Michael Frank - Seattle, Washington
So I've finally
recovered enough to actually think and type at the same time regarding
summiting on the 21st. It was an extremely challenging and rewarding
experience. Beforehand I was thinking very arrogantly that I could do this
it was just a matter of the weather window. Having now reached the summit
I don't think I would ever say I know I can make it up. It was out on the
edge for so long I reached a point at the 3rd step where I was standing 3
to 4 feet from the Kangshung Face looking down this incredible face
realizing that I must be standing on a cornice and I was mentally so numb
by that point from all the climbing, lack of oxygen, cold temperatures,
incredible views, and constantly having to force yourself to keep going up
when your entire body is screaming to go down and get out of this
extremely hostile environment that my mind was numb to the risk. I could
see the final summit snow slope and was completely committed.
summit push started on May 18th with the six of us (Ambrose, Ryan, Scott,
Lhakpa, DaNgima, and myself) heading up to the North Col. On the morning
of the 19th the weather report turned worse than previously reported for
the 21st. We had a few confusing discussions leaving a few team members
unsure of the plans. I thought it was tentatively to head to 7900m. If we
made it there by around 1 to 2pm we try to continue to 8300m and then try
to summit on the 20th instead. Lhakpa, DaNgima, and myself all arrived
there around 3 to 3:30pm and so decided to not continue. Ambrose and Ryan
I guess thought this meant to go back to the North Col while Scott was
drained from his cracked rib which he acquired a couple days prior from a
me with the 2 Sherpas at the 7900m camp. We decided to set up one 2 person
tent and sleep 3 people in it. It was extremely windy that night and we cooked
inside the tent. It was very cramped to say the least but we could actually
sleep laying down with our legs straight. The morning of the 20th it was
perfectly calm so we headed up to the 8300m camp (really 8210m per my GPS).
Rosa's tent was pitched next to ours. Cooking and sleeping is this tent with
one sleeping bag for the 3 of us was a new level in intimacy with my climbing
partners for me. The tent sights took at least 2 hours to hack into the
brewing up and sleeping for a few hours we got up around 10pm. Our original
plans were to get up at 8pm because the Sherpas were going to be taking extra
time to fix ropes from the top of the Yellow Band to the summit. They were all
carrying extra ropes for this job. Luckily many of the groups were a bit late
leaving and we caught up with the rest of the Sherpa rope fixing team at the
climbing from the 8300m camp was a lot more technical than I expected. It was
pretty much continuous class 2 with an occasional class 3 move, but in the
dark and at that altitude it felt a lot harder. The 2nd step was very cool.
The hard part about it was getting to the ladder. The ladder itself was pretty
straight forward. There are 2 ladders there, the 2nd which people say was put
there last year. It is a bit taller and positioned a bit to the right of the
old ladder which makes the move at the top much easier.
the 2nd step we had sunshine, but also increasing winds. The climbing was
straightforward but a constant strain due to the altitude, exposure, down
sloping rock, and climbing with crampons on. The views were incredible and the
anchors were all suspect. When we reached the base of the 3rd step we were
standing in a pretty stiff wind and I was starting to shiver and my feet were
quite cold. After a 5 minute break I decided to head up and not wait for the
Sherpas to finish fixing. I climbed over the 3rd step and up the final snow
slope without a new fixed rope. Often I could clip one of the ropes from
previous years. Once we were on the summit snow slope we were completely lucky
that the way the wind was blowing we were protected. This, I think, helped
substantially with our making it to the top without more serious frostbite or
other issues. For myself I came away without any frostbite, although it was
very close on my right foot. DaNigma fixed a good portion of the final pitches
to the summit.
often ask what the views are like from the summit, and they were nice, but
that wasn't why I was there. It was for the challenge, wondering if I could do
it, that was my reward.
I got I
think 4 pictures from the summit before my camera froze up, unfortunately the
first thing in the top of my summit bag was Al's rubber chicken so 2 of the
pictures are of DaNgima with the chicken. Maybe the first rubber chicken on
the summit of Everest!
was reasonable except for needing be very careful with not tripping
(especially on old ropes). Sometime around 1 or 2pm the winds really picked up
and it started snowing. At the 2nd step a rappel line was not set up so you
had to down climb the upper third with the ladder and pseudo rappel/down climb
the lower two-thirds. When I was down climbing the yellow band my regulator
got bumped and came unscrewed. By the time I could get to a spot I could take
my pack off the bottle was empty. This hit me pretty hard as I was up at 8300m
and suddenly cut off from oxygen. I was otherwise only 5 to 10 minutes from
our tent. I would get up walk ten paces and sit down. It really was quite nice
just sitting there. After covering about half the distance to the tent DaNgima
caught up with me and gave me another bottle he was carrying. It then took me
about 3 minutes to get to the tent.
opened the tent a Montarosa client was in our tent. He hadn't set up an 8300m
camp and was shivering pretty good. Rosa had continued down to her camp at
7900m so we pushed him into her tent.
at 8300m Lhakpa and myself shared one sleeping bag while DaNgima shared with
the Montarosa client in Rosa's tent. Descending down to ABC the next day
seemed a bit surreal. The views seemed twice as spectacular. I'm not sure if
this is because I was still on oxygen or because I was looking at them
reaching ABC it was like I was a movie star with everyone taking pictures and
hugging. It was hard to not get very emotional.
plans are for us to head down to BC in the next day or two and they work our
exit date. The current weather reports look marginal to bad until sometime
around June 4th. Scott is considering staying.
everyone is well at home. I know I'm more than ready to be home and look
forward to seeing all of you. Michael
run down of the team roster.
Brook Alongi - Expedition Leader/Organizer, Marysville WA
Brook is definitely not a rookie when it comes to high altitude
expeditions. Mt. Everest will be his second 8000 meter summit, if he
is lucky enough to stand atop her. Brook's climbing resume spans the
globe and includes accomplishments such as: Cho Oyu, multiple
ascents of El Capitan, first ascents in Alaska and Japan, multiple ascents
of Aconcagua (even one solo), and much more. In addition, Brook is a
certified National Registry EMT and a Wilderness-EMT. When he's
home in Washington state, he volunteers his talents to the Everett Mountain
Rescue Unit of Snohomish county.
Ryan Allen - Seattle, Washington
Ryan has attempted some pretty hard climbs in the last few years.
The Muir Wall on El Capitan and Lotus Flower Tower in Canada are just two
of the many great adventures he's had. Growing up in Seattle has
given him the opportunity to encounter a wide range of climbing
environments in the Cascades. Ryan believes in giving back to the
local climbing community through education and volunteering opportunities.
He spent three years as the chief instructor of the Boeing Employees'
Alpine Society (BOEALPS)
Intermediate Climbing course. Ryan is a software engineer, and will
undoubtedly be on the expedition laptop often!
Al Baal - Seattle, Washington
Al has climbed Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America, and Mera Peak in Nepal. He
has also participated in an expedition to Sikkim, India and climbed in the
Dolomites in Italy. He toured more than 15,000 miles by bicycle in the US,
Scotland, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Switzerland, Portugal, Australia, and New
Zealand over the last several years. Al charming nature will be an important
part of our team's cohesiveness on the mountain.
Ambrose Bittner - Seattle, Washington
Ambrose has been climbing for 20 years since he first took a rock climbing
class and attempted to climb Mt. Rainier while getting his engineering
degree at Washington State University. Ambrose has two first ascents
to his credit: a new route on Plummer Peak in the British Columbia Coast
Range, and the first ascent of Cerro Tillman in Patagonia. Ambrose has
climbed internationally, including the high and remote mountains of Nepal,
Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina. He just
completed his MBA degree from the University of Washington and is in the
process of starting his own Asia-focused travel company called Red Lantern
Michael Frank - Seattle, Washington
Michael started out as a rock climber in New Mexico before moving to
Seattle in the late 80’s, where he discovered alpine climbing. Michael was
on the first ascent climb with Ambrose of Cerro Tillman on the Patagonian
Ice Cap and has done several peaks in the Canadian Rockies. In addition to
climbing Michael is an avid cyclist and runner having completed 4
marathons and numerous 100+ mile bicycle rides, in addition to completing
RAMROD 3 times, a 154 mile ride around Mt. Rainier in one day with 10,000
feet of elevation gain! He currently works at Boeing as a Software
Streett - Everett, Washington
Scott is about an avid athlete as one could be. He trains
incessantly for his passion, climbing and outdoor adventure travel.
He began climbing when he was in college at Penn State. Since then,
his love for the mountains has brought him to the Pacific Northwest where
there is ample opportunities to grow within the sport. Scott is an
active member of the Everett Mountain Rescue Unit and works at REI.
weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus
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