The lines are now fixed and the most recent weather forecasts continue to show decreasing wind speeds, so the time has come for us to make a move. Our team has made the decision to break camp tonight and start our summit push. The first group of Ghurkas returned to camp this afternoon and provided some much appreciated beta on the summit ridge. They were all smiles and it is my hope that I will have that same big smile on my face after a few tough days on the mountain.
Congratulating the Ghurkas (3rd and 5th from left)!
This will be the 2nd attempt for Anders, Brent, Geoff and I but the first for the rest of our team. As I type, everyone is busy packing their gear for the next few days. Luckily for the four of us, since we had previously moved up to attempt to summit, all of our gear is already cached at C2. All I had to pack were some extra insulating layers for a cold morning and food to get me through the day. This will be the lightest packs that we have carried the entire expedition!
Our team of four is planning on moving on an accelerated scheduled because of the extra time that we have spent at C2 and our speed. The weather looks most favorable on the 23rd and 24th but we are tentatively targeting the 21st (Everest) and 22nd (Lhotse) as our summit dates. The rationale behind not waiting is that we will be able to avoid slower climbers on the lines who are taking advantage of the optimal conditions. While we may have to fight higher wind speeds, will allow us to move at a faster pace and in the mountains, speed is safety. The remainder of our team will move at a more conservative pace and install a rest day at both C2 and C4.
Below is our tentative schedule for our team of four. Obviously, this is all dependent upon weather and will be pushed back if the weather forecasts worsen. In the case that the 21st does not look like a feasible summit window, we will take a rest day at C2 on the 19th and look to summit on the 22nd and 23rd.
- May 18th: Depart EBC @ 2 AM and climb to C2
- May 19th: Move to C3 early PM
- May 20th: Move to C4 early AM, rest, depart for summit around 11 PM
- May 21st: Everest Summit target of 6-8 AM, descend to C4 by Noon, nap, depart for Lhotse summit around 10-11 PM
- May 22nd: Lhotse Summit target of 6-8 AM, descend directly to C2 by midday
- May 23rd: Descend from C2 to EBC
- *Nepali time is 9:45 ahead of EST and 12:45 ahead of PST
I will be calling in via satellite phone to provide updates on our schedule, so be sure to check in often on our progress.
If all goes as planned, we will soon be standing on top of the world… and the 4th highest point on earth. Although I know that I am physically and mentally prepared for this effort, I can’t help but be anxious. It’s not a nervous anxious but rather a feeling of anticipation of the challenge ahead of me. I know that some readers probably question my sanity and wonder why I would expose myself to so much risk, so I wanted to share a quote that might help to explain “why”…
“Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action. You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down again. So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above. While climbing, take note of all the difficulties along your path. During the descent, you will no longer see them, but you will know that they are there if you have observed carefully. There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know.” – René Daumal
As we prepare to depart, I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed to have the support of the three strong men on my team and all those who have sent so many prayers our way over the past six weeks. Regardless of the outcome of our effort, I will forever be changed by this experience and hold it in my heart, always.
Thank you for all of your love and support. This opportunity stands before me because of your inspiration and for that, I will always be grateful.