“Saying goodbye to my family was very difficult knowing that I wasn’t going to see them for 2 months, and especially with the very difficult challenge that lay ahead.
We were soon on our way to Kathmandu and spent a few days in the capital going through some final preparations before departing on a five hour, very eventful drive to a tiny airport called Manthali where we boarded a small 12-seater aircraft that landed on the shortest runway high up in the Himalaya, Lukla.
This would be our starting point for the long trek towards Everest Base Camp (EBC).
Our Sherpa guides, Dawa and Pemba, led the way through the small villages giving us plenty of time for short breaks, which was the perfect opportunity to meet the friendly locals who were more than happy to chat and have a picture with us.
On rest days we visited local villages, museums and monasteries, getting to know the culture and history of this beautiful country.
On the 12th April (my birthday) the Sherpas and 65DN team sang happy birthday after our evening meal in one of the Tea Houses, followed by a lovely home-made birthday, cake and I was presented with a can of Everest beer!
The journey to Base Camp was quite spectacular with beautiful scenery. One by one the team suffered from colds, flu and the famous ‘Khumbu cough’ which also hit me on the final push to EBC.
On the 15th April we arrived at EBC with a warm welcome by the Grand Himalaya Team who greeted us with soft drinks and snacks. They are the kindest people making sure we are well-fed and comfortable at all times, and they always have huge smiles on their faces.
We have a tent each to sleep in and a large mess tent with plenty of room to eat and relax together. I immediately made my tent as ‘cwtchy’ (homely) as I could, with pictures of my family who I miss so much. There is no way I could take on this challenge without their support.
The Welsh flag is also up and will definitely be in my back pack during the climb.
We are all feeling the effects of the high altitude with minor headaches and shortness of breath. This is why it is so important to spend at least 40 days at this altitude (5364m) in order for our bodies to acclimatise, which is extremely important for the challenge ahead.
On April 17th we made our way to the EBC helipad to say goodbye to John Barry (65DN High Mountain Advisor) and Peter Cunningham (Branding Science Sponsor). Both play a huge part with 65DN and had trekked to EBC with the team, which is a huge task in itself.
John Barry is a very experienced mountaineer and successfully summited Everest many years ago. There were a few tears waving them off!
On Thursday we woke up early for our Puja blessing which was a ceremony led by a Lama (a local holy man) who prayed for our safe passage and return.
Following the blessing we packed some kit and made our way into the famous Khumbu Icefall for some refresher training on fixed ropes and abseiling, followed by ladder crossings wearing our crampons.
I have read the books, watched the films and documentaries, but to actually be here on Mt Everest and to experience the sheer magnitude and beauty of these mountains and the icefall is something I will never forget.
Since being in EBC we have heard, and seen many mini avalanches, they are small reminders of the dangers and respect we need to have for the mountains.
On Friday we climbed to Camp 1 Pumori 5650m (acclimatisation hike) to see the best view so far of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, the Khumbu Icefall and Base Camp itself.
We are now preparing to leave EBC for our first rotation to Camp 2, leaving around 2 am tonight, heading through the Khumbu Icefall towards Camp 1 where we will stay for 2 nights.
All being well we will then head up the Western Cwm and spend another 2 nights in Camp 2 before heading back to EBC for many rest days and wait patiently for a decent weather window for a summit push to the highest point in the World.
A few years ago I would never have taken on such a challenge, spending so much time out of my comfort zone due to my struggles with anxiety and depression. Since being part of the 65DN family I have had to push myself and continue to do so. I believe the more challenging this gets the more confident and determined I feel.
I know I will experience extremely difficult days ahead but what will push me through these difficult times will be my family, friends and everyone who has supported me throughout my journey with 65DN.
Two of my friends ex-Navy and Royal Marines, both took their own lives last year due to their own battles with Mental Health. This is one of my reasons for taking on this challenge, to help, motivate and inspire others to speak up and get the help they deserve. Their pictures along with my family will be with me all the way up this mountain.”