Unclimbed – Our expedition is over

There is really no easy way to say this: Our expedition is over.

After very careful analysis of the risk vs. rewards scenario, we decided as a team that it is best to end our efforts and surrender due to the unstable terrain and the extreme high level of risk. The Monsoon season has been relentless, one of the longest the locals have seen in ages. We could push on and force our way up the mountain, but the reality is that it’s only going to become more dangerous as we climb higher. Buried crevasses invisible to the eye between camp one and two are but our first set of concerns. Beyond camp one and two, we would then have to deal with a ticking clock, deep snow and unpredictable avalanches higher up.

The only viable option we had left is a route to the right of basecamp to the left of the icefall. This is a route that was momentarily considered early on, then quickly discarded due to hazardous of rockfall from hundreds of feet above and daily avalanches that litter debris at the entry point of the route.

PK and I deliberated for days and have now determined that it simply isn’t worth the risk. Neither of us is willing to lose our lives to reach the summit.

Given the intention of this resurrected climb, which was to see Pasang Kaji stand on top of Hillary Peak first, I decided to place the final decision in his hands. I was prepared to dance with the mountain one last time should that be his decision, but I was also very ready to back down pending his wishes. I asked him: “What do you want to do? It’s all in your hands, my friend”.

“Risk is too high”, he said.
“It’s like 100 times risk”.

My heart sunk, but I deeply respected his decision. And just like that… it was all over.

One requires far more courage to accept defeat than than to carry on upwards, blinded by ambition. Thankfully I learned this lesson many years ago on Mt. Everest.

The weeks spent putting this expedition back together after Gab’s accident were extremely stressful. Not only on PK and I, but on our families back home and on the porters and staff who had to reverse all of their teardown efforts. I worked as hard as I did to put this expedition back together because I wanted PK to have a shot at seeing this project through. It was important to me that he be given a chance to climb as high as he could climb. I’m so incredibly proud of how he led, took charge of the expedition and masterfully opened up every line we chose. I hope his star continues to rise.

I know in my heart that we made the right decision. Neither of us are prepared to die on a mountain and ruin the lives of the people we both love. We’re both here today because we’ve always known when to back down.

We gave it our best shot, we poured our hearts into this, but unfortunately the heavy odds stacked against us prevailed. We walk away knowing we fought with everything we had, we were relentless, resilient and took the humble approach in the end of bowing out gracefully and accepting that the mountains simply don’t want to be climbed at this moment.

Your prayers, support, comments and best wishes have meant the world to us. Thank you for embarking on this incredible adventure with us. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

We’re on our way back to Kathmandu for a well earned shower and an uninterrupted call home to reconnect with our loved ones.

Much love,

Elia and PK

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