I have some news that I haven’t been spreading widely – but now the time has come.
I’m in Nepal.
I’m climbing Mount Everest.
I’m hoping to become the first woman to achieve the ‘Pond to Peak Challenge‘.
It’s been a journey of five years to get here – delayed by a whole year due to Covid. And I didn’t want to say anything too soon – afraid of pre-empting or scuppering things.
But now I’ve been here a month. I flew to Kathmandu where I was COVID-tested (negative, I’ve had the vaccine!). I then took a tiny plane to the town of Lukla at the base of the Khumbu Valley and the start of the trek to EBC (Everest Base Camp). On route I climbed Lobuche Mountain (which is higher than Kilimanjaro) and was an essential part of my acclimatization process. I reached Everest Base Camp around the middle of April where a tent has become my new home. And after resting there for a few days I made my first foray onto the mountain – reaching Camp 2 (there are four in the total ascent) before coming back down to rest again. NB. You can’t just climb from the bottom to the top of Everest in one go, you have to adjust slowly to the increasingly thin air.
In the great tradition of Himalayan Mountaineering Duos (started by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay) – I am climbing one-to-one with a Sherpa Guide. His name is Kami and he’s climbed Everest 17 times. He’s a rock-star on the mountain. Everyone stops us to say hello (which gives me time to breathe). He’s become a diamond to me and I couldn’t be doing this without him. I follow his feet wherever they lead.
I’m now writing this from down the valley where I’ve come for a few days rest and recouperation before I make my ultimate summit bid which should be around the middle of May (weather permitting). Now that I’m fully prepped – it will take about a week to climb from Base Camp to the Summit and come back down. I will attempt to keep you updated on social media from here on in…
So there you have it.
But here’s the thing.
This mountain madness of mine started after I swam 21 Miles across the English Channel in 2015 (and I confess it’s not something I find easy, or even enjoy – it’s hard work!) But it’s become part of my conversation with Nature – who didn’t let me conceive a baby, but then let me swim across her sea. Now I hope she will allow me to climb to the top of the world. But she will decide, not me.
My journey from England to France; and now from sea level to as-high-as-it-gets is not about my own personal strength and determination. And my journey through multiple pregnancy loss and eleven rounds of unsuccessful IVF wasn’t about that either. It’s all been a journey of acceptance – that something bigger and more magnificent than me is in charge.
But I do recognise that it is my pursuit of motherhood that brought me to this place. And that’s why I prefer to call Everest by her original Tibetan name: Chomolungma ‘Mother Goddess of the World’.
All love from us both.
PS. I’m not fundraising for this Challenge – I’ve done quite a lot of that over the last few years and I figured that it’s been a difficult time financially for many – but I am in the early stages of thinking about establishing my own charitable foundation when I return which would support people to ‘live big and brave’ (my catch-phrase) whatever disappointments they face. I would love to have your support for that, in time.
PPS. There will be a new book (my third) next year – watch this space.