After a year of planning, working and dreaming, I leave for the summit of Mt. Everest on Saturday, May 17.
Before I go into the details, I want to acknowledge what a gift this past year has been and how fortunate I feel to be in this position.
Ryan Waters, co-owner of Mountain Professionals and our guide, has set out this plan for our team: 17th - climb to C2, 18th - rest at C2, 19th - climb to C3, 20th - climb to C4/South Col starting to use supplemental oxygen at a low flow.
We will spend the afternoon of the 20th resting, re-hydrating and eating before leaving for the summit around 9:00 PM that night. If all goes well we will stand on top of the world as a team around 7:00 AM May 21st.
That's the plan. I feel great about it but, as many of you know, I have been here before. However this time feels totally different.
First, believe it or not, spending most of April in BC may have been a good thing for me. We have climbed through the Icefall only 4 times at this point. Each climb took us higher and I feel my body has adjusted better to this less aggressive schedule. As a reference some teams have gone through the Icefall 7 or more time already.
Second, while at BC we have had excellent rest and outstanding food. At this point in previous expeditions I would have lost 20 - 25lbs. This year I am down a very reasonable 10. I feel strong, not weak.
Another factor is mental. With four high altitude climbs under my belt in the last year, I am more confident than ever. Also Ryan has successfully walked the line between pushing and pulling as a leader. For example, no arbitrary climb times to camps and he stays with the team during the cimbs. This feels more like a team than any expedition I have been on.
OK, now for potential complications. First, there are a lot of people up here. And in spite of multiple sources, everyone sees basically the same weather forecast.
Ours come from Seattle based Michael Fagen. I know him and have found his magic to be accrurate. So the 21st it is for us. But so it is for other teams as well.
There are several large teams that can dominate the mountain: IMG, Summit Climb, the Indian Army. These are 40+ climber teams. The rest of the teams range from 5 to 12. My hope is that the little guys like us can get up and down before the big ones take over. But still I expect to see 100+ climbers on the 21st.
Ryan reports that a small team of Sherpas will fix lines from the South Col to the South Summit before the first summit bid. And that there will be up and down lines at the Hillary Step to manage the crowds. Rumors of a ladder at the famous step is unfounded.
As usual there are many things that can change over the next several days but it is looking good at this point.
Yesterday we paired up with our personal Sherpas. My partner is Lama Babu Sherpa, who has summited 4 times and speaks good English. I have gotten to know him over the past seven weeks so this is another confidence booster.
Today we reviewed our plan as a team including oxygen, gear, times, etc. We even touched on the sensitive subject of rescues - us or somebody else.
As for future dispatches, I hope to send a quick update from each camp including the South Col. And, of course, the summit. But it can get crazy at times so please be patient.
That's all for now. Thanks to everyone who has been in this journey with me thus far. We are near the end. You know this is about more than climbing - you are the best - all of you.
Finally a special thank you to my top supporter, best friend and wife. I love you Cathy. I'll be home soon.
Remember Memories are Everything.