I reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 19, 2016. Below is a journal of my expedition.
Equipment, To-do Lists, and More Lists
An expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest requires a lot of equipment and personal gear and all kinds of other stuff. It also requires a lot of preparation just to be away and disconnected for 8 weeks. There are lists of lists to be completed and with just two weeks before departure I am in a good position, but still feeling the urgency of getting everything completed. Traci is an important contributor to my preparations — ordering and shipping supplies and medicines in advance of my arrival to Nepal, helping to pull together all of the loose ends from my equipment list, and being a big supporter so that I can focus on preparations. No one climbs Mt. Everest alone — it requires teamwork and support (except of course for Reinhold Messner).
Icefall Doctors at Work
The Himalayan Times reports that the Icefall doctors are at work preparing the climbing route.
Leaving Soon for Kathmandu!
Hello and thanks for following along.
This is just a quick post to check in. I am in India this week working from our office in Trivandrum. It has been great to reconnect with colleagues and to get a head start in adjusting to the 11 hour time difference from Chicago.
The climbing team is assembling in Kathmandu this weekend! We plan to begin the trek to Everest Base Camp sometime early next week.
(P.S. Bonus points to anyone who recognizes this picture as being from the north side of the mountain. My approach will be from the south side. George Mallory and Sandy Irvine approached Mt. Everest from the north (Tibet) in 1924; Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay approached from the south (Nepal) in 1953. )
Arrival to Kathmandu!
Today I received my climbing permit from the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal. After an official briefing, a few signatures, well wishes and a khata, I was presented with a permit and official permission to climb Mt. Everest.
One (important) step closer!
I plan to leave for Lukla early on Monday morning, April 4th, to begin the trek to Everest Base Camp, weather permitting.
Temples in Kathmandu
I visited two temples in Kathmandu today.
The Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu with origins dating to 400 B.C. The temple courtyard is off limits to non-Hindus, but there is a terrific view from just across the Bagmati River.
The Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The temple spire was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and is now being rebuilt.
I hope to fly to Lukla tomorrow and begin the trek to Everest Base Camp.
Lukla to Phakding
There were just a few flights that made it to Lukla today and I was happy to be on the first to arrive. It was a gentle flight punctuated with a perfect landing and the absence of any drama worthy of another YouTube video. The views of terraced farms and big mountains were spectacular. It was just what I had hoped for.
The trek today was equally gentle and straightforward. I walked for about four hours from Lukla to Phakding on a path that surrenders approximately 200′ in elevation as it follows the Dhudh Kosi river. It was an enjoyable day and a great way to begin acclimatizing to the higher elevations. Spring has arrived to the Khumbu Valley and the rhododendrons are in bloom.
Tomorrow I plan to walk to Namche Bazar.
Phakding to Namche Bazar
Today I trekked from Phakding to the village of Namche Bazaar at 11,286′. The trekking route navigates across two valleys and is made significantly easier by several suspension bridges. The early Everest expeditions were required to climb the steep valley faces that have been cut into the mountains by millions of years of erosion from the river below. Later expeditions would cross rickety wooden suspension bridges that required courage and, preferably, a windless day. Today the crossings are steel suspension bridges that allow trekkers to cross without peril and with their full attention on enjoying the incredible views of the Khumbu.
I plan to be in Namche Bazaar for two nights acclimatizing to the higher altitudes here. Namche is a comfortable village and is celebrated by trekkers for the quality of the bakeries and coffee houses. Tomorrow I will go on a short hike to higher elevations and my first view of Everest since arriving, then return to Namche for the night. This “climb high, sleep low” routine is a central part of the acclimatization process.
This morning I hiked to the Everest View Hotel at 12,779′. The hotel claims to be the highest in the world. Today the hotel lived up to its name offering amazing views of Everest (first peak on the left), Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam (large peak in the foreground on the right) and other great peaks of the Himalayan range.
Later I visited the village of Khumjung, the political capital of the Khumbu region and home of the Hillary School. Sir Edmund Hillary founded the school and many others in the region as well as numerous clinics. Hillary is a hero to the Sherpa community and his work has made a major and lasting impact in many positive ways.
Visiting the school today I was reminded of a quote from Sir Edmund Hillary: “I have enjoyed great satisfaction from my climb of Everest and my trips to the poles. But there’s no doubt that my most worthwhile things have been the building of schools and medical clinics.”
Tonight I will be in Namche Bazaar and tomorrow I plan to trek to the village of Debuche at an altitude of 12,270′.
Namche Bazar to Debuche
Today I trekked from Namche Bazaar (11,287 ft) to Debuche (12,538 ft).
The morning began with blessings from the family who operate the Panorama View Tea House where I have stayed for the past two nights.
We took a team photo to capture the moment. The team is a terrific group with representatives from India, New Zealand, England, Germany, Argentina, Nepal and the United States.
The views early in the day were simply spectacular. I won’t try to describe the beauty, but instead share the picture below. Similar to yesterday, Everest is the first peak on the left and Ama Dablam is on the right with several other Himalayan peaks in the center.
The trail gives up altitude all morning then in the afternoon regains it all back with a vengeance plus another 1,000 ft. Trekkers stay motivated on the steep sections knowing that the Tengboche Monastery awaits them at the top. The monastery is a special place that will bring renewal to even the most exhausted trekker.
Tonight I will be in Debuche and tomorrow will trek to Dingboche (14,479 ft) with a stop in Pheroche for a blessing from Lama Geshi.
Blessings to all from Tengboche Monastery.
Debuche to Dingboche
I find every day to be special in the Khumbu Valley, and today was especially so.
Ama Dablam is a sentinel that towers over all who journey to Everest from the south. It was ever present today. One of the special experiences of Ama Dablam is that trekkers walk around the mountain and gain multiple perspectives, similar to how a sculpture might study their work from multiple angles. For most of the day Ama Dablam seems impossibly off limits, but at times the mountain seems to invite a respectful approach. Ama Dablam is beautiful beyond description and it is such a joy to spend a day in her shadows.
Lama Geshi has given blessings to generations of climbers. He has pictures displayed of Himalayan pioneers who have come seeking his blessing. Receiving Lama Geshi’s blessing is a right of passage for virtually all who aspire to climb Mt. Everest from the south. For me it was an impactful experience to be in Lama Geshi’s presence and humbling to know that I follow in the footsteps of generations of my climbing heroes.
A helicopter passed through the valley at eye level today marking a sign of progress.
I plan to stay in Dingboche (14,470 ft) for two nights to acclimatize to the 2,000 feet of altitude that was served up today. Happy to be here.
Today was divided equally between work and rest.
This morning started with an acclimatization hike to 16,358 feet. For most of the hike I enjoyed views of some of the world’s tallest peaks including Cho Oyu, Mansalu, Makalu, Lobuche, and Ama Dablam (the prominent peak in the center of the picture above.) Yesterday I wrote that Ama Dablam has many personalities. The picture above is from the north perspective, whereas yesterday I shared a picture from the south. It is hard to recognize the pictures as the same mountain. Everest was not visible today.
It was nice to gain about 2,000 feet of altitude then retreat to the comforts of our tea house for some well deserved rest. Tea houses are a central part of the trekking experience and share common characteristics throughout the Khumbu. The first characteristic is a common room where hot tea and meals are served and trekkers warmed by a stove located in the center of the space. The second characteristic is the availability of simple rooms for sleeping, typically offering just two beds and sometimes a private bathroom, but not always. All the action is found in the common area, in part, because the rooms are not heated. It is a simple, but social experience.
You meet people from all over the world in the tea houses and you never know who you might meet. I spent time with Conrad Anker at our tea house in Namche Bazaar. Conrad is a well-know climber who I have followed for years and is one of the central subjects in the movie “Meru”. It is one of my favorite climbing films. Meru
Tomorrow I plan to trek to Loboche (16,210 ft)
Thanks for following along.