Everest - Job Done.

May 27, 2019

At approx 0645am local time on Thursday 23 May 2019, I summited Everest - the highest peak on our planet - with my trusted team of guides and Sherpas. This has been our focus for 7 years, for which we’d prepared for through the #adaptivegrandslam team.

As with any significant undertaking, it was a team effort. Thank to to everyone involved with the #AGS team. Thanks to Harry Taylor, Stephan Keck. Mark Woodwood. Russel Russell Brice. Ningma, Son Dodgy and Terry Byrne, and to our sponsor who made this possible for us - Olympian Homes.

The Adaptive Grand Slam Foundation supports those with physical and mental injury and disability through adventurous challenges - providing opportunities and adventures to those who might have previously thought that they were unable to take part.

Here’s the donations link for fundraising, https://www.justgiving.com/ags-foundation  and it also has a page on our AGS website here http://www.adaptivegrandslam.com/donate

Many thanks for any support which you are able to give.

Home from Pumori

We are safely back to a stormy Everest Basecamp after 5 days of staggering views and tough climbing on Pumori. 

It was the most technical and exhausting climb I’ve ever experienced. 

Terry wisely decided to call a halt at Camp 2 due to the potential damage which would be caused to his residual stump by an extended period of ascent to camp 3 which required the team to kick their footholds into snow and ice. This repeated motion was starting to impact the comfort of his prosthetic and the health of his stump. Had he continued, his Everest attempt could have been jeopardised. 

Deciding to ensure that his physical health and the condition of his leg remained his primary concern, Terry waited at Camp 2 to benefit from as much time spent at altitude as possible. He then descended with me, after I’d successfully summited Pumori with a lot of help from HimEx guides Woody and Stephan. 

Except for a touch of the notorious ‘Khumbu cough’ - a persistent dry cough experienced by high altitude climbers as a result of the dryer than normal air - and the need for lots of well earned rest, we are in fine fettle. 

Thank you all for the support thus far, and to Olympian Homes for enabling this expedition for The Adaptive Grandslam team.


A taste of what's to come as the going gets tougher...

We nipped up to Pumori Camp 1 (5,700m) today for some further altitude training given a brief weather window which presented itself. We are now stuck back at BC again with more bad weather, where we are likely to remain until Monday at least. 

Himex now often chooses Pumori for acclimatisation trips ahead of an Everest summit due to climbing teams being able to easily access the comfort of Everest BC, and for the spectacular views which the climb affords of Tibet, Nepal and Everest herself. The traditional Everest basecamp is a crowded place and sits on active ice which moves and melts around the tents during the course of the expedition. Himex sets up camp slightly further down the valley and closer to Pumori where there is more sun and the ice does not shift – making for a much more comfortable experience and a place to call home. 

When the AGS team is able to have another crack at getting higher on Pumori (we hope early next week) - the going will get tough. 

From Camp 1 to Camp 2 (6,200m) the climbing gets increasingly technical with steep and exposed ridges as well as some ice walls with fixed ropes.  
From Camp 2 the climb involves steep ice climbing until Camp 3 is reached at 6,850m. 

Prior to the massive earthquake in 2015 which ravaged the Everest Base Camp region, this route was made dangerous by massive overhanging seracs towering above the shoulder between Camps 2 and 3, resulting in this being an unsafe acclimatisation peak. Those seracs have now collapsed, resulting in a much safer route. 

From Camp 3 the team will attempt to reach the summit - again using the fixed ropes to navigate the many crevasses and ice walls en route - before summiting and returning to Camp 3 for the night. From there they descend to Everest Base Camp the following morning.

Photo credits - Himalayan Experience and Stephan Keck
Also thanks to Alanarnette.com for the photo map which shows the view from the summit of Pumori.

Descending Pumori.  Photo credit Stephan Keck.

Descending Pumori.
Photo credit Stephan Keck.

A yak in front of Pumori.  Photo credit Himex.

A yak in front of Pumori.
Photo credit Himex.

The view from Pumori.

The view from Pumori.

A new base Camp team member joins the AGS summit duo

In the final week before the departure for Kathmandu, Martin and Terry were delighted to be able to confirm the addition of Sam Baynes to the AGS team.

Additional sponsorship secured by the AGS has enabled Sam, who has been undertaking training with the AGS team in the hope of being able to join them for the Base Camp trek, to fly to Kathmandu with Martin and Terry, and she will be hiking to Everest Base Camp (EBC). Whilst a very different challenge to the one which Martin and Terry (the summit team) have ahead of them, the hike to EBC for Sam is a massive challenge.

Sam moved to Austria to work as a physiotherapist, specialising in snow sports injuries but on New Year’s Eve 2015 Sam had a sledging accident, leaving her 50m off a mountain side and sustaining life changing injuries. Sam sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken skull and neck, and lower back and brachial plexus nerve damage resulted in a 7% chance of recovering from a coma.

Since then, Sam’s determination has lead to undergoing life changing therapy and training and her passion is now taking on mountains, something which she survived.
After summiting her first mountain - Gran Paradiso (4061m) in Italy 22 months after injury - she has now completed the national three peaks in the UK (Ben Nevis 1345m Scotland, Scafell Pike 978m England, Snowdon 1085m Wales in 23 hours) and Killimanjaro (5895m) Africa.

Sam feels strongly about encouraging others who have experienced significant trauma, highlighting that there is always an adaption that can be made to overcome the social stigma that has been unfairly given to disability.

The Adaptive GrandSlam project started with providing opportunities for injured veterans to use sport and adventurous challenges as a focus as part of rehabilitation. In 2016 we started providing opportunities for civilians with life changing injuries to get involved with our team, also being supported by the AGS foundation. Sam was our first team member, and when she first joined us her injury was first very new. At the time, she hadn’t taken in just how life changing her injuries were, or how she could aim to take on a serious challenge. Her mindset was strong and she was keen to engage. She joined our training programme and trained diligently, and successfully summited Grand Paradiso, Italy’s highest mountain, with the team. Since then, she has gone on to summit Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and we are really proud that she is now joining us on our Base Camp trip. This proves that everyone has their own ‘Everest’ - no matter what that challenge is.
— Martin Hewitt, AGS Founder

A very British Partnership with Shackleton Clothing

The AGS team is proud to have the support of Shackleton London - a truly British brand - and one which equips users with the best possible kit for extreme conditions. Shackleton London has partnered with some truly pioneering, global and extreme expeditions and we are honoured that they have chosen to support the AGS team.

Martin Hewitt, AGS team leader, is photographed here in the Alps wearing the Shackleton Erebus Jacket
‘With temperatures on Everest expected to range from 10C down to -30C, having clothing which is fit for purpose, compressible and reliable is essential to our success. 

The AGS team is embarking on what we hope will be a lasting partnership with the Shackleton brand for our wider Adventure GrandSlam mission - 7 peaks, 7 continents and 2 poles with the first disabled team. 

#byenduranceweconquer #shackleton #adaptivegrandslam #AGS#everest #summit #adventure #conquergiants #grandslam#takentoextremes #britishmade

Shackleton Clothing - British made, expedition grade apparel. Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton, tested in Antarctica, taken to extremes.

Shackleton Clothing - British made, expedition grade apparel. Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton, tested in Antarctica, taken to extremes.


Everest in The Alps, and final training

This week Martin Hewitt, AGS founder and Everest team member speaks about his involvement with the ‘Everest in the Alps’ event in Verbier – ski touring the height of Everest in 4 days to raise money for a pioneering brain cancer charity.
The event also served as his penultimate training trip ahead of his departure for the Himalayas. 

How did ‘Everest in the Alps’ come about – tell us about it. 
‘In 2015, a team of 14 set off on the first ‘Everest in the Alps’ challenge: to ascend 8,848 metres – the height of Everest, the world’s highest peak – on skis, over four days in Verbier. The event involves approximately 32 hours of uphill ski touring.  Each day the teams climb between 2,000m – 2,500m to reach the overall target of 8,848m in just 4 days.  The inspiration and motivation for the event was a brave little boy Toby, and those like him who are diagnosed with brain tumours. 

The first event 3 years ago raised over £3 million for The Brain Tumour Charity, helping to fund a new research facility - The Everest Centre-  which is now leading vital work in the area of paediatric low grade brain tumours’. 

How did the AGS team get involved with the Everest in The Alps event?
‘One of the organisers of Everest in the Alps is a friend of mine from University and also a previous Para – Tom Bodkin. Tom set up Secret Compass, which is the logistics provider supporting Everest in the Alps. When Rob, the Father of Toby (and the driving force behind Everest in the Alps) met with Secret Compass and the AGS team, we all realised that we were striving for the same thing - adapting to life changing injury through sport and adventurous challenge at the same time as encouraging others to support us. 

Everyone involved thought it was going to be a one-off event, and the fundraising total far outweighed everyone’s wildest dreams, especially Rob’s. It is now going to be scaled up annually – this year was the 3rdsuccessive year of the event taking place. 

The motivations of Cancer combined with wounded service personnel seems to encourage all of the participants to strive - the atmosphere is incredible and everyone pushes hard together. AGS is really honoured to be involved. 

Anyone can sign up no matter what your skiing ability is or record of previous sporting achievement – you just need to have the determination and dedication to train hard. It is a fantastic few days - a gruelling but hugely rewarding challenge and great fun: https://www.everestinthealps.com/information/

This has served as the perfect penultimate training session for your forthcoming expedition – taking on the ACTUAL Everest this Spring. 4 days in Verbier ski touring is a small undertaking in comparison to what you have coming up – but ideal training in terms of the continuous ascent for up to 8 hours per day. Tell us more about your training? 

‘Training for our Everest expedition was not the motivation behind being in Verbier, but we were in fact supporting other people to attain their ‘Everest’ and to support this incredible cause. We became involved with the inaugural ‘Everest in the Alps’ challenge and want to continue to be involved. It is the coming together of people with a strong will to do something to help The Brain Tumour Charity, as well as those with a motivation to push themselves through training and sport. We all have lots in common. It doesn’t matter that the challenge isn’t supporting those charities which the AGS supports – we all like to contribute to the efforts of others and it is of course fantastic training for us. 

We were ascending between 1500 - 2000 metres per day, and used this opportunity to carry our full Everest expedition pack weight, which is aprox 16kg’s to maximise the training opportunity’. 

You have just finished one final week of training abroad before returning to the UK. What were you doing, and why?
‘I have been in Klosters in Switzerland for the last week, assisting with the annual ‘Supporting Wounded Veterans’ ski challenge week – a ski camp for wounded and injured service personnel. It is not just a skiing holiday – but a mentoring programme which assists them with reintegrating into civilian society but at the same time offering them therapy in the fresh air and mountains and through the medium of adaptive sport. I am an Ambassador for the organisation, and am really honoured to be involved. I have found therapy through skiing as training myself, and I am therefore delighted to give my time to help others who are struggling post service, demonstrating to them that there are many others experiencing the same struggles, and that though coming together, we can succeed.  

I am really pleased to be able to use this week to help others, but of course have had the opportunity to undertake my own training for a few hours per day. I have been ski touring between 2000 -3000m of ascent per day, whilst carrying my full expedition pack weight, which will be 16-18 kg’s. I have also been mentoring other wounded during the week and have been a ski ‘buddy’ for those who have joined the ski camp. 

It has been a really positive way to spend my last week training before returning to the UK to have some much needed family time ahead of my departure for Kathmandu on Sunday 24 March.
I have had the time to train hard solo, but have also had time to reflect on and remember why we set up the AGS foundation – to encourage others with life changing injury and disability to strive for progress and accomplishment through sport. 

Adaptive Grand Slam team Chamonix training.

I’m about to depart to lead our latest Chamonix training. This challenge is designed to provide team members with an introduction to glacial mountaineering teaching skills such as Crevasse rescue, using crampons, self arrest, ice axe training and climbing as a team roped up. It is also an opportunity for my Everest summit tam and I to get some valuable quality mountain days in as part of our build up and preparation for Everest next year. This year we have a number of our supporters joining us on tis training too which I’m sure will add value to the experience for all. Our team members will be blogging on our website and facebook pages linked below: