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  Mt. Everest 2005: American Brothers on Everest: The second death of the season on Everest

Mike 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 29,035-foot peak.

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.

Update 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.

Our team 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.


The weather 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!


Everyone 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.


Last night, 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

it for boiling water and might be pricing one for themselves! Thanks guys!


All for now from BC, Pizza for dinner tonight!!


Hi to Everyone at home, Mike O'Brien


"Chag Matzot Kasher Vesameach" - Eyal Wigderson

Mike 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 www.hdfoundation.org and read and pray for this family, and consider giving in whatever way you can.


EverestNews.com will now take a 1 hour silent period in honor of Mike.


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