My expedition to Mount Everest finally started roughly a week ago. I'm climbing Mount Everest as part of Everest Hybrid Team from International Mountain Guides (IMG), one of the most experienced and best known guiding companies in the world.
My team consists of eight climbers, the seven others are:
• Karl, a financial advisor from Santa Monica, California
• Bandar, a real-estate executive from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
• Brad, a lawyer from Richmond, Virginia
• Duane, a high-tech executive from Portland, Oregon
• Lisa, a lawyer from Houston, Texas
• Vanessa, a banker from Boston, Massachusetts
• John, a parks director from Columbus, Ohio
Our lead guide is Mike, with whom I climbed Vinson Massif in Antarctica last November.
Mike is supported by Andy, so we basically have two guides for the group of eight climbers.
Our expedition started on March 28th with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, a small town at 2840m altitude.
The Lukla airport has been named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who were the first to summit Mount Everest in 1953.
Unfortunately, the airport has also been named as the most dangerous airport in the world by the History Channel.
The airport has only one runway, which is only 460 meters long and 20 meters wide with a gradient of 12 degrees from north to south.
In light of this small size, the runway can only accommodate small short-take-off-and-landing (STOL) airplanes and helicopters.
Further, topography makes go-around impossible: at the north-end of the runway rises a mountain wall and at the south-end of the runway is end of an angled drop of over 600 meters.
This means there’s no room for error when landing or taking off.
Fortunately our pilot navigated the tricky landing without problems and we finally started our trekking towards Everest Base Camp (EBC), which will be our home for most of the next two months.
Our route took us via several small towns including Namche Bazaar, the main trading centre in the Khumbu Valley as a popular stop for both climbers and trekkers in the Himalayas.
We're travelling light, carrying only our day packs with water, snacks and raingear while most of our equipment is being carried by sherpas.
During the trek to EBC, we spend most of the nights in tea houses, which means sleeping indoors, although on many occasions the nights are very cold.
On the fifth day of our trekking, we finally caught our first view of Mount Everest.
It felt great to finally see the reason why we were here.
The mountain still looks far and not so menacing, but I'm sure that my opinion will change as we get closer to EBC and the sheer size of the mountain comes into full view.
The trekking has been pretty easy so far, a typical day is anywhere between four and six hours of trekking.
However, the other day one of my team-mates got a bit too close to one of the yak's carrying a heavy load, which swung its horns, cutting the backpack strap of my friend and almost spearing him with a horn.
The yaks look deceivingly docile!
Tonight is our last night at a lodge.
Tomorrow we continue to Lobuche Base Camp, which means that next 6-7 weeks we'll be staying in tents on Mount Everest. I can't find words to explain what that feels like...other than I'll no doubt be missing the warmth and sunshine of Dubai!
We'll spend three nights at Lobuche Base Camp before finally moving to EBC.
However, after just a couple of days at EBC, we'll head back to Lobuche Base Camp to climb Lobuche, a 6145m mountain, which we'll climb as part of our acclimatization before returning to EBC.
It feels great to know that we're almost at our home in EBC and can finalise our plans for how we'll tackle the highest mountain in the world!
Keep coming back here to see my regular updates and if you want to learn more, visit www.sevensummits.ae or www.facebook.com/AtteSevenSummits for more frequent updates. Oh, and keep your fingers crossed for me to have good luck on the mountain! Thank you!!!