Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Worth all the money, blood, sweat and tears.

So here is the final entry.... a few weeks since we have been back but with just enough time for true reflection.

Every time someone asks me about the trip I smile and say it was awesome and really mean it. But I struggle to do the country, people, commradery, fun, toughness and sense of achievment the whole trip gave me justice, so I hope to write it and make it clear how good The Everest Test was really was.

At the beginning of the trip there really was an sense of intrepidation about a 19 day trip full of unknown questions, places and physical challenges that the 49 of us would face. For me that was so exciting and I felt as long as I didn't get altitude sickness I'd be fine. The flight over to Kathmandu was a unwelcome delay to the group getting togther as one and cracking on with the trek and so that waited until the next morning before flying out to Lukla in the mountains. From day one the weather was top draw and then we landed on the crazy 100m uphill Lukla runway in a yeti airways 14 seater to a round of applause and relief. I really liked Lukla although obviously very tourist driven and small it was quaint and relaxing. We ate some local eggs and bread and had a short wait before it was time to get the backpacks on and get the first few hours of trekking in the bag. I was a relief to get underway and we had a talk from Nir our head guide about how proud he was to have so many people come to his counrty and to be part of a world record attempt. He could not have been more gracious and welcomming to us even though he had spent months labouring for our visa's, park entries and bribing officials.

We spent the next three days waking over perfect turquoise rivers on Indiana Jones style Bridges, passed by yaks and porters in the sunshine like we were in the Swiss Alps. Oh but for the totally enormous great mountians in the distance going though the clouds with snow on. It was without a doubt the most beautiful and serene place I have walked in and with so many different people to walk and talk with it was fantastic. Highlights include a porter race, seeing Everest for the first time, wearing shorts, feeling good and suprisingly good tea house accomodation. Low lights include the onset of dihorrea in the group, Neil going back down for a night, walking into Namcha Bazaar up some seriously steep paths and steps.

The best day of the whole trip for me was when we stopped in Khumjung on day 4. The plan was to donate some gear and teach cricket to the local kids. As a kind of thanks to vice captains and others I was offered a hance to be involved as not everyone was able to help out. I had no idea how much fun it would be to teach 25 under 12 kids to field a ball, play bulldog, chuck some shapes, throw at a post and generally take pride in watching these kids smile, laugh and get involved in some excercises.

We finishd this great time at the school at lunch time and after lunch walked without packs to over 4000 metres which was a great walk full of laughs and a great view for the top. The evening topped off a packed day with a music competiton between all the teams named 'The Everest Factor' which was great fun to watch and take part in even if your tone deaf and knackered. The Tenzing boys did three songs/dances Stand by Me- Ben E King, Livin on a prayer- Bon Jovi and the New Zealand 'Haka' Maori tribal routine. All hilarious to perform and belt out. Hillary performed a quite amazingly tuneful rendition of Afternoon Delight by Air Supply which for me was a knife to our Roxbury balloon. The quite awful starting Trektators stole the show after destroying 500 miles with a collective comeback and Grease cover. A brilliant night put togther by Jamo one of my favourite people to get to know on tour and closely followed by the four doctors who adjudicated hilariously.

To be honest the middle period of days leading up to Gorak Shep was great fun as we were getting fitter and having acclimatisation days to break the pack carrying was great. We were also seeing some quite stunning scenery of the upper valley and bigger peaks like Nuptse and Amadablum (amarama-ding dong).

The other pre tour evening planned was put togther by me for my mate Kimbo's 28th Birthday and was planned to be a comedy night named 'Stand up on Dingboche'. I had asked people to prepare a joke/limmerick/song to perform in front of the group or a story about Kimbo. The following unfolded. Raps by brothers Sharland covering Bohemian Rhapsody taking the piss out of each other. MC Shark and base camp 1 performing a 'flyin high' cover EVEREST stylee. was amazing. The girls sang an Old McKimbo tale, Woodsy unflappable as ever completed the Italian man in Malta. Simmo ran through the Billy Connolly 'Mario' joke to which he and i love but not sure how the rest took it. There were great poems from Hog, Hogs Mum, Zoobs and plenty of gratutious jokes from JB, Tooves, Mark and Blinky. Chris ran the evening with his usual flair and sarcastic eye, looking back at the trip as our compare/resident comedian. It was Fantastic evening for a very tired and deflated team. Most of it planned last minute and gave the whole team time to forget everything around them and enjoy themselves. Worked well for all. Kimbo also got some cake from the porters earlier that day before an acclimatisation walk to 5000m.

The only problem I personally had faced was coming into Dingboche, Haydn the Tenzing Capt had been suffering and went straight to bed when he got in and didn't get up for an acclimatisation walk the next day. He was suffering from de-hydration and altitude sickness and was in danger of having to go down a day. Some people joked I might have to step up to the plate.... A joke suddenly hit home more than it had ever before, I would have to cut the four guys who couldn't bat or bowl, I would have to lead the team and I would have to start thinking about averything to do with getting Tenzing to win the match. Oh dear....

The next highlight after some more long days walking at a slower pace has to be rounding a final boulder corner to look upon the stretch of rocks, sand and yaks that was to be our field of play. I couldn't believe how happy I was to be at 5200m without any problems with the majority of the teams healthy. It was pure jubilation that i had not envisaged at all and must have been building for a couple of weeks, A huge sighe of relief and 100% beflief we were gonna do it washed over me!!!!

The pre match talk by Haydn was focused and very agressive as was match day preparations. The selection was horrible and Haydn and I disagreed on a couple of points but I gave him my backing and hoped the 4 guys Joe, Markby, Nick and Neil would take the hit as well as the could.

We cleared the pitch of rocks and Jamo, Mike, Nick, Kins and others laid and re-laid our eventual wicket. brought all the way from London.

After dinner the night before the game was the team announcement. I was to call people into a room to give them the thumbs up on camera with haydn having a little chat. A quite awful idea and experience for the guys and us especially when the battery ran out on Tooves and left him habging for 2mins in silence..... I hope the video diary actually makes the experience even slightly worthwhile. This experience pretty much ruined my day and the next morning as we had to hurt the drive and feelings of four great guys.

On match day we were confident enough and played ok in the field after a good start from classy Hillary opener Dave Kirtley and we pegged em back to 13o odd. A bit of a break and we were chasing needing just 6 an over and a long tail to bat with. In confident mood Haydn changed the batting line up at will and put himself and Wes higher than expected and JC and Tooves 8&9. JB got out for not much as did Blinky and we were 2 down in single figures. Mark and Wes hit some big blows and got us back on track. But both were out in the 20's and it was up to the middle order of Kimbo,Haydn and DC to steady us and keep the score board rolling. To be honest the running between the wickets was tough but not impossible but getting the ones was hard to come by and two's and three's were not possible so we were looking for big hits.. too often probably. The middle order collaspsed and we were taken to a respectable three figures by some great batting from JC and Tooves, a first ball six from me and two big hay makers from Mike at 11 but to no avail as we were all out twenty odd short.

Journey down to come.

I felt gutted and annoyed but it did subside after an hour enough for me to enjoy the world record and the well deserved Hillary win. I didn't want my competitivness to ruin my enjoyment of the moment and suceeded. It was an exhillarating and amazing evening having a few beers and champers in a tea house in Gorak Shep celebrating the highest game of competitive sport ever played. Quite emmense. Well done Kirtley and Wes for making it happen.

1 comment:

White-Pages said...

great stuff mate. well done on being one of the 'men of tour'!