Tim Mosedale Interview taken in 2015
British mountaineer and guide Tim Mosedale has reached the summit of Mount Everest an amazing 4 times.
How did you get into mountaineering and how old were you?
I climbed Helvellyn when I was 4 years old … but that wasn’t actually a pivotal moment. What really got me in to climbing and the outdoors was when I did my first lead climb when I was in my early 20’s. It was a fantastic route called Little Chamonix which is at Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale just down the road from Keswick, where I now live. I’ve now done the route nearly 550 times and never ever tire of it.
You have climbed both the North and South side of Mount Everest. Which side do you prefer?
That’s a difficult one because when I was on the North it was with a bunch of mates (8 of us and only 4 Climbing Sherpas). It was the old style of expeditioning just a bunch of mates on a BIG hill. Whereas when I have been on the South side it has been in a guiding role which takes on a whole new meaning with the expectations I’m trying to fulfil and the mentoring that I provide. So I guess my answer is that I like both side but for totally different reasons.
I think I am right in saying that you were at Camp 1 when this year’s avalanche happened. What was going through your mind at this time?
Hmm … initially I thought it was just a localised event affecting myself and the client I was with when we were below C1. Then when we arrived and met up with the others who were ahead we realised it had affected all of us (we were all given a big dusting from a variety of avalanches that had been set off). Then we heard that Base Camp had been blown away. Then we heard that it was a Nepal-wide event which made us realise that our woes were small in comparison to what was going on across the whole country. But then you still have to deal with your own situation regardless of how minor it is in comparison to everything else going on.
For the past 2 year’s there have been many deaths on Everest due to an avalanche. Does this put you off future climbs or will you be back again?
I’m afraid that it doesn’t. This year it wasn’t ‘just’ an avalanche – it was a series of avalanches and serac falls which were as a result of an earthquake that just happened to be in the Everest season. So it wasn’t an Everest event as such. The route this year was very well found, objectively very safe for the majority of the way and avoided the West shoulder. If they can get a similar route next year then there shouldn’t be an issue..
Did you have good weather on all 4 of your Everest summit days?
2005 was the latest season on record and the first season that people had summited from the North before the route had been opened up on the South. We had an 18 hour weather window and it was quite blowy (although thankfully the ridge was deflecting the wind and snow over us so we weren’t in the wind until the final 30 minutes or so) so there was certainly a sense of urgency to get up and down as quickly as possible (nothing happens quickly up there). When we got back to the Top Camp (8,300m) the weather really set in and the window closed.
In 2011 we had near perfect conditions and I stayed on the summit for an hour and a half taking photos and video.
In 2013 the first summit was in really Scottish conditions – very windy and very damp so a carapace of ice formed on everything from clothing and hair to gear and masks. Very challenging conditions and as a result only 7 client from a variety of expeditions summited.
In 2013 my second summit was back to near perfect conditions again like 2011. But unfortunately we were so strong as a team that we summited at 3 in the morning and it was dark!
If you could change 1 piece of clothing or equipment to make it easier to wear or use what would it be and why?
There have been some interesting developments in the oxygen delivery system but the engineering tolerances don’t seem to cope with the combination of ultra high altitude / cold / snot / frost / pressure etc. Tis would obviously be a quantum leap forward if we could have a demand fed system that was totally and utterly reliable and lasted way over 24 hours. Having said that, I think it would be a double edged development because you would then find people trying to summit way beyond the 12 to 14 hours that some people need which, when the system fails, would then be catastrophic.
Did you personally suffer from any medical problems while on Mount Everest?
Your favourite game to play in Base Camp is Connect 4. Have you been beaten at it yet? (This question was asked by Linda Wales www.living-above-the-clouds.com)
When you are back home from an Everest climb, what do you miss the most about the mountain? (This question was asked by Linda Wales www.living-above-the-clouds.com)
I love not only the journey through Nepal and the various forays on the mountain but I also love the people, the culture and the environment – it really is an all-encompassing experience. I really enjoy the challenge of blending with the ever changing environment and reacting to the ever changing conditions. There are obviously challenges on every mountain and there are weather conditions that can be very daunting even in the UK … but the combination of being at ultra high altitude in a challenging remote wilderness environment is very special indeed.
Taking out the monetary factor, and what has happened the last two seasons on Everest, which do you prefer, being on big expeditions to the Himalaya, or teaching rock climbing back at home around Keswick? (This question was asked by my Facebook friend Paul Arnold)
Big expeditions without a doubt. I really enjoy my rock climbing work but the challenge of being away for an extended period and looking not only after myself but my clients at high altitude is awesome.
Which of the 4 summits on Everest was most poignant, and which was the toughest? (This question was asked by my Facebook friend Paul Arnold)
My North side ascent (2005) was the best because it was my first summit and I was on a fantastic expedition with friends. My first South side ascent (2011) was the best because I was guiding clients and it was my first time on The South. And my two ascents on the South side (2013) were the best because it was the season I managed a double ascent. They were all great.
How much cake do you actually eat when in Nepal (Answer in kilos please!) (This question was asked by my Facebook friend Paul Arnold)
Ha! I know that I post lots of photos of coffee and cake whilst we are trekking in to Base Camp but when we get off the beaten path it’s not readily available. So I guess I binge when it’s there and I go without when it’s not.
What is the best way to avoid HAFE? (This question was asked by my Facebook friend Alex Staniforth)
For those of you who aren’t aware there is a condition called HAFE which stands for High Altitude Flatulent (or Flatus) Expulsion. Basically when we eat and drink and even just swallowing saliva there is air that can get trapped in the gut. Go high, the pressure drops and the gas expands (Boyle’s Law). It has to go somewhere and if it has travelled beyond the belch zone then it comes out. I guess the best way to avoid it would be to not to go to altitude.
Do you think that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine climbed the Second Step?
A good question and one that we may well never know the answer to. I’m afraid that I decline to commit one way or the other.