Brought to you by request, my little love story.
Reader warning: this is my version of a 2001 expedition to Mt Everest. It contains descrptions of several tragic events and photographs of several of our now-departed friends. This version is not a complete history of the expedition, nor is it intended to be. It is the story of a very old-fashioned courtship and a very modern romance. You have been warned!!
I first laid eyes on my future husband in very early 2001. It was a pleasant day in Australia's capital city of Canberra, where I had travelled to attend a pre-expedition meeting for Exercise Everest 2001. I was the newly appointed expedition public relations officer of the Army Alpine Association's second Mt Everest expedition. We had been called together to go through the details required to finalise planning.
I was a little nervous, as I had met only one of the other 20 expedition members before this meeting and I didn't really know what to expect from a bunch of hardened army mountaineers. Well, of course, my fears evaporated once I met my fellow expeditioners. They were a lovely group and very interested in me and what I'd bring to the expedition. They'd never had an army PR officer along on a trip before, but they'd all done their fair share of public relations, so were pleased I'd be there to do it all for them. It'd make life on the mountain a lot less stressful, knowing their promotional engagements would be managed by someone else – namely me.
Half way through the meeting, an angry looking man strode in, sat down, and, when it was his turn to speak, issued a series of statements that sounded more like orders than requests. There went the convivial nature of the meeting - this guy was serious! I soon worked out he was the major in charge of communications. He was so annoyed as no one had put in their orders for batteries. Big deal, I thought. How big a deal could that possibly be? Having given everyone an ultimatum (put in your orders by next week or else), he left as abruptly as he'd arrived. I planned to give him a wide berth on the expedition!!
Fast forward a couple of months and we all gathered at Sydney Airport. We had oodles of gear - hundreds of items that all had to be accounted for when we arrived into Kathmandu in Nepal, via Bangkok. On the plane I was warned about the mayhem that is Kathmandu international airport - everyone was prepared to sit on our luggage to prevent it being pilfered by the many crooks waiting at the other end to 'assist' us with our gear. I was ready to poke someone's eye out if necessary! Of course it wasn't as bad as I was led to expect and I actually thought our disembarkation and departure from the airport went quite smoothly...
Stay tuned for part two (of three)!
(Updated 4 June: Grrrrr Blogger is still having problems loading photos.)