep well and we wake at 5am, to get ready to go up to Camp 2. I pop outside to use the crevasse and it is inhumanly cold ! It must be 20 below with wind chill. There is a unanimous decision to get deeper into the sleeping bag, turn over and wait for sun-up. It takes me at least an hour to feel vaguely warm.

The sun comes up and we realize our mistake. The route to Camp 2 up the Western Cwm is now a trek through the worlds biggest oven ! It is so hot and it is utterly shade less ! The heat beats into us from all directions, as it bounces off the snow. It is like walking into a wall. We are so slow ! Hours pass and the camp never seems to get any closer. What idiots we are to be out in such heat !. Never again will we do the midday trek up the Western Cwm.

CAMP 2

Our North Face 2 meter dome is such a welcome to see. We settle into our North Face VE-25 mountain tents and rest. We are now sleeping at 21,500' and it is very important to take it easy. This end of the Western Cwm is just stunning, an utterly incredible place to be. Down the valley we can see the whole Nuptse ridge on one side and on the other, rearing and towering directly above us where we are camped, the massive SW face of Everest. The summit is right there ! Following the skyline down from the summit is our route all the way to the South Col and then, following round to the head of the valley, dominating the entire top end of the Western Cwm is the Lhotse Face - the guts of 5000 feet of snow and ice going straight up - and almost half way up, just visible to the naked eye, a tiny huddle of tents in the middle of some ice cliffs - our Camp 3 !!

Going to Camp 3

We tried going up once but turned back after two hours right at the base of the Lhotse Face itself where the ropes start, because Polly had a mild chest infection and the freezing cold air was such an irritant that she coughed all the time. Back to Camp and more resting. Next morning we were up at 4am. The Sherpas start their climbing day with boiled pasta in hot milk which I'm afraid was beyond our Western stomachs ! We had porridge. .The Sherpas are going all the way to South Col to start putting gear in for us - super humans, they really are.  A couple of hours later and we're at the base of the Lhotse Face. It's just plain massive. John hands out instructions like mad as we check harnesses, knots, crampons, gulp liquid, snatch a mouth of chocolate. We're stamping feet and wind milling arms to keep warm. Above us, 2500 feet straight up!

The Lhotse Face

It's blue ice, it's high, it's never-ending and there's a storm coming in. We are using jumars and the first section is more or less front-pointing. Within minutes I am exhausted. I glance down at Andy and am glad to see he looks exactly the same - already tired ! Now it is just a matter of concentration on the ice and stamina to keep going.

But it is fantastic climbing ! Looking up I can see John hammering his front points into the cliff and the thousands of chips of ice shower down on me, blown violently into my face by the wind. I am wriggling my toes like mad and balling my hands one by one to stop the cold from eating into me. Then it's my turn - put a foot up, hammer it into the ice, check it's safe, put some weight on, haul up on the jumar and push up, place the next foot, and on and on like that. Every three steps everyone stops and gasps and gasps - from a distance we appear virtually stationery, tiny dots on vast face. Sometimes the angle is steep, sometimes not so steep; sometimes it is sheer blue ice, others times snow-covered - but all the time it is absolutely, totally and utterly exhausting ! John leads with Chris behind, then me, Andy, Polly and Michele. Each time I glance down I see Andy moving up towards me and swear - I need to carry on ! If he's resting, I can rest too ! We are too tired to talk, just a meeting of eyes is enough for us to communicate the same message - what a monster !

After six hours we get to Camp 3, a precarious perch at 23,500' - two tents pitched together right on an edge. About fifty feet away are some ruins of tents from other groups - hmmm, great. We all pile into one tent and sprawl all over each other. I am squatting in the porch sorting out rucksacks, crampons and so on, John has one stocking foot stuck in Andy's armpit because it's cold, Chris is passing round bottles of water, Polly unfortunately ) has to go to the toilet and Michele is still an hour down the slope.

Down The Slope

Now the wind really picks up and there is masses of spindrift. It is blowing a hoolie out there ! Michele eventually comes in, shattered, but we have little time. We have to get out of here and fast. Above the sound of the wind we suddenly hear this deep booming sound. It takes a moment to work out what it is - "That" says John, "is the wind going through the South Col". There can be no more frightening sound than that, I swear. Suddenly where we are and what we are doing is put into bleak perspective. This is Everest, no doubt about it !

One at a time we get ready to leave. I go first. No ! I have to go for a pee ! Flash freeze ! Chris crawls out as well and we help each other. I'm glad we're going down together. I'm shaking with cold.

Now we have nearly three thousand feet to go down - how to do it ? Easy. Face forward down the hill, wrap one arm round the rope and go as fast as you can without losing control ! At times we're jogging. panting madly, punching the crampons into the ice and thinking "what the heck am I doing?".

The wind is howling and all feeling in my face is gone. Icicles are hanging from my beard and the snot is freezing as it drips out of my nose. Despite the cold and the tiredness and the intense concentration, it is an amazing experience and utterly adrenalin-pumping ! Here we are, rushing face forward down the Lhotse Face on Everest in a storm ! It's incredible! Some parts my crampons slip on the ice but there's no stopping, except to clip our safety karabiner onto the next line. Sometimes, when it's just too steep, I put in the figure of eight and abseil down.

Chris is right behind me and we're shouting to each other - "Line clear !" - but we can't see each other, the visibility is so poor. Then Polly appears behind Chris and the three of us reach the bottom of the Lhotse Face. We've done it. Now we race back to Camp 2 as fast as possible.

Unfortunately Michele, who is coming down with John and Andy, takes a tumble just at the bottom of the Face on the way down and hurts her face. She's fine but the three of them come in about an hour later. Everyone is tired but pretty elated - we've made it to Camp 3 and we're all okay!

Next Move

Next day we motor down to Base Camp in quick time and pig out on fried eggs, chips and fried bread ! Forget all that rubbish about careful diets ! Your body tells you what you want - and we CRAVED a big fatty fried meal ! Next on the list was a can of San Miguel !

Then we dive into our shower tent - a large metal bucket of water on top of a kerosene heater and a jug. You stand naked on a  piece of karrimat and do the best you can ! We absolutely stink and our clothes reek - all part of the fun of a mountaineering expedition !

Now we're resting. It's snowing very heavily and we are worried about our tents at Camp 3 collapsing. Tomorrow we will probably go down the valley for another breath of rich air in Lobuje. We'll be gone for about three days. The next group of trekkers is coming up to visit us and they've got our order - Stilton cheese, haggis, thick cut orange marmalade, the Times newspaper, Yachting Monthly, Sambuca, Earl Grey Tea - the small luxuries in life that are so important !

So, we're all okay and our plan is as follows - weather dependant !!

We've just got our first weather forecast from Bracknell (Met Office) and it's not too great. The jet streams are still quite low and there are expected 80 knot winds.

5 - 27 April Lobuje rest, 8 - 30 April Base Camp rest, prepare for summit attempt, 1 May Go to Camp 1, 2 May Go to Camp 2, 3 May Rest at Camp 2, 4 May Go to Camp 3, sleep on oxygen, 5 May Go to Camp 4 ( South Col ) on oxygen, 6 May Summit day, back to S. Col, rest, 7 May Clear Camp 4, go to Camp 2, 8 May Go to Base Camp

We've just got our first weather forecast from Bracknell (Met Office) and it's not too great. The jet streams are still quite low and there are expected 80 knot winds at 24,000' on 28 April which means it will be difficult for the Sherpas to stock some of our high camps. To put it into perspective, our storm the other day was probably around 35 knots ! So, we'll just have

to wait and see. At the moment it's just nice to sleep a lot. Main conversations now revolve around the amount of food and drink we're going to consume when we get back to Kathmandu.

On behalf of the Everest team I would like to extend our thanks to all the messages of support from the many people who have sent emails. This may sound soft, but it really does make a difference to know that people out there are egging us on. Classic example - 9 year old David Alexander sent us a great little good luck message which was relayed to us at 22000 feet by radio, thanks very much ! Some people are saying why are we doing it - we're asking ourselves that all the time ! Hundreds of people are now on the emailing list and receiving these updates and the number is growing all the time. The website has had a 500% increase in hits in the last 3 weeks and we've been doing live radio interviews to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the World Service. Everybody here knows about us, the Brit team (with the South African on board) who are pushing to be one of the first on a summit attempt!

Finally, a word of thanks and very justly deserved. Our equipment, provided by The North Face and Rab, is proving excellent and the satellite communication equipment from Ships Electronic Services is fantastic. Comms at Base Camp is being run by Noel Bristow and Amanda Fry, and they are both quite invaluable to the expedition. Once we go to the top, it will be Noel and Amanda back here with their forecasts and sanity who will guide us on - letting us know how many hours of oxygen we have left and so on.

Back in Northern Ireland the staff of the New Millennium Company are in our thoughts - it IS time to make a difference and we're trying !! - and especially Brian Reid who is running our website and managing the emailing list ( you're a star and I do owe you and Rachel a holiday !), and lastly but absolutely not leastly? Greg at the 7 Summits office who is dealing with all the correspondence, emails, background logistics (and looking after my dog ! ).

Greg, everyone here salutes you and thanks you for our commitment - the unsung hero of our expedition ! We have all decided that we would like to have a picture of you on the website so everyone can see who's turning the cogs in the background ! Sorry this is such a long message but I hope you've enjoyed the continuing story of our small adventures on Everest. Our next move is to the summit - weather and God willing. We'll keep you posted.

Best regards Gavin 

Dispatch: 4/26/2000

So we're resting today and there's lots of stuff to do. Principally we're checking all the oxygen bottles (to make sure that they are full), checking that the regulators work and trying out the whole outfit with the masks again and again until we're completely happy with it all. Imagine that the next time we use these things will be at 24,000' in freezing cold weather, fumbling with numb fingers and trying to think about flow rates when your brain is pickled with altitude. This is so important. We'll hopefully be working in pairs on summit day because one of the biggest problems is changing bottles which means taking down mitts off, getting the changeover right and trying to do it all in enough time to avoid frostbite on your digits !

As we approach what are possibly the final days of this expedition, it is only right that we applaud our Sherpas, since it is their super human efforts that is making all this possible on the mountain. I mean, can you imagine carrying a 30 kilo gas bottle on your back up to Camp 2? Not only are they tremendously strong but they also exhibit consummate patience. Even after a monster day going up to fix ropes on the Lhotse Face, they still come back smiling. They eat mountains of tsampa (barley meal), pasta with milk for breakfast, raw chillies, they drink salt tea and they maintain a politeness and Buddhist calm that is an example to everyone.

Today I am going down to Gorak Shep to meet my good friend Pat Falvey, the first Irishman to climb all the Seven Summits and the person with whom I summitted Cho Oyu with in 1998. It will be good to see him. The others are coming down tomorrow and we'll all go down to Lobuje for a rest till the weekend.

Morale is very high at the moment and we are feeling a little better about our tents at Camp 3 - this morning the weather cleared enough for our Camp 2 cook to see the tents still intact high on the Lhotse Face. However we are preparing for the worst and assuming that they will collapse, so we'll take up extra poles.

So lots of best wishes from our Base Camp and we'll keep in touch when were back from our little sojourn. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy our photo of Base Camp activities, namely football on a frozen lake just at the bottom the Icefall !

Best regards, Gavin Bate

Dispatch: Everest Update - 30th April 2000

The climbing team is still down the valley resting at Lobuche, waiting for the weather to improve. The jet stream is still affecting the top of the mountain with 80-90 knot winds. We can hear the winds roaring even down at Base Camp. This has stopped any of the teams from reaching the South Col, the closest yet being our Sherpas who helped fix the ropes to within 200 meters of the South Col nearly a week ago. The Sherpas tried to reach the South Col two days ago, but had to leave their load of 16 oxygen bottles at Camp 3 on the Lhotse face, due to the high winds - the risk of frostbite due to wind-chill is very high. We are now waiting for a weather forecast, so that the Sherpas can decide whether to go up to Camp 2 tomorrow morning or not.

The climbing team expect to come back up to Base Camp on Tuesday, and they will then move back up the mountain for their summit bid later in the week, weather permitting. There are now several teams in a similar position to us, just waiting for the weather to improve.

At Base Camp we have a steady stream of visiting trekkers come to check on the progress of the team and to send messages home, either by sat phone or email. Many of the climbers from other teams also use these facilities, or simply drop in for a chat and a cup of tea. There is a very effective grapevine at Base Camp, sharing information about the conditions on the mountain and the weather.

There is quite a buzz about Base Camp, now that summit time approaches! Cheers,  Noel Bristow

Dispatch: Base camp Wednesday 5/3/2000

They do say that patience is a virtue, and ours is being tested right now ! We have spent several days below in the village of Lobuje, eating well and sleeping well, and every morning gazing up at the high tops and seeing the tell-tale signs of high winds and bad weather. By mid-afternoon the weather has invariably clagged in and quite often it is snowing. With a sigh we have gone back into the lodge and discussed, yet again, our different possibilities and itineraries.

It is SO frustrating !!

Now we are back in Base Camp and yesterday when we arrived there was a huge snowstorm and the tents were lashed by strong winds. People are leaving the mountain in droves ! This morning it is clear skies but still high winds and we have spoken to our Sherpas at Camp 2 who have confirmed that there is no movement up high.

It is VERY frustrating !!

We are all ready and primed ( like "coiled springs" as Andy says, doing some light calisthenics outside in a muscle T-shirt ) and we have all over-dosed on sleep. The silent cry of "Let's Go !" is in everyone's mind. One pleasant distraction has been the arrival of my second trek group who arrive at Base Camp today. We met them in Lobuje and it was good to chat with new faces. Rory Tiso, brother of Chris, was man of the hour when he delivered a 'goodies bag' of  luxuries like the newspapers, magazines, salami, cask strength whisky, Sambuca, haggis and oatcakes ! We fell upon the bag like idiots !

Our trek group is fantastic, some real characters. None of them are climbers or even especially enthusiastic hill walkers - they just wanted the opportunity to go to Base Camp during an actual summit attempt. It means a lot to us as well, to have that sort of support from people back home who have trekked up here to see this incredible mountain.

Anyway life is now revolving around the weather forecast and the daily radio call with Camp 2 to find out what the movements are up there. At the moment the forecast indicates that the weather is changing today, with a big high pressure coming in from the north ( the Tibetan plateau ) which is pushing this current low pressure away, hence the present unsettled weather. On the 5th the winds are supposed to be gossamer light and several groups are going for the top on that day. Unfortunately we can't take advantage of that because we don't have all our gear at Camp 4 yet. Then on the 7th'ish there's supposed to be 35 knot winds at 24,000' which is too strong for summiting and, hopefully, then a drop in wind for maybe the 8th or 9th which is our proposed date of summiting. Who knows ? We are literally in the hands of the Gods up here.

It is UTTERLY frustrating !!

We will keep you posted. Meanwhile life at Base Camp drags on and we dream of hot showers, clean sheets, central heating, bacon sanies, strong cheddar, armchairs, movies and washing machines !! All the best

Gavin 

Updates: 5/4/2000 Everest Base Camp, 18150' From: the Everest Summit Team 

Last night Base Camp echoed with the sounds of revelry from our camp, late into the night. Twenty odd people, us and our group of visiting trekkers, followed dinner with a high altitude party that will be remembered for a long time, e.g. John Gillespie 'jiving' to the sounds of Bob Marley, on top of the dining table; John Barry 'jiving' with John Gillespie on top of the dining table; John Barry giving John Gillespie a fireman's lift which resulted in nearly the entire mess tent being pulled down around our ears; and so on - an evening which has resulted in some long and drawn faces this morning !

We woke this morning to fabulous blue skies and light winds. The forecast came through at 9am and is the best we've had for weeks. A huge high pressure is sitting directly over Everest, the jet streams have dropped and the winds are dropping steadily. In 3 days there is an almost windless day on the summit forecast, and the following 3 or 4 days are expected to be good. 

Suddenly plans are being formulated, summit days being discussed and thoughts are turning to bits of kit we need to take up for the last push on Everest. 

At Camp 2 this morning the Sherpas left early. We have just spoken to them on the radio and they have made Camp 4 [Note this is May 4th.] At last our supplies are being dumped at 26,000' in preparation for our summit push.

The trekkers have also been drawn into the excitement of the moment; small knots of people are discussing plans and options. It is a very unique opportunity to be up here as part of the whole climbing logistics. They have just gone up to the Icefall route to have a look. Later Kevin Kahan, hairdresser extraordinaire from Bangor in Northern Ireland, will be giving haircuts to the summit team ( in return for some funds for charity). 

This afternoon we will gather together our bits of kit ( although most of it is already up the hill ) and we'll plan for an early night. Tomorrow morning we'll be up at 4am for a 5am start. Our plan is to get up to Camp 2 tomorrow, rest for a day and get another forecast from Noel ( Expedition comms man at Base Camp ); then, if all looks favorable, we'll climb to Camp 3 and go onto oxygen for the night before climbing up to the south col Camp 4 at 26,000' ). We might then get one more 24 hour forecast from Noel and try for the top - possibly for the 9th or 10th May. 

We will be in constant radio contact with Noel and as he receives our reports he will send out an update. As time goes on and things get more critical, the updates will be more frequent. We hope to keep you all in touch with our progress as it happens, and we thank EVERYONE once again for their support. Speaking on behalf of the team we feel strong and confident; we feel we have done all the right things in our preparations, our acclimatisation and our approach to this mountain. We have adopted a laid-back, humorous and practical state of mind to all our actions and we have a very strong team of Sherpas working for us. We need just a week of good weather, a bit of luck and the determination as a team to overcome this last hurdle of the expedition. Obviously we all have our own thoughts and our own worries, but once again the overall philosophy of the group is to take each day as it comes, to give it our best and to do our best for ourselves, for all our supporters out there and for our country. We are, after all, the only UK independent team up here.

We also have Michele Santilhano here who is representing South Africa, and we know that many people across her country will be watching and following her progress. She is certainly a great ambassador for her nation. John Barry, Andrew Salter, Chris Tiso, Polly Murray, Michele Santilhano and myself all hope to do our best, and most importantly to come down safely. About four or five other groups are all planning to summit in and around the next week so we will not be alone up there. From the south col we will have an eighteen hour day to accomplish - 12 hours to the summit and 6 hours back down. Each of us will have 3 bottles of oxygen to breathe from, and each bottle will last us six hours at a flow rate of 2 liters per minute. There is precious little room for error, so we will be relying on Noel at Base Camp to advise us of the time lapsed and the amount of oxygen we have left.

Enough talk now. Wish us luck and God speed and be sure that your support will spur us on. I hope to report success. With all best regards and especially from all of us we send our love to our families. Gavin Bate and the Everest Team

Update: Everest Base Camp - 5/5/00

The day started at 4:30AM with a blast on Dawa's whistle for breakfast. The team duly assembled in the Sherpa kitchen (much warmer than the mess tent at that time of day) for a breakfast of porridge and toast, washed down with plenty of milk tea (of course!). By 5:00 they were ready to leave for the Icefall and the first step of their journey to the summit. They were waved off by Amanda and myself, and the whole of the Irish trekking group - an unusual send-off at that time of the morning.

After waiting by the radio for most of the day, we eventually received a radio call from Polly at Camp 2 to say that they had all arrived safe and sound. They had reached Camp 1, at the top of the Icefall, by late morning. They spent an hour and a half there, resting and drinking to replace lost fluids. This also gave a chance for the skies to cloud over, therefore avoiding an exhausting walk in the baking heat of the Western Cwm. They reached Camp 2 at 3:30PM and, after radioing down to Base Camp, they have settled down to a meal and a well-earned rest.

In the meantime, the Sherpas have taken another double carry (~30kg each) from Camp 2 to Camp 4 on the South Col. This completes the carries to Camp 4, and everything is now in place for the summit attempt. The Sherpas will now have two rest days at Camp 2, before returning to the South Col for the summit attempt.

We said goodbye to the Irish trekking group late this morning. They were a blast of entertainment and we very much enjoyed the Craic.

Tomorrow the climbing team will rest at Camp 2, and we will send off for a weather forecast from Bracknell. If the forecast is favorable, the climbing team will continue up to Camp 3. Otherwise they will be forced to wait at Camp 2 for better weather. We will keep our fingers crossed and keep you all informed of our progress. Noel Bristow

For much more on The Millennium Seven Summits Expedition.

The Millennium Seven Summits Expedition

Dispatch: Everest Base Camp - 6th May 2000

Today saw the first summit attempt of the year. One of the teams got as far as the Balcony, which is about 6 hours above the South Col (Camp 4). Unfortunately, they had to turn back due to waist deep snow. Several other teams are waiting on the mountain and at least one of these teams is planning to attempt to summit tomorrow.

Our climbing team reached Camp 2 yesterday and they have rested there all today, along with the Sherpas. They are all in good spirits.

We sent off for a forecast this morning from Bracknell which was due this evening. Late this afternoon we were visited by Yolanda, a meteorologist studying weather in the Khumbu region as a specialty. With her help we were able to access weather maps on the Internet and have them interpreted by her. This information, combined with the forecast from Bracknell, has led to the decision for the climbing team to wait at Camp 2 for one further day, before leaving for Camp 3 on the 8th May. This means that they should be attempting the summit on the 10th May.

We all hope that the weather window of the 10th comes to fruition. Noel Bristow  

Update: Everest Base Camp - 7th May 2000

This morning dawned with black skies, thunder and snow. In fact it has continued to snow all day so far. The climbing team at Camp 2 reported high winds during the night. The two teams at Camp 4 on the South Col last night did not go any further due to the wind and have returned back to Camp 2 today. In fact the weather has continued to be unsettled and difficult to forecast. Our climbing team have decided to postpone their summit attempt by one day and are waiting for another weather forecast. We will arrange for the forecast to arrive tomorrow lunchtime. This will give them sufficient time to decide whether to go up for the summit or back down to Base Camp.

The difficulty in accurately predicting the weather has led to many teams going up one day only to come down the next. The problem is that it takes at least three days to go from Base Camp to the South Col ready for a summit attempt, by which time the weather forecast has changed. The other problem at the moment is the amount of snow that has fallen in the last week or so. The first teams to go for the summit are likely to face deep snow, unless the winds blow the snow off in the meantime. Only time will tell.

Noel Bristow

Update: May 8th 2000

Totally unpredictable and atrocious weather has kept nearly 200 climbers at bay on this mountain ! A possible summit 'window' was projected for the 10th but we need more than one day to get to the top ! We went up to Camp 2 the other day but backed out of trying to get to the south col in 45 knot winds. Considering we only have one crack at this mountain, our decision to go up is not an easy one to make. We have to think about our supplies of oxygen, food and gas at the high camps, and also how our Sherpas will fit in with the programme.

Babu Sherpa, the guy who is planning a 16 hour ascent, went up to the south col three days ago and tried to go to the summit. Heavy snowfall below the south summit scuppered (Irish word ?) his attempt and he came back; then Mountain Madness went to the south col but didn't get any further because of high winds. We knew their attempt would be a no-go because we were at Camp 2 listening to the howling winds tear at our tents. The next morning we made the decision not to dig too deep into our food supplies at Camp 2 and came back to Base Camp.

Now everyone is getting very tetchy about summit dates. Today I met with Babu Sherpa and we discussed joining forces for our summit bids. Some groups are planning for the 12th and we will try for the 14th. It looks as if quite a few people will be up there over the next few days. Whatever the case this is our best chance coming up and we are hoping that our patience will finally win out. A very special thank you for all the messages of support and good luck which we have received. We have been overwhelmed ! Very best regards,

Gavin

The team have arrived at Camp Two at 5PM, Friday 12th. Weather permitting they remain on course for the final climb to the summit on May 14th

Everest Base Camp Wednesday 10th May

Now we are in the final days of our Expedition and the mountain has knocked us back twice with bad weather. Now we are trying for the third time ( lucky ?). We leave again tomorrow morning, unless the weather is bad. In actual fact it is not so much the wind but also the depth of the snow and the fact that nobody wants to break trail at 20,000 feet plus, since this would be so exhausting as to almost certainly stop us dead in our tracks. Even the Sherpas baulk at breaking trail. Nobody has summitted yet and those people who have tried have just been beaten back.

A lot of people are going to try for the next few days so we will join the bandwagon and hope for the best. we have heard that Camp 3 is utterly clogged with snow and many tents have collapsed. The route to Camp 4 ( which we would do on oxygen ) basically traverses the upper section of the Lhotse Face and the snow that has accumulated there is now avalanche-prone - another problem to think about !

Although we're keeping the spirits up, there is such a strong feeling of frustration now and most conversations revolve around going home ( apart from going up !). It is very annoying that after all this time, having done everything right and having been so successful thus far, the mountain may well knock us back. Our feelings are very philosophical on this score - we simply have to do the best that we can and appreciate that climbing Everest is as much about luck as it is about ability. If we don't make it then the experience of being on Everest will stay with us for a long time, I know that.

We are all missing friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents and so on. It will be wonderful to get back to civilization, new faces, our homes and home comforts. I keep getting emails from people describing how they are sitting down to roast chicken, at a table in a warm house, with a nice bottle of vin rouge and so on ! Thanks very much ! Well just to reciprocate, today we had lunch in a big green mess tent in about 4 degrees C, and it was a stunningly delectable meal of half a pilchard in tomato sauce with one thick slice of slightly hard yak cheese and a single sandwich with two pieces of very old Spam lovingly placed between two slabs of white bread. All washed down with weak milk tea in a tin mug !

We met an English guy today who is planning to run from Base Camp to Kathmandu ( 186 miles ) in less than 3 days, 10 hours which is the current world record. The people you meet up here !

So that's it for now. We'll give it another go, be assured of that, and hope for the very best. Meanwhile I hope you're all enjoying the roast chicken with rich thick gravy, roasties, fresh vegetables, pudding.....

All the very Best

Gavin Bate

  • Everest Base Camp Thursday 12th May AM

Today a team of 14 people broke the logjam on the mountain and made Camp 4 South Col and are planning to go for the summit tonight. We will all be watching carefully to see how they go. We will be going up tomorrow morning at 5am to once again try for the top of this hill. We have joined forces with the Mountain Madness team and the Nepalese Women's Team so that we have greater numbers to get through the expected deep snow.

The worry is initially getting up and over the Lhotse Face. Yesterday there was supposed to have been an avalanche when the Russian were up there, but this turned out to be just a collapsing serac which damaged a load of badly positioned tents. We are hoping that our tents are fine ! 

The weather is about as good as we can expect - the wind has dropped and swung round to a dry northerly, which is good for us. The probability of snow is 30% - 50%, but we are going to live with that. We understand the Lhotse Face is not too bad although there is a worry about traversing the upper section of the Face in case of avalanche. The fact that 14 people got over it today is some comfort.

We are hoping that this team tonight will make a success of their summit attempt and break some sort of trail up from the Balcony to the South Summit and onto the true summit. We have heard that there are likely to be other groups going for the top on the 15th or 16th as well, so we hope to have company.

With great regret and sadness Michele Santilhano will not be joining the summit team tomorrow. Due to the restraints of summit day that Everest forces upon every climber, Michele will be returning back down the hill. She has made it to 23,700' thus far without oxygen.

The five remaining climbers - myself, John Barry, Andrew Salter, Polly Murray and Chris Tiso will try our level best to summit in the coming days. Because of time restraints this is very probably our last chance to give it a go. Be assured we are primed and ready.

Thanks to all for continued support. Noel Bristow, our comms manager here, and Greg manning the home HQ office, will keep you all updated over the coming days as to our progress.

All the very best, Gavin

  • Everest Base Camp - 12th May 2000

The climbing team left Base Camp this morning at 5:00 AM. The weather is looking good at the moment - low winds and no snow. They reached Camp 1 (at the top of the Khumbu Icefall) late in the morning and rested there (sunbathed in fact!) for several hours, before leaving for Camp 2 (at the head of the Western Cwm). They reached Camp 2 at 5:00 PM from where they radioed down in good spirits - they had managed to miss most of the heat in the Western Cwm by waiting for the afternoon clouds to come over.

They are now resting at Camp 2, waiting for the next forecast, which we will relay to them later this evening. If the forecast is favorable they will forego their usual rest day at Camp 2 and leave for Camp 3 (halfway up the Lhotse Face) tomorrow morning.

We have received news that the climbers who reached Camp 4 (on the South Col) yesterday did NOT leave for the summit at midnight and have in fact spent all of today resting in their tents, from where they will leave for the summit at around midnight. They did not leave for the summit as they arrived at the South Col quite late in the afternoon yesterday. We hope that the weather holds for them as they will be fixing ropes from Babu's high point of a week ago, which will make life easier for our team. It means that our team and Sherpas will not have to expend valuable energy fixing these ropes.

Noel Bristow

Everest Update 5/13/2000

The climbing team spent a relaxing day at Camp 2 in preparation for their summit bid. The Sherpas spent their day at Base Camp before they go up to Camp 2 tomorrow. Whereas the team will go from Camps 2 to 3 to 4 and then to the summit, the Sherpas will go from Base Camp to Camp 2, then Camp 4, charging straight past Camp 3. At Camp 4 they will catch up with the team and join them on their Summit Day.

A team attempted to reach the summit today but only got as far as the Balcony (about halfway to the summit from Camp 4) where the fixed ropes end. This means that there have been no successful attempts to reach the top this year. So far, the teams have been hampered on their final summit day by the snow laying thick underfoot. The energy it takes to break trail is phenomenal at that altitude, even if the snow is only inches deep. Two or more teams set off today from Camp 2 to Camp 3 and they are planning to try and summit on the 15th May. They are going to try to share the work of breaking trail to increase their chances of success. Our team will follow them a day later and hope that they will benefit from being able to follow in several people's footsteps.

We have just talked to the team at Camp 2 (it is 6 o'clock in the evening here in Nepal) and they are definitely setting off for Camp 3 tomorrow. Hooray! The summit attempt has begun..

Cheers Amanda

  • Everest Update 5/14/2000

Today, as planned, the climbing team left Camp 2 at 6 o'clock this morning and set off up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3. They arrived at Camp 3 around lunch time to find the tent with all the kit in buried in snow. It took them one hour to dig out the tent but the contents were intact. They were then able to get in the tents, eat, drink and rest.

The Sherpas set off from Base Camp at 6 o'clock this morning and arrived at Camp 2 at 11 o'clock. They also spent the day resting in preparation for their long climb to Camp 4 tomorrow.

We spoke to the climbing team and the Sherpas this evening and gave them the latest weather forecast. The forecast predicted good weather and the whole team plan to set off for Camp 4 tomorrow morning, with a view to summiting on May 16th. They all aim to arrive at Camp 4 about midday where they will rest, eat and drink until about 11 o'clock that evening when they will start their summit bid.

Cheers Amanda

  • UPDATE 5/16/2000

AT 11:00AM 16TH MAY, ANDY SALTER, JOHN BARRY AND POLLY MURRAY SUMMITED MOUNT EVEREST WITH THE SHERPAS JANGBU AND PEMBA GALGIN.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ONE AND ALL IN THE TEAM AND A SAFE JOURNEY DOWN AMANDA

Update: Summit Day Update 4pm

All the team are now back at the South Col (Camp 4) and are fit and well. They will come down to Camp 2 tomorrow and Base Camp the day after. Apparently, the Korean team is saying they fixed the rope on the Hillary Step, not our team, and that they summited 50 minutes before us.

The team summited and is safe and well. If they got there first, that is a bonus. I am sure the climbers from both our team and the Catalan team, which we were told were close behind us, will sort out the mystery when they get safely back to base camp. The Catalan Base Camp team's response was "who cares as long as we made it?" I agree. I will let you know as soon as I know one way or the other.

Gavin Bate, the leader of the expedition, was suffering from a chest infection and was unable to make the final ascent of the Hillary Step.

Cheers Amanda

  • The Millennium Seven Summits Expedition www.7-2000.co.uk  lead by Gavin Bate and John Barry. 

Gavin and the team arrived back in Base camp a couple of hours ago. he is elated to have organized the team who were the FIRST to summit from the Nepal side this new Millennium. I can confirm that they fixed the ropes and were the first to summit. The plan to leave tomorrow and return home on 24th., stopping for an invite to have drinks with the British Ambassador. Brian 

Update: Thursday 18th May

How do you put it into words ? We've just walked down from Mount Everest to Base Camp. From the top of Mount Everest. As I came down the last few hundred feet of the Icefall, knowing that it would be the last time, that we were safe, that the mountain had let us pass, with our faces burnt and blistered, our legs weak as boiled spaghetti, coughing still, eyes red-rimmed from the UV at 29,000 feet and still not really believing what we have just been through, I admit that tears blurred my vision.

All day as we slowly came off the mountain people coming up stopped and congratulated us, but as we came into Base Camp the reception was marvelous. People applauding, shaking our hands, asking us questions, hugging us - it was incredible, emotional, wonderful.

We, the Brit team of the Millennium Seven Summits were the first to summit Mount Everest by the South side in the new Millennium and the news has spread like absolute wildfire. The satellite phone has not stopped ringing ! Newspapers, radio, television - everyone is onto us. The British Ambassador is Kathmandu has invited us to drinks at the Embassy when we get back - God, what to wear ! You cannot imagine how much we smell, how exhausted we are, how we look !

I intend to give you all a more detailed account later on about the whole summit push but this is just a quick summary since I know a lot of people will be waiting to hear first hand news, although I want to make especial mention of Amanda here now, who has done a fantastic job of dealing with the avalanche of emails and telephone calls that have been pouring in since the summit.

John Barry, Polly Murray, Andy Salter and myself made it to the South Col, possibly the most inhospitable, wind-swept and potentially dangerous place you could think of at 26,000' and collapsed onto oxygen bottles to rest. Even at this height everything else looked small. It was amazing but at the same time very tense. There is absolutely no doubt that here is a place where humans are NOT supposed to be. We set off at 10.00pm and started up the mountain. Imagine being at just over 8000 meters and STILL having the height of Ben Nevis to climb, oxygen masks clamped to freezing faces, bright moonlight lighting the way ( anyone interested in Buddhist and Tibetan mythology would be interested to know that the full moon was in our favor with the Gods, and six planets were in alignment - apparently good - and the Sherpas were happy with the whole karma of the moment !).

We hadn't eaten in two days, our liquid intake was minimal ( everything was frozen ), nobody had slept properly in perhaps four or five days but there was this tremendous enthusiasm to go for it. Despite the fact that so many people had failed, we tried to put it from our minds. We reached the Balcony at something like 27,500' and other people turned back. We literally carried on alone up the most incredible airy ridge, just as the sun rose over the horizon, and right over Tibet an incredible electrical storm was stunning to watch. Then we noticed a circular halo of cloud around the moon - harbinger of bad weather; what to do ? turn back ? carry on ? On both sides of the ridge we stood on, thousands and thousands of feet below us, the weather coming in and what to do ? Over Lhotse, masses of cloud pouring over its summit, unbelievable but so frightening. WHAT to do ?

We decide to carry on and now the terrain becomes steep and mixed. Our goggles and sunglasses are misting up, freezing; we can't see anything. Thick gloves trying to wipe ice from lenses. Can't see your feet, have to stretch your neck to look down to see where you're going, fumbling with the ropes, trying to get huge gloves round frozen karabiners, listening to your breath in the mask - loud and intrusive - and now my mask is stuck to my beard !

At 6am, having climbed through the night, the storm hit us. I just couldn't believe that we were INSIDE the lenticular cloud that we've been watching, and avoiding, for weeks. The wind and the spindrift would rip you off that hill if it had been a little stronger. We struggled on. A Canadian who had turned back said to us today that he watched us continue up to the summit and couldn't believe we were doing it. 'Tough as nails' is the comment made on their website apparently !

We decide to carry on and now the terrain becomes steep and mixed. Our goggles and sunglasses are misting up, freezing; we can't see anything. Thick gloves trying to wipe ice from lenses. Can't see your feet, have to stretch your neck to look down to see where you're going, fumbling with the ropes, trying to get huge gloves round frozen karabiners, listening to your breath in the mask - loud and intrusive - and now my mask is stuck to my beard !

At 6am, having climbed through the night, the storm hit us. I just couldn't believe that we were INSIDE the lenticular cloud that we've been watching, and avoiding, for weeks. The wind and the spindrift would rip you off that hill if it had been a little stronger. We struggled on. A Canadian who had turned back said to us today that he watched us continue up to the summit and couldn't believe we were doing it. 'Tough as nails' is the comment made on their website apparently !

The difference in height between the two summits is 100 meters. Between the two is the Hillary Step. Looking at it I felt I could throw a stone at the other summit which looked heavily corniced. Jangbu Sherpa and Pemba Gyaljen went ahead to put in some rope. Unfortunately Pemba Rinjen had not arrived - in fact he had only got as far as the Balcony.

Now came the crux for me - out of the four I was the slowest because of this damned cough which doubled me over every ten minutes, and the oxygen which Pemba Rinjen was supposed to have brought up was now not here. Jangbu and Pemba Gyaljen each had two bottles for us and we each had one full bottle left. We didn't have enough oxygen to get all four of us up to the other summit and all down. The choice was obvious - Andy, John and Polly went on ahead to do the last bit and I sent a message on the radio to say that the team was on the last leg. I stayed for a while on the South Summit and headed down. I just can't describe how proud I was to think of having organized and led such a successful summit of Everest, and the extra pleasure of being first up on the south side was just fantastic. I feel a tremendous pride to have stood at such a place - there is no place higher! - and to have watched three such good friends make the final bit. We have had such incredible notes of support and congratulations - it has been overwhelming. Thank you to everyone. I hope to give you a slightly better version of events later on with pictures, so please keep posted to the site.

We leave Base Camp tomorrow and it will be a mad two day dash to Kathmandu, where I have a couple of days work to do and we have an evening soiree with the British Ambassador booked, don't you know ! Then our flight home, 24th or the 25th. Press conferences await. especially since Polly Murray is now the first Scotswoman to summit Everest and has become a national celebrity. So, thank you everyone for your support and I hope you have enjoyed following our small adventures. Myself and Andy have just a few days at home and then we're off to Alaska to try and climb Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, the next in line for our Seven Summits. Two down, five to go !

All the very best, Gavin Bate

  • Status: 5 summits including two Sherpas made them first up on the South. They are now heading home while others are still thinking of heading up.  You can't get much better than that on Everest. 

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