Over the next few weeks I will join mountain guide, Kenton Cool, with a group trekking to Everest Basecamp from the south side. Kenton is a British climber and UIAGM mountain guide who has summited Everest (locally known as Sagarmartha) nine times and this trip he will attempt double figures. Our team have been training and fundraising for over 18 months now. Our journey with the group starts this weekend (1 April 2012) where we will meet in Kathmandu. A short but 'interesting' flight will take us to Lukla, 2650m and the start of our trail. We then take two weeks to walk steadily and gradually gaining height along the Khumbu Valley, through traditional villages, farming communities, across high cable bridge and where the only traffic are large woolly yaks transporting goods. The local people are so welcoming and friendly matched with unbeatable views. We will be staying in 'tea houses' which are family run mountain refuges which over the years are becoming pretty much like small hotels! It takes the unacclimatised over a week to trek in on good paths. Highlights include the colourful Sherpa Capital Namche Bazaar, 3400m which has busy cobbled streets, interesting shops and hosts a Tibetan market surrounded by breath taking panoramic views. On route we also climb to the famous Thyangboche Monastery, where we can soak up the history of the Lamas, which houses beautiful wall hangings, ornate carvings and a giant Buddha!
Spring time in the 'Khumbu' is the most reliable in terms of settled weather conditions for climbers to make successful attempts at climbing the world's heighest mountain, 8848m. The Basecamp, at 5300m, is still no walk in the park either. Height must be gained gradually to ensure successful acclimitisation for the body and to adjust to the reduced amounts of oxygen. Our team will spend two nights here and have the opportunity to find out what life on expedition is like. Here we will leave Kenton and two of our clients who's goal will be to climb to the summit. As I return back to Kathmandu with the rest of the team, Kenton and his 2 plan to make their mark in history, in more ways than one! I am looking forward to playing a part in a piece of mountaineering history in London's Olympic year READ ON......
Full Story from the British Mountaineering Council, by Ed Douglas:
A century after the first full Everest expedition, Kenton is taking an Olympic medal awarded to one of its members to the summit. He plans to fulfil the pledge made by Edward Lisle Strutt to leave an Olympic medal on the summit of Everest. The pledge was made at the closing ceremony of the first Winter Olympics held at Chamonix in 1924. Strutt was there to accept his medal as deputy leader on the first full Everest expedition in 1922. Although unsuccessful, the climbers reached 8,230 metres, smashing previous altitude records. The category ‘Alpinisme’ had always been part of Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of the modern Olympic Games, but no medal had been awarded until 1924. Coubertin and the International Olympic Committee decided that the Everest feat was worthy of Olympic recognition. By then, many of the climbers had left for the 1924 attempt, so Strutt accepted the other medals on their behalf. In doing so, as Coubertin recalled in his memoirs, this “courageous Englishman… swore to leave it next time at the top of the highest summit.”