DESERT to EVEREST (personal account on Myanmar First Everest Ascent)

 

It is always in most adventure junkie’s DREAM to do something BIG “whoa-things” or something COOL, like climbing Highest Mountain in the World or Rappelling into Deepest Caves or  Hike through PCT in shortest duration. As a dedicated boulderer like me, I always seeks something which I feel FUN doesn’t matter which is big or small. A small plastic climbing holds from Rock Republic to House Size Boulders in RAK or High Balls in Hampi can satisfy me.   As I am working in Dubai as an office clerk as well as in a boulder gym , I always have tight schedule of work. Dubai lifestyle crammed my days into work and home luckily with weekly outdoor exposure. Being a climbing aficionado mainly on Boulders and Sport Crags, often on Myanmar & India Himalaya ranges, my holidays used to be super budget trips. I even though myself an ANTI-EVEREST person who is trying to avoid all these Wallet Crying Adventures, like Everest or Kilimanjaro and stuffs.

But HEY, LIFE is full of Surprise.  In late 2015, my homie from Myanmar send me a short message, “ Are you joining with me…………….. to EVERST ?    I thought he was fooling me around , so my quick reply was, “HELL YEAH” , and after covering the whole story in a few chat,  it came to realization that this sh*t gonna happen for sure.    And everything will be FULLY SPONSORED.  Climbing Expedition, of course organized by guiding company, expected crowd at EBC as well as long queue on the most frequent climbed southeast ridge route. But I am born-ready for climbing whether in Rock republic or Jebel Jais or even Everest. And reaching the 8848-metre summit of Everest maybe the most prized goal in the world of mountaineering; however we seek the First Apline routes in Myanmar in the past, this time is challenging too as no Myanmar national has tasted that glory. And we could be the first.

 

Long story short, my climbing buddies, Pyae Phyo & WinKo did one of Myanmar’s Highest  Mt.Gamlang Razi Alpine Frist Ascent in 2013. The same sponsoring company sponsoring a crew to Everest in 2014, unfortunately, Myanmar First Everest team were luckily escaped from EVEREST WORST disaster which killed 16 Nepalese Sherpas during the tragic avalanche on Khumbu Icefall western spur.

This time 2016, Myanmar EVEREST Team will be REFORMED, with Pyae, Win and one more, and the one additional lucky guy was me, who work in Dubai as a boulderer. It make me realize that my 11 year continuous craziness on mountains and NOLS Himalaya Mountaineering experiences are starting to pay off .

Myanmar Everest Team reformed with three climbers WinKoKo, PyaePhyoAung and myself (NyiNyiAung) whom representing TCCM ( Technical Climbing Club of Myanmar) sponsored by HTOO group of companies ,HTOO FOUNDATION,AGD BANK,YAG(Yangon Airport Group),Htoo Housing and Property Development,*Asian Wings Airways and with many other support from our friends and Families.

Most importantly my company GLOBAL CLIMBING, with generous support from Pete, who give me such long Leave for 3 months , also Vanda and all colleagues who are willing to share my workload during my climb.

Three of us flew to Kathmandu in January as a preparation to meet cordial hosts from Nepal, Sumit Joshi and team from Himalayan Ascent who gonna help us from base – to – the top of the world.

We officially started Myanmar Everest Expedition from Yangon International Airport on 26-March.   The uncertainties of an expedition started from LUKLA flight for Everest trip . We spend 2 days in small airport and flights are kept canceling due to bad weather. However, we were not very disappointed because we can catch up hipsters in the town at International Tattoo Convention happening the same time.

 

 

We then landed to Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary airport runways and start our hike to base camp. Hiking from Lukla to EBC is stunning. From Base Camp and beyond are also terrifically & beautifully surrounded.  We all brought our National Flag to Hoist on the Summit of Everest, as well as sponsoring company’s flags.

 

I brought a UAE flag that I got from MOE Home Centre gave-away during UAE National Day and one BUFF-UAE flag bandana too. I intended to bring UAE flags to show my gratitude to UAE where I currently work and grow.

From the gear shops in Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp, we make many new friends including UAE Armed Forces Everest Expedition Team members, Paul, Gerald, and also our Emirati friends Saeed, Nasser, Abdul and many more. We took selfies together and stand aside for high Fives on the sketchy Khumbu Icefall.   UAE team is acclimatizing at Lobuche East while we are doing rotations of acclimatization on Khumbu Ice Fall many times.

On our third rotation to High Camp, Camp 3 at 6800, my body starts to wear and tear. 4th of May 2016, during our early morning start from Everest Camp 2 -6400m my heart pounding up to 180 bmp and my fingers and toes starting to freeze near the Crampon point before climbing up on Lhotse face. I tried to continue but finally I listen to the wise advice from my Sherpa Guide “Lopseng Sherpa”. Me and Lopseng decided to go back to Camp-2 and then next day descending to EBC to do the medical checks . Doctors from EVEREST.ER base camp are very helpful, checking all details including ECG and scans to find out whether it is HAPE or AMS ( Acute Mountain Sickness), but all is clear apart from Scary High Heart Rate, which still maintain 120bpm at Base Camp.

It is not very easy to make decision “NOT to continue the CLIMB”. But there are many factors which make me to decide not only for my personal safety and health, mainly to MEET the GOAL of our TEAM to raise the Myanmar Flag on Everest Summit.     Our summit team consists of 3 Climbers ( Pyae, Win and myself ) accompanied by 4 Sherpa guides, total of 7.  Since I dropped out from the summit push, two of my partners will have 2 Sherpa each. This is going to become 1 Climber: 2 Guide ratios which sound a lot safer and make me to believe to have butter Summit Success Rate. I decided to gamble with this overcrowded queue. This mountain was closed for 2 years, 2014 Avalanche Disaster & 2015 Earthquake.  @ Continuous off –climbing seasons lined up pending approved permits.    18 MAY and 19 MAY are going to be packed with people as these days are marked as best weather window days.

I made a decision to stepping back myself and equip all we have to two of Myanmar climbers with Sherpas and Oxygens to make our ONE AIM of Putting the National Flag on top of the world.  Two of my friends had a hard time to leave me at the base, but finally they accepted my suggestions. Fortunately, I am still fit to wait at the Base Camp; I don’t have to fly to Kathmandu for medication. Everest Base Camp doctors approved my stay at our Himalayan Ascent base camp, later where I spend most of my days and nights in the Communication Tent contacting my teammates through Radio and Sat Phones.

Two of my friends Pyae & Win are continuing the climb for the summit push on coming 15 May 2016. I had made my best support to my team from EBC throughout their climb, but the key is perseverance and Strength of both mind and body of my teammates , Pyae & Win is the only factor to made to the top.

On 19 May 2016, the new History was made.

The two mountaineers, Pyae Phyo Aung and Win Ko Ko, planted Myanmar flag on Everest’s peak after climbing overnight to reach to the top of the World, 8850 meters on 19 May , 7am while I am at the Base Camp near Puja Stone listening on the Walkie Talkie.

“We reached the top at 7:07 this morning,”

I jumped ,with trambing fingers and tearing at the same time. Folks from the Himalayan Ascent Base Camp, Sumit, Deepak and all crews come and shake my hand for the first ascent of Myanmar on Everest.    We all know  Summit is just only the HALFWAY, their safe descent is key to complete the climb. Waiting at EBC for my teammates descent is quite as terrifying as the ascent too. Base Camp staffs burnt the same amount of Juniper Leaves and scattering rice seeds toward the mountain for the blessing of Sagarmatha and good auspicious of safe climb and smooth descend.

 

On 21 May, I climbed beyond the Crampon Point on Khumbu Icefall to welcome two of my friends, Pyae and Win. Pyae Phyo Aung , my same batch last bencher homie since 2003 Physics class, looks strong with many mild burn on his face. Pyae sunglasses screwed with oxygen mask and he often lift the google up to defrost the mask, he had mild snow blind and his eyes are sore. We made a hug like we haven’t seen for 13 years. An hour later Win Ko Ko, my classmate from GIS class 2010, also a veteran climber & NOLS graduate came down the ice fall with smiling face, he had a Terrible Burn with Pitch Black skin on  cheeks and nose tips. For myself I am maintaining at the Everest base camp due to my health condition.

Apart from these, First Myanmar Everest Ascent is very SUCCESSFUL with neither fatility nor  severe injury, 3 out of 2 climbers made to the summit of Everest for the first time in year of 2016. This success also coincides with the new Democracy Government ruling the country after escaping Military Junta for 2 decades.  This year 2016 season confirmed with 6 fatality and many frost bites because of the long queue on summit days. Their souls are with the mountain, we will contemplate their memorial stones next trip with our condolences. There are several rescues happened during the climb too. Oddly, there is one fake summit-claim by Indian couple, who were now banned to Nepal peaks. And as usual so many things of badge seekers deals happening during the reopen of Everest 2016 season this year. We are glad we made it thought cleanest as we can, enduring all these shenanigans of the commercial climbing on Everest.

Although I have not made it to the top, I am very satisfied by the climb, “it’s not only the Summit which made up the mountain, but also its faces. I do enjoy every moment while I climb. Climbing on ladders or on the snow, crossing on the aluminum ladders of Khumbu Icefall or jumping over pitch crevasses, hearing the avalanches from nearby Nuptse Face or West Shoulder are all counted. I have taken part of the history of Myanmar’s First Everest ascent while I’m working in the Desert Sand Pit.

Our half body life-size statues are now in Myanmar Sport Museum of (Ministry of Health & Sport ) along with many other International 4 Gold Medalist Athletes.

We honestly didn’t expect that, but this time, my Desert to Everest trip mark something historic and pretty epic.  Thanks to UAE deserts and mountains for giving me contrast life from Nepal Mountains, but I will always be grateful for what I got while working in UAE, the city and colleagues.

I still keep my Myanmar National Flag and also UAE National flag in my backpack-brain hopeful to make a bridge in future climbs for a better sporty friendship between this two beautiful nations.

 

THE END

 

Sherpa Team & Myanmar Everest Climbers (L to R – NjimaTenzingSherpa, myself(NyiNyi) , PasangGaljenSherpa, WinKoKo, UrkenSherpa, PyaePhyoAung, LopsengSherpa at “Himalayan Ascent Camp” Everest basecamp )

 

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This entry was posted in Autobiography, Climbing, Essay, Everest, History, Mountaineering, Nepal, Publication, Trip Report. Bookmark the permalink.

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