Happy New Year!
Climbing continues to be my passion. 2006 was a difficult year
for my sport.
The early winter we lost Jean-Christophe Lafaille.
Sue Nott and Karen McNeill disappeared on Alaska's Foraker Peak.
Then the spring deaths on Everest – most
since 1996. Followed by a deadly season in the Karakorum with
6 deaths - 4 on K2. Doug Combs ice climbing accident in La Grave.
Next were the fall deaths on Hood and then the loss of world
class climbers Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler. Also there
was Todd Skinner's harness failure. But the most horrific event
was the blatant murder of a Tibetan nun by the Chinese military
while Cho Oyu climbers looked on. Plus there were countless other
tragedies that happened unreported around the world.
While the media like to cover the tragedy, it is the overwhelming
positive experiences that bring delight and encouragement to my
fellow climbers. Just read the entries on any climbing website
on the “Why
I Climb?” topics and you will feel the energy that climbers
get from the struggle. There were many individual successes but
a few stand out to me. A new route on Cho Oyu by Pavle
Kozjek. The Everest summit by double amputee Mark Inglis.
The young Japanese couple, Yuka Komatsu 23
and Tatsuya Aoki 21 on K2.
My predictions for 2007 are that our sport will see more new
climbers – both young and old. We will see more exciting
routes and first ascents - yes there are many still out there!
And we will see more personal stories of tragedy and ... triumph.
There will be a lot of guided climbs with great personal stories.
But they are often difficult to follow since censorship seems to
be vogue by the companies who fear negative publicity. Transparency
is good for everyone – even when it shows your mistakes.
I wish that the companies would help armchair and potential climbers
see that the sport is great even in its worst moments.
I will be following several individual stories this year with
great interest. First, Paul
Adler’s return to Everest. As many of you know he and
his wife, Fi, made a great effort on the south side last spring.
Fi made it and Paul did not. The reasons are unclear but oxygen
was an issue. So Paul is returning, with Fi managing basecamp,
for another try. This time he will not be on a big team but rather
he is putting together his own climb. Their dispatches were fantastic
last year and they generated quite a global following. My 2007
prediction is Paul will make it grand style and return home safely.
Nicki Branch is
another great story. Quoting from her site "Without a job after
26 years, losing her mother two months later and starting menopause,
what's a woman to do? Attempt to Climb Mount Everest, of course!" Nicki
summited Kilimanjaro in December and is now on her way to Aconcagua.
She will attempt Everest as her final 7 summit in spring 2008.
Go girl go!
Of course we will have another interesting year on Everest. I
am curious to see if any meaningful changes will be made on the
north side. But one thing is clear - there will be record climbers.
It seems that after a deadly year, the interest in climbing goes
up. My prediction is for a more "normal" year since operators
will be more conservative and hopefully, climbers will be more
realistic and careful.
As for me, I write on my home page:
2006 was another year of adventures for me with my expedition
to Broad Peak and K2 plus some new Colorado 14ers. It was also
a year of milestones, joy and sadness: my 50th birthday, Ashley
joining the workforce with her MPH from UCLA and the passing
of my dad.
These events reinforced my philosophy to live every day
to the max and never let something go unsaid you would want
to say until it is too late.
I am not sure what I will climb in 2007. I have some ideas and
perhaps something big. But I am sure there will bring new challenges
and some adventures so stay tuned.
Thanks for making this site a daily read. It had a record number
of visitors this year. I have tried to keep it fresh with new dispatches,
trip reports, interesting pictures and videos and, of course, Climbing
News. I will continue in 2007 along with my annual
coverage of the Everest spring season.
My personal best wishes for each of you in 2007. And, please get
out there and climb something!
Climb High, Climb Safe, Climb On!