Success!! On May 25th at 10.50am I summitted Mt Everest without using supplemental oxygen! I am now back in Kathmandu (no working internet in the Khumbu when I got down!), fit and well, if a little tired, bearded and sunburned.
Before I get into the story let me take this moment to thank my parents, family, friends, the IMG team, my Sherpa guide Thunang and of course everyone reading this blog – YOU. Without your support and belief it wouldn’t have happened.
It had been a pretty wild ride since I left base camp 14 days ago! Let me start at the beginning, with a slight detour that set the tone for the summit bid!
The first drama occured before I had even started on the first stage of the summit rotation! At 3am we left Base Camp for Camp 2 at 6,500m/21,600ft, crossing the gravel-covered Khumbu glacier towards the place we attach out crampons (descriptively called ‘crampon point’), Going over one of the little ice ridges in the dark I slipped on some clear refrozen ice and went crashing down, putting my hand out to brace myself. That was a mistake, and I knew straight away I’d done something to it – a strange moment when I just sat there not wanting to move because I didn’t want to know if I’d broken something. Eventually, when I gave it a wiggle it seemed to do the right things, yet it also didn’t feel right and hurt quite a bit.
Sitting there I was almost in shock that my summit bid could be over before it had begun, and for such a daft reason! It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had, almost a despair that all the time, energy and effort had gone to waste; that it had all been for nothing. I had probably just thrown away my one chance in a single innocuous moment. That said, I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Tentatively I got back up, “shook it off”, and continued to climb the icefall to Camp 2!
It hurt a lot, but at least for the gripping / pulling motions needed for climbing I could still function well enough, or use my left hand instead. For other motions like picking things up it was agony but those weren’t needed to climb! Perhaps I wasn’t done with this summit bid yet, so at Camp 2 I iced it and stuck with the plan. I also didn’t tell anyone – I figured I’d do that if and when it became a problem. Fortunately it wasn’t!
EPILOGUE – When I got back to base camp one of the Himalayan Rescue Association doctors (a Harvard trained ER doctor no less!) took a look at at. It IS fractured! My first broken bone as well.
So I am probably one of the few people to summit Everest with a broken wrist. Why make it easy, eh! 😀
Stay tuned for the next installment!