Everest 2013

Everest 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Huffington Post: When the Impossible Becomes Possible: Summiting Mt. Everest

When the Impossible Becomes Possible: Summiting Mt. Everest


It was indeed the hardest physical challenge I have ever endured. My heart is full with gratitude for being able to experience beauty and wonder in such a pure form. The top of the world was even more spectacular than I could have ever imagined! A cause gave me inspiration and fueled my determination to go for a second attempt of this formidable peak. I am incredibly grateful for the love and support I have received for my journey and efforts for women in Congo that have endured gender-based violence. Since 2008 they have been the driving force behind this goal of reaching the Seven Summits as part of my Climb Take Action Campaign. Now after completing my 6th of the Seven, it still feels surreal for what seemed impossible two years ago, was now so very real. On May 21st at 10:15 a.m., I had the privilege of standing on top of the world, Mt. Everest.
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Everest is a place where life meets death, where personal limits are defied, where the human spirit is put to the ultimate test, and where one can experience the true wonder of creation. In the journey to reach the much coveted summit over the course of two months, one can see climbers uplifted to their highest and some of the strongest brought to their knees. The mountain will cure most of egos and remind us that we can only go as high as she will let us go. My summit push began on May 16th when I left Everest Base Camp at 17,500 feet in the wee hours of the morning at 4 a.m. and ended when I returned safe and sound on May 22nd about 8 p.m. Those seven days were by far the most intense of the entire 2 months I was on the mountain and tested every bit of willpower I had within me. As I left Base Camp, I knew it would be my last time up the treacherous ice fall, climbing to Camp 2, scaling the Lhotse Face, and so on. I just had to hold it all together for one more of everything on that mountain and keep strong for 7 more days to get up and down safely. To give some perspective the last 4 of those 7 days required 49 hours of climbing total.
As much of my internal message was "choosing love over fear," as I hit camp 2, I was faced with the reality that weather reports had been epically wrong over the past few days making it impossible for some of the climbers to summit, helped with the rescue of one of my friends, and finally had some time alone with my own thoughts and feelings. As a result, it was a rush of emotions over the next two days at Camp 2, as I watched the weather and had to make a call as to what day I would push for the top. The floodgates of fear and self-doubt opened my second night at Camp 2 as the time was here once again and I had one shot at this; would the weather cooperate, would I be strong enough, would I get hypoxic again like 2 years ago and have to turn around, would I make it back down safely? As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to let go of the outcome of what was about to happen over the next few days and go into this ultimate arduous challenge knowing that all I could do was give it my best, believe in myself, and pray that the elements out of my control would cooperate and help get me to my destination. It was an important process for me to deal and let go of the fear before taking a further step higher on the mountain, as I needed to be my strongest.
The days that followed got me up to Camp 3, then up to the South Col, and then with just a few hours rest it was time for my 20 hour summit push to begin! The wind had picked up and most definitely sounded worse in the tent than outside. That little glimmer of fear came back once again and so I asked Ang Kami, our sirdar, if he felt it might be too windy. He merely chuckled and said, "Not too windy, normal." So I put my boots on and stepped into the cold night and took a deep breath and looked up at the trail of lights already going up to the Balcony (8400m), this was it! Jang Bu, my Sherpa, and I set off at 9 PM and within one hour from leaving camp he was struck by a falling rock going up the Triangular Face. I saw him hunched over and asked if he was ok, and as I looked down, my head torch revealed blood in the snow and rock. Jang Bu, simply squeezed his noise to stop the bleeding and then assured me it was fine to keep going. As we ascended the snowy white peaks seemed to be an iridescent white below the light of the moon, which now appeared to almost be eye level to us. My first encounter with death on the mountain then came half way up the Balcony, as we encountered a climber that was noticeably slow and now starting to take long rests on the rocks. As my torch shined on his face, I saw the face of a man that was beyond exhaustion and appeared to have death taking over his body. I encouraged Jang Bu to please urge the man to turn around, and eventually he did, but later we discovered that upon arriving to his tent at the South Col, he had perished.
The climb up to the Balcony became the hardest part of the climb for me. It was my nemesis I had to conquer! The same hypoxic symptoms from two years ago presented themselves again and I was moving or crawling at a snail's pace. There was added pressure to move faster and I was being warned that I was moving too slowly. Among the many little miracles that led me to the top of the world, the most impactful one happened as I was about to reassess my condition and determine whether I would continue the climb. I will never understand how this man recognized me through my down suit, oxygen mask, and at 2 a.m. in the dead of the night, but in my state of fatigue and worry, I prayed and asked God for a sign as to whether I should turn around or not, and no more than 10 minutes later as I sat and cried in the snow, my friend's guide managed to see me and asked, "Georgina from San Francisco, what's the matter?" After I told him what was all going on he said, "You already turned around once 2 years ago, you are not turning around again." He then talked to my Sherpa, they adjusted my oxygen and he asked me to follow them for an hour and see if I felt better and that I was only 5-6 hours away from the summit. I looked to Jang Bu to make sure he was happy for us to keep going, at which point he said, "We try." Trying was not an option for me, and I wanted his confidence in me to keep going as well, so I said, "no, we DO, we do not TRY!" From that point forward everything was different.
As I looked across the night sky to the other peaks on our ascent, I saw a trail of little lights on Lhotse and there was a comfort there in seeing fellow climbers pushing towards their goals and dreams just like me. With my oxygen adjusted and going at my slow steady pace behind my friend's guide, up the mountain we went, behind long endless queues of climbers in the still of the night until the light of the sun broke through and exposed the beauty that was hidden in the night. A piercing line of bright orange hit the horizon and slowly grew to shine over the whole world below us and instantly brought me to tears. I was filled with warmth and knew that my sign had been clear as day and there was no turning around. The wonder and magic of creation had never been more evident, nor had I ever felt so connected to the universe and our creator; it was a truly spiritual moment and I felt so small and blessed at the same time.
That serenity was quickly disrupted as the harsh realities of this mountain hit when I passed a climber that had just died hours prior. At first I thought it was someone resting at an anchor point, but as I got closer and had to clip around him, my heart sank when I realized he was dead. The environment of the mountain is not only extreme because of its weather conditions, but also because of what you see around you; people achieving their lifelong dreams and reaching a point of euphoria, while others die trying or are damaged for life. To leave the mountain safe and sound is truly a blessing.
The hours that passed once the sun rose seem like a blur, but it was at least 5 more hours of climbing and waiting before I reached the summit. The zipper to my down suit was frozen shut and there was no access to my water or snacks or camera. As I approached the Hillary Step, I saw a rainbow of colors of down suits waiting to have their chance for its ascent. I was extremely fortunate that there was little to no wind and that I could wait 40 minutes for my turn without becoming a human popsicle. I knew this was my last major obstacle to overcome before reaching my goal. It took whatever little energy I had left to get up the Hillary Step, holding and pulling myself up on as many ropes that were there! Jang Bu looked back to me once that was through and said we were now only 20 minutes away. I was in disbelief and relieved.
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On the summit ridge I could finally see where I was meant to go, and my heart just felt so full. I stepped on to the summit and I wept and wept and could not believe I was actually there. Jang Bu and I gave each other a hug, and I gave out a little "woohoo!" After not eating or drinking for 13 hours, I sat and rested and drank half a liter of half frozen water and ate half a frozen Snickers bar and some frozen Shot Bloks. At the time, all of the above were heaven. I saw the man that had recognized me as I was about to turn around and gave him a big hug and told him I would not be up there if it wasn't for him. I was so happy to share the summit with him and be able to thank him for what he had done. I got to spend an hour up there and once I had rested a bit, I walked around and took photos, and my soul absorbed the beauty and wonder that was around us and below us. I had found a series of little heart shaped rocks throughout my two months on Everest and to me they were symbolic of my internal message to choose love over fear. I had decided to take one rock up and down with me to always remind me of this special message and I chose to take one up, which I had written "Everest for Congo 2013,"and leave it there in honor of the women that had inspired me up the peak in the first place. I often reference the strength of the Congolese women I support because through their pain of what they have endured they are still able to share a smile and a dance and their hope with a fellow woman that wants to know and share their story in hope that one day change will come. I thought of these incredibly strong women on the summit and the amazing people from International Medical Corps and V-DAY, as they had been my inspiration, to not only make my attempt in 2011, but fueled my determination to return and try again. Reaching the summit I always hoped would serve a greater purpose and have a deeper meaning than just accomplishing a goal.
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It was a series of little slow steps that helped me reach the top of the world, not only in the literal sense on the mountain, but also the process of attempting back in 2011 and the 2 years it took me to be able to go back and try again. It was being able to overcome fear of failing once again, of not giving up even when I thought my body could not go further, about the love and support of friends that helped make it possible for me to return, and the incredible effort of the community on the mountain that helped get me to the top. It was beyond uplifting to see other's reactions as they reached the summit, to see people making calls to their loved ones from their sat phones, and to see the gift of watching people's dreams come true. Those moments of utter joy and thanks by all that were there will live as inspiration within me. It was all possible now.
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The work and support that is needed for survivors of gender-based violence in Democratic Republic of Congo may seem like an "Everest" of its own, but I see organizations likeInternational Medical Corps and V-DAY continue to take steps and climb up the mountain of bringing sustainable aid and change to these women. When you hear the stories of how these organizations have directly impacted the life of a woman or child and given her true hope for a better future, well to me, that is like they have reached another little summit together. Help us keep climbing and taking little steps to not only bring support to these women, but also to raise awareness as to why violence against women should not be tolerated under any circumstance or in any part of the world.
Thank you for letting me share my journey and cause with you. Life can be full of our own "Everests" and we can all conquer them with strong willpower, by facing and overcoming our fears, by believing in ourselves and in the fact that the impossible can always be possible if we put our full hearts and mind to it. We set our own limits and sometimes the only thing between us and our dreams is ourselves.
I am grateful for the women that inspired me up mountains back in 2008 and the amazing work of International Medical Corps and V-DAY, which like many of the people I saw on the mountain remind that the impossible is possible by the work that they do.
Thank you.
"The extraordinary is always possible...Never limit yourself or life's potential."- Georgina Miranda
To support our efforts for women in Congo that have endured gender-based violence please visit www.climbtakeaction.com. All donations are tax deductible and 100% of funds benefitInternational Medical Corps and V-DAY, no donations go to any of the climbing expenses.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Everest summit update! More to come :)


Hi everyone!

A formal blog update to come soon, but just wanted to let you all know I am down safe and in Kathmandu! We were able to score a helicopter ride to Lukla from base camp this morning and then caught one of the last flights out to Kathmandu J So now the plot begins to figure out how to get home! Only problem is our gear is stuck up on the mtn., so more soon!

In a nut shell the past 9 days have by far been the most eventful of the trip! I reached the summit of Everest about 10:15 am on the 21st of May. I was privileged enough to spend an hour on the top of the world. The sheer beauty of what I witnessed brought me to tears at many points of our summit push. Our summit push alone was a 20 hour day- 13 hours up and 7 down...needless to say, I was beyond exhausted. This has been by fare the hardest physical and mental challenge of my life. Below are a few pics and more to come with a formal account of the final push, but don’t let that huge grin fool you, about 5 hours into the summit push I nearly turned around and was crying like a little girl, as my hypoxia had started to set in again and I was moving too slow. This trip has been amazing in so many ways, but one main one has been spiritually. Right before I was to reassess my condition, I prayed and asked God for a sign as to whether I should turn around, and no more than 10 minutes later my friend’s guide managed to recognize me through my oxygen mask and down suit and asked why I was crying and then told me, “you already turned around once 2 years ago, you are not turning around again.” He then talked to my Sherpa, they adjusted my oxygen and he asked me to follow them for an hour and see if I felt better and that I was only 5-6 hours away from the summit. Fortunately, I started feeling better, and at 5 am the sun rose over the whole world and I was filled with warmth and knew that my sign had been clear as day and there was no turning around.

I feel incredibly blessed in so many ways and happy to be safe as there was a lot of death on the mountain the night of our summit push.  I am grateful for the women that inspired me up mountains back in 2008 and the amazing work of International Medical Corps and V-DAY, which like many of the people I saw on the mountain remind that the impossible is possible by the work that they do.

More soon, but just getting my bearings right now and processing, and digesting it all. Everest for Congo 2013, will live with me forever. Thank you again to my two incredible friends that helped make this possible.
The warmth of the wind feels so incredible here, I have already eaten a huge burger, fries, beer, and some ice cream, and taken the best shower I have had in a LONG time J

Thank you for all of your love, support, and encouragement….it helped keep me going when I thought I might give up. I am missing home and looking forward to being back soon.

Also, now you know what I look like as a big red marshmallow woman!!! Haha…the down suite is very flattering for my figure…lol ;)

My life motto lives on after this trip...The extraordinary is always possible. . Never limit yourself or life's potential. GM

Big hugs!!!!
G

Top of the world for women in Congo! www.climbtakeaction.com
 Jang Bu and I on the top! Couldn't have done it without him!

My happy moment :)

Photo for the ministry to get my certificate...Makalu and Lhotse in the background

A little taste of the terrain we had to tackle on the way!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Everest Update: Summit Success!

Georgina successfully summited Mt. Everest today!  Her team lead at Everest just called to inform us of the fantastic news!  She is resting right now at Camp IV (just below the 26,000) from the 20 hour trek.  He indicated she did quite well and should be making her way back to base camp over the next 24 hours. 

In celebration of her success and in support of the women of Congo who inspired her journey, please consider a celebratory donation on this website:  http://climbtakeaction.com/

We are so proud of you, Georgina!  For not only your accomplishment reaching the top of the world, but for the inspiration you've given each of us to reach new heights in our own lives! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Everest Update!

One of Georgina's team leaders called this morning to let us know that Georgina is past the South Col (Camp IV) at 25,919 ft.  She's doing really well and the weather looks good for her summit.  Past this point in the climb is the most dangerous part of the journey.  Please keep Georgina in your thoughts and prayers today! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Everest Update!

Hey everyone!  Georgina called from a satellite phone this morning!  She's doing well and feels good.  She's on her way up to Camp 3 tomorrow morning!  One of the members of the team decided to head down to base camp.  Georgina and Dawa Lama along with their sherpas will be making the next stage of the climb to Camp 3.  Prayers for a safe journey!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Everest Update!

The summit group (Georgina, Ronnie, Dawa Lama and their sherpas) has made it safely through the Icefall and to Camp 2!  The weather forecast shows increased winds on their planned summit day (May 20th) so the group is planning to wait it out another day or two at Camp 2 for better conditions.  

Please keep Georgina and the team in your thoughts and prayers!  You can also support her efforts by making a donation on this site.

More to come!  :-)


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Everest Summit Update!

For those following Georgina's progress on her summit attempt of Everest, here's a quick update on her progress:

The team leaves tomorrow, Thursday, 5/16, for their summit journey with the plan of reaching the "top of the world" on Monday, 5/20.  Please send positive thoughts for a successful journey to the team as they begin this trek!  More updates to come! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rest time is over....almost time to climb!

Kale and me...he's the cutest :)

Hi Everyone!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely moms out there! It’s crazy, but this wild adventure is coming to a close, but also the craziest part of it is about to begin!! I am headed back to base camp tomorrow and then will wait for the most ideal weather timeframe to start the final journey from 17,500 feet to hopefully the top of the world at 28,028 feet! We are thinking that we may try to summit somewhere between the 19th-22nd, but that is ALL WEATHER DEPENDENT :) We could leave to head up as early as the 16th, but all TBD.  I just wrote an article for the Huffington Post describing my thoughts and feelings before this final push, so I will not repeat myself, it should be published in the next 2 days and you will see it on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/georgina-miranda/. For now all I will say is that patience, hope, and faith will be with me on each step of this final push.  I pray Everest is a bit kinder this time. 
Love is all around :) My little signs of love on Everest 
 My rest time down at 3800m has come to an end. I feel recharged having been given time to eat, sleep, laugh, breath, SHOWER, and just chill without feeling like a human popsicle :)  May I just say that Snicker’s pies are the best!!!!! YUM! It’s been a mixed bag of feelings wishing new friends luck on their final push, as some have headed off before me. I hope we can all celebrate in Kathmandu together!
Flowers and trees! YAY!


I write to you from Pheriche, where the tea house keeper has quite the techno music mix going! Portland ladies, the Kaskade beats reminded me of fun Portland summers and all of you lovelies dancing it up! I will have to schedule a Portland visit soon after I am home-miss you :)

For you San Fran peeps….I am referred to on the mountain as “hey San Fran,” quite a bit…haha. The other common call out is “Georgie.” For the LA peeps…my mountain swag has received notice at times and I owe that to you :) Altitude Seven represented!

Lots of butterflies in the tummy and excitement! My main goal over the break was to let go of the outcome and enjoy the journey. I think I am in a good place in that regard. I have made peace with myself and the mountain that whatever happens from now on was meant to be.

Most of you know why I climb, but help me spread the word! www.climbtakeaction.com. The women of Congo have inspired me up mountains and them and the work of International Medical Corps and V-DAY will be in my thoughts on this final push. 

Thank you for all of your love and support along the way and kind messages!! Seriously it means so much to me and makes me feel like you are all with me.

Woohooo let’s go climb a mountain!!! :) You will all be right there with me in my thoughts and can’t wait to send the next update with hopefully a picture of me standing of the top of our beautiful world! Say some prayers for the team :)

Below are some photos of what rest time was like. Thank you to Rivendell and Ang and Tenzing for their amazing hospitality!


xoxo 

G



Flowers! Haven't seen these in a while :)

Hello Oxygen! 

Barbara and I  chilling :) Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala Represented !  We earned our beer...lol

Kale knows how to chill :) cutest pup

Kale the pro of chilling out and teaching us how it's done!

oh hi...I'm just a cute little thing :) Baby Yak Cuteness!

Who is loving some CAKE! Barbara and I of course! Barbara hopes to be the 2nd woman in Guatemala to summit Everest :) Central American Chicas right here!

We all just love cake :) Little joys go a LONG way! Happy Climbers

A beautiful day for a blessing for our climb :)

At the monastery 

Cute pup at the monastery 

Blessings from the lama 

yup our little table

Ronnie and I and our lovely host Ang :) Love her!

Woke up to snow on our last rest day! 

grilled cheese sandwiches are my FAV! 
Waiting for Clouds to Part and Wind to Calm on Everest


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Down from Camp 3 and Resting Before the Final Push!

A Vertical Stroll up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3! Following Jang Bu's Lead


Hello from Pheriche! 4200m….I can breathe!!! :)

Amazing just two days ago I was at Camp 3 over 7000m or 24,000 feet. I spent 4 sleepless nights at Camp 2 (21,300 feet), and then took a little vertical stroll to visit Camp 3 at about 24,000 feet. So this completes my second rotation on the mountain and the next time I go up it will be for the real deal…our summit push!  That won’t be till after the 15th most likely so hang tight!

This climb and journey is a spiritual one for me, and one of self-growth and awareness. If I had to summarize feelings and emotions pre-climb and now during climb, it would be through the Coldplay song, Paradise…. http://youtu.be/J6ZWlDks0nQ  . Sometimes it’s easier to relate things through other means than words.

Our Second Push to Camp 2

Well there is a reason why you basically climb this mountain 3 times….your little body gets used to the thinner air little by little each time. Jang Bu, Tindy, and I set off from Base Camp on May 2nd around 5 AM and made it to Camp 2 around 1 PM. The trip through the ice fall was quite peaceful and finally felt like me and the mountain, as it was really just Jang Bu and I climbing together. I let big groups go by, so I wouldn’t feel rushed and could just enjoy it. I have decided that the ice fall is like an adult jungle gym J If you can get past the part that it is a dangerous place, you can actually feel like a kid in a magical maze. We only had once close call as we were just exiting the ice fall when a small avalanche came down with mixed snow and rock very close to the route. I couldn’t really mutter any words so I just called out to Jang Bu and pointed up and his eyes got really big and he started running up the fixed rope…I tried to follow his lead, but there was no way I could run that fast at above 19,000 feet! When we finally both stopped we just looked at each other and I was totally out of breath and then we laughed. “Close one,” I said…”no more running I hope!” The stroll from Camp 1-2 was steady and uneventful, but it was getting COLD! By the time we got to Camp 2 it was snowing full on and Phuri met us at the base of Camp with some warm juice, which was AWESOME! That was a COLDDDDDDDD night and the beginning of four nights of no sleep for me :( I really struggle sleeping at Camp 2 and with not being able to take Diamox, I am afraid or hesitant to take sleeping aids at that altitude, especially with my heart beating as fast as it is. Also, when I do fall asleep, it is way deep and full of some crazy dreams, and then I wake up at times gasping for air. This is when the mind games begin,  but we’ll get into that later. The good thing is that I have still had an appetite up there! I have not lost much weight, which is really good news. I will need every little bit to get me up the rest of the way!  A huge thanks to the amazing Sherpas of Adventures Global, who have been keeping me well fed with some really yummy food. Phuri, the main cook at Camp 2 is seriously incredible and just 3 nights ago went from Camp 2 to the South Col (26,000 ft.) with 30 kg of rope to be fixed on the mountain, and then was back in time to cook dinner with a big huge smile like he had just taken a stroll around the block! That last night at Camp 2 was pretty special, as Ronnie and I just ate dinner in the cook tent with the Sherpas and hung out as they prepared dinner. They really are amazing people and it was nice to have that time with them and some good laughs. Also, all the cooking pots made it much warmer and so we were all nice any cozy :)

Yup, it was freeeeeezzzzzing at Camp 2 my first night!
lol....I love Grumpy Cat

Our Last Cozy Dinner at Camp 2 in the Cook Tent!


A Sad Day to Camp 3
Well they say bad things happen in 3 and boy did they on May 5th on Camp 3! Ronnie and my plan was just to set off from Camp 2 and go and “touch” Camp 3. I set off about 7 AM and was back by about 1 PM. The good news is we made it up and down safe and sound and in really good time. I was surprised, as I felt pretty lousy that morning and had no idea how I was going to push through! I was by then 3 nights of sleep deprivation and feeling pretty nauseous as a result.  Then after walking for less than an hour out of Camp I got news that a Sherpa from another team had died at Camp 3. He had had tea and then died shortly thereafter. Someone from his team shared the news with me on the route and it was a sad and sobering moment. My heart went out to his family and friends and in my head I just thought how now was the start of the accidents on the mountain, as the summit push got closer and everyone got higher up the mountain. It is a sad reality of this and many mountains unfortunately, and I was saddened by how desensitized we had to be to death, as we all just carried on up the mountain.  Once I got on the actual Lhotse face it was full focus up this vertical sheet of ice and every step had to count! I was surprised I was breathing ok and moving relatively well, then as I looked up and down I thought, “Georgina, now you are having fun….you are totally fine and going to make it to Camp 3!” I was having fun, the challenge, the incredible landscape, the fact that this was a final rite of passage before the final push…it was all good. Yet, just before arriving to Camp 3, Jang Bu and I stopped to chat to another climber I knew and his Sherpa and then the Sherpa started smoking! Then I really felt like I couldn’t breathe and was amazed he could manage this cigarette! Just as I was going to ask Jang Bu to get away from this guy, this horrible call came in on the other Sherpa’s walkie talkie….I have honestly never heard screams like I did on that call :( Turns out on of the Sherpas from another team was hit on the back of the head by a falling piece of rock or ice on the Lhotse face! Luckily he was helped down to Camp 2 and helicoptered off the mountain to Kathmandu. I am not sure if he was climbing with a helmet ,but it is a sad reality that many Sherpa do not.  At that point Jang Bu told me that the mountain was too dangerous that day and that we would make it to Camp 3, drop our load, and head down. As we approached Camp 3, Jang Bu went ahead to find our tents and then popped up and announced he had found them….I mustered out a “wooohooo!” We then chilled out with the Adventure Consultants crew and took a little rest. At that point, as I was about to start taking some photos, we saw the Sherpa body retrieval effort go by. It was very sad indeed and an incredible effort by over 7 Sherpas to get this body down. There are two sets of ropes going up the Lhotse face, so the body went down one set and all the other climbers used the other set of ropes whether going up or down. Needless to say the one set of ropes got crowed quick, especially as there was a team of at least 15 headed up and about 15 of us headed down. At one point about 20 people were on one section of rope and 2 anchors! Trying to pass the team coming up consisted of clipping around them. At one point one of the climbers from that team coming up, took my safety off and just held onto it, I quickly grabbed it out of his hand and reclipped!  That is a big no no, you never take off someone else’s safety. Just one of the many problems of having inexperienced climbers on this mountain. Once we got down to Camp 2, I also found out a climber from another team had to be choppered off due to pulmonary edema. Basically, the same helicopter had to touch down on Camp 2 three times: to get the body, rescue the injured Sherpa, and rescue the ill climber. All very sobering and my heart went out to the families involved;  I was so very grateful we were all safe and a good reminder you can take nothing for granted on this mountain. 
Happy to be making my way up the Lhotse Face!
Jang Bu showing me how it's done!


We Made It To Camp 3!
Body Retrieval Effort Down the Lhotse Face


Sherpas are AMAZING
The human effort and spirit of the Sherpas is truly remarkable. I have said this before, but every day I am here I am moved and inspired by them and their genuine good heart and nature.  Just like Phuri went up to the South Col and back to Camp 2 in time to make dinner with a smile. Their physical strength and endurance is something super human. Their kindness and care after us westerners is extraordinary. I couldn't be here without them, like most on this mountain. Jang Bu, my Sherpa for this trip is incredibly kind and diligent about my safety and well being  He has begun to strategize with me about our summit push and gave me coaching tips for during my rest time. Meanwhile, while I am resting he will be pushing up to the South Col to make sure things are in place for our big push.  
On our decent back through the ice fall, I was about to get on one of the vertical ladders when I looked over the ledge and was greeted by a big smile from one of the ice fall docs that was securing the ladder and cutting away excess rope. He said a nice big hello, asked which team I was on, then went down the ladder and called up, “didi, you can come now.” He was the sweetest and making all of our lives safer by securing ladders along the ice fall.

More on this in a future post as well.

The Everest Community
I mentioned this the last time, but climbing Everest takes a community and a big thank you to all the Sherpas, Ice Fall doctors, expedition leaders, doctors, and more that help keep us climbers safe. Even among the climbers, for the most part if we can help each other in some way we do. I was grateful for one of the Spanish climbers that happen to have eye drops at Camp 2 and helped me with my super sore eyes! It is really an incredible effort by an amazing community and more on that in future posts, but I wanted to acknowledge the fact, as I have become more aware and so very grateful. I know on the summit push things become a bit more cut throat, I did after all have about 15 people pass me as I fell ill on my last summit attempt, but I also recognize that is part of the deal. Things seem to change that night.

Mind Games
I alluded to this the last time, but the mental games have begun, especially in the sleepless nights in a freezing tent, or when people are falling ill around you. You have the moments of thinking “what am I doing here again.” Then you reach a major milestone and you realize that even though you are uncomfortable there is so much passion and love for what you are doing it and why you are doing it. This is an Everest for Congo climb and the women of Congo I read about back in 2007 in Glamour magazine gave me the drive and inspiration to turn a dream into a reality of climbing mountains. Their story and their strength gave me and still give me strength and have made an impact in my life to push limits I didn't think possible. It may sound crazy to many, but just the truth and how it happened.

Now while I say that, I have to be honest, as I have had some tough moments and second guessed myself and being here and the sacrifice and prep that has gone in the last 3 years trying to climb this one mountain twice! When you hurt from the cold, you think you will lose your mind from no sleep, and when your lungs hurt for that one bit of air to take another step; you have to dig deep and know why you are doing this and also have so much gratitude for having the opportunity to make your dreams come true and follow what is true to your heart. I don’t expect everyone to understand why this level of effort is worth it, it just is. That is what I have to remind myself. Everything here takes effort, and keeping a good mental attitude is key. Luckily there are lots of things and people to keep you inspired here and make you realize that you could actually do more. 



Happy and friendly faces after making it down from Camp 3...with Cason and his Sherpa :)
tent living going on 6 weeks down at EBC





Rocks of Love

So in my previous blog I talked about choosing love over fear and I have to say this mountain has been reminding me of that with rocks of love, literally! So not only did I find the one little heart shaped rock I talked about last time, I have found more! Also, when I got back to Base Camp this last time, my tent had to be relocated while I was away. The Sherpa crew at Base Camp was kind enough to do this for me while I was away and put everything back in my tent perfectly, except for the little heart shape rock I had found before. I was pretty bummed and spent yesterday afternoon looking for it amongst all the other rocks around my tent, seemed like a hopeless effort at the time….BUT I FOUND IT! And on top of finding it, I found another heart shaped rock, and then found another one today.  These little rocks of love as I call them are my reminder to always choose love over fear and that love and kindness is all around in some way. Very grateful for these little signs from above. Also a nice reminder of the love and kindness that awaits when I get home.  Maybe this sounds cheesy, but I am a big softy for those who know me. 




Old heart shaped rock and new one!



And another one :)


Can you spot the heart???




Thick Air, Rest, and Reflection
So the plan is to rest at lower altitude, eat, sleep, and prepare for one last big final push! More to come, but I will be resting at least till May 12th down the valley. I will have access to email and internet and will update more as I know more. Now the waiting game begins for the weather window that will allow us all to try and see if we can indeed reach the top of the world! It will be later May as weather is looking bad for the next week.  I plan to get some yoga in, short hikes, and visits to the nearby monastery-I will be heading to Deboche for the remainder of the rest period and it sits in the middle of a forest, so I get to see TREES and rhododendrons! :)

I had to wish some of my new climbing friends good luck, as we might now be on different summit bid schedules, so there is a chance I may not see them until after the push. That was a bit sad too, as there is a big part of me that wishes we could all go up together. 

Seeing greenery and cute yaks during my rest brings a smile!

New Oxygen Strategy and Health
Things will be different for me this time going up, and I will be sleeping on oxygen at Camp 3 on the summit push, not spend a night at the South Col before our summit push if we can avoid it, and use a different flow of oxygen at different stages of the summit push. I have talked it through with Jang Bu and Ronnie and many of the other guides and Sherpas on the mountain and feel confident in the plan and feel I will be in a better position this time. I hope and pray that mother nature and my body cooperate this time, but as I said nothing can be taken for granted here. Like I mentioned I have lost less weight than last time! This is really good news and my appetite is going strong :) I have been taking aspirin and stretching tons to counter balance another medicine I am on that can cause blood clotting, so no problems there either. I had had trouble on my first rotation to Camp 2 with extreme leg and muscle spasms in my tent, but that is all resolved now. As for my eyes, the eye drops are doing wonders!

Why I haven't lost weight! This was breakfast at Base Camp Yesterday!!!

What I Miss
I am definitely more home sick this time than the last time I was here.  I am dreaming of warm places and yummy foods-what I wouldn’t give for some gallo pinto and queso frito, pupusas, Porto’s Bakery, a nice juicy steak!  I miss my close friends and loved ones. I missed getting dressed up. I miss dancing. I miss clean sheets and a warm bed. I miss Oliver my cat. I miss the beach and seeing the water. Being without puts things in perspective, so for that I am grateful and feel blessed.

As for the dancing….I have my fair collection of cheesy dance music and so when it’s safe and I am not in a hazard climbing zone, I put my ear buds in and have my own little dance party like today on my 5 hour hike down to Pheriche :)

If you want a taste of my selection here you go!

And of course, there is old school Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, and keeping it chill with Pretty Lights :)

Well more soon, I am healthy and in good spirits and grateful for being here. Thank you for those that have sent warm messages of support and encouragement. They really mean so much. A big shout-out and thank you to my two friends that made this journey possible for me. You are in my thoughts every day and you know who you are :)

As always, if you would like to support our efforts, please visit www.climbtakeaction.com and share with others if you can :)  All proceeds to go International Medical Corps and V-DAY for their efforts for women in Democratic Republic of Congo and you can learn more on our website….all donations are tax deductible and none of the funds to go to the climbing expenses.

Almost down to the home stretch! 

Big hugs,

G



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Made it to Camp 2! Next stop Camp 3 :)

Camp 2 of Everest


Hello! First news, we made it back from Camp 2 (21,300 ft.) on April 27th! First successful rotation on the mountain complete!  I have been resting at Base Camp the past couple of days and let me tell you… I am loving the thicker air and better sleep! I feel like a new woman J No doubt Everest showed me she’s in charge! We go back up on Thursday and this time with the goal of sleeping one night at Camp 3 (24,500ft) for one night and part of our second rotation on the mountain. So resting up for that big push!
So now I have been gone a month and have the hardest month ahead to go, the mental game of this climb has begun. Setting off on this first rotation on the mountain made it feel like this expedition was really finally on its way. Of course there were moments of pure exhaustion and feeling like I was never going to get to the next milestone, but it was just one foot in front of the other that was going to get me there.  I was reminded how brutally cold this mountain can be and also how it can feel like it is cooking you alive. At each point of discomfort, I always remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to be pursing this dream and why I am doing it. That thought tends to bring an instant calm and focus. I am staring to miss and crave things, mainly loved ones and close friends, warmth at night, certain foods…and I am a total girl and can’t wait to put on a dress and some heels again haha. I am really missing my little guy, Oliver, the best little cat around. I had a hilarious dream last night that I went to Hawaii with my best friend to get a little rest before the big summit push ;)

The next 3 weeks are critical, we have one more rotation up the mountain to Camp 3, then we will drop down to a nearby village to rest for 4-5 days before the summit push, which can be anywhere from mid to late May. My focus is on staying strong and healthy, keeping up my appetite, getting sleep, and getting my mind ready to play the biggest mental game of all when it comes time to push for the summit. Each day I am reminded of how amazing our earth and what a special place this is. My favorite is looking out my tent at night and seeing each star twinkle.
I have met some very kind and amazing people here and grateful for new friendships and for seeing some familiar climbing faces around. The mountain is becoming smaller and it is nice to see smiles along the way up the mountain, especially when you are not feeling top notch. 

I have had to say goodbyes already to Ally and Rob on our team that were just planning to stay to reach Camp 3, they did awesome and we will miss them. Also some other new friends doing research here on the mountain have gone back down the valley. Goodbyes are always bitter sweet.

Farewell Cake for Ally and Rob

Farewell to Ally and Rob!

There are supposedly 282 climbers attempting Everest this year, and at least 20 or so have already gone home if not more due to multiple reasons.  So we shall see how this season turns out. There is still a lot of work to be done on the mountain in terms of setting ropes to camp 3, the South Col, and the summit! A big huge thanks to the climbers, expedition leaders, Sherpas, and Ice Doctors involved in paving the way for all of us to get a chance to pursue our dream of seeing and feeling what the top of the world is like. None of this would be possible without a collective effort.

So since I last wrote we did try to go up to Camp 1 on April 20th, but after getting just about an hour or so away we had to turn around due to high winds and excess snow! It was a bummer indeed, but just how it goes. The mountain decides how high you can go up, not you. So I hung around Base Camp waiting for better weather. It was cool though, I got to meet new people from other teams and also connect with some of the other lady climbers on the mountain. So far I have met 13 of the lady climbers and I am guessing there are no more than 25 ladies on the hill this year from what I have seen. I know there two or three women guides on the mountain from Russia and New Zealand.  I also have only met one other American woman climber on the mountain, Melissa Arnot, who holds the record for most Everest summits for a Female (4 summits). I am still on the hunt for other American ladies, but have met most of the teams and have yet to find one. Most of the ladies are from India, Argentina, Portugal, Japan, Brazil, Russia, China and Korea I believe. Perhaps the most inspiring story of these ladies is that of an Indian climber who is attempting to summit with one leg. She was pushed onto an oncoming train and lost her leg and has an above knee amputation. She is quite an extraordinary young lady and inspiring us up the hill. I saw her last as she was approaching Camp 1 a couple of days ago, as I was on my way down from Camp 2. I have to say it is awesome that all of us ladies are encouraging one another as we see each other in passing up the hill, even if it is just a brief smile, I love that we are all acknowledging one another and wishing one another well. 


Some of the Ladies on Everest this year!
So on the 24th we made the push to Camp 1 (19,900 ft.) from Base Camp. We set off about 4:45 AM and made it about noon. Everest kicked my butt that day! I found the ice fall a bit more challenging than in my 2011 attempt. It just felt a bit longer and well there were more awkward ice formations that seem like they are just waiting to fall! There were less ladders though. The ice fall doctors say there are about 30 total. There were long queues that day, as everyone had been waiting for good weather to make the push, so we had expected it to be crowded. We waited at least 30 minutes, in line for one of the ladders that probably lay in the most danger of an ice formation falling. Thus, we waited down below to not be in the danger zone. Somehow the hours fly by in the ice fall. You are so focused on clipping into the ropes, climbing safely across ladders, and just in awe of where you are walking. I had my first instance of frozen hands for the trip and it was an instant flashback to last time. I was wearing thinner gloves as we were moving and I was afraid of getting too warm, but waiting in those long lines chills you quick and so by the time I changed gloves, my hands were a slight shade of purple and Ang Kami helped me put on my big mitts and add extra layers to warm up my core. That is the fine balance of layering appropriately at all times…you never want to be too warm or too cool. Yet, as you walk through the ice fall at moments you get sun and then suddenly that beautiful sun could be blocked by a huge piece of ice and then well you are insta cold. Regardless of the dangers of the ice fall, it is still probably one of my favorite parts of the climb, and one of the most challenging. It is like a rite of passage and it allows you to really step into the western cwm and feel like you are actually on Everest!

It was a great feeling getting into Camp 1 and knowing that I could rest a bit and prepare for another push the next day. I had the wonderful surprise of having our camp next to Alpine Ascents and so I got to visit with Vern Tejas, a friend and my very first guide on my Seven Summits climbs in Russia on Mt. Elbrus. Ally and I shared a tent and we also took some time to get some awesome pics at dusk. 
Hi from Camp 1!


Vern Tejas Visit :) Such a nice surprise at Camp 1
The next day the 25th we headed to Camp 2…we only hit one long ladder queue, but Ally and I had to remind some of the climbers waiting to cross about proper etiquette to let one and other alternate. It took me about 3.5 hours to get there and the last bit to camp was a slog, but beautiful and amazing to be in the Western Cwm. I had a lot of memories rushing through my head of the last time walking up to Camp 2. Just like last time, I finally felt like the expedition was beginning and I was walking on the mother of all mountains.

www.climbtakeaction.com Everst for Congo 2013

I got to visit with new and old friends at Camp 2 and take a little stroll to the base of the Lhotse Face with Ally, as the ropes to Camp 3 were not yet ready. As you may have heard in the news, there was indeed an incident at Camp 2 over rope setting up the Lhotse Face between some world renowned climbers and the Sherpas. I rather not get into the brawl that took place a day after heading back down to Base Camp, but I am sure if you Google it, you can read about it. I find it sad that violence and egos are exploding at this special place, but so it goes.  We are all fine and no need to worry.
My last night at Camp 2, I decided to take the advice of taking a quarter tablet of Diamox to help me sleep, as it is quite tough to up there, but I WILL NEVER do that again! OMG that little quarter tablet had the reverse effect and kept me up all night. I was WIRED! Needless to say, I got about an hour or two sleep then was up at 5 AM to head back down to Base Camp. Sleeping at Base Camp was the best present in the world J


What I felt like on Diamox...crazy Yak!

Our team has split in two and Ronnie and I from Adventures Global will be on the same rotations going forward and the other two climbers are sticking to one rotation. I am confident in Ronnie and my plan and we are taking the more traditional approach of having two rotations on the mountain before dropping down to rest before the summit push. You cannot rush this climb or mountain…things happen on her schedule, not yours.

Well, I have to hike back to Base Camp and one more day of rest before the push up to Camp 3… Ronnie and I will head up with Ang Kami and Jang Bu, our amazing Sherpas that are incredibly talented, kind, and rock stars on the hill. I know all I can do is my best, and I p ray mother nature and my body cooperate for the rest.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. To learn more about why I climb and support our efforts, please visit www.climbtakeaction.com. Everest for Congo 2013!

Much love!

G


Going up the Ice Fall
Ice Fall 
Jang Bu and the Ice Fall Doctors!
Traffic Jam!
Me and the ladder I almost fell off of! lol I am ok!


Jang Bu and Pasong
Ally and I making our way down to Base Camp!
Me and more ladders :)