Gavin Bate is one of many who has returned to Everest again and again. If we
count correctly this is his fourth attempt. He is moving up for an attempt
tonight or maybe will stay at the south col for a night. This year he is on
one of the Asian Trekking permits, but of course, unguided as far as we
know... Good Luck Gavin, may this be the year !!!
Gavin has climbed Everest
twice before, yet never actually stood on top of the world. Yet. hopefully
this will be a case of third time lucky!
But there is far more to it
than that: this expedition is all about climbing one mountain to move
mountains for some very special people in the foothills of the Himalayas.
There is a very specific goal in mind and we offer you the opportunity to take
part in various aspects of both the expedition and the project.
The first time Gavin Bate
climbed Everest was on the south-east ridge in 2000 he turned back at the
South Summit, just a 100 vertical metres from the top. That was part of a 7
Summits odyssey, to climb the highest peaks on the seven continents in one
year for the Millennium. The team used full Sherpa support and bottled oxygen
and were the first to summit Everest in the year 2000. In all respects it was
a successful expedition but one that personally left Gavin with unfinished
The second time he tackled
Everest by the Northeast Ridge in 2002 with Northern Irish friend Will
Canning. This time no bottled oxygen or climbing support was used, and they
tackled the harder north ridge from Tibet. It was a tough trip and they
reached the Second Step, just 200 metres from the summit, when Will dislocated
his knee in a freak accident. It took the two men four days to descend back to
Advance Base Camp, much of it in the teeth of a Himalayan storm.
In between those two
expeditions Gavin founded a charity called Moving Mountains which helps street
children in Kenya and promotes community projects in a number of villages in
the Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas. He did this after years working and
living in Kenya and Nepal and seeing first hand the effects of poverty and
Now Moving Mountains is an
established charity helping many people and Gavin uses the profile of his
expeditions to raise awareness and funds. More than simply raising funds, he
is keen for people to see the work of the charity first hand and to experience
how the charity works.
The interest in the villages
of Khari Khola, Bumburi and Bupsa in Solukhumbu began with friendships formed
during many expeditions into the Himalaya. Babu Chiri Sherpa, Ang Rita Sherpa
and Chhongba Sherpa are all from that area. Babu became an icon of Nepalese
mountaineering, when he made the fastest ascent of Everest in just 16 hours
from Base Camp.
Unfortunately Babu died in
2001 on Everest, but the rapport between Ang Rita, Chhongba and Gavin is now a
formidable team which runs a joint operation between Adventure Alternative in
the UK, High Country in Nepal and the often for the benefit of the Moving
Not only do their treks,
expeditions and teaching or medical placements offer a very special experience
in this incredible country, they have pioneered a charter for the rights of
porters which it is hoped will spearhead a change in the industry.
For Gavin’s third expedition
to climb Mount Everest he will again be attempting the South East Ridge, this
time solo without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. He goes to Everest in
The expedition has a purpose,
to raise funds to complete two major projects in the region that will improve
the lives of the people who live there. These people are identified as
underprivileged, living a largely subsistent lifestyle with no welfare from
the state and no donor support. The money will help:
- Install a micro hydro
electricity plant in the small village of Bumburi (cost £30,000).
- Pay for running costs and
refurbishment of Khari Khola hospital for 3 years (cost £5,000).
Please give to his good cause:
Gav says: "I have been
exploring and expeditioning all my life now and have seen some remarkable
things along the way. But time and again I return to the people I have met,
both in the slums of Kenya and in the rural villages of Nepal, whose lives and
friendships have so deeply affected my own.
"If my expedition to climb
Everest, and finally succeed in completing the Seven Summits for all that is
worth, can make these projects happen with the Moving Mountains Trust then all
my efforts will have been worth it.
"For me, as far as personal
achievement is always going to be a major motivation, far more powerful is the
desire to use this expedition for a more worthwhile purpose."
The Climb of Everest – Under
the Gloss (by Gavin Bate)
Climbing Everest is no longer
a novelty in the mountaineering world. Cynics claim it has become a cheque-book
trail to the top of the world. Technology, accessibility and western money has
not reduced the height of Everest by one inch though and it is still a major
challenge to any adventurer, some would say the most exciting challenge in the
Any climber will agree that
there are easy ways and hard ways to climb a mountain and choice of route is
an obvious deciding factor. The SE ridge is the most common route and every
season it is fixed with ropes that are bound to make any ascent 'easier'
Some would say that clipping
onto a 5000 metre rope with a jumar at the bottom of the mountain, and having
a Sherpa carry the equipment and oxygen all the way to the South Col is not
really mountaineering. For sure it makes the challenge easier, but the success
rate for Everest still remains at only around 22%.
Some maintain that since 90%
of all expeditions on the south side follow the well-trodden SE Ridge route,
there are two main factors that will make a difference to the difficulty and
extent of the challenge of Everest. The first is not using any Sherpa support
and the second is not using bottled oxygen.
Sherpas have become
synonymous with Everest ever since Edmund Hillary made the first ascent with
Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Their strength, dependability and humour has become
legendary all over the world; indeed their race has become a byword for
endurance. Climbing without their help involves having to make up to seven
independant ‘carries’ of up to 20kgs on the mountain to place the four camps,
to a high point of 8,000 metres before even thinking of attempting the summit.
When you do this, you realise how strong the Sherpas really are.
Physical challenge camp by
The challenge is largely in
the physical effort required. People need to be highly fit, motivated and
careful. The Khumbu Icefall is a broken mass of ice boulders and seracs
tumbling down a 2,000ft frozen waterfall from the lip of the Western Cwm onto
the Khumbu Glacier.
The Western Cwm itself is a
giant valley, baking hot by day, deadly freezing by night and riven with huge
crevasses. From the top end of the Cwm, the Lhotse Face extends 5000’ up a
steep face of ice to the South Col itself.
The South Col at 8000 metres
is the final camp before attempting the summit where many brave people have
perished or become lost on their descent. It is a bleak, windswept and
virtually uninhabitable spot on earth, littered with old oxygen bottles,
scraps of tents and even some bodies. Every action here becomes an effort of
willpower, a case of mind over matter as the body literally begins to shut
down in this so-called Death Zone.
Summit Challenge ...
The challenge here is to
husband one's strengths with skill, so that there is enough left to get to the
top and back down again safely. This also requires luck and timing. Luck that
the factors for success dovetail together at that very moment when the south
col is reached, because generally a climber only gets one chance for the top.
At this point it becomes a game of probabilities, with the odds stacked in
favour of the mountain.
To simply stay healthy at
high altitude for a long period of time, living on a cold glacier is a
challenge. At extreme altitude the most important addition to
self-preservation will be bottled oxygen. It gives strength, warmth and life.
With or without oxygen ...
In fact to compare climbing
Everest with or without oxygen is to compare chalk from cheese. Every aspect
of the climb becomes harder and more dangerous. Rate of ascent is slower,
strength is sapped far more quickly, mental acuity is severely reduced, the
body’s immune system and general health breaks down and the prospect of
descent in the event of a problem is virtually nil.
All this without even
mentioning altitude sicknesses such as pulmonary and cerebral oedemas, which
occur when the body is simply unable to cope with the reduced amount of oxygen
in the air. Getting the acclimatisation absolutely right is essential because
without oxygen there is no room for mistakes. Judgement is absolutely crucial.
Perhaps most especially because Everest is the only one of the highest peaks
in the world which requires making a camp at 8000m. It is this factor alone
which puts her in a different category to the rest, placing the climber in an
entirely unique and unusual situation.
Doing it the Right Way ...
In this sense every single
climber who stands on the South Col at 26,000ft and looks up that glassy black
bulk of the summit faces the same effort of willpower, the same extreme
environment and the same fear that Hillary and Tenzing no doubt felt in 1953.
Everyone would agree that to
climb Everest without bottled oxygen and relying entirely on one’s own
resources is a harder way to try it. Some say it is plain crazy. But, as Alex
Lowe once said: "The best mountaineer is the one having the most fun" so this
will be a major part of the approach to the climb. It is not so much the
moment of standing on the summit that matters, but the manner in which you get
Please give to his good cause:
Much more on Gavin in the near
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