Marketing Moves CEO Mel Day foolishly attempted to climb a very big Himalayan hill in aid of MND at the start of May 2023. Although Bear Grylls has little to worry about just yet, this is Mel’s journal. Enjoy!
Arrived OK, had a great flight. Doha airport is huge! Neil and I had an amazing massage then went for dinner. Too many beers!
Left after lunch and drove four hours toward Lukla. Stayed in the Kwality Beach Resort – not a beach in sight! Dinner and early to bed as up at 3am for flight.
Terrible sleep. Two hours. The lorries honk their horns on the mountain pass to warn others. Goes on all night and all have a different tune. Airport was an absolute free for all. Just pitch up and try to get on. Very busy. They search everyone’s bag by hand. I was told off for having a portable phone charger. Had to carry it. Plane was twin propeller. Took off at 7.30am, after hour and half delay. Got to Lukla after 20 min flight. Runway is ridiculous. So short – all made uphill so planes can slow down before the wall.
We had some apple pancakes and tea (tea is a huge thing here) then set off. Three hour walk uphill. Neill and I were knackered and thought we weren’t fit enough. Stopped for Dahl Bhat lunch – amazing and set us up for short walk after lunch. It’s dhal with rice and veg curry – this is usually potatoes and spinach. Plus they use home made chilli – so strong!!! Plus tea obvs. Chive is green/honey, ginger and lemon, mint or black. You need to change each time. Stayed in very basic accommodation.
Had a long chat with the owner – very interesting guy. Was a monk for 13 years. Now has a family. He told us all about the corruption and how the Sherpa people are a badly treated minority. The majority ethnic group (couldn’t work out name) run all government and military. All are corrupt and you can pay them to get permits.
The owner of our tea house was out in prison for ten days as he built a hydro electric dam in river on his property for the tea house. The army came and smashed it up. Said he’s not allowed as didn’t have the permit. Then threw him in jail. Cost USD 5,000 to get him out.
Dhal Bhat and tea for dinner. Obviously. Bed by 8pm.
Great sleep. 12 hours. Although woken up at 5am by really loud Russians. They are so rude and obnoxious – typical Russians. All the Nepalese hate them like us. Funny. Had Sherpa bread and honey for breakfast and then climbed a local hill to acclimatise. Neil and I slipped in mud on way back down. Messy! Went up to 3500 meters, then back for another night in same accommodation. We collected some flowers from the top of the hill that we then burnt when we got back. It translates as golden incense and the smoke drives demons out of our bodies. Sleep at 3000 meters. You can guess what we ate for lunch and dinner 😂. And lots of tea obviously.
Tomorrow is the second hardest day apparently – over the pass at 4000 meters. We’re just going to take it slow and steady. We go into snow line tomorrow as well.
Guide Tendu is amazing. Looks after us so well. he’s going solo up Everest – his third time – after he leaves us. He is so fit! His heart rate when he last climbed Everest didn’t go above 75bpm. We really like him.
THE HARDEST PHYSICAL DAY OF MY LIFE!
We climbed straight up to a mountain pass at 4750 meters. It was unbelievable. So hard to catch your breath. All uphill. So proud of Neil and I. And thank you Jack Berry for the gym sessions – no way could I have done it without them. Set off at 6.30am, we stopped for tea and noodles at 9am. Then we walked 400 meters down to our tea house. I can’t describe how mentally challenging it was. Total walk time eight hours of unceasing pain. Had to have a poo behind a rock which made Neil laugh a lot. Staying in a lovely tea house tonight. The Sherpa people are the most lovely and generous people I’ve ever met. They live in such hardship but are so happy. We also met Claudio – a helicopter rescue pilot from Switzerland. It was his day off and he was running up the mountain and down again!!!!! He was super cool. He’s just done the second highest helicopter rescue ever – saved someone from high up on Annapurna. No one else would go. Over 7000 meters! Having dhal bhat at 630pm then straight to bed. An easy six hours tomorrow 😂😂. Going to have a little hours kip now in my sleeping bag before dinner.
Great night. Such lovely people at the tea house. Only us staying there. Very warm. The lady who owned it lives there for three months from March with her daughters. Then they go back to Kathmandu. She is married and her husband lives in New York – they haven’t seen each other for five years. She kept the best toilet we have seen. Toilet facilities – or lack of them is quite a regular discussion item as you would imagine. Lots of today was downhill. Which weirdly is so hard. You have to concentrate on every step. My crampons broke – Neil was a top man and let me use his. He finds it easier walking down without crampons. Show off. We started on top of the mountain and ended the day in the rhododendron forests by the river. So beautiful even in the rain. Arms got a serious workout today. And the old knees aren’t what they were. Took it nice and slow and steady. Tendu once again was amazing and helpful. Got some great videos to share that he took. In Khote tonight – with a big group of Aussies. Nice group with a good sense of humour. Smiling to myself now as just remembered that Neil spent the day with his trousers on back to front. Amusing. He says it was very uncomfortable. It’s all uphill from now on. Shortish day tomorrow of four hours.
A good sleep. Weird dreams again – think the altitude drugs cause them. So strange. Had an amazing breakfast – Sherpa bread with local honey. It’s like a giant doughnut. Sets you up for the day. It’s Sunday and the Lord sent us a very relaxing day. We gently walked four hours up river. The sound of the water running through the rocks was so relaxing. You still have to watch every step – nothing is flat here. You have Nepali up and Nepali down. Just at different levels of steepness. I’ve looked at so many rocks of all shapes, sizes, colours (and slipperiness) – thank God for trekking poles. Met some lovely people along the way. Good lads Alex and Chris – Liverpool supporters sadly. We set off after other groups but end up overtaking them which is encouraging. We had tea halfway up the trek today. We watched them cook in the hut. I have a video I’ll share. It’s incredible how they do it. Then we climbed up to a small monastery in a cave, made a donation for good luck! Staying in Tagnag tonight at 4,300 meters. Weird how that seems a normal now. Room small but comfortable – a great clean toilet!! Accessible from inside as well which is a luxury if you need the loo in the night and it’s -10c.
Sherpa stew for lunch and then some rest. Just had dinner – chatted through the plan for summit day. Currently aiming for the 5th. Will be heading up to Kahre tomorrow at 5000m. Will spend two or three days there depending on weather. We only go up if clear and little wind. Heard a funny story today about a lady who dropped her brand new iPhone down the loo. A potter fishes it out from the channel that ran down to river, cleaned it and gave it back to her. I’d rather have got a new one! Off to bed now – hopefully a good nights sleep.
Yes it was a good nights sleep. Slept well but every night I have the strangest dreams. Last nights ones were all very violent! Disturbing 😂. Nice late start after breakfast. Left camp at 8. Sadly we woke to wind and snow – all our wet weather gear on for the first time. Good to give it a try out before summit day though. Four hour hike – first part pretty steep so was blowing after twenty minutes but then weirdly you settle into a steady rhythm.
We walked past a lake bed – the lake was swept away in the major avalanche of 2015 or 2016. Tendu was further along the mountain range that day. 20 Sherpas died on Everest. Villages were wiped out. He described the feeling of the ground moving and watching waves of soil and rocks roll across the land. It was all very eerie when he was telling us by the lake bed. Everything was so silent. Neil then uttered the words – I think it’s stopped snowing. Queue a horrendous blizzard. Just had to have your head down and follow the path.
We were accompanied all the way by three wild pigs. So cute. They are outside our tea house in the snow now. Such harsh animals. It’s around -10 degrees out of the wind! Another story from Tendu – last year a dog followed his group all the way up a 7,100 meter mountain. It was the first to summit 😂. On the way down it was struggling so one of the Sherpas carried it all the way down. Everyone then clubbed together to buy the dog loads of food.
We are in the best tea house we have stayed in. We have not one but two windows! Our room actually Doesn’t feel like a cell for once. Food great and there’s a coffee bar. Only down side is that there are about twenty Russians here – rudest and loudest people you’ll ever have the displeasure of meeting. Just chilling now – dinner at 7 then off to bed. Day of rest tomorrow – we rent our proper snow boots ready for the walk up. Tendu will give us full training on the ropes. How to clip on, use them etc. The three of us will be tied together when we go for the summit. More to follow…
Sit rep: Snowing. Cold. Spending ages in room in sleeping bag to keep warm listening to Joe Marler podcasts. Rope training this afternoon – assuming snow lightens. We go over the summit plan at breakfast, lunch and dinner – all good prep. We’ve both done a full kit check today – we have all the gear. Hopefully no chance of getting too cold when we get to top. Will be around -25 we expect. Our porter is wearing his adidas tracksuit with puffer jacket. Makes us feel overdressed! He’s 19 , called Purba. Hard as nails.
All Sherpa people have traditionally been named by the Lama. Parents don’t choose their name. Their first name is always the day they are born and second name according to the religious texts/ time they were born etc. Tendu says this is changing now – Sherpa people really like English names – he thinks not long before there will be a Melvin Sherpa and Neil Sherpa 😂😂.
We’ve hired our snow boots and proper crampons. Once again we were just standing there whilst Tendu did everything for us. Vegetable momos for dinner – ten fried and ten steamed between us. They are like dim sum. So tasty – come with two dips , chilli and satay. Snickers treat for pudding again. Amazing how such little luxuries become the highlight of the day.
Finally stopped snowing about 5pm. Beautiful views – good for us as the other groups and porters will be setting a nice track for us to use when we climb up. Very cold tonight. Fully wrapped up in sleeping bag with just eyes showing. -20 in our room 😂😳.
Slept surprisingly well. Feel I am spending a little too much time in a sleeping bag. Horrendous when you have to get up out into the cold. And visit the delightful toilet. The floor of which is covered in ice. Adds in a new challenge when using the facilities. Even having a dump comes with extreme peril.
Spent the morning training on the fixed ropes above the village. All in really warm and stunning sunshine. A bit of warmth is so good for the soul. We used a jumar to climb. And a figure of eight to abseil a descent. Was great fun and very cool. On the final summit climb we will just be using the jumar. Bex – this is purely for safety. Allows you to rest on the steeper bits and you are locked in. Tendu is super safety conscious so gives us loads of confidence. Neil and I have sponsored him for his Everest solo ascent. $200 each. He was so grateful – meant a huge amount to him. Tom our marketing guy at Marketing Moves is making up a banner which Tendu will hold and get pics of at the top of Everest. One to get framed for the downstairs loo I think!
We were going to go for a short three hour trek this afternoon but it started to snow. Better to be dry tomorrow when we set off rather than cold and damp clothes. Think our fitness is as good as it can be now. And we have acclimatised well I think. Some Germans have just come back from the top. They didn’t make it as the snow was too deep. Just over a meter. We will have the advantage of better weather we hope – but more importantly we have five groups going together. The Sherpa guide from each group will go at the front and push the snow down. They will take it in turns and work as a team.
Quiet night tonight. Up and off after breakfast tomorrow around 7.30am. Aim to be in high camp by 2 or 3pm.
Days 11 & 12
Well ignore my comment re Day 5.
This was ridiculous. We set off in snow, climbed in snow and and enjoyed the occasional blizzard. Rarely did I see more than twenty feet in front of me. We climbed continuously for nine hours. There’s no difference between the cloud and the snowy slopes you are walking up so you’re in this weird white never-ending world. With snow in your eyes and such a cold wind for company.
There isn’t much else to say about the nine hours – just step after step after step after step. We were roped together with our harnesses as there’s a high chance of wandering off unseen in those conditions.It’s amazing what you can physically push yourself to do if you have to. It was too cold to stop and eat so we had five Snickers bars each I think the whole day. We made it to high camp at 6000 meters around 6pm. Neil was really struggling with the oxygen. His level was down at 67%. Mine was good at 82%. A doctor we met on the trip said in the UK they hospitalise you if your reading is under 90%!
High camp was unreal. Tents perched on the side of a cliff. Tendu said don’t turn left out of our tent as there was a 1000 foot drop! Felt weird sleeping knowing that was next to you. On summit day we looked at conditions. The snow was unbelievable. Up to my chest in places. About 40 of us attempted to summit but none made it. They’ve never had this much snow this late in the year. Obviously gutted that we didn’t make it – again! But the views from high camp were worth the whole trip. You really do feel like you are on top of the world. So we cut our losses and headed back down, took just under six hours. I thought descending would be easy
but as there was so much snow every step is really hard work. I face planted a few times 😂.
I was really cautious on the way down – didn’t want to stack it on final day! As we got back to our tea house in Kahre Tendu said: “you are finally safe”! So tired as had no sleep in high camp. Early night tonight and then a helicopter down to Lukla at 6.30am tomorrow. We hope to then get a flight to Kathmandu on Sunday if weather holds. We will have a couple of days pampering ourselves and then fly home Wednesday. It’s been an incredible trip – so many laughs, challenges, moments of pain, ultimate concentration and immersing ourselves in the Nepali culture. All with Neil who, as ever, has been the best travelling companion I could wish for. We’ve kept each other positive through the tough times and had so many laughs.
Never again though! Our mountain days are over!
Although I’m sure Steve Redgrave said something similar once 😂