That was the toughest mental and physical challenge of my life. I made it to the summit of Makalu (8,463m), the fifth highest mountain in the entire world. After twelve days off the mountain after a heli-evacuation, I went straight back into a summit push. There were so many doubts and so many fears but I came through on this one for myself.
I had to leave the expedition in a heli-evacuation after 20 days, having slept at Camp 2 (6,600m) with the left side of my face numb. I couldn’t sleep and had constant headaches. I had no choice but to leave the expedition.
I landed back in Kathmandu and had MRI, X-ray, and multiple other scans. It turns out the pressure from altitude had exposed necrosis/infection in my gum from a previous motorbike crash 10 years ago.
I had surgery immediately and was taking a handful of drugs day and night. I was doubtful, but not ready to give up on my Makalu Expedition.
3 days later I flew back to Lukla (2,860m) and waited 9 long days for a helicopter back to the advanced base camp (5,700m). With just one solid weather window left, I didn’t have a good chance for another rotation before the summit push.
So on the 18th, I set off with Tashi Sherpa to Camp 2. On the 19th we climbed nine hours to reach Camp 3 (7500m). After a one-hour sleep at Camp 3, we set off on our summit push at 8 pm. Up the relentlessly steep slopes of Makalu, I battled mentally but knew I would never turn back.
Tired but defiant, we reached the empty summit just after sunrise to take in all of the incredible Himalayas. Behind me (end of the video) you can see Everest and Lhotse from our perch of 8,463m on top of the mighty Makalu Mountain 🏔