Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in Kathmandu with Photos & Video!

After 7+ weeks living high up in the mountains, we are quickly adjusting to the modern conveniences of civilized life here in 3rd-world Kathmandu. In all fairness we are staying at the luxury hotel Yak & Yeti, which has been more than capable of providing every single item from our previous Top Ten List of Things We Miss the Most. They also have a wonderful restaurant here that serves all meals buffet-style (all you can eat) which is important considering the weight we each lost while climbing: Paul - 15lbs & Denise - 12lbs. And of course they have "hi-speed" internet here which has allowed us to post these photos (and video) ...hopefully you are able to view and enjoy!

Camp 3 at 24,000 feet perched on a steep ledge above the Lhotse Face.

En route to Camp 4, just above the Yellow Band & before climbing up and over the Geneva Spur.

Gulp ...close up view of the Big E from the crest of the Geneva Spur.

Sunset view from our tent at Camp 4 at the South Col, nervously awaiting 9 pm departure for the summit.

Backup along the climbing route at dusk ...take a number.

Denise at top of the Hillary Step.

Our exhausted but elated team after the final trip through the icefall and arriving at Base Camp.

Crevasse crossing in the Khumbu Icefall.

Arriviving at the South Col & tour of Camp 4.

Final steps to the summit.

View from the highest point in the world, on the GoPro HD Hero cam.

We are heading off to Thailand soon for some much needed R&R, and then continuing on our way home afterwards.

P.S. We are no longer using our Everest 2010/Mountaintrip email address and are back to our old email addresses.

Finally, if you would like to see more photos we have posted them here:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Safely Back to Base Camp from the South Col

Since our last call from Camp 4 after summiting, we safely made it down from the South Col! We were reluctant to allow ourselves to be in much of a celebratory mood at the time of that call considering we still needed to descend from 26,000 feet down the Geneva Spur, the Yellow Band, the Lhotse Face, and finally the last trip through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall (photo of Denise crossing triple ladder over crevasse). On top of that a storm had moved in during the final hours of our descent from the summit leaving several feet of snow on our tents overnight and continued snowfall in the morning during our trip back down to Camp 2. There we spent another night of desperately needed rest before continuing on down through the icefall with heavily loaded packs including empty oxygen cylinders.

And finally yesterday morning, physically and mentally exhausted like we never have been in our lifetimes, the welcome site of our tents at Base Camp came into view. We couldn't take off our crampons and climbing harnesses fast enough and then fell into our sleeping bags for a long nap. We woke up just in time for dinner figuring we would eat and return immediately to our tent to rest our severely overworked bodies. Well, our Sherpa team had a slightly different plan! After an amazing dinner and even a congratulatory cake made by our cook Perba Surki, the wine and beer started to flow! The sounds of American and Sherpa party music filled our dome tent, along with 16 members of our Sherpa staff. Eleven of these guys, an unusually large number for an expedition of our size, had the opportunity to climb to the summit along with us! you better believe celebratory dancing and partying was in order, and our tired bodies had to deliver! It was truly an unforgettable experience bonding with and sharing the excitement and memories of our Everest expedition with these remarkable and genuine Sherpa people who made our success possible. And it has been amazing sharing our experiences with all of you through our blog!

We are now packing our bags and breaking down our Base Camp home for the last month and a half, in anticipation of heading out of this glacier-topped town tomorrow. When we return to the land of hi-speed (non-satellite) internet, we will post some additional photos (and video too) which we know you will enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Summit!

We did it! After an 18 1/2 hour round-trip, we are safely back at Camp 4 and will make our way down the mountain and home to all of you! Press play to hear all about it, and photos will be on the way soon!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hello From Camp 4 at 26,000 ft!

We're so close! We're at Camp 4 at 26,000 ft! By the time you hit "play" we should be heading for the summit! We miss you and can't wait to see you all!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stopped Cold by the Wind!

We made it up safely through the Khumbu Icefall to Camp 2 as planned, despite the roar of a massive avalanche that was fortunately just out of our path. We awoke early this morning to a fierce wind and with our bags packed containing all of our essential gear for Camps 3 & 4 and the Summit. The winds were still strong as we headed up to ~22,500 feet at the base of the Lhotse Face. It turns out that our fancy new Marmot 8,000 meter down suits are just as effective in keeping out the biting cold as they are for dancing a jig to the Black Eyed Peas!

Unfortunately, the wind-swept snow blowing high above, and a new weather forecast received this morning, factored in to a decision by Scott to turn us around. He said during his last 5 Everest expeditions he has never seen wind this strong. We were disappointed to be sure to lose a day but feeling much more secure that our tents won't blow away here at Camp 2 rather than up at Camp 3. However, the looming concern on everybody's mind is the rapidly approaching end of the summit window. Every year near the end of May the monsoon arrives effectively shutting down the mountain. Last year this occurred on May 25th. Our new plan, assuming no more weather delays should put us at the South Col with a shot at the summit on May 23rd.

Monday, May 17, 2010

We're Going For It!

We have been working hard for nearly a week to stay physically but mostly mentally prepared for the massive task that is now upon us! We have taken several hikes part way up the 24,500 foot Pumori in order to stay fit and acclimatized. We ran into Russell Bryce during one of those hikes pictured with us here and with the Big E in the background. Russell is the long-time Everest guide from New Zealand who has become a bit of a celebrity due to his role in the Discovery Channel series "Everest - Beyond the Limits".

As far as our mental preparation, we have been doing our best to keep our sanity in the midst of continued discussions about the constantly changing weather forecasts and rumors about what other teams are planning. Our primary strategy has been to temporarily escape the reality of our setting by watching movies! Some of our recent favorites are The Thomas Crown Affair, As Good As It Gets, and the Big Lebowsky.

However now we can no longer be distracted as the decision has been made to go for the top! We are leaving Base Camp at 3:00 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday our time), through the icefall en route to Camp 2. There we will rest a day, and contingent upon the weather holding (please keep your fingers crossed) we will continue to move up to Camp 3 and the day after to Camp 4 and the South Col. We will be using supplemental oxygen to sleep at C3 at 24,000 feet and from that point forward all the way to the top. As you can see we have modeled our Russian-made Poisk oxygen masks and found them to be a great fashion accessory! We will check back in to let you know how we are progressing. Meanwhile if you would like to read a further description of the various camps and route ahead please visit: and click on the map for details.

P.S. Thank you to those of you who have made recent donations to CAF. Remember all new contributions will be made in honor of Heidi Kloos, may she watch over all of us from above!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Three 'F' Words in Base Camp

Here we are back at Base Camp after our low altitude “vacation” down in Dingboche. Since our return a certain ‘F’ word has been uttered quite frequently by our guide and every member of our group. It is constantly brought up and discussed during every meal together and lately this ‘F’ word is becoming quite unpleasant to hear – Forecast! The weather simply does not look very good with winds in excess of 70 knots forecast to scour the upper mountain on most days until May 22nd. This could change but until then, we wait.

The second word beginning with an ‘F’ is our new Friend Nelson Cardona from Columbia. While training to climb Everest in 2007, Nelson suffered a fall which resulted in losing his leg below the knee. He is pictured with us here sporting his new right leg from Ossur, and is sending a powerful message to all those at home to never give up on one’s dreams.

Just as Nelson was quite intrigued and pleased with our Fundraising efforts for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, we are amazingly grateful to all of you who have generously contributed to the cause and collectively helped raise over $100,000 for CAF! Since we arrived here we have prominently displayed our “Base Camp Banner” (the white banner below) on the ritual stupa that stands above our camp. It’s nice to see all of your names on there and we are anxious to get the “Summit Banner” (the yellow banner below) to the top to continue to show our appreciation!

Many of you have already seen these banners which honor our friends and family who have supported the Challenged Athletes Foundation and who are making this incredible journey with us symbolically. The Base Camp banner represents those who have donated $100 or more to CAF. And the yellow summit banner represents those who have contributed $290 or more. We can't wait to take it to the earth's highest point!

Thank you all for your generous contributions to a great organization! If you haven't made a donation already and would like to be included on one of these banners, we have our special paint pen with us and can add your name right here in base camp! The entire amount of your gift goes directly to CAF to provide specialized sports equipment or prostheses to very deserving individuals.

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day & Everest Update

Today marks one month since we have been living on the mountain and progressively working our way up along the slopes of Everest. We have completed two rotations up to high camps and spent 10 days and nights above 20,000 feet. The acclimatization work is now done and we are waiting for a weather forecast indicating a reasonable window to go for the summit. We have taken this opportunity to hike back down to Dingboche (3,000 feet below Base Camp) in order to rest and strengthen ourselves for the enormous effort that lies ahead. Here at this lower altitude our brain cells are thriving again giving us the chance to reflect upon some of the things we miss the most after being gone a month now.

First and foremost we miss our moms on Mother’s Day and of course our friends and family as well. In addition we have compiled this Top Ten List of things we miss the most:

1.) Shower
2.) Clean Clothes
3.) Bed
4.) Toilet – other than hole in ground or “wag bag”
5.) Fresh fruit / salad
6.) Water from a faucet
7.) A “bedroom” that is larger than 6 feet x 4 feet
8.) Oxygen…and the ability to do the following without gasping for air:
- get dressed in the morning
- brush teeth
- tie shoes
- go to the bathroom
9.) Sleeping without being woken up several times by the sound of an avalanche
10.) The ability to get out of our non-existent bed (see #3) and walk out of our spacious bedroom (see #7) without first putting on eight layers of clothing (see #2) and not gasping for air while blazing a trail through the snow without the need of a headlamp, all just to go to the bathroom (see #4)!

We're thinking of you all and will keep you posted with any news in the days ahead.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms! We love you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Success on the Lhotse Face!

We're back at C2 after a long and difficult assault of the Lhotse Face yesterday! We reached our goal of getting to Camp 3 at 24,000 feet, which also marks the highest altitude we have ever climbed, surpassing the reach of all of the other Seven Summits including Mt. Aconcagua in the Andes. All of us would quickly agree that climbing such steep terrain at this level, or trying to do much of anything (without supplemental oxygen as we were doing) is agonizingly HARD! We did manage to snap this quick photo as we collapsed (with our jumars still attached to the fixed lines) just before reaching the tents at C3. Just beyond us in the photo is the "Yellow Band" and the "Geneva Spur" which we will be required to cross en route to C4 and the South Col.

For now however, we are resting and recovering in the relative oxygen rich (ha ha) altitude of C2 at 21,500 feet. Neither of us feel great but we'll get over it. We are also marveling at our climbing Sherpa crew of 12 tough guys who carried 48 oxygen cylinders up to C4 yesterday to prepare for our summit attempt. These cylinders weigh 8 lbs each and the guys aren't finished stocking up high yet! In SO many ways this mountain seems impossible to climb, but without the support of our Sherpa team it would definitely be the case! Namaste and thank you again to our Sherpa friends!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stormy Days at Camp 2

Since our last post, we bid a very emotional farewell to our Everybody to Everest group as we shared our final hugs goodbye and watched them all disappear down the trail out of Base Camp. Thank you all for the sacrifices you made to visit us in this magical place, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with all of you.

We now find ourselves back up at Camp 2 for our second acclimatization "rotation". It was an arduous 10-hour day going straight from Base Camp, through the icefall again, all the way to Camp 2 at 21,500 feet. We've been waiting out a storm here for the last 2 days that brought several feet of snow and fierce winds overnight that seemed like they would flatten our tent! Needless to say, the attached photo of C2 was taken during a brief break in the clouds that we all enjoyed like little kids. Despite the weather we've been getting out to hike and aerobically prepare for what will be a big day tomorrow. We plan on starting early to climb the infamous Lhotse Face (background of second photo) all the way to Camp 3 at 24,000 feet! The next time we return to this spot it will be for the real deal - the summit push! That's it for now!