THE EVEREST FILES AUTHOR IS BACK ON EVEREST AGAIN THIS YEAR ON A FILMING MISSION. IN THIS SERIES OF BLOGS HE REPORTS BACK FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON EARTH!
HIGH WINDS AND EXPLODING BOOTS!
The season got off to a windy start! This is often the case on Everest where late winter winds are lurking stubbornly on the slopes. How fast can Everest winds actually be? Well, fast enough to blow a fully grown adult off their feet! This happened to me several times above 8,000 metres on the northern side of Everest. Can you imagine it? A wind so strong it will blow you to the ground? It’s a shocking demonstration of the power of nature.
The fastest wind speeds are certainly in the region of eighty to 100 miles an hour. Phenomenally fast, a reflection of the fact that these are JET-STREAM WINDS circulating around the planet at high altitude. Jet streams are curious natural systems, best thought of as turbulent rivers of wind. Commercial aircraft often exploit them to gain speed and save fuel on their long trans-global journeys.
In the very first days at base camp my tent was ripped by the wind. The whole of the back section of the fly sheet came away. Luckily I was able to pin it down with extra rocks!
THE GREAT BOOT DISASTER
Some years ago, while climbing Aconcagua in South America, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalaya, I had a problem with my climbing boots. I say a problem. I mean a DISASTER!!! The sole collapsed on my special high-altitude insulated boots and I had to borrow a pair to keep my dream of reaching that summit alive.
Now, almost unbelievably, I’ve suffered CLIMBING BOOT DISASTER NUMBER TWO!
I went into the Everest ice fall for a training climb on my very first day at base camp, confidently dressed in my BRAND NEW, BARELY WORN, ASOLO HIGH ALTITUDE BOOTS.
And guess what? When I got back to my tent I saw that they were falling apart. The whole of the top part of the boot had split away from the bottom, the glue in the seal simply splitting and cracking away. The left boot was almost as bad. I couldn’t believe my bad luck. Equipment failures like these are extremely rare and I now had my second BOOT DISASTER. I think the freezing temperatures had caused the glue to crack. My hopes of filming up to Camp One and Two were looking very dodgy indeed.
A LUCKY BREAK For while I genuinely thought my climbing ambitions for 2017 were stalled, but then came a saviour in the shape of a junior Gurkha Officer who just happened to have a spare of boots in my size. When you consider my feet are rather large that was a real stroke of luck! He kindly loaned them to me and the problem was solved.
Thanks, Chris, you did me a real favour there! So my filming trip was back on but first the winds had to stop!
The season was off to a hostile start.
For more information about Matt Dickinson and his book series The Everest Files check out www.everestfiles.com.
For video clips showing the route to base camp check out www.youtube.com insert ‘Everest Files Matt Dickinson’ in the search box.
Yaks on the trail to base camp.
The view from my tent showing a typical base camp scene.
High winds pin climbers down in base camp.
My almost new Asolo boots collapsed after one day in the ice fall.
All photos were taken by Matt Dickinson.