Location: Back safely in BC
Time: 11.30pm 19th May
Altitude: who cares!
Conditions: completely irrelevant!
Hello my friends, it's Pat here. A few hours ago we arrived back in BC, with the rapidly melting icefall behind us for the last time. We didn't get squashed by any falling seracs conspiring to get us on our last passage, so the outcome can only be seen as positive. Angkaji, Jangbu and Lakpa iin particular carried massive loads, each in the vicinity of 50 kgs.
Can you believe it, only two days ago we were standing on the summit of Mount Everest, exactly 3500m higher than here?! Pumori, a 7100m mountain which towers over BC, was a tiny speck at our feet on the summit!
I owe you an apology for the bland audio message I left a few hours ago - perhaps I should have been more excited to be off the mountain, but the truth is that the past two and a half days of descent - on top of the four previous days of ascent and three nights at and above 8000m - have left me completely and utterly exhausted, and slightly devoid of emotion - the mind has been focused on getting down without accident, and the Lhotse Face in particular required immense concentration to not screw up and fall over a 1000m. I have known this kind of exhaustion before on other Himalayan peaks - the kind where after taking ten steps you have to sit down in the snow and search somewhere deep within to find the energy to repeat the process - but not for such an extended period of time. But that doesn't matter now; we are back safely.
We have just had dinner and gone through all our photos from our summit push - and there are some absolute crackers in there. The one thing that struck me more than anything watching the photos was how much I love everybody here, for having been through such an amazing experience together - our whole team were crammed into the tent, laughing at various photos (footage of me having a cry on the sat phone on the summit probably got the most laughs). I tell you what, if you want to love your fellow man, climb Mount Everest with him, and you'll love him for the rest of your life.
Speaking of love, I've received an overwhelming amount of love and warmth through all of the messages I downloaded last night when in Camp 2 - I couldn't sleep for hours after reading them, as I kept thinking about them all. As I've said before, they have meant so much to me and made this difficult task significantly easier. I'm so glad I could make you all so proud.
I'm going to write up the details of the summit push and descent in the next few days, but I do need to collect my thoughts a little, as they're pretty scattered at the moment. The yaks are also here in BC, so it seems like we may even leave tomorrow, so there are lots of things to get sorted - but stay tuned, I'll have it for you in a few days. In the meantime I hope you enjoy these photos from our summit push. For the record, I summitted with Sumit Joshi (Nepali/Australian dual citizen), Lakpa Sherpa, Angkaji Sherpa and Jangbu Sherpa (all Nepali citizens).
Also, poor Annie has been inundated with calls from the media, so to placate them I'm going to chat with Geoff Hutchinson on Perth ABC 720 tomorrow (Thursday) morning after the 8.30am news if you'd like to listen. I hope they realise that I'll be waking up at 6am only 12 hours after getting off the mountain - if I sound like a dickhead well that will be my excuse.
Finally, you may be interested to know my current state of health - it's pretty good, all things considered. My toes and fingers have taken quite a hammering from the cold, particularly over the past week, but I've always been ultra cautious about frostbite (hence Lakpa's mid-Lhotse Face foot-rub) and I have come away with no long-term damage. At the moment they are still numb in places, but from past experience this will pass within a week or two. The electronic feet-warmers were a great investment (thanks Paul) and I would urge anyone planning a sortie above 8000m to invest in a pair. The only other ailment I have picked up is a chesty cough which results in the occasional five minute coughing fit which in turn leads to the production of a lovely yellowy/white phlem, sometimes speckled with blood - good evidence that the human lungs have not evolved to function properly above 8000m. Finally weight-wise, I have probably lost around 10-15 kgs - I've definitely lost a lot of muscle in the upper body and on my legs - I'll have before and after photos but I won't subject you to that.
We should be back in Kathmandu in 4-5 days, but I'll detail the summit push in an update with some more pics before then. Catchya.