Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Well a combined blog today with very many mixed emotions with my day and stay here.
Mixed, not because there are some happy moments, because sadly there simply are none. The entire stay has been hypocritical and very much unprofessional from the hotel point of view and the “security” of the hotel.
The mixed emotions really is my sadness that we have left a country and people that looked after us from start to finish and could not have helped any more and have arrived “home” to a country that we work for, a country that we were born in and a country that we gave willingly to to find that we are treated as prisoners and criminals.
Yesterday, day 9 I spoke to a security guard who had just swapped a shift and is now sitting outside my door. He said that at least 80-90% of his shift is bringing takeaway food to the hotel rooms of guest, meaning most of his time is taken up with guests having to buy in additional food to live on, and to me that is shocking simply shocking that having been forced to pay £1750 you then have to supplement you shitty food with processed crap from McDonald’s/Subway/Dominos.
When Pete and I returned we both needed a specific regime to ensure our health and welfare was met and more importantly we needed good quality food to ensure we could build ourselves back up. But what we got was restricted exercise, restricted ability to get strong and shockingly bad food, where we both on many occasions if not daily just could not eat it or it was so bad it was inedible. Both Pete and I have had to supplement our daily food with outside orders and have paid in excess of £200 just to feed ourselves.
From day 1 of incarceration it has cost us additional money, from day 1 this quarantine has continued to drain both Pete and I rather than build us up which is what was so very much needed. But it feels we have just been thrown on a pile and left.
Pakistan and country with a history of unrest. Pakistan a country where poverty is everywhere. Pakistan where the monthly salary for a teacher is $70.
When Pete and I had to leave in a hurry our friend Sakhi and his brother done all they could for us. Why? Because we have money? because they want our money? Because we are special in some way? NO
Sakhi went out of his way to book us flights, time after time he tried getting us flights, to Europe or the UK.
When we had 12 hours notice of the shut down and we just had to go, Sakhi arranged everything. We left Pakistan having NOT paid for our hotel in Islamabad, not paid for flights out of the county and not finalised payments with Sakhi, when we hurriedly asked him what we owed he said “ Not now, not to worry, I have no worries now but you two still have many days to get home, we can sort it out later”……….
Later! He was happy that we would honour our debt and of course pay him back WOW! These people have so very little but give so very much, and the Uk literally has stuck their fingers up to us.
08:17 this morning, day 10 I was called by reception to be asked what my plans were when leaving, I was able to leave at 1minute past midnight tonight. I explained I was getting the train from terminal 5 and would leave 08:00 she then said the absolute worst thing she could have said to me…… “if you want breakfast you’ll have to pay for it now”
Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Well today’s early wake up was a PCR test being delivered to my door, so at 07:15 I stuck an elongated cotton bud up my nose…..
(Thank fully at 21:30 I received an email to say it’s negative, again…..)
So just to confirm that’s now:
2 vaccine injections
2 Lateral Flow tests, negative
2 PCR tests, negative
Before flying out to Pakistan.
50 days of seclusion in our bubble
1 lateral flow test, negative
1 PCR test, negative
Return to UK
11 days of quarantine
1 lateral flow test, negative
1 PCR test, day 2, negative
1 PCR test, day 8, negative
Perhaps in 2 more days Boris might think I’m safe enough to be allowed home to loved ones!
Has anyone else done this amount of tests? Hmmmmmm
Today’s grumble is more of an admittance of breaking the rules, openly going against the rules and doing my own thing.
At 18:40 I called the hot line, 7709 security and asked that I be allowed to go for a walk. He said because of staff shift swaps I’d have to wait until 19:15, 35mins. When I asked why this was an issue because historically I had very rarely been walked all the way outside, usually the over weight security guard would waddle just as far as was needed to show some willingness, so needing someone to escort me was just bollocks!
Frustrated at 19:15 I had, had no notice I could go, 19:20, 19,25 and at 19:30 I just left!
I walked out past 2 security guards and as I approached the 3rd “guarding” the lift (stairs and escalators are out of bounds) he asked which room I was from, 3306 I replied and continued my escape….. from then on nothing was different, no other checks, no other issues, just a straight forward walk outside.
To me, it just goes to show that these nonsensical rules are pointless, pointless to the cause of stopping the spread and very much pointless in getting us inmates to abide by the rules.!
Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel. Heathrow
Today we sink to a new low.
On “asking” to be allowed to exercise I was told it would be a 20-30 min wait
54 minutes later I was allowed to exercise….
So written in our “Welcome Booklet” it clearly states that we should “Sanitise hands regularly” and most interestingly when going out for exercise we should “make use of the hand sanitiser”
The hotel have provided us with a few items so we can wash and clean including hand sanitiser, now the irony of this sanitiser wasn’t lost on me, with my very basic understanding of this awful, awful virus we are all running from.
My understanding is that it started in China, Wuhan a province of Hubei. Now depending on your take on this situation some feel they didn’t tell the rest of the world quick enough or they didn’t tell the rest of the world how dangerous it was.
Now, on picking up the sanitiser, which I’m to use to stop the spread of this virus, I’m encouraged to use it several times a day.
Surely, surely we have enough companies in the UK who could make and supply sanitiser to our hotels, another own goal Mr Johnson
Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Well, day 6 saw us get our hopes up of a positive end to this imprisonment but no sooner were they ski high, they were dashed by an email.
We had heard from the BBC that a law firm was representing a client who was attempting to bring the government to court for breach of human rights by making travellers pay £1750 for the quarantine hotel.
Both Pete and I contacted them and explained our situation and, with fingers crossed we hoped to hear back with positive news of the possibility of getting a refund of the money.
But sadly just before five, we heard that the claim is being made only by those who have NOT paid the money and have NOT quarantined yet, so it will appear we are too late! But we have given our details to them and should any case studies be needed we will be at the front of the queue.
Food today sunk to a new low….. the simplest of meals, Salmon fillet, potatoes (boiled), peas.
Very basic and actually I was looking forward to it. But with the knock on the door the brown paper bag looked innocent enough but once on my desk/coffee table/dining table I could see it was flipped upside down so that it looked a pile of mash! So that was another missed meal, another waste.
Let’s hope tomorrow brings greater improvements!
Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Pete and I had to wait for hours queuing up to get our passports checked when we arrived.
And today I have had reason to reflect on a conversation that I had with the immigration officer.
On being called up to the kiosk and going through the formalities of entry he asked which hotel I was quarantining in…. I replied Sofitel, “bloody hell, you’ve landed on your feet there, that’s a 5 star place”
I won’t lie, on hearing this I had a slight smile for the first time in a few days with the thought of swimming’s pools, spas, gyms good food and a roof terrace to relax on.
Now of course, I’ve already gone into the lowlights of this stay:
No leaving your room
No roof terrace
No open windows
No fresh air in the room
No change of sheets
No change of towels
But one thing I had hoped and one thing I thought might save my stay was the quality of food, but no, sadly even Boris had a hand in this!
I thought as it was a 5 star hotel the kitchens would be dishing up some quality food, because after all what else have they to do, but I was wrong.
Each day the food, which I believed was cooked by our hotel is delivered to our doors with a gentle knock on the door and a brown paper bag has the meal in, inside plastic trays and clingfilm.
Now as Pete is in another hotel we have been able to share pictures of the food and share our disgust at the quality being served. Now as we are over 30mikes from each other and staying at two very different hotels one would expect we had very different food, oh no…… it appears that the food is “catered” for by an external supplier which just ships the crap in. Pete and I have had identical meals, in identical bags, in identical order.
No different to our outsourced hospitals and schools.
So Boris, please explain why it has cost us £1750 to stay in this shithole?
Cost of cleaning? No!
Cost of food? No!
Cost of staff? No!
Cost of utilities?No!
And whilst I’m at it…….Security what are we being secured against?
We have already agreed to follow your draconian law, we have already gone into our savings to ensure we follow your rules so why is the hotel now being run by security and not staff?
Why do I have to ask permission to exercise?
“Dial 7709, can I please go outside?”
“Dial 7709, can I please have some more fresh water?”
Dial 7709, can I please have a clean towel”
The “security” and I use that term very loosely as I have some very good, professional, intelligent friends who would in this industry and these at this hotel are very far from professional, sit around the hotel on their phones doing nothing, what emergency or incident will call for over 150-170 security guards? I really don’t know with the threat of a £10000 fine for breaking these rules.
Boris, Mr Johnson I would very much like a quick chat if you can find 10mins just so I can explain how you have totally, totally ballsed this up…
Oh yeah my tummy has turned again so I’m back on the toilet again!
Red Refugee, HMPSofitel, Heathrow
Today was a much better day with my highlight being a visit to the toilet where I DIDNT have diarrhoea, yipeee.
It really has been a drag with everything we have tried doing to keep being sick hasn’t been fun but today let’s hope we’ve turned a corner.
Pete am I had some great news from Danielle (Healthy Human Danielle) who has worked with Rab to replace some of our gear that we gave to the HAPs, that’s very kind of them and we look forward to using it whilst doing our demonstrations and presentations, I certainly know Pete is looking forward to it……
I’ve attached a couple of images today which really sum up this very poor attempt to successfully manage a hotel.
There are no hotel staff left on the peripheral just standing on reception following a very scripted process, all other staff are hired in security doing the very minimum that they need to, to get by.
Everywhere you look there is a high viz best with a security guard on his phone, yes 2 interesting points here ALL security I have seen are male, male between 18-25, And everyone of them is glued to there phone either texting, calling or on social media, I would seriously question if any of them knew what to do in an emergency or should an inmate abscond.
I would doubt a real EOP was created for this gig’ I suspect an umbrella company has compiled lots and lots of generic assessments and got them passed by Boris and his chums because large amounts of money have exchanged hands.
Talking of money, how much does this incarceration really cost?
Yes I am in a 5 start hotel
Yes I am in London
Yes it’s 11 days
But, this hotel is partiality shut down and closed.
No restaurants, No Bars, No Spa, No Gyms, No escalators, No housekeeping, No maintenance, Nothing that you would recognise as a hotel service.
The food is absolute minimum quality, I have eaten better in a hospital.
All food is Luke warm by the time it arrives, all food is in a plastic container, all food is tiny portions, all food is bland and tasteless.
And what really surprises me is the rubbish and waste, we get 2 single use, plastic bottles of water each day although being in the UK tap water is perfectly drinkable.
Bread rolls, cakes and biscuits are wrapped in plastic for us to just throw away?
All rubbish is left outside our doors to be collected, I have watched our maskless security collecting the rubbish and it ALL goes into a blue bag tired up and taken away…. I can’t believe these bags are then re-opened and sorted for recycling elsewhere. It’s shocking what the hotel and company are getting away with and I sincerely hope someone catches onto this and it is questioned. It’s one of the biggest “sticking plasters” over the governmental crack I have witnessed. Mr Johnson, if you are reading this where is the £1750 going and how can you justify the increase by £500?
Oh, oh yes if you want some additional reading read the full list of “Jobs that are exempt” from quarantine. Pete and I studied this in some detail. Boris you appear to have looked after your chums
The delightfull 5 star cuisine
Covert security, fully observant on his phone
Red Refugee HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Well what an annoying 24hrs!
I genuinely thought that despite the location and lack of freedom I could at least eat and gain the weight I had lost, but no either a bug or food poisoning had different ideas.
I have spent the past 24hrs either on the toilet, being sick or in bed. I’ve felt really awful and had thought maybe, just maybe despite all of the tests and checks I might have caught the dreaded COVID-19. It was a massive relief to take a PCR test at 08:00 and get the results by 21:00, negative!
I have very few highlights to report so today’s diary is pretty limited. I hope tomorrow I am feeling better and able to give you a better on-site into quarantine.
Red Refugee, HMP Sofitel, Heathrow
Like most days I woke at 06:30 to end up laying in bed for the next 2 hours with very little to do other than watch the Olympics on tv.
My knock on the door for breakfast happened at 08:30 as a highlight of the morning I jumped up to find a mini, tiny, minuscule packet of Kellogg’s fruit and nut, a nursery school sachet of milk and…….. salt and pepper!
Sadly the breakfast done very little to break my prison fasting so I resorted to left over pizza and nuts! I only hope during “yard” I can bribe others and get hold of the snacks and treats sent from loved ones.
I spent a few hours creating a circuit in my room where simple exercises can be done I think I’ve covered most major muscle groups now.
At 14:00 I called the exercise hotline to go into
the yard and was escorted down to the car park which looked like a scene from a zombie movie. Pairs of people walking round the perimeter just looking at the ground.
The instructions given said you had 4 x15mins exercise breaks throughout the day but looking at the recording method I could see it was was a guidance rather than an order so I stretched the 15 minutes to a full hour without anyone batting an eyelid.
I managed about 6km in 250m loops, but without trainers it was a bit clunky walking on the hard carpark in boots.
On walking into my room to do a few circuits I felt really really exhausted and could hardly do 1 circuit let alone the 4 I wanted to do.
I started to feel sick and developed a really upset stomach which stayed with me all afternoon, I spent most of the day In bed with a headache. I’m super pissed off as I just wanted to eat and get strong whilst I’m here but it appears this is being delayed.
On waking and hearing the TV still playing you couldn’t write what was on…….(image 2)
At the very point a knock on the door signified my dinner had arrived.
Although I really wasn’t hungry I had ordered a chicken dinner which I knew I could pick at if needed. Sadly the quality of the food was once again pretty poor, no different to a airline meal or hospital meal. (image 1)
With this disappointment I went back to bed which was sadly going to be a very very long night….
Red Refugee Etheridge
As the flight draws to an end the thought of being back in the U.K. is becoming more appealing with the continuing cry’s of the little’ns on the flights. My heart goes out to the parents of those young ones who have cried the entire journey and with very little rest-bite have been able to keep a relatively sane head, it’s a shame the same could not be said for the cabin crew, who have successfully been able to ensure every stereotype of poorly managed crew have been achieved.
“Don’t touch me” as a passage tried to get to the loo
“You’ve already had 1 drink” a request of a mum asking for another water
“Its too busy now” on asking if we could use the toilet!
Yes, you had to ask to use the toilet.
We could only assume this treatment is all part of an elaborate plan to condition us ready for the prison experiance we have all paid for, I expect the crew have been tasked to start the process of breaking us down. Well, it’s working.
As we ready to land in Blighty we are tired, hungry and irritable.
Well on landing and going trough lines and lines of people crammed on top of each other Pete and I have eventually been separated!
Petes gone to HMP Kings Cross where as I am staying local at HMP Sofitel, Heathrow.
So bearing in mind both Pete and I have had both vaccines, 2 lateral flow tests, a negative PCR test in the past 48hrs and have worn a mask throughout our journey, we arrive at Heathrow and the very first, the very first person we meet is maskless, bloody typical.
Well done Heathrow, we’re proud to be back!
As I’m sat on the transfer bus I can count at least 9 noses….. 9 bloody great noses sticking out from masked faces. Do people not know we breath through noses? Get them covered you stupid, stupid people.
As we drop folk off at their specific prisons we get a glimpse of things to come, The Atrium looked good from the outside then exercising in the yard, a yard or about 60m by 30m were inmates lunging, striding, jumping, leaping just to get there daily exercise in. It was like a scene from Shawshank Redemption without the heat….. I’m planning which gang to join to maximise my chances of either escape or survival. I’m researching gang culture and prison slang as I sharpen my shank, made from my toothbrush. Who’s the daddy!!!!!
I arrive at my stop in the drizzling rain. Which sums up the mood of all of today’s intake.
The yard looks bigger and less manned……hmmmmm this could be a weak point.
I’ve already developed a limp and feel my trousers slipping down below my waist belt. I’m constructing a story to fit in with my chosen gang, but my travelling shirt and floppy hat are giving me away somewhat!
After more administration I was taken to reception, which was just like a normal check in but with a cheerful note of warning, “ try to read your quarantine manual as soon as possible” for which is a relatively large booklet of do’s and don’ts whilst staying in quarantine.
You are escorted to your room by security and handed your key card.
The room, at any other time is really quite nice,, big bed, desk, tv, mood lighting and a spacious shower and separate bath which is a nice relaxing space, if on the other hand you have to spend 24/7 in here for 11 days it’s really, really small.
You have a few plates, cutlery and a mini fridge. Yea towel and washing up liquid and are reminded again that the rooms are not cleaned during your stay so you should keep on top of the cleaning yourself.
On arrival I immediately ordered a pizza as I hadn’t rated since the day before and although it took time, when it arrived at reception it was bought up to my room by security, which I see as there main role, just delivering food and care packages to the inmates.
I have 2 security outside of my room who just sit on their phones. When I open my door to check out escape routes they instantly put phones down and stand up….. I smile and withdraw in.
My evening meal is delivered with a knock on the door and a brown paper bag left with my chickenless, Red Thai CHICKEN curry……this does not bode well for the menu!
I opt for an early night as it’s been a long, long couple of days.
I hope tomorrow I get “yard time” and a chance to exercise. In the mean time I take my first bath in 2 months and sip an English cup of tea.
*****Warning Moan Alert*****
What a complete and utter mess.
For the next 11 days and 10 nights I’m going to moan profusely, I make no apology for it and I’m not going to hold back.
Pete and I left the Uk back in June, June 17th having been through a complete and utter balls up in cancellations and administration.
More than 6 cancelled flights, 2 flights being cancelled with less than 48hrs notice.
2 PCR tests
3 lateral flow tests
But, we carried on moving forward and eventually arrived in Pakistan where from that point on, the people and country done everything it could to help and continue our momentum into the mountains.
To our return home to our HOME country.
On arriving into Islamabad we were waiting to hear if on the 4th August the country would be taken out of the “Red” zone and put into “Amber” which would allow Pete to return to his family to isolate in the comfort of his own family home.
But no, politics got in the way unlike India that has more cases per 100,000 than Pakistan it was deemed necessary for it to stay “Red” where as India moved quietly into “Amber”.
This of course means Pete and I will be returning to the Uk from a “Red” zone and have to be locked up for 11 days against our will!- 11 days in a hotel room, in London.
Obviously we tried every European country in amber first, but almost all have shut their borders to “Red Refugees”.
And, to make matters worse Pakistan has taken the decision to lock down from 00:01 last night. So our evacuation just took on a new sense of urgency.
I write this whilst sitting in “an” airport having just found a flight back to the UK. And whilst laying on a dirty unwashed floor we are hurriedly completing:
Passenger locator forms
Hotel booking forms
Although this was provisionally done for me the forms needed amending and printing before we could even check in (It is proudly announced that this is an English rule not Pakistani)
So, we await a plane to take us to our forced prison and to see what delights await us.
Having lost about 14kg in body weight and having exercised everyday for the past 5 months I sincerely hope this prison is ready for us or Mr Johnson will be getting a phone call!
We recognise when we head off on expeditions, it’s not just us going- we bring a community of supporters with us. Our ‘home team.’ Many days of worry and sleepless nights for those at home. Your comments and messages have motivated us every step of the way.
We would like to thank the amazing number of people who contributed to our just giving fund, this was a huge surprise to us and so appreciated. Rallying round during a time of need for us is something we won’t forget. We look forward to connecting with you all when we are home and sharing our legacy plans.
A round up of the supporters we have had during this expedition, from months at home to our time over here in country. Their generosity and passion to support the cause, despite the effects the coronavirus had on businesses and everyone individually was so selfless.
With huge thanks to:
Porsche Centre South Lakes
Healthy Human Life
Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake
Milne Moser Estate Agents
Who Dares Cares
Handsome Hounds Grooming
Dr Cath Moran
I. A Colinson Builders
And most of all our amazing Ady of Woodland Xperiences, our lifeline of communication and huge supporter of time during this expedition.
And Danielle who has ensured along with Ady that you have all stayed in the loop and been on this journey with us.
A very humbled
Pete and Paul
“What is failure?
Failure is never dreaming big.
Failure is cheating yourself.
Failure is not recognising your worth and journey to where you are.
Failure is not learning the lessons given to you.
Failure is thinking you have done enough.
Today, it is with the greatest of sadness that Pete and I have had to end our amazing expedition in Pakistan.
We were due to make our way to K2 base camp and start our planning for the ascent. On receipt of 3 different weather forecasts we can see that heavy snow and wind will dominate the mountain for at least 6 days, then we will need a period of consolidation before it can be worked. This will mean a further wait of 9-10 days before we can climb.
Pete and I simply do not have the time left on our visas/permits to climb, to be able to safely achieve our goal. The decision has been taken out of our hands.
As you would expect we are truly upset with this ending and as committed mountaineers would have preferred almost any outcome other than this.
But we know that for some families they will not have the opportunity to welcome home their loved ones and it’s for this reason we choose to return proud and thankful.
We are proud to have been part of a season here in Pakistan where so many people have shared their successes over the past weeks and hope that along with us they will continue to support the beauty of this country and the people who selflessly give so much to ensure climbers have a these opportunities.
Pete and I can both, in time reflect on this adventure and know for sure we have positively impacted on the lives and livelihoods of many, many Pakistani men.
Those that have contributed to our cause, we can’t thank you enough and we look forward to connecting with you all on our return home to discuss how we have and will support the future of this mountain and it’s people. It means so much to have had your support. We won’t forget it.
We can hold our heads up high and know that we have done our best and most when asked for, we can and will remember that we gave up the opportunity of success for the safety of others and can celebrate that for us, this was our summit.”
It’s 04.50 and you’d think you’d be fast asleep the day after returning from the mountain, but I think we have existed for days with minimal sleep our bodies are just adapted to having less. This got me thinking to how amazing our bodies actually are on expeds and can any benefits come from this this state?
Both Pete and I have lost loads of weight, and I mean loads…. I personally usually float around 85kg and would estimate I’m now 70kg at the very most and likewise for Pete, that’s about a 15kg loss over the period so far BUT although this makes for some quite drastic changes in image this does very little for functional fitness and strength, we are still able to climb, work, think.
Whilst reflecting on the recent football tournament and the English competitors in the Olympics Pete are I questioned “Is there are harder more intense sport than high altitude mountaineering”
As stated above we exist in an emaciated state from start to finish, no nutritionist to ensure correct intake. Some days Pete and I consume less than 200cal’ and can easily burn 8000-10000 cal, during a 15-27hr day.
Hydration, ALL water is obtained by melting ice/snow. As bout 90% of snow and ice has been urinated on, thrown up on, or worse…… so to find a water source that doesn’t taste of such is near impossible. Pete and I have been known to consume less then 200ml of water in 24hrs, especially during summit pushes as it’s just awful and sickening.
Food, we have shipped out some of the most tasty food ever, some fantastically well researched meals that at sea level taste amazing but at altitude it’s simply impossible to eat, just impossible. We have every chocolate variable to hand….. just disgusting
Every cake….. awful
Every dried fruit and nut combo…… minging
Energy gel, sugar based energy, powered protein drink…… all needing piss stained, poo infested, puke inducing water to eat!
Constipation/Shits well because of the above it’s inevitable that this is a problem. We could go days without going to the toilet because the regularity of convenience is simply not there. Even the luxury of the international shitting stone does not exist on the mountain so you literally “lock down” until it’s clear to go. The longest we’ve had this Exped is a full 7 days without shitting….. then boom!
Rest, again like the food intake I think we believe we need more than we actually get. In a typical mountain day Pete and I will exist with 2-3 hours of sleep a day, some days we just rest our bodies in the stench of our tent. Laying in our own putrefied odours neither of us mentioning “Jesus is that you?”
Mental health…….wow! I’m sure some well paid boffin out there or at least my plethora of friends in the industry could analyse Pete and I state pre and post Exped, but we can both see and feel how our mental health is affected throughout this period. The remoteness of an expedition is the biggest challenge. No or poor communication with loved ones and children. Long, long periods of loneliness, periods of isolation, periods of personal doubt, illness, physical injury, doubt, fear, all of these peck away at your head and create this “fog” that can take over a healthy cognitive mind. And sadly when losing friends to the actual mountain your are climbing this can be overwhelming at times.
So what other sport or activity pushes the body so far? What sport or hobby does this to your body and still expects for optimal output?
……..so now at 05:58 we are expected, whilst in prime health to detail our next steps.
Well today, is admin day. Pete and I will wash and wash again, we bloody stink. Really really bad. We have had days of no washing and really bad personal admin.
We will tend to cuts, scrapes, coughs and ailments.
We will eat, drink, eat, drink as much as possible.
We will tally up all that was lost on broad peak. So far we know:
3 mountain tents
2 mountain stoves
4kg mountain food
100m climbing rope
1 Down suit
Once this is done we HOPE the mountain gods will allow us the time and conditions to move round to K2 base camp and ascend what we have tried in 2016, 2019. This is of course a really simplified way of saying we will now try to climb K2 but I am saving you the details of needing:
Coming to K2 will follow……
Just to let you know we have some new video footage added to a couple of past posts so please have a look. In the mean time Pauls busy doing his laundry......
Thank you for the super kind words of support and all of the emails and texts, they boost Pete and I massively.
So I write as we have just eaten half a jar of Italian olives and drunk in excess of 12 cups of tea and half an imported Italian San Francisco salami……. Oh yeah and Pete and I stitched up a porters hand!
Yes, yes we are back at back at base camp having left camp 3 at 09:00 this morning we headed off with gusto and arrived about 6 hours later.
We arrived to the open arms of our team, Coca-Cola and solid sugar biscuits.
So for the second time Pete and I tried for the summit of Broad Peak. Sadly and very much again out of our hands we failed to reach the summit.
At 03:15 last night we gathered all the information to hand regarding the quality of snow pack, environment of the mountain and decided that the safety of us and our team was more important than the summit.
Those of you that have been on a winter skills training with me will know that when we make decisions on the quality of snow it starts 3-5 days before but also when you are physically in-situ we look for:
Sounds of snow, polystyrene squeak
Layering and “slab” effect
Bonding of snow crystals
Gradient of slope
All of the above was taken into consideration at 7500m, after some very long hard days, after sleep deprivation, after being food deprived, after being dehydrated. At 03:15.
We won’t lie that the previous days fatality on K2 didn’t factor in our decision making but only an idiot would take the most up to date information and ignore it.
It’s never easy to turn your back on a summit push, it’s certainly not easy to turn away on the 2nd attempt which was emotionally and physically draining. Pete and I have had to find more resources and more resolve than on any mountain to date.
We choose to put ourselves in a position which many others would see as challenging but for some reason we come back, and back and back...even though nature plays with us..we are sat where our tents should be at
I’ve no signal but expect it will pop in at some point.
Pete and I have had a challenging time with hearing all the news from K2 and here.
Rick Allen was a good, good man who we had coffee with just a few days ago. I wrote of him in my last blog and he supplied us with some really great information which undoubtedly saved further casualties. He was a gentleman on the mountain and epitomised Great British eccentricity. Both Pete and I send our condolences to his team mates and family, British mountaineering has lost a true inspiration.
With a weather window today we hope to try and push for the summit. We are tired and would obviously have preferred not to have been doing this twice but……. We are very much realists on this mountain and at 7200 me know the script, we know what needs to be done.
One thing by following a tracker is you don't know what is going through their minds. However I can only report on what I see from dots and arrows. So I am going to assume nature is not on their side at the moment and that they are descending and are at C1 as we speak. Now we can only wait for one of Paul's amazing updates. Stay tuned folks
As at 21.16 Hrs the lads were well on track. However they have encoutnered a large wind slab and as experienced skilled climbers and leaders they have called it too risky at the moment for avalanche so are heading back to C3 to replan and rest.
So on watching the tracker..like a hawk it has started moving. As you can see from the image below they are at 7148m as at 1915hrs and the photo below could be them too. The white head torches can be seen. Going to be a late night every one...Coffee on
So after the last epic summit attempt they are now on route yet again. Paul And Pete are stubborn but as we all know they still take life before triumph. They are on the Mountain currently at C2..Storms have blown through the camp sites and left behind challenges of it's own like Stoves going missing in the wind...lucky our lads prepare for this. Photos of them preparing with a great meal and Mint cake...
There is another climber on the mountain with great photos..check out Yuli_zi on instagram or Facebook
Pete and I have spent many hours understanding the community needs in the mountain areas and also Pakistan as a whole.
Enriching the lives of these people and leaving the place better than we found it is always of great importance to us.
Pete has shared some great ideas that will be great for our legacy projects and also for our future here.
Having shared some future plans with Ateef our Pakistani liaison officer we can see some real benefits to be had with spending time and resources with our HAPs. Like with our training pictured here.
• Technical ability
These 3 strains will be the key areas that we hope to leave behind and build on for future years.
We have such a great resource here at base camp, 5 really good men who are from smaller villages who are directly impacted by tourism and mountaineering. With our broken Pakistani/British communication we speak often about what is needed and very much to our surprise the answer was never “money”.
Pete and I look forward to developing this more when we have a successful ascent under our belt.
No, it’s not an adult literature collection although blue helmet is very much a condition that affects climbers in cold weather my mind at base camp today is very much on our team and it’s components.
I refer to the team as components as it feels this is very much a machine which has essential components to make it function effectively.
Let me explain.
On the outside it will appear the objective is that Pete and I stand on top of both mountains, on paper although challenging it’s a pretty simple task. Especially as we are camping at the bottom of both.
Pete and I hate the word “teamwork” but it’s where my mind goes when looking at our amazing, truly motivated machine.
Roger, of the red hat fame was one of the first books I was forced to read at school, along with Billy, yes of the blue hat family used to get up to all sorts of shanagins but the key message was that it took co-operation to pull off the pranks and quite honestly petty theft of apples…..!
Today, Pete and I called a meeting so that we can plan our next stage.
It will appear this is the first time western customers have asked everyone to be involved.
We asked for each of our components to attend our coffee morning at 10:00.
We plan to get back onto Broad Peak as soon as possible, we plan to Summit Broad Peak as soon as the weather clears up. This of course was a surprise to our team BUT, amazingly they clapped at our decision.
EVERYONE in that meeting was overjoyed to hear of our plan and strategy.
Now I’ve been a manager for over 20 years in some capacity, schools, charities, private organisations and government bodies and without a doubt have made many, many mistakes, but as you would expect also learnt huge amounts from those mistakes which today, now we believe enables us to create this machine that will succeed.
We started the meeting with the thank yous and of course the acknowledgment of the loss of life on the mountain. The acknowledgement that every member of our team played a part in the recovery and successful search of over 14 life threatened climbers.
Seeing our “cook boy” Hassan, the person responsible for washing up, cleaning and general “goforing” looking sheepish it allowed me to explain in detail.
If Pete and I had not have been up on that mountain, on that day, on that time we could not have helped in the way we did.
If our HAPs Bishir and Mohammed had not have helped with getting tents and equipment up to camp 3, Pete and I would not have been on that mountain at that time.
If the chefs had not have been up early and gone to bed late making us quality food we would not have been fed and watered and given strength to climb and overcome adversity. Pete and I would not have been on that mountain at that time.
If our place to relax and grow is not clean and tidy, if Hassan did not clear away, sanitise or support our every whim, Pete and I would not have been on that mountain at that time.
Our machine at base camp is fucking awesome because we have allowed it to be. Each of our team knows how important it role is.
And when it comes to the petty theft of stealing apples there is no better team to do it.
During the night of the rescue it transpired that ALL of our team were up and playing a part in the rescue.
Not one member was in bed, not 1 member felt he wasn’t part of the team that was needed. And remember our team includes those 1000’s of miles away in a different time zones. Without our tracker, without our locations Mr Kim’s whereabouts would be unknown.
The warmth and love on our return has been unbelievable not only by the team but other teams and nationalities on the strip.
Pete and I are super lucky to be given these opportunities and tomorrow we are hosting a training for our team and those around base camp in basic rescue and rope techniques to assist In future ascents. Although you will acknowledge this information is somewhat late it has been a great, great honour to be asked to deliver it, now when the lack of knowledge has been identified there is no better time to help learn and no better time for students to want to learn.