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  Mt. Everest 2004: Irish Expedition: If the Ghosts of Everest were haunting my sleep

Dispatch - May 11: I had a very restless night last night; it was as if the ghosts of Everest were haunting my sleep. A hundred and one thoughts crossed my mind as I relived my final summit attempt of last year.

A myriad of thoughts and actions crossed my mind. This is one of the most emotional times for a climber as he or she prepares for the summit attempt. Having read the accounts of past triumphs and tragedies and having suffered the rigors of high altitude and the pressures it puts on the body, climbers are acutely aware of the fine line between success and disaster.

No matter how confident you are, it would be foolhardy to ignore your fears. Fear is a good thing if dealt with in a logical way and confronted as it arises. Fears need to be eliminated one by one, if possible as they occur, leaving only those ones that need to be dealt with on the day.

One of my own greatest fears on Everest now is that a number of teams who had set summit dates for between the 6th and 13th of May have been blocked by the weather. Our scheduled summit attempt was for between the 16th and 20th May and pending weather conditions we are on target to go for it then.

As we rest in Dingboche, I'm hoping that some of the other teams are going to make a break for it, thus reducing the number of teams holding. The Irish team is in a far better position than larger teams as because of our size we can move swiftly when the time comes. Our Sherpas and ourselves can move as an independent team if necessary; we have no one to guide, which maximises efficiency.

Alternatively, if it works out better, we can join in with a group of teams going to the summit.

It now looks like Everest will only leave a few opportunities open to reach her highest point over the next two weeks. My preference would have been to go for the summit with a maximum of one other team or on our own. This now looks unlikely as a number of other international and commercial teams are holding for a break in the weather. This increases the dangers in many ways.

Such dangers include a bottle neck on the upper reaches of Everest, relatively inexperienced climbers unclipping to get around others. An excessively slow climb increases the risks of weather changes, oxygen problems and frost bite. Pre-determined turning times may be ignored as climbers go late to the summit.

Well, these are just a few of the problems that gave me a restless sleep last night.

Today, as I have breakfast in Dingboche, it all seems distanced. I hold these thoughts in the back of my mind until I return to Base Camp, 5 miles up the valley, on May 13th. Some of these issues may have already sorted themselves out by then. If not, I will address them then, as I realise there is nothing I can do, until we make the decision to leave Base Camp and go for the summit.

May 10th Everest Support Trek leaves Ireland

We all have an Everest and for those set to reach Base Camp to coincide with Pat and Clare's summit attempt on Everest, theirs will be to reach Base Camp. The trek will be lead by adventurer Tim Orr, who now lives in Kerry, and by Gerry Walsh from Blarney in Cork.

The trekkers will arrive in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, a vibrant, colourful city nestled between India and Tibet. They will then fly through the foothills of the Himalayas to land on an airstrip that is cut from the side of a mountain, in a village called Lukla. From there, they embark on an amazing trek as they follow the Dubh and Bhote Kosi rivers. En route, they will view some of the most impressive mountains in the world. They will visit villages and temples and will experience the way of life of a people that live high amongst the most beautiful mountains in the world, a place where mountaineering history was created. They will pass mountains like Thamserku, Kangtega, Ama Dablam, Nupse, Lhotse, Pumori and of course Mt Everest.

They are expected to arrive at Everest Base Camp on the 21st May. Cross fingers all goes well and that both parties achieve their objectives. This would certainly make for a huge Irish party!


Pat Falvey, veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational speaker.

To book Pat Falvey on his 'AGAINST THE SKY' LECTURE TOUR. e-mail us at

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