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Posts Tagged ‘climbing Mt. Snowdon’

And finally…I did actually push myself today and managed to finish this challenge

On the border of Nepal and Tibet (autonomous region of China), standing proudly at 29,032ft (8,848m) is Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world and crown jewel of the Himalayas. First summitted in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Everest has since been summitted by over 5,700 people a staggering 10,000+ times. Of course like any high risk activity, accidents and deaths do occur and in the last century just over 300 people have lost their lives on Everest. Although Everest has 17 different routes to the summit, only two of them are primarily used: the North Ridge route from Tibet and Southeast Ridge from Nepal.

As the air continued to thin the remainder of the climb was done with supplemental oxygen, using a full face mask with a rubber tube that connected my mask to a metal cylinder that held the oxygen tucked inside my backpack. The cylinder had a regulator on top that controlled the flow of oxygen.

Heading out from Camp 3 at sunrise I made my way up steep terrain for about 500ft (150m), traversed to a strip of limestone known as Yellow Band, across a stratified (layered) rock-ledge and up a 200ft (60m) at 40 degree angle stepped rock cresting the Geneva Spur. Following a rocky path I arrived at South Col (Camp 4) and had my first view of Everest’s peak. The true summit wasn’t visible from here but I could see most of the route to the South Summit (the secondary summit).

South Col was a waypoint for the final stretch at an elevation of 26,000ft (7,925m). Here I ate what little I could ingest as my appetite waned (a common problem at high altitude as the body no longer metabolises food efficiently), rested and waited for the night to roll in. Most climbers will depart for the summit between 10pm and 2am and take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours to reach the summit.

Wanting to catch the sunrise just before 5am, I checked my gear, put my headlamp on and headed across a broad plateau before ascending the steep 40 degree Triangular Face to the Balcony, a resting platform at 27,500ft (8,380m). Many of the early climbing teams including Edmund Hillary, put in a higher camp here in order to give them a shorter time to the summit and more time to climb in the warmth of the sun. Nowadays it’s rarely used. I took the opportunity to change my oxygen bottle, rest, eat and hydrate.

Once I crossed over 26,246ft (8,000m), I was technically in what is known as the “Death Zone”, where the oxygen is so thin that it is unable to sustain human life. Up here the oxygen level is 33% of what is available at sea level. At this altitude the body uses up its oxygen stores faster than it can replenish and without supplemental oxygen the body deteriorates and shuts down. That is not to say that experienced climbers haven’t succeeded in reaching the summit without supplemental oxygen. In 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first climbers to summit without bottled oxygen. A mere 0.02% have succeeded to summit without oxygen since.

From the Balcony the route took a slight left on gentle terrain till the route moved north and I was met with a 200ft (60m) slab of steep rock and snow terrain. Clipped into my fixed line, I pulled myself up using a jumar (ascending device) and in some exceptional steep sections my crampon points were precariously placed on jutting rock, strongly hoping they wouldn’t slip. It didn’t end here. When I made it above the slab, I was met with an even steeper section with a 60 degrees incline but thankfully it was shorter at around 100ft (30m).

Cresting the South Summit, I stopped for a short hydration break and a snack. From here the next section was a 20ft (6m) vertical drop, followed by the Cornice Traverse, a knife edge-like ridge-crossing to what was once known as Hillary Step. The Step was a nearly vertical rock face of 39ft (12m) and a technically difficult climb but it was destroyed when the region was struck by an earthquake in 2015. What was left were snow steps at 45 degree angles. It was debatable whether this was an easier way to climb but the real loss was the “Hillary Step monument”, a testament to Hillary and Tenzing’s success as the first summiteers.

With the end in sight, it took a further 20minutes to reach the pinnacle of the world. Adorned in prayer flags the summit at 29,032ft (8,848m) was a breathtaking 360 degree view of mountain peaks, glaciers and valleys. I watched the sun rise, casting an orange-red hue across the diminishing night sky as I reflected at the magnitude of this journey.

In Edmund Hillary’s words: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

And on that note, I’m reminded that for me its about the adventures I have with my walking and over the last 4 years, I have truly conquered quite a lot, albeit not Mt. Everest, I’ve climbed my fair share of mountains – both actual and metaphorical.

Done and dusted

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mt. Everest, and even though it sounds absolutely amazing, I’m still not in the least interested in actually climbing Mt. Everest…I’ll leave that to someone else πŸ˜‰πŸ§—β€β™€οΈπŸ§—β€β™€οΈπŸ§—β€β™€οΈ

Onwards.

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