It has now been over 4 months since we were last in Nepal and I am now on my way to lead another climb of Mera Peak. Sitting in Sydney waiting for my next flight, I feel empty without Sharon by my side, it was a tearful departure and I feel bad to leave her behind. This is what we do, we spend time together in the mountains taking care of our clients and it just won't be the same without her with me. Who is going to annoy me by constantly packing and rechecking her gear in the confines of our dome tent, or push me off my down mat in the middle of the night. Who is going to make everyone laugh with her spontaneous incredibly witty personality or great stories. I am going to miss my soulmate, but know we will be back together on our next adventure.
Sharon has had a minor set-back and is sorting out an injury which is stopping her from climbing at the moment. That being said, she will be busy getting next years trips organised and also adding a climb of Kilimanjaro to the itinerary. I think this is really exciting and will give people a wonderful opportunity to experience a part of Africa whilst climbing its highest peak. Sharon will also be joined by two legendary guest climbers who will surely make this one trip to add to your bucket list.
Since the earthquakes, we have been speaking with friends in Nepal, and there is already a sense that people are starting to come back. Such is the lure of this amazing country and despite all that mother nature has thrown at Nepal and it's people, you just can't keep people away.
It will be with a mix of excitement and sadness that I return, with the memories of how the people were suffering when we left in April still fresh in my mind. But the resilience and determination of the locals has been awe-inspiring, committed to rebuilding and getting Nepal back on its feet. There is still a long way to go, and many remote areas continue to struggle, without adequate housing and clean water.
Confidence is rising though, and by next year, the regular flow of tourists, who are the very backbone of this fragile economy, will return. Shopkeepers will be smiling, trek leaders will be guiding their clients, tea-houses will be full and the farmers will be selling their produce. It's already starting to happen.
Although without Sharon, I am excited with our Mera climbing team, all of whom have been to Nepal, taking on different treks and climbs. Like me, they all have a strong connection with Nepal and its people. It will be a pleasure to be in their company, only hope they laugh at my jokes and put up with my bad singing.
Sharon will be blogging and updating on Facebook throughout the trip. Hope to have you all on board for the ride.
Our new website has finally been launched and it looks incredible.
We are also bringing back the weekly blog along with regular updates on new and exciting trips and some challenging workouts of the week for you to try out.
Don't forget to sign up when you visit the site to be kept informed of what's happening.
We have been busy over the past few months, becoming involved in new projects including rockITeam, an Indigenous Leadership Program aiming to take the first Australian Indigenous team to the summit of Mt Everest and also a development project in Nepal.
We are also branching out to other parts of the world and will shortly be announcing a trip to Kilimanjaro in February next year with two amazing international guest guides co-leading the trek. You really need to be a part of this one.
Trips are running to Nepal again next year and we have a Relief trek to a village where one of our team members live to provide assistance. Interest is also generating for a climb of Cho Oyu in Tibet in 2016.
I will be taking another group to Mera Peak next month and can't wait to be back in Nepal. We have a tremendous group for this climb, all having spent time in the Himalayas before.
Things are on the rise for Nepal, and people are coming back. This is great news.
'If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough' - Muhammad Ali
Check out these two trendsetters. Deanne and Tony are definitely dressed to impress in some pretty cool trekking gear. With the help of Sharon, who guided them on a personalised shopping tour, they are now kitted out and ready for the upcoming Everest Base Camp trek.
Deanne, who is a breast cancer survivor and truly inspirational lady knew the moment she discovered the Cancer Council charity trek, that this was the journey she had been searching for. After experiencing the tough times and uncertainty that the cancer journey brings, Deanne needed a challenge which gave her the confidence and belief to know she could achieve anything she set her mind to. With the support of her husband Tony, these guys are going to be an awesome addition to the team and we are really stoked to have them onboard.
Already a celebrity, Deanne has been doing radio and newspaper interviews, sharing her story and the motivation behind joing the trek.
On another note, a few of those who were coming have had to pull out, so we have a few spots left. It is short notice but definitely doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness and the ability to have 3 weeks off from work.
Being a part of a small team is the ultimate opportunity to get the most out of exploring the Himalayas, and Sharon and I would be more than happy to help out with any queries or questions you may have. If you join with a friend or partner, you can also share the fundraising component, and continue to raise a few dollars along the trail by posting updates to friends, family or work mates.
We plan on running a few training sessions in Mt Cootha in the next few weeks. Even if you are not planning on joining us this year, or have this trip on your bucket list, you are more than welcome to come along. We will post training times on Facebook.
Sharon and I are proud to announce that we have partnered with the Cancer Council to guide their charity trek to Everest Base Camp. This is an amazing opportunity to get a dedicated group of people together to not only raise money for cancer research, but also venture into one of the most spectacular locations on the planet.
All the details can be found under the Charity banner on our site including how to get involved and also set up your Everyday Hero fundraising page. The Cancer Council will also be providing full support and guidance for fundraising initiatives, whilst Sharon and I will steer you through all other aspects, including training, gear and preparation.
People are joining the trip for a variety of reasons, from having been personally affected by cancer, through to a strong desire to travel to the Himalayas whilst also raising money for a cause they are passionate about.
We will be running information sessions at the office of the Cancer Council in Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill on the 22nd of January 2015 starting at 6.30pm..
If you have ever had a fascination with the mountains of Nepal and are interested in joining a trek with the chance to raise funds, or just have always been curious about the Himalayas, please come along. Sharon and I will explain the trip, along with screening incredible images including exclusive footage from our Everest summit climb and also answer any questions you may have.
If you have been thinking about this, want to challenge yourself or this is an adventure on your bucket list, now is the time to get involved.
We had the honour on the way home of visiting the Australian International School Bangkok, where we were greeted by the Year 2 to 5 students, along with their teachers, family and friends.
Two of the students opened proceedings, delivering a wonderful presentation about our background along with Sharon’s incredible story. It was a beautiful way to start things off, and we then spoke about our journey and exciting adventures, before fielding some great questions.
We had an amazing time meeting the students and also got the chance to sit down with the teaching staff for lunch, Thai style of course.
This was our first opportunity to speak outside of Australia, and we absolutely loved the experience. Sharing our story, and listening to the students personal adventures whilst witnessing their raw emotion and interest was an inspiration for us, and we can’t wait to be back next year.
Thanks Greg and the guys for the warm hospitality, we look forward to seeing you guys soon.
A few days ago we received the devastating news that our friend and climbing partner Dendi Sherpa had been struck by falling ice during his summit bid on Ama Dablam, resulting in his tragic death.
Dendi (Long man) was a gentle, quiet soul, who loved climbing and helping others in their mountaineering pursuits. He had been with us on Everest and other climbs and always made us feel safe. He had climbed with our mate Raul, and together they both shared one hour on the summit of Everest, taking extraordinary images from the roof of the world.
Dendi was a pivotal, experienced team member, but more-so special part of the Himalayan Ascent family, and his loss is being felt by so many at this time.
On a personal level, I had just sat with Dendi a few weeks ago, chatting and laughing before we headed off for Mera Peak. He wore his trademark beaming gold-tooth smile and told me how excited he was about another climb of Ama Dablam.
Dendi was a legendary, strong climber and along with Lakpa, had performed a high altitude rescue of a climber suffering from HACE at the south summit of Mt Everest (8770m), successfully lowering him to safety. This is a true testament to his strength and commitment and further evidence of what a great man he was; a man who prided himself on his work and the impeccable manner in which he took care of those around him, despite the conditions.
Sharon and I, along with many others, are struck by the sad news of Dendi’s death, and wish to pass our sincere condolences and respect onto his family and friends.
On the way down, I met up with Pete and Dan, who started an hour behind the first team with Mingma Sherpa and Sharon. It was at this point that I was told Sharon had a problem with her gear, with her trusty jacket she wore on Everest and other climbs, finally packing it in at the worst possible time.
Sharon had worked so hard all trip, ensuring everyone was strong, healthy and happy. She was tireless in her role, sometimes to the detriment of her own well-being. Sharon later told me once the team set off for summit bid her zipper broke which unfortunately chilled her core, giving her pain in the shoulder blades along with constant shivering. Without adequate protection from the weather, Sharon immediately turned herself around, which definitely avoided any serious injury from the weather. I know how strong and determined Sharon is, so I can only imagine the cold and frustration she was feeling.
After a quick change on the ropes, I sent Mingma down with Karen and Mark, then Anggelu and I joined the boys for their summit push.
We moved reasonably well, trying to avoid any unnecessary stops and keep warm. Dan was powering, along with Pete, who was now in unfamiliar territory, never having been this cold or at this altitude. We quickly gained height, and as we neared the summit, we were greeted to some of the most stunning views in the Himalaya’s, with the sun rising over the peaks behind us and the mountains appearing from the darkness. Looking over at Everest, I had a short moment to reflect on her beauty, before refocussing and keeping the boys moving.
At the base of the central summit, we had one final challenge, a short jumar section, which we all navigated quickly, before standing together on top (6461m). Despite the wind and temperature, now nearing -30 degrees, we saw 5 of the 6 highest mountains in the world, with only K2 missing.
Both Dan and Pete were amazingly committed, and worked hard to reach their high point. Standing on any Himlayan peak is an honour, and an experience they can be proud of for the rest of their lives. They were terrific members of the team, both young and strong, and brought great dynamics to the group with a relaxed, funny and caring attitude. We all enjoyed their company and humour, top effort boys.
After heading back down, we had a chance to relax, play some cards, drink some beer, dance, sing and celebrate our achievements back in Lukla. We joined a group of Ukranian climbers for a roof top party, which was incredible yet somewhat surreal. Definitely a night we will never forget.
Back in Thailand, we are preparing for a speaking event before heading home. This will be a new experience for us, and one we are really excited about.
This has definitely been one of my favourite trips and one that we are very proud of. Our team did amazing things, tested themselves to their limits, reached new heights, and forged long lasting friendships with people from all around the world. This is what climbing is about, forgetting our differences, challenging ourselves and having fun.
Sharon and I are safely back from Nepal, chilling out for a few days in Bangkok, defrosting from another great trip.
We were so lucky to have an amazing group of people for this expedition, people who actually respected the country for it’s amazing natural beauty and the warmth and generosity of the locals.
It was certainly hard work and everyone knew they had to put in the effort, as even trekking to Mera Base Camp is tough, with considerable elevation gains and long descents along the way. Reaching above 4500m whilst crossing the Zatra La on day 3 set the first challenge, and with the luxury of having a rest day in Chutanga, which allowed us to climb up to 4400m, everyone managed to cross the pass without any issues.
We were faced with challenging weather, from rain and heavy snow falls to baking heat, but at no time did anyone flinch, complain or falter. In fact, it was the complete opposite, and people took on the journey with vigor and a smile.
Arriving in Mera Base Camp, we had a day to acclimatize and test our skills, learning basic rope technique, including ascending safely and rappelling. A few of the guys were already proficient, whilst for the others, this came naturally giving Anggelu Sherpa, Sharon and I the confidence that the team could navigate the mountain.
Our first push involved a solid climb to the Mera La, with a number of steep, slippery, scree covered sections. Unfortunately Marty, who had a slight chest infection, suffered during this phase, and with Sharon, made the wise decision to head back down to Base Camp and rest. It was hard to see Marty retreat, knowing she had trained so hard and had been strong up to this point, but it is not a good idea to ascend when feeling off. Marty had reached a great height on the mountain, and her resilience and humour were a highlight for us all.
After a chilly night at the Mera La (5350m), we headed off early for the straightforward march along the glacier to High Camp (5800m). By this stage, there was a nice trail which had been set, steering us through some fairly heavily crevassed sections. By the time we arrived, there were a number of climbers patiently waiting for the early morning departure for the summit, so finding a flat tent site was now our mission.
After refuelling and getting in a few hours sleep, Anggelu, Mark, Karen and I started the long slog at 1.30am. As we climbed higher, I noticed a rapid drop in the temperature, now at -25 degrees, with a slight wind making the journey pretty uncomfortable. I knew that this would be a tough day for Karen, having to face the elements in the darkness. After having climbed above 6000m, the conditions became too great, and Karen, along with Mark made the decision to head back to the relative warmth of their sleeping bag. I was disappointed but knew it was the right choice and we all commenced the down climb.
Karen is without doubt, apart from Sharon, the toughest woman I have ever met, and I felt so proud of her achievements. Mark, who was still strong and climbing well, wanted to be with Karen, making sure she was fine back in camp, and had no problem giving up his own summit aspirations. They are an amazing couple, and I look forward to many more trips with these guys.
With views across to some of the highest mountains on earth, this leg of the trip is one to remember. As we continue our journey, we have unfortunately had inconsistent satellite phone communication of late, along with other electronic methods virtually non-existent (which is not uncommon in this part of the world), updates back home, have been our toughest part of the trip.
The group is traveling well, training and acclimatising to the conditions with ease, and have reached heights of 5400m thus far. These trips are always an eye opener and give you a renewed appreciation for life. With conditions now in our favour, all going well the team are on track to summit in two days’ time.
Everyone in the group sends a big smile and “hello” to all back home.
Trekking today to Kothe at an altitude of 3600m then to 4000m, after walking along the Inku river, it became more about the view than anything else. Spectacular peaks ranging up to 7000m in full sight, all were excited and astounded at the same time. Everyone in the group is acclimatising well to the conditions and in fantastic spirits. Again a big “hello” to all at home who are following along, with communication still very patchy and satellite phone our only option, it can be difficult to get our updates out.
Our next leg will be to Thangnak, at which time we will rest and acclimatise again.