Everest 2013

Everest 2013

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Respect for the Mountain...Always

April 30th

In one more month we will be flying off the mountain!! Hard to believe we have been here a month and we have only made it to Camp 2 (6400m) and today I write you from Pheriche (4200m). Pam, Mango, Kevin, BG, Roger, and I decided to venture down to Pheriche for our altitude recovery before our final summit push. Typically climbers go down to lower altitude to recover from the time at high altitude just before the summit push. Since our schedule got pretty messed up with this storm, we are still not sure if we will be able to go for another rotation on the mountain before our summit push. As of now the plan is to go back up to the mountain on the 7th and go to Camp 3, then come down to BC rest a couple of days and then go for the summit push. It is an aggressive plan and will be tough to get this all done, but bottom line it is up to Everest...all plans must be run by her and she must give her stamp of approval.

SOOOO yesterday the six of us decided to head out from BC once we heard the plan that we would not be up the mountain again until the 7th and this may be our only chance to head to lower altitude to recover. We made it to Pheriche(4200 m) in 5 hours plus an hour lunch stop in Lubuche (fried rice...yum...yum...yum...yum). It was nice to make it down fast considering it took us two days to go up this way when we first started this trip...just shows how much we have acclimated and gotten stronger. Mango led the way for us, as he knows this valley like the back of his hand after last season and other trips to Nepal. It was a little odd leaving BC, my home for the last few weeks and leaving part of the team there, but I felt it was the best thing for me right now. We are staying at this nice little lodge the Himalayan Hotel, where we have our own toilets in our shared rooms!! This is huge, not freezing your butt off in the middle of the night in the snow when you have to go to the bathroom. It is all whole 500 rupees a night for two, which is like $3 per person :) Anyhow, we are eating to our hearts content!!! Last night half of us ordered two dinners and then the other half of us had Snickers Pie for dessert (that would be me). Snickers pie is a Snickers bar shoved in a dough pastry shell and baked till it mostly melts....ummmm...delicious :) So we are all realizing how big our appetites really are and pigging out!! BG can't get enough chicken...wonder if there will be any chickens left by the time our whole group leaves!! (kidding of course)I really need it, as when I put on my trekking pants yesterday, I realized how much weight I have lost. I had to use some extra climbing rope to tie my pants up to keep them up while heading down the trail. So my main objective for coming down is to eat and gain weight and sleep!! :) I slept 8 hours last night, the first in a long time since I arrived on the trip and I felt amazing this morning!! Pam and I and the rest of our crew here are doing well, healthy, and feel we made the right decision to come and recover down below. When I woke up yesterday morning, I knew it was time to go and was really hoping Pam would agree, as I did not want to go without her...soooo glad she also was ready to head out as well :) Don't get me wrong, our life at BC has been really nice and Sherpa cooks are excellent and feed us till we cannot eat anymore :) As I was chatting with one of the docs today, she told me wieght loss at altitude is almost unavoidable, no matter how much you are stuffing your face, which I have been!! Hence, why we came down to lower altitude to recover.

Today we explored Pheriche, which took hmmm 30 min :) It is really a cute little town, lots of cute Yaks, a couple of cute pups, warm people, and it's green. When Pam and I were hiking in, we both agreed it reminded it us of being in the middle of remote Ireland, instead of sheep, there were Yaks :) We went to visit the docs at the clinic in town and learned that 15-20 people have been helicopter evacuated from Base Camp this season so far for many reasons. We had breakfast (cheese omelet) and lunch (grilled cheese and fries) and now sit in the lodges' sun room, which is more like a refrigerator room, as the sun has left and there is a wicked snow storm outside....guess that storm is finally moving up the valley. I can only imagine what the weather must be like up above and glad we are safe and nearly warm :) Weather calls on the mountain are always tough..things can change overnight. For now, we trust our guides and Sherpas on their decision to bring us down and just hope for the best in this next month. We will leave here and head to Base Camp on the 5th and be back at BC on the 6th.

In talking to locals and other teams, the weather on Everest this year has been said to be the worst in a loooong time! One guy today at the med clinic who has lived here 60 years said he predicts the monsoon is coming late....only time will tell. One of the hardest things about climbing Everest is the WAITING. You come here to climb a mountain, and a big one at that, and instead, you wait....and you wait alot. Meanwhile, your body deteriorates at altitude, you lose muscle mass, you lose weight, and you try to fight off any bugs. So you show up a rockstar, super fit, toned, strong, and over time you get weak and yet you still have this huge mountain to climb. It is a mental game, gotta stay strong, hope for the best, pray for good weather, and stay positive!!. I believe everything happens for a reason, not sure why this storm had to throw a dent in the schedule and may make things a little tougher for us, but it is what it is and all part of the experience. I have been reading a lot about Buddhism while I have been up here and I really embrace their practice of it is not about what happens to you, but more about how you react to it :) For now, we are enjoying eating and sleeping and getting stronger again for what is to come.

Tomorrow we plan to hike to Dingboche to visit Mama's Bakery :) The next stay Pam and I will hike to Alma Dablam's Base Camp (6 hour trip) and check that out...she is also a beautiful mountain. After that we shall see, we definitely plan to keep active and exercise everyday we are here to get stronger.

Thanks again to everyone for their support and encouraging messages....this is an experience of a lifetime for sure.

To learn more about the Everest for Congo Climb visit: www.climbtakeaction.com

April 28th

Well, there was a plan, Camp 3, but then Everest decided No. I thought I would not be in touch till the 4th or so, as the plan was to head up to Camp 1, 2, and 3 in a 8-10 day rotation on the mountain. We made it to Camp 2 and spent two nights there and then yesterday morning found out a storm was headed our way on Friday and could last up to 6 days, so we had to come down. Better safe than sorry! So now we are safe at Base Camp once again....and now we wait! Not sure if there will be time for another rotation on the mountain to make it to Camp 3 for acclimitization, or we may just have a single push...meaning one more rotation with summit push included. It is up to Everest....all respect to her mighty majesty, as she will only let us go as far as she wants to and we have to play by her rules. She is not going to let us visit her precious summit easily, that's for sure...hmmm Everest, how many times do we have to climb you?!? As if once wasn't hard enough...lol ;)

SO...most of us made it to Camp 2 in a single, but TOUGH push. It took me 12 hours to get there with a 40 min break at Camp 1 (we left just before 5 AM). The trip to Camp 1 took me a little under 7 hours again, except this time by 6:30 AM my hands were FREEZING!! I had to stop and add hand warmers....too bad they didn't actually start working till about 10:30 AM!! See hand warmers need oxygen to activate and well at this altitude they take a lot longer to take effect. Big reminder for me for our push to Camp 3 and the summit push. I was doing punches in the air, waving my arms in the air, anything I could to get the blood pumping to my fingers. My right thumb and index finger were the worst, as that is where I got frost nip on Denali....it was not a fun reminder. Jang Bu also tried to warm my hands up by sticking them in his jacket and I was counting and praying for the sun to shine on the ice fall, as I knew that would make life A LOT better. Jang Bu also had a pair of extra little light wool gloves that he put on top of my liner glove and then we shoved my inner mitt gloves on...with the hand warmers inside too. Mind you this whole time Jang Bu was only wearing little light wool gloves and just fine, not cold at all. So not sure what my deal was, I know I suffer from cold hands, but it was a little much!! The sun finally hit us about 9:30 am and I was cheering :) I thought that by leaving with my mitt inner liners I would have been plenty warm...lesson learned for next time! The nice thing about the ice fall is that it is distracting, so although my hands were cold, I still had to focus on where I was stepping, clipping in, and just overall paying attention to my surroundings. Also, each time you go through it, it is a little different. For example, this time a section I was able to climb up before, I ended up doing this split maneuver to get up! It was pretty funny and I think I gave some of the Sherpas going down a good laugh. I guess those yoga classes paid off...lol. It is also very beautiful and although the sun did not directly hit us until about 9:30, we had daylight within an hour of leaving BC. On a side note, we saw a dog coming down from Camp 1 :( Not sure why they brought him up there, but this little guy was going down the ice fall and also being carried across ladders....I do not think he liked the ladder crossings very much and looked freaked out :(

At Camp 1, we had a little 40 min break and grabbing what we had left up there from the last trip-my sleeping bag, mat, and some extra warm clothes. I had a bar and some GU and then it was off to Camp 2. I told Jang Bu to go ahead of me, as there was no need for the poor guy to go as slow as I do, with his heavy pack. I knew he could book it to Camp 2 in no time, as to where it would take me quite a while and it DID! He made it to Camp 2 in a little under 2 hours, whereas it took me about 4 hours! It was a tough slug up to Camp 2, we are all not sure why, as the route is pretty easy and not inclined very much at all...it is like a baby roller coaster...not even. Anyhow, that push from Camp 1 to Camp 2 was a loooooong slug as for like 2 hours you can see Camp 2, but just not reach it. I guess normally this is the easy part of the climb and a quick 2 hour stroll....well not this time. We saw an avalanche come down as we were walking and it seemed pretty close....but not too close obviously. When I was about an hour from the actual Camp, Jang Bu appeared with a thermos and hot juice :) He told me how he had made it in under 2 hours and then grabbed my pack, which didn't have a whole lot in it at that point, but still I was soooo grateful for the help, cuz I was tired and he showed me the rest of the way. That day I had tighted my waist belt on my pack just below my rib cage, to avoid friction on my hips with my harness and well, it killed my ribs...it felt like I had done hours worth of stomach crunches. When we were almost to Camp 2, I got to meet Squash, a 30 year British girl that plans to paraglide off the summit!! I look forward to learning more about her proposed plan :)

So we were at Camp 2 for two nights. On our second night we got 18 inches of snow about. Pam and I were pounding our tent at night to get the snow off and keep the ventilation, but the Sherpas also came around and made sure all our tents were not buried as well. While at Camp 2 we got to see the Lhotse Face and part of the route up to Camp 3. It did look pretty intimidating and it will be a big push to get up there, 1000 m from Camp 2. It was cool to be at Camp 2 and feel a little closer to the mountain. It is a massive one and we definitely haven't scratched the surface!! We really haven't had a chance to experience the most challenging part of the climb. The views from Camp 2 are pretty amazing though and it gets chilly once the sun goes down!! We all got to try out our downsuits up there which was neat :) They were pretty much mandatory attire for dinner since it got soooo cold at night. They work great though :) My second night at Camp 2 was a painful one, as I did something to my neck in my sleep...I maybe got an hour or two sleep total! At one point Pam and I both sat up in the tent at the same time in the middle of the night and we both agreed we couldn't sleep. I was trying to use my nalgene filled with hot water to massage out the knot I had :( When we got up the next morning, we got news of the storm at breakfast and were told we had to pack up and head back down to BC. I left at 10 AM and by then all of Camp 2 looked like a ghost town, most of the teams had left as well. I was able to make it down in 4 hours back to BC. I was really surprised, as it was 12 hours up and 4 hours down!!

The way down was interesting, it was HOT though!!! As we went through the ice fall it got hotter and then Jang Bu was laughing as I was grabbing fist full of snow and shoving them under my helmet and down my shirt...I just couldn't get enough of it to cool off. Where was that polka dot bikini I left in Kathmandu when you need it!! Kidding...my skin would have been roasted. That is the thing about traveling on the glacier...no matter how hot it is, you want to keep your skin covered up to protect against sun damage. It was tough with my all black outfit on and capilene 3 layer top! Jang Bu called me strong and said good walk, I think he was surprised I made it back in 4 hours too, considering how slow I have been walking. I felt really good that day and it was nice to be able to keep up with the team for once and definitely helped my own moral for sure :) Oh I also got to cross the five-ladder crossing coming down from Camp 2, I did it!! It was adventurous and fun :)
Well now we are at BC and it is a waiting game. Tim has a meeting at two with the other team leaders and we will learn more about what is happening on the mountains and what a summit push might look like. Last night we watched the movie Blades of Glory...totally cheesy, but Will Ferrell gave us all a good laugh and distraction :) We were all cracking up. My neck is fine now too and I got a good night sleep so I feel better. Depending on the weather forecast and how the meeting goes, some of us may head down from BC to wait out the storm...but too early to tell right now. I am feeling good, stronger, and ready for whatever we need to do next. Getting up to Camp 2 definitely kicked my butt, but I made it, which felt good. I am finally starting to notice I have lost a little weight, so although I have been eating like a horse, I guess I need to eat more :) No problem :)

SO more to come, but for now....Everest, what is next? What do you have in store for us? Wish we knew, but it is all part of the adventure.

Big Hugs Everyone!!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Last Night I looked Up in the Sky and Gave Thanks

On April 19-21 we went to Camp 1. The game plan was to go to Camp 1, spend 2 nights there and then take a day trip to Camp 2 on the 20th. Instead we got caught in a wind storm (40-80 mph winds) and so we got to hang out at Camp 1 the whole time. On the 21st we walked half way up to Camp 2, saw the 5 strung ladder and then headed down.

The trip up to Camp 1 was magical through the Kumbu Ice Fall....a mystical maze of crevasses and obstacles, clipping in and out of the fixed lines up the mountain. We left at 4:30 AM and it took me 7 hours to get up! I was happy because I made the time limit to get up there :) I have been a little self conscious about my speed, so it felt good to make it! It also felt good to make it because, at least now I know I can make it to Camp 2. The wind storm was exciting and Everest gave us a little taste of what she is made of. Basically, it reminded us that we can only go as far as she will let us. Up and the camp, Pam and I were tent mates and it was fun to catch up. We also read parts of my book, Little Book of Wisdom from the Dali Lama. It brought up some interesting conversations. Coming down the ice fall sometimes I felt like Jane in a Tarzan movie as some of the kicked in steps were waaaaay to big for my short little legs. So it was some dangling rope maneuvers and jumps! All clipped in and safe of course! The real test will be on the 25th, when we head to Camp 2, and then head to Camp 3---the move to Camp 3 has been described the toughest portion of the trip by some. So hopefully I can make it! Then we will come back down on May 3rd and venture down the valley to recoup and then just wait for the right moment to go for the summit push in late May. Time here is flying and part of me feels like this adventure and incredible journey will be over before I know it!

The trip up to Camp 1 was also special because it was the first time I got to climb with my personal Sherpa, Jang Bu :) He truly is one of the nicest, most patient, and kindest person I have met. He taught me the Nepali word bistahrai, which means "slowly". He said slowly, hopefully we will make the summit. That meant a lot to me. He taught me this word because I kept apologizing for going so slow through the ice fall, a place where you want to get out fast. Jang Bu has summit ted Everest 6 times, 3 times from the North and 3 times for the South. He is extremely humble and looks after me : ) I have nothing to prove up here, which is why I got a personal Sherpa... to have an expert by my side to help me navigate this mountain. I am going to learn so much from him I can tell. It has also been great to start building that bond as well. I think he just got a new camera, so we both took turns taking pictures of one another through the ice fall. My favorite was when he ran onto the five strung ladder above Camp 1 so I could take a photo of him....meanwhile everyone was trying to go around the ladder as it looked a bit tricky. Basically, Sherpas are amazing people, and we are so blessed for them and their incredible talent.

Overall the ice fall and the ladders where not a scary as I thought it would be. It felt good to be on the mountain finally. When I was tired going up and I though I couldn't go any further, I thought " you are in the Kumbu Ice Fall, a place you have dreamt about and wanted to be at for years, now suck it up, enjoy this experience of a lifetime, and keep moving :)." It worked, a little self tough love.
Yesterday we learned about our oxygen masks and had a safety talk. Tim and the guides are consistent in reminding up what we are up against and how we need to be smart about the decisions we make. As Tim said, Everest has never taken anything from him, and it should not take anything from any of us...not our lives, our fingers, our toes, etc.

Yesterday I also went to town on my tent! I moved it and re shoveled the platform to lay flat as I was not able to get a good night sleep as with the snow melt it had shifted the platform and my head was below my feet! Now it is all fixed and the shoveling was a great workout on my rest day :)

So last night we all watched the Bucket List in our dining tent and when I got back to my tent I looked up into the most beautiful clear sky and gave thanks for my life, for all the amazing experiences I have had so far, for my family, my friends, for my job and sponsor, and for the chance to pursue a dream, this dream of a lifetime. I felt so blessed, so loved, and had the best sleep of the trip yet.
More to come after we make it down from our next rotation on the mountain. I hope I make it to Camp 3 and that will likely mean I can go for the summit push in late May. Regardless of the outcome of this trip, it will be an experience that will stay with me a lifetime. It is not about the summit, but the journey...although the summit would be AMAZING of course!!

On a side note, all the health issues seem to have passed. My endometriosis acted up on this last trip to the mountain, but I have managed to get through that as well. I am feeling back to my old self again...whooohooo!

A special thanks to my family and friends for all of their support, to our donors and supporters making a difference for women in DRC, for International Medical Corps and VDAY for their amazing work in DRC, for McKinney Rogers for partially sponsoring me to be here, and for Peak Freaks for keeping us climbers safe!!

Much Love!

P.S. I am craving Portos Bakery in LA, Pupusas, Vigoron, Maduros Fritos, Tacolicious, hmmmmm, basically yummy food :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Made it to Camp 1!!!

Ghostwriter #1 here, sending out a message on behalf of our girl Georgina. As of 1:00am, our incredible climber and her friends at Peak Freaks reached Camp 1 on the highest mountain on earth! I had the honor of getting my very first SAT phone text - yay!

She is hopefully nestled up in her down sleeping bag getting some much deserved rest at 20,000 feet. It was a tough day for our heroin, but she always pulls through. In her own words (loosely), "you just put one foot in front of the other and eventually you get to the top of a mountain."

Peak Freaks should be updating their site soon with details too: Peak Freaks

Peace out friends. Keep sending the love to Georgina - I bet she can really feel it being that she's on top of the world!

Everest: As Quickly As It Can Freeze You, It Can Fry You Too

Our team made it to Everest Base Camp (17,500 ft.) a little over one week ago. I am blessed and humbled to be here. Everyday is a test of will, from dawn to dusk. But even when I feel exhausted and stretched to my limit, I find inspiration all around me and, most importantly, in the cause that brought me here.
After a little more than one week at Base Camp, I am still adjusting to the altitude and way of life here. We spend most of our time perfecting our skills, acclimatizing, and waiting for that perfect time to go up, and we have to be ready to go when that window opens. 
In these first days on Everest, I have had a small taste of what lies ahead.
A couple of days ago, we were tasked with practicing walking through the ice fall, the most dangerous part of the climb. Here, we cross ladders and bridges over icy abysses in the glacier. Many climbers have died at this part of the climb - which is roughly a quarter of the way to Camp 1 - because the glacier can move with little warning, exposing deathly cracks and crevasses. 
Surprisingly, the ladders and bridges were not as scary as I thought they would be, but the climb to and on the glacier was grueling. It took three hours to climb up the glacier and 1.5 hours down. The sun beat down on the ice and practically baked us in our climbing gear. That is the thing about Everest: as quickly as it can freeze you, it can fry you too.
This coming week, we will try and make it to Camp 1. If all goes as planned, we will do three rotations on the mountain before attempting the summit.  This means we should climb  to  camps 1, 2, and 3 three times each before reaching Camp 4 the night before our summit bid on an early morning in late May.
Everest is a completely different climbing experience than any other mountain I have climbed, including the highest mountains in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Australia. I know it will take every bit of inspiration and mental and physical endurance to get me up there. 
People take on Everest for many reasons. For some, it’s a life dream to get to Base Camp. For others, it’s a life dream to reach the summit. To most, it’s a test of their personal limits.
Being at Base Camp is living out a personal dream, but that is only part of the reason I am here. My journey here started four years ago when I first read an article about the epidemic of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I decided I wanted to do something dramatic to highlight a crisis that most of the world knew nothing about. 
I climb for the women of Congo, and when I have trouble finding resilience on this picturesque, but unforgiving mountain, I think of the resilience they show everyday against all odds, and am able to keep going.
To support my campaign, Climb Take Action Seven Summits, click here. Every cent of your donation will go to International Medical Corps and VDAY, two organizations providing humanitarian relief in the Congo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Camp 1 in Just a Few Days!!

April 16

Time is flying here on the mountain! It is hard to believe we arrived on the 8th at Base Camp. Everest is so different to any other climb I have done, as it is a waiting and prepping game. Most of our time spent on the mountain is spent, acclimitizing, perfecting our skills, trying to stay healthly, and waiting for that perfect moment when we can go up. It is important to rest as well. We are headed up Kalapatar today to sleep at 5800m, this is all in preparation to help us get up to camp 1 next week in a reasonable amount of time.

Yesterday we had a much needed rest day at BC, where I was able to reorganize my tent, shower, practice knot tying, read, journal, and eat. It flew by though.
The day before that we got to go up on the glacier and get one forth of the way to camp 1. Our aim was to practice walking through the ice fall and also get used to crossing over the ladders. Luckily it was less scary than I thought it would be : ) The glacier did kick my butt though and it was a strenuous 3 hour climb up and about 1.5 hour climb down. The sun was on us on the glacier, which meant I was baking!! That is the thing about Everest, as quickly as it can freeze you, it can bake you too! Needless to say it was a good taste as to what lies ahead next week as we try to approach camp 1. We will go through about 3 rotations on the mountain, meaning I will go to camp 1 about 3 times, camp 2 about 3 times, camp 3 about 3 times, and camp 4 hopefully only once the nighte before our summit push sometime in late May.

My cold is much better, but I honestly it is hard to feel one hundred percent at 17,500 feet. I got rid of my cold, but then have caught some kind of stomach bug? Who knows, but not so fun and is really slowing me down : ( It should clear up in a few days as it has for others on the team. I am normally pretty healthy at home, so just hard to adjust. I am ok though and will keep pushing on : )
Mountaineering comes with its suffering...it is a continuous mental game and sometimes about how much you are willing to endure. With that said, you have to be smart and as our guides have been coaching us, knowing when your body is telling you it needs your care and attention.

On the flip side, it is beautiful up here...walking through the little of the ice fall we did kinda felt like I was in a dream. You really get an appreciation as to just how massive this mountain really is. She has been kind to us so far and I hope she will continue to do so :) I have 'pinch me moments" all the time, where I ask myself "are you really here?!? are you really doing this?!?" Maybe they will go away once I am all done.

So the next few days is about getting ready for camp 1 next week and it should take us anywhere from 7-10 hours to get up there. There are many different fitness levels on the team-some faster than others. Bottom line is you have to focus on you and what YOU can do, not what everyone else is doing. I have been taking my time on all the hikes and climbs we have done, as that is what has gotten me up all of the other mountains I have summitted. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Mountaineering is not a race, so slow and steady is your best bet :)

We met our personal Sherpas yesterday and I look forward to getting to know mine better over the next month or so. I have a lot to learn from him :) Again I cannot stress how incredible the Sherpas are...what they do is inspiration on its own.
As I am up here, I can't help but think about the future and what role this incredible journey will play in it :)

Big hugs and more to come soon. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit: www.climbtakeaction.com

A HUGE THANK YOU for all of your loving messages of encouragement and support...it keeps me going!!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Namaste from Gorakshep :)

April 10th

We have had two nights at Base Camp (17,500 feet) and it has been chilly with on and off again snow. Our first night we shared tents and yesterday we were all able to set up our own tents we had brought. So I now have my temporary 2 month home built : ) It is a two man tent- 3 season with my sleeping bag, a foam pad, thermarest pad, and a little mattress like thing they gave us. I am warm enough in my -40 F sleeping bag, but getting up in the middle of the night to go potty is still a process and chilly! Today most of the team went to Kalapatar for an acclimitization hike, but I am still fighting my cold and only hiked to Gorakshep and writing you all (about a 1.5 hours walk from camp). It is good for me to get excercise, but I also need to get rid of this cold ASAP, so rest is crucial. I am on a 5 day course of antibiotics and the docs at Base Camp think with a little rest and meds and hydration, I will be good to go soon.

Listening to your body is soooo important and knowing when to let it heal and recover is also important. So that is what I am doing and eating nd drinking lots of fluid. It is also normal for people to come in with little bugs and colds at the start...better now than later. I want to stress that I am OK though, don’t want anyone to worry : ) (mom, that means you, I AM FINE and HAPPY)!!
We should be able to go to the ice fall in a week or so. We will go back up to Kalapatar and spend a night up there beforehand to acclimate. Base Camp has transformed in just the two days we have been there, with new tents popping up left and right as the teams arrive...all very exciting and I love meeting memebers of other expeditions. Over the next few days will be resting, training, and acclimitizing. I will try to post pics of my little home and us training next week :)

We had our Puja ceremony the morning after arriving in Base Camp. This is where the Lama blesses our climbing gear, the climbers, Sherpas, and overall expedition. It was very interesting and it made me feel more connected to the mountain. I was so glad the trekkers were able to participate in it with us, especially my dad. It is custom for them to serve Change and other treats during the ceremony, but I only had a half a cup of Chang to be polite, as it tastes like cold sake and it was a bit early for that at 9 AM lol. Yesterday, the trekkers left and it was bittersweet to say bye to my dad, Melanie, Mylene, and Steve. I was soooo proud of them making it to Base Camp and will miss them over the next couple of months as it was great having them here. I look forward to our next reunion...wonder where it will be?! I would like to thank them all for joining me on this adventure and journey, it meant a lot!!
Well more to come soon, it is freezing in this little internet cafe and my little fingers feel like they are going to fall off...lol. I can’t type with gloves. I may have someone post blogs on my behalf as Internet is non existant at base camp, although we all bought NCELL cards for our laptops : ( It may be resolved later in the season, but we shall see. For now I think I can hike down here about once a week to check in and read emails : )

I am still in disbelief I am here, 3 years in the planning and here we are...I am really blessed and hope I can make it! I feel like this is where I am supposed to be though, so that is a good sign. I get up every morning and give thanks for the possibility to pursue my dream! People on the trail have been stopping me to ask about my patch that says “Everest 2011-Congo Women” so it has been nice to share a little bit about the campaign with fellow trekkers and climbers :) Thanks to Kathy for making those and climbing for our efforts!!

Big hugs and if you want to support our efforts, you can do so on www.climbtakeaction.com and click on Donate now. All is tax deductible and supports VDAY and International Medical Corps efforts for women in Congo.

Thanks for all of your love and support!!!!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Everest Base Camp Baby!!!!

April 8

We made it to Base Camp today!! Now it feels like the adventure is just about to begin. The leisurely week we had has come to an end and we are now in our tents and our warm clothes are our best friends :) Today I felt like I was going to climb Everest...why...well I was weaker, had a headache, upset tummy. Basically the effects of altitude have set in. They are very minor and completely normal and after a couple of days acclimitizing here I will feel much better. This will be my home for the next 2 months, my safe zone, mi little casa :) It was a bit emotional coming into camp and I felt like wow, I am living the dream-I made it : ) Now I have to really make it and summit and return safely down, but that is a long time away....maybe May 21stish or so...really all weather dependant...so too soon to tell. It is all about one step at a time and patience!

Yesterday (April 7) was a bit of a sad day, as Tristan had to head back down to Premuche due to altitude effects. She was ok, but it was not safe for her to continue and she would feel better at lower altitude. We would have loved to have her here with us at Base Camp, but we rather her be healthy. The trekkers will reunite with her in 3 days at Namche and they will continue their journey down to Kathmandu. It was also a wake up call for all of us to watch our bodies and hydrate and eat well to help with those possible effects. Last night we stayed at Lubuche and thank goodness it was only for one night! Not my favorite place on earth , but functional. I didn't get much sleep as my back was bugging me and I had a headache, but I felt better in the morning. It was also a cold night! I think my tent tonight will definetley be warmer, especially with Pam in there :)

Today (April 8) was a tough day in the sense that I just had to go nice and steady to balance my body adjusting to the altitude, as we are now at 17,500 feet. To put things in perspective our high camp at Denali before our summit push was a little lower than that.

Ciao for now!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Off to our next stop! (we hit 5100 m today)

Namaste from Dingboche!!

Well I spoke too soon about the great weather as on Monday we woke up to a snow covered Namche! I woke up Sunday night in the middle of the night and saw a lightening storm and thought, "oh great, it's going to be pouring on our long hike!" Instead, it was snow!! So it ended up being a very special day as Tristan, from Singapore, saw snow for the very first time!! It was super cute to see her expression as the snow started to fall and she couldn't stop taking photos :) After lunch on Monday we had very long hike uphill in the snow. I was actually grateful as that hill would have been a bear in the heat....so cold was good. Monday was one of those days where you just put your head down and hike...it was a long 7 hours and I was happy to pull out my 'mountain mix' on my IPOD and have some fun dance tunes to get me up the hill to Prembuche. We left the trekkers at Debouche, where they visited the oldest monastery in the valley and we continued 2 hours to Prembuche. The hike did have some amazing sights and we got to trek through the forest. Part of the last couple of hours were a muddy slip and slide adventure partially down hill, as the melted snow had caused quite a mess on the trail. My backpack was not my best friend that day, as the adjustments had gotten messed up and it hit my tailbone the whole way :( Backpack adjustments are extremely important and I will now check them every morning before I hit the trail. I did not sleep that great at Prembuche, mainly cuz I felt like there were little creepy crawlers all over me :( We had little cots with foam pads to throw our sleeping bags on top of, but honestly I would have preferred a wooden board with no fabric, as it is just cleanlier. I cannot wait to be in my tent on the glacier in my own little clean environment :) I now have a little bit of a rash on my back, but I am sure it will clear up. I used A LOT of wet wipes..LOL!!

Yesterday was a short hiking day. We first went to Pangpoche to visit Lama Geshe and receive our blessing for the climb. He also gave us another kata and synge, as well as a blessed card for us to take a picture with at the summit of Everest. It was a very special and spiritual morning. Lama Geshe is the second highest ranking Lama in the world and it is tradition for climbers to receive his blessing before a climb. He personalized our cards as well and it was funny because when he asked my name he could not pronounce it, so I told him to just put "G". He thought that was pretty comical and chuckled as he wrote my card :) He didn't get Pam's name either, so she became 'Pim' when she told him it was like Tim, but with a 'P'...haha. We had a nice lunch afterward and then hiked up to Dingboche...so it was only about 3 hours of hiking and we only went up about a 1000 feet. The hike was again beautiful with views of Ama Dablam and a rushing river below. It was a day of dodging Yaks though, as the trail was busy with two-way Yak traffic!! As we get higher the Yaks get bigger, but also cuter and more decorated with bells and cords :) A lot of us decided to just let Yaks take over the trail versus trying to pass them. Once we got to Dingboche we had some tea, went for a hike up the local hill, went to the Internet cafe, and then Mama's Bakery!! Oh the bakery was YUMMY- we had fresh made chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, cheese sticks, and french press coffee :) Melanie, Mylene, Tristan, and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience :) Who would of thought all of these goodies in the middle of the Himalaya's!! Dinner last night was all cheese-cheese balls, macaroni and cheese, and some fries. We also had tomato soup, popcorn, and some fruit cocktail. Oh my...so much food!!!! But we ate it all and we need to if we want to keep going.

Today we had breakfast and then headed to hike up about 3000 feet to Nangkar Tshang 5100 m, as an acclimatization hike. It took us about 3 hours to get up, we stayed up there for about an hour and had lunch and then about an hour or so hike down. The team did excellent and all made it. Special props to Tristan who made it considering her altitude sickness :( She had done great the last couple of days with Diamox, but today was a big day, especially for a girl that has never gone above sea level. The views from the top were impressive and we could see Makalu, Peak 38, and Ama Dablam....absolutely breathtaking!! The weather was good to us again, but chilly! We had some interesting conversations with Angel, our guide about general climbing physiology, climbing books, life and death, and about how great adventures can be. It made the hike up fly by. Today was about watching your own body closely and seeing what made it tick. Key things to look for was your breathing, pace, stamina, thirst, etc. I was a little nauseous and so I knew to drink more water and I felt better.

The last couple of days have been great though, and it's nice getting to know the climbing team better and learn more about why we are all here! The popular question I have gotten is what is next after the 7 summits...let's just say I have some ideas, but one step at a time. I need to get through this bad boy first. Everyone is doing really great though, pushing through, and with smiles at the end. Some of us are having funcky dreams, not good ones per say, but not bad either, just weird. I forgot the weird dreams you have up at altitude...lol. My dad is still having fun, but definitely getting a workout everyday :)

Well I have three more nights with the trekking group then I stay at Base Camp. I am going to miss Melanie, Mylene, Tristan, Steve, and my Dad A LOT! I really thank them for supporting the campaign and coming all the way here!! My little support crew will be heading back soon and it will be me and the climbing team, our guides, and Sherpa crew along with 500 others or so at Base Camp.

As we have been walking long distances the last few days with weight on our backs, I can't help but think about how much of an effort it is for us, but how normal it is for others. Not only in countries like Nepal or Democratic Republic of Congo, but most third world countries where you walk for miles and miles for food, water, and medical care. We are so lucky and blessed!

On a final note, I just want to say how amazing the Sherpas are and how amazing what they do is. So many of us Westerners would never even have a shot at these mountains if it wasn’t for them. What they do and the loads they carry is extraordinary. They are extremely humble and do so much with their limited resources. We are blessed for them!

More later and Ciao for now! Technology has been a bit spotty so we shall see how it progresses up the valley.

Remember, if you would like to support our efforts, you can make a tax-deductible donation to V-DAY and International Medical Corps on our website www.climbtakeaction.com

Hugs all around!


P.S. I am told our next stop is not so great...lol...just tonight and tomorrow night then it’s Base Camp!!!

Here is the latest from the Peak Freaks blog:

April 5, 2011- 08:45hrs: In DINGBOCHE - Winter is still here!

Trekker Craig Law checks in: "Yesterday was a long day. We started with a 2am thunder snow. Woke up to an inch of snow on the ground and cold. Turns out it stayed below freezing the whole rest of the day. Our hike started in flurries and as we got down the path, it continued to get heavier and heavier. By the time we were heading down to the river we could barely see across the valley. With trail muddy, I managed to take a spill and although I’ll be taking a few Advil for the bruised spine, it was my ego that took the beating. We enjoyed lunch near the river (Had authentic Dahl Bhat...sherpa food of potatoes and veggies, flavoured with rice), then crossed another suspension bridge….(this one with hand rails way out to the side so they were useless for those of us who need Zanax to cross these things) and while talking to myself and hyperventilating, managed to get across…only to find the trip leader (Tim) right behind me….busted. So I turn to him and casually say “bet you cant tell that is one of my phobias, can you”. He was kind and said I did fine. Not fine would have been to crumple into a fetal position." It was very cold but warmed up to the high 30s by midday with the sun. Wind was strong so a layer change was necessary for the last hour or so of the trip.

Lama Geshe was in fine form. There was no evidence of him having had a stroke this past year. This is a busy time for him and we shuffled off early to accommodate the crowds waiting for his blessing. No time for small talk or to catch up. There was a group waiting at the door and another one outside. Too bad as we usually have time to sit back and shoot the breeze with our climbers and tells stories of days gone by.

There's a bit of chaos I'm told in Kathmandu trying to get flights in and out of Lukla due to the weather. Happy to not be in that line-up. There are a couple of expeditions on the same schedule as us. A day or two behind or ahead so everyone is spaced nicely. Tomorrow we will go for an acclimatization climb above Dingboche and return back here to the lodge.

Communications: A shout out to family members at home to let you know you won't be getting a call on the new 3G service from your loved ones for a couple days as we are in a dark zone. The tower at Tengboche is not in line with where we are right now and we won't get the next signal till we get in the sights of Gorak Shep, the place where the highest tower is installed. Here is the schedule of where we are now and when you might expect a phone call again.


April 5: In Dingboche

April 6: In Dingboche (acclimatization day)

April 7: In Lobuche

April 8: Arrival base camp - Ncell coverage day, possibly in Lobuche but can't promise anything.

Weather: I got a call from Ang Karsung who is at base camp and he said they had a very cold night last night up there. Unusually cold spring this year. Tonight it's clear skies which is making it pretty chilly. It's expected to be around -15c tonight warming up above freezing in the morning and then another cold night. Winter is still be here.


Elevation and Distance Chart

SPOT- check to see where they are now. Everyone is transmitting except for Angel, he's still in Argentina, je je :)

FACEBOOK- for more photos

3D GOOGLE EARTH: This will be real fun when they start climbing. Download the plug-in on your computer and play with it.

April 4, 2011- 7:30hrs Nepal Time- YAK PRESS: Climbers in Pangboche (3901m-13,000ft)- Trekkers are sleeping in a lovely village below Tengboche called Deboche (3734m- 12,368ft) situated in a rhododendron forest.

Tim: "When we woke this morning in Namche Becky's weather prediction had come true. It snowed! What a beautiful day for trekking. Amazing photo collection will come out of Everest this year.

Early tomorrow morning the trekkers will take a short hike back up the hill to Tengboche to join in on a chant with the resident monks in the monastery and by late afternoon will re-join with the climbers in Dingboche. Everyone is doing well. Dinner and pillow time, talk to you again tomorrow. Over and out, Tim."


What's "boche" you ask? It means village.

What's "Khola" and "Koshi" ? names used for rivers. The difference in names is the direction in which they run. North-South or East-West.

Pangboche is the highest year-round settlement in the valley where the Imja Khola river, coming from the right, joins the Dudh Koshi river a little above the village. It has a famous gompa (monastery) which is thought to be one of the oldest in the Khumbu region. Buddhism is believed to have been introduced in the Khumbu region towards the end of the 17th century by Lama Sange Dorjee. According to the legend, he flew over the Himalayas and landed on a rock at Pangboche and Tengboche, leaving his footprints embedded on the stone. He is thought to have been responsible for the founding of the first gompas in the Khumbu region, at Pangboche and Thami.

This is home of our good friend Lama Geshe as well the monastery here houses the famous yeti scull. I think Lama Geshi is now 83. He suffered a stroke last year and has just recently returned Pangboche. Tim is so looking forward to checking in on him. He has a special connection with this man who he believes has helped keep him and hundreds of others stay safe while climbing. It gets pretty intense with emotions during this time for the team. You will hear all about it tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Photo: Namche Bazaar this morning: Thanks Mark Mangles (Mango) for this photo.

April 3, 2011- 21:00hrs Nepal Time - First views of Everest and lots of blessing going on.
Nelson Dellis in Namche Bazaar checking in:

So we’ve been in Namche Bazaar for the past day and a half. Namche is one of the larger villages in the Everest region and sits at about 11,000 ft.

We spent most of the day yesterday just resting from our long trek in. Took a nice hot shower and slept to help let my body recover.

Today we did an acclimatization hike up to a small village called Kunde where Edmund Hillary built one of the famous hospitals in the region. We ate lunch at Ang Nima Sherpa’s home – had some wicked garlic soup, egg fried rice, and then a few glasses of Chang (the local rice beer which is known to make you dizzy, which it subsequently did, hehe).

We then trekked to the neighbouring village, Kungjung, where Hillary’s famous Sherpa school resides (he built it 50 years ago).

We really got the Sherpa lifestyle experience today. The villages we visited today were the original villages where Sherpa’s were from. We saw them planting potatoes, Sherpa kids throwing yak poop at each other, met some of our climbing Sherpas, got necklaces blessed by a Lama (not the Dalai Lama, but some Lama)….oh and we got our first (well, second really) view of Everest. So amazing! It had a huge snow plume coming off if it due to the 100mph winds that are currently hitting the summit.

Tomorrow we have a big trekking day to Tengboche Monastery to get blessed, and then on to Pangboche for the night.

WEATHER: It did not snow in Namche last night it was a prediction that didn't happen. Clear skies allowed Roger to fly into Lukla today but other flights were either cancelled or delayed due to high winds later on.

FACEBOOK Photo Album: EVEREST 2011 is now up.

SPOT: Mark and Tim's seem to working just fine. You can see where they were today and where they are now.

CRAIG LAW'S BLOG SPOT: Craig has some nice photos and descriptions on his personal blog. Have a look!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nameste from Namche (11,300 feet)

Good Evening or Namaste from Namche!!!

We are on day 3 of our trek and at 11,300 feet :) Yesterday was a great day!! We had a beautiful 5 hour hike into Namche, crossed several suspension bridges, got our first view of EVEREST, and I got a shower :) ! Pretty great day if you ask me. The hike up was mostly uphill and going through lots of little villages; it also had a lot of stairs. Thank goodness for Lyon Step training!! I am currently carrying everything I need for the trek into Base Camp, thus my pack is about 45 lbs, so I am happy I trained with weight :) We have been having some YUMMY meals and had noodle soup for lunch and homemade french fries!! Probably sounds like a strange food combo, but all that salt hits just the spot after a long day on the trail. For dinner we had French Onion Soup, Chicken Nepal Style Kebab, and a big piece of chocolate cake :) We are burning up some calories and definitely eating to make up for it-guilty free of course!

The valley here is prestine and stunning. The local Nepalese people are incredibly hospitable and kind and beautiful. The pride of ownership in all of these little villages has really left a strong impression on me and it is remarkable to see the level of work that goes into building homes and infrastructure here! For example, we saw a guy, a little one at that, carrying three plywood doors down and up the trail!! There are sources of inspiration all around us, from the local people, to the amazing beauty, to the team itself and our guides. Just when you think you might be tired or your pack is a little heavy, you see this tiny sherpa carrying 2-3 duffle bags of gear, or doors, or irrigation- 8 foot long pipes!! It is truly impressive to see their stregnth and humility.

The sounds of Nepal are also beautiful from the bells on the yaks and mules to the children playing and laughing in the villages to the sherpas singing up the trail. Then you have the sound of the wind and the birds and on occasion beautiful silence. I love it here and know this will not be my only trip to Nepal, I will be back again, there are so many mountains here- I LOVE IT!!!

On Friday we arrived in Lukla on a flight which I came to find out is one of the most dangerous in the world due to the airport landing strip that when you land you do so up hill and if things go south you hit a wall and on take off you go downhill and if things go south you just keep going :( BUT we landed safe and sound and then trekked 2-3 hours to our first camp...which was a very simple little lodge with bathrooms which was nice. Mylene and Tristan were so happy to have landed safely. Today is Sunday and we hiked to Khunde and Khumjung and had a delicious lunch at Ang Nima's house- garlic soup, fried rice, and Chang (rice beer). Along the hike we got to see magnificant sights of Ama Dablam, Everest, Lhotse, Peak 38, Sherpa Peak, and some others. In one 360 view we were surrounded by some of the world's most extreme adventures and nature's most beautiful gifts-I felt so small. Seeing Everest again I thought- she is beautiful, I hope she is kind to us, and she seems so majestic and a bit untouchable. I look forward to setting foot on her around April 8 .

At Ang Nima's house we also received Synge Necklaces which are blessed by the Llama and are not meant to be taken off unitl they fall off, like prayer flags. Then we were also presented with Kata scarfs-white scarfs that lends a positive note to the start of any enterprise or relationship and indicates the good intentions of the person offering it. It was very special and starting to make this upcoming adventure seem more and more real.

We also passed many prayer wheels in which it is custom to spin with your right hand for good luck and blessings. We also saw the Hillary School and a new monument to be dedicated to Sir Edmund Hillary. We also got to see a pretty awesome plane landing! Upon return from our acclimitization hike Melanie, Mylene, Steve, my dad, and I headed to the German Bakery in town for their famous apple struddle, apple pie, and we also got some cheese sticks and butterfly cookies :) !! We also got some yummy coffee and just relaxed. Then we headed to town to buy some local gifts like yak bells, prayer flags, prayer beads, wool hats, and wool socks.

The weather has been wonderful and sunny and overall the team is doing good! Tristan has had some altitude sickness, so we are hoping she feels better so she can make it with us to Base Camp. A couple of people of our team have had some not so pleasant yak encounters, but they are ok....the yaks are cute, but can be dangerous...we can look but can't touch. We saw a rambuctious one charging down the hill today and we got out of its way!!!

Tomorrow we have a long day of hiking ahead of us to another village...we will probably be on the trail for 7 hours or so. Trek to Tengboche, visit the monastery and the new Buddha information facility while there. Continue on to Pangboche to spend the night at Ang Pasang's house.

I am feeling a lot better and energy levels are up :) I am not used to feeling tired, so it is nice to be feeling back to normal. My leg muscles are a bit tight and Pam likes teasing me about my big bulky calves :) They will get me up the mountain though! Now that I am feeling better and starting to get a bit of a schedule down, I will start adding daily yoga stretches into the day. I did last night and it was great! Having my friends and dad here is awesome and has made this such a special experience thus far. I am so grateful for them supporting my cause for women and children in Congo. This climb/trek is for them :)

A special shout out to my McKinney Rogers team! Thank you for all of your support and encouragement and nice messages :) Hoping to get that logo to the top for all of you and make you proud!

Now we are getting ready for dinner....hmmm wonder what yummy food awaits us?

Ciao for now and big hugs to everyone!! Remember if you would like to support our efforts for women in Congo, you can visit us at www.climbtakeaction.com


Here is the latest from the Peak Freaks Blog

April 2, 2011-2100hrs Nepal Time Wired in Namche Bazaar.. Everyone has arrived and are in good form. Wireless internet and 3G is certainly changing the experience this year. I asked Tim if he noticed if people were working their gadgets more than interacting with the team. He agreed and admitted especially him after my harping at him trying to encourage him to get more tech savvy. He commented "there may be a lot more people hanging in their tents playing with their toys instead of being creative in the communal tent this year". At that moment he cut me off saying say he wanted to go socialize. Tim received a comment on his Facebook from someone asking if the new 3G service will cause line-ups and accidents on the Hillary Step with climbers stopping to respond to text messages? Tim's response "I would be more concerned about frostbite and a blown away glove" He assures us that it won't be a concern because the 3G tower was installed at Gorak Shep, 4klm down the valley from camp and it only has 4klm radius coverage which would be right at base camp. At the most it shouldn't work past Camp 1. He adds "once you go around the corner on the route the 3G signal should be gone and that's when we'll revert back to satellite phone and radios." The team is enjoying the quiet space in Namche right now. Because of the current bad weather lower down the valley there haven't been a flights bringing trekkers and climbers in. They were one of (I think two) on April 1st that managed a window to get into Lukla. It's snowing tonight, the freezing level is down to 3200m, they are at 3800. Tomorrow is a visit up to Khunde and Khumjung and lunch at Ang Nima's house. Everything is working to schedule and everyone is doing well. Thanks Craig Law for Tim's tech lesson this evening. Enjoy the photos of your loved ones and friends having a ton of fun. I'd like to introduce the support trek team. Georgina has brought her personal support network with her. SUPPORT TREKKERS INCLUDE: Mylene Pelandre, Melanie O'Toole, her father Hector Miranda, Leslie Paulet, Tristan Ang and Steve Prentice and are joined with Josie Hofer and Leslie Paulet and Craig Law. Elaine Patterson is following her partner Kevin Farebrother and our friends from the past who are also following along are Paul Krsek, Roger Trinchero, Mario Trinchero and friend Carter Brookes who will be experiencing this journey for the first time and Conor Robinson who will be climbing Island Peak. Great bunch! See the team list below for the complete roster: Plus we have a team coming in May 1 to see the team off to the summit. If you are interested or know someone who would enjoy this journey, there is still space and we are looking for a few more takers. Give me a shout becky@peakfreaks.com

April 1, 2011- 21:00hrs Nepal Time Sleepy in Phakding.

Day 1 of 8 on the trail. The team is very tired. They were up around 4:30am this morning, booked on the first flight from Kathmandu to Lukla that didn't happen due to fog on the runway in Lukla. There was a very small window finally in the afternoon for them to sneak in but not till 2:30pm. They intended to trek to Monjo and stay at Chombi's house but it would have been dark before they got there. So instead that are all nestled in at Chering's house in Phakding. "I love this women" She is a good friend and wicked harmonica player. The team plans to get up really early again tomorrow and start the hike to Namche. This is one of the longest days on the trek. It will take them probably 6 hours and the last hour is straight up. They should be in Namche Bazaar around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This photo was taken and sent with Tim's 3G cell phone. A little grainy because there's no flash but it works :) I have noted that not one of them remember to send a SPOT signal. As they days go by they will get more into the climb and eventually forget all about everyone at home, it's starting already- just kidding :) They were obviously incredibly happy to be on the trail, taking pictures and chatting up a storm. In other words having a great time. Big thanks to Mango and Angel for tech teaching Tim how to use a phone. Larger photo formats will be going up on Tim's Facebook throughout the climb so don't forget to look there for close-ups. FACEBOOK- click here to join. Over and out, Becky April 1, 2011- 09:30hrs Nepal Time Team waiting at Kathmandu airport due fog in Lukla. Stay tuned!