Everest The Hard Way.....

30th Sep 2015


gokyo view

After a month of toil, some boundary stretching new routing through the upper rock band, camp building, rope fixing, camp stocking and acclimatisation - you are as ready as you will ever be.  You arrive at the site of your sixth camp with your partner and some supporting team members.  You are at 8320 metres.  The support team descend and you dig a platform for your tent, settle in, rest and dream of summits.  

The next day you fix nearly 500 metres of rope and, having done all you can to pave the way to the highest point on earth, return to the tent to prepare.  By 03.30 on September 22nd you are heading up.  Your sleeping bag, down suit and tent stay where they are because all you have chosen to carry is 150 metres of rope, a couple of oxygen cylinders, a bivvy sack and stove.  

By 15.00 you have battled through challenging terrain and sections of chest deep snow to reach the South Summit.  You stop to rest and decide whether to stay put, head down or, at incredible risk, continue upwards.  You go up.  After ascending the Hillary Step you finally, at 6pm on September 24th 1975, reach the summit of Mount Everest.

You rest for almost an hour, soak up the views and decide how you are going to get yourselves out of this most serious of situations.  You hope you’ll be able to reach camp 6 tonight but, after descending to only 8760 metres, you realise you won’t be down this side of tomorrow morning.  You are exhausted, lightning is flickering around, the weather looks threatening, the hoped for moonlight hasn’t materialised and the terrain is scary.

You do the only thing possible and dig a shallow snow shelter.  With your supplementary oxygen gone, little spare clothing, temperatures you estimate to be as low as -50 degrees Celsius and the stove fuel gone by midnight, this isn't going to be, by any measure, a night you could expect to survive unscathed.  You stay awake, share body warmth to keep fingers and toes alive, wriggle around, talk, hallucinate and finally, at 05.30, continue your descent.

You are back at camp 6 by 09.00.  You are now relatively safe and radio your success to the waiting team at basecamp.  Along with your partner Dougal Haston you have just become the first people ever to ascend the South West Face of Everest, you have made the fastest ascent of Everest to date (33 days) and you’ve just survived the highest bivouac in history.  By the next afternoon you are back at Advanced Base Camp and can finally rest and prepare for the media storm you will soon face.  You are Doug Scott and surely, as this mountaineering milestone passed it’s 40 year mark last week, you have secured your place in the vertical world history books.

Posted by Paul

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