Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mallory Family in Base Camp

Picture taken by Dan Mazur of Summit Climb

Friday, May 30, 2008

Everyone is safe

The family is at base camp or hiking down from base camp. They should be in Lukla in the next few days. Then back to Kathmandu where Dan and the family will try and get an early flight home. I can hardly wait to see them, hold them and hear all the stories.
Mike is safely down at base camp. He was the last person in the Summit Climb group to try for the summit. He successfully reached the summit before running into difficulty.
A huge thanks to Summit Climb staff for keeping everyone safe. You are awesome!!

Video Coverage of the Summit

Message From Team Mallory

To climb the highest mountain in the world at 29,029 ft. (8848 meters) requires tremendous mental and physical effort. Only the most dedicated climbers in the world attempt it.

On May 26, 2008, Dan Mallory and sons Adam age 25, Alan age 23, and on May 27, daughter Laura age 20, were successful in reaching the top of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain. Laura is now Canada's youngest female summiter and, with her father and brothers, part of a family of 4 to reach the summit.

Adam, Alan, and Dan left high camp on the South Col at 8:30 pm in a strong cold wind to begin the final ascent traveling all night by headlamp reaching the summit at 8:15 am the following morning. After resting an extra day at Camp 4, Laura left for her summit climb at 7:00 pm similarly climbing all night to summit the following morning at 9:00 am.

The challenges are extreme, the risks are great, but the rewards on the top looking over the world are beyond words. We are looking forward to our return home to family and friends.

Dan, Adam, Alan, Laura

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I was going to publish in the last blog that helicopter rescue above Base Camp had only occurred once but I thought I should check the internet first. The following is from June 2005.
Heretofore, the summit of Everest was utterly out of reach for helicopters. In fact, just landing at base camp, 10,000 feet lower, was considered a life endangering feat. Several attempts resulted in crashes. KC Madan, a Nepalese military pilot , became a hero when he landed his machine at Camp II to rescue Beck Weathers and Makalu Gau after the 1996 tragedy. Now, pilot Didier Delsalle has landed on the summit, where he remained for two minutes.
I was absolutely amazed.

Death Zone

The area at Camp 4 (approximately 8000 m or 26, 000 ft.) and above is known as the Death Zone. At this altitude the human body loses its ability to acclimatize and the body’s cells slowly deteriorate and die. The longer a person stays at this altitude the more likely high altitude cerebral or pulmonary edema or death will occur. Frostbite of exposed body parts is common. Both body and mind are in slow motion. High winds and slippery icy slopes add to the danger. At the summit, there is two thirds less oxygen than at sea level.


Summit news reports that 5 sherpas are helping Mike descend down the Lhotse face to camp 2.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Snow blind

Mike Browder, the leader-in -training, for Summit Climb on this Expedition headed for the summit last night and became snow blind at the South Summit. Sherpas are doing their best to bring him down safely. Things can happen quickly on the mountain. This is a very dangerous situation.
I spent several days with Mike in Kathmandu. He helped me with my shopping for the climb and entertained me at dinner. The rest of the family will have spent time with him in Base Camp. He is an experienced climber who leads climbing expeditions in the Alps. I am so thankful my family had a safe summit. Please add Mike and the rescue Sherpas to your prayers.

The Otto brothers

I have had a lot of interviews from the press. I have been very specific in those interviews that Laura is the youngest female Canadian to summit Mt. Everest at age 20. A young man Eric Otto from Kingston was also on the mountain and successfully summited Mt. Everest with his brother Christian. Eric just turned 20 and is the youngest Canadian to summit Mt. Everest.
My family met the Ottos. Christian is a doctor and was doing some medical research on the mountain. Among other things he was doing some tests with Viagara. It is believed that Viagara may increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. Christian also cared for people in need of medical assistance on the mountain, my family included. Eric will be attending University of Western Ontario next year in London so he and Laura can compare notes of their adventure.
Congratulations to the Otto brothers for their successful summit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Exciting past few days

This has been an exciting past few days. I am soooo proud of all the family.

The Mallorys still have a lot ahead of them before they are off the mountain. Their minds and bodies have been tested to the limit and it will take quite awhile for them to fully recover. I am anxious to get a medical report from each of them.

Hopefully, when they reach base camp Dan will contact either Susanne (our web designer extrordinarie) or myself and we will have some stories to relay. I will also post some info about high altitude mountain climbing incase we have inspired any of our blog readers.

Keep those comments coming. I know the family will want to read them and all the positive comments and encouragement from family, friends and strangers have been a great comfort to me.

Summit Climb News - Laura

From Summit Climb:
Laura Mallory and Pasang Sherpa summitted this morning at 9:00 am. The weather was perfect, sunny and calm. They returned to the south col at 4:30 pm. We congratulate them.
All Nepali times.

Laura on Top of the World

Laura called my cell phone from Camp 4 so excited she could barely talk. She summited Mount Everest with her sherpa last night. She said she was in a tent by herself resting since the rest of the family hiked down to camp 2. She is the youngest female Canadian to summit Mt. Everest at age 20. I am so proud of all of them.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I do not know Laura's health but there was an error in the Summit Climb notice I copied. She will be climbing with a sherpa. Message from Dan Mazur from Summit Climb:
Sorry about that, it was a mistake in the transcription. Laura is on her way to the summit now with Pasang Gyaluk, a very strong and experienced sherpa.We are praying for their safety.
I will hopefully get news either later tonight or tomorrow morning as to whether she went up or not and if she was successful. I will post any info as soon as I know about Laura. The Mallory men should be resting in Camp 4 now. They will probably wait there for Laura unless they feel unwell in which case they would have to descend for safety reasons. I am sure they are exhausted.
Keep the prayers and positive thoughts going their way.

News from Arnold

Summit Climb:
I have some good news. This morning at 8:00 a.m. local time, Dan, Alan, and Adam Mallory summited Everest. I just spoke with them on the radio. They are doing fine and they will soon start their descent. Unfortunately Laura Mallory left camp 4 last night, but didn’t feel too good so she turned around. She wants to try again this evening with a sherpa. Also, Linda turned around last night and she’s back safely in camp 4.
From the very brief conversation I had with Dan, I think Laura has what Adam & Alan had. Laura is strong and very determined. The family will have to decide if it is safe for her to try another ascent now or if she should descend, recover more and try later. Climbing is not all physical.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dan, Adam & Alan on top of the world

11:15 p.m. Sunday May 25, 2008 Ontario time
Dan, Adam & Alan are standing on the top of the world. Regrettably, Laura got ill and was unable to continue. Short conversation. Congratulations to the boys and speedy recovery to Laura. Now the most dangerous part of the adventure begins their decent.

Mallorys heading for the summit

From Arnold at Summit Climb:
The Mallory family and Linda just left the South Col, together with Pasang Norbu, Jangbu, and Sange Sherpa for the summit push. I hope tomorrow at about 10:00 a.m., we get some news from them from the summit. So far they are doing fine and they have a whole night of climbing ahead of them.
Anyone expecting a call from the summit might be woken up in the night. Remember they are 9 hours and 45 minutes ahead of us. You do the math. I for one do not expect I will be getting much sleep over the next few days. I hope their guardian angel is not sleeping.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mallorys in Camp 3

From Summit Climb news:
The Mallorys left this morning to climb to camp 3 and have all arrived. They are probably resting now and getting ready for the long haul to the South Col tomorrow.
This is it. The South Col is Camp 4. Camp 4 (8,000m/26,000ft.) is the beginning of the Death Zone. Your body does not acclimatize at this height and it starts to deteriorate and die. A person can only stay in the Death Zone for 2 maybe 3 days.
They should attempt the summit on Monday if the weather holds. It has been clear near the top but snowing below 7500m. Nepal is 9 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Ontario time.
Pray for their safety and good weather.

Where are the Mallorys?

The answer to that question is I do not know. There are two Laura's in the Summit Climb group if people are following Arnold's news. I think it is the older Laura who is trying to summit now.
They have communication but will only use it when they summit or for emergencies.
If they miss this weather window, they get another chance to summit after they come down and have a rest. Something they will not want to do but they might have to. Safety and health have to be the number one priority.
The waiting is hard.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sleeping or Not Sleeping at High Altitude

The wind, the cold, and altitude all contribute to a poor night's sleep on the mountain. Periodic breathing or Cheyne Stokes breathing is common. A person takes 3 to 5 deep breaths followed by several shallow breaths or even a complete pause in breathing for 5 to 15 seconds. This pause in breathing ends with a gasp which often wakes the individual or their tenting partner. For a scientific explanation of what is happening in the body to cause this type of breathing see

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dan, Alan & Laura are hiking again

Dan called the office to check on his staff and business. I doubt he could do anything from the mountain but it was nice he called. Lori and Irene have everything under control. We are lucky to have terrific staff. So many people have supported us in so many ways.
They hiked for 12 hours yesterday, were exhausted and resting in tents with snow blowing all around them. My guess they are at Camp 1. They will meet Adam at Camp 2. Poor connection and short conversation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Barbara's Experience

My experience has been tainted with disappointments but still it was wonderful and I am certainly glad that I did what I did.
First, my hike to base camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain was cancelled just before I left Canada.
Second, the guide I was supposed to hike with, Dan Mazur who is famous for rescuing Lincoln Hall in 2006, fell and broke his leg in 2 places 2 days prior to my departure.
Third, I was unable to spend as much time with the family or climb as high as I had hoped because of my injury.
On a positive note:
I met great people from all over the world and had some fascinating conversations
I climbed to Everest base camp at 5,380m/17,700 ft. saw the hustle and bustle of tents being set up, prayer flags flying and the famous Khumbu Icefall.
I climbed to Kala Pattar at 5,545m/18, 187 ft. where you get the first view of the summit of Mt. Everest and views of all the high 8000 meter peaks around Everest.
I climbed over 5700m/18,700 ft. in the dark with a torn Achilles tendon on Island Peak deciding to turn back when the climbing became too technical for me to trust my injury.
I experienced a new 3rd world country & learnt a lot about the Hindus & the Buddhists of Nepal and how they live and interact.
I also learnt first hand how super powers like China control smaller poorer nations like Nepal.
I learnt that I can survive on a mountain and in a 3rd world country on my own.

My injury was an accident. I stepped on a flat stone that was much like a teeter totter while crossing a river, my heel dropped down and I tore my Achilles. I had it bandaged and then I tore the muscle attached to the Achilles when I fell hiking down from Island Peak. The next few days were a real challenge for me both physically and mentally. The group I was with was hiking down off the mountain and I was hiking on my own with my porter Dawa to meet the family in Pheriche. What should have taken 3-4 hours took me 8 hours. The next day I met the family and saw the doctor. They hiked up and I hiked down.

How High is Mount Everest?

Height Comparisons
People have trouble conceptualizing how high Mt. Everest is. The following are some approximate heights above sea level that I hope will help.
Barrie ON 500 ft./150m
CN Tower 1,800 ft./550m
Kathmandu Nepal 4,400 ft. /1,350m
Lukla Nepal 9,100 ft. /(were you fly to to begin the trek) /2,775m
Base Camp 17,400 ft. /5,300m
Summit of Everest 29,000 ft. /8,840m
Commercial jet flies at 37,000 ft./11,280m

Friday, May 16, 2008

Summit Climb Update - May 15

(as reported by Arnold at Camp 2)

Today our last 2 members who slept in camp 3, Linda and Laura, went down to basecamp for the final rest before their summit attempt. The only member who is coming up to camp 2 today is Adam Mallory. He is trying to catch up for lost time, so we will see him here soon.

All of the members are eating well and resting a lot for their final attempt for the summit. It’s going to be a couple of hard days for them.

Right now all of our sherpas are doing a marvelous job. They have to carry more than 100 oxygen bottles to the South Col at 8000 metres/26, 200 feet. They also have to pitch tents and stock food, so they are pretty busy right now while our members are resting to make everything ready for their summit attempt.

I expect our members back in a couple of days in camp 2. Our first attempt for Lhotse is planned right now for the 19th of May, if the weather stays good of course. The first attempt for our Everest group will be on the 21st, also if the weather allows of course.

To read the full dispatch from Summit Climb go to

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Track to the Summit of Everest

(As dictated by Dan Mallory via satellite phone)

The last report on May 2, 2008, was from “the village” of Dingboche as we had trekked 18 km down to it to better recover from higher elevation and they had an internet café (highest in the world) . We rested there and trekked 18km back up to base camp at 17,800ft / 5,425m (it changes slightly daily with the changing barometric pressure).

Unfortunately Adam and Alan were ahead and on entry to the base camp the Nepalese army checked their bags, found a satellite phone, and confiscated it (afraid of the negative news from the Chinese Olympic Everest climb).

After one day of rest on May 8 we were up at 3:00 am to set off through the Khumbu Icefall for 8 hours to reach Camp 1 (elev. about 19,500ft / 5,945m). After leaving the icefall, there is about 1 to 1 ½ hours which is the start of the Western Cwm that feels like you are in an oven, even though there are many crevasses to go over or through to reach Camp 1 - very hot!

After one night in Camp 1, melting snow for drinking water, we begin to get ready to set off for Camp 2 (elev. 20,600ft / 6,280m). However, Adam had developed a serious bacterial stomach infection that forced him to return through the icefall to base camp for medical attention. He lost three to four days there as we continued higher.

Camp 2 is situated just below a steep mountain-side slope of “seracs” (chunks of ice). It is a regular occurrence to hear avalanches. A somewhat difficult thing to hear because the next day they could be falling on your head.

After one rest day, up at 5:00 a.m. and Alan, Laura and I set off through the Western Cwm to the Lhotse Face. Camp 3 is carved into the very steep wall about a 5 – 7 hour mountain climb. We had a short time to acclimatize, then back to Camp 2. Falling rocks are an issue as Laura and I had two fly by us on our left and right like missiles and to be hit would be serious. You have to be on the alert.

On Tuesday May 13 the three of us departed for Camp 3 (elev. 23,500ft / 7,160m). The highest point ever for me and in the Himalayan Mountains; no higher mountains in the world. The normal acceptable elevation to ascend per day should be limited to under 2,000 – 1,500ft (610 – 460m) and if we are going up about 2,950ft / 900m, there is a real danger of serious high elevation conditions like pulmonary and cerebral edema. A climber above me left a trail of blood on the ice and snow and on the ropes – he should have descended.

We all needed to rest after many hours of climbing. In camp 3 the tents have ropes between them and if you were to slip, you would certainly fall off the ledge (that happened a few years ago). The heart is racing the whole night to compensate for the low blood oxygen levels, making for a very sleepless night.

Up at 4:00 am to descend to Camp 2, pack any extra gear, and return to base camp to recover. We met Adam that afternoon at base camp and the next day he set off at 4:00 am to continue climbing. We are set to leave base camp May 20. That’s still a questionable date.

Camp 2 is where we’re going to meet up with Adam, then up to Camp 3, then over the rock outcrop, up to the Yellow Band and over and up to the South Col (Camp 4 at 26,300ft / 8,000m). Then the 18-hour summit along a narrow ridge and up the Hillary Step for the summit attempt (29,028ft / 8,848m) hopefully on May 25 – Yahoo! We made it!

One of the greatest challenges is related to culture shock. People are writing long notes, missing family and their friends and all that’s familiar and things they enjoy -- very easy to become depressed.

The end is in sight!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 13th report from Summit Climb

Arnold from Summit Climb reported on the 13th from camp 2:

Tonight Christian, Eric, Michael, Andrew, and the three Mallorys will sleep in camp 3 to prepare for their summit attempt. They will go down tomorrow and rest in basecamp. In that time, all of the sherpas will start carrying all of the oxygen to camp 4 and prepare the high camp so that everything is ready for our members to summit.

I estimate that the first members will summit around the 20th of May, if the weather allows us of course. Everybody is quite healthy and strong.

So we’re doing well here and everybody is getting pretty excited to go to the summit. The clock starts to tick now. In a few weeks we’ll probably be finished. After all of the delays with waiting for the Chinese to summit everything is going very fast now.

Where is the 4th Mallory? Adam must be below camp 2. I assume he is still recovering or on his way up to camp 2. There are sherpas and other members in the larger Summit Climb group he can climb with when he is ready.

There are several satellite phones on the mountain but where they are and whether they are charged and/or working is the question. They have to be charged from a solar panel at base camp when it is sunny.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kathmandu has character

Kathmandu grew very quickly in size from 1.5 million to over 4 million people. The infrastructure and money was not there to accommodate the rapid growth so the city has major problems.
Reasons for the pollution:
1) The shape of the Kathmandu Valley is like a bowl and the pollution sits in the bottom of the bowl.
2)There are lots of old cars with no pollution or exhaust controls. Everyone seems to own a small motorscooter or motorbike. No helmet laws and sometimes as many as 4 people on a motorbike.
3)The streets are full of pot holes. Very dusty - you always feel gritty.
4)Littering is a problem.
5)Dogs and cows run freely through the streets. 80% of the population is Hindu so cows are sacred.
6)They always seem to be burning something - candles, incense, bodies of the dead, sacrifical animals, plants, food.
7)This is their dry season and there is a water shortage.
After wandering around the city during the day my throat always felt scratchy at night.
I know this probably sounds terrible but remember this is an overpopulated 3rd world country. It has few natural resources and about half the population is illiterate. It is the 12th poorest country in the world and gets 60% - 80% of its money from foreign aid.
Even with the pollution and problems the city grows on you. I could just wander the streets or sit and watch the world go by because there was always something interesting to see. There are no deadlines, storekeepers open and close their shops at will, vendors don't harrass you. The electricity is off in different parts of the city for 4 to 8 hours everyday. Life is tough but simple.
Kathmandu has character.

Khumbu cough

The pollution in Kathmandu is terrible. Infact, a lot of the locals wear masks. Then you head to the mountain with dusty paths and low relative humidity. This all irrates the respiratory tract and the result is the "Khumbu cough". It keeps you and others awake at night and can be serious enough to break a rib. The best way to prevent it is to wear something over your nose and mouth so the air you breathe in is warm and moisturized. A ski mask, balaclava, or bandana works well. Getting a comfortable fit over the face is the problem - too lose and it falls down all the time - too tight and it is hard to breathe.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day from Base Camp

Adam wished me a Happy Mother's Day from base camp. He was quite ill at camp 1 with diarrhea and acid reflux. He couldn't eat anything and had to hike down to base camp which took him 10 hours - arriving in the dark. He did not mention a headache so I do not think he had AMS. He is on medication, feeling better and hoping to hike back up either tomorrow or the next day.
Dan, Alan & Laura are well, at camp 2 now and heading up to camp 3 to spend the night tomorrow - weather permitting. They had about 4 inches of snow last night.
I am pleased that they are looking after each other, not taking any chances and making sensible decisions.
I told Adam that they need to check in with either Susanne or myself on a regular basis now that the Chinese have summited. Hopefully, they do that.

AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness

Anyone who climbs to high altitude can get AMS. Why some people get it and others don't is unknown. Why someone suffers from it one time and not the next is also a big question mark. It is not related to your age, sex, physical fitness, or previous altitude experience. It is related to your genetic make up and your rate of ascent. The general rule for acclimatization above 10,000 ft. is not to gain more than 1,000 ft. per day and take a rest day every 3,000 ft. If you are sick at altitude there is a 99.9% chance it has something to do with elevation.
You expect certain physiological things to happen as you ascend. Your breathing will become faster and/or deeper i.e. you hyperventilate, you have shortness of breath climbing uphill, your night time breathing changes, you awaken frequently at night and you urinate more. You may develop a headache which can be relieved with aspirin. This is all normal. However, if you develop a headache not relieved with aspirin and some sleeplessness you should stay at the altitude you are at for a few days or descend. If you have a headache not relieved by aspirin and one or more of the following symptoms loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty sleeping you must descend immediately.

Adam sick

The Mallorys are in camp 2 awaiting sherpas to finish setting up camp 3. Adam had a sick stomach in camp 1 and returned to base camp. Hopefully he is on the mend and will join the others in a day or two.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Summit Climb Update - May 9

(From the Summit Climb website)

Today we got the official news the Chinese summited! That means all our restrictions to climb Everest and Lhotse are gone!

Tomorrow Ken, UK John, Irish John, Jo, Harris, Linda and Sofie will go to Camp 2 to join Matt, Berry and the Mallory family, who are already on the way to C2. Camp 3 will be fixed on the 9th and our tents will probably be in place on the 10th or 11th.

Everybody is very happy to start climbing again and spirits are very high.

On the 10th, Laura, Eric, Christian, Michael, Andrew, the Polish couple, Arnold and Maya will go up to C2. This way we have enough tent space in C3 and everybody will have a good night there.

Most members will come down after sleeping In C3 at 7,200 metres/23,600 ft to have their final rest in basecamp before pushing to the summit.

So everybody is fine and we are all excited to start the final stage of our expedition! Cheers, Arnold.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Everest Southeast Route Summary

Base Camp - 5,380m/17,700ft. south side of Everest in Nepal on the Khumbu Glacier

Khumbu Icefall - ice walls, crevasses and huge blocks of ice.

Camp 1 - 6,065m/19,900ft.

Western Cwm or "Valley of Silence" - gently rising glacial valley with huge crevasses in the centre forcing climbers to cross on a small passageway known as the Nuptse corner - can be unbearable hot on clear windless day

Camp 2 or Advanced Base Camp - 6,500m/21,300ft.

Lhotse Face - wall of ice 40 to 50 degree pitch with occasional 80 degree pitch

Camp 3 - 7,470m/24,500ft. on small ledge about half way up Lhotse face

Yellow Band - rock band at top of Lhotse Face

Geneva Spur - steep snow covered black rock outcrop

Camp 4 - 8,000m/26,200ft. on the South Col (pass separating Everest and Lhotse)

The Balcony - small platform to rest

South Summit - 8,750m/28,700ft.

Cornice Traverse - narrow ridge

Hillary Step - 12m/40 ft. rock wall

Summit - 8,848m/29,028ft.

Note: exact heights seem to vary slightly in the literature

Dan, Laura, Alan, Adam on way to Camp 2

All restriction to climb have been lifted. Mallorys are on their way to Camp 2.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chinese reach the summit of Mount Everest

The Chinese have reached the summit of Mount Everest and lit the Olympic torch. See
The ban on climbing above Camp 2 has been lifed by the Nepal government. This is a very good account of what has been happening on the mountain.

Latest news

Following is information from the Summit Climb website posted 7 May, 2008:

"Today our liaison officer in basecamp told us that 50 Chinese are in camp 3 right now to push to the summit tonight. They hope to summit on the 8th. This means if they summit tommorow we can move around freely again.
Tomorrow ... the four Mallorys go to camp 1 and then camp 2. Eleven Summit Climb Sherpas are in camp 2 waiting to get the "go" to fix camp 3 ...We are only a little behind schedule and will catch up.
Slowly, through the following days, all members will go up and try to sleep in camp 3 at 7200 metres/23,600 feet. After this we will rest a final time in basecamp and try for the summit when the weather is good. Traditionally this is between the 20-25th of May, but we will see how the conditions are around that time.
We are working closely together with other teams and will make the route to the summit together.
Wishing the team all of the best for a safe and successful ascent!!
All our members all healthy and strong and everybody wants to climb higher on the mountain soon!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Squat toilets

For those people who have not experienced a squat toilet let me describe the ones in the teahouses. The toilet is a small room with a porcelin toilet bowl in the floor with spots on the sides for your feet. A waste paper basket or box sits in one corner for used toilet paper (you have to bring your own roll of tp). A large barrel of water with a pitcher or cup in it to pour water down the toilet when you are finished sits in another corner. Note there is no sink to wash your hands. You could use the water in the large barrel but I was always leery of that. Small bottles of hand sanitizer are great things especially if you do not want to get sick. I found it interesting that the cost of the toilet paper increased and the size of the roll seemed to decrease as you progressed up the mountain.
How best do you use the squat toilet? Do you face the door or the wall? How far down do you squat? Problems can arise. Night visits are always interesting since there are no lights so you just have your headlamp (something you keep in your sleeping bag) to guide you. To make things more interesting at higher altitudes there is ice on the floor and sides of the toilet. Add to this a torn Achilles tendon and things really get interesting. The night I had to do a one legged knee bend on an icy floor in the dark was a real highlight of the trip. Use your imagination! I can see the humour in the situation now but at the time it was no laughing matter.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Communication explained

I know that lots of people check the website daily hoping to hear some news from the mountain so I thought I would try to explain how things work. Presently, there is very little satelite phone communication because of the Olympic torch run. Everything is being monitored closely. Unauthorized use of a satelite phone could result in you being forced to leave the mountain and therefore lose your opportunity to summit. The authorities are not fooling around in this regard. I assume Arnold from Summit Climb posts his updates at Base Camp through an Army Liason officer.
Although there is an internet at Dingboche where the family is presently resting it does not always work. Power to this area is limited to solar power. No sun - no power. You pay by the minute to use the internet and I imagine there are lots of people trying to communicate with home.
There is a lot of down time on the mountain when you do nothing but rest to prepare for climbing or rest after climbing. On those days there is nothing to report. One of the biggest concerns to this adventure is mental boredom. It is hard to read or do anything in your tent during the day because it is like a sauna and at night it is cold and you have to use a head lamp.
After May 10th news should pick up. Keep your fingers crossed that the Chinese summit by then or we are into more politics.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Contact with the family

Someone asked if I was in contact with the family. Since I left Nepal - the answer to that is no. I read what you read at this point. Once the use of satelite phones is allowed I expect to have more contact but that will not happen until after the Olympic Torch is off the mountain. At least I am assuming communication with teams will improve at that point but you never know. If an emergency should occur I would be contacted immediately.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Best, worst, most interesting teahouse

The most luxurious teahouse I stayed in was at Pheriche. For dinner they gave you a hot towel to wash your face and hands, had candles on the tables, and provided you with cloth napkins. The food was also exceptionally good. There was a plastic sit down toilet that you could put over the squat toilet and a sunroom outside to sit in and read in the afternoon.
The worst teahouse was at Lobuche. The dining room was crowded, smoky, had no windows and mice ran over your feet at night.
The most interesting teahouse was in Pangboche. It was painted pink with a centre courtyard. My room was on the end with beautiful views of two mountains. After supper I was walking back to my room at night and the whole courtyard filled up with yaks returning from their day of hauling supplies. I watched as a man and woman carefully removed their gear and tethered them to a rope just outside my window for the night.


When I first heard that I would be staying in Teahouses on the way to Base Camp my mind pictured a quaint gazebo type building in a romantic English garden setting. Wrong! The teahouses we would be staying in would consist of roughly constructed buildings with a dining room, bedrooms and a shared bathroom with a squat toilet (more on it in another blog).
The dining room is the centre of all activity. It is the social centre where you eat and meet fellow hikers and hear their stories. It usually has 3 sides of glass windows with terrific views of the snow capped mountains in the area. Benches covered in Tibetain rugs with long tables infront ring the room. A central pot-bellied stove provides the only heat for the entire building. They burn wood at low altitude and dried yak dung at higher elevations. Depending on the wind, the dining room and if you are unlucky your bedroom is quite smoky.
The bedrooms consist of two beds with a narrow centre aisle and a large window with a view of the mountains. The walls are paper thin and you can hear the person in the next room's every move. Sometimes the electricity in the rooms work and sometimes it doesn't so you always have a headlamp at the ready so you can find your belongings and stumble down the hall to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Some teahouses provide you with an extra quilt at night which is a luxury. All this for 200 rupees a night, approximately $4.00. Considering a person or a yak had to carry all the building supplies etc. up the mountain to the building site you feel quite fortunate to be indoors out of the weather. This is all part of the Everest experience.

Medical update

I saw the doctor yesterday and I have a ruptured Achilles tendon. I have to have a ultra sound and begin physiotherapy next week. Depending on the results of ultra sound I may have to see an orthopedic surgeon to get the Achilles stitched which according to Dr. Bones is a very unpleasant procedure. For now, I am taking anti-inflammatories and elevating my leg higher than my heart to reduce swelling. I am hopeful time not surgery will be the answer.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Politics, Sickness and Mountain Climbing

Our 3 biggest obstacles to summiting are as above in that order. When we arrived at Base Camp, all cameras and satellite phones were prohibited. The Nepalese army was at the entrance to Base Camp checking people entering and exiting. A Chinese general came in by helicopter to check out the situation. A surveillance plane was circling the summit of Everest recently to make sure there were no unwanted climbers in the area. All climbers were to be off the mountain by April 30, 2008 and we would optimistically be able to go up from Base Camp on May the 6th at the earliest and possibly not until May the 10th, 2008 or later. Also, the Nepalese army were to be looking in all the tents today for satellite phones or video cameras or articles favoring Tibet. All this to safeguard the televising of the Chinese Everest climbers who are climbing to the top of Everest on the north (Tibetan) side and they do not want any interference with the Olympic torch relay or any attention drawn to the ‘Free Tibet’ issue. The delay could cost us the narrow window of opportunity for us to make a summit attempt.
It is very difficult to manage disease/sickness at elevation. Most everyone is getting, has, or is recovering from a viral chest infection. Dan has had it and has it. Alan is nearing the end of his sickness. Laura is dealing with the “Khumbu” cough which is widespread. It is easy to get an eye infection which a few have including Dan but he can use sunglasses with a prescription insert (Thanks Doug!) during recovery. A couple of the others are dealing with gastroenteritis with Imodium to the rescue. The immune system is weakened with extreme exertion and high elevations but just another challenge to overcome.
Now the real reason we are here. We did a few acclimatization hikes up about 1000ft. higher on nearby mountains. On Monday April 28, 2008 we were up at 4:30 a.m. with a fresh snowfall and set off after breakfast at 6:15 a.m. from Base Camp at 17300ft. to 19380ft. camp 1 at the top of the infamous Khumbu Icefall. After crossing about 50 ladders strung across bottomless crevasses, carefully placing your crampons on the ladder rungs so they didn’t slip and after 8 hours of this with full packs to leave gear at camp 1, we arrived. Some of the ladders are up to four ladders strung together and vertical to get up and over a serac (a wall of ice). Keep in mind that this icefall is in motion each day!
In 2005, camp 1 comprising 60 tents, was all swept away by an avalanche. Every day and night you can hear and sometimes see these avalanches. They moved camp 1 higher to a hopefully safer location.
The next day, we went to camp 2 (elevation 20500ft.), crossing a few more ladders and returned to camp 1 quite tired. On Wednesday April 30, we descended back down through the icefall, reaching Base Camp after about 5 hours, relieved to be back safe but completely spent.
Since no one can go up for 6 to 10 days we have descended to the “village” of Dingboche at 14300ft. to hopefully rest and get completely healthy before we go back up for our push to camp 3 then back to Base Camp for our summit push after 4 or 5 rest days.
All is well. This internet site is the highest internet café in the world so when we get back up, communication is difficult.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Arrived home last night at about 11:00 p.m. after 15 hour flight from Hong Kong. Long flight inwhich I had to lie on the floor outside the bathroom with my leg in the air to control the swelling. I am sure some of the people on the flight really wondered what was going on. Doctor appointment tomorrow to find out exactly what I have done.
Nancy met me at the airport and drove me home. It was so nice to see a friendly smiling face and fall into my own bed.
The house is full of clothes and housewares from the children's various households which are all now in Utopia. My tidy instincts are coming into play quickly but there are lots of things I do not know what to do with including the new dog that seems to be protecting the house even though no one knows where he or his food bowls came from.