Throughout the day the other team members made their way back to the safety and relative luxury of ABC.
Stories of the summit evening were readily told back in the warm. It quickly transpired that there were quite a few incidents; be them organisational, communication or otherwise that negatively contributed to our low level of summit success.
It has been said that all climbing and mountaineering companies artificially manipulate their summit success figures as it helps to attract future business. They tend to include employed Sherpas and guides. The truth was that out of 14 clients that were on the mountain, 12 attempted summit day and only 4 made the top. It was a disappointing figure especially as the group was considered relatively strong.
Alongside myself, there was one other member who had particular frustration. Young Stephen from Edinburgh who was climbing the mountain in memory of his recently deceased father, had been provided with two empty oxygen canisters but hadn’t realised this till he reached the top of the second step. Despite efforts to rectify the situation over the radio he was left without assistance for almost 1.5 hours! It obviously scuppered his summit chances but thankfully assistance arrived at last allowing him to get back to safety.
Though now all the way back at base camp and previously been told there would be no second chance, there still obviously still existed a lot of frustration at what had happened. As such Steven and I in particular but also with the interest of a couple of others still enquired as to what the chances would be of going up again?
I have no intention of spending tens of thousands of pounds again, plus taking two and a half months off not to mention the whole pain of training and acclimatisation process, just to climb the other 150 odd meters that we would have done the first time. However, as we were here anyway, despite it needing another phenomenal physical effort when all your body wants to do is go home and collapse- why not finish the job off?!
The answer came late yesterday (25.5.10) when to their credit the AP guides Stu Peacock and Matt Dickinson (who throughout the trip with the resources and infrastructure they’ve had to work with have by and large done an excellent job) had chased up possible operators on the mountain. However even the Chinese Mountain Association who fix the ropes couldn’t help as the weather is now closing in.
Disappointed but reflective, we went back to our tents to pack our kit. We’d had the answer; we had to accept what had happened.
We head home and the story ends….