Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

Me on the summit of Cho Oyu with Everest in the background

2004 Cho Oyu Expedition (8,201m)

In August 2004 I left London to climb Cho Oyu, which at 8,201m is the world’s sixth highest mountain.  This was my first attempt on an 8,000 meter peak and did not start well.  I had little time to train or prepare as it was very much last minute and then Martial Law was declared in Nepal in the days before my departure, which meant that all flights in were cancelled.

Eventually I made it in to an eerily quiet Kathmandu – empty streets, no noise, just tanks and soldiers.  I was only allowed out of the hotel between 5 and 6pm, and left for the border the next day.  I travelled alone to base camp, a trip of just over seven days, as I was a week behind the rest of the expedition. 

Not the most auspicious start, but the expedition was an amazing experience, lasting over two months which were spent almost exclusively in Tibet.  I reached the summit on the 22nd of September and for the first time could look over at Everest, which had been hidden until those final steps to the very top.  I could see the curvature of the earth with my own eyes.  It was stunning.

It was also the first evidence to myself that my body might be able to sustain the extreme conditions at the top of Everest, although reactions to altitude can never be guaranteed.

In one of the videos below (Summit 2) you can see me pointing at Everest and saying ‘You’re next’….and four and a half years later, here we are.