About Us

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Ed is a fireman, Ad is a doctor, and we are both mad keen climbers. Ed is a rock warrior, and a great all rounder too, Ad is steady at all disciplines, but particularly loves the hardships of winter climbing and mountaineering. He keeps fit running and on the bike. We are both from Shrewsbury, where the nearest we have to a climbing club is the shop 'Highsports'. The owner, Stuart is a famous climber and mountaineer, and keeps us locals psyched with a great shop, a great website ( http://www.highsports.co.uk/ ) and a great winter lecture series. Mad for it!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Nuptse attempt

Although I’d originally come to Nepal with the aim of climbing Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world, just before leaving the UK another idea was voiced. Tim Mosedale, our expedition leader, had heard that Guy Cotter, from Adventure Consultants, might have a client trying to climb ‘The Triple Crown’, Everest, Lhotse AND Nuptse, all in the same season. If so this would mean fixed ropes on all three mountains, and the possibility for us to also have a crack. After a bit of enquiring we confirmed this to be the case, and so during my trek to basecamp I began frantically trying to sort out additional permits with the Nepalese ministry of tourism. 

I figured that if any one of the the peaks fell through it would still be worth being on the permits and having a go. Nuptse is in the top highest mountains in the world and stands at 7,861 m. It receives very little attention primarily owing to its two big sisters (Everest and Lhotse, both over 8,000 m) being in such close proximity and stealing all the lime-light. However even its easiest route is far more technical than the standard routes on Everest and Lhotse. This, coupled with the fact that its vastly long summit ridge has many false summits, means that apparently it’s only officially been submitted around 20 times. An exciting objective indeed.  And if Nuptse fell through then the Everest-Lhotse high traverse would be a cool objective, as it doesn’t get done very often at all compared with the number of people who just come along to get to the top of the big one!

If we could pull off all three summits it would be a very rare achievement - Kenton Cool and Dorje Gyalgen were the first and only pair to ever complete the feat, back in 2013 after I’d just got home from Everest. Apparently they reached a false summit on Nuptse and so weren’t credited by the Himalayan Database, but nonetheless it was an incredible feat of high altitude endurance, which the UK mainstream press had a frenzy over. I remember being amazed when I read about it, and I certainly never thought I’d get the opportunity to have a go myself. As well as myself and Tim, Jon Gupta (a very good friend of mine from my last Everest expedition) and his client ‘Strong Steve’ (Steve Plain) we’re also keen and would be fit coming off the back of their record breaking Seven Summits attempt. 

So, with permits arranged, we liaised with Guy and his client Kahshin, and got the news at the end of April that the fixing on Nuptse was nearly complete and there looked like a weather window on 2nd May. This was nice and early and wouldn’t get in the way of any Everest or Lhotse attempt. I was midway through my final acclimatisation rotation at the time so I opted to stay high at Camp 2 and wait for the weather, whilst the others (Tim, Jon and Steve) decided to get a couple of days extra rest down at Basecamp. In hindsight I’m not sure which was the best option, but I know that after about a week above 6,400m I was (and still am) feeling pretty goosed. 

With all of us now up at camp 2, we didn’t have the ideal start. Jon and I had seen Guy and Kahshin on 30th April to check if things would be ready for us to start the next day, but the fixing team were tired out so we were told we needed to delay a day and wait until 2nd May. So on 1st May, we wasted the day playing cards, but at about 3pm to our great surprise we saw a load of people across the valley making their way to the start of the route! We radioed Guy to find that he’d been trying to contact us all day to tell us the weather now looked bad for 3rd, so we would need to leave immediately! We needed to get to high camp that night, and then set out in the middle of the night to try summiting on 2nd. We frantically got our things together, and raced around the top of the Western Cwm to high camp for about 7pm, feeling exhausted! We made food and drank as much as we could, and then would have a few hours to ‘sleep’ before setting out.  In the rush to pack Tim and I had opted for one sleeping bag to drape over the two of us. This made for an intensely cold few hours despite some vigorous spooning! Needless to say I got no sleep whatsoever!

We ended up leaving around 2am, about an hour after Guy and Kahshin. I was trying to climb without supplementary oxygen, just to see if I could. The route was immediately steep right from the tents, and initially followed an exciting, sharp, snowy ridge. The moonlight revealed a huge drop to both sides, and beneath us back to the tents. I just about managed to keep up with Tim, on oxygen, but found it really exhausting. Jon and Steve had left 15-20 mins after us and caught us after a couple of hours, Steve on oxygen and Jon also without. The four of us gradually began to catch up with Guy and Kashin. 

The route was very challenging despite the fixed ropes (each was only secured by one piece of protection, which is usually a bit of a no no when climbing). The main challenge was the sustained steepness, which didn’t let up for the entire route. But also the snow was soft and useless and often overlying bullet hard ice or rounded granite. I usually have a rule to only use fixed ropes as a backup, or for balance, as I don’t like to trust the anchors, but on this terrain it was full body weight on the ropes most of the way up! It was very hard going, especially without supplementary oxygen, but whilst I was still on an upward trajectory I was tempted to keep going without. 

Eventually the ridge terminated and we reached steep mixed ground. The sun began to rise, revealing the most spectacular views back down to the Western Cwm, and of Everest and Lhotse. We caught Guy and Kahshin around 7am. The winds had picked up and the fixing Sherpas above us were struggling to see through the wind-propelled snow flurry. We spent 45 minutes huddled on the side of a slope discussing their situation over the radio, trying to decide whether or not to continue. I got cold whilst waiting so decided to start using the oxygen I was carrying. Eventually the wind calmed and we received news from basecamp that the weather was set to improve further through the morning, so we pressed on...

Another couple of hours passed and the views kept getting better and better, which was some consolation for the difficulty of the climb up in the thin air. The summit was getting tantalisingly close and we could see the angle starting to ease off just above. Unfortunately, however, the Sherpas up above (who by this point we had nearly caught up with) had come across dangerous snow on the summit slopes, and were beginning to tire after this, and their previous days of rope fixing. After some deliberation on the mountainside we had to make the difficult call to turn around, only about 200m from the summit. 

It only took a few hours to get back down to high camp, with a combination of steep arm-wraps and abseils. We were really tired arriving back at high camp, but the thought of another night sharing a sleeping bag was enough to spur us on to camp 2 in the Western Cwm. 

Of course it was a huge blow having got so close to the summit but not quite made it, but it definitely felt like we made the correct decision. It was still an amazing day out with some of the most remarkable views I’ve ever seen, that I’m sure will stay with me for a very long time. I’m hugely grateful to the fixing and climbing Sherpa’s, without whose help we would not have got to where we did, and also to Adventure Consultants, and my climbing buddies Tim, Jon and Steve. And now, back down at base camp, it’s time to rest and recuperate, and who knows what the rest of the season out here will bring...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Arrived at basecamp...

We’re nearly three weeks into our expedition to the Everest region. It’s been great getting to know the rest of the team and enjoying the trek to basecamp. 

We’ve been at basecamp for about four days now. As well as just settling in we’ve done a trip up to Pumori basecamp to gain a bit of height, a bit of rope work practice on the glacier, and today I’ve pootled down to Gorak Shep on an ‘active rest day’ for internet (there’s no climbing today as it’s the anniversary of the 2014 avalanche into the icefall). 

Tim Mosedale is running a superb expedition, as always, with the perfect balance of fun and seriousness where needed. Most people on the team are trying Everest, including Strava Athlete Rupert Jones Warner who is trying to beat the speed record for climbing Everest from the South and North in the same season (currently 7 days). Also sharing our basecamp is Australian Steve Plain, who is close to finishing the fastest ever completion of The Seven Summits. 

It’s great to be back, and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks heading higher up into the mountains. 

For briefer updates and photos follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram or Strava.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Adam is back in the Khumbu

This year I’m going to try climbing Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. I’ve wanted to try it ever since the views I had from Everest’s South Summit. It looks amazing. Today we flew to Lukla after a very brief stop in Kathmandu yesterday, and we’ve trekked up to Monjo. It’s great to be back in a cosy tea house in Nepal! We should be getting to base camp around 15th April. For briefer updates and photos follow me on Facebook, TwitterInstagram or Strava.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The summit blog!

Well, we'll, well. What an exciting couple of weeks its been in Everest land! Sorry this is such a long blog, but there's a lot I want to recall for myself, even if no one else is going to read it... If you want a shortened version just scroll down to the summit description near the bottom....

When I last blogged we had already been tipped off about a brief weather window in early May, but you can't really go shouting about it online, in case other teams are following your blog and decide to use you as a weather forecast! Usually the best weather starts in mid May, so it was a long shot, but in an attempt to avoid the crowds we set off on our summit attempt on 8th May. Many of the sherpas on our team had gone down the valley for a rest before the main weather windows in mid may, which meant that only a couple of our team could set off this early - myself and Tim Mosedale, the expedition leader, were the lucky ones who were deemed to be the most well acclimatised. 

Progress went well through the icefall for the final time. Tim and I made a steady ascent straight to camp 2 at 6,400m - Tim was carrying an extremely heavy pack for his summit 'project' to make the first face time call from the top! I got loads of videos and photos of the icefall, which is still one of my favourite parts of the route. I'll try to put together a short film with all the footage I got.

Bad weather hit again at camp 2 and we were forced to spend an extra night there - all the ups and downs with the weather forecast meant I could never get too optimistic that the final summit window would appear, but still the fingers remained firmly crossed!

On 10th May we got the all clear to progress to camp 3 on the lhotse face. This was our first time fully kitted out in down suits and summit boots, which was an exciting reminder that this was the final push to the top! That night at camp 3 (7,200m) we were supplied with oxygen to help our sleep but I wanted to see if I could do without and it was fine.

The next morning we set out for camp 4 on the south col (8,000m - the final camp before the summit). We made speedy progress up the top of the lhotse face. I was on oxygen for the first time which was a great experience - it makes a huge difference! In fact I turned it right down to the minimum because it was making me go to quickly, and I didn't want to arrive on the south col by myself! There were high winds forecasted for the afternoon, but they were due to die down again in the evening so we could go for the summit straight away.

This was my first time this high and all onward progress meant an ever increasing high point. At 7,600m is an intrusion of yellow streaks of rock - the yellow band. This provided interesting climbing after snowy face climbing. After that another few hundred meters of snowy face climbing brings you to the geneva spur, more rocky scrambling which lies just below the south col. It was so awesome to be on these famous landmarks high on Everest. 

The weather was starting to turn windy and snowy by this point, but I was feeling super strong with the oxygen. The first sherpa and I arrived at the south col and got a tent up just in time before a huge storm started. The rest of the team arrived an hour or so later and dived into another tent that was hurriedly erected in the growing winds. The winds continued to rise way beyond what was forecasted and they didn't die down when they were supposed to either - it became perfectly obvious we would not be setting out for the summit that evening. In fact we spent one of the gnarliest nights I've ever had anywhere, with gusts flattening the tents, and snow being driven through all the tent zips so that even getting the stove going was near impossible!

After a savage night the weather improved a bit the next day, so we drank like crazy to rehydrate, and tried to get as much rest as possible hoping to go for the summit that night. We were very low on food due to the unplanned night the night before, but luckily on the way back from collecting ice for melting I came across a load of abandoned food (it's just too much effort for people to take down unused stuff from that altitude) - the highlight was a huge tin of cooked ham, which Tim and I devoured!

That afternoon the anticipation mounted - 24 hours after planned, the winds were still high so we knew a summit push would be bloody hard work - but we all felt strong and we knew that it would mean not many people would go for it and so we would avoid the dangerous queues of people for which Everest has become so infamous.....  we got the go ahead from base camp to go for it... GAME ON!

We spent the last few hours nervously preparing as the afternoon light faded. I was so excited. Little things take a long time at that altitude... We had to dress in our suits, put our huge boots on, keep drinking, make sure all our hand and feet warming kit was ready to go, keep melting ice and drinking even more, pack rucksacks with oxygen and water, fit our crampons... And finally there was nothing left to do except get out of the tent into the cold, windy night, and start on the finally leg of our journey...

We set out at 10pm on 12th May. There were a couple of head torches ahead which we quickly overtook. I found out yesterday that my Sherpa turned my oxygen right down to keep me under control! He and I kicked steps up energy sapping powder snow which had been dumped the previous night. We climbed like this for hours in the pitch darkness with just a small white bubble in front of us from our head torches. This was undoubtedly the hardest part of the whole climb - endless step kicking in the dark - but one of those situations were you just have to keep our head down, enjoy the suffering, and just get on with it.

After what seemed like an eternity, we came to the top of an enormous slope and turned left. Mentally this was a turning point for me, because I knew we had just passed a feature called the balcony, the first landmark for hours. I knew that meant we were at about 8,500m and over half way through the summit push. Even though the left turn meant that the driving wind and snow was now in our faces I felt even stronger now, knowing where we were... I knew I was going to do it, and from then on it was pure exhilaration and enjoyment for the rest of the night...

After the balcony you follow a steep ridge which felt excitingly exposed even in the dark. This lead eventually to another snowy face beneath the south summit. It was at this point that the first signs of light emerged on the horizon... It started with a thin green-blue band over a black landscape, adding just a hint of perspective to our position on the mountain - I can't even describe the sense of vastness behind us, it felt like being in outer space.  Then eventually the thin green band widened and the horizon lit up, revealing a whole world beneath us which we hadn't been able to see before. The clouds seemed so far below, with giant peaks poking up through them, but still far, far below. As we continued up towards the south summit the giant 8,000m peaks of Makalu and Lhotse lit up orange behind us. Truly breathtaking.

On the top of the south summit the final summit pyramid is suddenly revealed for the first time - you can finally see the top! I hope I will never forget this beautiful image. I had seen it in posters and photos so many times, and now I was there, about to tread the same steps as so many of my heroes, and it was even more beautiful in real life than I had hoped... What an immense privilege to be in this special place on earth.

The final hour involved a stunning alpine style ridge between the south summit and the main summit pyramid. I climbed the Hilary Step, a dream of mine for years, and all the time marvelled at the immense beauty of my surroundings, far below. 

And then, as if in a dream I made the final few steps to the top of the world. 6.40am, Monday 13th May, 2013.

I was immediately hit by a huge wave of emotion. I was there. Years of planning at its conclusion. And the rest of the world below looking so incredibly beautiful. I thought about Ellen at home in a warm bed - I didn't feel any tiredness, I just knew I had to get home safely to be with her. I thought about my mum up here in the heavens, I hope she'd have been proud. 

After hugging the other three or four climbers on the summit and a few photos we began to make our way down. It was incredibly cold and the wind chill made it about -40 degrees, so after allowing myself a brief emotional pause on the summit, it was back into climbing mode and the descent was rapid and uneventful. I was back at the south col camp two or three hours later, a twelve hour round trip.

The weather deteriorated again that afternoon so I had to spent another night at the south col in a storm (this time without oxygen). Gnarly. The next day I went as quickly and safely as I could from the south col at 8,000m down to base camp at 5,300m. That was on Tuesday - the next day, in a bizarre turn of events, I ended up on a helicopter from base camp to Kathmandu with an ill climber and a couple of mates who'd also been to the summit - I've never been on a chopper before, and after summiting Everest this has to rank as one of the coolest things I've done. The Everest valley is even more beautiful from them sky! What an amazing couple of days!

And now I'm back in Kathmandu, soaking up the hustle and bustle and tring to reflect on the last few weeks... It's been an awesome journey, I have so many people to thank, and I hope if you've made it this far you've enjoyed the blog.

Life rocks!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

'Fight' on Everest

It's been a really eventful week since I last blogged. 

No doubt most people reading this will have heard about the 'fight' on Everest - I'll come to that in a minute. 

On a personal note our team is going strong. We've done our first trip up to camp 2 (6,400m) to acclimatise. Its been amazing! The journey up to camp 2 begins with the famous Khumbu Icefall - like a frozen section of white water rapids spilling over from the Western Cwm. Each year a group of sherpas negotiate the safest passage through the icefall, past huge ice blocks and over deep crevasses. It took us 4 hours to get through the icefall, and then suddenly the terrain flattens out to reveal an enormous, snowy valley - the Western Cwm. Camp 1 is at the start of the Cwm. We spent two days and nights there to acclimatise (6,000m), basking in the sun, staring up at Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse, and eating huge quantities of food that we'd lugged up through the icefall. The Western Cwm was every bit as beautiful as I had hoped. 

After camp 1 we made the one and a half hour trudge up to camp 2 (6,400m). Camp 2 has a permanent mess tent set up and even a cook who lives there for a few weeks every year! We spent two days there playing cards and stuffing our faces with chips and pizza (as best you can at that altitude!). It's a hard life! On our second day there we made the one hour climb to the base of the Lhotse Face for further acclimatisation. Next time we go up the mountain we'll be climbing the Lhotse Face for real. I can't wait!

Meanwhile a friend of mine, Jon Griffith, was climbing on the Lhotse Face with Ueli Steck and Simone Moro, making a film about their attempt on a new route. As they climbed past Sherpas who were fixing ropes to the face, the Sherpas became very angry that they had been passed. Jon and his climbing partners were later attacked down at camp 2 and were lucky to escape back down to base camp.  The report on UK climbing seems fair... http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=68020  This all happened at the other end of camp 2 whilst we were staying there, but we had no idea what was going on (camp2 is about half a mile long and we were at opposite ends of camp). Luckily it doesn't seem to have affected us, and relations between the Sherpas on our team and our team members are as good as ever, but I'm so sad for Jon that his expedition has come to an end in this bizarre way. 

Aside of all this commotion everything is going well for us. We're back down at base camp for a couple of days resting and then we'll set out again with intention of getting a bit higher on the mountain now our bodies are getting used to the lack of oxygen. Hopefully next time I blog we'll have made it up the Lhotse Face to camp 3. And then all being well the following time we go up will be the big one!

Peace out...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Nearly at base camp...

Yesterday we made it over the last high pass of the trek, the Kongma La. We stayed in Lobuche for the night, and today we're walking up to base camp... Trek phase over, time to start climbing!

I'm writing this blog from the tiny settlement of Gorak Shep. The walk up here this morning has been an enormous contrast to the last few quiet weeks, with hoards of people trying to get up to base camp. The highlight was an American lady with the shits wailing from behind a boulder... Hilarious!

It's been an eventful week since I last blogged. Unfortunately Ellen came down with a tummy upset so she couldn't come over the Kongma La with the rest of us. She stayed in Dingboche for a couple of days to recuperate and then trekked directly up to Lobuche to meet us yesterday. She's feeling much better now and looking well on track to get to base camp today. 

The rest of us had three nights camping at 5400m for acclimatisation. A couple of days ago we climbed Pokalde (5,800m) - an easy alpine-style peak with a bit of snow, a bit of scree, and a bit of a Jenga Tower climb for the last 30m! The views from the top were awesome - up close and personal with Pumori, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu and Ama Dablam.

It's been really nice exploring the Thame valley and the valley up to the Kongma La, neither of which I've been up before. Although the trekking has been great though, I really can't wait to get to base camp later today. It feels like the last few weeks have all been preparatory, and now we can finally get on with what we've come to do. It's going to be so exciting re-tracing Hilary's steps 60 years on, and hopefully passing all the famous landmarks I've read and heard so much about... The Khumbu icefall, the western cwm, the Lhotse face, the geneva spur, the south col, the Hilary step...

Once at base camp we've got a couple of rest days and another blessing ceremony, and then we start rotations on the hill to get used to the ultra thin air. The first rotation should get us to camp 2, the second to camp 3, and then the next one will be the big push...

Bring it on!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Arrived at Gokyo

We've been trekking for about ten days now. So far everything's going well. 

After a safe arrival at the dramatic, clifftop airport of Lukla, we have spent the last ten days trekking up the beautiful Thame valley. 

The Khumbu valley, the Gokyo valley and the Thame valley are the three valleys above the mountain town of Namche Bazzar (the town above Lukla airport). Everest base camp is at the top of the Khumbu valley, but the Khumbu gets very crowded, so we've been acclimatising in the Thame valley, and now in the Gokyo valley, before heading over to the Khumbu in a few days time. 

On the way up to Namche I bumped into some old friends from med school and the Xtreme Alps expedition; Ned, Grace and Jildou. It was great to catch up, despite feeling ill with gastroenteritis at the time. Once up in Namche I visited the Xtreme Everest 2 laboratory and caught up with my friends Kay (from CASE) and Tim and Sara (from BMRES). Hopefully I'll see more of the Xtreme Everest team up at base camp. I also bumped into Oli from Xtreme Alps, down in Kathmandu, and Suzi, a friend from the diploma in mountain medicine, above Namche - it's been nice seeing so many familiar faces out here.

From Namche we went to stay with Tashi who we stayed with in 2009. It was nice seeing her again and experiencing her wonderful hospitality for a second time. From there we headed up the Thame valley, which is much quieter than both the Khumbu and Gokyo valleys. It feels much more remote and wild. I would recommend it to anyone coming to this area who wants to avoid the crowds. We had a magical Puja (a ceremony to bless our Everest expedition) above Thame in a remote Bhuddist temple on the hillside. 

As well as heading up the valley to an altitude of around 4300m, we've done lots of acclimatisation treks up nearby hills to around 4800 meters. 

Today we crossed the Renjo La, 5300m, a high mountain pass to get from the Thame valley into the Gokyo valley. We've just arrived at the stunning lake-side village of Gokyo which is where Ellen and I got engaged back in 2009. It's really special being back. 

The weather has been very good so far - blue skies every day, with clouds often forming by the evening. Unfortunately it's started snowing today, so we may have to alter our plans for the next few days - we were supposed to be crossing the Cho La pass over to the Khumbu valley in a couple of days time, but if the snow carries on we'll have to drop down lower and go around. 

The team is bonding really well and I'm really pleased to be sharing this experience with such nice people. Tim is the expedition leader - he's climbed the big E twice before (he was only the tenth Brit to summit from both the North and South sides). Tom is from France and is a film maker. He's making a film of our expedition which promises to be a real masterpiece if current footage is anything to go by. Steve is from Australia and seems to be all round adventurer from mountain climbing, to skiing, to fishing. He's certainly a good laugh and very chilled out. Stuart is a very experienced climber from Hong Kong (he also has a place in Scotland so seems to be in the UK a lot) -  its great to meet a fellow nutter who's psyched for Scottish winter climbing! Ilina is hoping to be the first woman from Macedonia to summit Everest and its good to have some else on the expedition who's keen for training - yesterday she had me doing pull-ups at 4,300m before breakfast! 

So all in all its been a good start to the expedition. We're aiming to get to base camp in about 12 days, and then the fun really begins!