O'Brien with the Innkeeper at the hotel in Tingri
Charitable Cause Summons
O'Briens to the World's Highest Peak
Oswego New York natives Mike
and Chris O' Brien are willing to take their fight against Huntington's
Disease to the "top of the world" - Mt. Everest - to call attention to a
deadly hereditary disease that has afflicted their family.
The O'Brien brothers, who
have lost their mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and uncle to the deadly
inherited neurological disease, are attempting to climb the world's highest
mountain on behalf of the Hereditary Disease Foundation. If they are
successful, they will become the first American brothers to ever summit the
The O'Brien brothers are
experienced mountaineers who have climbed on five continents including the
world's sixth highest mountain - Cho Oyu - in 2001. During their last trip to
the Himalayas, Mike O'Brien, 39, a resident of Seattle, vowed: " If we ever
return to the Himalayas it will be to climb Everest and climb for a cause
greater than ourselves. "
Chris, 32, a medical student
at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, will graduate with an
M.D./Ph.D. on June 2. "I plan on being at my graduation, even though the
expedition won't officially be over until June 6," he said. "I hope to do both
- summit Everest and graduate - within two weeks of each other."
If you would like to
contribute to the O'Brien's fundraising effort for the Hereditary Disease
Foundation, go to www.hdfoundation.org.
Mike has died on Everest. His brother Chris
was with him when the accident happened. Rather than speculate, until those
who know what happened send in the report. Here is a couple of reports Mike
filed to EverestNews.com while on Everest.
Subject: Author: Mike O'Brien
Place: Namche Bazaar 11,500ft
Hi! I’m in a cybernet cafe in
Namche Bazaar at about 11500ft. Trekked in here yesterday, tough trek for
many, took about 6 hours. We took our time, had a nice lunch along the way.
Tip puked his guts out a couple of times, some kind of stomach bug he’s
fighting. Jenni was good, but a little slow (as was Tip, due to illness). I
felt great and made good progress. Beautiful hike, but got steep and had
switchbacks for the last 2 1\2 hours as we gained 800 meters. Flew into Lukla
(2860m/9383ft.) the previous day, then hiked for two hours, mostly downhill,
to Phatdink (2652m./8700ft,) where we camped for the night.
Tip and Jenni met me at Delhi
airport (another long sleepless layover), where they got in early due to being
placed on a different flight. Apparently the Indians were going to send them
back to Zurich because they didn’t have visas, for India. Their Bombay to
Delhi flight was considered domestic, thus they were going to have to use a
domestic terminal, which they couldn’t get to without going thru customs and
immigration. Only Jenni’s tears prevented that disaster, as they gave in and
put them on an international flight that was stopping in Delhi.
Got to Katmandu
(1300m/4265ft) and met our friend Phil Crampton [Phil was a leader on the 2000
Cho Oyu climbing team with Mike & Chris,] who took us shopping and did all the
haggling for us [always important to have a friend who speaks Mandarin when it
comes time to haggle.] He was in town for a month buying gear to bring back to
Tibet, where he and his wife are working for The Tibetan International
Mountain Guide School. Had a good time hanging with him, but we were very
rushed. Took off the next morning at 4am. Cluster@%*& at the airport. Bags and
people everywhere. Twenty of the team’s bags are still down there, hopefully
they will arrive today by yak. I have both of mine. Tip and Jenni are missing
one of theirs.
Anyway, so far so good. No problems yet. Lots of sun today and yesterday, high
wind though for a while yesterday on the hike up. Great scenery, 5-6 rickety
bridges over the Dudh Kosi River (great film footage!) Today is a rest day,
tomorrow we go up to another town Pangboche (3757m/12,326ft.) Should be at
Base Camp by Wednesday [April 13.] We have a huge group - about 11 trekkers
[to Base Camp,] 18 going to Lhotse (including 6 "leaders in training) and 7 of
us (including Dan) on the Everest permit. Arnold Koster is leading, he’s a
Dutch guy who summitted last year from Tibet. Met our Sherpa, nice guy named
Pasang Nutbu. Everest summitter, about 41, not great English, but a great
smile and eager to help (we told him he can screw off, basically, till we get
to Base Camp, and even then I think we will only need him for Camp 1 and above
to help with gear, etc.) Dan [Mazur the expedition organizer and owner of
SummitClimb] is his usual jovial self, nice to see, after the hard and tragic
Pumori climb, which you found out was marked by the death of my friend Alex,
and a Sherpa who was Dan’s friend and longtime worker.
I am in good spirits,
healthy, and getting confident about this, though I know it will be difficult
and much pain will have to be endured. I will try to write next week from Base
Camp and also try to call sometime. Gotta go get some breakfast and work on
getting my boots to fit my crampons. Talk to you soon, Mike
The next one:
Dear EverestNews.com, Hello from
Everest Basecamp. Today, about half of us are in basecamp, with the other half
of our team up at Camps 1 and 2, getting some acclimatization. Some of us are
trying to recuperate from colds, coughs and other typical maladies before
ascending again, while unfortunately another of our members (Ben) has a slight
case of Pulmonary Edema and has decided that he is not able to adjust to the
altitude at BC (5300m)and has left for home (Tacoma WA, USA), together with
one of our strong Sherpas, "Gyeltsen Sherpa". Our first couple of encounters
with the infamous Khumbu Icefall have been, so far, uneventful. The ice docs
seem to have put up a good route.
had its Puja (traditional Buddhist prayer ceremony for good luck on the
mountain) a week ago, with lots of food and drink offered up and shared with
all the members. The Puja was presided over by Lama Kanuori Sherpa, who also
works in our kitchen, and who led an acclimatization hike up to Pumori Advance
Basecamp the previous day. A man of many hats, he fills them all effortlessly,
with grace and humor.
is beginning to settle into a somewhat regular pattern, with early morning
sun, followed by afternoon snow showers, leaving us tent-bound most of the
days. A bright spot for our team - which has now had four members bow out with
illness - was the action a few days ago of one of our leaders-in-training, Max
Kauch. Max came across a climber from another Everest expedition in the Khumbu
Icefall who had a badly broken leg. Despite many other climbers (not from our
team) ignoring his pleas for assistance, Max and the climber's companions
managed to rig up a splint from the aluminum stays of a backpack, and then
radioed down for painkillers to be brought up. They carried him over 8
crevasses until a team of Sherpas came up to finish the carry to basecamp.
Eventually, the man was successfully airlifted out. This was not Max's first
duty as Good Samaritan; during the trek in he escorted (eventually carrying) a
sick Nepalese porter from Dugla down to the clinic at Pheriche, returning to
the group the same afternoon. Good work Max!
else is doing well, and we continue to slowly make our way up the mountain(s),
with our Sherpas, having established Camp 2, where our superstar high-altitude
cook, Pemba, is now serving Dal Bhat. Presently, they are hard at work on
putting in a Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face, and just radioed down to announce that
our SuperStar Sherpas: Gyaluk, Lhakpa Kongle, and Tenji had just finished
chopping an ice ledge under a protected and safe serac where we can put 5
tents side by side at 7300 metres.
our sole Israeli member and leader-in-training, Eyal, celebrated Passover Eve
and shared his Matzos and Manischewitz wine with us in Basecamp. Also
yesterday our Portuguese contingent, Joao and Helder, baked us a wonderful
cake in their solar oven, which they refuse to let anyone else touch for fear
of breaking it. At the beginning, the Sherpas were a bit skeptical about the
contraption, but now have accorded a grudging respect to
boiling water and might be pricing one for themselves! Thanks guys!
All for now
from BC, Pizza for dinner tonight!!
Everyone at home, Mike O'Brien
Matzot Kasher Vesameach" - Eyal Wigderson
and Chris O'Brien were taking their fight against Huntington's
Disease to the "top of the world" - Mt. Everest - to call attention to a
deadly hereditary disease that has afflicted their family. Chris and Mike
lost their mother, sister,
grandmother, aunt and uncle to the deadly inherited neurological disease
wanted to bring attention to the Hereditary Disease Foundation.
Today we ask you to go to
and read and pray for this family, and consider giving in whatever way you
EverestNews.com will now take a 1 hour silent period in honor of Mike.
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