REFLECTING ON A WILD ADVENTURE
George & Alexander Hillary

REFLECTING ON A WILD ADVENTURE

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 Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time this year to reflect upon my favourite adventures. The craziest of which was my expedition to Ama Dablam in November 2019; a trip which I have only ever been able to summarise, somewhat non-eloquently, as “wild”.

 Ama Dablam is a challenging and beautiful summit in the Himalayas sitting at an elevation of nearly 7,000 meters. From the summit of Ama Dablam, you can stare across the valley onto the 8000 meter monster mountains; Everest, Lhotse & Makalu. 


 Ama Dablam was a gruelling climb. Made ever more difficult by our filming commitments. Our film crew were amazing, and the lead cameraman was a superb and confident climber. But some aspects of climbing do not gel with the requirements of film making. The main culprit were phrases such as “can you please wait there so we can set up?” or “let’s film that section all over again”. 

 

 

 

 

 

On one occasion, whilst patiently waiting for our film crew to prepare the cameras, we spent over half an hour standing on a ledge about 50cm deep. If you had kicked a rock off our little ledge, it would have fallen all the way to Advance Base Camp, about 1000meters below from where we stood. My brother, Alexander passed the time by singing and dancing. 

 

 

On another occasion, in pursuit of the perfect shot, we stood at the edge of Camp 2 (our toes literally hanging off the edge of a 1,500 meter drop). Strapped into the rock behind us, we were instructed to stare casually into the distance whilst a helicopter buzzed over our heads. Anything that wasn’t in a tent or strapped to the ground got blown away, including Alexander’s helmet.

 Climbing trips are filled with incredible, adrenaline fuelled moments, such as these.  But sometimes, it isn’t until you’re back safely at Base Camp, that you reflect and think “geez, that was a precarious situation! 

 

 

Arriving at Camp 1 of Ama Dablam, I was manoeuvring my way through a labyrinth of rocks. Alexander called out and pointed toward a better path to our tents. Less than 10 seconds after I changed direction, an exhausted climber above me kicked a rock about the size of a slab of beer. The slab-sized rock crashed into the mountain where I had just been standing. Exhausted but now full of adrenalin, I looked up. The other climber looked back at me, but was fatigued beyond the point of raising his hand in apology. He simply carried onto his tent.

 

Later in the trip, our camera team found themselves in an unwanted encounter with an elderly climbing duo. Approaching the summit, the exhausted climbing duo, one of whom would later be rescued by a helicopter long line, slipped and began sliding down the mountain. They nearly crashed into our camera team and were only saved by the fixed rope anchor. A lot of yelling ensued, but the high wind drowned most of it out. On Ama Dablam, there is very little room for error. 

There is rarely a dull moment on Ama Dablam. And our climb was packed full of incredible moments from start to finish. 

 Written by George Hillary

 Photography by Alex Hillary

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