Everest 2013

Everest 2013

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!


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 :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Choosing Love over Fear....

Hi Friends,

I just enjoyed a cheese pizza and a coke in Gorak Shep-YUM! We are leaving for Camp 1 of Everest tomorrow and will spend one night there, then move on to Camp 2 and spend 2 nights there and then head down to Base Camp. This will complete our first rotation on the mountain.

Yesterday we took a walk through part of the Ice Fall and made it to the second ladder. It was the magical maze of snow and ice I remembered and super excited to get up to Camp 1 tomorrow and getting this climbing show on the road! 

Earlier this week we went up to Pumori Advanced Base Camp (5700m) for an acclimatization hike as well and got some pretty sweet views of Everest from the North and South side, Nuptse, and Lhotse.

The heart shaped rock I found today on my hike :) Reconfirming the message to choose love over fear :)
I am currently reading two books, Aleph and May Cause Miracles. Both books have an awesome message of choosing fear over love in all situations in life. They have been more applicable than ever up here. Today on my hike up to Gorak Shep, I also came across a cute little heart shape rock, that now will go home with me and serve as a reminder of this important message. I have been fortunate to have met some really great people from other climbing teams while here, mainly from Argentina, Brazil, and Spain. I love hearing about some of their other adventures and get tips about what might work up above as we go higher. I have also been able to practice my Spanish! :) My Portuguese is still lacking...lol. I love it because it is always great to have new friends to go and do climbs and other fun things with, so I very much look forward to keeping in touch with these new friends. 

There are many amazing things about being on Everest and on this journey and there are also somethings that are not my favorite about Everest versus other climbs. I love meeting new friends up here, pushing myself to new limits, taking in these amazing views, and being surrounded by some world class adventurers that keep you humble. Meeting legends up here is pretty awesome and hearing their adventure stories even more awesome. On the other hand, there are a lot of egos up here and some folks unfortunately have ego without reason to. There are some folks up here that have never really climbed anything before, yet decide that Everest will be their first.  There are others that get overly competitive and take it upon themselves to put others down to make themselves feel better, this is unfortunate especially in a team dynamic. As one of the few women climbers up here, it is also interesting to share stories and the comments we may have come across so far. This is when this message of choosing love over fear becomes so important. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, why you are here, and knowing you have prepared as much for the journey ahead and open to what nature and God decides for the outcome. I have already had to block out a lot of noise and not very nice comments by others that sadly are making this climb about a competition against others, verses a challenge against themselves. This climb I have always felt is much more mental than physical and that staying with a good attitude and mindset and believing in yourself and what you have done to prepare is critical. I wish the naysayers the very best and hope they can find some peace up here and also some self awareness. I think that is one of the  best gifts of this experience, but I must be honest it is hard sometimes not to take things to heart or personally, it's part of the game up here unfortunately. SO I am so grateful for the messages from the books I am reading, for they keep my mind happy and healthy and constantly reminded that love and kindness conquers all :)

I feel my best when I am climbing and any nonsense from down below goes away and it is just you and the mountain. This is why I CANNOT wait to get to Camp 1 and Camp 2. I have met my Sherpa JangBu and he is awesome and I know I am going to learn so much :) It will likely take 4-6 hours to get to Camp 1 tomorrow morning through the Ice Fall and we will leave at 5 AM.

Below are some photos from the week! A highlight was our Puja ceremony, which was very special, spiritual, and ended in a great celebration! It is awesome to also see how much this event means to our Sherpas and how they would not go up the mountain until after this blessing. The end of the Puja ends in a festive celebration, and we sang, danced, and had a few toasts :) We also got our faces smothered in bread flour by the Sherpas and that was quite fun :)

Well, until next time, and hope to share some cool pics from Camp 1 and 2! Here is a map of what lies ahead as well!

Big hugs,


Highlights from the week via Photos :)

lama at our Puja Ceremony 

Our Puja at our Base Camp

Post chilly Puja Celebrations

The Sherpas were trying to teach us their song and dance

Ice Fall Practice with Ronnie and Alison :)

At Pumori Advanced Base Camp

The Famous Ice Fall :)

Fun parts of the Ice Fall :) Don't look down!

My other friend Kevin came to visit at EBC :) 

Part of the team at EBC Rock

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Starting to make home at Base Camp!

Arriving at Everest Base Camp in Altitude Seven Apparel

Well we have been at Base Camp now since Thursday, and slowly but surely it is becoming our home base. It was a weird feeling walking in here and knowing what to expect the next 45 days or so, magical at the same time. I looked up at the ice fall and the mountain and I just thought,  “please be kind.” Days are definitely flying by though!  At the end of this blog is a photo tour for you all to get a taste of what life up here is like :)

My first night here I looked up at the night sky and saw all the gorgeous mountains lit up by moonlight and all the thousands of stars and just gave thanks for being here and set my intention for the climb and this journey. I had done this on some alone time on one of the stupas in Dingboche, but there was something different about doing it here.

Everest for Congo www.climbtakeaction.com
Thursday, I just got settled in and checked in with the EBC docs to get new antibiotics for my cough and ear ache. Nothing to worry about and I am doing better, was just on the wrong meds earlier. I am bundling up with scarfs to keep cold air away from the ears and throat. I also got to see my friend Kevin, which is climbing with the Peak Freaks team and trying to summit Everest and Lhotse without O2!! His camp is next to ours, so nice to have friends nearby.  I got to see a few of the Sherpas from my previous team in 2011 as well, which was nice and they are in the camp next to me as well.

Friday, I did laundry, and well it dried for the most part, only some of it froze…lol. I also got a shower which was the best :) Then it was more getting settled in and starting to get info on the mountain and make a plan. Rob arrived to meet up with the team that day and now we were just missing Alison, which arrived on Saturday after getting a tummy bug and having to stay down below.

I found Kevin! Everest Reunion :)
Saturday, got all my gear sorted and reorganized the tent. I visited with Kevin and some of the Sherpas again, visited the docs again to check on my ear. All good. I got to meet some of the ice fall doctors that were at the clinic tent and found out there are about 30 ladders through the ice fall. The longest set of ladders is about 3 across, which is better than last time, we had a 5 strung ladder set! The ice fall doctors to me are a bit of legend and superhuman. They arrive before anyone else to start fixing the lines up the mountain and then are the last to go as they take all the ladders down throughout the ice fall. They deal with some extremely dangerous situations and sometime lose their life in the process, as the ice fall doctor that passed last week, and we found out had pierced through a snow bridge. Per usual they were smiley, happy to answer questions, which Pasong was able to translate for me :) The docs at the clinic tent here at EBC are awesome and it was good to chat to them about my previous attempt and my incident with hypoxia. They advised that since I know I can do well without Diamox up to about 27,000 feet that maybe I should start taking it on my summit push at about camp 2 or 3. So basically I would do all of my acclimatization rotations on the mountain without Diamox and only use it on my summit push to help my body deal with the lack of oxygen above 27,500 feet , which is where I had to turn around last time. So I am noodling on it…I typically don’t use Diamox and don’t really care for the side effects, but also want a good chance to reach the top safely and it appears a good recommendation.

Today, Oliver and I went up Kalapatar to get some acclimatization and then came to Gorak Shep to send this blog out and check email....racing against the weather clock as we speak!  Tomorrow is our Puja and after that we will practice in the ice fall a bit. Then  we will head up to Camp 1 by Thursday I hope! I am so excited to get through the first round of the ice fall, last time it was my favorite section of the climb. A magical maze of snow and ice and unlike anywhere else in the world I think :)

So a picture says a thousand words, below are some photos to give you a tour of Everest Base Camp (EBC). Adventures Global and our Sherpa crew have been amazing and taking really good care of us :) Part of life up here is getting used to being cold, you go to bed warm and sometimes wake up too warm in your tent and other times too cold in your tent. You need to hydrate, but getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, really isn’t the greatest. Our 4 am departure through the ice fall on Wednesday is going to be rough, no doubt! You also get used to hearing avalanches often and even seeing them-not to worry they are not near us! It is a pretty spectacular sight though. By having many little inconveniences, you really appreciate all the comforts of home, and also quickly begin to realize how little we really need. There is simplicity here, of keeping healthy, eating and staying nourished, and listening to your body to see how far it will let you go. A big part of being here, is about letting go and being in the present. Letting go of fears, of worries or woes that you may have left behind at home that start to lose their importance, letting go of control and realizing that nature and the one above are in charge-not you, and basically succumbing to the journey that is taking place. If you don’t let go, then in the end, I feel you lose so much of the true gift of this experience. Of course reaching the top of the world is the goal, but the journey to get there is the gift, that comes with self-awareness and personal growth and experiences unlike any you ever had or could imagine.

Thank you for following my journey and to support our efforts, please visit www.climbtakeaction.com

Everest Base Camp Photo Tour :) 

Heli Rescue in Gorak Shep...about 2 hours from EBC
Yak Traffic in route to EBC!

Everest Base Camp...see the little yellow tents :) Home Base
Adventures Global Everest Base Camp

Where we eat :)

Our Sherpa Cooks are AMAZING! They even baked us a cake!
Our Bathroom

Where I sleep

Inside my tent...we do not share at Base Camp...only on the mountain

How I do laundry

what frozen clothes looks like...lol

Congrats to Ronnie and Elizabeth on their 2 year anniversary :) They met on Everest

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just a couple hours from Everest Base Camp!!

We got snow! It was a beautiful snowy walk to Gorak Shep! :)
snowy morning :)
Since I last wrote last, we left Diboche and headed to Dingoboche and spent 2 nights there, then headed to Loboche and now in Gorak Shep just a couple of hours away from Everest Base Camp (EBC)! I stopped here to upload this blog and tidy up on a couple of things before heading to EBC as I am not sure what connection will be like, but I will not be spending the night here as there are too many trekkers here and I don’t want to catch any unwanted germs. Plus the tea houses are getting colder and colder as you head down the valley! My guess… I will be hiking back and forth between EBC and Gorak Shep to post updates and photos about once a week. So apologies in advance if I do not get back to you right away!
sporting Altitude Seven :)
Of the past few days, the most eventful was by far Monday, April 8th. It was a day with highs and lows. In the morning on route to Dingboche, we stopped in Pangboche to get a blessing from Lama Geshe. We had quite the wait as 2 other expeditions were before us. I remembered this being a very special moment last time I was here. This time was equally as special and filled with laughter. Lama Geshe was convinced I was Nepali J haha. His soul beams joy and was really a special treat to meet him. As part of the blessing, he gives the climbers a card to take up with us to the mountain, a blessed Kata, and a blessed Synge to put around our neck.  He also gives us a prayer to take with us on our journey and to set our intention. This time the prayer was:

The Buddha said: You yourself are your own refuge, Nobody else can be your refuge. If you really tame your mind, You can attain the highest realization of the Buddha! May the precious mind of enlightenment, Arise where it has not arisen. Where it has arisen, may it not wane, But further and further increase.

 It also has a request to all sentient beings on Earth:

Give up all intentions to harm others from your heart, and do your best to benefit them all. If each and every one feels the Universal Responsibility to do so, we will all enjoy the feast of PEACE!


 I was really happy we were able to meet with him and get his blessing for our team. We also had our  team’s prayer flags blessed that will hang in our Everest Base Camp.
After leaving Lama Geshe’s we headed to Dingboche, I decided to wait to get lunch until we arrived as I wasn’t feeling like another break. So I split off from the team for a bit. The altitude was starting to make its presence known in my little body and so I just wanted to get to our destination.  Upon arrival to our tea house, we heard a helicopter coming in. We had learned the day before that one of the Sherpa Ice Fall Doctors had died in the ice fall after fixing ropes to Camp 2. Apparently there was a crash in the ice fall and he fell victim to it. I know Alan Arnette has already posted more details on the incident, if you care to learn more. I was walking with one of our climbing Sherpas, Pasong, and he informed me that the ice fall doctor that had passed away was from Dingoboche. So to my surprise as we watched the chopper land, we saw the village gather around and the body of the ice fall doctor be delivered to them. It was a sobering and somber moment to say the least and also hard for many of the Sherpa that were here.  As much as there is light around being in this majestic place, there is darkness when incidents such as this happen. For me it is a reminder that one must always have ultimate respect for nature and the mountains. We will only go as far as she will let us. My heart and prayers go out to the family of the fallen Sherpa.

On my walk over to Dingboche I was able to get to know Pasong, one of our climbing Sherpa’s so much better. Some of their life stories and adventures are quite remarkable and very humbling. Pasong used to be a monk, but had to change his life path due to his father passing away and having to make a sustainable living for himself and family. He was a monk from the age of 7 to about 17. Since then he has become a climbing Sherpa and has two summits on Everest, Ama Dablam, Makalu, and many more. Like many of the other Sherpas, he beams positivity and encouragement. It was a great walk and just as much as I wanted to learn about his climbing, he wanted to learn about me. He then wanted to know the details of my 2011 Everest attempt and from there offered some pretty awesome coaching tips. Some of the main points:
  1.  Pray and pray that you will make it this time
  2.  It’s not a competition: If people go fast on the summit push, let them; if they go slow, keep walking
  3.  Try to eat at the South Col and take energy bars or Gu for the summit push
  4.    Keep an eye on your O2 regulator
  5.  Be the most careful on the decent because I will be tired
  6. Enjoy it and do everything you can and give it your all to make it this time.

He then smiled and said, you’ll make it and we continued on our walk :) Learning of his summits on some of these major peaks was pretty humbling. The most impressive was his October summit on Everest where 5 climbing Sherpa and 1 client went for it. They fixed lines as they ascended, they ran out of rope at some point, and dealt with some pretty nasty weather (including white-out conditions), yet they made it.

As we walked and as our team had two days in Dingboche, it made me think how it’s always pretty cool how quickly a team can form in the mountains. How quickly we are all keeping an eye out for one another and how strangers become friends within days.
The journey so far has been awesome, beautiful and breathtaking views, amazing people, and little reminders of how fortunate we are. My mornings have started with the scent of burnt sage, the sounds of yak bells, and fired eggs for breakfast (although I did try out some of the French toast the other day-not bad).  The tea houses have been very welcoming and nice, although they have gotten colder as you go up the valley so by my last few nights in Dingoboche and Loboche I was sleeping in my light down jacket, leggings, and in my zero degree sleeping bag! Hence why I also didn’t want to spend another night in a tea house in Gorak Shep and rather just go to my tent :) Think it will be just as cold…lol. Some other favorite things around the trek have been these cute little black chubby birds with bright yellow peaks that have the funniest little chirps; they always make me smile. Also watching the horses and yaks roam free in some of the valley is really a splendid and beautiful sight.

We have all been keeping close watch on our bodies and health. I still have a slight cough and hoping to knock that out at Base Camp with a few days rest there. Alison and Rob went down to Pheriche to check in with the docs there and so they will join us at EBC in a couple of days. There has been a weird tummy bug going around the valley, luckily I didn’t get it, but others have not been so fortunate. All of these things are normal though and part of the deal. It’s your main job to keep yourself healthy so you can last the journey.  Some of the team will stay in Gorak Shep tonight, so slowly we will all be in EBC soon and have our Puja Ceremony and get the climbing show on the road :)

Excited to get to Base Camp here momentarily and hit the first major milestone of this journey. Upon arrival, I will set up my little home for the next 2 months and settle in. We will likely go explore the ice fall and play on some ladders after a few days at EBC and once we have begun to adjust to living at 17,500 feet! Looking forward to my first night in the tent and starting the next leg of this journey. Also looking forward to catching up with friends there that are on other teams! It’s been such a pleasant surprise to know, that there will be some friendly and familiar faces up there J

More soon and as always if you would like to support our efforts, please visit: www.climbtakeaction.com



amazing what the Sherpa carry!

The team

Top of Memorial Hill wearing Altitude Seven!

Top of Memorial Hill

Tea house ice box accomidations

I am such a girl and gave myself a manicure on our rest day :)

Morning snow in Loboche!