Our challenge is over…..

As I opened my tent at 0100 hours ready to set off for the summit of Stok Kangri my heart sank. It had clearly been snowing continuously overnight and there was a thick layer of snow on the ground. It was still snowing heavily with no sign of letting up. We all met up in the mess tent, everyone geared up and ready to go despite the weather. At 0200, Joe our team leader broke the news that I had been dreading. The further snow had made our summit attempt impossible. The risk of avalanche on our route was no no longer an acceptable risk. We had to cross several snow covered passes a glacier and the final ridge, 1200 metres of climb in total, all of which was now covered in fresh loose snow and there was significant evidence of avalanche activity. Phil, Norm and I were and still remain pretty gutted, we were all well acclimatised, motivated and ready to go, so to be stopped in our tracks by some unseasonably freak weather seemed so desperately unfair. Unfortunately though our window had closed and unfortunately our challenge was over. Good leaders some times have to make tough decisions based on the information they have available. This was definitely the right call, by Joe Johnstone who is an experienced mountain leader who has been exceptional throughout as has Hannah our team Doctor. As painful as it is to accept that we could not complete the push to the summit, quite frankly had we gone ahead there was a very real chance we may have lost one or all of our team. We regrouped later on the morning and the decision was made that there was no point in us remaining at Base Camp. Every other group had either left already or were in the process of packing up. The snow continued to fall and there was a real danger of us getting snowed in at base camp. Around 11am we began what should have been a 6-7 hour hike off the mountain back to Stok Village. As a group despite the weather conditions…..we did it in 5!! No one has summited Stok Kangri so far this season it remains an elusive goal!! The day we were meant to summit the weather was so bad all flights in and out of Leh were cancelled. It is the middle of June and according to President Trump there is no such thing as global warming …….Really Mr President ?!! Phil , Norm and I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all of you who have supported us. Regardless of how things ended up, with your amazing support we have raised a great deal of money for a fantastic charity, met some amazing people and had an adventure along the way. Finally just a word about my two climbing buddies, both Phil and Norman have been a pleasure to be with, great fun, highly motivated and resolute to achieve our goal despite the worst weather the Himalayas could throw at us. Gents….thanks and respect !!! 

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