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The most beautiful of summits.

Posted on Tuesday 15th May, 2012

Where to start!! Its been a whirlwind, roller-coaster ride since my last blog update. I have been very busy obviously and this is why there has been a long wait for this post…..but I hope for everyone it will be worth it! As my brain is not at its normal running capacity due to high altitude haze and general shock of being at 8163m one day then two days later sitting in the Hotel Courtyard with my beautiful friends Michelle and Pujan, I will show my latest exploits mostly through lots of photos.

We left Base on the 5th of May bound for Camp 1 (again!!) in gorgeous weather. Perhaps this time we would get more than one morning of fine weather in a row??  It was very hot on the glacier so consequently this time took 5 hours and 40 minutes. Once again the tents were buried.

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At around 8am we heard a woman screaming above our camp “help, help”. There weren’t many people at the camp that night. Just Dawa and I, Marc, Francis and Tendi, an Italian Sergio and the Canadians Lucille and Domhnall where up the hill in a snow cave. My first thought was that it collapsed on him. I was in my thermals and Dawa had more clothes on. It was a snow storm outside so I told him to run and help. He grabbed a shovel and sped off. Meanwhile Francis and Marc joined him. They found Domhnall unconscious so dragged him into a tent. Dawa ran back to me and said he had cerebral oedema. I knew this was not the case as he was extremely acclimated running up and down the mountain. So the next thought was the stove. I bet they got carbon monoxide poisoning. I grabbed my first aid kit and downsuit and headed to the tent. He was just starting to come to and everyone was freaking out including Lucille obviously who had dragged him half out the cave when she woke up after being passed out for hours. She had pumped a 4 X dose of dex in his arm already. So I got out my O2 sat and read that he had 82 per cent. So nope obviously not oedema. I questioned Lucille as to what they were doing before she passed out. Cooking! At the same time we had like a foot of snow dump down and partially block their vent. So there you go snow cavers beware!! He started coming back to life again and saying funny things. I gave them each half a tab of diamox to help breath the poison off in their sleep. We were going to give oxygen but Domhnall gave back to almost normal again pretty quickly. So Lucille slept in Marc and Francis’s tent and Domhnall slept in ours so we could keep an eye on them. I didn’t sleep much. I kept waking up to make sure he was breathing. Anyhow in the morning he was fine. Lucille was shaken up though understandably after having to rescue her friend.

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So we packed up to head up to Camp 2 as it was clear weather. There were no tracks so Dawa and Tendi went out ahead to forge the way. It was boot high snow to plod through at first.

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Tendi had a very light pack so he could break the trail. He had to find the fixed ropes under the snow. Even going behind these guys was still hard work as they weren’t really firm steps yet, still soft snow.

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Marc and Dawa as the weather started to turn bad around lunchtime.

So we were in a whiteout and the boys were getting tired. We were not yet near Camp 2 and who should appear Domhnall!! He had his pack on and snow shoes. He took over the lead and started breaking trail. Dude this guy is unstoppable!! So he forged the next few hundred meters. At the very end the Polish guys came up and Peter broke the last hundred meters to Camp 3. It took us 6 and a half hours to get there. Camp is probably a bit to descriptive as it was nothing just a snow slope. It had tents but we couldn’t see them!! Thank god Dawa just left the tents in their packets and put wands next to them. So we dug them up, made platforms and put them up. At 6300m this was bloody hard work!

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The Polish guys didn’t have quite the same luck however. Their tent was left up and totally destroyed under a couple of meters of snow. They made a snow cave and Domhnall slept in it too!!

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This is the view I woke up to in the tent! I didn’t even know where we were the afternoon beforehand as we had 10m visibility. Pretty awesome spot. We were exhausted so had a rest day. Dawa had to get a load he left half way down to Camp 1 and bring it up. The Polish guys and Domhnall went to make a way to Camp 3 and didn’t quite get there but almost. Which was a great help for the next day.

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Our North Face tent at Camp 2 with Marc and Francis next to us.

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Hanging out enjoying the view at Camp 2.

The next day Dawa took a load to Camp 3 and I just went with a light pack to acclimatise. It was a fun day but a long slog. It took 4 hours to get there then I turned straight around and went back down again. I didn’t have the best sleep the night before so I hoped this would help and it certainly did. When I got to Camp 2 there were lots more tents. Guy Cotter was there with his Australian client Anthony and his team of Adventure Consultants Sherpas.

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Some Germans made a high Camp 2 above our one.

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Looking out my tent at Camp 2 down the valley towards Base Camp which is on the edge of the glacier.

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The next day we put on our packs again and moved to Camp 3. This time I had music to take my mind off the hard slog.

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Due to the awesome weather, lots of other people had the same idea!

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Camp 3 6900m is perched on the side of the mountain under an ice cliff. Tony, another Aussie is hanging out or perhaps brushing teeth?

The next day I had a rest day as Dawa went off with the Adventure Consultants Sherpas to fix the ropes up to Camp 4. Dawa thought it would take 3 hours but ended up taking them all day as there was a lot of blue ice. When he got back to the tent he was very happy and had fun with the other Sherpas. He had fixed 300m of rope. Go Dawa!! We had already decided to go from Camp 3 that night from our weather report. Guy got a weather report and he also decided to leave that night as it was going to get windy the next night. So did Domhnall and Lucille and a bunch of others, Italians, Aussie Tony….ummm that was it.

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Just to prove to Stuart Clark from Wild Aid that this is my O2 sat at 6900m (thankyou for the pulse ox) and I can confirm I am alive. Dawa was in the 60s at this point but his was always lower than mine on the mountain, even though he was feeling better than me.

So we woke up in the night and fumbled around then managed to leave at 12am. AC were out in the front as the Sherpa still had fix 300m of ropes to Camp 4 which is at the start of the summit plateau. Up until then it is very steep with some little hard sections that have blue ice.

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Climbing/crawling towards the moon.

We caught up to where the Sherpa had to fix the ropes. Gradually everyone else did too. Dawa was up the front looking down so this was everyone that was heading to the summit that day. It was 4am and we had to wait over an hour. Most people had oxygen, those that didn’t suffered very bad as they were not moving and the cold crept in. Sadly some of them had to turn around because of this but that it is just the way it goes. The Sherpa did an awesome job in difficult blue ice conditions and were safe so its sad for the climbers but there was nothing that could be done about it.

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Guy Cotter and his client Anthony waiting on the ropes as the sun comes up…..and what a day!!

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So eventually the sun comes out and we make it up to Camp 4 and I am happy that its not so steep anymore….however little do I know just how far away the summit truly is!

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Ok everyone follow me I know exactly where I am going!

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Climbers walking past ‘Camp 4’ 7400m which looks like an awesome spot to camp….not!! Blue ice and broken tents with heaps of wind, no thanks.

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Not far now….just 8 more hours to go! I am on the right, the summit on the left of the photo.

So sometimes it was freezing cold and windy….others turned around, one guy started to get frozen hands. Then sometimes it was hot and I was overheating in my suit and had to open all the zips and take my mitts off.

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I thought we were never going to get there but finally the summit was in sight. I couldn’t believe it. Also it was very warm, a big change from my Everest summit day, with blue skies.

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At 2:30pm on May the 11th Dawa Tenzing Sherpa and I reached the summit of Mount Manaslu 8163m and I was very, very happy. Without the support of Andrew and Jenni McMahon from Northcote Pottery my expedition would never have been possible. Thank you so much for believing in me, you guys are awesome.

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Beautiful blue skies above 8000m, such a special day with such special people. A huge thank you to Guy Cotter and the Adventure Consultants Sherpas.

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Just near the summit there is an amazing corniced ridge and I had to be very careful climbing down it…..I hate down climbing!


That day Guy, Anthony, their Sherpas, Domhnall, one Italian guy Volta (I think was his name) and Dawa and I made it to the top. The Italian, Domhnall and Dawa managed to do it without oxygen. Domhnall made it look easy but he is a machine. The Italian had an epic getting back down as he was so destroyed but he made it back eventually. Dawa is obviously a machine also. There is no way I would have made 14 and a half hours to the summit from 6900m without the gas. We had such a short weather window we had to take advantage of it without moving to Camp 4. I am happy with myself as it was a really hard day and I feel I made it slightly safer using oxygen and I still have all my digits most importantly!!

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Dawa Tenzing Sherpa you are a living legend. Thanks to all your hard work I made it safely to the top of the world and to the top of Manaslu. You are a friend and the hardest worker I know. You rock!!

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Just to confirm yes I am glad we didn’t stay at Camp 4!

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Exhausting and pant filling abseiling and down climbing back to Camp 3 as the sun goes down and the wind picks up. My oxygen runs out and things get hard….I might have even had a little cry…. hahaha

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However Dawa sticks with the fumbling exhausted climber and makes sure she gets back alive. We are just a little tired after a 20 and a half hour summit day. I might have even had another little hypo glycaemic cry back in the tent as I only had one Shotz gel all day.  Super Sherpa made me water and dinner….all the other climbers slowly trickled back to camp (apart from Domhnall who had been there for ages already!) in a snow and wind storm which shook the tent all night while I was passed out in a very, very deep slumber.

The next day we slowly packed up and we were very tired. Dawa took down the tent and had a massive bag. He wouldn’t let me carry a very heavy pack, thank god! We moved down the mountain and packed each camp along the way. Dawa left a lot of things at Camp 1 for Tendi to collect the next day. He still had to drag another bag behind him in the snow…

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We finally made it back to Base and I packed all my things again. I quickly said goodbye to Marc and Francis, gave our Chef Gilu a tip then Ang Dawa carried my bags, Dawa and I headed off into a snow storm down to Sama Goan. As we descended we left the cloud behind and it was an amazing night. We arrived at 9:30pm to a proper bed with a doona!! I passed out again then woke up early to get ready for our helicopter ride. Domhnall ran down from Base after almost sleeping in to join us on the flight as he is also off to Lhotse to climb it solo without oxygen. His contribution to the flight means Dawa and I can now fly in to Everest Base Camp. Its like a dream as the helicopter arrives and we hop in with all our gear bound for Kathmandu. It was the most amazing 45 minute ride I have ever had.

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Dawa and honorary Sherpa Domhnall in the back and the ‘princess’ in front seat!! hahaha

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Dawa just a little bit happy to be flying and not walking for 5 days!!

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And bam we were in Kathmandu again 7000 meters lower and very hot!! Just a bit in shock about everything but pretty pleased with ourselves nonetheless.

I am back in the Courtyard and it has been awesome to see Michelle and Pujan and recover for a few days. Pujan made me the best Australian steak I have had in my life last night and they got me a gorgeous summit cake, a big room, hot shower and the best bed ever.

Tomorrow morning Dawa, Domhnall and I fly to Everest Base Camp via Lukla. First a plane then a back flight on a heli. Its been crazy there with very bad weather. I don’t even think they have fixed ropes to Camp 4 Everest yet as there has been no snow on the Lhotse face. Some expeditions have pulled the pin. Dawa goes to Austria on the 1st of June and has to be in Kathmandu on the 28th of May. So we have 12 days…I will pay him a flight on the 28th if I have to… so  we can have a good crack at Lhotse. We will do our best whilst being safe with the time we have so wish us luck! I wont be taking my laptop. Just my Ipad so I will update on Facebook only if you want to know how it is going.

Thank you everyone so much for the support and by donating to my charity through this website you would make me very happy. I want to give back to this country in a way that makes a genuine difference and education is it.

Manaslu | 6 Comments


Posted on Friday 4th May, 2012

Ok believe it or not we are back in Base again and I am absolutely frustrated. Yesterday I had a big cry and its not because its hard, I am weak, sick or not acclimatised. Its the weather. It is driving us crazy and it is making it impossible to make plans. Once again we were in a snow storm at Camp 1 and our weather report said that today would be worse. However we awoke in Base to totally clear skies so now I am crying again!! Its the 4th of May and we haven’t even got to Camp 2 yet. No one here out of the perhaps 80 climbers has managed to get beyond Camp 2 let alone to Camp 3 because of the continuous snow storms and of course the very deep and avalanche prone snow.

Manaslu Base Camp 4800m

We left to Camp 1 on the 2nd and it was a beautiful day. I felt like it was very hard work and my boots were made of lead. Even so I did it in the same time as last time, 4 hours and 40 minutes. When we arrived tents were buried and some tents were destroyed. Other people had dug down 1 and a half meters to get their tent out so there were lots of huge holes everywhere.

Dawa and Tendi dug out our tent that we had all our stuff in. Marc and Francis slept in it and we used a tent from Dawas friend that was empty. It took hours to dig the tent out. We had a good dinner and a good sleep. In the morning we were slow to get moving as there was still no way to Camp 2. I had a report that the weather was going to be bad the next day so we wanted to try take everything to Camp 2 before the storm came. Dawa had a 35 kilo bag and mine was very heavy too but nowhere near as much as Dawa.

All packed up and ready to head up to Camp 2

Just as we were about to leave Guy and all his clients and Sherpas came down. He told me that we were in for 2 days of bad weather. His weather report has normally been better than mine so I had to believe him. Also he has paying clients so he needs to get it right. We got about 200m from the tent and we stopped to talk. Dawa could hardly walk under his massive load. We were heading into a storm again. So we decided to turn back. It started to snow. We changed our loads around and Dawa decided to just carry half up and leave it to make it easier for us to move up later. I went for a hike up to 6000m with him and turned around. At this point it was dumping down. Back at Camp 1 I went to see Marc and Francis. They had got 30 minutes from the tent and turned around again due to the bad weather. Francis decided to go back to Base while he could so Marc made the same decision. Dawa got back and we talked about staying in the storm or going back to Base to wait it out. We decided on Base Camp, packed our things and hiked down once again in a blizzard and white out. I was frozen and wet. It took me hours to warm up in my sleeping bag and I didn’t get out of my tent for dinner. I was very sad. We have one chance left to climb this thing then we run out of time.

Dawa and Tendi thawing out in the kitchen tent at Base

This morning I awoke to a perfect day. All the weather reports were wrong. I am so upset and frustrated. We could have moved to Camp 2 but instead we are in Base again. So I am going to have a much needed hot bucket shower and wash some clothes. If its good weather still at 4am tomorrow we are heading up again and all the way to Camp 2 this time to make up for the time we have lost. This is our last try to make the summit. We need some good weather and more than one day in four to make it up and back safely. I need two nights in Camp 2 to acclimatise then we will move to 3, then 4 and then go for it. However due to a million other factors, not just weather, this ideal plan may not work but we can only try.  We will do our best without taking massive risks and climbing in a storm which is very dangerous. So wish us luck and thanks for following my trip!

Manaslu | 4 Comments

Snow, snow and more snow!!

Posted on Friday 4th May, 2012

Its the 1st of May and I am back at Base Camp. As per my itinerary I would be on the summit today or maybe in the next couple of days….however there has just been too much snow and lots of bad weather.

Since my last post I hiked up to Camp 1 again to take a load to be ready for our summit push. Unfortunately we then had some bad weather so we had to wait at Base to move up. On the 29th we had some good weather in the morning so we decided to go but no one else went up so Dawa went ahead plugging steps. Then the clouds came in and it was a total white out. I was very worried that we were heading into a storm so I wanted to turn around but Dawa was too far ahead. I blew my whistle so he would stop. When I caught up to him he was very determined to keep going even though I didn’t want to. I had a bad feeling about it. We couldn’t see any wands but he said he knew where he was going. Amazingly his internal GPS got us there after 5 and a half hours. I was very tired but we still weren’t at our tent. We were just below the steep face to Camp 1 proper. I left all my goretex at Camp 1 and my heavy duty gloves as every time I had been there it had been hot and I didn’t need them. My hands were frozen in my thin gloves. There was one tent there that was half buried in the snow and empty so we got in. We sat out of the weather for awhile and realised we had no sleeping mats so decided to try go higher to our tent. There was just too much snow and it was up to our chests. The ropes were buried so after 30 minutes and only getting about 30 meters from the tent we retreated. Then we decided to go back to base camp. It was 5:30pm and we only had an hour and a half of light. Our tracks were already buried and the blizzard was getting worse and we could only see 5 meters ahead. This is when I just said no it was too dangerous we could get lost, fall in a crevasse in the dark etc.

Dawa and I eating dinner with our home made spoons.

So we got back in the tent. Thank god we had some gas canisters and there was a stove there. There was also a spare tent so we lay it down on the floor to sleep on. We had no spoons but luckily we had some fried rice so heated it up and made spoons from the foil it was wrapped in. Then we had a very shitty night as the snow just got heavier and heavier. At 3 pm the tent was completely buried so Dawa got on his Goretex and started shovelling. It took an hour to clear the snow which was up to his chest. At 7am we radioed Base and they had also had lots of snow. We decided to pack up and head down as there was no point staying there until the weather improved. All the ropes above Camp 1 were buried and the avalanche danger was high. The skies were cloudy but we had better visibility so we wanted to get back to Base before the storm came in again.

Dawa up to his cajunas in fresh snow.

We packed our things and headed out in waist deep snow with no tracks but atleast we could see the wands just sticking up above the snow that showed the way. Dawa went first and soon got very tired so we kept swapping. I have slightly longer legs so it was a bit easier for me to be infront. I didn’t stop as I was worried about the avalanche danger from above and it was exhausting work. We finally got to a point where we were out of danger and breathed a sigh of relief. At one point I was stuck in a trough with the snow up to my chest and was working very hard to get through. It took us 3 hours to get back. About half an hour from Base we saw two people coming up! They must be crazy we thought! However we had a track to Camp which was great. It was a Canadian guy and Sherpa heading to Camp 1 into the storm. I warned him how bad it was but he kept going. Then a group of Italians were coming up. Talk about determination! As we were getting to camp it started snowing and didn’t stop until the middle of night so god knows how they went.

So the ropes to Camp 2 are still buried. We are going up again tomorrow and so are lots of people so hopefully the weather will improve and we can all force our way through the snow up the mountain. The only way anyone will get to the summit is if we all work together and there are plenty of groups here so I have confidence if the weather improves we will be able to do it. Its been pretty crazy though and most people have never experienced this amount of snow on the mountain…or any other mountain! Even with skis it would be very hard as the snow is too deep and the way isn’t steep enough so you just get bogged in it.

So this is where I spend a lot of my time in my North Face Base Camp tent! I was very happy to sleep on my fat mattress last night and Marc lent me his Ipad so I watched Hugo then fell asleep at 10pm and woke up at 7am in the same position!!

So off we go again tomorrow for another try and hopefully my next update will be after our summit attempt. Thanks everyone so much for the support and I am thinking in all my friends and missing everyone very much!

Manaslu | No Comments

Expedition update..

Posted on Tuesday 1st May, 2012

So its Wednesday the 25th of April, the day and date seem pretty irrelevant to me however. I have just spend the last two days acclimatising by heading up the mountain. The first day I hiked up to the lower Camp 1 at 5600m where Adventure Consultants have their tents. I took up some of our high camp food. I left at 6:30am just as the sun hit the camp and had beautiful weather.

This is my tent and the sun starting to hit the mountain before I was ready to start hiking.

I was feeling pretty good and got there 4 hours later. There is a lot of snow so I followed the steps but its still quite hard work. There is an extra slope and rocky section above the lower camp that leads up to the higher camp… where I saw Dawa heading. I didn’t have my harness and didn’t want to risk going up there without it so I hung out with Guy Cotter and his client Anthony who is from Airly Beach. Guy was nice enough to give me some hot water and Anthony lent me his spoon so I had one of my delicious Backcountry Cuisine meals for lunch. I hung out and waited for Marc and Francis to come up. They were about 2 hours behind me. Then for Dawa to come down. We all headed back to Base and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get back again. I felt really good and didn’t suffer from the altitude so I decided to head up again the next day with Dawa to the high Camp 1 and take a few more things up.

As per every day so far it snowed around 2 pm and didn’t stop until into the night. Dawa and I left at around 6:40am and this time it only took me 3 hrs and 25 min to get to the same stop. I kept up with the Sherpas and even though they had big loads I never can normally do that! We put on our harnesses and headed up the extra 150m to the high camp. Their is a team from Germany with skis and I am super jealous of them considering the snow conditions. They left at the same time as me and got to camp 1 at the same time on their skis. However most annoyingly they only took 10 minutes to get back to Base when it started snowing as we took just over an hour. We got back at 1pm and I was starving so had two lunches in a row! Then last night I watched Mission Impossible 2 (the one set in Sydney) on Francis’s computer in our dining tent and Gylu cooked us pizza which was an awesome highlight!

Yesterday afternoon Dawa went down to Sama Goan to call Lakpa as she is due any day now to have a baby! He went to have a shower and stay the night. Get out of the snow for a bit I imagine. Today is a rest day so I managed to wash some clothes, have a bucket shower, wash my hair and check the net. All very exciting! There is still no way to Camp 2 as the snow has been too deep. So the Sherpa that are fixing the ropes are waiting for the sun to consolidate it and are trying again tomorrow to get there.

Manaslu | 2 Comments

Camp Base

Posted on Sunday 22nd April, 2012

Manaslu | 2 Comments


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