Ama Dablam 6856m (Nepal). Credit: Alexandre Buisse

How do you measure expeditions success?

Expedition dates: November 2nd – 29th 2014

As this expedition to climb Ama Dablam, one of the worlds most beautiful mountains, draws to a close – I am left thinking about the success of the past 4 weeks. I chose not to push above Camp 3 and climb under the crumbling ice shelf called the Dablam (even when other people did), as it was simply too dangerous. My team members will have spent around 5K on this expedition, and taken 4 weeks off work, yet didn’t get to even attempt the original goal: to summit Ama. But does this mean the trip was not a success?

Some members in other teams packed their bags and left on the spot once they were told by their leaders that summiting wasn’t happening this year. This is a great shame and somewhat short sighted and disappointing I think: that these individuals cannot see past the glory of a summit and appreciated all the smaller things that make the expedition so special.

Experiences is what we all crave, this is why we do things: to learn, to see, and enjoy. It’s the journey to the top we remember, not being on the top. Experiences is collection of all the small things: ‘in house’ stories, silly games, and terrible jokes shared that belong only to our team and are completely unique. They make no sense and mean nothing to you, but everything to us. Most of all it’s the opportunity to enter into a bubble and remove oneself from the everyday world and trails and tribulation of our ‘normal lives’. It’s a chance to switch off from ‘normal’ life for a short while and enjoy: the beautiful trekking, the mountains, the culture, the new people in your team, to be outside your comfort zone…and to be original once again.

I had 6 members in my team – 6 self-sufficient and competent mountaineers all absorbing every inch the mountain had to offer. They respected the mountain and climbed it with passion and enjoyment. All 6 of my members, had they been given the opportunity, would have most likely have summited, and i’m very proud of this. The fact that I know this contributes to the complete and utter success of the trip. For one reason or another, not another single team on the mountain could say the same. In fact one team (who will remain nameless) started with 9 members, and only 1 made the journey to touch camp 3 (the safest high point on the mountain). We too made the journey to Camp 3, enjoying the incredible climbing and fine situations this section has to offer.

I am not taking full responsibility for my teams success. I simply facilitated and provide the guidance required for the 6 individuals to form a team and make their own decisions on the mountain.

“The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!”

Jeff Lowe

Sat in a bar last night I over heard the youngest member of my team, a talented climber with no Himalayan or altitude experience say with complete honesty “What an incredible trip this has been”. I let these words roll over in my head, and allowed myself to agree with him. He had saved for 2 years and quite his job in order to come along, and the mountain had taken away his summit chances, did it really matter? No – he’d had fun.