I summited Everest on 24 May 2010 and became the youngest African to summit the North Face of Mt Everest.
Your main thougts as you start reaching the exit cracks , mushroom rock and the Steps is just to remain focused on getting down and not using all of your energy getting to the summit. The macabre scene of seeing at least 6 dead bodies while you are climbing becomes a constant reminder that this is not a game and the enormity of what you are doing and the dangers involved become so real.
When I was about 20m from the summit I saw two climbers coming down and congratulated them and wished them well on their decent and for a moment got very emotional and tearful but once I reached the summit and computed where I actually was standing and that for that moment in time knowing that I was standing on the top of the world that feeling of accomplishment was so overwhelming. I stayed on the summit for 20 mins but those were one of the best 20 mins of my life. I took my photos all the time knowing that I was only halfway. Sean Disney and I then started our decent and when we got below the second step I started to feel very light headed and realised that I needed to crank up my Oxygen. I increased my flow rate from 2 to 4 which is the maximum and instantly starting feeling better. I then felt as though I needed to pee which is a good sign because it means that your body is not dehydrated and then I knew that I was fine and able to focus on the rest of my decent.
When I got down to Camp 3 I waited for Sean to make sure that Sean was ok and after Sean had had something to drink Sean said to me that I must continue to go down and Sean would wait for the rest of the team
I then told my Sherpa that I was going to carry on my decent and the Sherpa said that he would eventually catch up to me .
My goal was to get back down to Advanced Base Camp. Coming down the North Col the conditions were bad – it was snowing heavily and you could not see much in front of you. I just focused on the fixed lines and then saw an Austrian climber coming down and suggested to him that we descend the North Col together. It took me 22 hours from my summit bid to get back down to Advanced Base Camp.
If I had to advise anyone wanting to climb Mount Everest the most important thing is to be in absolute peak physical and mental condition . You suffer alone up there and it was my inner voice that kept me motivated and focused.
The weather for the team was not great as it seems that the conditions they summited in was near white out conditions in energy sapping deep powder snow even though Sean says that there was no wind at all.
Is it the summit of Everest that really matters? No mountain is worth the lives that are lost, not even Everest. Returning is the success. The summit is only a bonus.
I am an asthmatic and it has happened that I have had to fight to breathe even at sea level There are no boundaries except the ones that we impose on ourselves and that the mind can push the body beyond what you ever thought was possible. Inspire yourself always to push beyond those limiting boundaries.
I believe that what really matters are the people with whom you climb. The climbers with whom you share this extreme, difficult experience of attempting Everest. You learn to become more understanding and tolerant.
Everest can be cruel and heartless. Everest belongs to the Sherpas. Everest either gives you permission to climb or not and decides if you will live or die on the mountain. The Sherpas are the unsung heros of Everest – most Sherpas climb Everest as a job and the money they earn for the season has to sustain them and their families for a year till the next climbing season. Everest is hard and dangerous and it doesn’t matter who you are. Almost half the people that have died on Everest have been Sherpas. They have set up camps all the way up the mountain , setting up tents, carrying Oxygen bottles up, taking food etc. I owe all of my thanks to them.
Everest – the highest point on earth, the absolute limit of where humans can exist.
You can be and do anything you want in your life if you believe in yourself and want it badly enough. Success is an attitude. I believe that the experience of climbing Mount Everest has to change you completely. The summit of your mind is no less difficult and no easier to climb. Your mind has its mountains and cliffs – fearful, sometimes so steep and daunting. But as with Everest where you endure many many days and weeks of perseverance and hardships , where you are stripped of all of lifes luxuries like running water , a bed, a toilet you learn about what is essential in life and what is unnecessary. The true test in life comes after Everest – you cannot survive for long up there anyway. It is people, your friends, your family and your country that keep you going . We all have to remember to just keep climbing and never let go of our dreams and aspirations.