It has been a busy few days to say the least.
Firstly, our Chef, Sat Bains, suffered from Pulmonary Oedema and had to medically evacuated to Kathmandu - given what was to follow he has had the most adventure. However, to mark his leaving the team we held a full dress rehearsal of the dinner at Base Camp.
The following day we moved the team up to intermediate camp – a 10.5 km slog up the narrow paths, ascending 750 meters closer to our objective. Intermediate camp is a chaotic place where the climbers share the rare amount of flat land on the glacier with the yaks. The fruity smell is tolerable but the yaks crashing around between tents is a hazard that is as unexpected as it is dangerous.
The following day, Saturday, we began our move up to Advanced Base Camp in two groups – a faster team of 4 and the remaining 5 picking up some photographs on route. As such we had two different but similar experiences of what followed.
The route up the East Rongbuk Glacier follows the medial moraine with the spectacular Penitentes (Ice towers) left and right. The path is tough and, though undulating, it is a steady upward hike to the goal of Advanced Base Camp at 6,400 meters. This route is always at least 600 meters from the valley walls. At midday we felt the earthquake which initially felt like the glacier moving but as rock falls and avalanches started on either side it was clear it was a quake. This was followed by the ice towers cracking – all caught on camera by our cameraman Jon.
The noise of avalanche and rock fall passed and we headed on upwards.
On arrival at Advanced Base Camp we all set about making our camp, recovering from our climb and adapting to the new height and cold.
It was only at 18.30 hrs, when we gathered for dinner, that we heard the scale of the disaster on the south side of Everest and in Kathmandu. We were also informed that all the Chinese had pulled out of ABC at 18.00 hrs which, given that only 1 hour of daylight remained, caused speculation about potential aftershocks.
With limited communications from a single satellite phone we sent messages out to our loved ones to say we were safe. We helped our Sherpa team contact their families and were happy to hear that their families were safe although living in the open.
After an unsettled night we continued with the Puja ceremony as planned on the 26th. This is a moving ceremony for safe passage on the mountain and, with the north wall and Everest’s peak as our backdrop, one of life’s special memories.
We were in our mess tent about to have lunch when the second earth quake came through. Again, we were lucky as the positioning of ABC below a large cliff which has no snow build up or scree.
At the team meeting we discussed the situation and agreed that in light of the disaster it would be inappropriate to continue with our dinner party but focus on the other part of our mission to raise funds for the charity Community Action Nepal. Once agreed we settled down to enjoy our last few hours at 6,400 meters below the summit of Everest.
The move down to base camp is a tough 22 Km following a path down the glacier but then below large scree slopes and rock towers. This made the journey tougher as it required awareness of where one might seek safety if another aftershock occurred.
We got in to our base camp around 17.00 hrs on Monday. Other teams who had been at Base Camp the entire time updated us on the rock falls around the camp, the fact that no injuries had been sustained and the wider news of the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Kathmandu and Nepal.
We are now waiting in Base Camp for further news as our equipment is still all up the mountain. We will shortly be joined by our summit team who spent an additional night at Advanced Base Camp. A high ranking Chinese official is due to arrive late afternoon and explain what the official authorities have decided to for this climbing season.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal and fellow climbers who are still stuck on the south side of Everest.
Blog by Adrian Bridge
Listen here to the BBC interview with Dee Sebastian and Neil Laughton from the #worldshighestdinnerparty team currently at Everest Advanced Base Camp.
"In the light of the tragic events unfolding in Kathmandu and on Mount Everest, we have decided to abandon our World's Highest Dinner party attempt and are returning to Base Camp.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this disaster and we will continue to raise funds for the charity Community Action Nepal."
Deri Llewellyn-Davies phoned from the sat phone today to confirm that him & the team are all fine. They had left Base Camp when the earthquake hit Nepal. They felt the tremors but none of their team are hurt.
They are currently at Advanced Base Camp and are making their way back to Base Camp. Deri sent us this voice message (click here to listen everest update) and to say that the team thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
With the excitement of Lhasa over, the team was now ready to focus on the three day drive to base camp. The total distance was 700 kilometres with a 1500 meter height gain, although progress was slightly frustrated by the plethora of police speed traps and checks points, which seemingly undid any benefit of laying down their new asphalt road. Despite the frustrations of driving at 40kph on a straight and empty road, we arrived at our first stop Shigatse in time to visit the monastery, and were treated to witnessing the chanting local monks. They say that if anything, Tibet is remembered for its spirituality and admittedly, it was impossible not to be transported somewhere unique, calming and peaceful when walking through the rows of ruby red monks swaying and chanting in unison. That evening we went for another team meal at a Tibet family restaurant, recommended by our faithful guide, the Lonely Planet. The food was nice enough, but the Trip Advisor 'atmosphere' scores were surprised somewhat due to the family of rats that were running past our eye line on the shelves, up the wooden joists to the ceiling and across the felt ceiling cover above our heads. When we pointed them out to the waitresses, they simply stood in front of them and giggled. Then proceeded 10 minutes of banter about ordering some ratatouille and other topical gags about Welsh airports - don't ask.
The second day of travel was similar, and the third, after a shorter drive and a stop of at a local hot spring for a wash and a natural sauna, saw us arrive at Everest Base Camp. A sprawling mass of yellow tents on the Tibetan plateau at 5200m in the shadow of Sagarmatha, (the Goddess Mother of the Earth no-less) is a magnificent sight. We were met by our Sherpa team and our guide Ted, who was wearing an interesting looking fur jacket. On enquiring on where he got the jacket from, we were told the story of how he made it, after picking up the material from a charity supply boat when he was working on a Naval vessel following an earthquake in the Antarctic. Such stories are common place with the sorts of people of this expedition and I love it.
Following a confidence boosting briefing from Ted we were shown to our tents. All were delighted by the standard of hospitality, the tent light and solar charge station, the toilet tent (with seat) and shower tent. Most agreed it was more comfortable the previous night's hotel.
So after a couple of nights sleep here, despite some sickness and headache which is expected at this stage, the whole team is in good spirits and looking forward to making our first steps on the path up to ABC. We are all missing our friends and family, although have been lucky enough to get access to some Chinese phone network which allows for FaceTime and sending emails. We shall make the most of this before we set off up the mountain. Thank you all for your messages of support and good luck. And thanks again to our sponsors for making this trip possible.
Blog by: Adam Mason
Despite the visa troubles, the various national and international flights and the not-so-clean cross-China train journeys, we all somehow managed to arrive healthy and safely in Tibet's capital city, Lhasa. We convened in the lobby for a team briefing and were introduced to our Chinese guide, Phil, who was uncanny in his likeness to Short Round from the Indiana Jones films. We had a couple of days in Lhasa for some cultural orientation which included the famous Dali Lama palace and an awe inspiring monastery with reams of pilgrims trudging round the circuit and polishing the stone floors with their prayer routines.
With the day time culture accounted for, it is fair to say that the team made the most of the Tibetan night life. On occasions it felt like we were on a stag do, with eight excitable blokes around the dinner table eating Yak steaks and drinking the local Lhasa beer. The doctors appeal to the local women had proved to be not just a one off, with scores of locals queuing up to have their photo taken with him and giggling in gaggles in the corner of the bar. Keith's modesty and hopes of keeping a low profile were dashed when we decided to tell everyone he was Don Henley, the lead singer of the Eagles. This ruse was particularly effective in the late bar which had live music. On hearing of the presence of a rock legend his bar, the owner supplied us with free alcohol and the bar turned into some sort of Music Awards after party. The game was nearly up when the Doc was pressed to get on stage and treat the audience to some authentic acoustic Eagles, but the old line about 'a sore throat' seemed to do the trick and he got away with tapping some bongos out of time to the house band. A smilier evening followed the next day, then it was all eyes down to focus on the start of the journey proper.
Blog by: Adam Mason
The Everest Summit & Dinner Party team (minus Duncan, Adam, Adrian & Ted) met at Heathrow Terminal 5 on Tuesday 7th April and were immediately roped into giving blood for a medical research programme into the affects of altitude. We also had a minor battle with our excess baggage.
Last week we were so pleased to be featured in the Times newspaper & Vigour which you can read more about here: