In 2011 it didn’t work out for me. I was at 8,700 meters (28,500 feet) on the Tibetan side of the mountain, but had to call off the ascent to the summit. I was just too cold and the risk to lose toes was too real. That’s another effect of the high altitude: Your blood gets thicker and thus the circulation in your extremities is extremely bad. You can try to counter this effect by drinking a lot and acclimatizing well so that the body gets used to it a little.
But my experience also showed that I didn’t pick an ideal day for the summit attempt. The 25/25 rule really proved to be true. You should have wind speeds of 25 km/h (15 mph) max at the summit and no less than -25 C (-13 F). But what would climbing be if it was easy to get to the top of every mountain. It wouldn’t be interesting anymore. Now I am twice as motivated and have a couple of important lessons under my belt!
We, Tenji and I, had three rotations on the mountain before we started our summit attempt. Tenji is a young guy from Nepal whom I’ve known for years as he has worked for me time and time again. Now he also wanted to attempt to summit Everest without bottled oxygen. I offered him to climb together. I didn’t want him as my Sherpa who is carrying my stuff, but as a partner on the mountain. At the beginning, it was hard for him to accept that I was making him tea. That was a very unusual situation for him. But he got more used to it over time and we had a great time together! I changed from Sir to Dai, from master to brother.
I had studied the weather forecast in depth. I knew that was the most important aspect as we were perfectly acclimatized. We had already spent a night at South Col. Meteotest sent a forecast for good conditions for May 17/18. On the 19th, the wind will pick up again and on the 20th conditions will already get critical again.