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Riding Everest The Latest Update

29/11/2011 13:24:00

Craig and Tamsin Everest

The ride up Everest was bitterly cold, especially in the morning, even though the sky was clear. It was -10 when we left the Rongbuk Monastery.  It was so cold that my hands went completely numb and I had to keep stopping to defrost them.  I was in agony as they came back to life only to carry on and freeze them up again.  Once we had passed base camp we joined the rocky slopes and narrow rocky trails. 

This was OK but it soon got rockier and steeper with lots of large boulders where we had to get off and manhandle the bikes over.  The only trouble was whenever you exerted any energy you ending up gasping for breath and needing to stop rest, this was really scary.  

Our plan was to get it done as soon as we could and get down as soon as possible, Craig still had a headache due to altitude.
We made slow progress.  Our bikes ran OK in the altitude engine wise but slowly my bike was beginning to fall apart.  The back suspension wasn’t working so everything vibrated off – the silencer bracket fractured so we used a bit of wire to keep it on.  The number plate, indicators and mudguard had already vibrated off previously.

It was difficult to think straight in the conditions and we just had to try and keep moving.  The GPS was in my pocket and I hated getting it out as I had to take my outer gloves off and that was freezing also our hydration pack water had frozen in the tube but we had bottles of water in our bags but again this meant stopping.  Craig was ahead and whenever I got stuck I would try and shout but nothing came out and it meant that I was again panting for breath, Craig would come back to help but I could see he wasn’t enjoying it.

We both knew it was completely ridiculous, I was worried about Craig’s headaches but he kept saying ‘just keep going’.  To be honest I wanted to turn back and it was hard not to panic.  It dawned on me that we really had no experience at altitude and we didn’t really know what we were doing.  Slowly we gained altitude and the terrain was getting more technical and steep – I just wanted to get out of there.  I looked at the GPS 5,280m.  We decided rest on an open plateau we had been riding for about 2 hours.  I think if either of us had said “let’s turn back” the other would have agreed.  We sat in silence and I tried to keep those fears and doubts out of my head.  

The previous night one of the guides had told us about how many people had died on Everest and that the bodies are here – on certain routes climbers are climbing over dead frozen bodies. We had 35m to go and we looked for the best route to get there the quickest.
Ahead was a narrow trail with big rocks and we struggled up then a steep gravel climb I was ahead of Craig and just kept the throttle on this was the final push.   I passed the 5,305 mark and kept going. The bike bounced me about everywhere and eventually ran out of steam.  It was do or die I was done!!  The GPS read 5,359m I was so chuffed I wanted to shout but it came out like a hoarse cough.

All we needed then was to muster enough energy to get down.  It was a lot easier but the bike was bucking like a bronco and rattling like and old Tata truck.  We got back to base camp which was still deserted and the winds picked up blowing gravel in our faces.  We had conquered Everest (well kind of).  I had set a record for being the female who had ridden to the highest altitude on Mount Everest.

We headed wearily back to Rongbuk Monastery for a night in front of the fire eating and drinking as much noodles and masala tea as we could.

Tams & Craig x

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