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what's been happening?

November 2, 2015

I have been thinking about the Mera Peak climb for the past two or three days.  It was certainly an incredible trip with an amazing group of people.  Without having Sharon beside me, I was a little concerned as she is such an important part of what we do.  Our group however, were all experienced visitors to Nepal and gelled instantly, forming a strong bond early.  Everyone took care of one another, there were no egos, just support and friendship.  We laughed uncontrollably most nights, possibly due to the altitude, about the weirdest things including strange animals seen on the trek and bazaar dreams.  We moved well as a team and were organised, with everyone quickly falling into their rhythm.  Though there were different speeds amongst the group, almost everyone had their own personal climbing Sherpa, apart from Jeff who scored climbing with me.

Our boys were exemplary again, and I am proud to say they are some of the best in the business.  Angelu Sherpa, as Sirdar kept our climbing Sherpas, porters and cooks organised and happy, whilst Phemba Sherpa and Dawa Sherpa took great personal care of the team.  These guys are extraordinary, and have a warmth and desire to take care of people likely you rarely see. My role, apart from planning each day and guiding, was to make sure everyone was well, treating any ailments or illness along the way.  As seasoned adventurers, the group made this job pretty straightforward, for which I am very grateful.  

We carefully planned the summit bid to maximise success, which worked well, with everyone reaching the top.  I have to say that the views were some of the best I have seen, looking out on 5 of the 6 highest mountains in the world, including Kangchenjunga which is located in Eastern Nepal and India.  Unlike last year, there was very little wind, and we got to spend almost 30 minutes on the summit alone.

Having individual start times is not easy, but everyone agreed that this was the best approach to being triumphant, primarily by taking the pressure off having to climb at a pace they are not used to or comfortable with.  As it turned out, this strategy allowed us to all meet up almost at the same time close to the summit.

Personally, Mark and Karen were joining Everest One for the 3rd time, with this being their second attempt at Mera.  These two guys are an absolute joy to work with along with being an inspirational team, always keeping each other strong and toughing out some pretty testing conditions.  Seeing them on top was a huge accomplishment, and I am immensely proud to have been a part of their dream to stand on top of a Himalayan mountain.  

Jeff was a powerhouse, having already climbed some big mountains around the world.  He has the ability to keep going, and I have no doubt he will achieve some massive climbs in the future.  Not to mention, Jeff was an absolute delight on the trip, always laughing and keeping the group entertained, especially me.  He has a presence that is so engaging and a whole lot of fun to be around.

Sue is a special lady,  remarkably strong and determined, and everyone really enjoyed her company.  Nothing was an issue, she was organised, committed and relaxed.  Sue has one of the best attitudes I have seen in the mountains and really loves being in this environment, whilst her training regime coming into the climb was top shelf.  All the hard work definitely paid off with the reward of a summit.

We met some great groups along the trail, and I have made some strong connections with a few highly skilled guides, both from South America and Europe who are keen to work together in the future.  The one thing you can be assured of in the mountains is that bonds can form very quickly, with likeminded beliefs and accomplishments featuring in the conversation.

I must say that Nepal has some work ahead, with many people still staying away.  The locals are hurting, and many of the business owners and teahouse operators are scared for the future.  As it stands now, a lot of people visiting Nepal have been before.  Speaking to visitors, there is a real deep sense of loyalty to the Nepalese people, and we all felt safe.  Next year is the time when things need to change, and I can honestly say that if you decide to come back or visit for the first time, you will not be disappointed.  There is an incredible warmth in the country, both in the mountains and the city, and people will welcome you with open arms. 

Finally I just want to thank our tremendous Sherpa team, strong porters, and cook team lead by Master Chef Anil, for what was a very successful and professionally run trip.  We have focussed for a long time now on providing an impeccable service, which most of our guests will attest to.  We concentrate on the little things, which can often make the difference when you are away for some time.  We make sure the food is hygienic, varied and nutritious, our equipment is constantly upgraded to ensure guests are comfortable, our staff our highly qualified, having trained with the best climbers in Nepal, and we practice safe and ethical procedures in the mountains.  

We do not comprimise on quality, and ensure that our Sherpas and Porters are paid a higher than standard rate.  These guys are the workhorses in the mountains, and without them none of this would be possible.  Companies that offer unbelievable rates can only do so by lowering their standards, which mean paying their staff low wages.  I am proud of our style and the manner in which we run our trips.  Once you join us, you are helped each step of the way.  

I think a true testament to the quality we provide can be seen in the continued return of our team year after year. 

Next year we have some exciting new trips including Cho Oyu and Kilimanjaro.  Cho Oyu is filling fast and Sharon is doing a great job sorting out Kili.  Visit the website at www.everestone.com.au to find out more details on these and other adventures that may tempt you.

Chat soon and a huge cheers

Al

October 27, 2015

Everyone has made the journey back down retracing their steps to Lukla.

 

Big last few days for them to go from the summit, drop back to Khare, then onto Kote.

 

They would then rise early to head from Kote to Thuli Khaka. These are long days for everyone but alot faster as they are now fully acclimatised and have a bit more spring in their step.

 

Yesterday they headed up and up and up which probably felt like another summit bid as they headed over the Zatra La, and then it was downhill (well kind of) all the way back to Lukla...for showers, beer and an end of expedition celebration dinner!

 

Tonight they will say farewell to their trusted hard working porters, and hand them gifts of thanks in appreciation for support and efforts.

 

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin! - Anthony Robbins

 

 

 

October 25, 2015

My friend Emma Lodge is a shining light of what frienship is all about.

 

I am currently in Sydney for the Cancer Australia Breakfast event and unfortunately I was not able to be the face of "Women's walk for cancer" in Cairns which I wanted to do.

 

I asked Emma to speak at the opening of the event on my behalf, and well lets just say her speech below speaks for itself.

 

Emma's Speech!

 

I happened to spot this quote the other night which I thought sums up mine and Sharon’s friendship journey and how our lives have changed over the last 8 years.

 

It reads ‘each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born’

 

Sharon’s cancer diagnosis in 2007 not only opened up a whole new world to her, but it completely opened a new world to me too.

 

I met Sharon in 2006, we worked together and I must have to say it was the best year of work ever!! Sharon has a brilliant sense of humour and we had so much fun. Not sure actually how much work we got done between fits of laughter, but she’s great value, even when you’re having a bad day there’s no way you’ll be able to keep a straight face with her around.

 

 So in 2007 when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at the age of 36, I just couldn’t believe it, it was a shock, and I couldn’t comprehend for a healthy, young, active person how she could be diagnosed with such an aggressive disease. I felt determined I had to do something to help her, and I figured the closest thing I could do to make a difference was to fundraise. So without any previous event experience I decided to put on the biggest pink ribbon fundraiser in town, we had over 200 people attend and raised over $10,000 for breast cancer research.

 

During that time I networked with so many women going through their own breast cancer journeys, that I felt compelled to carry on with the fundraising and ran the Pink Ribbon High Tea for a further 4 years. 

 

Mine and Sharons friendship grew during this time, as we both had the same mission to spread awareness about breast cancer. Sharon supported me with the fundraising events, and I supported her with her recovery and mission for Everest.

 

And going back to that quote I read out in the beginning ‘each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born’. I look back now over the last 8 years of friendship and how a new world has presented in both of our lives. Sharon is an inspiration, an ambassador, a breast cancer survivor, the first breast cancer survivor to summit Mt Everest, and I’m absolutely in awe of her, and so grateful to have her as a friend. She has shown me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and truly have that focus and drive.

 

My world is now focused on sharing information on prevention, wellness and nutrition. I’ve since ran a number of health events bringing guest speakers to Cairns and sharing information on various tools for good health, I even created my own bus tour taking people to farms and reconnecting people to real food! And I never set out or imagined to be doing any of this in life, not even to be standing on this stage today, I usually shy away from the public speaking bit, but the things you have to do for friends!

 

So we both inspire each other, me sharing my green smoothie recipes with Sharon, and Sharon teaching me that anything is possible - recovering from breast cancer and summiting Mt Everest, how awesome is that!

 

And that’s what’s important, surrounding yourself with the right people. The people who will lift you up, give you that energy, make you feel good, and share those positive vibes. 

 

So if you’re up for a challenge and wanting some drive and excitement in life then come join us next February, Sharon will be leading 2 trekking expeditions to Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, accompanied by 2 special guests who have both climbed 8 of the world’s 14 highest peaks.

 

Also other challenge for you coming up April next year is the Cancer Council Ultimate Journey for a Cure, which Sharon and her husband Allan will be leading to Everest Base Camp. So if you’re interested in either of those trips please come and see me for info, and you never know what new friendships you might make, or what new world will open for you, everyday is full of possibilities.

 

 

 

October 24, 2015

Just received the call everyone has been waiting for.

 

Jeff, Sue, Karen and Mark have all successfully summited Mera Peak.!!! Woo Hoo....

 

When Allan, Angelu and Dawa called I nearly jumped through the ceiling with excitement.

 

What a team effort! These guys are truly amazing.

 

I spoke briefly with everyone on the sat phone and they were overwhelmed with their awesome achievement in reaching the summit and being surrounded with the most magnificent views of the Himalayas.

 

Can't wait for the photos.

 

Time to celebrate!

 

"I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go." - Lauren Bleadon Maffei

 

 

October 23, 2015

Received a call from Allan, and everyone arrived at Mera La pass camp (5350m) in amazing time yesterday. The weather has been great!

 

The group had their first night sleeping on the La, and at this altitude their expectations of what lies ahead can interrupt sleep! At least they were all warm and snug in their ultra warm sleeping bags and comfy tents..

 

Everyone is in high spirits and sends love to all their family and friends.

 

Sue wished to pass a message onto Suzanne: “Don’t over feed the cat”! Did I mention that at altitude you could say and do some strange things? This is a great example.

 

Today they started on the long and seemingly endless walk up to High Camp (5800m). You can see so far ahead that it can create mental blocks. Progress is always slow and with many large crevasses to avoid it can become overwhelming.

 

Everyone needs to stay focused and break this part of the trek down into stages. They’ll have a lot of rest breaks while keeping a continuous slow pace for the next 4 hours. Before they know it, though, High Camp will be right there!

 

The camp is situated near a rock outcrop that has stunning views of Nepal’s mountain giants. This location offers protection from winds, surrounding crevasses and other elements that Mother Nature may throw their way.

 

Tonight is the night to prepare for tomorrow’s summit bid, No doubt they will be eating lots of comfort foods like chocolate and rehydrating themselves as they will head off around 1.00am in the morning. 

 

Good luck, guys, I know you can do it!

 

When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top. - Unknown

 

 

October 21, 2015

 

The team arrived into Khare last night and are all feeling great. 

 

Khare (4900m) lies at the base of the Mera La and from here on it is just ice, ice and more ice under foot. Everyone can see what lays ahead from their tents in Khare and this is when they need to gather all their mental and physical strength, because they can see their goal in the distance. It seems so far ahead, but it is only a couple of days away. The summit!!!

 

Rest is the team’s favourite word and they will spend the day at base camp acclimatising and practicing their rope and crampon skills. Everyone will be checking and double checking their equipment before they prepare for the summit push.

 

Nerves need to be contained and now will focus on taking each stage as it comes. Tomorrow is the day that they will head off nice and early, ice axes attached to their packs and crampons strapped to their feet as they head towards the Mera La. They will continue along the glacier until they reach camp at 5350m. Hot tea and a comfortable tent will be awaiting them.

 

Camp is located just south off the pass tucked away from strong winds and away from dangerous crevasses that are nearby.

 

Now it is getting really exciting!!!

 

You have 3 choices in life:

Give up, Give in, or

Give it your all. - Unknowm

 

 

October 19, 2015

Heading on up!

 

The team arrived to Kote in good time and they all had a well deserved evening of rest before their walk to Tagnag the following day.

 

From here the trail gains altitude into lower and then higher alpine environments.

 

Once in Tagnag they stick around for two nights, as this is another acclimatization stop (4250m) where it is important for them to make adjustment to the altitude.

 

Of course a rest day usually incorporates an acclimatization walk and so they ventured up to 4700m on one of the many higher ridges that surround the village of Tagnag. 

 

The views of the valley’s surrounding peaks (Kusumkhang, Kyashar and Mera West face) are truly spectacular. Now you realize how small you are in the presence of such immense mountains.

 

After having sat up on the ridge for an hour or so, they headed back down to the tea house and spent the afternoon reading, watching DVD’s, eating chocolate, drinking lots of tea and giving those body's some well earned R&R.

 

Everyone is going great guns and feeling super.

 

Tomorrow they will wake early and head up to Khare/Mera base camp (4900m). It is now getting exciting for everyone as the scenery distinctly changes to that of high alpine terrain, rocky trails, scree slopes and no vegetation.... we’re entering the playground of mountaineers and trekking to the base slopes of the mountain.

  

They will see Mera on the way to Khare and perhaps begin feeling both anxious and excited, because in the next few days they will have to call on all their physical and mental strength in order to reach the summit of Mera Peak!

 

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

October 17, 2015

 

Okay people. I've just received a Sat-phone call from Al and the team ......

 

The team rose early and headed up the Zatra La which has a couple of false summits at 4580m. I don’t mind these as I've always used such landmarks to help stage each step, like in the Tour De France. Breaking it down into little stages helps with the mental side of things.

 

They continued traversing around the mountain along an undulating trail and reached the true crossing of Zatra La pass at 4610m.

 

At the top, with an absolute relief, they were welcomed by multitudes of prayer flags; a symbol of spirituality but also a finishing line.  

From this prospect one can see the Kongde and a number mountains that tower above Namche. After celebrating our first pass, they made a steep 400m descent to Thuli Kharka for lunch. Camp is further downhill located near the valley floor at a beautiful site amongst rhododendron trees.

 

Jeff, Mark, Karen and Sue are the perfect team of people to come on this journey as they are all passionate, strong and driven to keep going forwards.

My kinda guys!!

 

It's the Himalayas, so, where there is an up, there is always a down. Hence they dropped another 400m before reaching Tok Tok 3600m. I love Tok Tok as it is a truly magical village, reminds me a bit of scenes from Avatar or Lord of the Rings. Since our first visit in 2005 it has always remained in my memory as a place with a breathtaking outlook of the mountains coupled with the sounds of rushing water from glacial melt and masses of amazing green vegetation making you feel like you are in a tropical jungle.

 

A good night of rest was had, this apparently after a lot of laughter and the eating of awesome food by our cooks (I might change that to 'Chef’s' as they are so skilled in creating wholesome tasty food that can cater to any requirements). As I am Coeliac the boys always know how to cook food for me and understand everyone is different. This is why we have been with these amazing men for over 10 years now.

 

Anyway back to the super crew. They woke up early and after a few yoga stretches from everyone (only joking); probably just realigning their bodies after a big day on the Zatra La, they headed off to Kote. The trail to Kote is through a temperate forest in the Hinku valley. Lots of traversing ridges before descending steeply to the valley floor arriving at Tashing Ongma on the edge of the Inkhu khola river. Camp is only a short distance ahead at Kote, which they reach by following the river to the junction with the Sanu khola river.

 

Everyone is now in Kote at 3550m, safe and well and by the sounds of things extremely happy.

 

The better, more amazing version of you can’t happen if you stay where you are. – Wendy Mak

 

 

 

 

October 15, 2015

 

I received a Sat-phone call from Allan this afternoon and it was so wonderful to hear his voice. The team has trekked from Chutanga (3020m) to Kharki Teng (3900m) today in 2.5hrs. An awesome effort by everyone indeed.

 

The walk from Chutanga to Kharki Teng is one of my favourite sections as you are at first surrounded by lush forests that then gradually thin out into a landscape of low alpine scrub. This barren landscape at increasing altitude feels all the more remote due to the absence of villages in this region. The route climbs up the faces of Charpate and Kalo Himal, the prominent mountains that surround Lukla. 

 

Tonight it will be very important for everyone to rest well and rehydrate themselves, as tomorrow will be a very early rise to face their first big challenge of crossing a high pass; the Zatra La at 4610m.

 

Upwards and onwards team...

October 13, 2015

 

Yesterday the team woke up super early at 4.00am and took the first flight up to Lukla.

As we all know, Lukla airport is the most exciting airport in the world to land at; everyone cheers when the wheels hit the tarmac.

 

I spoke with them over the sat-phone whilst they were having breakfast and getting prepared for the 3 hour walk to Chutanga.

 

Karen, Mark, Jeff and Sue were all in high spirits and ready to get the show on the road.

AngGelu, Dawa and Allan were busy finalizing last minute preparations before heading off.

 

Chutanga is 3020m and for the average sea-level dweller it is quite a significant change in altitude so, the team will spend two nights there to allow their bodies to adjust to this new environment. However, their rest day will not be spent sitting around.

 

Oh no ……… it can’t be that easy. They will head off slowly up one of the nearby hills for a few hours to gain even more altitude before returning down for the night.

 

We refer to this as an acclimatisation walk which allows their bodies to adjust to the new heights that they will be encountering in the following days. The group will find a nice spot to stop at and take in the awesome mountain views before descending back to Chutanga for an afternoon of rest and relaxation.

 

“Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule # 1.” – Unknown

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