Update: June 3- Katmandu - hello, this
is Rob Chang updating from Katmandu. first I would like to thank all our
sponsors, well wishers and supporter all over the world for our project. I
think the success of this project is less about the summit and more about the
people who have been involved (but the summit is nice!).
right now, I am going to give a synopsis of the account at my end, as our BC
Manager Paula Stout had given a great account of what had happened to John G.,
Apa and Dawa. As for my end, my climbing partner, Ang Pasang and I did not
have good or clear radio contact, thus the confusion of what was going on.
Also, as John "Sherpa" and Apa were on the speedy track I was still fighting
some stomach illness that I fought off proactively with dosages of immodium
before our summit push, but did not help my hydration factor.
May 27 ,
28 Camp 2- As the wait lingered on, some members had to make the distinct
decision, to head home due to time constraints, work requirements and other
personal issues. In our tent at Camp 2, we discussed honestly what each
wanted to do. This can become one of the most difficult decisions a climber
can make, to stay or to go.
many basis to figure this out, the condition of the ice fall, the danger to
the Sherpas, to the climbers and if there was really going to be a shot. This
was discussed to the heart from each climber. In the end, I had insisted on
my point to stay one more 24 hr. period. Other members were skeptical, but I
had given up on too many other climbs too early. John Gray, being a partner
on a few of these climbs mulled it over, and in tune - simply said, yes, I'll
stay one more day.
Huss and Dan Smith had met their time deadlines and decided to head down. It
was a tough discussion, whichever end you were on.
free time, I am able to do a sat phone interview with my NBC affiliate in
California - which was funny since I didn't have a pen or paper to write down
the phone in number - so I scribed on a rock (serious, I have a pic of it) I
also shot a video salute for Memorial Day weekend for my friends in the 129th
Pararescue Group and the 1st Marine Division outside my tent at 21,000+ feet.
optimistic as some were, a lot of people thought our shot was too late, there
were other teams trying to summit a day earlier, and regardless of what anyone
says, all the weather reports were anything BUT dependable - only a neophyte
would claim they really knew what was going on. Winds were still high, temps
cold, but still on the margin of what we mountaineers call "climbability".
Camp 3 - John and I move to Camp 3 - the ascension is one of
straightforwardness and focus. John and I joke that its the anniversary of
Sir Hillary's first attempt, heck of a place to be - on the actual climb -
what a place in history. I still have stomach issues, but our trip to Camp 3
is one of vast improvement from the first.
We have a
new tent area, without some off angle canter, our Sherpa climber is "on it" in
terms of water and having things ready to go. We start sleeping on O's and
now it feels like we are going somewhere, though we don't know whether its up
or down. The wind blows, but the temps are warm. I do a spoof here at almost
24,000 feet on our ledge in my CW-X outfit, the world's highest fashion show,
though the mountaineering inner booties didn't really match. Our Sherpa views
the skeptical from his tent and laughs.
31 - The real push, John and I get up and we are wired. This time getting up
hours earlier than our predetermined "Sherpa" wake up time (since it takes a
Sherpa 15 minutes to eat, pack and get his gear on and be ready to climb) - it
takes John and I more like 2 hours, so we wake up this much more earlier to be
to Camp 4 is amazing. It is steep, exposed and hard. Even with the fixed
lines in place, the air is so thin, and well, as we hook into what seems like
Orchard Supply Hardware rope stock (which it is) - when you start over the
Yellow Band - and look down, well at 25,000 feet, you are almost 10,000 feet
higher than BC, and it is intense. Once over the Band, the Spur, it levels
out somewhat and curves around into the South Col.
is Mars, but on Earth. Barren, cold, survival is the word. No sitting outside
hanging out like in BC, it is a harsh world here, and no
those who perished not far from their tents in 1996 did so in bad weather - I
will never second guess someone else's reality after being here. When you set
you eyes on the terrain, you know you are the furthest point from outside help
that there can be, other than being an astronaut - period.
I settle into our tent. We are now using O's and feel pretty good. We cook up
some food, I try to hydrate some and we settle in. The wind is HOWLING ---
The tent at times is sideways. And we are very concerned about just sitting
there in the tent. When we arrived at Camp 4, the Sherpas yelled at us to get
into the tents, at some point, not out of concern for us, but for the fact
that if each tent did not get heavy ballast quick during the securing effort,
the tent may end up 35,000 feet above Tibet in the jetstream.
to us numerous times. He checks our water, how we feel, our oxygen. He is
concerned about the cold and the wind. There's to be some tough decisions to
whether to climb in these conditions, and we are going to leave it up to
him. This is no time for a first and second timer to make assumptions over
someone who has been to the summit 14 times and has returned with all his
fingers and toes each time.
is simple, start getting ready at 6, maybe mount up and climb around 7 or 8.
John and I make our preparations with the utmost seriousness. We know this
it, and that its dangerous out there, not just like a normal climb, this is
the biggest one that there can be. We take are steps to put our clothes on,
layer by layer, hydrate a bit...complain whether or not if we put everything
on - hydrate then have to go to bathroom, what is the reverse time of the
process...so I wait a bit longer for the harness and down pant process. I gut
aches, but I am going for it. John is good to go.
our H hour, Apa comes in, and says we are on hold, one more hour, too windy,
too cold. Our hopes are dwindling. It sounds like a beast tearing at our
tent outside. So we calmly understand the hold decision and mull over staying
there for the night and then going down.
around 45 minutes later, Apa comes to our tent, and says, lets give it a try.
The reality sets in, our packs go out, crampons go on, headlamps beam, and we
are now standing at 26,000 feet in a howling gail, but we are going to give it
a try. The strategy will be to get up the first main point on the ride, the
Balcony, and then assess how it is.
start out - right out of camp, there is a semi-steep ice face, being dark, its
just a process of finding the footsteps of the person ahead of you. A simple
process, unless you are following someone who does not know what they are
doing. Not so with our group, John is one of my most trusted partners - and
Apa and his Sherpas need no introduction.
this first section the route flattens onto a snowfield for a while
really steepens again on semi-mixed ground. Rock, ice, snow, all different
types of stuff, not too hard in the Sierra, but at 26,500 feet, hard, in the
John, Apa, Dawa pull away and Ang Pasang and I are in the tail of things.
There are a few other climbing teams that jostle in front and in back of me
and Ang as pace, water and oxygen bottle trade outs are done like a pit stop
fashion along the route.
where radio contact was difficult and spotty. Too windy, and we decided, lets
just move. As the hours went on over the sections of the route, it was
becoming distinctly aware of how LONG this route is, compared to the little
contours on the National Geo map. At one point I asked Ang, when do we get to
the Balcony, he says, oh, we already passed it...then the South Summit, same
response, this guy knew my stomach hurt, and he just wanted to keep me going -
I thought it was out of just not wanting to stop, but he had other ideas.
the sun began to rise, and we saw the greater views from above 27,000 feet
with the sun rise, with clouds swirling about. Looking almost 5 miles down
onto the far horizon was only something I've done in the seat of an airliner,
and here I was standing on this ridge, in blasting winds - trying to make a
dream come true.
passed. It became very difficult for me to breath, my lungs were burning, and
I felt there maybe some issues....PE perhaps, pulmonary edema, fluid build up
in the lungs. We moved on, as we came across the main summit ridge, right
before the Hillary Step (I knew this one, it was light, and Ang laughed when
yelled - Holy Moly - the H Step!).
same time we were ascending it, Apa, John and Dawa were descending. Apa's
word's were simple -"It's windy, cold - summit, take picture come down - no
time." That motivated me and a bit of time later - at around 8:30 am on May
31, Ang and I summited Everest. His 6th time, my first. It was a very
special moment as he saw me labor so much, so few steps at a time, and he
still said, not bad, 8:30 am. The approach the summit is amazing - though
just a lump, the last few hundred feet do not have fixed ropes, is heavily
corniced, and so a fall to either side is a multi-mile drop back into Nepal,
or get a new visa, into Tibet. This was pretty intense to know to be unroped
at literally 29,000 feet and be using the same techniques we teach on Mount
Shasta back at home.
of my sister with cancer, my dad, my mom, Teedie, the breast cancer food
group, the Breast Cancer Fund, all those that I try to inspire, and here I am
on top of the world...for them and myself to find some grace and peace.
nice, we snap some pics, camcord dead, digi cam is dead, the winds pick up and
its blasting to the point where my summit photo is an a la sitting, but for
Ang, his sixth summit, he proudly stands next to the summit post.
all I can think and this is where the real adventure begins.......
our way down the fixed ropes and at about 27,000 feet, I feel a little
gurgling in my chest. I cough up some white stuff and know immediately that
its not good --- so I take some anti-PE drugs, niphedipine to help. The
descent is arduous, hard and slow. Ang helps with the ropes, and ushers me
down. I am so dehydrated.
afternoon, I dive back into my tent - and my first word's to John are - 911 -
climber call for trouble. I tell him what's up, I immediately go high on the
oxygen and after a while of John taking care of difficulty breathing, asks
what to do - and a plan is made. I feel that maybe I should have turned
around since I knew I may have PE. It was a pretty intense situation for
John, but if there was a definition of coolness under fire, and PARTNER, John
was it, after 17 years of climbing, he had the right stuff at the right time.
June - 1:
After a long night, we descend down to Camp 3, then Camp 2, I rest a bit, but
after a night of radio com to doctors in BC, they want me all the way down
asap. So I continue on to Camp 1. One of the longest days in my climbing
life, so I though. Staying at Camp 1 allowed me to be poised to descend
through the Ice Fall early. The Western CWM and the Ice Fall are now a mess,
so late in the season, and all I can think of is my team members who
June - 2:
I make it to BC, Paula is there, and has been arranging a heli-evac so I can
get my condition in my lungs checked out, but she has some bad new. A
helicopter with a bunch of journalist that were coming in for a short stint in
BC had crashed that morning right at the pad, no more Heli-access in BC. I
simply say, well, stay a night in BC, trek to Gorak Shep, get the heli there
the next day. Then Paula comes back and says that the Ministry of Aviation of
Nepal has shutdown BC and Gorak, and if I wanted to get out asap
- I would
have to go another 2hours beyond to Lobuche.
for my rest night. The mad scramble goes into action, and right after coming
down from the summit, staying at Camp 4, going from 4 to 1, then 1 to Lobuche.
A couple of the porter Sherpas that went down to Lobuche with me thought I was
crazy. So that day at Camp 1 started at 3am and ended at 10pm in Lobuche.
June 3, I
have a fanta orange drink, two fried eggs in the Eco Lodge in Lobuche, and at
around 9 am the chopper shows up. We stop off for fuel in Lukla, pick up a
trainee pilot. And by 10 am, I am at a CIWC clinic in Kathmandu. I did
indeed have some PE with some other ailments, and because we spotted them
early, treated them aggressively (thanks Sherpa John Gray) I am ok and will be
Again, thanks to all those who have
supported our efforts and we will update a final journal entry soon. Rob
Everest Climber, author and
motivational speaker. To book
weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus
Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight
double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with
a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a
super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the
TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on
steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons
CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura®
upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating
closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated
removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand
See more here.