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  Mt. Everest 2004: Irish Expedition

Dispatch -  Several Updates

Trekkers march into Base Camp - May 21

This morning we woke up, at Base Camp Wyeth, full of expectation. The group that had left Ireland a while back were due to arrive today. We all busied ourselves packing away supplies and getting the place ready for our visitors. By mid morning we knew that they were close, perhaps an hour away. It was time for tea as most of the packing was finished. Pat was standing in the door of the mess tent, when he announced ‘they’re here’. We looked out and there they were. There was no mistaking them. High above the wa terproof clad people was the Green White and Orange, carried by Brian Mellerick. A very simple word can describe the feelings in the camp, as we watched the Tricolour work towards us - Pride. A second tricolour was carried by Thomas Gormally, while the Red and White Cork flag was held aloft by Sean O’Flynn. Going out to meet them and shaking their hands was a pleasure. They had come all this way to meet us. Walking into Base Camp Wyeth was their Everest. Some looked tired, but all had arrived safely. Dropping their bags, they made their way into the mess tent.

Hot lemon, tea and coffee were served. Dawe produced a lunch that consisted of soup, fried eggs with and fried potatoes. Lots of chat and then it was time to go. The weather was not good, cloud was gathering and snow was likely. They were to return to Gorak Shep and climb to the top of Kalar Pata the following morning. There was time for photographs before their departure - including one of Gerry Reidy and Adrian with the Banner Colours held aloft, the Saffron and Blue had been hanging over the base set radio for weeks.

We watched as they made their way over the Khumbu glacier. It was great that they had made to the base camp, particular as the weather had been bad all morning.

Names of Trekking Group

Jerry Walsh, Cait O’Riordan, Thomas Gormally, Grainne O’Callaghan, Mary O’Callaghan, Sean O’Flynn, Thomas John Beausang, Philip Cullen, Brian Mellerick, Gerry Reidy, Timothy Beary, Francis Monaghan, Joseph Monaghan, Roy Foley, Mary Thornbury, Eamon Muldowney.They were accompanied by Tim Orr, who along with Eamon and Sheila was going to climb Island Peak.

When they were gone we busied ourselves with the rest of the packing. We had decided that we would leave tomorrow and descend with the trekkers. It would be nice to have their company.

Base Camp Wyeth to Lobouche - May 22

Clare, Pat, Sheila and Adrian left Base Camp Wyeth for Gorak Shep. When we arrived, we met up with all the May Trekking Group. It was great to be heading out with such a great bunch of lively people. For those of us who had been on or below Everest for a couple of months, it was important to share the success of the expedition with those who had travelled from Ireland to Nepal. It was good to be with all the people that had travelled out to be part of history.

In Gorak Shep we had a nice lunch. Clare left the group at this stage as she wanted to meet her brother Kevin and Grainne Long, who were on their way to Namche Bazaar. Laughter, banter, smiles and chatting and afterwards we headed off to Lobouche. On arrival we settled into our accommodation. After dinner, the sing song began. Long into the night songs and poetry we heard. ‘If ‘ by Rudyard Kipling, was read out by Sean. This was somewhat fitting as everyone present had achieved so much in their own way.

Lobouche to Debouche - May 23

The following morning we awoke to somewhat better weather. The group headed to Debouche. We stopped briefly at the Everest Memorials to say prayers or just think about those who died on the mountain. A poignant moment and time for reflection. We dropped down to Dughla and continued on Pheriche for lunch.

After lunch we bade farewell to Sheila, Tim, Eamon and Nima who were going to Island Peak. The remainder of the group descended quickly to Debouche. We stayed in the Ama Dablam Lodge that night.Debouche to

Namche Bazaar - May 24

Pat and Adrian headed of early to get to Namche to try to get the IT and communications working. All the others went later and stopped for a while at Tengboche to see once more the beautiful monastery. It was good to be heading down. Both Pat and Adrian noticed that the scenery had changed dramatically in the last couple of months. Flowers were blooming and grass was growing. The post monsoon growth was in full swing. Butterflies and other insects flew about, while bird song from the trees was a delight.

When Pat and Adrian arrived in Namche Bazaar, they met Clare, Kevin and Grainne. Adrian went to the Internet Café, to enlist Pemba to help sort the IT and Communication problems. At long last success, we managed to get some information out. A great night was had in Namche Bazaar.

Namche Bazaar to Lukla - May 25

The trekking group was up early. They had to leave at 07.30hrs. It was a long trek to Namche Bazaar and it was important to leave before the heat of the day. Lunch was in Phakding. Pat, Clare, Pemba, Rinji, Grainne, Kevin and Adrian stayed as a helicopter had been ordered. The weather was not suitable for flying. After waiting for many hours, it transpired that no helicopters would fly that day - due to weather.

Pat, Clare, Kevin, Grainne, Adrian, Pemba, Rinji left Namche Bazaar just at lunch time and sped down the hillside. Adrian was unwell and went at a slower pace accompanied by Pemba. On the way Adrian and Pemba learned of another reason why there were no helicopters flying to Namche. Those that could fly in cloud were involved in a search.

A Yeti Airlines cargo aircraft had left Kathmandu and had not arrived in Lukla. An air search revealed that the aeroplane had crashed into the steep hills to the south of Lukla. Three people had died, there were no survivors. Adrian and Pemba met several climbers, who until several days ago were on the slopes of Everest and were now rushing to get their climbing gear to help in the recovery mission.

Jerry and Ang Rita welcome the last of us into Lukla. They were in jovial mood. It was an act on their part. They also knew about the crash. At the end of the dinner all were informed about the tragedy. It was important that everyone was aware why those living in Lukla were not in buoyant mood.

Later in the evening a large M17 helicopter arrived to carry the mountaineers to above the crash site. Lhakpa, a friend and member of the Irish Team was one of the first to be ready. They had over 500 feet to abseil to recover the bodies of their kinsmen. A sad day for the people of Lukla The mountain community relies on the airlines and many would be related to aircrew - including those who had been killed.

The crash and resulting deaths brings home how harsh the mountain environment can be and how easy things can go wrong. As the night began, Monks started prayers and rituals for the dead and for the safe return of the rescuers.

Lukla to Kathmandu - May 26

06.00hrs. Yeti Airlines cancelled all flights today. All aircraft were grounded due to checks. This was known from the previous evening and Ang Rita and his friends had worked through the night to get all of us out. This was particular hard for him as he knew those in the crash.

Nevertheless at 06.30am the news arrived, here were 5 seats on the next flight with Sita Air. Pat, Clare, Kevin, Grainne and Adrian covered the mile to the airstrip and were met by Ang Rita. All his people had the boarding passes ready. At 07.00hrs the aircraft took off.

On arrival we were met by Mingma, who immediately whisked us away to the Thamel Hotel. He told us that all the others would be on the next few flights. At the hotel he looked for details those who wanted to try to get earlier flights home.

The rest of the day was spent strolling around Kathmandu. Shopping and sightseeing took up time. Some of the lads shaved and had haircuts. Kevin and Grainne got the news that they were on a flight at 20.00hrs and headed for the airport at 17.30hrs. Others also had managed to get tickets changed. Mingma was doing great work and was busy trying to get additional flights changed.

It was time to eat and a table was booked at the Rum Doodle. For those of you who know the graphic account of this truly wonderful climbing adventure by W.E. Bowman, you would understand the importance of dining here. For those who are not aware of the epic involving Tom Burley, Christopher Wish, Donald Shute, Humphrey Jungle, Lancelot Constant and Ridley Prone - I will borrow the words of O.Totter: "Read this book twice, so should everybody who honours courage and enterprise”

We were joined by Alan Hinkes. Later a friend from EBC, Tim, joined us for dinner. He was putting the final touches to the Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition, that had seen a Sherpa known to many for his bravery summit Everest, his bravery was not just for climbing, but for climbing Everest with an artificial leg.



It was a pleasant evening spent in great company. To sit and eat in an establishment that was inspired by high adventure above the Rankling La in the Yogistan was a privilege.

Many photographs were taken and the Traditional Footprint was signed by everyone at our table. Clare chose the spot on the wall and we watched proudly as it was nailed to the wall.

All, bar one hotel bound brave, headed off into the Kathmandu darkness to locate further entertainment - a perfect spot to practice night navigation. After finding somewhere to re-hydrate, some were good navigators and were tucked up just after 01.00hrs. Others perhaps need more practice as the last to cross the post was nearer 05.00hrs. - much too much of the Humphrey Jungle - The Wanderer - approach.

All in all a splendid time, great fun, company, food, fantastic location in a night that all too soon became the morning. Alan Hinkley

Success on Island Peak

At 7:44am on the 25th May, Tim Orr and Sheila Kavanagh (pictured) stood on the summit of Imja Tse (Island Peak) 20,305ft.


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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