Saturday, 12 October 2013

Game Over

Picture the scene; we are ascending strongly from camp 3 (6900m). It is a steep slope about 400metres in height. The wind is blowing from left the right and is strong enough to blow you off your feet. We are carrying all of our equipment to survive a few hours in camp 4 before setting out for the summit. The oxygen system was working well and really made a difference.

We got to within about 250 metres from Camp 4 to find the fixed ropes set in ice! There was no going on in such high winds without the fixed ropes so the only sensible decision was to turn around.

The route to camp 4

The views were breathtaking, literally on top of the world.  I felt stronger than ever before on such adventures. My physical preparation((some 7 months) was paying off and that makes the outcome a little harder to take.

To have given so much physically (I for one was at my peak), get so close and not summit may seem cruel but any mountaineer will acknowledge that this is the way it goes in the great outdoors.

Accept fate; it just wasn't meant to be. That we tried at all in such testing conditions is testimony to each and everyone of us. We should be humble enough to allow ourselves that much.

Finally, a tribute to my family for their resolve and ability to just get on with life in my absence. I love you all and long to hold you in my arms.

On route to camp 4

Camp 3

Back down at base camp (with my house on my back)

It has been a great journey from start to finish and I return to the UK a stronger person as a result.
Slanthe! :-)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Fixed ropes failure just before reaching Camp 4

This is a very short update as I have very limited internet access.

Unfortunately we didn't make the summit.  We were just 250 metres away from reaching Camp 4 when the fixed ropes failed which forced us to retreat down the mountain. The whole team is disappointed as you can expect.

More detail will follow in tomorrows blog, hopefully I will have better access then.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Message to Children, Teachers and Staff of Holy Trinity Junior School in Ripon

Hello everyone,

I hope that this message finds you well. We have been resting in the village of Samagoen (it takes 2 hours to walk down from base camp and 4 hours to walk ack up) for the last few days and I was invited to visit the local school by the Principal Phurbu Lama.

I thought that you might like to see the pictures of my visit. It was very inspiring to see some great education taking place in such a remote location. The children learn in Nepalise, Tibetian and English! 

Perhaps we can form a link with them Mr Bowlas?

The Children and Staff (above) Phurbu Lama (The Principal) and me (below)

Turning the focus back to the mountain, we will start our bid for the summit today. We are hoping to reach the summit on Tuesday 8th October.

That's it for now. Keep working hard everyone. I look forward to seeing you upon my return.

Kind Regards,


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Back in Samagoen

We have left base camp to spend a couple of days in Samagoen (2 hours down and 4 hours back up to base camp) as the weather has not improved.

A comfortable and clean hostel is our home for a couple of nights and wifi is available when the electricity comes on at 5pm daily.

Our plans at the moment include heading back to base camp on Thursday and then into each camp consecutively over the following days until a summit attempt on 8th Oct.

Very frustrating but we feel rested and reading for a crack at the summit! 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

All change..again!

We are not heading up the mountain today as planned. The weather has, again, played a significant part in our plans. We have had some snow for the last few days at all levels on the mountain and the cumulative effect of this may mean that the slopes high on the mountain are loaded. This could mean that they may avalanche if crossed.

Several teams have departed today in spite of the conditions, which don’t look too bad at Base Camp, for summit attempts on both the 2nd and 3rd October.

Our most recent weather forecast suggests that the 4th October is a better day to summit and after lengthy discussions amongst ourselves and with our Sherpa colleagues we have decided to depart for Camp 1 tomorrow.

We will then stay at each camp in turn before reaching Camp 4 on Thursday from where we will mount our summit attempt on Friday.

Whilst the sitting around is normal for Himalayan mountaineering it is quite frustrating and I, for one, am looking forward to getting underway tomorrow.

The teams that have set off today will clear the path and also alert us to any problems on the mountain which is an advantage.

All white in Base Camp – 28 Sep 13

Discussions with the Sherpa Team

Purba making pork curry for supper which was very nice

Our friends from both HIMEX and Altitude Junkies have now departed and there camps are in the process of being stripped and portered down the hill to Samagoen.  ‘Bon Voyage everyone’.

Interestingly another team has arrived to take their place in base camp which suggests that this mountain is still open for business.

That’s it for the next few days. I look forward to sending an update upon our return from high on the mountain. ;-)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Ready to go - roll on Sunday

We have been in Base Camp for the last few days and our plan is to start out for the summit on Sunday 29th Sep. All being well we will summit on Thursday 3rd Oct.

Our friends from both Himex and Altitude Junkies were successful and are already packing up and heading back to Kathmandu. We enjoyed celebrating with them last night.

The weather forecasts have been inconsistent recently and this has proved to be quite frustrating, however, we are keen to get started on Sunday and have been repacking our equipment to make sure that we have everything we need.

We will be sharing the mountain with a Japanese team who are filming their journey for a children’s programme and a few other teams.

Mt Manaslu from Base Camp captured this evening

Mummy’s little soldier (he knows who he is) is in fine fettle as are the rest of us.  Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Team acclimatised following climb to Camp 3

We are now back in base camp having successfully completed our planned acclimatisation rotation. Everyone is well if a little tired.
Our two nights in camp 2 and walk to camp 3, to drop off high altitude clothing and equipment, will serve us well when the time comes for us to go for the summit. We will now rest in base camp for three or four days and watch the weather which is forecast to bring snow!

We're probably burning round 4000 Kcals per day on the mountain and temperatures (degrees celsius ) are approximately as follows, Camp 3: - 10, Camp 4: -13 and Summit: -21

If we get a lot of snow then we will need to assess the stability of the snow pack, as we go higher, regarding avalanches. If the snow pack is unstable it could be a long wait, however, we have time.
Our friends in the HIMEX and Altitude Junkies are summiting today and all is going well for them at the moment.

Some pictures from our latest trip.

Climbers on the route from Camp 2 to Camp 3. The summit looking ever closer.

Camp 3

Climbers on the route from Camp 3 to Camp 4

Jon, Brad and Chris on the way to Camp 2 (6700 metres)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

All change - snowstorm, helicopter, Keith Lemon

Our arrival in Camp 1 was met with an overnight snow storm that saw us back down in base camp yesterday thwarting our planned acclimatisation rotation, sleeping at Camp 2 (6300m) for two nights and dropping some rations off at Camp 3 (6700m) before returning to Base Camp.

Descending back to Base Camp from Camp 1 in the snowstorm

That said the weather has changed today for the better and all the weather forecasts, from different team sources, are consistent in stating that we have five days of good weather. We are off again to try and get ourselves acclimatised by sleeping at Camp 2 and tagging Camp 3 ready for our summit push.

Our friends in the HIMEX and Altitude Junkies, teams may be going for their summit push in the next day or two and we wish them well.

On a lesser note our colleague Ben took ill on the way to Camp 1 two days ago and has gone back to Kathmandu for medical tests. He was in fine spirits upon his departure in the helicopter and we wish him well. No doubt he and Little Chris will be down town Thamel, Kathmandu before long. Have one for us lads!

Ben in fine spirits before his departure in the helicopter

On another note, while in Camp 1 yesterday morning we met up with Bradley (Keith Lemon) Beresford who is sporting his new look moustache. 

Keith Lemon (lookalike) visits Camp 1

That’s it for now. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hey ho away we go

Today we will head up to Camp 1 again for a sleep before heading through the icefall to Camp 2 for another two nights. On Saturday we will try and tag Camp 3 before returning to Base Camp on Sunday where we will consolidate, assess the weather and rest before heading out for our first crack at the summit which will take five days.

We have very closely followed the pattern that the more experienced commercial teams have adopted successfully over the last 6 years. It would be folly not to do this given the experience of both Russell Bryce from Himex and Phil Crampton (Dad was a Royal Engineer) from Altitude Junkies who have both been incredibly supportive of us all. Thank you both!

Whilst in Base Camp we have been looked after superbly by Purba and Nema who produced a delightful chicken curry last night and a steak meal two nights ago.

Brad, Jon and James tucking into the steak dinner with Nema looking on

The steak dinner produced on a camping stove (just needed some red wine)

Yesterday we sorted out food into 24 hours rations for both this next trip and for the first summit bid. Jon who has sourced and prepared the food for us talked us through the rations available which are fantastic. My rations are supplemented with Yorkshire tea bags and marmite. Thanks again Jon – Sterling effort!

Jon talking us through the rations prior to us preparing what we want to take up the hill individually. From the left Chris, James, Ben, Brad and Rob.

On other matters, Little Chris left us by Helicopter two days ago to undergo some medical tests in Kathmandu. He has been discharged from Hospital to await a flight home for further tests. His wit and banter have been missed and we wish him well. See the REMEC blog for a picture of him in the front seat of the helicopter.

Jim testing out his oxygen system

Mt Manaslu captured this morning

We are all on good form and looking forward to getting on the way again. The rest of the team have set off and I’ll be following them after posting this blog. Feel free to comment on the blog and ask any questions that you may have. I will do my best to answer them. Best wishes to all and see you soon. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Base camp preparations

We have had a couple of days resting in Base Camp preparing oxygen masks and food for our next (and penultimate) journey high.

On Thursday we will head up to Camp 1 again for a sleep before heading through the icefall to Camp 2 for a sleep. On Saturday we will try and tag Camp 3 before retuning to Camp 2 again to sleep. On Sunday morning we will head down to Base Camp again to consolidate, assess the weather and rest before heading out for the summit which will take five days.

Mt Manaslu captured last night courtesy of Jon Evans

We are all good and looking forward to getting on the way again. The mountain is majestic and very appealing to us all in spite of the objective dangers that we must face in the steep ice fall between Camp 1 and Camp 2.

Our fellow climbers have returned from their last rotation before the summit today and they are all well if a little tired. It was good to listen to their stories. From my perspective it will be good to get high again and get the job done.
Find out more and read our team blog 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Back in base camp after reaching 6000m

We have just returned from Camp 1 after our journey high on the mountain to acclimatise. Prior to our departure we participated in the Pugja, a religious ceremony delivered by the local Lama to pay homage to the Buddist and mountain Gods. The Sherpa community will not start to climb seriously on the mountain without a Pugja which involves providing gifts (coke, sprite, beers, sweets and biscuits) and the Lama reading ancient scripts. It was a humbling experience.
We used our harnesses, crampons and ice axes for the first time in a long journey across the glacier up to Camp 1 which sits between 5300 and 5700 metres above sea level. It was an exhausting climb which took some 4 ½ hours and saw the majority of us beset with AMS. However, after an overnight rest the symptoms reduced significantly to allow some of us to ascend further.

Camp 1 looking up

The route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 (6300 metres) takes approximately 4 hours and ascends a massive serac field using fixed ropes. It was great to be high on the mountain and to see the spectacular summit that is our quest, even closer. Upon arrival back at Camp 1 the much sought rest did not come and Brad and I woke exhausted having not slept well at all. Still it is good to be back in Base Camp.
Whilst at Camp 1 we met up with the teams that we have met previously on the trail and it was good to see them all again. They are on the second rotation on the mountain sleeping at Camp 1 and then sleeping in Camp 2 for two nights before descending to Base Camp again.

Since we have been away several more teams have arrived in base camp and the place is full and busy as a result.

The Serac field between Camp 1 and Camp 2 – An Adventure

Here’s my TFBSN back in base camp after our journey to Camp 1 for two nights with an acclimatisation climb through the ice fall towards Camp 2 - here and now.

I am thinking, that was tough and after my worst nights sleep (another indicator of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) it’s good to be back in base camp. We will all benefit form a few days rest before heading high again on our next rotation

I am feeling tired after pushing myself too much on the climb to Camp 2 yesterday.

My body state is showing signs of being run down.

My spirits are high.

My needs are to rest, eat well, sleep well and speak to my family. 

Happy Days.

Find out more from our team blog  a few more photos on there and it's updated by the team and myself on a daily basis.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Thinking, Feeling, Body State, Spirits and Needs (TFBSN)

A great and wise friend of mine, Barry Thorogood, introduced me to the concept of TFBSN as a way of checking in with ones self (it is just as effective when used by team) to be mindful, present and in the moment.

By asking ourselves the following questions, what am I Thinking? What am I Feeling? What is my Body State? How are my Spirits and what Needs do I have at this moment? We gain an awareness of the here and now which can be used to great effect personally and professionally. Give it a go.

The plan
So here we are ready to go high on the mountain that we set out to climb a few weeks ago. There can be no hiding from the fact that My Manaslu is a giant at 8156 meters high and therefore it is not without its objectives dangers. That said, we have mitigated against the ever present dangers by preparing our selves and our equipment fully. We are prepared and ready to go and start working at extreme high altitude.

Working high involves slowly moving higher and higher on the mountain over a number of days/weeks to the point where we have all of the food and equipment in the right place and we are acclimatised sufficiently for a summit attempt. At the moment we are planning a number of rotations that will see us set for a summit bid in the last week of September or first week of October.

Our first rotation will take us to Camp 1 (5700m) for an overnight stop. This is approximately 5 hours from base camp. After spending the night at Camp 1 we will move through the fixed ropes and ladders that have been set by our Sherpa teams towards Camp 2 (6300m). We will have short rest at Camp 2 before returning to Camp 1 for another overnight. The next morning we will head back down to base camp to rest for a couple of days.

The weather forecast is good, our equipment is checked, (re-checked) and ready.
Here’s my TFBSN sat in a tent 4850 metres above sea level - here and now. Mindful and in the moment.

I am thinking that we have done all that is required to start working high. I think that the team is ready and that we are well mixed with enough skills and experience to succeed. I am feeling strong and ready for the next part of our journey high on Mt Manaslu. My spirits are high.

My body state is getting stronger after a bad cold which exacerbated the normal symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), mainly a debilitating headache for me, which everyone is affected by.

My needs are to get higher on the mountain to acclimatise more, ready for our summit attempts in a few weeks time.

So, what are you Thinking? Feeling? What is your Body State? How are your Spirits and what Needs do you have at this moment? Give it a go. Gain an awareness of the here and now which and use that awareness to be your best. The best Mum, Dad, Teacher, Manager, Supervisor, Team Leader, Sports Person, Project manager, Police Officer, Soldier, Judge, Vicar, Salesman or Mechanic. You; here and now the best you can be.

Find out more from our team blog  a few more photos on there and it's updated by the team and myself on a daily basis.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Base camp (4800 metres above sea level)

We have arrived at base camp and started to sort out both our personal and team equipment ready for heading up high on the mountain. 

Dawn treated us to a stunning view of the mountain.

We are living about 80 metres lower than Mt Blanc! So most of us are huffing and puffing a bit due to the altitude, this should decrease over the next few days/weeks as our bodies adjust.

We have been busy sorting out the equipment ie communications, rations, cookers, gas, sleeping systems and putting every tent (23 of them!) up to make sure that it is serviceable.

We are planning a short walk up to the edge of the glacier tomorrow. This will aid our acclimatisation. We will also continue with the sorting of equipment and settling into our individual tents which will be home for the next month or so.  

Our pugja is booked for Thursday after which we will begin our climbing rotations on the mountain.

Find out more from our team blog  a few more photos on there and it's updated by the team and myself on a daily basis.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Equipment leaves by Yak, pack horse and porter

The majority of our equipment left Samagoen this morning by Yak, pack horse and porter.

Cham (The Sirdar) sorting out our loads to go up to base camp

We have mostly stayed put in the Hotel (3rd world style) taking care of washing and sorting thorough our personal equipment in anticipation of being reunited with our mountaineering equipment at base camp.

We will head up to base camp tomorrow after breakfast and spend the next couple of days sorting equipment and settling into our home for the next month or so.  If the weather permits we will try and gain a little height on the mountain to further acclimatise. 

In out first couple of days at base camp the sherpas will arrange for a pugja. This is a religious ceremony steeped in Buddist traditions to show respect to the mountain and ask for permission to pass safely.
More about that later.

Find out more from our team blog  a few more photos on there and it's updated by the team and myself on a daily basis.

Till next time.

A message to a stranger - Louis Carstenz

Dear Louis

When I saw your mountain bag on the back of a pack horse my mind began to wonder.....

I know that you are from South Africa, Louis because I could see your address label as the horse went past. 

How old are you?

Is this your first attempt to climb one of the world’s 8000 metre peaks or are you a guide of some sort and therefore an old hand?

Are you married or single? Do you have children like me? What does you family in South Africa think about your desire to travel around the world to climb a mountain?

I wonder if we will meet high up on the giant that we are setting out to climb and communicate through snatched breaths or oxygen masks. I will be looking for you Louis.

Do you have anything else to do on your journey? Experience all that Kathmandu has to offer, meet the people of Nepal or live a simple life for a few weeks to declutter your mind and order your thoughts for the future?

Are you on the run from a busy career, taking a break or just up for a challenge? Climbing Manaslu is sure to be that!

Are you going to plan your life from now on in I wonder?

Whoever you are Louis, may you find what you seek, Sir.

Good luck on the ‘mountain of spirit’, Manaslu.

Yours sincerely,


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Saying goodbye to our porters in Samagoen

The last 24 hours has been quite interesting. We arrived in Samagoen and said goodbye to our porter team that had been with us since Arughat. It hardly seems like eight days since we set out from Kathmandu.
Samagoen is a small place from which all expeditions to climb Mt Manaslu are mounted. It is from here that teams move up to the base camp from where the climbing starts and ends.

Saying goodbye to our porter team in Samagoen

As anticipated Cham (our Sirdar) set about getting our freight into the queue to go up the hill to base camp. 

We have met a Japanese team in front of us and the mixed team that we met earlier are already up in base camp. We can only use the resources from the village and these are limited and today our equipment has started to be transported up the hill by Yak, pack horse and porter.

Today we all had a walk out of Samagoen with a view, gaining a little height to aid our acclimatisation. Rob and I walked up to base camp, which is situated at approximately 4850 metres above sea level (about 38 metres below the summit of Mt Blanc) and back. It was quite tough as we’ve only been up to 3550 metres so far here in Samagoen.

The team remain in fine fettle and we are very much looking forward to heading up to base camp soon.

Views of the Manaslu massif from Samagoen. The summit is above the building that is under construction on the left of the photograph.

Please feel free to look at the team blog which has more photos and updates from the team and myself. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Message for Holy Trinity School


Dear Children, Teachers, Support Staff and Governors at Holy Trinity Junior School in Ripon

I hope that this message reaches you all well and hope you are settling back into school after a great summer holiday.

I always remember the start of a new term as an exciting time. I’m hoping that you will receive this message tomorrow before ending your first week back at school. 

I am now on the expedition to climb Mt Manaslu that I came to talk to you all about before breaking up for the summer holidays. We are able to blog and as promised this message is for you all.

We have been away for nearly two weeks and tomorrow we will complete a seven day trek through some beautiful countryside. After this we will make our way up to the Mount Manaslu base camp from which we will start our climb.

Please feel free to look at my blog and also the team blog which has more photos and updates from the team and myself. 

Work hard everyone and I look forward to visiting you in school upon my return.

My very best to you all,

Graeme Taylor

Nearing the end of the trek (Phase 1)

Our trek from Arugat to Samagoen has one day to go. We are staying overnight in a place called Lho today and will arrive in Samagoen tomorrow. As the team blog has illustrated we have travelled through some spectacular scenery. As we have ascended the river Buddhi Gandaki and crossed from the east to west bank daily we have been privileged to see nature at it’s finest in both the flora and the fauna. We have also taken the opportunity to revisit mountain first aid skills.

The terrain has opened up today, the temperatures are much lower and the river Buddhi Gandaki is far below.We have gained 2500 metres in height over the last few days and will gain another 340 metres tomorrow on the trail to Smagaoen. We should get our first glimpse of the Mt Manaslu tomorrow and we are all looking forward to seeing her for real. The shear size of these Himalayan peaks is a sight to behold and can stop you in your steps when you see them for the first time. We will be getting to know Mt Manaslu very well over the next few weeks.

We will stay in Samagoen for a day or two while Cham, our Sirdar (the boss of the support crew), finds a new porter team to take our equipment and food to Manaslu base camp. Local rules dictate that we must use Samagoen people which is a shame, in one respect, as i feel that we have a great rapport with the team that has helped us so far. That said we are giving another team the opportunity of some work.

While we are in Samagoen we will take a few acclimatisation walks to prepare us for walk to base camp which is a massive 880 metre ascent in one day.

Once in base camp we will have the opportunity to prepare our clothing and equipment before starting to carry loads up the mountain all the while acclimatising in ultimate preparation for summit attempts at the end of September.  

The team - Chris, Jon, Brad, Jim, Rob, Ben and Little Chris.

If you are interested in finding out more about the expedition please feel free follow the team blog which is updated daily by the team and myself.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The journey commences


THE JOURNEY - We're here after a long but uncomplicated journey from London to AbuDubai and then on to Kathmandu after a 10 hour wait. The preparation now begins with the repacking of bags ready for our 9 day trek into Manaslu base camp.

The busy roads of Kathmandu.

Our hosts in Nepal meet us at the airport.

The sorting out of clothing, equipment, food and medical supplies.

Everyone is in fine fettle and we are looking forward to getting out on the trail tomorrow morning. We are going to look at the oxygen system today and visit an orphanage to see if we can help them with a water filter.

Oxygen Training -better get tis right! 

I was so humbled by these children and their main carer Syham. The spontaneous show of appreciation was so humbling - in fact; it floored me! Wonderful! We can sort the water filter for them and I hope more!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mt Manaslu - 10 days to go


It's 10 days to go until we depart for Mt Manaslu. I am in a process of transition as I swap my everyday business shoes for high altitude mountaineering boots and head out to the Himalayas.

The transition involves making sure that all of the projects that I am involved in from a business perspective are running well and will continue to do so while I am away and packing my mountaineering equipment ensuring that I have everything that I need.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Preparations for Climbing Mt Manaslu (8156m)

For all the latest live posts from the expedition to Mount Manaslu please use the following link:


The physical preparation continues with building up my cardio-vascular endurance and muscles around my weak knee. In May I participated in a charity bike ride, with some friends. We cycled from John o' Groats to Burley in Wharfedale. I managed to cycle 413 of the total 503 miles.

The knee has been playing up a bit but it isn't going to thwart progress. I'm in great shape and looking forward to this expedition with great enthusiasm.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Next Expedition - Mt Manaslu


The mountaineering focus this year has turned to Mt Manaslu which I will attempt to climb in late September/early October as part of a team.

The details from Google can be found below,

Mount Manaslu 8156 meters is eighth highest peak of the world. Manaslu located along the border of Nepal and China situated at west central Nepal. It was first climbed in 1956 by a Japanese expedition team. Manaslu is located about forty miles east of Annapurna range, the tenth highest mountain of the world.

It's going to be an adventure...............