So what’s next? Well, I’d planned to stop climbing 8000ers after this expedition and I see no reason to revise that. As of now, I’m retired from the death zone.
It would have been nice to tick the big E without gas and thereby make a clean sweep of all the 8000ers without O2 but I just can’t justify going back. After twenty five 8000 metre expeditions, I’ve spent about 4 years in total on the sides of these hills. I think that’s enough. I still have all my fingers and toes and the only rescues in which I’ve been involved have been of other climbers. Those are both statistics that I’d like to maintain. My body has been saying “enough” for several years now and my head has finally heard the message. Better late than never. I consider this experience of HACE to be fair warning and a line in the sand. And it’s actually kind of nice to have one goal not quite ticked – it keeps me grounded and reminds me also that despite the masses of commercial teams slowly overwhelming these beautiful hills, it is still possible to set genuine personal challenges whose outcome is not guaranteed. That’s a nice thought.
So game over. Wow, what a journey. Lots of hills, lots of incredible experiences and lots of great people, many of whom, sadly, were not as lucky as me to survive their own Himalayan projects.
There isn’t room to thank everyone individually but of course I thank my family, friends and sponsors for your support over all these years. And I thank all of you who’ve followed my despatches and sent encouragement. I had fun writing them and hope you enjoyed them.
I should point out that I’m not actually dead, just retiring from 8000 metre climbing. I have some big plans for a range of extreme adventures to keep me away from work as much as possible over the coming years, so stay tuned.
And I’m looking forward to doing more with my charities and the Scouts. The price of continuing to follow my adventures will be that I’ll start hitting you up to support these incredible organisations too.
For those asking whether I’ll write a book, it is already underway. Expect it in the stores in late 2013. (Yes, 2013 – it’s quite a long process.) I’ll put a message on my website when it’s out.
I hope to do a public lecture tour in Oz soon and in the meantime I’m available for corporate speaking. Employ me – I’m not seeing nearly as many bats anymore.
That’s about it. Chow for now.