Friday, 26 June 2009

Sunday 12th April – Toughest Day!

Still in my adopted Tenzing group, and feeling rejuvenated I was ready to face the hard slog ahead. For the first half of the day, we were again treated to the beautiful mountain-hugging views, as we followed the glacial water through the hills.

The group naturally segregated into 3 groups, based on speed. At one particular ascent, I was treated to a Kodak moment. Blinky had become sandwiched between 2 groups of ponies on a bridge. For quite some time, the stubborn animals just refused to move. It was an unusual sight, as most of the herds of yaks and ponies we had seen, obediently moved along the trail carrying supplies.

It became common to hear “yak attack”, as a bumbling herd clattered down the steep rocky trail towards you. A brief but welcome break for the old feet!

“Yak attack!”

At our first tea break, I asked Bill for help in finding some sort of WC. The food hut had broken toilets (long drops) and so I was directed to a hillside where there was a little wooden shack (rustic little hut, which could have been helicoptered in from a Clint Eastwood Western). It was really not unpleasant - great views too!

Lunch stop revealed some unlucky trekkers, who had been hit by the dreaded diorreah. Some poor chaps complained of having to make 7 toilet stops already. On our trail that was not ideal.

Bowel movements were steadily starting to become a prominent topic of conversation. I was feeling ok, all apart from my coordination and logic (which some would argue was missing from the start). P handed me an iodine tablet at lunch, which I confidently put into my lemon tea, instead of my water bottle. I think the altitude had started to affect my brain?!

That afternoon, we had 3 Indiana Jones-style bridges to look forward to. I developed my own approach, using the rather traditional method of – ‘don’t look down!’.

Hell Hill
This was the toughest part of the day/trip, which I lovingly named Hell Hill. It was the end of the day, and energy levels were starting to flag. It became a real struggle for our diarrhoea crew, with a 900m ascent ahead of them – humour failure starts now.

The toughest part came with the relentless ascent, which was 2 and half hours of constant uphill winding trail. With the altitude starting to take effect, and the increasingly slower pace, many of us were quickly running out of water.

Following a final break, I set off with Milo and Kinsey. Kinsey and I exchanged usual knee-banter, whilst Milo set the pace. Not long into our walk, and it was clear that Milo was becoming increasingly sluggish, whilst swaying across the path. We made him stop, as we could see he was dehydrated. Unfortunately for him, we were all on our last dregs of water. Passing DC, Milo was able to take some of his water, and then luckily we found a water pipe coming out of the mountain. Putting on my “Mother” hat, I insisted that Milo take dyroloyte, which offered some hope.

Still struggling, we took a very slow final journey to the hostel and luckily came across a small hut in the forest selling water. The journey was slow, and I was really worried, as Milo’s energy seemed to fade with each step. We made it - Milo was prescribed bed, whilst I self-prescribed a much needed shower.

A simple shower trip became one of my comedy highlights. JB emerged from the shower having forgotten his towel. Using his t-shirt to cover his modesty, whilst keeping his rear against the wall he edged along the corridor. However, by successfully turning his rear away from me, he was giving the laundry girl a full view. After an embarrassing exchange of laughter he regained momentum shuffling off into the distance.

That night we were divided into camp Tenzing and Hilary, which was a shame but necessary as there were so many of us. The usual banter and card/perudo tournaments kept everyone amused, until passing-out time.

Saturday 11th April – Yeti Airways

As we made our way through the rather rustic “departure lounge” and greeted by the Otter, a couple of nervous flyers grew to a few nervous flyers, which ended up with most of us thinking, “is it too late to turn back!”. As a group there was plenty of nervous chatter. I fed my homeopathic wonder drug (mimulus) to a few nervous flyers, inc Blade who grew a bit of a taste for it.

Walking into the airport we were greeted by a line of rather modest check-in desks, each including a giant set of kitchen-style weighing scales. Through to the departure lounge, and we experienced our first taste of Himalayan pricing. A pack of hob knobs = £4 (they saw us coming!).

Standing next to the small green Yeti on the runway was the point at which it started to sink in. The banter was building to a nervous crescendo. Now or never!

There were 12 on our plane, including the air stewardess, who hunched over to walk down the mini-isle, handing out sweets and cotton wool. I think the sweets were a temporary distraction method (“umm yum sweet” rather than “oh my god I’m going to die”) and the cotton wool was there to drown out the sound of the engines, (and the wailing screams).

Jen and I were brave/stupid and sat at the front of the plane. Blade was next to us, and still smiling – mimulus starting to take effect. As the drone of the engine fired up, looking ahead Jen and I couldn’t help but laugh as we came face to face with “make the most of your time on earth” written on the back of BJ’s t-shirt – a poignant reminder of the adventure that lay ahead of us.

As the mountains started to close in, I remember looking over the pilot’s shoulders to be faced with Lukla’s midget runway. Not only was it a fraction of the size of a standard one, but it also happened to be perched on a mountainside. The smooth landing was a surprising relief.

Most of us were escorted to a teahouse, which was our temporary dumping ground while we waited for our kit to arrive. There were a couple of nervous trekkers, waiting on packs. It was at least 2 hours before everything landed. After an introduction to our team of guides, porters, body guards, chefs and ……. it was trek time.

As we walked through the cobbled streets of Lukla, a small town perched on the mountainside, it was rather surreal to pass Starbucks (Nepal-style). As we left Lukla for the start of our adventure, guides Bill, Nir and Polsan lead us through a prayer tunnel, lined with prayer wheels, spinning them clockwise as we went past.

This was our first official day trekking, and was by no means easy. The trail lead us down, round, up and down the hillsides beyond Lukla. The path was dotted with black and white prayer rocks. As if an obedient group of goats, we made sure to pass each one clockwise. The views were beautiful, and stretched out across the valley. It was hard to believe that we were still relatively low down, and with the ascent, our picture postcard backdrop was only going to get better!

Lunch stop was a small cabin perched on the Cliffside. At this point we witnessed the first ITN interviewing by Mark and Marcus. I said my bit…not sure if I was TV worthy….hair not looking great!

The final part of Day 1, and the trail lead us past more and more intricately carved prayer rocks painted in black and white. Polsan told me that the rocks were engraved with prayers, and are traditionally said as a chant.

Winding up to our teahouse stop, and we were greeted with smiling George and his camera who caught us struggling up the final steps. The hostel was such a pleasant surprise, with twin rooms (not mass dorm sleeping) and actual beds with mattresses (not stone floor). The best bit was discovering a sit-down WC, amazing! We happily over took the dining area that evening, and as the 80’s tracks filled the room, competitive games of cards and Perudo commenced.

With an early start, and the toughest day trekking ahead of us, most of us were lucky in getting a full 10 hours sleep.

Friday 10th April – Doha

Seven hours of on-flight entertainment/eating/drinking later and we were in Doha. A cramped shuffling through the arrivals lounge brought us to our duty-free haven, and where we would be spending the next 3 hours. After an unpleasant toilet experience we were all ready to go. A group reading sesh of G-Man and Toovey’s Tenzing Bible kept us duly amused/enlightened until the next leg.

The flight to Kathmandu was less lively, with most unconscious. A gentle murmur of snoring and heavy breathing filled the plane as we took the 5 hour flight. On arrival, we were greeted by a red brick building with it’s very own mahogany clad 1970’s arrivals lounge, followed by a bus draped in a Everest Test flyer made by Peace Nepal Treks. As celeb-trekkers we were then each presented with a leigh, made of real flowers. It was a pleasant surprise and lovely welcome to Nepal.

Driving through Kathmandu was an experience. I think I saw my life flash before me at least 6 times. As we indicated (toot horn) for our (toot horn) hotel (toot horn) it was rather surreal to leave behind the dusty, dirty streets in exchange for a smartly groomed hotel.

Our first night in Kathmandu - the beginning of our amazing adventure. For most of us (exc Hc) this also meant the start our temporary convert to vegetarian life. There is something rather amusing at watching a host of men tucking into veggie burgers!

"Veggie burgers all round..."

Thursday 9th April - Departure

A prompt gathering of pink and blue bods at Lords progressed with a sprinkling of camera action and posing for the press. Unfortunately we missed out on the media masses, who had opted for a different press call….their loss!

Being one of the Flight 2 Crew, I was lucky to have the afternoon in which to attempt a re-pack. I was certain that I could create some sort of miracle in shrinking my pack further.

The airport transfer later on went as expected. Brooksie was over optimistic with timing, meaning a dash for the bus, and a taxi to the Oval where Addison Lee took us the final leg to Heathrow.

Monday, 30 March 2009

9 days to go!!!

Now comes the reality check. After months of hard work and planning by our super leaders and the following of our talented cricketers, fabulous trektators, eager umpires, buzzing photography/film crew, enthusiastic pr team, and ever patient and supportive partners, family and friends the trek is finally here! It is hard to believe that a week on Thursday I will be carrying my shiny red North Face pack through Heathrow ready to board the plane and begin our adventure of a lifetime!

The adventure in fact started when we all signed up to this gig 12 months ago (for some 2 years ago). These last few months really have zoomed by and seeing everyone together on Sat for our final meeting, it was clear that we are all very eager to just get there.

Saturday brought with it both happy and sad news. Happy in that we have secured a Title sponsor, Nokia, which is amazing news for both the trip itself and our fundraising. Sad in that we will be losing the much admired Charlie BN from the trip. Curry pays special thanks in his blog to Charlie, a very fitting and heart felt message.

Finally we were treated to a professionally mastered power point presentation from our medics (all be it minus the projector). Ian, Brek, Isla and Nick all willingly stepped up to the task of scaring the s*** out of us. A presentation which I will be keeping away from my Mother. But seriously, although we nervously giggled our way through the slides, we were all in agreement that it was really important to receive the shock tactic particularly embraced by Brek who used the word 'death' a record number of times. AMS can be a reality for many trekkers at high altitude, and it really is important that we all remain aware of how our bodies are coping throughout the trip.

Finally my knee is getting back to normal and the long-john silver act is going. Regular stretching, recommended exercises are seeing me back to trek-health. I have to say I was a bit worried for a wee moment. I will have to continue the stretching and exercises up the mountain.....could prove interesting in a small t-house!

Very excited, can't quite believed it. Wow!

Monday, 23 March 2009


With a little help from ibuprofen and champers, for one night only trainers were swapped for heels!

It was our send-off fundraiser on Thursday @ Club 24, a rather trendy club on Kingly Street. Walking through the entrance and past the Everest Test photo gallery (inc my v.own mug-shot) my little bro and I couldn't stop smiling, as we walked past the frozen ice statue people, to be greeted by moving images being projected onto the walls - telling the story of our journey so far. I was happy to arrive early so I could giggle and enjoy the show; tractor tyre rolling, playing cricket in trafalgar square, hay bail hauling, snow trekking, running marathons in cricket pads, running marathons......Pretty good prep I think for the less than conventional sport of playing cricket up the world's highest mountain!

The party's resounding success was testimony to all the hard work our High-On-Ice committee had done. The party really was a send-off to remember.

A rather lethal complimentary cocktail helped to get things rolling. As the club filled to bursting and the tunes filled the floor with some truly unique 'shapes' the blurry 'i love everybody' took over. Needless to say I have a slightly hazy memory of the ending.

Despite the sore head, glued curls now flattened, knee/head craving the ibuprofen I was still smiling on Friday morning. In fact, I'm still smiling now, and still in fact wearing my Everest Test Party wristband (can't quite part with it).

With just over 2 weeks to go, and my knee finally responding to repeated rest/hot baths/stretching over the weekend I am now allowing myself to re-join the excitement run (not running......never doing that again). Final shopping list is in motion, as I begin to calculate what one might need when trekking up play cricket!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bath Half

Following the buzz that began the week, with our resident comedian Chris leading the way to yet another cracking fundraising doo (£6000 raised amazing work by all involved).....turns out the week was set to finish with a similar bang!

Following my physio visit on Friday, I was reassured by the fact that I had "runners knee". I was worried about there being a more sinister, ligament/tendon damage....but alas it was only my wee ltb,itb,bti muscle (can't recall the abbreviation) - the muscle connecting your knee and arse. When this tightens, as you run (which mine clearly has a tendency of doing) this then creates a tightness and pain in the knee. After a full hour of having my ltb,lbw,tb muscle pummelled (accompanied by genuine tears and blasphemy exploding from my mouth) Elaine (aka wonder worker) explained that I would be ok to run. My main relief was the reassurance that I would be fine for Everest (brill!!).

In Bath Elaine's words echoed in my ears, as I stumbled across the finish line (2hours 19minutes later), whilst being caught by one of the running dudes...."You will experience some pain after the race". Well, she was right, no huge surprise there. I did have a slightly funny look from the medic as I jumped (hopped) for joy as she told me I could keep the ice pack. Tying it round my knee, and then continuing to hobble my way round Bath, as my medal swooshed from side to side I was greeted by the Heroes welcome from the Bath people.....limping but with a smile on my face!

3 days on, and I am still with a slight limp but doing everything that I am being advised to, relax, stretch, ice pack it, stretch a bit more, roll on my side across a foam tube (kindly lent to me by Wes). I'll get there, and whilst I stand by my decision to run, I cannot fully accept sympathy at this stage, as I stubbornly chose to soldier on!

Elaine says I'll be fine, so I'm also standing by that.....only disappointed that my attempt to look glam for once at the Send-off Party will be tarnished by my gleaming pair of trainers!!

Will keep you posted!