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.
Bring on the next adventure.