Just over two years ago, the Gurkha Everest Expedition team in 2015 had their attempt to climb Everest brought to a halt when Nepal was hit by the biggest earthquake of this generation. More than 8,000 people were killed and many are still rebuilding their homes today. On Everest, more than 18 were killed at Base Camp when the earthquake caused a huge avalanche from the slopes of Mt Pumori to sweep through Base Camp, obliterating everything in its path.
Most of the team had just arrived at Camp 1 on their first acclimatisation on the mountain when the earthquake occurred. Three of the team were in the Khumbu Icefall and Major Buddhi was at Base Camp. Major Buddhi received a head injury and was evacuated to Kathmandu. The climbers at Camp 1 were stranded for three days. Needless to say, their climb was over and their focus switched to assisting in the aftermath at Base Camp and in the wider relief effort in other parts of Nepal.
Today, the first members of the team reached Camp 2. “We have broken new ground today,” said Major Andrew Todd, from Camp 1 this morning. “We made good time through the Icefall yesterday, reaching Camp 1 in 5.5hrs. The team is split into two groups, the first team have climbed up to Camp 2 today and will spend the night there. The second team will follow on tomorrow. Everyone is really fit and well. It’s quite windy, and we are expecting a bit of snow and for the wind to continue, but the conditions are fairly normal.”
Patience is the key in high-altitude mountaineering — nothing comes quickly or without effort. The team are already on day 23 of the expedition and there are many more days to go before the summit is within touching distance. Reports indicate that the route to the summit is nearly complete, and the first Sherpa summits from the fixing team can be expected within the next week, if not before.
Patience is also key for anybody who is following the team’s progress on this expedition. With the team on the mountain until the end of the week, communications will be sparse. You can, however, see footage of part of the climb through the Khumbu Icefall and see Rodney Christian’s images here. Coming soon is some fantastic drone footage and information on the acclimatisation process, which was filmed at the end of last week.