On top of the world!!!
YES!! MADE IT TO THE SUMMIT OF MT. EVEREST!!! Below is a photo of two tired faces and the worst summit photo ever. I'll explain it for whomever is interested. The important part is that I'm safe now. I can call these the last 48 hours the worst.
I will update some more on the climbing side later but first I need to rest.
So we did our Basecamp to Camp 2 to camp 3 and the South Col (Camp 4) parts of the climb. We arrived in Camp 4 around noon and had to be awake and sound at 6pm to leave for the summit at 8pm. I was super excited and really felt fit and ready. We had our lovely oxygen masks on from Camp 2 / Camp 3 onwards and it felt great. I told myself it's like being my own small spaceship.
At summit day we reached the summit after 8,5 hrs of climbing and suddenly I felt very bad. I started caughing liquid, got a headache, felt like I could black out any minute, lost my balance completely, was very short of breath, had blurred vision, worried about frostbite, and could barely stand up. They say it's more risky to get down from Everest and I can definitely say why. Hence this photo since I could not even think of grabbing my camera and push a button. It was bad. Usually my pain level is pretty high and I can honestly say I never felt that way. On our way to Camp 4 we saw two dead bodies being recovered and it was going through my mind. On our way up we also saw some people who could not respond anymore to the question 'are you ok' and I was worried now because I could barely talk myself. Plus my climbing partner Sonam Sherpa said 'this is how people died on Everest' and I thought I might not make it. On top of that the one radio we had stopped working and the normal oxygen flow was not enough anymore so we were running out. Past the Hillary Step (arguable but let's call it that way for now), before the South summit, I first slipt
off the small edge and was hanging on the rope. No balance. Then I fell on ice and couldn't stand up. I wanted to make my last phonecall on my Sat phone and it said on top of the world that the LoS was obstructed by objects (thank you Thuraya). All I could really say was 'more oxygen'. Sonam Sherpa had to leave me there and get another bottle from the South summit. Only the highest Oxygen flow rate could let me stand up and slowly (with many short hyperventilation attacks) go back down to Camp 4. Then the oxygen mask start I to malfunction and the Sherpa was so nice to rotate his' with mine. On my way I slipped a few times and I really felt that was it. Together with the caughing and being short of breath, the oxygen mask also lost its' charm and it made me feel claustrophobic. Camp 4 is 100 meters under the 'Death Zone' and sleeping with the mask is necessary. Plus the stories that I heard any people coming down from the summit who had issues in Camp 4, rested, and never woke up, didn't make me feel less concerned.
Shortly, I cannot be happier that these 48 hours are over. Coming down to Camp 2 and Basecamp made me feel much better, together with the Dexamethasone, Nfidipine, Diamox, and Ibuprofen. I will get back to Katmandu and fly home (USA) via my home country the Netherlands for a well longed oxygen holiday (my country is under sea level).
Finally, thank you for the couple of people that helped me prepare for this climb and climbed Everest previously. Without your tips I'm not sure how well I'd have done on my first attempt. I'm also happy for my great experiences during the other rotations, which makes me feel a little better about the overall experience. This is not the summit day I wished for but .. I did it with incredible people and hopefully some friends for life.
Now: sleep, a real shower, and cheese (I've been craving this for months). And: no physical activity this week