You The long way down from Lhotse summit …

We spent about an hour at the top and switched oxygen bottles. I run on 3 liters for good measure. At last the way down should be a lot quicker and 3l get you 5hours plus and safely to camp 2 my sherpa advised. At 8am i was on the descent with Pemba.​​

​We overtook two climbers in the couloir that were probably afraid of ice and rock that our steps kicked lose. My gloves came under real strain from the ropes (i would subsequently give them to Pemba – despite all their holes they are workable). At daytime you get a better view of the couloir and magnificant views of the surroundings. Stunning and enjoyable. Progress was still slow given energy reserves depleted. One always underestimates how much strength it takes to go down steep hills.


Half way through Pemba told me that he had been ordered to go to south col. Presumably to fix the missing oxygen bottles we had encountered when we hit our camp 4 (his english is limited). After two hours we reached the camp, boiled a drink and he left. I had to carry my sleeping bag to camp 3 (not planned) and was by myself (not planned). Not sure what drove this decision to take away required ressources from me to be honest. One of so many issues during this expedition – just this time they impacted my safety directly.


After camp 4 I walked slowly down despite oxygen. After some 3hours i finally got there. On the way i met karl from germany again. He is a friend of scott and does everest unsupported, as he told us over tea and cookies in camp 2 on our failed first summit bid. Then i escaped some injury. While waiting to abseil down, a guy jumped the queue. Initially i was upset. However, when a guy in front of me let an oxygen bottle lose that shot like torpedo into my direction only to be stopped by my waiting feet … i was quite relieved not to be abseiling and get the 3kg bottle into my face. Disaster one averted.

Once at C3, i brewed some much needed water. While pemba is a strong though more junior climber, he doesn’t stop you often enough to replenish energy (too time focussed). I felt it. I got some water and chocolate in and rested on the last bit of oxygen. 

Some time later Pemba was back from south col. probably surprised to still see me at camp. He took the sleeping bag and seeing his heavy, double rucksack load i let him set off to camp 2 – todays final destination. I rested a while longer and continued down without oxygen but with a lighter pack.

What a difference that made. Completely exhausted and without my flow of fresh air. I took ages just to get going. I literally moved meters in minutes (i was still above 7000m). But there was time i thought. 4.30pm it was or so. Then i went down the wrong side of the lhotse face – where people come up. Abseiling difficult yet my only way of making any progress. Tight lines (so you cant put figure of eight in to abseil) in came on top. I spent a long time on each rope section before i mastered it. Chatted with folks coming up and down including the guide of one of the deceased on everest. I even took all my Dex steriod tablets in hope to get an energy boost (they reduce swelling – so no help). Only after sunset in complete darkness i was down the face. It was nice to watch, but it was getting cold and late. I ate snow lacking water. Mainly candies i had left to go on. Now the flatter, but longer section back to camp 2 awaited.

Initially i walked slowly (extremely slowly). That was until my dry cough got so bad that i thought i cracked a rib (only pulled muscle as it turned out). I couldn’t carry my bag anymore and wondered if it was time to ask for help. My team i couldn’t, as clients didnt get radio’s on summit day different to prio trip chat (well, most of them don’t work anyway) and my sherpa support wasn’t there.

I decided to drag on. Thirsty. At some point around 8pm a member of our camp2 kitchen came to help. We were still slow, but with him carrying my rucksack we moved faster. I went straight to bed when we got to camp at 9.30pm. It took me 5 hours from camp 3 down (sherpa take 3h up!). My life was probably not very much at risk (given some other climbers around even after dark), but something in the setup went wrong big time. My guide, as i discovered later, didnt even know about this situation. He was busy chatting to the press about the hillary step that appearantly is gone.

Next day Pemba took my bag and we made in 4 hours or so through the icefall to base camp. The icefall was in a horrible state and melting/collapsing across the board. Extremely unsafe. We pulled at least three anchors. Many more were out already. Some ice screws we fixed again. One large section on which i was about to walk (30m away) collapsed. Good i walked slow! 

Base camp was deserted (the other three clients now on their everest summit push). Tim still busy chatting to global media about the hillary step. I contemplated a chopper to get me out quick (shared about usd900), but ended up hiking down. It took me two days with some stops and a little getting lost near phakding and two hours in the morning the day after. Speed no longer my forte. I did bump into reinhold messner just before namche (and his film crew for a movie on ama danlam). Quite fitting since lhotse was the last pf his 14-set of 8,000ers (probably my last too). Once in lukla, I got lucky and caught a 12pm flight to kathmandu and on to bhaktapur. 

Medical damage assessment: the main issue was my chest problems, but more humid air would fix that quickly. Fingers and toes were still there, just the two big toes a little bit numb (faded within days). So overall, not much to report. Thankfully.


Idea was to head to chitwan national park for safari and more humid air to cure my chest infection. Local temperature +40 degrees – a 80 degree delta to the summit of lhote. But at least there was life! I couldn’t do more tea houses and hiking for now. I needed a holiday ;o)

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Six days in Namche … and still stuck!

We spent six days back down at the valley of Namche Bazaar (3,400m or c3km below base camp) – the largest village in the Khumbu and an important trading centre after we had decided against going back up for the small summit window our guide had suggested. So far we are still waiting for the chopper to get us back to b/c. Fog in the valley and at Lukla keeps us grounded for now. Fingers crossed.

Namche is not cheap and in fact is considered the most expensive village in Nepal (2-3x prices of Kathmandu). We enjoyed oxygen rich air, the food (mainly at Sherpa Barista coffee & Nirvana), beers & pool at the world’s highest Irish pub (some good dancing of Jon & Audrey from Canada) and a 24/7 opened place called Cafe Danphe. Fun times and a welcome change from by now boring base camp life. Other options are limited. I got a hair cut and my first ever beard trim, visited the sherpa museum and the (unimpressing) monastery. 



Much of our time we spent discussing our decision to pass on the small summit window and trying to source info on weather and the next possible window being essentially cut off from the usual expedition newsflow and with essentially no contact to base camp.

Its fair to say that we were all gutted. After HIMEX rope fixing efforts spectacularly imploded, The Ghurkas, I believe Madisson and also our team stepped up. Our concern was that this overstretches our teams ressources and that rope fixing and guide summits had now taking priority over client summits. I guess there remains a lot to discuss, but memories of our time here weren’t helped to say the least. 

First summits: Both our guides and two sherpa’s made the top of Everest early the 16th. Steve sumitted Lhotse. 

Waiting for the chopper: Today we were heading back to b/c with a chopper to get into position for our own summit push – hopefully sometime around the 23-25th May. Time is running out with summits historically happening between 17-23rd May. Maybe we have to hike back up …

Climbing back down …

First up, thanks for all the generous donations since my last post especially from AH. It is really appreciated!

We finally departed for our first summit bid on 8th May early doors (3am). I left with Steve (also Lhotse bound and a machine on the hill). The everest bound guys had already left on the 6th. Our plan was to hike up to camp 2, rest 1 day, then progressively move up the hill to summit on the 11th morning. It was meant to be the early, early window. The team to fix ropes was on the hill and meant to get the job done between 6-8 may. So far the theory …

The climb up to camp 2 was the usual. Decent 5hours through the icefall and a very slow and cruel walk through the western cwm of 6hours. It remains my weak spot. But then there is always the rest day at camp 2 to recover. The mood was good. Other teams including the team in charge of fixing ropes to the summit (himex led by kiwi climbing legend russel brice and star climber kenton cool and david tate) were positioned at camp 3 ready to move to the south col and to the top. We listened to their radio chat and all looked set – we are going up.

Now to practice: The everest guys left 5.20am for camp 3 as planned. We were to follow a day after. By the time steve and I had our breakfast, the bad news broke that ropes in fact hadn’t been fixed. The official version was new snow (waist deep at the balcony on the way to everest summit) and resuming winds that caused unworkable conditions for the fixing team (risk of frostbite etc). However, there was an incident earlier that i think certainly played a part. A sherpa on lhotse apparently slipped on his way down though got saved by the anchors in place (some say he got injured, others not). Sherpa work on the hill stopped for two days. Probably as much responsible for the failure to get the job done. We heard stories of kenton cool and his (rich) private client offering a years salary to the fixing sherpa’s to make things happen. They didn’t. With all major teams on the hill leaving and conditions challenging, we also headed down. Bad luck.


Jon and I didn’t wait long and left for Panboche right after lunch. Idea was to get to Namche the day after. Blake, rory and scott were to follow by chopper the day after. 

We only made it to loboche after a tiring day and stayed there. We had a little pubcrawl on the way enjoying a cold beer in gorak shep and had a fun evening in ‘above the cloud’ lodge where we met two US trekkers and played monopoly deal before retiring to the room. I had downloaded a few movies. Jon introduced me to a skateboarder cult movie (lords of dogtown) and o shoed him Leon (he loved it).


Next day started very late. We had a long way ahead of us if we wanted to get to namche (some 20km). Before we left, we quickly dropped a message to the team asking for the status. The last thing we wanted was a ‘please come back to base camp’ type message while just descending the khumbu valley. 

Right after loboche we passed by the graveyard of himalayan climbers, most famously scott fischer who tragigally died in the 1996 events alongside rob hall and many clients. Readers of ‘into thin air’ (jon krakauer) and ‘the climb’ (anatoly bukreev) will be aware of the story as the everest drama.


We got to panboche via dughla (quick pitstop) and pheriche (same) by 1.30pm. By then, we had confirmation that blake, rory and scott had already made it to namche (having coffee at the everest bakery). All looked clear … 
The hike down was beautiful. Increasingly better air, bushes and trees, nicer villages (rather than saisonal outposts further up), rivers and gorges and sunny weather. Super enjoyable and one of the best days yet. No itinerary, just time by ourselves. 


At panboche bakery we waited out a bit of rain while enjoying a large piece of chocolate cake with a khumbu kölsch. Trekkers lunch!


From there the path takes you to tengboche monastery. However, there was potentially news that might require a quicker than planned return to base camp. What a mess! In order to assess/decide we had to make it to namche tonight. We got there by 7.30pm after a much enjoyably walk into sunset. 

Rory grabbed us as we walked past the sherpa barista restaurant/coffee shop. Discussions in full swing. In the end we decided to stay at Namche to rest for a few days back in civilisation, but that will be anothers days story. 

Life at Everest base camp

I am lying in my tent and the winds are (still) shaking my tent. The sleeping bag is very comfi and I had a cery good rest without any interruptions. In today’s post I wanted to shed a little light on how we spent time here at Everest base camp having been here now for three nights and given it will be my home potentially until late May.


The camp is I reckon some 2km long and situated directly on the Khumbu glacier and very close to the actual icefall with all its crevasses and constantly moving bits and pieces. Each team has claimed their territory and in some cases defend it vigorously (I leave out names here for now). Mingling with other teams seems like a no-no so far. 

Within each camp there is some key infrastructure:

  • Mess tent: Arguably the heart of the camp. Here we spent most of our down time to eat, play (monopoly deal being king), chat and do briefings.

  • Kitchen tent: Good food is key and so far we been catered for well. More importantly even is a constant supply of hot water. 


  • Storage / communication tent: here you can find a lot of snacks, dry food for higher up, commincation and charging gear and stuff you don’t wanna keep in your tent (like climbing and high altitude kit).


  • Toilet tent: Men usually use for no2, women no1&2. The collective output goes into a barrel that is replaced when needed. Fellow hiker Mo had her tent blown away while in action – scared for life (but hilarious) ;o) 


  • Shower tent: operated with heated water from the kitchen and a pump. Looks simple, feels great!
  • Sleeping tents: the only bit of real privacy. Required for such a long trip. Sherpa’s have the same tents than we do, but share.



  • Sherpa mess tent: Common area (when not in kitchen) and eating quarters. Surely a few card games go down here too. 


Beyond the individual camps there are communal places such as the Everest ER tent (emergency & rescue) staffed wit experienced doctors, nurses and rescue pilots, the Sagarmartha pollution and control committee (SPCC) that houses the ice fall doctors (fixing the ropes to the summits), the radio and wifi station (Usd50 per 1GB, ncell also available but patchy) and several heli landing spots for transport, rescue and supplies in & out of the camp. 

Daily rountine

On non-climbing days (and there will be quite a few), we usually start with breakfast at 8am though hot drinks are being provided from 7am. The offering varies from porridge, pancakes, muesli to french toast, fried and boiled eggs and sometimes even bacon (like yesterday).

Afterwards we typically have the first session of games, take a stroll, do some washing or things like reinforcig tents.

Lunch is served around noon. We have often potatoes (fried, boiled, even salad), rice (cooked, fried, with veg etc), cooked veg, tuna, sardines, sausages, traditional dahl bat … plenty of stuff. By the time we had our pudding it will be 1.30pm or thereabout. More games after or a nap ;o)

3-4pm we use for briefings either on general issues or the next day. This goes hand in hand with some munchy stuff like cheese etc and more tea. More games and wifi if you must. We try to limit wifi from 3pm though a poor connection often takes care of that ;o)

Dinner is 6pm and is followed by the hot water bottle supply for the night ahead. We usually hit the sleeping bags between 8-9pm. Depends how long our monopoly deal thirst lasts and what is ahead the day after. 

Then its time to get cosy in your tent, read a book and to report to dream land. Nite, nite …

Loboche to EBC: Hi base camp; bye Jo, Mike, Berny, Sami & Luka

Today was little about the way, but more about the destination – Everest base camp. The trail out of Loboche leads you right up the Khumbu valley. So no choice but joining the army of ants that hikes up to EBC or Kala Patar for good views. Annoying really given many aren’t well acclimatised and slow and some shouldn’t be here at all. 


I reached our lunch point Gorak Shep after 1:50min (5km, 250m ascent). All of us quickly made use of the not so quick 3G network before we moved on to Everest base camp a further 5km (well, we are at the very back of the camp). The trail remained busy. 

Right at the first heliport at EBC entrance a trekker was flown out (I presume altitude sickness) and we got some good footage of heli start/landing. 


Base camp itself is surreal. Many, mostly yellow/orange, tents planted right on the glacier. The icefall with its ice towers right next to the camp. And the icefall is massive! ​​


After a tea, it was time to say goodbye to some of the base camp trekkers – see you in London Jo, Mike, Sami, Berny & Luka (they are by virtue of a chopper already back in Kathmandu).

Then it was time to move into my tent. It will be my home for the coming 4-6weeks. Nice and cosy. Every so often the surrounding mountains remind of the danger – I counted 3 avalanches before nightfall. And then heavy snow kicked in covering the the whole camp in white. Beautiful!


The evening I spent mostly in my new home. Lying in my new RAB 1400 expedition sleeping bag (-40 degrees) and reading book number 4 – ‘In den Wäldern Sibieriens’. I was outright happy. This is the real deal now!