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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
May 112019
 
Camp 1 in Western Cwm

Sherpas are currently ferrying gear to the North and South Col preparing for summit pushes. All eyes are on the weather forecast to see if the call of a Sunday calm is correct. On the Tibet side, the Chinese rope fixing team have returned to ABC.

Headlines

Most of the teams are still in base camp or Advanced Base Camp waiting for the ropes to get to the summit. If the forecasts holds, Sunday will be the first of a handful of days where manageable winds might allow the rope fixers to finish the job then or on Monday, May 13 opening the door for the first few waves of teams to make their summit attempts. Look for the most summits between May 14-16 this week.

If history holds, another weather front will move in and stop the activity before another window emerges. Everyone is hoping there will be multiple windows this year to spread out the climbers, especially on the Nepal side. Remember its still early with at least two full weeks to go before the end of the season in late May, assuming the ropes go in soon. At this point its wait and see.

Nepal – Lhotse First

Mingma Sherpa with Imagine Nepal said his team left for Camp 2 for Lhotse look to summit on May 14.

Myrmidon Expeditions with Kirstie Ennis is getting ready:

We have our summit date set, Oxygen and tents staged at C3 & C4. Few more moving parts to complete building out the tent platforms at C3, and stage some extra bottles of O2 above the South Col.

Kristie posted another good blog that deserves a full read but heres the money quote:

We are moving up tomorrow and from there will start our summit push with a goal of standing on top of the world on the 15th. I am overwhelmed with a healthy combination of excitement and nervousness. My team is strong and now I am foaming at the mouth to get this thing going. Alongside Christopher, Rob, and I, there will be three Sherpa — one of them has 15 Summits and another has 10. Now, its a race to beat the weather and the pressure’s on for the rope fixers.

Chad Gaston’s post touched me yesterday. We emailed a bit before he left for Everest about Alzheimer’s

When I was 16, I swiped my dad’s Kenny Rogers shirt out of his closet, because it was retro and I thought it was cool. I wore it to concerts and ski/snowboarding trips mostly being a clown! But in 2007 my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (just 58 years old when it started) and I started wearing it on adventure trips and music concerts/festivals as kind of a tribute to him, like he was apart of the adventure with me. I credit my mother with a lot of things in my life but my sense of adventure I got from my father. I didn’t record or take pictures at first but started to a couple years back.

As anyone who has dealt with Alzheimer’s knows, it’s tough on the person and even tougher on the family. We all deal with it in our own way. I have tried to honor him by living a life full of adventure.

A kind of life that was taken from him way too early! So you will understand the reason I wear this 1982 Kenny Rogers tour T-Shirt in a lot of my climbing photos! Kenny (The T-shirt) is currently camped out at camp 2 on Everest, waiting for me to head back up on the final summit push and Join him on the top of the world. My father would have loved this adventure, and so Kenny and I plan to keep this tradition going. For everyone who has a loved one with this horrible disease, I wish you the best! Love them and cherish every moment you get with them. Be understanding and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve! I love you Dad and Kenny and I hope to make you proud when we reach the Top of the world!

Chad Gaston and his Dad

Tibet – Ropes??

Furtenbach Adventures gave their perspective on the upcoming weather window:

Long nights followed by long days. Patience and the process of waiting for the right time is a fundamental part of himalayan climbing. We hope the Chinese rope fixing team can finally finish their work in the next days. But the possible first window of the season will pass on the north side of Everest. It is not a perfect window anyway so we focus on the first real window that is opening soon. All our sherpas left camp today to stock the high camps. Take care and good luck to all!

Summit Climb offered good new on the Chinese rope team – thy are at ABC.

Hi this is David O’Brien from a fairly windy base camp. After a last minute stick up of provisions in New Tingri, we drove the three hours back to base camp. The rope fixing team went up to ABC today so we hope to hear about their progress in the next few days. So far the ropes have only been fixed to 7500m. I expect the Chinese climbing members to come back to base camp tomorrow. When they are here things will hopefully become clearer on possible summit opportunities as it is traditional that they climb first. I big Happy Birthday to my son Flynn, 8 today.


Anticipation

You have been hearing about the infamous summit window for years. The last few days, it seems like that is all you’ve talked about. At breakfast this morning the table talk went like this. “So, do you believe the forecast?” you throw out to the table at large. “You mean the one that said we would have clear skies and no winds the day the cyclone hit us? The skeptic in the group responded. “Yeah, that one.” You continue undeterred. “You know, if its right then we leave tomorrow or the day after for our summit push.” The table gets quiet as each person looks into their soupy porridge. No need for a lot of words. This is why you are here. Each person is lost in their own private world for the next few bites.

You’ve heard the talk from the lead guide to be ready at a moment’s notice as the weather forecast changes quickly. She took joy in telling the story of a few years ago when they got an update at 9:00 pm Everest time from the States where it was 11:45 minutes earlier. What’s up with the 15 minute thing? Anyway, the story goes that everyone had gone to their tents after being told the weather was horrible up high and there would be no summit push for at least a week. Each climber had done their nightly routine, crawled into their sleeping bags with their toes being warmed by a Nalgene filled with hot water. They had completed their last crocodile roll in their sleeping bag around 10 when, like Paul Revere, the lead guide came urgently to the member tent area shouting. “Hey everyone, if you want to go to the summit this is your chance. Pack your summit pack and be ready to leave base camp at 2.” Wow, talk about whiplash!

Well, you were ready. Hell, you’ve been ready for the past three years as you saved money, put off big purchases, trained on lesser peaks and pushed hard to get your body in shape. The last few weeks, it has all come together. Yeah, the first climb to Camp 1 was slow. You thought a few times that you weren’t up for this but you pushed on. The next trip up to Camp 2 was better, but then that damned Lhotse Face. Lucky you, this year it was hard blue ice, no snow for steps to be kicked into. It seems like it took forever to get to lower C3. But you did it. Your team didn’t sleep there like others before you. The new thinking is you don’t have to punish your body with that horrible night at 23,000-feet to acclimatize, you only need to get to 7,000-meters, have a snack and return to C2. Good God, you hope they are right.

Leaving breakfast early, you skipped the regular chat group for some alone time. Sitting crossed-legged in your tent, you look at your summit gear spread out on the tent floor. You get that 1,000-yard stare in your eyes as you begin to visualize the next few days. The last climb through the creaky Khumbu Icefall, the hot Western Cwm, up the steep Lhotse Face, then … well you don’t know. You only know what you’ve read and been told. Leave C3 before dawn, continue up the Face and turn left towards the Yellow Band. Clipped into the fixed ropes, scale the limestone rock and then to the base of the Geneva Spur and scramble over exposed rock to the South Col. Spend a few hours resting on Os then leave just after dark. Up the pyramid to the Balcony, the Southeast Ridge and South Summit, the Traverse and then whatever is left of the Hillary Step and on, and on to the top of the world. You know the music but do you know the words? Can you sing the song? Can you keep up with the band? Can you …

All of a sudden your frozen stare locks onto a picture you placed in the tent mesh pocket three weeks ago when you arrived. You focus carefully on the faces. You look into their eyes, half expecting them to say something. You listen carefully and then you hear a voice. “I love you. We believe in you. We will be with you each step. You are where you should be. I believe.” Locked into the moment, you give yourself permission to go somewhere else. The change of scenery feels good. Your breathing is calm, controlled. You are at peace.

Each item on the tent floor has its own place in your pack. You slowly and methodically organize your kit. There is something comforting about the familiarity of this routine. You’ve done this many times as you trained for Everest. Some of the gear, you pick up and cradle in your palms. Yes, this will keep me safe. And you put it in the same place as before. Eventually, the floor is clear and the pack is full.

Rolling over onto your unzipped down sleeping bag you lie down and look at the ceiling. Closing your eyes, you hear the sounds of base camp, Everest Base Camp. The hiss of a gas stove, the chatter of teammates still talking trash, Sherpa or Nepalese language, you still have a hard time telling the difference, but enjoy the cadence, the strength and confidence in their conversation. Off in the distance, the gentle tone of a yak bell. You know the huge furry beast is probably nodding off. The sounds of camp act like a soft sleeping pill as you go to that place between sleep and awake.

Knowing your time will come soon, you take one more breath and go to that place of sleep. Soon you will be climbing Mount Everest.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything!

  2 Responses to “Everest 2019: Anticipation”

  1.  

    Allen great writing.
    Good luck climbers be safe

  2.  

    Hello Chad Gaston, what a great endeavour for you to do for your dad. I remember my father with great joy. Savour this time and sieze the day! To you and all the other climbers God speed and return safely.