Summit Planned for Tonight

Summit Planned for Tonight

John and the team have officially left C4 and are pushing for a planned summit tonight between 8-11PM PST. The GPS data has been inconsistent but we will keep everyone updated as news comes in, please keep John and his team in your thoughts and prayers!

You can try following on this alternative GPS map as well.


Call July 20

Hello everybody out there this is Geoff Schellens with John, we’re at Camp 3 on K2, we climbed the black pyramid today, John is engaging climbing which is challenging at times but good overall, we started using oxygen today at a low flow rate that helped us get form Camp 2 to Camp 3, we are now sitting at 24,000 ft on the dot and everyone is doing really well, clouds have dissipated and given us beautiful views, the plan is to sleep in a little bit and we have a shorter day to Camp 4 mostly of snow walking, then set ourselves up for summit the day after fingers crossed. That’s all for now thanks for following along, bye!

The Mountain of Mountains: July 16th (Day 27)

The Mountain of Mountains: July 16th (Day 27)

Wow, so this is happening. It feels as if it was just yesterday that I was writing to you about gearing up for an assault on Everest and Lhotse. I vividly remember the fear and anxiety that was coursing through me as I typed out each word, unsure of what lay ahead. Now, almost 14 months later to the day, I find myself in the same position with that same anxious excitement in my gut.

So without further ado, here is our planned schedule for our summit attempt of K2. It remains the same as yesterday but for those that may have missed it, here you go:

  • July 17th:  K2BC > C1 (20,000’)
  • July 18th:  C1 > C2 (22,000’)
  • July 19th:  C2 > C3 (24,000’)
  • July 20th:  C3 > C4 (25,000’)
  • July 21st:  C4 > Summit (28,251’) > C3 or C2
  • July 22nd:  C3 or C2 > K2BC

If you are following me on GPS and want to watch our push to the summit on the morning of the 21st, we will depart July 20th around 10 PM Pakistani time and hope to summit between 6 and 9 AM. I am 12 hours ahead of California/Pacific Time, 11 hours for MDT, 10 for CDT, and 9 for EDT. For those following from outside of the United States, particularly Denmark, I’ll leave the math up to you. I encourage everyone to grab some popcorn on Friday evening and watch my progress to the top of K2!

Alright, enough about the logistics and scheduling, let’s get real and a tad bit quotey… This mountain scares the hell out of me but I know that I am ready and that I belong here. I’ve put in the work to get here, but as Winston Churchill once said, “You must put your head into the lion’s mouth if the performance is to be a success.” 

I’ve set the stage and now it my time to rise to the occasion, even though it is difficult to wrap my head around the fact that something I have dreamed of for years brings me so much fear. I suppose that life’s greatest accomplishments should bring us fear. It’s that fear that provides the opportunity for personal growth. With that in mind, I will embrace it, move upward, and continuously remind myself of Joshua 1:9… “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Lastly, I want to leave you with some closing thoughts… About a month before my departure from LAX, I was trail running in the hills behind Berkeley. My anxiety level was high and I was having one of those days that cause you to question your own sanity. All of a sudden, a thought sprang to mind that provided a sense of peace and I have used it in moments of doubt ever since…

“If something should happen and I don’t make it back, I want you to know that it isn’t because I failed, it’s because I tried.”

We all have dreams, some crazier than most, and it is almost always the fear of failure that prevents us from chasing them. For a long time, this same fear haunted me, until I realized that one thing scared me more, the regret of not giving myself the chance to succeed. It is my hope that you will take this thought to heart and that through my adventure, you might find the inspiration to chase your own dreams. It’s not failure if you give it your all.

Summit or not, the journey has been incredible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and everyone of you for all of the love and support along the way. You inspire me.

God Bless,



On Deck: July 15 (Day 26)

As planned, I spent most of my rest day catching up on replying to comments and questions on the website, and personal emails. It took a ton of time because I have received an overwhelming amount, but it was great to finally get caught up. I was even planning on challenging everyone to ask more questions. That was until, we had a team meeting to review the weather forecasts and Garrett moved our “summit push” up in the schedule.

At this moment, we are planning on departing the comforts of K2BC on the morning of Tuesday the 17th to begin our way to the top. By leaving on the 18th, we would target a summit on the morning of the 21st. Over the past couple of days, we had tentatively targeted the 19th as our day of departure but the weather forecasts are showing improving trends for the 20th and 21st.

To simplify this tentative schedule for everyone, here is the current plan with rough elevations:

July 17th:  K2BC > C1 (20,000’)

July 18th:  C1 > C2 (22,000’)

July 19th:  C2 > C3 (24,000’)

July 20th:  C3 > C4 (25,000’)

July 21st:  C4 > Summit (28,251’)

Remember that Pakistan is exactly 12 hours ahead of California and with a targeted summit time of 6-9 AM on the morning of July 21st, this means that we would be pushing for the summit on Fridayevening in the States. I also want to caution everyone that this is all subject to change with the weather and other circumstances, as I’m sure those that followed my Everest expedition are well aware of. We will have more clarity around our plan tomorrow and will be sure to fill you in as information becomes available.

Until then, I suppose I should start organizing gear again and getting mentally prepared for the toughest challenge of my life to date. Few people actually have the opportunity to know when they face a life changing challenge and even fewer can say that it is something that they actually wanted. It makes me feel a little crazy…

PS – In my “1st Rotation” journal, I mentioned the names of my partner organizations in the “Leading from the Front” project and completely forgot to mention the awesome team at Taylor Farms! I’d offer to make up for it with a round of drinks for the entire team but that would be pretty costly, so I’m going to offer it up to anyone on the team who is following along! Thanks for the support, it means the world!

Home Sweet Home: July 12-14 (Days 23-25)

Home Sweet Home: July 12-14 (Days 23-25)

Mountaineering expeditions require a lot of hard work high on the mountain but rest days at basecamp are equally valuable. The general rule of thumb is that we spend an equal number of days low (Basecamp) as we did high (climbing), before returning to climbing. Due to the need for good weather, this ratio does not end up being an exact 1:1 ratio. Rather, it is usually more of a 60/40 split and in the case of K2 and its extremely volatile weather patterns, I’d expect that to be closer to 70/30. Our plan was to spend 6 days resting before starting up the mountain in an attempt to summit and 3 days in, it is still up in the air. I’d like to think that we will have our shot to depart in 3 more days but right now weather projections show some significant snow coming in on the extended forecast. What does that mean for us? It means that we continue to watch the weather and make the most of our time resting at basecamp until we have a clearer picture of the forecast. Don’t worry, even if we get some snow, we are set up really well with almost 3 weeks to find a weather window!
Since returning to basecamp on July 11th, we have spent our time napping, eating to make up for a caloric deficit, drinking coffee, catching up on news, and doing our best to stay entertained. Luckily, we have a very diverse and fun team, which goes a long way in occupying the time.
July 12th: This was the first day after our return to basecamp. It was mostly filled with bathing, drying out climbing clothing and equipment, resetting tent platforms, and organizing. I got my 2nd “shower” of the month the day that we returned, so I didn’t have to worry about that. It basically consists of a mini tent, a bucket of warm water, a pitcher and some soap. It might not be luxurious but it feels pretty damn good after 5 days of hard climbing! As for our tent platforms, the weather was very warm while we were gone and the ice around our tents melted out, while the ice under our tent was shaded, creating a sort of elevated ice platform. I’m fairly proud of the height of mine and have so far refused to cut out the ice from beneath it. The only problem is that the headroom in my tent has shrunk significantly and my normal 48’, from floor to ceiling, is about 36’. I suppose I’ll have to give in very soon…
July 13th: With most of our chores out of the way, the team had to dig deep for ideas to burn the time. Jesse and I really excel in this area and seem to have a limitless supply of activity ideas. Today, the plan was a mustache shaving party for any of the guys that had beards. If you remember, we usually shave our beards prior to our summit push because of the need for our oxygen masks to fit flush on our faces. With this in mind, we didn’t want to let these beards go to waste, so we might as well have some fun with it. A few of the guys were already clean shaven, and the rest were a little hesitant to get creative with their facial hair. That meant that Jesse, Geoff and I had to lead by example. With Geoff as the primary stylist, he decided upon a traditional cop mustache for himself, a Wild West inspired design for me, and some hodgepodge work of art on Jesse. I’d have to say that they turned out pretty damn good but I’ll let you be the judge…
July 14th: Chores, Check! Mustaches, Check! What on earth would we do with our time today? Well, you might guess that after months of training for 10-15 hours a week that mountaineers might get restless with the sedentary life. While this is more or less the case, we actually do fairly well at becoming accustomed to just lounging around! That being said, it’s important that we find opportunities to remain active to keep the legs loose. This doesn’t mean that we need to anything strenuous but we do need to get out for casual hikes.
Jesse and I had been discussing a hike down to Broad Peak Basecamp, about an hour and a half South of K2BC, to capture some photos of K2 from a better vantage point. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, K2 had been covered by clouds the past couple of days, but when we awoke this morning the sky was cloudless. After saturating our bodies with coffee, we departed K2BC at 10:30 AM. Nobody thought that we would make it back in time for 1 PM lunch because the shortest roundtrip yet was 3 hours. Obviously, Jesse and I saw that as a challenge…

Pakistani Air Force helicopter on its way to Broad Peak Basecamp to pick up a Scottish climber who was rescued off the mountain two days ago.

We made quick work of the hike downhill, even stopping to talk to one of the other climbing teams and one of our teammates, David, who was on his way back. The terrain was extremely rocky and we hopped, slid, and scrambled our way to BPBC. The view was as good advertised and we made sure to snag a ton of pictures, just like the ones that you see if you Google-Image “K2”. Satisfied with our haul, we made our way back uphill, arriving at our campsite at 12:59, a trim 2:30 roundtrip! With our exercise out of the way, we lounged for the remainder of the day and hung out with our Sherpa buddies, who had just returned from the mountain.
Now, we are going to have to get really creative with our rest days. Stay tuned…
Before I close, I want to ask you to pray for someone very special to me, Ron Rogers. He is the father to my best friend, Clay, and has been a mentor of mine ever since college. Recently, he had a stroke and is on the path to recovery but could use a few prayers! Stay strong, Ron, and we will have you back out on the golf course before you know it! Sending lots of love and prayers from Pakistan!

The incredible view of K2 from Broad Peak Basecamp.

A Trying Descent (Day 22)

A Trying Descent (Day 22)

Our plan failed out of the gate. We had tried to wake up early but with our tent getting hammered by wind, it was difficult to melt snow for water and boil it for breakfast. Geoff, one of the most proficient snow melters that I know, proceeded to spill the water out of the pot twice and had to start from scratch each time. By the time that we emerged from our tent, David (Mexico), Semba (Japan) and Jason (Ireland) had already started down the mountain and Geoff was stuck trying to get the logistics for the day sorted out with Garrett. Torn between joining the fast threesome down the mountain and sticking around with Geoff, I chose the latter.
When Geoff and I finally made our way down the slope to rappel House’s Chimney, we found Rob debating over whether the orange or white line would be best to descend on. He went down first and found that the orange line was better because one of the pitons on the white rope had come loose but that the orange line had anchor points that required transferring over to the white rope mid-rappel. Geoff descended and agreed that the piton on the white rope would cause a pendulum if it came loose but realized that it could be fixed by removing the other pitons and freeing the rope entirely. Garrett knew that I could make the tricky switch between ropes mid-rappel, so I did so without any issue, to help free up the glut.
As Geoff worked to free the pitons, I began to move down the mountain to stay warm and I would remain alone for the remainder of the day. I continued my descent, stuck above a slower climber and below a Mongolian woman who seemed to be overmatched by the mountain. On descent, we try to limit one climber to each pitch of rope, a section between anchors, to avoid overloading the rope and breaking it. There was not much that I could do, other than maintain patience. While I’ve become more patient in my old age, additional time spent on K2 has a direct correlation to facing objective hazards, such as rockfall and avalanche, and I wanted off the mountain. The former is what concerned me, as the Mongolian woman seemed to be struggling with the rocky terrain, kicking loose rock down in the process. The fifth time that I heard “ROOOOOOOOCK!” and one whizzed past me, I turned up and yelled “Pull it together! Watch your footwork!” I doubt she understood the words but my tone got the point across.
After 3 grueling hours of patient descent, I arrived at C1 and found my Sherpa buddies on their way up! I spent about 30 minutes sharing Peanut M&M’s with Dendi, Siddhi and Tashi, while we rocked out to my mini stereo. With a little boost in morale, I said goodbye to my friends and started rappelling to ABC. It was hot and I was thirsty, and I soon found myself increasingly frustrated by the delays on the mountain. Efficient speed is critical on a mountain like K2 and the indecisive actions of other climbers was making that speed impossible. This thought festered with me as I reached ABC and hiked to BC, alone.

My Sherpa buddies, psyched at C1!

As I walked through the camps, I came across the abandoned Canadian camp. The frustrations of the day left me and I remembered our first return from ABC, when Serge was outside camp to greet us. He had held a giant bag of Werther’s Originals and handed each of us a couple as we passed. He was a good man and will definitely be missed.

The spot where I was when the accident occurred

Then, I was home.