Everest Base Camp & Island Peak Success for HOPE Team

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 12:10
Trekking out toward Lukla Trekking out toward Lukla

Day 18 - Pats quick Report Oct 18th - We are now in lukla and missed our flight today due to bad weather, fingers crossed for tomorrow. We are all wreckad but thats sometimes the way it goes to achieve the goals set out. Thanks to everyone following back home, some rest and a nice big meal in kathmandu tomorrow will be worth waiting for..

Day 16 to 17 - The team are now on their decent passing through Namche then down the steep sided gorge of the mighty Dudh Kosi river toward Lukla where they overnight prior to early morning return to Kathmandu. Confimed report due in soon.

Day 14 - Teena's Island Peak Report Oct 14th - "I did it.  Today I clawed and dragged my way to the Summit of Island Peak.  A technical climb for a greenhorn who'd only been trekking for the past 6 months and who'd never before had a set of crampons on her feet.  Team Hope spent 10.5 hours on the mountain and not all of us made it.  But I did, and I can't believe my body allowed me to do that.  Hours of walking up a bouldered ridge, hours more dragging our way across a glacier, then the agonising climb up a sheer head-wall of ice.  2/3rds of the way up, with my legs screaming, the harness cutting into my groin and my crampons refusing to get traction on the ice, I remember looking up to see how far I had to go.  I knew at that moment with absolute certainty that I would get there, but with equal certainty I had no idea how!  I remembered a comment from team leader Pat Falvey that getting to the top was 80% in the mind. I dug in and lashed out with my ice-pick and dragged myself up with my arms, slowly, screamingly, growling at myself and going again until finally I reached the top. Scaling my way up the final ridge walk and abseiling three ropes down a mountain seemed incidental after that.  I was snow blind (temporary), the harness had cut my groin and my face was badly burned from the exposure and the sun at the height we'd reached.  Sore, stunned and weary; but 'on top of the world'.... "

Day 14 - Pats blog - Back at Island Peak Base Camp ''We are all back at Island Peak Base Camp! 7 of the Hope Team and 3 Sherpas summitted..we have just had dinner. Everyone's in good form and tommorrow, we commence our descend to Kathmandu''

Day 13 - Teena's blog - High Camp Island Peak I'm back. Today Team Hope practiced fixed rope technique at Island Peak Base Camp and then trekked up to High Camp; a tough 2.5 hr hike across steep and rough terrain. When we reached high camp, we broke for soup and then began an acclimatisation hike up towards the ridge that would begin the technical climb for Island Peak.  An hour into the climb and about a third of the way up, the Team called halt and prepared to turn around and go back down to make camp for the night.  Before we moved off, we had an impromptu briefing on the cliffside as expedition boss Pat Falvey asked us whether we were capable of making it to the top of the ridge tomorrow.  He stressed that we'd need the strength to accomplish that and THEN climb a mountain, and pointed out that any late turn-arounds would rob the team of Sherpas and guides and add to the risk. From somewhere within I felt a quiet confidence descend and heard myself saying with certainty that I could do it.  Folks, I'm back......

Day 13 - Pats blog - Island Peak High Camp Oct 13th (1400 irish time) "Weather is good and holding, first summit attempt by all Island Peak team members in 6 hrs approx., Everybody is a little tired but all looking forward to the climb."

Day 12 - Teena's blog - Base Camp Island Peak I'm out! Today we trekked our way to Base Camp Island Peak.....and I bailed. The hike was tough but I walked well into Base Camp, the tents were set, we drank soup in the mess and I was game for the challenge ahead. Shortly afterwards Team Hope headed for an acclimatisation walk to Island Peak High Camp.  We walked along a gully and turned towards the mountain to begin to climb. I stared up at the dark, grainy boulders reaching into the sky, & strained my neck to search for the outline of the summit against the cold, blue, bright evening sky. Catching the eye of expedition leader Pat Falvey, I slowly drew my finger across my throat, turned on my heel and headed back down the mountain....alone.

Day 12 - Pat's blog - Island Peak Base Camp Oct 12th ''Its Tues..its after 7.30pm (1452 irish time).. We are all at Island Peak Base Camp moving to High Camp tommorrow...making attempt the following morning in the early hours. All the team are in good form''

Day 11 - Teena's blog - Chekkung to Lobuche We've made Everest Base Camp and climbed Kallapatah and now the final & biggest test is looming. Today I got my first real sight of Island Peak.  Jesus. Realisation hit for the first time of what I'm crazy enough to be considering. Christ. It's a bloody mountain. I mean a craggy, icy, jagged, real life mountain, at 20,300 feet - higher than Everest Base Camp and a technical climb needing harness and crampons and ice-picks.  What am I doing? Who am I kidding?  I stared in disbelief at the summit and ridge off in the distance, as the team traversed the countryside between Chuckung and Laboshe. With the challenge to Island Peak looming, Team Hope gathered in the evening for a technical briefing from expedition leader Pat Falvey.  Our challenge was now switching from trekking to technical.  Looking around I could see for the first time that my fellow colleagues were also feeling doubtful and tired.  We have reached two of our three key objectives and are now wondering about moving to the next level.  A haunting, moving, soul-searching day...

Day 10 - Pat's blog - Base Camp & Beyond Pat rang to report the teams sucess in reaching Base Camp and climbing to summit of Kala Patthar (Meaning 'black rock' in Nepali, Kala Patthar appears as a big brown bump below the impressive south face of Pumori (7,161 m/23,494 ft). At the wind-swept summit ridge, after a five to ten minute scramble over boulders, the top is marked with prayer flags and the views from here of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are spectacular)

everest shot from gorak

With emotion in his voice, Pat spoke of the journey so far, the teams determination and positive attitudes to challenges they have had to face. The weather has changed becoming overcast and Pat talks of the cold air surrounding him as he calls- standing outside the teahouse, the teams home for another night before they leave in the morning for Island Peak Base Camp. Pat has turned 3 of the team around today- a decision made in consultation with the team. While Vivian, David F & David W. now commence descent, their contribution to the team and their own personal success's is a credit to them 3 and the attributes they have given to the team will be carried forward in the team's attempt on Island Peak.

Day 10 - Teena's blog - Kala Patthar Today we climbed Kallapatah mountain at 5,550 metres, the same height as high base camp for Island Peak.  The climb is part of our acclimatisation, but it's also a challenge in it's own right. We left at 4.30am to catch the sunrise on the way up.  It was bitterly cold and this was also something we needed to experience.  Off we set across a sandflat, double-gloved, in thermals and balaclavas, & within minutes, my drinking water had frozen in it's insulated platypus or carry-pouch.  The drag up was excruciating.  I was overheating with exertion although my fingers were stinging with the cold, & altitude was robbing me of oxygen, making every breath a gasp for air.  I kept moving onwards and upwards, remembering the life-mantra I'd been preaching for the past 10 months of training 'one foot in front of the other'. Finally the sun burst over the surrounding snowy peaks and hit the team as it struggled upwards.  Gloves and down jackets abandoned we made it to the top, after two & a half hours' of climbing.  We exchanged greetings with several other climbers arriving from around the globe, took pictures and picnicked on Snickers!  In the middle of the celebrations my eye took me further, to a stony spur jutting up from the summit.  To my surprise I found myself edging up there, ignoring the plummeting drop on either side.  Well, I'd come so far......it seemed a waste not to! Don't know what happened to my dread of heights, maybe it's the altitude.  Happy in my world above the world, I noticed one of our Sherpas had spotted me and captured my moment on camera.  I've got to get that snap.

Day 9 – Teena's blog - Base Camp Oct 9th I’ve made it, I’ve done it. I’ve climbed to Everest Base Camp. A gruelling, emotional odyssey that has transported me from 23 stone to the ‘me’ of the moment that has achieved the impossible. Ten months ago I promised to do this, but I never really thought I could, although I never really admitted I couldn’t. I’ve lost 11 stone to get here and I’m 44 years of age. If I can do this, you can do anything. Today I commented to a colleague on reaching Base Camp that we had reached a platform of dreams. Dreams for those that climb higher than Everest, and dreams for those that go down to lives touched with the knowledge that the impossible is possible. My next challenge is Kala Patthar Mountain at 5am, in preparation for making the Summit of Island Peak. I’m not sure I can make it, but I’ll give it a go. Whatever the result tomorrow, I’m bringing my dreams home…

Listen to Teenas podcast in our Podcast Gallery here


Day 8 – Teena's blog - Lobuche Our ‘rest day’ in Pheriche started with an acclimatising walk which took up five hours in the morning – followed by a couple of hours of fixed rope work in full gear, with ice-picks and crampons on the hills behind us, as night began to fall. Practicing the arrest techniques we’ll need to stop us falling at full speed off an ice wall, I smacked my face off a rock. My teeth are still intact, but packing at 6am to trek uphill to Labouche, I was happy to leave our ‘rest day’ behind!
Lobuche brought its own surprises- no Internet, no phone signal and the now familiar stench from the ‘drop loos’ masked only by suffocating kerosene fumes that forced tears from our eyes. My ‘roomy’ Vic and I fell back on copious quantities of our one luxury, a tub of Chanel No. 5 bought in duty free on the way out.The combined essence was probably even more toxic, but we slept blissfully in denial, even if early morning brought puffy eyes and wheezing chests... Day 9 and Everest Base Camp beckons....

Listen to Teenas podcast in our Podcast Gallery here

Day 7 – Teena's blog - Pheriche  Oct 7th I found the warrior within.Today was a day for acclimatising, pushing up to 16,000 feet behind Pherica for tea, before returning back to base for a 2nd night. I thought it would be easy, that this was a ‘rest’ day because we weren’t moving on to a new destination.  Wrong! It was a brutal, long, hard haul.  It should have taken two hours to get to the teahouse, but we made it in 3, which failed to impress our expedition leader, now sometimes affectionately known as ‘Grand Master Falve’..
The breakout for me was on the return; after falling behind, I suddenly kicked into another gear and ran 300 metres up two hills to catch up.  It was pure fury that fired me up and it felt amazing to romp home.  They have an expression here, a greeting that you make on the trek, Namaste – “I greet the God within”.  I doubt if I host a God, but today I found my warrior…

Day 6 – Teena's blog - Pheriche Today I hit a wall…but I climbed over it… After yesterday’s adventures, I struggled to keep up with Team Hope, as I limped my way up a mountain.  It was another tough ascent, raising up 1,500 feet for over 5 hours.  The terrain was rough and each leap from boulder to boulder jarred my injured foot.  There was no other option but to keep on walking and I gritted my teeth and got on with it.  I admit I felt sorry for myself, I even felt a couple of tears well up at times.  The team is fabulous though, with lots of hugs on tap, and the scenery helped to distract me.  The turning point was when we all burst into song, winding our way through the mountains like the Von Trapps and bursting into giggles whenever we met groups of climbers on the way down.
Maybe it’s the altitude, but we’ve got to be the happiest group of trekkers out here and we’ve painted smiles on strangers’ faces from here to Shangrila…  Team Hope’s Birthday boy David Walshe later commented that we’d sent smiles around the World. Celebrating Dave’s birthday with pizza later that night, at nearly 13,000 feet, life again felt good.

Above Pheriche

Day 6 - Pat's blog - Pheriche All arrived well at Pheriche where the team will start to move above the flora and into tundra. More tomorrow.

Day 5 – Teena's blog - Deboche Today I kneeled in a cold temple for two hours and tried to meditate. It was a hard day’s climbing through hot sun, from Namche to Deboche. The whole team did well though, as we cranked up the acclimatisation another notch.  Under the shadow of Everest we passed through an ancient gateway to the town that hosts the local monastery. We spent several hours listening to the monks’ ceremonial chanting and were blessed for the journey ahead. Without exception, we all found it a moving experience. I jogged down the pathway afterwards feeling special… invincible. Then my foot slipped, and my ankle turned. It hurt – disaster! I hopped to a nearby mountain stream, kicked off my boot and plunged my foot in.  It was dark, and the light from my head torch drew a circle around my foot and the icy river. As the rest of the group sought shelter in a nearby teahouse, the sound of silence descended. Within moments I was picking up new sounds, rustles and creaks in the darkness beyond. My memory turned to the joking jibes at dinner the night before about snakes and poison spiders. I stood the terrors and the cold for a few minutes more, before bolting for the teahouse with a tiger on my tail.
Tomorrow’s walk is tough, but I’ll deal with that tomorrow.  Tonight, I’m safe and warm and that will do for now.

Day 5 - Pat's blog- Tengboche & Deboche This morning we trekked with fantastic views towards our next stop Tengboche. We decended to the valley floor and rose through the forest to Tengboche and the well known Buddhist monastery there. Jenny has some issues with her knee but is moving along ok. We arrived at 3pm and received a special blessing (PUJA) from over 60 monks, emotional for all of the team. We decended later in darkness to arrive in Deboche at 6.30pm. A good aul sing along was had by the whole team. Along the way we had stunning view of the mighty Everest behind Lhotse-Nuptse wall. In Deboche start to circle under Ama Dablam as it towers over us. Tomorrow we start for Pheriche.

everest trek lhotse wall_niall

Day 4 - Teena's blog - AMA Dablam If you left Dublin today and flew in to join me, you would probably die.  I'm at 12,000 feet & you can't breath here unless you've had a chance to acclimatise. Today is a rest day which means we only walked for a couple of hours and gained a thousand feet. After lunch, we turn around and head right back down to Namche. It's a chance for us to prepare our heart and lungs for the next push tomorrow, when we've got another tough day's climbing.

Today we had a special treat.  At 12,000 feet we stopped for lunch at a Nepalese Hotel and Extreme Artist Philip Graye gave us an art lesson.  We hope to paint at Base Camp and auction the canvas's for the Hope Foundation.  Today we each used pastels to create a picture of the beautiful iconic mountain, AMA Dablam.  It marks the gateway to Everest; and yes, today we saw those snow capped peaks for the very first time....

Listen to Teenas podcast in our Podcast Gallery here

ama dablam

Day 3 - Teena's blog - Namche Bazaar Today was tough.  I climbed 3,000 feet and it hurt. But it was extraordinary and I loved it. We woke at 6am at Phakding and breakfasted on fried potatoes and eggs in the shadow of the mountain.  A snow-capped peak burned pink and golden as the sun rose.  It isn't Everest, we won't glimpse her until tomorrow, but it's stunning, and a reminder of the icy treks ahead.  Here at 8,000 feet, it's hot and we're walking through lush green after the recent monsoons, though temperatures plunge as soon as the sun sets. Our trek today took us past beautiful rivers and waterfalls, with rainbows shimmering in the spray.  We crossed narrow suspension bridges moving dramatically with the span and our 14 strong team trooping across.  I found them scary and I met them far too frequently for comfort.  It was a tough climb today, 8 hours and 3,000 feet.  Altitude kicked in a little. I had a small nosebleed and felt lightheaded if I moved too fast; but getting a rhythm helped and walking into Namche Bazaar felt great, if somewhat tempered by the knowledge that we were staying in a tea lodge far beyond the town. Uphill of course!

Listen to Teenas podcast in our Podcast Gallery here

Day 2 - Teena's blog - Lukla Today I flew into a mountain.. From Kathmandu, Pat hired a small twin engined propeller plane and flew into Lukla,  a village hanging off a Nepalese mountain, and the next step on our journey to Mount Everest. The tiny runway is buried in the mountain and the arrival has to be the scariest air approach in the world.  The plane's engines took an almost animal like pitch as she turned in towards the cliff,  and after watching the pilot bless himself....so did I.  Brakes and reverse thrusters kicked almost the moment the wheels touched down and within moments we were out and standing on a mountain.  A quiet crowd of Lukla locals gathered around us, with hardly a murmer, their quiet presence a marked contrast from the wall of noise we'd met when getting off our international flight in Kathmandu the day before. 
We walked to a nearby teahouse for lunch & already some of us were feeling the affects of the altitude. We had flown in at 9,000 ft, almost three times the height of Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain. Shortly afterwards,  we put our day packs on our backs and started walking - downhill. Our destination is Phakding, a thousand feet below. The plan is to 'walk high and sleep low' to help adjust to altitude. It means walking to a certain height, then coming back down a little, before re-tracing our steps the next day. As the days of walking and climbing accumulate,  I just know that's going to be annoying! Onwards and upwards....

Listen to Teenas podcast in our Podcast Gallery here


Day 1 - Pat's blog - Kathmandu Start of the Expedition - 1st Oct 2010 No matter how many times I go to Nepal, I get excited at the thought of returning to my spiritual home. A place that has changed my life, having gone there in 1991 on an expedition to climb a beautiful mountain known as AMA Dablam with a group of good friends.  I went first, as the cliche goes, to 'find myself', only to lose myself and return to civilisation a new person.
A lifetime later, I have been here 25 times and I have never lost the joy of returning to this amazing country. It's sights, sounds, smells and the hustle and bustle of a vibrant community of people. To once again experience their culture as I lead a group of Irish adventurers on an exciting journey to explore what is for them, their Everest. For me another return to my most favourite place on planet earth.

Mixing adventure with a spiritual odyssey and to meet old friends that I have made over the years, with a group of enthusiastic volunteers who are helping to make life better for the street children of  Calcutta by raising money to enhance their life through education.

The Team
Jenny Kavanagh: Actress From Ireland's leading soap tv series Fair City, Jenny has taken on the extra challenge of achieving her Everest after traveling to Calcutta to witness at first hand, the abuse and terrible conditions experienced by street children there. She has exchanged her high heel shoes, make up and long polished nails for climbing boots, sun block and getting her fingers dirty to take time out from her busy schedule to complete a challenge and raise money for the Hope Foundation.  
Rob Ross: TV and Radio Presenter Rob has been presenting on the very popular RTE TV childrens' program 'Ice' for over six years. With his youthful looks, vibrant personality and abundance of energy, Rob's hunger for a new challenge has brought him to this point of climbing to base camp Everest and beyond to Island Peak, to help the children living in the slums of Calcutta.  A native of Athlone, he's clocked up many miles travelling to the mountains of Kerry to train for this amazing challenge.
George McMahon: Actor Everybody's favourite as Mondo in Fair City, George has been passing on his gifts to a new generation of aspiring actors with his thriving stage school, whilst also in production for a cameo role in the new TV series, Camelot.  George has strong family ties to Killarney and Carrauntoohil where he ended up training for the Everest challenge, but he had never stood foot on a mountain, until inspired to reach new heights after travelling to Calcutta, to visit the Hope Foundation projects earlier this year. 
Teena Gates, Head of News 98FM 12 months ago she had her own Everest to climb when she weighed 23 stone. To achieve her goal of getting to Everest Base Camp and hopefully beyond, she has lost over 11 stone; having made amazing sacrifices to get a chance to achieve for her, another milestone in her life to walk in the footsteps of her heroes.
Philip Gray: Extreme Artist Incredibly talented extreme artist Philip Gray has been a tireless supporter of the Hope Foundation, attending its Dublin Ball this March, where he masterminded an interactive experience during which fascinated guests watched him create a work of art before their eyes which was later auctioned for the charity. Philip travels extensively to the worlds' most extreme environments to create the most dramatic paintings imaginable, which feature in more than a hundred top galleries across Europe. Having visited Everest before, he knew the challenge that lay ahead when he was asked to return and push beyond Base Camp to Island Peak.  He had no hesitation in accepting the challenge and joining Team Hope.   
Support Team: Rosaleen Thomas (Hope), Vivian Harrison (Hope),  Edward O'Donnell,  David Walshe, Hugh Chaloner, David Forrester.
My return to Kathmandu has already added to the unique gathering of memories of past adventures and explorations in this beautiful part of the world. I'm delighted to be back here with one of the best teams any group could wish for; while being reunited with some of my Sherpa team who I've been operating with over the past 25 years. Ang Rita, Sumba, Pemba, Niama, tsring and Kami all who will be helping and supporting the HOPE team. I'm also supported by some of my own team from home here in Kathmandu -Tony Nation and Mark Orr. Let the journey begin! In the morning one of the most interesting flights in the world as we leave Kathmandu to the beginning of our trek to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak.

Facts on Nepal

Population of Nepal 29 million
Population of Kathmandu 1 million 
Mortality: when I went first it was 39 now has risen to 62

Pat Falvey, Adventurer

Interested in Trekking in Nepal?  Maybe Africa? See our Worldwide Travel section for choices!