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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
May 252020

Our fictional team did great on Everest with 8 of the 9 members summiting plus 9 Climbing Sherpas and Guide. But one member is fighting for their life with HAPE and needs a rescue.

In the real world, the Chinese national and survey team are expected to summit any day now after the Tibetan rope team finally got to the summit. Deep snow delayed their efforts and made this one of the latest dates ever to reach the summit on the Northside.

Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas is a joint project of Alan Arnette and several global guide companies. Our objective is to entertain Everest fans during the Coronavirus spring closure and raise money to help the Climbing Sherpas who are not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please join us by making a donation using the links below plus by adding your Everest experiences in the comment section.

Descending from the Summit and a Rescue

She took her sat phone out of her pack and pressed #1 on the keypad. She had dreamed of this moment. “We made it. I’m on the summit of Mount Everest. I’m up here with Mingma and a few other teammates.” She talked until she needed to put her oxygen mask back on, not due to the low oxygen level but because of her excitement. “I’m so proud of you. Congratulations, my love.” Her husband said, louder than he needed to. He was thinking of his wife on the summit of Everest and, for some reason, felt he needed to shout.

“Thank you so much for all your love and support, honey. I love you so much.” She told her husband.” Put the phone on speaker so the kids can hear me.” The next sound she heard was squeals of joy from her son and daughter. “You made it! How does it feel?” Her daughter asked. “Thank you, sweetie. How does it feel? Well, it feels, it feels, it …” her voice broke up as tears ran down her face. “It feels wonderful.”

As she hung up the phone, the sun had risen enough to cast the shadow of Everest across western Nepal. She stood there, trembling with emotion.

Everest Shadow May 21, 2011 Everest Shadow May 21, 2011

It didn’t take long for Loner with Lhapka and Dutch with Phurba to arrive. They had a group hug on top of the world. Loner sat down on the snow bench that the Climbing Sherpas had built years ago. The summit was now getting crowded as more of the nearly 100 climbers arrived. Another 30 were summiting from the Tibet side. The snow bench was at capacity.

Dutch came over to Loner, “How are you doing?” Loner didn’t move. His down suit hood was pulled over his head, covering his face. Dutch patted his shoulder, “I understand, congratulations.” He said, walking away to thank Phurba again.

Loner was lost in emotion, tears rolling down his cheeks. He had accomplished a life long dream. He first read about Everest expeditions in the magazine, Adventure. Now he was part of Everest history. He marveled at how the early teams dressed in eight layers of gabardine, wool, cotton and silk clothing, used hobnail boots; climbed with hemp ropes and leaky oxygen systems. As he sat there in his top of the line 850 fill goose-down suit, 8,000-meter boots with footbed warmers and thick mittens, he was not cold, even when the wind picked up.

But his thoughts were more of what this summit meant to him, the sacrifices he had made, how he longed to share it with his ex-girlfriend back home. He looked up to see his teammates, those people he chose to distance himself from for the past five weeks. “Why did I do that? Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to find yourself.” He thought to himself.

An introvert, his behavior came naturally. He stood up and walked over to Dutch. He pushed his hood back, his mask down and took his sunglasses off. He smiled and held his arms out. The two men embraced on the summit, sharing a moment that would be etched in their minds for eternity.

“Half-way.” She said to Loner and Dutch, “Yeah, I think it was that American, Viesturs, or someone who said, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”” Dutch never lost his wit and humor, “So let’s get down. I’m hungry.”

The three members and three Climbing Sherpas left the summit, all clipped into the fixed rope. It would take about two hours to reach the Balcony, and another hour to the South Col. After a short break then two hours to C2 where they would spend the night.

They were moving fast downhill but sharing the line with climbers coming up. “I hope we don’t get stuck at the Hillary Step,” She said to Mingma.

Snorer and Buddies, along with their Personal Sherpas, were coming up the rope, only a few minutes away from the summit. “Where’s Old Man?” She asked Snorer. “He was at the South Summit last I heard. I think he’ll make it.” He replied. “Congratulations,” he said, “And to you.” Loner added. “See you back at the Col.”

The crowd on top had thinned out a bit as the first summiteers were leaving. Now a line of 40 people was snaking down from the summit.

The three men and Sherpas shared the summit putting 12 of the 20 members and Sherpas from Mount Everest Guides on the summit. Only Old Man and Girlfriend were left, plus Guide.

Bud walked over to Pemba, “Thank you so much. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. You helped when I got sick and again today. Thank you, thank you.” Pemba, with his mask off, smiled and held up his gloved fingers. “Number ten! Ten summits.” They shook hands, then hugged.

Buddy and Snorer exchanged congrats and asked a member from a different team to take a picture of all six of the Mount Everest Guides team.

The group spent half an hour on the summit. Snorer hoped his friend would arrive before they left, but he knew he needed to get down as he was using up his precious oxygen. Lhapka, his Personal Sherpa, had turned the flow down to 1 lpm to save gas.

They soon caught up with the line of climbers, now queued at the top of the Hillary Step. Similar to pre-2015, when rappelling down the rock face was a bottleneck, now a similar pattern occurred. The face was too narrow, and the rock boulders too unstable to support two ropes. Everyone going up or down shared the same rope.

A guide from another team took control. “Stop!” He shouted to a climber clipped onto the rope as he started ascending. “We have 30 people up here that need to get down.” He continued. The climbers stepped back but remained clipped in. The summiteers quickly down climbed the snow slope, while always being clipped in. A line of climbers waited at the bottom, some unclipped to allow the others to pass by faster.

At the bottom of the Step, Snorer found what he was looking for. Old Man was next in line to go up the Hillary Step. “You’re going to make it!” He said, hugging his friend. Old Man just smiled, “Hell, I might. But I also have to get down.” Passang said through his mask, “You will.”

They moved slowly from the Step to the summit, arriving at 7:04 am, it had taken him 13 hours. By now, he had run through four bottles of oxygen. Pertemba grabbed a fresh bottle and swapped it out; he didn’t want him to run out on the Traverse or in the middle of the Ridge on the descent. “Thank you, thank you both so much.” He said to the Sherpas. “You’re welcome.”

Old Man sat down on the bench. “Guide, Guide, come in. I’m on the top.” He heard static but no response. Old Man was grateful to Guide for believing in him. He pulled a water bottle out of his pack and took a long drink. He looked around. Standing up, he turned slowly, taking in the views of China, Bhutan, and Nepal. Makalu, looked small as did Cho Oyu. He was standing on top of the world on a cloudless day in May.

Alan on the summit of Everest May 21, 2011 5:00AM

Alan on the summit of Everest May 21, 2011 5:00AM

Girlfriend and Nawang did the last steep climb to the South Summit. “Good to see you!” It was Guide meeting them. He had waited there for an hour. “What are you doing? Girlfriend asked. “Just hanging out, waiting for you. How are you? Boyfriend is back at the Col with Dawa.” He said. “Yes, I know Dawa radioed Nawang and let him know. I hope he’s OK.” She said glancing over her shoulder towards the Col.

They downclimbed from the top of the South Summit and waited for a group of 23 to cross the Cornice Traverse. They easily went up the Hillary Step now that the summit gang had cleared out. Soon she stood on top. “Dawa, Dawa, come in. Can you put him on?” Girlfriend said over the radio from the summit. She released the key button, nervous. She hadn’t heard anything for several hours. Nawang tried with his radio. In Sherpa, he called for Dawa. Again, no response. Guide tried. “Dawa, Dawa, this is Guide. Is everything OK down there.”

Dawa hearing the radio in the cooking tent, hustled over from Boyfriend’s tent. Picking the radio up, he said urgently, “No Guide, we have a big problem. Boyfriend is having trouble breathing. He’s in his sleeping bag. We have him on O’s, and I gave him Nifedipine, but I think we need to get him down to C2 now and call the rescue helicopter. Or maybe a long-line rescue from Camp 3. It’s serious.”

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Climbing Sherpa Support

Who, how much, and how often you donate is a personal decision. Maybe you climbed with one of the guides, or plan to one day. Perhaps you have followed them for years and want to support their Climbing Sherpa team, or maybe you support by geography – Nepali, American, Austrian, British, New Zealand. It’s up to you and will be much appreciated.

My sincere appreciation to those companies who accepted my invitation to join Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas:

For an overview of the Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas, please visit this post.

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