My last expedition during this challenge. I had found the previous mountains increasingly easy and was looking for something significant from this one and so decided that I would try this without oxygen. Conversations with friends and previous guides reassured me that this was reasonable but needed to be well prepared as most oxygen less assaults are specifically planned around that. I spent quite a bit of time in training and got in pretty good shape before setting off. Things did however not go as planned as the ensuing pages will set out.
Everest. Need I say any more. It is not the most technical, but you are faced with that at well above any other mountain and after 2 months of the cold and altitude draining you. The last camp site before the summit bid is at about 8,300 mtrs which is a long way into the death zone.
The two main decisions here are the level of support that you want and the side of the mountain that you chose. Prices increase with the more that your company does for you - although there are still some operators out there who claim to be a premium provider but most definitely aren't; see my daily entries for more!
Choice of side comes down to a few key factors. The North side is harder, colder, politically risky, much less popular but cheaper and less dangerous. The main issue for me was objective danger - I don't mind the going or conditions being very tough but I was much less keen on the risk of avalanches and therefore I was very opposed to the Khumbu Icefall which led me to choose the North side. I climbed in 2014 which was the year of the terrible avalanche there which led to the closure of the South Side of the mountain for the year. This was followed in 2015 but the even worse series of earthquakes that shook the whole of Nepal and Southern Tibet. The deaths on the mountain from both of these came at the Khumbu Icefall and there is now a great deal of discussion into re-routing to avoid the risks here as much as possible.
Our expedition was structured with an acclimatisation trek up the Langtang Valley in Nepal before heading over the border into Tibet and on to Everest Base Camp. The two main reasons behind this plan are that Base Camp is at about 5,200m so you need to be acclimatised before arriving and this can be done in either Tibet or Nepal. There is a lack of consistency over when the border from Nepal to Tibet opens so if you try to go straight to Tibet and the border opening is delayed you will start to fall behind your timetable whereas by doing the trek in Nepal first you have got your acclimatisation out of the way and are coming to the border well after it has opened.
Accounts and photos of completing the Explorers Grand Slam - 2 Poles and 7 Summits. By Sebastian Merriman. Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Carstenz Pyramid, Denali, McKinley, Elbrus, Everest, Kosciusko, Kilimanjaro, North Pole, Arctic, South Pole, Antarctic, Antarctica, Vinson, vertigo, climbing, mountaineering, skiing to the pole, skiing to the poles, seb2poles7summits, seb27, Seb Merriman, seb2poles, mountains, poles