Bothwell climber Ricky’s nightmare on Everest

Ricky Munday on one of his previous expeditions.
Ricky Munday on one of his previous expeditions.

Bothwell mountaineer Ricky Munday has today spoken of a Mount Everest nightmare that left tents shredded and one man stricken with frostbite.

With a lengthy series of spectacularly successful climbs on some of the world’s toughest peaks to his credit this long-planned expedition was probably his most traumatic.

Today, after nerve-wracking days which included tents being “plucked” from the mountain by hurricane winds, Ricky, (40,) found the time to explain in detail how he was forced by bad weather and ill health to abandon the effort.

He had made the attempt in support of Macmillan Nurses, in memory of two uncles who both died of cancer.

The following quotes were written by Ricky today, but have been abridged for editorial reasons.

On Monday he wrote: “As I lay awake last night in my suit inside my -40C sleeping bag, and with my oxygen mask strapped to my face, I came to realise that my low energy levels put me at serious risk of an emergency situation if I pushed further up the mountain the following day.”

He said today: “On Monday I descended to ABC from Camp 2, arriving around 5pm. Just 12 hours later on the morning of the 23rd, my team were being pounded by hurricane force winds that shredded and plucked two of their five tents off the mountain.

“(Team member) George’s (and my former) tent was the first to go, and Les and Ian dragged him into their tent via a safety line that they cobbled together.

“Later that day, Ian and Les’s tent was also shredded, and all three were forced into expedition leader Dave’s tent.

“They spent many long hours bracing themselves against the tent wall trying to prevent it being blown over the steep cliff on which it was perched.”

Intermittent radio updates from the kitchen staff at base camp relayed terrifying news of other team members, with several tents “sailing off” from the ridge where the expedition’s Camp 2 was sited.

He added: “At 8pm (on the 23rd) (team member) Les walked in to the mess tent, having descended from C2.

“He had waited until Dave arrived then dropped down to ABC (advanced base camp) - he was clearly exhausted by the ordeal up at C2 and the rapid descent, and for him his Everest dream was now over after two attempts.

“As he described the terrifying events of the day, it simply reinforced for me that I had absolutely made the correct decision in descending, and I have had no regrets about doing so since.”

He said: “Alan and I had decided to drop down to BC this day (24) because staying at 6,400m was not allowing our bodies to recover.

“I stopped at the bottom of the hill before basecamp to rest and reflect.

“I looked back at Everest and thought of everything I’d been through in the previous seven weeks - I said goodbye to her (Everest) and offered up a final prayer for teammates on the mountain, then walked down towards basecamp.”

Later team member Mike joined them, after what was reportedly a harrowing descent.

Ricky said: “It had taken them 12 hours to help Mike down from ABC. Les and Alan did their best to comfort Mike and help him bathe his frost bitten fingers in warm water.

“In the morning, I called Global Rescue to seek urgent medical advice for treatment protocols for Mike’s frostbite and they advised that we followed the planned treatment and evacuation protocol and get Mike to a clinic in KTM (Kathmandhu) on 29th.

“With no commercial helicopter operations permitted in Tibet, a road evacuation to Lhasa and a flight to KTM is the fastest route out.

“I called his insurance company to open a case and advise them of the clinic we would visit. I messaged his wife Sarah to keep her fully updated re treatment and evacuation plans.

“That evening, our bags arrived by yak from ABC and we frantically packed and helped Mike pack his kit.”

Last night, after a 13-hour journey to Tibetan capital Lhasa, they arrived “exhausted by grateful” at their hotel.

Tomorrow (Monday) Mike will be met in Kathmandu by reps from Global Rescue and taken directly to a specialist clinic.

Meanwhile the team-mates who were determined to try again for the summit had succeeded and were on their way back down.

Ricky had reportedly clinmbed 7,900m of the 8,848m mountain before calling off the attempt.