Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 143, July 2021 July 2020 - Page 37

TRAIL RUNNING wouldn ’ t have been able to attempt my dream of the double summit , Big E and sister Lhotse . But then the weather closed in completely and I had to finally admit defeat .”
Surviving the Deathzone
Remy says the weather was just one of the obstacles they faced , with the mountain once again claiming victims amongst the various climbing parties . “ Tragically , we lost a Sherpa from our team when he fell into a crevasse . They tried to rescue him , but he was already gone . Then on the descent from Camp 4 to Camp 3 , we were held up behind a rescue party bringing the body of a deceased climber off the mountain . It took 10 Sherpas tied to the sled to get him down from 8000 metres . That ’ s why we had to sign an indemnity form stating what we wanted them to do with our bodies if we passed away on the mountain . I said they must leave mine in a crevasse , as I know how hard it is to get bodies off the mountain .”
While many climbers experience physical ailments at 8000m , Remy says she was fortunate to enjoy a smooth experience all the way up . “ The climbing was hard , but I felt fine – no blisters , no aches and pains , and I didn ’ t get one headache up high . At that altitude your body starts shutting down , essentially dying , hence they call it the deathzone , but my body continued to feel strong , despite us spending three nights at 7200m and then another night in the death zone at 8000m , which is a very rare sequence of events . I didn ’ t think , oh my God , I ’ m in the deathzone … in my head it was just another camp higher up the mountain , closer to my goal . I think it is possible that I have a natural affinity for higher altitudes , and some of the Sherpa said that I must come from Sherpa blood , bless them !”
Remy at Camp 3 ( 7300m ), with Mt Everest in the background
High Camp and ‘ High High ’ Camp . Due to there being very little snow , the conditions on Lobuche were gnarly and tough . Think jumaring up vertical rock walls with crampons , hard ice and so much exposed rock . Some highlights include close to perfect weather conditions on our Lobuche summit bid , morning coffees while watching the sun kiss the majestic mountains that surrounded us , and then trekking into Everest Base Camp and marvelling at the little village that has been set up here . Home for the next 5-7 weeks .
Today our Puja ceremony was conducted , a ritual performed by a Lama that gives us climbers a blessing to climb Everest and Lhotse . A shrine was built , prayer flags hung , offerings aplenty ( food , drinks , etc ). The ceremony took three hours and involved chanting , throwing rice , presenting various offerings , and dancing . Only after this ceremony are we given safe passage to climb , because the mountains are sacred and treated as such , with respect , humility and grace . I feel so lucky just to be here , one day at a time moving closer to kissing the foreheads of Everest and Lhotse . But for now , even walking briskly to the toilet at night feels like an immense effort .
The last few days involved some small hikes to keep active and more technical training in the icefall , hanging out with the Sherpa team and climbers , getting to know everyone even better . What a fam !
The last few days Big E showered us with a snow , thunder and wind storm . Her grand presence was felt with force and beauty . The downpour of snow is a relief , because if the mountain is too dry , the climbing becomes way more dangerous and technical .
Your grandeur amazed me , you have a piece of my heart ... your moving ice , snow bridges and vertical walls hypnotised me . I used all my strength to move swiftly , with humility and with gratitude to have this opportunity to experience your greatness . There is no question about it , the Khumbu icefall is a place like no other . The day after we crossed the icefall , a massive snow bridge we had crossed collapsed and no-one was able to move up until the ice fall doctors , our mountain heroes , re-fixed the route . The Sherpa chant mountain prayers when we are climbing the mesmerising maze of ice and snow . Prayers for safe passage . We are insignificant out here .
Back at Base Camp after dropping low for a few days to breathe in some rich and joyous oxygen , and I didn ’ t know seeing trees and blooms , and touching grass , would make me so blissfully happy ! Now we are watching the weather and planning when to head up , up , up . Yesterday an amazing team of 12 Sherpa fixed the lines all the way up to the summit of Everest , so now we wait for the same confirmation for Lhotse . Being here at Base Camp again feels like home . I feel energised , but also a little overwhelmed for the mission that lies ahead .
The buzz at Base Camp is a little tense at the moment , with everyone closely watching the weather window and strategising when to make that big push up . I need two good days of weather up high , for my Everest-Lhotse double summit journey , so for now it ’ s still a waiting game . But the summits are only a fraction of this whole life-changing experience . The friends / family made , the dancing , the laughing , the sharing tents , the card games , the crying , the advice sharing , the culture learning , the joking and messing around . All heart-enriching moments that I will never forget .
Long overdue update from Everest Base Camp . This year the cyclones hit us left , right and centre , bringing a lot of snow with a higher risk of avalanche . Safety first , always ! Time to listen to the signs and pack this one heck of an adventure up . So , my darling Everest and Lhotse , thank you for sharing your wisdom , for guiding me through one epic adventure , for teaching me many lessons , for allowing me to grow in ways I never thought possible . My heart is heavy beyond words , but that is big mountain life , the summit is always the cherry on top , but it ’ s everything along the way , that ’ s where all the true magic happens . Deep down the heart knows that . The ego just takes a little time to get there .