Sunday, November 5, 2017

Scott Fischer's Ice Axe Lives to Climb Again!

We are thrilled to report that a successful first ascent of the unclimbed "Secret Mountain" Tharke Khang has been achieved! Sadly we were not among the three Westerners to stand on the top out of the total nine clients and guides on our team, but we are elated to be a part of the remarkable effort to reach the objective and climb where no humans have ever gone before. We hope Scott Fischer wouldn't be too disappointed that we were unable to get his ice axe to the summit, but I'm sure he would appreciate we all got down safely. A special thanks to our friends Aang Phurba Sherpa, Lakpa Dandi Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa, and Pasang Dawa Sherpa for your hard work and helping to keep all of us safe on a difficult, demanding and extremely treacherous peak. We knew very little about this mountain before setting foot on its flanks, and without your machine-like efforts, this pioneering feat could not be attained.  
South side (Nepal) view of Tharke Khang from our Puja stupa at Base Camp at 16,500 feet 
Extreme steep from high on the Tharke Khang ridgeline Nov. 3, 2017
Notice tiny dot (Dave Landman) below

We are proud of the decisions made high up on the mountain that lead all of us to safely return to tell the tales. Garrett Madison did an excellent job recounting the details of our summit day that began at 2:00 AM on Friday Nov. 3rd, coincidentally Garrett's birthday. I highly encourage you to read his Madison Mountaineering dispatch and see the photos to more fully appreciate what took place and what was accomplished:
Happy Birthday once again GM, we can't imagine a better gift for such a strong and selfless professional guide than your very own first, First Ascent on your birthday. You will not read this in Garrett's dispatch because of his humble nature, but Garrett previously decided when we were at base camp on Wednesday to defer leading the final stages of the climb to our two other Western guides, giving them the opportunity to claim the first ascent accolade. For a professional mountain guide the accomplishment is the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award or perhaps a Presidential Medal of Honor. When we heard of Garrett's decision to put all self-interest aside and defer the opportunity, we were stunned. After much debate among the team we were able to persuade Garrett to come along as previously planned. We're glad we spoke up and the decision was made, and I'm sure that now in retrospect the GM is pleased too.
Among many life lessons we have learned on this amazing adventure here in Nepal, the Buddhist doctrine of Karma is a powerful force. Thank you Garrett for demonstrating to all of us through your actions how good karma really works.
In my next blog post I'll elaborate a bit on difficult decisions made and why we turned around before reaching the summit. But for now we want all of you to know we are safely off the mountain and thanks to the miracle of helicopter transportation, we are already back in Kathmandu and once again enjoying the conveniences outside the expedition tent including fresh food, shower, bed, and an internet connection. ... not to mention the extra oxygen we have been missing out on above 20,000 feet! We also want you to know how much we appreciate all of you for following along on our adventure and for your support and friendship.
Thank you,
Paul and Denise Fejtek
North side (China/Tibet) view of headwall from ABC at 19,000 feet
Notice our Sherpa team (three tiny dots)

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