It is with mixed emotion that I
report in our final dispatch that our team is returning to base camp. After
almost 2 months of emotionally and physically taxing effort (not to mention
the months of preparation just to get here!), we are, of course, disappointed
to know that we will not summit this year. The weather was not on our side and
the risks too great, hence our team decided to head back down and enjoy the
huge accomplishment we did achieve. It is a weird feeling making decisions on
a mountainside using mostly external reports, weather and news, feeding us
information about the lack of a jet stream or more injuries or even deaths
that inevitably shaped the very decisions we have had to now make. The team
has obviously bonded over this whole experience and Katrina and I have made
new friends and memories for a lifetime. Hundreds of people have tried to
climb this daunting peak and not all have reached the summit, and not all have
made it home, so it is with a new perspective on teamwork, strength,
decision-making and ‘success’, that we will now travel home to start a new
chapter….and who knows when we might return! Many thanks again to everyone who
has supported us on this amazing journey!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005: After
some debate, the team has decided to leave basecamp and start up the icefall
to Camp 2 where we will wait and see what the weather does over the next few
days. The winds above Camp 3 are still at 50-70 knots and temperatures are
dangerous. Normally, there is both an early and late May window for summiting,
for example, last year’s Discovery Channel special was based on a team that
summited on May 10th. However, this year, all of the weather reports,
particularly the very reliable Swiss and Braxnell (UK) ones, are not
forecasting a window until June 4 or 5th at the earliest. The late May window
is usually the safest window and is ‘opened’ by the warm jet stream pushing up
from the monsoon rains in India. Unfortunately, the monsoon rains are 3 weeks
late this year so the window is also late. The difficulty is that even if the
window does appear, 2 other mitigating factors may prevent safe climbing: the
condition of the Khumbu Icefall (if it gets too soft, we can’t safely attach
our lines) and the health of the Sherpas who are carrying the gear and
preparing the camps. Our guides, the Adventure Consultants, are the best in
the business and will not continue if it is not safe. We, and many of the
other teams, are moving up to Camp 2 to ‘get into position’ if the window does
open early. We all obviously want to summit but our team is sensible enough to
know not to proceed if conditions are not safe. I will keep you posted.
Rob Follows, Founder and
Chairman of Altruvest Charitable Services as well as Chairman of Maritz Canada
Inc., the largest performance improvement company in Canada, and his new
bride, Katrina Sandling, will scale Mt. Everest in May 2005, it was announced
today at a kick-off event at the Sutton Place Hotel. The event drew over 100
influential attendees from the business and philanthropic sectors to celebrate
and support the Everest campaign.
In the presence of Ang Dorjee
Sherpa, a famous Sherpa, who has now scaled Everest 10 times and will be
climbing with them, Follows explained that for the Everest trek the team
represents Everest for Altruvest, a one-year fundraising initiative to raise
over $1,000,000 to launch the Altruvest Vision Fund. The Fund will help ensure
Altruvest’s long-term sustainability to help hundreds of charities improve
their performance. The couple's altruistic wish is to inspire more
contributions to Altruvest, all of which will leveraged to help small and
medium sized charities in Canada contribute more to their communities.
Why Everest for Altruvest?
Rob Follows commented, "With over 250,000 board volunteers needed annually,
most Canadian charities need help to find the skilled and dedicated volunteers
to build better governed organizations and deliver more services to their
communities. Altruvest is a bridge between new business and professional
volunteers who can contribute a lot to the charitable sector and charities
that need and want new board members.”
He continued "As Everest
inspires people to stretch their performance, so too can Altruvest, through
further funding, help charities improve their performance and strengthen
communities. Through a growing donor base, Altruvest can generate tools for
charities for generations to come. And in closing, "Just as Everest has become
an international inspiration, Altruvest, as a Canadian best practice, will
also become an inspiring global leader."
Murray Koffler, Founder,
Shoppers Drug Mart and Philanthropist of the Year Award recipient remarked, "Altruvest
has made an enormous contribution by innovating the means whereby volunteers
are encouraged and assisted to serve on boards of charitable organizations.
This further expands their ability to serve the communities they support. As
well, Altruvest assists these organizations in improving their governance to
function more efficiently. Rob Follows' exciting venture, with Katrina,
climbing Everest for Altruvest will go a long way in highlighting their work
and deserves every support".
In conclusion he added, "One
should also underline that this is not a self promoting stunt. 100% of
donations go directly to charity and Rob and Katrina are covering all of their
own costs for the climb."
This climb marks the fifth of
Rob and Katrina's 'seven summits' on their goal to scale the highest summit on
each continent in support of the Everest for Altruvest campaign. So far, they
have summitted 4 of the 7 summits, with the plan to do the 5th in June:
Tanzania (19,563 ft.) Oct. 2003
(22,841 ft.) Jan. 2004
Russia (18,481 ft.) Aug. 2004
Antarctica (16,066 ft.) Nov. 2004
Nepal (29,035 ft.) May 2005
Alaska (20,320 ft.) June 2005
With a departure date of
March 31st scheduled, altitude training and physical conditioning are vital.
To ensure strong conditioning, Rob and Katrina have just completed a
qualifying climb on Mount Vinson, Antarctica in severe, –60C° conditions.
Their commitment goes beyond simply reaching the summit, as they were also wed
at the top of Mt. Vinson, just last November.
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