Claire Burgess’s Blog

(Failing) Down

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on August 3, 2010

Day 11- Thursday 20th May

Today started so much easier than the previous. We started by being woken by building work and a very noisy cockerel but everyone had more energy. We only had 5 hours trekking 8km from Kyangjuma to Chumua.

We now have 70% oxygen, and with more and more oxygen as we’re coming down it all gets easier. We stopped for lunch at Namche Bazar. We looked around the stalls and the boys went to sample goods from every bakery – all 4 of them. They spent lots of time talking about food. We all do.

I started to feel a bit sick so had to have a lunchtime sleep. This may be a side effect of the diomax. Apparently you can also get some altitude sickness coming down.

After lunch we trekked down past the police check point which was like a shed. Weirdly someone had stuck a mug shot photo of a white man on the outside. He looked like something out of Rogue Traders.

We trekked on through the afternoon and I managed to cut my knee and rip my trousers. I was tired and being dopey and now I have a scare to remind me of the trip.

We got to the tea house to find lots of building work going on and lots and lots of noise. It sounded like the roof was going to fall in on us. Luckily building work like lots of things stops after dark.

I can’t believe tomorrow we will be back in Lukla where it all started.

I was walking along this afternoon and slipped on the sandy path. Often you can skid on the paths because they are so sandy. Luckily I stopped before I fell off the cliff. It all happened in slow motion and luckily our guide Dawa appeared just in time.

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Kala Patthar

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 9- Tuesday 18th May

Today was a hellish day.  We got up at 3.30am to go to the top of Kala Patthar which is 5500 metres and only has 50 % oxygen.  This is higher than Everest Base Camp.  We all set off in the dark with our head torches on.  It was so hard getting out of the most comfortable bed we had had so far and then when we got outside it almost felt claustrophobic because we could only see where the light was shining in the path.

We walked for about 45 minutes through the cold and cloud when our guide Dawa said the weather was too bad to see Everest or the sun rise so we would only be trekking for the height.  Jemma, Jenny and I were only going for the view, so he told us we could go back if we wanted.  We turned around with one of the guides Krishna and headed back to bed.  Krishna forgot his key so ran back to the group and back again.  We got back to the house and I climbed back into bed.  I had just shut my eyes when there was a frantic knock at the door.  It was Bebek.  He said the weather had cleared up and we should go back.  So we did!

We left again at around 5.30am and managed to drag ourselves up there.  My legs felt like lead and it was like trying to breathe through a straw. Amazingly, I made it up there last but only around 15 minutes behind those that left at 4am.

The view was amazing.  You could see Everest and right across the valley.  I would totally recommend it even though it is a bit of a battle.

By the time we got back to the Tea House it was 8am and I was all out of energy even though we now had 6 hours walking down towards Luklar to do.  Every part of me hurt, especially my knees.  Our guide Dawa literally dragged me along.  Will gave me the mantra F.I.D.O. (from the Marines) which means “Fight It, Drive On.”  All I knew was that I just had to keep going so I could find a bed to sleep.  We were heading to Pheruche which is at 4270 metres and at least had more oxygen at 57%

We lost one of our team today.  Rob had an emergency and managed our 6 hour trek with Krishna in just 2 hours.  He then headed straight to Lukla.  The group hasn’t been the same without him and really miss him cheering us all up and being daft.

Towards the end of the day the clouds came rolling in and it felt like we were walking right through them.  The landscape also started to look more like Scotland than Nepal as the wind whipped around the valley.

I got a massive blister on my little toe from all the downhill walking which is starting to feel more difficult than uphill.  This can’t compare to the porters I saw today carrying so many planks of wood uphill.  I don’t know how they manage.  Some of them look so young.

You will be pleased to know that I had another shower today. Whoop whoop! It was freezing cold though after and I had to sleep with all my clothes on!

The Last Road to Base Camp

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 8- Monday 17th May

So in the end we were up at 4.30am after vertually no sleep because it was freezing cold even with all my clothes on. For breakfast I had ordered Peanut Butter on toast. I have a massive weakness for the stuff and was so surprized to see it there I had even been dreaming about eating it. Sadly, when we got up for breakfast they had ran out! Ah well, we are on the side of a mountain so these things do happen. It’s only when someone climbs with all the supplies can they get new stock.

After breakfast at 5.30am we headed from Lambuche to Gorekeshp. This was a 3hrs walk across the glacier as the sun was coming up. It was so tiring and seemed like we were walking for an age. The sun coming up was a lovely site though and it was just hard to take in the site of the glacier around us. Although, as we walked everyone became a little distracted as our minds turned to base camp.

We stopped at Gorkeshep for an early lunch and in time to meet a group of Columbians who were celebrating. They had just had two of their team reach the Summit. It had taken 6 months of planning and trekking. It was so amazing to finally meet people who were part of a team who had made it. It was absolutely, amazing then she told us that one of the climberes had a prostetic leg. It was so emotional that we were all holding back tears. I think everyone around the table then wondered if what we were doing could even compare?

After a massive plate of roast potatoes and a trip to what can only be described as the worst most stoumarch renchingly awful toilet I have been to in my life, We set of for our final 3hr trek to Base Camp. I can’t actually believe I’m writing this. We have made it so far. All of us, only 3 hrs from Everest Base Camp.

They felt like the longest 3hrs ever. I was struggling and got a bit of a head ache. I was really thinking I wouldn’t make it. I dragged myself there with the aid of Wine Gums and just using my poles, putting one front in front of the other. 1hour and 1/2 into the walk Will’s sole came away from his walking boots. No one was surprized being as he got them for £30 in Kathmandu. Hr still had 1 1/2hrs to go until base camp. Wondering what he was going to do with his food flapping around when Jenny produced a packet of hair bands and he fastened the sole together. Genius!

I totally didn’t know what to expect but at the same time I did have a picture in my mind of what I thought it would be. It wasn’t like that at all. We made it to 5364 meters and were now at 51% oxygen.  We were at Base Camp!

There was a Base Camp sign and we all stood by to have our photo. a memento to show how far we had come. The sign was all wrapped in peace flags and memorials of others that had made it, and those who hadn’t. We could see the tents of those waiting to climb to Camp 1.

A few of us had a shot of Fred’s Everest Whiskey to celebrate that we had made it. It’s hard to discribe how happy we were to make it after so long. Rob celebrated by giving us a performance of Cheryl Cole’s Fight For This Love. It was so random it was helriaous.

I even managed to get a photo of Harry Hill’s Knitted Character at the top. I can’t wait to send it in to TV Burp.  I feel really proud that we made it. After all the madness, worrying and of course walking Rob said to Jemma and I today that “when some people drink too much they come home with a road sign or a traffic cone, you ended up here.”

Maybe we shouldn’t have but we a couple of small rocks as a momento and got ready to leave. It was so hard to go knowing that what we had come all this way to see this and now we were going.  We turned around and headed back to Gorkershep which is at 5180 meters and 52% oxygen. On the way back I had a great chat with Nick about travels and The Beatles which made the journey back fly by. Maybe, that was because I was still feeling high from what we had done.

Back at the Tea House we are all shattered. The boys are playing cards with Dawa and we are sitting huddled around the stove chatting. Early night for us though as tomorrow we are up at 4am to watch the sunrise over Everest on the summit of Kalapater which is 5500 meters. Night Night.

I’m off to climb Mount Everest

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Everest, Fun, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on May 3, 2010

This Thursday I’m off to Nepal to climb to Everest Base Camp so I though I would do some posts about everything I have been doing in preparation. This might help you out if you are planning a trip there as I was totally confused by all the information online. It also means you can come along with me for the ride and enjoy it all from the comfort of your own computer.

I decided to go to climb Everest with some close friends I used to live in Thailand with, Jemma and Jenny. When we were in Thailand in 2004 Jemma met a group of travelers who had been traveling for years to locations all over the globe. She asked them “Where is the best place you’ve been to?” They all agreed it was Everest Base Camp. And then in September Jemma got us together and asked if we wanted to go and see what all the fuss was about. Because I don’t like to back down from a challenge (and because I had drunk far too much Rose) I agreed! God knows why? I have absolutely no climbing experience and apart from the marathon I ran 2 years ago and the half marathon I did last year, I have never really been too into keeping fit.

Anyway, peer pressure aside, we signed up to STA’s Everest Adventure which you can find here

This is a 15 day trip which should mean that we aren’t going up too quickly. The trip accommodates around 12 people and because we booked early only cost us just over £500 not including flights. After a lot of research I found that one of the cheapest ways to fly to Katmandu was to go via Dubai. Luckey, I have friends there but even so you can get direct flights from London to Dubai for very reasonable prices if you book in advance or check Travel Supermarket then change onto a Dubai Budget Airline Fly Dubai for the Dubai-Kathmandu leg. This meant our flights came in at £450 return and we even get to stop in Dubai for a night out en-route. We are going to spend a few days in Kathmandu before we start to get over any jet lag and get ourselves acclimatised and a few days after to let our hair down and recover.

There are lots of different treks around but lots of people seem to recommend STA. I will let you know how I found it when I get back. Here’s the itinerary for the trek that we have been given by them:

Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu

Arrive in Kathmandu at any time.

Day 2-4 Pakding/ Namche Bazaar

Heading through pine and cedar woods along the Dudh Kosi to Pakding, encounter your first yak caravans carrying trekking equipment and supplies – including yours – towards base camp. Spend a day acclimatizing in Thame. Intricately carved mani stones mark the path to this large valley.

Day 5 Tengboche

Leaving Namche, the route is unbelievably beautiful. Hike through Sherpa villages and forests of fir and rhododendron to reach Tengboche Monastary, home to Tengboche Rinpoche, a Lama incarnate.

Day 6-7 Dingboche

Walk through alpine meadows of scrub juniper and wild flowers. From Dingboche, the mountain views are outstanding. Hike up the Imja Khola. The fluted ice walls flanking the Amphu Lapcha pass are one of the highlights of the trek.

Day 8-10 Lobuche/ Everest Base Camp

Climbing above the tree line, cross alpine pastures and glacial moraine to reach Everest Base Camp where colourful expedition tents give a bizarre appearance to this desolate place surrounded by walls of rock, snow and ice.

Day 11-13 Tengpoche/ Mongo/ Lukla

Descend the Imja Khola past Pangboche, the highest permanent settlement. Its gompa, the oldest in Khumbu, is built over the hermitage of Khumbu’s saint Lama Sanga Dorje.

Day 14 Kathmandu

You made it! Take a well-deserved rest and enjoy one last day with your fellow trekkers in this bustling city.

Day 15 Depart Kathmandu