Matthew has made it safely to Mount Everest Base Camp and in his own words describes some of his experiences in the last few weeks as he prepares for his climb to the summit:
15 April - Arrival at Base Camp
I've arrived at Base Camp (5350m) - which marks the starting point of where I'll begin my true trip up the mountain. From base camp, climbers typically train and acclimate by travelling and bringing supplies back and forth through the often treacherous Khumbu Icefall. This training and recuperation continues throughout the climb, with the final summit push often being the only time the climbers do not go back and forth between camps to train, bring supplies, and recuperate for the next push.
Key Base Camps on route to Everest summit:
• Everest Camp - 5350m
• Everest Base Camp I - 5980m
• Everest Base Camp II - 6500m
• Everest Base Camp III - 7200m
• Everest base Camp IV - 8,000m
• Mount Everest summit (south summit) - 8848m (expected arrival 26/27 May)
My kit has finally arrived from Katmandu but I would hate to start wearing some clean pants at such an early stage in the expedition! We are all eating and more importantly remaining hydrated as the effects of altitude are forever present. As I cope with symptoms, at the moment headaches and sleepless nights, I must remember one has to be patient and allow the body to adjust, even if that does mean rest. Your body will allow you to climb when you are ready.
One thing for sure is you know every meal is a great meal and it is amazing what food is being provided whilst we are so completely away from civilization. These Sherpas appear to bring everything up the mountain apart from the kitchen sink, correction; I think the sink is here also. These guys are genius.
18 April - The Puja Ceremony
Today I attended the Puja ceremony which is an unforgettable experience. The Sherpas ask and pray to the Gods for permission to climb upon Mount Everest. They ask for a safe and successful expedition for all who embark upon the climb. The expedition will only go ahead once the ceremony is complete and this will allow access to the Khumbu Icefall. The Lama reads and chants from a prayer book and prayer flags are strung across the area of the camp. The prayer flags are said to purify and pacify the Gods as the prayers written upon them are released unto the heavens and bless all for a safe return. The Puja blessing takes approximately 3 hours and the positive energy and optimism it transfers to climbers is unbelievable.
26 April - Respect our planet
I am writing this on the eve of my climb to Camp one and Camp two in the relative luxury of Everest Base Camp. As I have never been to the higher camps before I can only use loosely the word luxury at this stage as I am led to believe there are no comparable facilities higher up!! This is an expedition and as such we take the rough with the smooth, and the longer I find myself living in this harsh environment it just becomes more acceptable to me each day.
Since Sir Edmund Hilary successful attempt to summit Mount Everest in 1953, tourism has soared in popularity and it is easy to see why. The Himalayas are an exceptional area of absolute stunning beauty, dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys with the back drop of some of the highest peaks in the world, the dominant being Mount Everest. The increased tourism has bought about greater wealth to the local community. As in any part of the world an increase in people means a greater use of all the facilities a place has to offer.
In the past there have been unacceptable levels of litter disposal problems on Mount Everest and indeed on the trail from Lukla to Base Camp. The heavy human traffic inevitably takes its toll on the resources available to deal with this problem. Wherever I am climbing/trekking and just enjoying the outdoor life, I do love the environment and I do care about leaving a better place for all future generations to enjoy as I do.
I am in a part of the world where the region lacks infrastructures to cope long term with the solid waste and pollution output. It is important therefore that for all who visit this amazing area, for however long a stay, they should take individual responsibility for 'clearing their own rubbish'. I was pleasantly surprised that, considering the area I was trekking from, Lukla to Everest Base Camp, I did not see litter along this trail where in the past this has been a significant problem. With the great number of expedition teams that visit this area every year they are very aware that there are expensive fines for teams if they do not adhere to the regulations imposed on visitors and expectations of taking responsibility for their rubbish.
Rubbish collected at Everest Base Camp is taken down the valley by Yaks and burned or buried as it would be in a modern city. This waste includes all food waste and human waste which is collected in drums and this is taken down the mountain by Yaks. Water is heated by solar power and once used is collected in drums and disposed of also. I have to admit to taking as little showers as possible, partly aware of the water conservation and partly as I would inevitably be putting on the same clothes as I have taken off!
Accounts which I have read of Sir Hillary's expedition did reveal that members did leave equipment behind. This careless act could not be tolerated in the coming years and not surprisingly various committees took responsibility to ensure the overseeing of cleaning Everest up. It is reassuring to know that Modern expeditions are much more conscious of their footprint and returning visitors to Everest do see a difference saying "It's visibly and spectacularly better."
Prior to my imminent departure for my expedition I was aware of various groups which are committed to cleaning up Everest. I am sure, when I do return home, I will have gained an immeasurable amount of knowledge concerning the current situation that this amazing area and its inhabitants face. I am sure with that knowledge there can only ever be a greater awareness in giving continual support in making future generations aware of the importance of saving every inch of our planet.
In many areas of the world clean water is such a rare commodity. If you would like to donate to Global Angels, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/matthewdthornton