Monday, 30 May 2011


So I've made some progress on getting supplies for this shindig. This time,clothing. Basically, I'm going to need so much stuff that I figure if I spread it out over the next few months it shouldn't hurt my pocket too much.

I went back to Kathmandu who were so helpful with the boots and socks. I got one pair of trekking trousers, plus 2 merino shirts and quickdry underwear and thermal leggings. The key here is to wear thin layers that are made of materials that are thermally efficient while also drawing sweat away from my body. In addition, I need to have things that have an anti-microbial element so they don't need to be washed as much (as laundry facilities will be in short supply) and will help to reduce the chance of fungal infections. I also need things that will dry quickly so that I can give them a quick scrub in the evening and hopefully they will have dried by morning.

So, as usual, they guy at Kathmandu was enormously helpful - giving me full information about what I need to take into consideration and telling me about all of my options so that I can make an informed decision. Top notch customer service.

PLUS, as a returning customer and because they know that I'm doing this to raise money for Bletchley Park, they knocked 30% off of the bill. So they take-home message is, please use Kathmandu for your trekking needs. They're really good people there.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Small break

Just a heads-up that I won't be blogging for the next week because I'll be off fishing and hiking.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Itinerary Details

The day-by-day itinerary details have come in. Please note the number of rope bridge crossings. They don't tell you about this in the Lonely Planet Guide. Anyway, details follow with my comments in bold:

Really Wild Challenges is a trading nam
Registered in England
Everest Base Camp
A Journey to Base Camp, Mt Everest
Tough. All participants should be physically fit and capable of walking for several hours a day
on steep and rough terrain
This trek is available between April and October inclusive.
Length of Challenge
This trek is a 16 day itinerary
The trek to Everest Base Camp is probably one of the most famous in the world, and with
good reason. The journey from Nepal’s vibrant capital, Kathmandu, via twin engine plane (!!!) to
Lukla and on into the very heart of the Nepali Himalaya is simply spectacular
capped peaks line the steep sided valleys and
turn. The beauty of the scenery is matched only by the famous warmth and hospitality of the
Nepalese, who will be looking after you throughout your trek.

16th Aug Depart from London Heathrow at 20:45
be a short stopover in Dehli before your connecting flight to Kathmandu.

17th Aug Upon arrival
by our tour guide and transfer to a comfortable hotel
You will be accommodated on a single basis in an en-suite room. The afternoon will
be yours to explore the city with optional walking tours available. In the evening
there will be a short briefing over dinner. Dinner included

18th Aug After breakfast we will make an early morning start for the Twin Otter (yet again - !!! A tinkertoy plane!) flight to Lukla, the gateway to the Khumbu region, which nestles in the lower slopes of the
Himalaya at an altitude of 2,840m. This is an exciting (as in - may you live in interesting times) flight, which should give a glimpse of Everest in the distance (although this may not happen as it will be the end of the monsoon season. Pilots in the himalaya say that they don't fly when it's cloudy as the clouds in Nepal have rocks in them). The afternoon will be free around Lukla to explore a little. Overnight in Lukla.(If I've survived the flight, I plan to blog from Lukla)
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Note: The ability to fly from Kathmandu is dependent on local weather conditions at Lukla.

19th Aug After an early morning start we will start our trek from Lukla to Monjo. We
are trekking along the Dudh Kosi (river) along a centuries-old trading trail from Nepal
to Tibet. From the small hamlet of Thado Kosi, while crossing a small, shaky bridge (and now the rickety brisge count starts - 1), we view the three sister peaks of Kusum Kanagaru to the east. More walking over
cobbled trails takes us through Ghat and the best-maintained cluster of mani stones and prayer flags in the Khumbu. After a stop off at Phakding (that joke is too easy), a lively village a half hour's walk away from Ghat, we’ll continue another 2 hours to Monjo. We will continue up the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing it twice by small suspension bridges (2 & 3) before reaching the village of Monjo where we will enter the Khumbu National Park. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

20th Aug We will continue up the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing it twice by small suspension bridges (4&5)before entering the Khumbu National Park. We will then cross the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi on a high suspension bridge (6 - REALLY not looking forward to this one) and climb steeply through pine forest for about two hours up ‘Namche Hill’ to reach Namche Bazaar at 3,400m. (so more blogging AND some shopping opportunities but I'll prolly hold off on buying anything for the way DOWN. In part so I have less to carry and look after and in part because there's no point in shopping if I don't survive the climb). This is a prosperous trading town and the capital of the Khumbu Region. Many Tibetans cross the nearby border to trade their wares and the local market is a fascinating spectacle. This is a good place to buy genuine Tibetan artefacts and souvenirs. Just across the valley to the east stand the Majestic peaks of Thamserku and Kangtega, the first real indications that we’re entering ‘Big Peak Country’. We will overnight in a simple guesthouse in Namche. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

21st Aug Rest day in Namche Bazaar - We will spend a day in Namche Bazaar resting and allowing our bodies to become acclimatised to the altitude of 3,400m. In the morning, there is the option of walking up to the Everest View Hotel at 3,900m, returning to Namche for lunch. Many people find that this strategy of gaining altitude in the day and then descending back down to sleep at night helps them acclimatise more quickly. Namche has some nice bakeries, which serve great apple pie! We will overnight in a simple guesthouse in Namche. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included (anticipate being really tired of lentils at this point)

22nd Aug From Namche, the well-worn Everest trail contours around the side of the valley high above the Dudh Kosi. As we follow the path, we will get our first really good views of the great peaks of the Khumbu: Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. Passing by several villages and numerous tea shops, we will cross the Dudh Kosi River (how? another bloody rickety bridge perhaps? Method is unknown at this time)and make a steep climb to Thyangboche, home of an impressive and recently rebuilt monastery. We have plenty of time to look around Thyangboche (and have some apple pie at the bakery!), before we check into our guesthouse for the night. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

23rd Aug Shaded by rhododendron trees, the trail crosses an airy suspension bridge (7) just beyond Deboche. An hour’s walking from here will bring us to Pangboche, an excellent viewpoint for Ama Dablam (‘Mother’s Charm Box’) and home for the Sherpas who work on this imposing mountain each post monsoon season. Contouring up the valley side, we will re-cross the river (how?!?!) and turn up the Imja Valley to
reach the picturesque farming village of Dingboche at 4,410m. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

24th Aug Acclimatisation Day - Dingboche is a good location for acclimatisation, prior to our ascent up the upper section of the Khumbu Valley. While in Dingboche, we will take an acclimatization walk to a close viewpoint which will serve as good acclimatisation training. Overnight in our simple guesthouse in Dingboche.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

25th Aug We will retrace our steps back to Pheriche before continuing along the trail up the broad valley bottom towards Dugla. Ahead of us is the trekking peak of Lobuche East (6,119m/20,075ft) and to our left is the formidable north face of Taweche, the scene of many cutting-edge Himalayan ascents of the 1980s and 1990s. After three hours we reach the small collection of lodges at Dugla, 4,620m. From Dugla the trail starts to climb up steeply beside the glacier moraine. After a few hours the track eventually leads to a small cluster of tea houses pleasantly situated at Lobuche, 4,940m. We will spend the afternoon relaxing and continuing the process of slow acclimatisation. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

26th Aug About three hours beyond Lobuche we reach Gorak Shep (5,220m/17,126ft), the site of the 1953 expedition’s base camp. At 5200m the tiny village is dwarfed by the enormous peaks on all sides. After Gorak Shep we continue for another few hours to the current base camp where the ascents of Mount Everest depart. There we will be rewarded with amazing views of the Khumbu Ice Fall and will spend some time exploring the camp before returning to Gorap Shep for dinner and our overnight stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

27th Aug Today we will make an ascent of Kala Pattar, the highest point on our trek at 5,545m. The climb takes between 2 and 3 hours and can be hard work, but the effort is rewarded by the classic view of Everest and the Khumbu Icefall, as well as Lhotse, Nuptse, and Pumori immediately above. We retrace our steps to Lobuche, and return down the Khumbu Valley, stopping for a break in Dugla. With views of the stunning
peak of Ama Dablam ahead of us, we continue along the flat valley to Pheriche, where we will stay overnight.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

28th Aug Following the main Everest trail down the beautifully scenic valley, we pass through Pangboche and re-cross the river before climbing to the monastery at Thyangboche. A steep descent of around 500m leads through bird filled rhododendron bushes and fir trees to the Dudh Kosi River. Crossing on yet another
suspension bridge (are we up to 8 now? I'm woozy at just the thought), we climb up the opposite side of the valley to reach the contouring path leading back to Namche Bazaar, where we will spend the night.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

29th Aug Today the trail flattens out and we cross the river twice more before a rising traverse up the hill-side, past numerous tea-houses to Lukla. Our last day of steady trekking will be a real joy as at lower altitudes, with two weeks behind us, and nothing left to prove, we can soak up the atmosphere in each of the villages we amble through. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

30th Aug Early morning we’ll depart Lukla Airport back to Katmandu. We will be met at the domestic airport in Kathmandu and taken to our hotel. The afternoon can be spent exploring the city and visiting some of the temples, or simply browsing bookshops and shopping in the Thamel area. We will travel into town in the evening for a celebratory dinner! (and no bloody lentils!) Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

31st Aug Today will be yours to do with as you please in Kathmandu, the gateway to Nepal. Take a walk in the backstreets and the capital’s amazing cultural and artistic heritage reveals itself in hidden temples overflowing with marigolds, courtyards full of drying chilies and rice, and tiny hobbit-sized workshops largely unchanged since the Middle Ages (wonder if I can buy a kang-ling). You could visit one of Kathmandu’s many temples (I suspect the time to visit temples should be BEFORE this whole mad adventure), browse the many stalls or wander to Durbar Square. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed area is the finest remaining example of Kathmandu’s traditional architecture. Today counts as an insurance day as well in case of domestic flight delay within the itinerary. Breakfast included

01st Sept After breakfast at your hotel you will be transferred to Kathmandu airport, ready for your flight home at 09:30. There will be short stopover in Delhi before your connecting flight to London. Arrival in London Heathrow at 18:30 Breakfast included

• International flights
• All meals mentioned above and three meals a day during the hike.
• All relevant transfers.
• All relevant accommodation.
• All national park fees, entrance fees, taxes, permits and vehicle entrance fees to all
national parks as applicable to the above itinerary.
• Services of professional English speaking guides at all times.
• Safe drinking water during the hike.
• 24/7 support & emergency line available throughout the itinerary.
• Medical Evacuation Services.
• Equipment Hire Facilities.
• Porter Service – you will only need to carry day-packs whilst on the trek.
• Helicopter Evacuation - In event of serious medical injury we will coordinate with
your insurance company to arrange helicopter evacuation.
• Tips and gratuities.
• Items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and telephone calls.
• Alcoholic / soft drinks outside of mealtime provisions.
• Country visa.
• Personal camping equipment such as sleeping bag.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Press Release

It's hard to know what to post today. Suddenly everything has been happening at once but I think the priority today should be to post the press release. So here it is...



Bletchley Park Climbs to New Heights
Astrid Byro Climbs to Everest Base Camp
Raising Funds For Bletchley Park
What could motivate a self-confessed “over-the-hill, overweight, out-of-shape, 30-a-day smoker” to attempt an assault on Everest Base Camp? Independent Bletchley Park supporter Astrid Byro thinks raising money for Bletchley Park is the answer to that question.
Astrid, who has previously helped Bletchley Park by organising annual fundraising conferences, is now embarking on a much more personal campaign. On 16 August she will attempt a gruelling 8 day trek to Everest Base Camp.
CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust Simon Greenish said, "This incredible challenge Astrid is embarking upon in aid of Bletchley Park is absolutely wonderful.  Over the last few years we have had a great level of public support by so many committed people who have so generously given their time and energy in order to help us develop however I think this particular exploit is possibly the most unusual! We are enormously grateful to Astrid for her dedication to help Bletchley Park and I very much look forward to seeing her progress."
Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world at 8,848 metres and the base camp is an amazing 5,545 metres above sea level, which is more than four times the height of the UK’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis. As Astrid says, “You must understand the context of this endeavour. I'm afraid of heights and this will challenge my fears on a daily basis with multiple crossings of rickety bridges across torrential gorges. In addition, I will be doing this at the end of monsoon season so there is the ever-present danger of flash floods as well as the menace of leeches. I hate leeches.”
More follows…/

Astrid has not only set a tough climbing challenge but has also set her fundraising target at £50,000. She is hoping to achieve this target by donations as well as corporate sponsorship so if you would like a photo of your corporate logo flag flying at Base Camp, want her to wear sponsored logo clothing, or you have a stunt in mind, she’s open to negotiation. Astrid adds, “If Jimmy Choo want a picture of me wearing some strappy heels at Base Camp, I'm game. But I get to keep the heels!”
You can follow Astrid’s progress on her blog as she pursues her training programme, at and you can support her by making a donation at .
If you are interested in corporate sponsorship opportunities please contact:
Kelsey Griffin, Director of Museum Operations, Bletchley Park Trust,
- ENDS -

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Why Not Summit?

I have been asked why I'm not going for the summit? After all, it's not really that much further.

Well, actually it is.

Once you get past base camp, you really need specialist skills like proper mountain climbing and ice climbing experience. You also ought to have specialist equipment, like oxygen. You also need about 3 spare months (due to weather restrictions and such) and £40k.

I have none of the above.

Extreme Photography

Still waiting for the details from the travel agent so instead, today I will talk about camera equipment.

I decided that I need a decent camera for this trip. The challenge is that:

1. I don't know much about photography
2. With the advent of digital technology, what I did know about photography has generally gone out of the window
3. I don't want to spend a fortune
4. The colder temperatures at altitude can affect equipment.

So with all of that in mind, I have ordered the Fujifilm Finepix HS20EXR which should do the trick. I figure that this camera on automatic ought to beat my meagre abilities doing stuff on manual. Plus it has image stabilisation (very important on extreme zoom which you want when on top of  a ruddy great mountain), an optical zoom (instead of a crappy digital one), 360 panorama and video.

And to deal with the cold, I'll keep the batteries close to my skin when not in use so that they stay warm enough to use but the camera will stay in my backpack because temperature variations can cause condensation and ruin the camera.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Props to the Travel Agent

I want to give a shout out to the travel company that has set up this Trek. Really Wild Challenges were brilliant where others failed because they actually listened to me and were solution focussed.

You see the thing is, the time of year when I am doing this trek is towards the end of the monsoon season so most companies do not have treks planned. That said, most of them invite people to email them to request specialist help but when I actually did this, rather than listen to me they just tried to get me to go at another tie of year (when they already had treks planned).

Frankly, if that was an option I wouldn't have needed to email them in the first place. It was doubly annoying because I explained all of this (availability to take time off, desire to be at Base Camp on my birthday, etc.) in my email.

The only exception to this was Really Wild Challenges who said that they didn't have anything planned for those dates but could set something up for me. The cost difference was nominal and mostly seems to be the difference between having my own room in the teahouses and sharing. I wouldn't have wanted to share a room anyway so that cost difference becomes academic.

Next post I plan to talk about the costs and what you get for your money.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Just out of curiousity

I know this is horrible and wrong but, just out of curiosity, I Googled "smoking Everest". today. I could lie to you and say that I was looking for advice about how far in advance I need to quit but the honest truth is I was looking to find out what would happen if I did this and DIDN'T quit.

So, some interesting results. What came back is that smokers adapt BETTER than non-smokers to altitude. This is for various technical reasons but it basically boils down to the fact that our bodies are used to be oxygen deprived and therefore our haemoglobin releases oxygen faster to the body.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not planning to puff my way up the bloody thing like the old-timers did  but it might be an idea to quit just before I do this trek.

Something to think about I guess.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tickets are booked!

I'll be leaving on August 16th and returning on September 1st. And in between I'm gonna be in for a world o'hurt climbing that mother!

Monday, 9 May 2011

No going back

That's it, I've registered. I'll be leaving LHR on August 16th and hopefully returning on September 1st.  I was given a choice of flights, either via Bahrain or Delhi. I think it's worth the extra £100 NOT to go via Bahrain. There's already going to be enough adventure without that potential craziness.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A Bit of Progress

OK, so Kelsey from Bletchley Park has contacted the trekking company and actually told them that we are going ahead with this scheme. So hopefully in a day or so I (and then you) will know what the dates will be.

In other news, I think I might have my first offer for corporate sponsorship. I'm not entirely sure as the message could be interpreted in more than one way but I'll call them tomorrow and if there's any good news, you'll hear it here first!

Meanwhile, I have been asked if I plan to quit smoking for good as a result of this. The answer is NO. I have no such plans. If it happens, it happens but at the moment I'm just planning to quit for the purposes of this trek. Who knows? I may actually smoke my way down the mountain. Such is the way of addiction my friends.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Have figured out how to add the Just Giving widget to the blog.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I need motivation/advice

I confess that in all of this faffing about getting things decided, I've lost my working out mojo. I think I need inspiration/motivation.

The truth is I keep thinking that I shouldn't have any trouble doing this trek. I tell myself things like "As hard as it might be, I have ALL DAY to do each hike. I can take breaks every 15 minutes if I need to." So I guess I need to assess how delusional I really am.

Anyone have advise for me?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

So who the hell is following this?

I'm watching the stats on this thing and I confess that there are some fascinating results. For example, who the hell is following this from Estonia, India, Hungary, and South Africa???

Monday, 2 May 2011

First Donation

Big thanks to the wonderful Jason Gorman  - the first contributor to the Bletchley fundraiser.

Everest is GO!

Have had awesome news tongith from Bletchley Park and the Everest Trek is go! And the justgiving page is now up so open your wallets and support me. :-)

Please also note the opportunities for corporate sponsorship. All serious offers considered and open to negotiation. Would you like to provide logo'd clothing? Have your company flag flown at EBC? A photo using your product at EBC? All this could be yours for a generous donation to Bletchley.