i 🧡 nepal – i quit – helicoptered off the mountain

good morning bigmoose friend,

todays blog is gonna be picture heavy, because nepal is so special to me, and i want to show you some of it’s beauty, and as i write this i am reminded of my lunch meeting yesterday with fellow everest summiteer tori james, where she mentioned that now her children are getting older she wants to try to go back to nepal every year, such is the magic this beautiful place possesses, and i agree with her.

if you get a chance, go trekking there, go to base camp, see the most impressive vistas you can imagine, meet the loveliest people, and fall in love with the country, as tori and i have, please do it, you will love it too.

so, the story of my 2024 trip to nepal this february, started back in december 2021, when chloe and i met the 21 year old adriana brownlee, a young british climber. with aspirations to climb all 14 8000m peaks, and become the youngest person to do so.

adri was passionate, brave and determined, and i could see so much potential in her, and as she set off on her adventure, she agreed to become a bigmoose ambassador, and we are so proud to have her on the team, and she only has one more mountain to climb to capture the record, which is so exciting.

as i followed adri’s progress it became obvious that her climbing partner, the indomitable gelje sherpa, was now her life partner, and recently became her business partner in aga adventures, running climbing and trekking trips all around the world.

now loaded with my parkinsons in my rucksack, i asked if adri and gelje would allow me to climb on one of their adventures to everest base camp, and to climb mount lobuche, standing at 6119m, a massive challenge for me these days, and adri told me gelje would guide me personally, which gave me so much confidence.

so, at the end of this january, i packed my bags, one still with a ribbon with ‘everest’ written in black felt pen on it, from 2017, and i headed off to be reunited with my love, my nepal.

the airport has been updated, but that nepal air enveloped me as we landed as it always does.

i had travelled from the uk with my fellow climber max, who was using the trip as his first mountain adventure, and as a stepping stone towards his goal of attempting to summit everest next year, a big eighteen months ahead for the 6’ 5’” commodities trader, photographer, climber, who races motorcycles on the weekends, an adrenaline junkie if i ever met one!

adri and gelje met us at the airport and we headed to our hotel through the fast paced nepali streets full of traffic, cyclists, pedestrians, and cows, it is a crazy place.

we had a rest day, unpacked, checked, and repacked our kit to make sure we were ready.

we were.

the next morning we headed to kathmandu airport, hoping the weather cleared, as there had been no internal flights for three days.

we were fortunate, our flight was the first to fly, which was a great relief, and we took off in clear skies, and headed to lukla to start our trek to everest base camp, flying over the urban landscape, and eventually reaching the green hills and mountains.

my mind went back to my previous trip to this beautiful land, when my world was a lot easier to navigate, and i thought about how my physical and mental strength had changed, and wondered how i would perform, adding high altitude into the mix.

time would tell.

we trekked for approximately 4 hours to phakding at a height of 2610m, and the air was noticeably thinner and harder to breathe, and it gave us time to chat, and start to forge relationships, which is always a great part of any expedition

the trekking route was almost eerily quiet, as we were extremely early in the season, and i climbed at times on my own, which was a great time to enjoy the solitude and breathe in the beauty of my surroundings.

we settled into our teahouse for the night, ate and hydrated well, but slept awfully, as altitude played it’s games.

the next day we moved towards namche, at 3440m and i found the day tough, and was grateful to see the familiar coloured roofs come into view.

we had a rest day at namche, and then headed off to debuche, at 3700m, and the following day to dingbuche at 4410m which was an extremely long day, and battered me beyond belief.

i woke from my slumber disoriented, and doubted whether i could go on.

that night i broke down, and decided to quit, i couldn’t do this, my body and mind were no longer strong enough, and i told gelje through tears.

thankfully he didn’t let me quit, and told me to sleep on it, and decide in the morning, which turned out to be amazing advice.

i woke refreshed, acclimated, and a different person to the previous days shell of a man, ready for lobuche.

we trekked higher and higher, with views that were stunning.

night views were equally as awesome.

we had all been to everest base camp, and as it was going to be empty of people we decided to head straight to lobuche at 4940m, and we all felt strong led by our two intrepid sherpa.

we were the first and only climbers on the mountain, which was strange as we climbed to our two tent base camp.

we tried to eat and hydrate to give ourselves strength as we prepared for our summit push, but it was difficult due to altitude and nerves, and knowing we were leaving at midnight, needless to say i didn’t sleep a wink.

i emerged from my cocoon of a sleeping bag into the crisp cold night air, and the ground crunched beneath my feet, as i pulled my rucksack on, and met gelje outside his tent.

“ready?” he asked.

“ready” i replied.

we headed into the dark night, our path lit by head torches, not knowing what lay ahead, i love this shizzle.

we climbed, and we climbed, and a couple of times i questioned my sanity, and then dawn broke, and the mountains illuminated, and it made sense.

we had been climbing slow, as we had been having to lay and fix safety ropes, and as we pushed on up some extremely dangerous vertical ice, i worried about the time.

as i prepared to clip into the rope, i heard gelje make the call.

we weren’t going to make the summit and get down safely in time.

our climb was over.

at 5900m we were so close.

but safety is always paramount, and it was the right call.

so i descended, stumbling at times due to poor balance, and aided by gelje, whose care and protection i will never forget, thank you gelje.

as we eventually got to the teahouse far below after a seventeen hour day, we decided to get a helicopter back to lukla, as i felt pretty beaten up by the climb.

and as we flew though the valley, i felt proud.

proud of trying.

proud of not giving up.

proud of not letting this horrible disease beat me.

so, until the next adventure,

blue skies,


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