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Sky High 2007

Scouts on Everest

On 24th March 2007, 18 Young people and two Base Camp staff left the UK on the adventure of a lifetime. For the 18 youngsters it meant a complete change of culture and scenery whilst trekking in the Everest region. For 5 climbers it meant the opportunity to stand on top of the world. They spent four weeks together, with a joint summit on Island Peak (6189m) acclimatisation for the Everest climbers and a high point for the Nepal 07 Team.

With a spell of good weather in mid-April, after reaching Base Camp the team were able to start their acclimatisation on Everest. The first obstacle they had to contend with was the treacherous Khumbu icefall known as one of the most dangerous parts of the climb. The icefall is a 600m climb through constantly moving ice, causing the route to be strewn with ladders bridging the many crevasses and climbing the seracs.

Once the final lip of the icefall is gained the mighty Western Cwm opens ahead. The team spent their first two nights on the mountain perched at the top ofthe icefall. The trips through the Cwm were made more difficult by the exhausting heat and the ever present risk of sun burn as temperatures reached 40?c.

The next few nights were spent spent tucked under the impressive South West face of Everest at camp 2. From here they would attack the imposing Lhotse face. This 45? face rises from the back of the Western Cwm for 1200m to the South Col with camp 3 dug into the ice at 7300m. The face is climbed using fixed lines and ascenders. Crampons are essential to bite into the glassy ice. Our bodies find it extremely difficult to acclimatise above 7000m, so once camp 3 has been gained there is no need to climb any higher until the summit push. The team finalised their acclimatisation by walking 2500m down the valley for a period of rest in a oxygen rich environment.

Once back at base camp the waiting for a weather break began. It was important to get an accurate and reliable weather forecast to decide when to launch a summit bid. When the weather looked good we left base camp on the morning of the 17 May for what could potentially have been our last trip up the mountain. At camp 1 it was clear that Nathan was too ill to continue. The rest of the team continued to camp 2 and stayed positive for his swift recovery. The next day he bravely made it to camp 2 but was far from being in full health. Camp 2 turned out to be his home for the rest of the summit bid. The team spent an exhausting day moving from camp 2 to 3 through the ever increasing heat. It was here they started using oxygen to help them sleep and they would continue to use it throughout the summit bid.

The following day brought new ground under their feet as the team ventured higher than ever before, crossing the Yellow Band and climbing the Geneva Spur to reach the South Col. The Col was reached before dusk leaving five hours to eat and rest a little before leaving camp 4 for the summit. At 9. 35pm on 20 of May, the team embarked on the final climb to the summit. The weather was excellent without wind and the team were warm under the protection of their down suits. They made slow and steady progress upwards. They had no idea how long the climb would be, so at 1.00am it was a pleasant surprise to be resting on The Balcony Ledge. The pain of continued climbing was lost from our minds as the sun slowly rose to give us fantastic views across Tibet. The mighty peak of Everest cast a huge shadow over Nepal in the early morning sun. On reaching the South Summit it was apparent to the team that success was within their grasp. The summit ridge and The Hillary Step were all that stood between them and the top of the world. At 6.50am after over nine hours of climbing through the darkness the team took the last few steps needed to reach the highest point on earth. The obligatory photos and video footage needed to explain our journey were taken, we then had a last look around the roof of the world before turning and retracing our steps as carefully as we could. All of us wanting to return safely and tell our story for years to come.