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Lhotse Wrap Up

Posted on Thursday 4th April, 2019

Firstly I apologise for not finishing my story from my 2017 Lhotse expedition. When I came home I was exhausted from being sick with gastro for 14 days where I lost 6 kilos and I was disappointed in how our expedition ended. Then a few weeks later I was shocked and devastated by the loss of my climbing partner Mariano Galvan on Nanga Parbat. Mariano was training for his Nanga expedition by climbing with me on Lhotse. He wanted to help me achieve my dream as he had previously climbed Lhotse and also Everest solo without oxygen. He went to climb the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga with Alberto Zerain and they died on June 24 2017 in an avalanche. It still doesn’t seem real to me that I won’t ever see him again but I feel it is important to finish our story and highlight what an amazing and inspiring climber he was.

So starting where I left off on my last blog, Mariano and I returned to Base Camp and it was a very hard walk for me. I had no energy and I still had gastro, perhaps even worse than when I left Base a week earlier. I had to do the hike in two days instead of one because I was so weak. We had both lost a bit of our high altitude acclimatisation as well because we had been at 4400m for a week. I honestly was not feeling very optimistic about the summit at this point. Of course I could choose to use oxygen to aid my ascent and increase my success chances but I was not interested in giving up my main goal. I went to Everest ER again for help and they all decided that I had not been taking the correct antibiotics. I must have had a giardia or some type of parasite infection. So they gave me four doses of a tablet for Giardia as well as two extra anti biotic tablets. I had 6 tablets at once and it was like a bomb. I was up all night with stomach pain but then the next morning miraculously my gastro had disappeared FINALLY. It was a huge relief but also disappointing because I had spent 14 days with the illness and had lost 6 kilos in the process, had not eaten much and lost most of my fitness as well. Despite all of that I still wanted to climb as high as I could and see how I would go.

As Mariano and I both knew the reality that I would probably not make the summit, we came up with a plan so he could get some good acclimatisation in for his Nanga Parbat expedition. He would leave Base Camp at 5pm and make a push up Lhotse and see how far he could climb in one attempt. As we had lost a fair amount of our acclimatisation to extreme high altitude, we didn’t know if he would be able to climb to the summit or not. However he was going to try! Either way it would be great training for him.

Mariano cracking jokes as always before he heads up for his push on Lhotse- photo credit Aleix Villadebo

The plan for me was to go the next morning through the icefall alone and meet him at Camp 2. We would then go up again together and see how far I could get. I was a bit worried about going through the icefall alone as I had not done many of the long ladder crossings without someone holding the ropes over them for me. This helps to keep you stable while you cross the ladders and stops you falling off them! I was nervous to do this alone with my pack but also excited. The Spanish climbers at Base were worried about me so I borrowed a radio and my friend Tendi Sherpa said that if I needed a rescue to call him and he would organise people to come and help me! That was a great back up. Mariano headed off at 5pm and I got ready to leave Base at 2am to head up alone as well.

It was awesome climbing through the ice fall by myself. I was not as fast as I normally am due to my sickness leaving me weak. However I did pretty well considering. There was a crevasse with three long ladders joined together to span it. This was the one I was most worried about doing alone. I actually tightened the ropes so they weren’t loose when I went to cross it. I basically held my breath the entire way to not lose my concentration or balance. Once I reached the snow on the other side I was relieved because I knew that was the biggest one. I reached Camp 2 exhausted to our tent and I was expecting Mariano to be there. However he wasn’t there. I asked around if anyone had seen him. They said that he had gone to Camp 3 on the Lhotse face to rescue an Argentinian climber called German who had been left by his Sherpa. Apparently he had frostbite from losing his mitts high on the mountain and had not eaten or drunk for 2 days trying to get down on his own.

It wasn’t long before Mariano came to the tent full of stories of his ascent up Lhotse and also of the rescue. He was absolutely exhausted. He had managed to make it to 8050m in one push up the Lhotse Face in around 20 hours from the Base Camp. At that height he realised he was not acclimatised enough to continue up so turned around. He went all the way back to Camp 2. Then mountain guide Willie Benegas asked him to help rescue an Argentinian climber called German who was at Camp 3. He had been missing for 2 days on the mountain apparently. No one was available to go get him because all of Willies Sherpa team were tired from guiding the Everest summit. So Mariano, even though he was exhausted, turned back around and went up the mountain again. He found German in Camp 3 7200m, he gave him food and water and then helped him back to Camp 2 basically saving his life. A helicopter came when I had arrived and took German back to Base then out to a hospital in Kathmandu. This superhuman performance of endurance and also of caring for others pretty much sums up who Mariano was. A climber who was extremely talented at high altitude and strong. Over the years he has been the only one strong enough to help in these types of rescues at high altitude and has saved many lives in the mountains. He was exhausted but he still went to help a fellow Argentinian climber regardless. He had no ego about these types of things, just wanted to help save German.

Heading up the Lhotse face on my way to Camp 3 for our summit attempt.

We decided to have a rest day the next day so we could both recover. On the way down from Lhotse Mariano had not been able to locate our tent and supplies at Camp 3. This was bad news as we thought we had no tent to use up there. Thankfully one of our friends Victor had just come down on our rest day from summiting Everest without oxygen. He said he still had a small summit tent at Camp 3 we could use. Our friends at Alpine Ascents gave us some food to take up. So thankfully we could still go on our summit push. The next morning Mariano and I started towards the Lhotse face together. He then went ahead to find Victor’s tent and make sure it was still good to use. I was very slow going up the face because I was so weak. I took probably twice the amount of time to get to Camp 3 than I usually would and arrived exhausted. Mariano had spent the whole time while he was waiting for me making a tent platform and fixing Victor’s tent which was a mess. Finally we had a shelter after a lot of extra effort digging snow and fixing tears in the tent.

We planned that I would start at 2am to head toward Camp 4 Lhotse which is at 7800m. I would take a long time at the pace I was going. Mariano would then leave about 6am but probably overtake me. He would carry the tent and stove and I only had to carry my personal gear. I woke up very early and got ready. I was positive about everything until I started walking. I realised very quickly that I was going very slowly because I was just so weak and exhausted from being so sick for so long. I struggled uphill for just over an hour using all my energy. I thought I had gone a fair way until I turned around and the tent was literally 50 meters away. I was suffering more than I ever had before on a mountain and at this point I knew if I continued to ascend I could not turn back without help. So I decided to turn around and go back to the tent and then down. Expedition over. I did not want to be the reason people had to put their lives in danger to rescue me. Mariano had already done his rescue this expedition and he had more than carried his share to help me realise my dream in my weak state. Back at the tent I rang my husband Nathan back in Australia in tears because my dream (or perhaps nightmare) was over. He had wanted to tell me to turn around a lot earlier but knew I had to come to the decision myself. Of course it wasn’t easy for him to hear my disappointment but he was very relieved he didn’t have to keep worrying about me everyday.

Before we left to go down I wanted to find our gear which I believed was buried. We had argued about this as Mariano thought that it had been stolen. As most of it was mine, the tent, shovel, stove etc. and it was expensive, I wanted to double check. So we went to the site of where we left it. Mariano started to dig and I thought he was in the wrong spot. I actually dug where I thought it would be and to our surprise under a meter of snow we found our cache. We were both excited to get the gear back! However it meant we had even more to carry down as we also had to take Victor’s tent down too.

Mariano headed down the fixed lines towards Camp 2 at speed. I was the total opposite and was struggling with my big pack. I went very carefully as I was so tired I didn’t want to make a mistake. He waited for me at the Base of the lines and we headed to Camp 2 together. I tried to find someone at Camp 2 to help carry our gear down because I was so tired. Obviously I wanted to pay them however no one wanted to help. So Mariano loaded up a 40 kilo pack while I had 20 kilos and we headed towards the icefall. It was very hard for him through the icefall on the ladders with so much weight but once again he proved how strong he was.

Mariano fully loaded in the icefall as we retreat off the mountain

The Base Camp staff had been waiting for us to come down so we were lucky enough to have a great meal on our arrival. I managed to negotiate a flight out of Base Camp on a helicopter back to Lukla for a good price the next day with all our gear. We were stoked to not have to walk out as we were both pretty exhausted at this point!

Waiting for the heli at EBC with the icefall in the background.
We were both so happy to be flying out in the helicopter, we felt like rock stars.

I don’t know how to end this post because it brings back many memories of our time together and it is very sad for me. We shared so many jokes and talked about our dreams of adventure during the weeks we had together. With me being sick for so long we had plenty of time to talk. He shared his goals for the future and many stories from his past climbs. I am fortunate that I got to spend that time with him before his Nanga Parbat climb. He was a true friend and he genuinely wanted me to achieve my dream of summiting Lhotse without oxygen. He did everything he could to help me and we shared a love of the mountains and climbing high. We were both stubbornly ambitious and that is why we got along so well. I learnt a lot from him and I will be thinking of him when I climb on Makalu this season, remembering all he taught me. Que maestro. He is gone but he won’t be forgotten. He continues to inspire all who knew him to reach great heights in themselves. He believed in us.

“Mas importante que la cima es el camino, y mas importante que el camino son los principios que mueven tus pies”- Mariano Galvan

You can read a tribute to Mariano here:

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Lhotse Second Rotation

Posted on Tuesday 16th May, 2017

It is the 16th of May and I am writing from Dingboche. I didn’t expect to still be here and should be at Base Camp or on my way to the summit by now but I have been really sick with gastro intestinal problems. It’s not been easy the last week or so because of this. It actually started at Camp 2 on the last rotation 9 days ago now. It seems like so long ago now we were up on the mountain! I realise I have not written since after Island Peak so I will need to catch up later because I did not get a chance to update at Base Camp. Since Island Peak we have been to Lobuche Peak and also completed our first rotation on Lhotse. Please check my Facebook page for photos and updates.

The summit of Lobuche East Peak

We had plans to go to Camp 2, then onto Camp 3 the next day, spend the night and hike higher to the yellow band and descend to Camp 2 then back to Base Camp. Our rotation didn’t quite end up that way however. Mariano, Vibe and I all started through the icefall at 3:30am but Mariano went ahead as he wanted to take a load to Camp 3. My new friend from Norway Vibe decided to come with me to Camp 2 so she could also do her second rotation. We had a great time through the icefall and took an hour longer than the first time I went through it. I didn’t mind as I wanted to still have energy to climb the next day in any case. We met up with our friend from Iran Azim who is very strong and hoping to complete his 14th 8000er without oxygen Lhotse, this season. Vibe planned to share the tent with him and his climbing partner Saeed in Camp 3. It was really hot in the Western Cwm on the way to Camp 2 and I slowed down. I began to feel very tired, I now think this was the beginning of my sickness. Eventually we made it to 6400m and Mariano was already in the tent after dropping a load to Camp 3. He was super tired as well of course! Vibe continued to the Seven Summits campsite. Both Mariano and I had real trouble trying to eat dinner. This is not like us and especially for me as I am always hungry and can eat a lot at that height. Not going to go into details here but I had the worst night ever. Thankfully Mariano is a very deep sleeper as I was up maybe 8 times in the night using wag bags with terrible diarrhoea.

Climbing in the Khumbu icefall photo by Vibeke Sefland


Vibe and I at Camp 2

So that put a stop to our plan to continue to Camp 3 the next day. I was so worried to interrupt the rotation but I had no antibiotics on me. Fortunately I popped over to see Rob at Adventure Consultants and got some off him. Unfortunately the ones I got off him were not the right ones but I had a rest day and actually started to feel a little better. So the next day once again Mariano set off at his own pace towards Camp 3 so that he could make a tent platform and set up the tent. Typically I take twice as long as him! Considering though that I am climbing with one of the fastest climbers in the world, I am pretty happy with that and I can sometimes keep up with the climbing Sherpas. I didn’t have too much energy though from being sick so it took me 6 hours to reach our tent at 7200m, a step higher than the main campsite. I stopped at the lower camp to see Vibe and the Iranians and they gave me some water which was awesome as I was almost out and super thirsty. I also got some Cipro antibiotics off Vibe, which I thought were the best ones for diarrhoea. I was so lucky to have the tent set up when I arrived and Mariano was already resting in his sleeping bag. I was also very happy to stop moving as it is hard work going up the fixed lines with a pack.

Looking down the fixed ropes on the Lhotse Face


The view from our tent at 7200m looking into the Western Cwm and down at Camp 2

We slept pretty well at that altitude; I slept in my down suit inside my Main Range sleeping bag. The next morning it was cloudy and starting to snow. I attempted to keep to our plan and began ascending the fixed ropes. I was so tired and out of energy however I only got around 100m higher than the tent before I was exhausted. It was starting to snow a lot at that point so we turned back. Instead we decided to spend one more night at 7200m to aid our acclimatisation. I definitely slept a lot better the second night and managed to eat well up there. We packed up the tent and left it there because there was a lot of snow in the forecast and we didn’t want to come back to a broken tent. We rappelled down the Lhotse face on the rappel lines. They were great with two ropes all the way down with some sections over ice but not a problem with crampons on. Most of the Sherpa do not use these lines that are located separate to the up ropes. It drives us crazy because as you go up the Sherpas and their clients all come down the up ropes because they think it is easier. They mostly don’t rappel and just grab the rope. One actually fell above me and I was waiting for him to take me out but he regained himself thankfully. It is so dangerous and I don’t understand why they don’t like the rappel lines… They can’t rappel?? I asked one of the clients why they were coming down the up ropes and they told me the Sherpa said the down ropes were dangerous?! Crazy!! The rappel ropes are a great idea and stop congestion. It would be a lot safer if people just had the appropriate skills to climb and rappel and use the ropes the way they are designed.


Anyhow we got down very quickly as we had all the ropes to ourselves of course as everyone else was going down the up ropes. At Camp 2 we left our gear in the tent and repacked to head down to Base. It took me longer than usual as I was so tired from being sick but we got back to Base around 3pm and we left Camp 3 around 9am with a big break at Camp 2. As we were going down the weather was getting worse and we got back to snow in Base Camp. It was great to get back though and have a delicious dinner. Everyone was at Base now and our dining tent was full.

Looking back towards the Lhotse Face with Everest on the left


Some of the ladders in the ice fall

The next day I was feeling ok and I washed all my clothes. It then started to snow very early so I had to hang them inside. At dinner I felt pretty good but perhaps I ate too much because I had a terrible night again! It is not fun in a tent at night with stomach problems. Anyhow I got through the night but it was very long. The next morning I slowly made it to Everest ER and a lovely Doctor from Australia Megan saw me. She said that Nepali bacteria are now resistant to Cipro and finally gave me the proper antibiotics. I knew had to go down in altitude if I was going to get better so went back and started packing. Mariano and I left Base just before lunchtime. It was fine walking downhill but I struggled on all the uphill sections of the track. We stopped for over an hour at Lobuche village for lunch and still managed to get into DIngboche just before 6pm. I was so happy to have the same room I shared with Nathan when he was here with me. I took the antibiotics for three days starting the day I left Base. I thought I was getting better and started to eat normal food again. Unfortunately I think it was too soon as once again I had a horrendous night but this time I was also vomiting. I somehow even managed to vomit food I had eaten 2 days ago. It wasn’t good. I thought I was better but now back to square one. So yesterday I only ate toast and rice and drank a lot of electrolyte. Today I am starting to feel a bit better but still tired.

Back in my tent at Base Camp

We have to leave tomorrow to head back to Base if we are going to have any chance of making the last weather window. I am exhausted and have no energy from being so sick and feel like I have lost a lot of weight. It is going to be tough! I will just have to take one day at a time. It looks like we will attempt the summit on either the 22nd, 23rd or 24th depending on which day has the least wind and snow forecast. I hope I can feel better soon and have a good chance at the summit. I can’t even imagine climbing the Lhotse face in my current condition but I still have a few days to improve. I wish I was feeling 100% but that’s just the nature of the game I guess, no matter how careful you are anything can happen. Thankfully it looks like many people will summit before us, which is good because there are so many people with Everest permits this year as well as around 100 with Lhotse permits. So hopefully many teams will already have made their summit attempts by the time we head up the mountain. So that is my news for the moment. While we have been resting in Dingboche at Hotel Countryside, we have watched movies! It has been amazing on the flat screen satellite TV here. So that has been a treat!


Thank you to everyone for your support of my expedition so far and lovely comments of support on my Facebook page. Big thanks to Mont Adventure Equipment, The North Face Australia and New Zealand, Cousin Trestec ropes and Ablaze Print Race Bibs for supporting my trip with awesome gear and clothing. My life literally depends on it!

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Island Peak Summit

Posted on Sunday 23rd April, 2017

Hi folks, I hope you all had a great Easter and had some fun long weekend adventures! Well Sonia, Nathan and I have been on the go since we arrived in Kathmandu. We were greeted by Babu Sherpa who has helped organise all my expeditions here since 2007 and it was so great to see him again as he is more of a friend than a business associate. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Thamel called the Dalai La which is centrally located for shopping and has a great courtyard restaurant and a good vibe. We had a day to buy the extra bits and pieces we needed for the expedition and also the high food I needed for Mariano and I on Lhotse. Kathmandu is always hectic but we managed to catch up with some friends for a night before we flew into Lukla with a lot of expedition bags! After sorting out our porters, which took some time as there were not many in Lukla, we started on the busy trail towards Everest. Our first night we stayed at the Yeti Mountain Home in Monjo. The rooms were amazing, very big and great mattresses on an Eva Bed, hot shower, the works. Obviously you need to pay for this luxury so it is one of the most expensive lodges on the trail but we treated ourselves while we could. We were not super impressed with the service at the lodge however so we felt because of that we would not go back there again. When we headed to the Yeti Mountain Home in Namche it was with some nervousness as we thought it might be the same. However it wasn’t, it was awesome! Most lodges are run by Sherpa families and that is one of the reasons they are so homely. You can’t expect the same type of vibe in a chain of lodges but Shiva the manager made our stay really enjoyable. It is a beautiful hotel with views over Namche and an amazing lounge room, the walls lined with photos from the 1953 Everest expedition with Hillary and Tenzing.

The chortens and mani stones on the way to Phakding

Both Sonia and Nathan have trekked the trail before in fact Sonia has done three treks into Everest Base Camp already. It was still interesting for us all to see how much Namche has grown in the past few years. We had an acclimatisation day in Namche and Nathan was feeling sick with the flu. So while he rested I took Sonia up Kunde Ri which is a ridge high above Kunde village. From Namche it is 900m up in elevation so it is a great acclimatisation trek with an awesome view from the top, well when it isn’t clouded over. We have a lot of cloud and haze but we could still see down the other side of the ridge to Thamo, Thame and Mende. Great way to fill in a few hours before heading to one of the local cafes for lunch.

Top of Kunde Ri 4400m

The next day we headed off to my friend Ang Jangmu’s lodge, Rivendell in Deboche. I carried 20kg in my pack during the trekking days to train for Lhotse so it was a tough slog up the hill to Tengoboche from the river. It was awesome to see Ang Jangmu again and the lodge was so busy! She is Dawa’s wife’s sister so when Dawa and I have been climbing together we stayed many nights there. Nathan and I also stayed there on our Winter Khumbu honeymoon. It was good to see she was fully booked and slowly regaining the lost income from the earthquake and the damage to the lodge. It snowed overnight so we woke up to a world of white which was really beautiful. We continued on to Dingboche via old Pengboche to visit the Lama Geshi. It was a small detour off the busy trail but it was so nice to not have many trekkers around as we kept getting stuck behind slow, large groups that were hard to overtake. We went to the Lama’s house with our Kharta scarves wrapped around our donations and asked for blessings for safe climbs. He tied knotted strings around our necks, prayed for us in Tibetan and threw rice at us and we were one our way. Even though I am not Buddhist I would always get the Lama’s blessing before heading onto the mountain, as all the climbing Sherpa do. We continued through the snow to arrive at a relatively new lodge in Dingboche called Hotel Countryside run by Dawa Sherpa. Dawa and her husband built the lodge in 2014 and then had to fix it again after the earthquake and have just been open for business for a year. It is not a huge lodge and super homely, clean and nice rooms with great food. I highly recommend it. Dawa is heavily pregnant and manages to run a tight ship. To help acclimatise before heading from Dingboche to Chukkung, we had a rest day. It was great to not carry a heavy pack for the day. In the afternoon we hiked up the hill behind the village to get some great views towards Makalu.

Blessed by the Lama Geshi in Pengboche

We had met Lobsang in 2014 when Nathan and I came to attempt Island Peak in Winter but didn’t summit due to high wind and a bunch of other reasons. His lodge in Chukkung is called Khangri Resort and it is really nice with an awesome sunny courtyard that has views to Island Peak and also Ama Dablam. It is a short 2 hour hike to Chukkung from Dingboche and we spent the next day at Lobsang’s lodge as well. We planned to head straight to Island Peak high camp which is 5450m and skip the Base Camp so we hiked up Chukkung Ri on our acclimatisation day. Sonia had never been there before and we were lucky to have clear skies and awesome views from 5500m. It is really worth the effort to get to the top of the ridge as many trekkers don’t actually hike up the last rocky part of the ridge and prefer to stop lower down. I would almost go so far as to say it is one of the better view points in the Khumbu. We stopped up there for a chapati lunch before heading back down to get our gear ready for the next day.

Chukkung Ri 5500m

A leisurely start, like everyday except summit day, saw us heading off towards high camp on Island Peak. There is no water or snow or ice to melt up there so we took our water with us thanks to the porters. We left at 9:30am and arrived at 2pm to start setting up the tent and then eating. Soups, noodles, Chai tea for afternoon tea and of our Backcountry Cuisine spaghetti bolognese dinner fuelled us up for the next morning’s early start. As per usual I took way too much stuff as I had everything I needed in the event that there were no fixed ropes. Ice hammer and axe, rope (which we did need for the glacier), snow stakes, ice screws, emergency gear etc. We left the tent at 4:20am and kept leap frogging a group from Norway on the trail and rocky scramble to the glacier. I had a huge pack and was surprised to see that their two Sherpa climbing guides had almost nothing. One had no back pack at all and the other just had a small daypack. Not sure how that would help anyone in the group if they fell in a crevasse??

Early morning, heading up to the glacier on Island Peak

The plateau before the final climb to the summit

We arrived at the glacier at around 7am and got our harnesses on and roped up for glacier travel. I short roped the first section of icy up hill and then continued with the rope in glacier travel mode through the crevasse field. We had to jump a few crevasses, cross snow bridges and climb a ladder before arriving on the plateau before the final head wall to the summit. Some people just walked through all this on their own unroped even though there were no fixed ropes which I thought was interesting. There were other groups already climbing the fixed ropes to the summit and coming down them as well. We ended up being in front of the group from Norway. We had to cross ladders to reach the actual head wall as there is a big crevasse that separates it from the glacier underneath. It was lucky Sonia practised this in our backyard as it wasn’t such a shock, even still she didn’t look down! Nathan unfortunately got stuck behind of the guys in the other group, behind Sonia and I. It was crazy, the guy didn’t even know how to put his ascender on the rope or how to use it, so Nathan had to help him. There were two guides for 7 people and some of them had no idea what they were doing. This was the worst part of the day, just being around these guys because they had no awareness of safety, one of the guides didn’t even have a helmet. There were lots of loose rocks on the route and it was easy enough to avoid them if you know what you are doing but sadly many people there didn’t even try to avoid knocking them down which was super frustrating. Anyhow after avoiding the abseilers coming down and the rocks getting knocked down we finally made it onto the summit ridge which was a relief. Sonia was pretty mentally exhausted by this time and Nathan was having a great time apart from having to help the guy that had no idea how to change over on the fixed lines. We made the summit at 12pm, super happy. Nathan was especially happy as this was the second time he had been there and he had not made it the first time. Sonia was probably more in shock that she did it than anything else!

Just after the first ladder, exiting the crevasse field

Crossing the crevasse to access the face that leads to the summit ridge

Island Peak summit 6189m

We abseiled back down under the large group that kept dropping rocks and ice on us. We went as fast as we could to get away from them and I abseiled next to Sonia, clipped into her to make sure she made it down safely. Someone dislodged a massive chunk of ice which hit me on the shoulder. I was lucky to not have been seriously injured, I just felt like it bruised the bone, more of a shock than anything and I was glad it didn’t hit Sonia. We were super happy to be off the face and away from everyone. The group came down and the guides packed away their rope which they used in the morning through the crevasse field. Apparently it was safe in the afternoon to just let everyone walk through the crevasses on their own. Very interesting guiding techniques were demonstrated that day. One guide was walking down an icy snow slope with a rope to his client. He was downhill from her and pulling her down the hill. She was very tired as he had apparently been doing this all day and she kept falling over. I told her it would be better for him to be behind her so if she fell he could actually do something about it. It was crazy up there and super stressful to see what other people were doing. On two occasions as Nathan was on the fixed ropes the Nepali guide just unclipped his safety so he wasn’t attached to anything. He was just trying to hurry everyone along and Nathan was really angry and told him not to touch his safety leash again. I just couldn’t believe there was no accident and that people were paying these guides to look after them. It was really sad and disappointing. I know for a fact there are awesome guides in Nepal but they weren’t on the mountain that day. So moral of the story people is be careful who you climb with!

Sonia weaving her way through the icefall

Our porters had been waiting for us at the tent for a couple of hours. We were pretty surprised they were still there when we got down at 4pm and would’ve just stayed another night at high camp if they were not waiting. We were so dehydrated as it was really hot on the glacier. We had to pack everything up so the porters could run back to Chukkung before it got dark. In the rush Nathan hardly gave them any of his gear and was stuck with a huge pack. My shoulder was pretty sore so I was keen to not carry 20kg again and made sure I shoved my climbing gear in the bags before they left. We stayed to organise our packs and headed off again downhill to Chukkung. We arrived back at Lobsang’s lodge in the mist at 8pm, I managed to navigate us back on the trail which I was stoked about as it was pitch black and a whiteout. We were super tired, hungry and dehydrated and smashed out dinner before passing out in bed. The next day we all felt a lot better and started to recover from the massive summit day. We re-sorted all our gear and headed back to Dingboche to the Hotel Countryside again. We love this lodge, in fact I am writing from the lodge now. Mariano arrived in Dingboche at the same time, having left his group in Lukla and had walked back up the valley again. We made a plan to meet in Lobuche tomorrow and we will head up Lobuche East Peak with Sonia. The weather now is really cloudy and we have had some snow. It should start to clear up tomorrow and be good for when we move to high camp and then the summit. Nathan left yesterday morning in a helicopter back to Lukla as he has to head back to work. He was lucky enough to share it with another guy in the lodge which made it quite cheap. He had to wait 5 hours in Lukla for the plane but he is now safe back at the Dalai La in Kathmandu enjoying all the delicious food Thamel has to offer….no not jealous!

I have been fighting off the flu the last week or so because Nathan has been sick almost the entire trip. It has been great to have 2 rest days at 4400m to recover and get strong again before moving up. From here, after Lobuche Peak, I continue to Base Camp with Mariano and Sonia heads back down the valley. Mariano and I will set up camp and start climbing so I want to feel healthy before getting there. I am not sure how much internet I am going have from here on to post another blog but I will be updating my Facebook page more regularly. If you are interested to follow along on our journey please also check my Facebook page here. Thanks folks!

Beautiful afternoon view from the glacier

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Posted on Monday 3rd April, 2017

So it has been a long time since I have posted on this website! I have been busy with my adventure business and mostly focussing on that over the last year and a half. I have been guiding lots of expedition training weekends here in the Blue Mountains, Winter mountaineering courses in the Snowy Mountains and two expeditions on Aconcagua in Argentina this last Summer. You can see my pics from the Aconcagua trips on my adventures website as well as all the info on my upcoming Winter courses.

Aconcagua Summit 6962m, February 11th 2017

I returned home from Argentina near the end of February and organised an expedition to Nepal commencing April 8th. This trip involves heading back to attempt to climb Lhotse 8516m for the third time, so I am super excited. For those who have not followed my 8000m mountain journey up until now here is a run down of my story so far.

After years of climbing and guiding in the Andes, I finally felt ready to attempt my first Himalayan expedition to Cho Oyu, 8201m in 2007. During the expedition my climbing partner suffered severe frost nip to eight of his toes and was unable to attempt the summit. I reached the summit alone and without the use of oxygen. From that moment on I was hooked on 8000m climbing. I felt very strong on the mountain and had plans to climb as many 8000ers as I could with no plans to use oxygen on them. I had hoped to climb Shishapangma the year after but the Chinese government closed the mountain that season so I ended up guiding two expeditions in the Khumbu region of Nepal. I once again passed by Everest Base Camp and saw my friends working on the mountain. I had never been interested to climb Everest before but I realised I felt a bit jealous of them. I spent a lot of time over those two months looking at Everest from various sides and that is when I decided I wanted to climb it. At the time I thought if I could summit Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, I wouldn’t need to climb any other 8000m mountains as I would be satisfied with that achievement alone. I believed I would actually save money in the long term that way….. Well that is what I thought at the time anyway.

Selfie on Cho Oyu May 2007

I was working as an outdoor instructor in Australia and it took me 3 years, a personal loan, an Australian Geographic grant and a last minute financial sponsorship for me to be on my way. I wasn’t planning on using oxygen and my dream was to summit without it. I went with just one climbing Sherpa, Dawa Tenzing. I didn’t want to be in a team because I wanted to make all my own decisions on the mountain. Mid expedition I realised I was too slow up high on the mountain from not climbing at altitude since 2008, which meant I was going to get too cold on summit day. In fact I had not even done any mountaineering during those 3 years, only rock climbing, skiing and hiking hills with a pack. I was physically and mentally fit but my altitude fitness was not there. I decided to use oxygen because I had spent so much money, I wanted a chance to at least summit the mountain. I didn’t actually have any bottles though so I had to buy them at Base Camp and borrow a mask and regulator there. The mask didn’t fit me and I couldn’t see properly with it on as it obstructed my view. Despite that and the fact we got the forecast wrong, Dawa and I summited in horrendous weather on May 12, 2011. We had no view, we didn’t eat all day as temps were around -60°C and froze our food inside our down suits.  We had 60km/hr wind on the summit ridge, a climber died in front of us, we ran out of oxygen at high camp, I lost my hearing for a few hours coming down the mountain and we didn’t sleep for four days. It was so tough that I swore I would never climb another 8000m mountain again. If you are interested to read more stories about that expedition, you can on my Everest blog here.

With Dawa on the Western Cwm of Everest 2011

Six months after returning home to Australia, somehow I forgot the bad times and suffering from Everest and started planning my next expedition. I suppose I hungered for something difficult so I decided to attempt to climb two 8000m mountains in a row. I picked Manaslu 8156m and Lhotse 8516m because they were logistically possible to achieve back to back and in fact Andrew Lock had done it before. With Everest under my belt, raising funds for that trip was infinitely easier. Dawa and I headed off to Manaslu in the Nepalese Spring of 2012. You can read more on this blog from that trip but to sum it up we summited Manaslu quite late in the season because the weather was so bad. We had to go from the camp at 6800m all the way to the summit because that was our only day we had a good weather window. I had one bottle of oxygen incase of an emergency and I decided to use it for summit day as it was just too far for me to go up in altitude in a day without it. I still feel dissapointed that I needed to use it to be honest.  Dawa and I then headed to attempt Lhotse which shares the same route as Everest until just above Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. Conditions weren’t great there that season and the gully to the summit hardly had any ice in it which is not ideal climbing conditions. That meant there was a lot of rock fall in the bottleneck and it was way more dangerous than normal. At 7300m we decided to turn around, so close but so far.

Manaslu Base Camp 2012

I went back to attempt Lhotse again with Dawa in 2014 but there was a horrendous avalanche in the icefall which killed 16 Nepalis, consequently the government closed the mountain for the season. I was unable to go back in 2015, although I wanted to, when the earthquake struck and it was a disaster zone. I had a valid permit for Lhotse since 2014 as the government decided to honour them for 5 years since they closed the season. Last year I decided to have a break from my own climbing ambitions and focus my energy on building my adventure business.

Dawa at our high camp on Kyojo Ri in 2014 acclimatising for Lhotse

Since mid last year I had been planning a trip back to Lhotse after I confirmed two Aconcagua expeditions in the Summer. It is good timing as Aconcagua 6962m, is a great mountain for me to get strong and spend time at altitude during the expeditions to prepare for an 8000m expedition. Unfortunately Dawa was unable to join me as he had booked work on the north side of Everest. I didn’t really want to climb with someone I didn’t know and trust. I contacted other Sherpa friends but they were already working on Everest. So I just gave up on trying to organise the expedition in the end and was unsure if I could go.

While I was guiding on Aconcagua I caught up with my friend Mariano Galvan who was also working on the mountain. I have been meaning to climb an 8000m mountain with him for a few years now but our plans have never come together. Many years ago he worked for me as a porter on Aconcagua and at the time he was carrying 50kg loads to 6000m. When I climbed Everest he went to Lhotse the same season and summited it without oxygen and on his own. He has since climbed seven 8000m mountains without oxygen and mostly solo, including Everest. He told me he was planning on climbing on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan this year. He was able to come to Lhotse with me as he had a month spare in Nepal after guiding an Everest Base Camp trek and before going to Pakistan. He could use the Lhotse expedition as a way to train and acclimatise for his Nanga Parbat expedition in June. So now I had a climbing partner I began to organise the logistics.

My husband Nathan came on the first Aconcagua expedition this season with us and he made the summit. He would climb lots of mountains with me if his business was not so successful and he could have more time away! He prints race bibs and there are so many events that he prints for every week in Australia, it is very hard for him to have time off. However as there are a few days of public holidays over Easter he managed to sort a couple of weeks to join me on the expedition. We attempted Island Peak (which I had climbed before in 2008) in the Winter season on our honeymoon in 2014 but had strong winds up high so did not make the summit. We decided to head back and climb it together which will also help me to acclimatise for Lhotse. Sonia summited Aconcagua with me in February and was interested to climb with me in Nepal as well. So very last minute, as in just a few weeks ago, the whole trip finally came together! Firstly Nathan, Sonia and I fly out next Saturday to Kathmandu. We head into Lukla after a day of expedition preparation in town and hike towards Island Peak Base Camp up the Everest valley. Nathan only has time to attempt Island Peak and will then have to come home and back to work which is sad. Then Sonia and I continue towards Everest Base Camp to Lobuche where we will attempt Lobuche Peak. Once Mariano finishes guiding his trekking group he will head to Lobuche and meet me there and we will continue on to Everest Base Camp to start our acclimatisation on the mountain.

Nathan and I on Island Peak December 2014

I am not taking any oxygen this expedition so I don’t plan on using it. If I don’t feel well I will just turn around as it is my goal to see how high I can go without it. I am super psyched for this trip in so many ways, not just that I am able to go back to Lhotse again. I get to begin my expedition with Nathan and Sonia and we can share an awesome adventure together. I am really looking forward to heading back to Island Peak and also to Lobuche as they both have fantastic views over the Himalayas and offer interesting climbing including ladders across crevasses similar the Khumbu Icefall. I feel strong from guiding Aconcagua twice to the summit this season and I have been training pretty hard since I have been home as well. Andrea Hah from the Move Clinic has given me a training plan with some extra exercises apart from all the trail running and load carrying up hills that I do, to strengthen my arms for ascending the fixed ropes on the Lhotse face. This is what I found really hard with a heavy pack on my Everest expedition.

Sonia and I ladder crossing training in the backyard























I have been very fortunate to have some gear sponsored for my expedition, especially as I have no financial sponsors this time. A big thank you to The North Face as I will be using their summit series tents at Base Camp and also on the mountain. This expedition I am using a North Face Fovero 85lt pack and a Himalayan down suit. Mont Adventure Equipment have generously supported my expeditions over the years and I am very grateful. I will be using the Expedition 8000 sleeping bag and the Main Range sleeping bag (one at Base, one on the mountain) as well as the Icicle down jacket. I would also like to thank other brands and distributors that have supported me with pro deal or have sponsored equipment and clothing recently that I will be using on this expedition. Sea to Summit, Black Diamond, Spelean (Petzl, Thermarest, MSR) and BJR Climbing Equipment (Cousin Trestec ropes). I am super stoked to have this support and I only use gear and clothing that I know works and that I can trust especially when my life depends on it.

So let the adventure begin!

You can follow my journey here on my blog or through my Facebook and Instagram pages.

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