– Silence fell. Oh, my, God, is slowly whispered ‘our first real sight of Mount Everest’
After the decision to climb Mount
Everest in 2014. Plans quickly fell into place. The expedition would be
led by Noel Hanna whom I had climbed with previously and have the utmost
respect and trust in. We fly to Kathmandu, hoping as we travel our bags also
follow, which surprisingly they did.
After a few days in Kathmandu and in all its dust, traffic congestion but friendly people we departed for Mount Everest Base Camp flying to Tibet. We traveled by bus in stages acclimatizing as we traveled staying at various towns not to rush our body physics. As we entered the Chomolungma National Park and having driven for 3 hours we cornered to take our first look at Mount Everest. Silence fell. Oh, My, God, is slowly whispered. Our first real sight of Mount Everest. It was towering. It was immense. It was full of wonder and intrigue. It was magnificent. The stage and challenge was set.
After a few days we were ready for acclimatisation rotations climbing from Base camp (BC) 5200 m through Intermediate Base Camp (IBC) at 5,800 m onto Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6400 m to North Col at 7,000m and edged to 7,300 m with no oxygen to complete the process. Acclimatisation takes time and patience as we climbed high and slept low. Altitude cannot be rushed.
Having returned to BC to rest and recover we were now firmly in the hands of Mother Nature. We needed a weather window. We needed the winds to fall, the temperature to rise and the snow not to return. May 23rd was a date identified as a real potential summit date. Experienced, calculated and a patient decision was made and we now had a date, finally. We moved on the 18th. Slowly through the lower camps to North Col at 7000 m where we paired up again with our Sherpa’s. They accompanied us to higher camps at 7,700 m onto 8,300 m, which is known as the Death Zone, waiting for our summit push confirmation. It was decided to move at midnight on the 23rd. I was so excited. I was so looking forward to it. I was so strong physically and mentally. I was ready. We left on time. I negotiated the various frightening steps as dawn broke. I passed through the 3rd step and onto the triangle. I was nearing the summit and feeling really well and strong. Rounding the corner stone the summit was in sight. I am standing on Top of the World. A
tiny pinnacle overlooking, well, everything !! But the job was only half done. I now had to negotiate my return to ABC. 80% of accidents and deaths happen on decent. The stark reminders (bodies) are prominent on decent. They kept me focused, alert and concentrating. Getting home alive to my family was priority. I reached ABC at 1500 hrs to much applaud, high fives, hugs and warm drinks. I was delighted. I was proud. I was emotional. I had done it. I am a Mount Everest summiteer.
The months and weeks of training and preparation had paid off. I had set a training schedule. I had a dream. I believed. And on 24th May at 6:30hrs Nepal time I achieved. I summited Mount Everest.
The physical strength required is a must but no more or less than mental strength. Mount Everest for me on reflection is 10% Mother Nature luck, 20% physical strength and 70% mental strength. I was in peak fitness but more I importantly I was mentally prepared for any situation having researched, having read and having spoken to many now fellow summiteers and my personal mental coach. I was ready. I was in the right place. I had put myself in the right place. I always felt I could succeed. I never ever thought at any stage that I would not summit. I was determined. I had once chance and I was doing everything I could to take that chance. We all have chances. We all don’t take them. I encourage you to take the opportunities, to take the help offered, to seek advice, and believe that dreams, goals and ambitions can in fact be reached. I did. I am a mere mortal like everyone else. I dreamed, I believed, I achieved.
I partnered with the mental health nationwide charity GROW which offers help and support for people affected and being affected by mental health issues. See www.grow.ie for more details. I’d like to thank my wife Michelle and family, for their unwavering support.