Pachermo Adventure and Everest Tragedy


Posted on Thursday 31st July, 2014

It has been a long while since I have written a blog post and I am sure many of you have wondered what has been going on?! My main reason for not posting about the end of our expedition until now is that I did not want to comment at the time of the Everest tragedy as it took a long time to understand the complexity of the event. Many people gave their opinions at the time including some from the Base Camp with some interesting points of view. Supposed experts commented from afar that were not even there. There were lots of things going on politically and lots of people with different agendas. There were so many stories and sides to the story to take into consideration. Some good articles have been written since and the Discovery Channel did well to document the event through film. Anyhow I am not going to post too much on the actual events, just my side of the story which starts at Pachermo……DSC01502

Dawa and I headed past his family home towards the Rowaling region, past Thame and up to Tengbo which is just a collection of houses. We spent one night there before hiking up to our high camp below the pass. There was a lot of snow around so we were not able to go very high up like we wanted to. We camped at around 5300m and it was very high wind. Unfortunately we did not have a great weather window and high wind was forecast for the next few days but we wanted to at least have an attempt on the summit.

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We left early the next morning in very cold temperatures towards the Tashi Lapcha Pass in fact I had more layers on than when I went to the summit of Aconcagua in February. We had a lot of snow below the pass and ended up climbing a mixed pitch of rock and ice to get onto it. Normally later in the season you can just walk up a track to get there!

Roping up for crevasse travel to head to the base of our route.

Roping up for crevasse travel to head to the base of our route.

Looking towards Pachermo summit from the pass.

Looking towards Pachermo summit from the Tashi Lapcha Pass.

As we got onto the pass the wind started to increase and we could see the weather coming in. We got about 4 pitches up the face before the weather turned on us. We stopped just below a large crevasse and turned around before the storm got worse.

Just below the crevasse we turned around..

Just below the crevasse we turned around..

The storm got worse as we headed back down.

The storm got worse as we headed back down.

We headed back to the tent and it was a complete whiteout. Somehow Dawa found it and I didn’t need the GPS which was a miracle as I had no idea which way it was!

Urmmm where is the tent?

Urmmm where is the tent?

As the wind was so strong we didn’t want to spend another miserable cold night up there so we packed up and hiked all the way back down to Tengbo….making a 14 1/2 hour day of climbing and hiking. It was great training for Lhotse!!

We stopped for some lunch at Dawa’s mates Lodge in Thame on our way back to Namche. We were planning to have one rest day then head to Everest/Lhotse Base Camp as we were well acclimatised to head straight up to Camp 2 in the Western Cwm and begin stocking our camps for Lhotse.

The TV was on in the Lodge so I sat outside but I heard news of an avalanche on Everest that morning. Details were not yet available however it was certain that around 6 people were lost. We were both wondering the whole story at this point. Dawa stayed there with his friend and I continued on to Namche. Over the next day more details were gathered and Dawa got news that his friend and neighbour was killed in the avalanche and that 16 people in total died. This news affected anyone in the community as most people new of someone or had someone in their extended family that had died. Dawa had responsibilities in his village to attend to the funeral ceremony and help his family and community with this. Meanwhile I stayed in Namche with Tsedam and the family and waited. Dawa came to visit after a few days and had decided he did not want to climb on the mountain this season. I respected his decision and I could understand at the time why he made it. Personally I had not yet made a decision about continuing our expedition prior to him telling me this. I wanted to wait to see how things went at Base and if the icefall could be rerouted more safely etc.

 

I no longer had a climbing partner and didn’t really want to join a group so I slowly came to terms with the fact my expedition was over. It was very sad what happened on the mountain and emotional for everybody including me. It was a tragedy for those who passed away and also for their families. Of course it made me question my reasons for being there and how it affects my family and the people I love. Many thoughts went through my head including disappointment at not being able to have a chance to get on the mountain and realise my goal and dream after so much preparation.

 

Instead of just heading straight home I decided to stay and help in the Home Away From Home and also visit some of my Sherpa friends. The boarding house was slowly filling with all the kids as school was starting up again for the year. Tsedam, Kami and the staff had worked very hard to get the home ready for the 60 children that were arriving so it was very exciting to see the new sponsored children coming with their parents and their belongings and settling in.

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Pasang, our sponsor child, getting ready for his first day at school.

All the Home Away From Home children ready to head to Namche School.

All the Home Away From Home children ready to head to Namche School.

After about a week I hiked back to Lukla and flew out to Kathmandu to enjoy my  few last days with Michelle and Pujan at the Courtyard Hotel. It was a sad end to my trip in many ways but I was also very excited to head home to the people I love. To sum up my trip there were a few things that stood out as very rewarding to me and emotional like standing on a summit. Helping raise money for the AHF through my adventure and raising awareness of the need for funding education in the poverty stricken regions of Nepal. Personally helping 4 children to go to school from poor families that would never have had the opportunity otherwise. Seeing Tsedam run the boarding house and helping him and the family with their projects in Namche. It feels good to give back to the community that has given me so much.

It was very rewarding taking Andrew my sponsor from Northcote Pottery to see Everest first hand. It was a life long dream for him and I am so proud of him for breaking his comfort zones, training seriously and making it to the Base Camp. Him and the boys did a great job on the hike and were lots of fun to hang out with. They also delivered jackets to the kids at Home Away From Home and sponsored three children to have an education.

I was fortunate enough to be given some awesome gear for this expedition that worked really well. Mont supplied my sleeping bag which was an Exped 8000. The best bag I have ever owned and I cannot say anything bad about it. I have never been warmer and it is so light and does not go flat when it gets wet. Its a miracle bag for expeditioneers to extreme cold climates. None of their gear let me down. Of course we were fuelled once again by Back Country Cuisine which always works well and gives us the energy we need to climb. Voltaic supplied my solar gear and it was fantastic. The battery easily charged my laptop and all my devices and it was super easy to recharge with the panel and very fast. Also super lightweight.

 

I want to thank all my financial sponsors for their support of my expedition as without them I would never even have had the chance to try realise my dream. Northcote Pottery, Lateral Events Management, Ablaze Print Race Bibs and The Australian Geographic Society. As a special mention I want to thank my fiancee Nathan for his constant support before, during and after the expedition as I am sure it wasn’t easy for him! He deserves fiancee of the year award. Of course I feel disappointed that I did not get to climb on Lhotse this last season after so much training and preparation however the mountain will always be there.

 

Thanks so much for following my adventures! I am currently at Thredbo village skiing and about to head out for the weekend teaching basic mountaineering skills and snow survival techniques. Loving the mountains and the adventure they bring!

 

 

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