So, all the climbing team were due to to meet at Heathrow on Sunday evening at 6:30pm at the Qatar Airways check-in. Richard and I had just had the mega Sunday lunch at the Carlton Tower Hotel with all the family and grandchildren - 13 of us in all (luckily I'm not superstitious), a fitting send-off. Sort of the last supper but with the best wine!
Lots of good luck cards and text messages from friends all added to the occasion. There were two articles in the Sunday papers, a nice one in the Mail on Sunday which managed to get just one thing wrong, but it was our website address which I had been trying to publicise to encourage some more donations to Alzheimer's Research UK. Never mind, we registered a new address within hours so the link still worked. Another piece in the Sunday Mirror which used perhaps a little more journalistic licence. At any rate I struggled to remember saying some of the things that were attributed to me - but I have to admit that they made a good story!
At Heathrow we waited and waited. Duffy (Graham Duff) and Rikki (Hunt) turned up just a bit late but no one else made it. Then one hour later Richard got a text from the famous Arctic explorer, balloonist and mountaineer David Hempleman-Adams, our Expedition leader, to say he was at the wrong terminal and lost!
Finally we all made it to the plane in dribs and drabs. We flew to Qatar and then on to Kathmandu. The advance party of Graham Hoyland, Gina Waggott, Alan Hinkes and our chef Chris Bates were all waiting for us. Iceland banners were everywhere, at the airport and the hotel. They had done an amazing job getting our kit and the food out of storage and organising everything including a warm welcome.
The weather was gloomy with smog pollution and overcast, but we were all in good spirits. We had a slow journey to the Summit Hotel through bad traffic and arrived just before dark in time for photos and a welcome party. Kathmandu is four and three quarter hours ahead of the UK!
We checked into our rooms and enjoyed a few Everest brand beers before a Nepali dinner. Richard went to university in Durham with a Nepalese Princess who was there to meet him which was nice.
After dinner we were introduced to our team of Sherpas who shared a beer with us. It was a little difficult to get to know them in this situation but we need to - our lives depend on these guys. We gave them Iceland shirts, fleeces, jackets and hats. I hope they like us...
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