Brutal, rewarding, inspiring and exhausting – feeling privileged to see our wonderful world from 6,500m

21 October 2018

Hello everyone from Khare, at 5,000m. Today I was privileged to stand on top of Mera Peak, at just under 6,500m – four miles into the air. The views were spectacular, including five of the tallest ten mountains in the world. The day was brutal, rewarding, inspiring and exhausting. It was the toughest thing I have ever done and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

We went to bed last night and it was hard to sleep. Breathing is difficult at 5,800m and so sleep was very challenging. We were woken up at 2am and given a full breakfast which I couldn’t eat at all – similar to all of the team. Two of our team were very unwell from altitude sickness and so only six of us set off for the day at 3am. 

When we reached the edge of High Camp,  our wonderful guides helped us on with our crampons – my brain wasn’t capable of very much at that point! One of our team literally collapsed in front of us and needed oxygen immediately. It was very scary and he left us to be taken back down the mountain, so five of us set off for the summit. It again reminded me that I needed to keep myself safe. I had promised so many people that I would come back safely and I was determined to do that. 

The trek was extremely tough. It was bitterly cold and windy, but in comparison with some of the weather of the last few days, we were very lucky. It was well below freezing and at points I had to lean on my poles to stop myself falling over but my unattractive padded trousers, my down jacket and my ‘Everest oven gloves’ all did their job and I coped with the cold. 

It was also relentlessly uphill. This might sound an odd thing to say when I’m climbing a mountain but the steepness was extremely hard at that altitude. As we got higher and higher, we could barely manage 20 steps before needing to stop to take in some air and so progress was slow, as expected. Our guide told us to only focus on each step and not worry about the summit – easy to say but difficult to do!

The sunrise was stunning and that lifted spirits. They were dampened again when we had reached the top of a slope that we seemed to have been climbing for a long time and sat to have a break. We made the mistake of asking our guide how much further. When he said 2 and a half hours, it was very hard to be positive. But we all continued slowly upwards. Finally we could see the summit but the final section is incredibly steep, which we had been warned about. As we stood contemplating it, one of the other team said exactly what I was feeling ‘I’m not sure my body will get me up that’ and I replied ‘I agree but we’re not giving up now’! So on we went. Halfway up the steepest part, where there were narrow and steep snow steps to navigate, I knew I was going to make it and burst into tears. The summit was stunning and we all tried to take photos but it was so cold and windy that our guide said we couldn’t stay there for more than ten mins. 

It was an incredible privilege to be there, to see the wonder that is our world. At points today, I swore with frustration, I cried with pain and I questioned my sanity. But it was worth every painful and emotional step to raise money for such an important charity. 

I didn’t even have the energy to count steps today and so the things that kept me going were all the well wishes and messages from you all. I genuinely felt I had a whole team behind me and I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you so much

The return trip was equally challenging and I’ll feedback on that tomorrow. I hope you’ve all also had a wonderful weekend. 

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