Everest 2024: Leaving Nothing Unsaid

Climbers worldwide are flying to Kathmandu or Lhasa to begin their dream of climbing the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest. For the climbers, this is all about the dream. For the ones left behind, they only have one dream – to hug them once again.

By now, they have their gear, their training is complete, and all that is left is to leave nothing unsaid to those who mean the most to them. Once our climbers sit in that airplane seat, the journey begins. Hopefully, all the work over the last year and all the climbs over the past decade have led to this point. They are well-prepared and empowered with positive support.

Travel Time

As climbers travel to Nepal and China, not much will happen in the next few weeks. Once there, they meet their teams, take care of a few details, and begin the journey to the Chinese Base Camp, CBC, on the Tibet side or the Everest Base Camp, EBC, in Nepal. Climbing will start around 15 April on the Nepal side and a few days to a week later on the Tibet side.

If I were going this year, this would be my last-minute checklist:

  1. Review gear list
  2. Buy snacks
  3. Buy ebooks or reading material
  4. Buy summit socks
  5. Keep training
  6. Do not gain a lot of weight. Go in at your ideal weight
  7. Do not get hurt or sick

Leave Nothing Left Unsaid

This has become an annual post for me, as I believe mountain climbing can be a spiritual experience if one is open to it, and it can be difficult for those left back home. So with that, here it goes, updated for 2024.

Leaving home to climb Mt. Everest is no simple task. It’s not a business trip; it’s not a vacation; it’s something entirely different. While it may be your dream, it can be something altogether different for those left behind. As we approach the end of March, scores of climbers are going through this process for Everest 2024.

It’s time for Everest climbers to get focused and serious about the last-minute preparations. Since their dream began, they wondered how this period would feel. They saved money, bought the gear, and trained their bodies for months or even years, but a few crucial steps remain before boarding that plane for Kathmandu.

One of my Summit Coach clients contacted me this week and said, “Hey, Alan. I’m getting very stressed as I get so close. I assume that’s normal?” I replied, “Pretty much so. Focus on spending time with those who you care most about in this world and leave home with nothing left unsaid.”

Focus on “leaving nothing unsaid” with those who matter most. That’s my message to anyone leaving loved ones for an extended period or perhaps even for work each morning. Visualize being on the mountain with a positive outcome. Review your gear using a mental walk-thru of the climb to ensure you have everything you need and want. Finally, surround yourself with positive people who have fun, laugh, and support you.

For this last prep step, let’s examine physical, mental, and emotional areas.

Physical

With days to go, this area has become simpler than a year ago. Bottom line—don’t get sick, don’t get hurt. The time for pushing your limits has passed. Now is the time to let your body rest. Get as much sleep as you can. A night of restful sleep is when your body heals and restores. You will not sleep as well during your expedition as at home, so take advantage of these last few nights.

Mental

Having the right attitude is crucial to a successful expedition. First, clear off all the items on your to-do list now. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you have been putting off buying snacks, that last piece of gear, or ensuring your cell phone works with the Ncell network, get ‘er done. Make sure your carrier unlocks the phone.

Now is the time to get everything at work in order. Train your replacement, talk to your boss, and ensure there are no loose ends and surprises that will haunt you during the climb. Two months is a long time away from work. If something blows up in week five, you can do nothing about it while on Everest, but you can make sure you have done all you can before you leave. But don’t overdo it. Trust those you leave behind to do the right thing. If you don’t, you probably shouldn’t be going.

If you are a list person, make a list and celebrate by checking off the items. If you keep everything in your head, consider using lists to clear your brain for more important subjects. Having these monkeys on your shoulders only weighs you down and distracts you from what is most important: preparing yourself emotionally.

Emotional

Emotional is probably the most important of these three areas. My simple advice: leave nothing unsaid. I’ve written about this philosophy for my climbs and Everest for over a decade, and it remains the best advice I can give anyone leaving for Everest.

Closure

I remember overhearing a teammate on an 8,000-meter climb yelling at his soon-to-be ex-wife about divorce terms. Not only was he seriously upset and distracted, but this brought negativity to the entire camp. Another teammate was intent on complaining about her spouse and how he never understood her. While she may have felt better, the negativity was unnecessary and not helpful to everyone else.

Everyone has emotional baggage they carry with them, but an Everest expedition is not the time or place to resolve them. Your Everest teammates are not your therapists. This week is the time to begin to get closure. No, you cannot solve years-long issues in a few days, but you can try to reach an agreement and closure on a few crucial areas.

Family Meeting

Take time to have a family talk about your climb. Get everyone together in the same room and talk openly about the schedule, what to expect, and when you will call or send an email. Set expectations so you minimize surprises. And remember to tell everyone that no news is not bad news; it is just no news.

Ensure everyone knows Everest Base Camp is remote and communications are spotty, regardless of what they may read. If voice-to-voice and live communications are vital to you, buy or rent a Thuraya or Iridium satellite phone. It is the only method you can 100% count on from anywhere on the mountain. Yes, it’s expensive, but hearing your loved one’s voice after a disaster like an avalanche or earthquake is beyond measure.

If you have parents who live far away, take time to call them and listen carefully to their fears. Talk them through everything. Of all people, they most likely don’t understand why you are climbing. This moment is not the time to argue; it is the time to listen and tell them that you know that they don’t understand and that you love them.

Communications Blackout

Talk about your summit night and when you will leave. Calculate the time difference so they are clear. If you say you are leaving High Camp at 10:00 pm, what time is that back home? Explain that it may take 12 to 20 hours before they might hear anything. Also, discuss your guide or logistics service and what they post online. Most importantly, discuss the lack of communication that always occurs during the summit push.

If you use a GPS tracker, set expectations that batteries go dead. The devices are not 100% accurate, so again, don’t jump to a conclusion when something looks odd; for example, your position appears hundreds of miles from your last spot. Talk about what they might read online and how the press loves to post stories about climbers in trouble and death on the mountain. Set up a support system if something goes wrong. It is OK to talk about problems and what to do.

Who to Call?

Ensure your spouse, partner, or significant other knows who to contact in an emergency. If you go with a well-established Western company, they will probably provide a contact available 24 hours a day. Clearly understand how to contact your family in an emergency, especially if you are climbing with a small outfit or one of the Sherpa-based guide outfits.

Emergency communication is the one area to ensure there is no confusion. If you have an email or phone number for your guide service, ask how often it is checked and by whom. You might be surprised to learn that the same person you are climbing with is chartered to answer the emergency phone. So, if you are both at Camp 3, no one will answer the phone or respond to that email.

How Much Information?

If someone close to you is currently ill, be clear on what information you would like to receive if their situation worsens. Please don’t leave it up to those at home to guess. Talk it over now, face to face.

But it gets more complicated. Ensure your “person” knows your choice if something happens to you on the mountain. If you die, do you want your body returned home, if possible, and can you afford it? If not, are you comfortable being left on the mountain forever? Are your loved ones comfortable with your choice?

Have the Talk

But this is the essential emotional step: Have a conversation with the person in your life who matters most to you. Be open, candid, and honest. Tell them how you feel. Share your dreams and your hopes with them. Carefully listen as they tell you their fears, what will keep them up at night.

While you may be on the mountain, they are climbing with you each step of the way back home. You have the advantage of knowing what is happening; they can only guess, and sometimes they will guess wrongly. Often, there are no answers to these fears or dreams, but talking about them together will help you feel closer when you are lying in the tent at Camp 4, with the wind howling and the temperature dropping. You will remember that conversation forever.

Surprise your climber and your loved one with a short video message left on their phone that they can watch before heading toward the top of the world. Your confidence and energy will touch them in ways you never imagined. And those left at home will draw on that conversation as they struggle to go to bed on your summit night. It might have been days since they last heard from you, and this conversation will be the strength they draw, the comfort as they replay your voice in their mind.

Climbing Everest requires a team, and part of your team is at home.

Leave nothing left unsaid.

Everest 2024 Potpourri

The Icefall Doctors are busy “fixing” the Icefall with ladders and rope. They plan to reach Camp 2 in early April, right on time.

Some teams are already trekking to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side. IMG reports:

Ang Jangbu reports from Namche that Team 1 had a nice hike today, with fine weather and rhododendrons blooming along the trail.  The team departed Phakding and hiked for a couple hours up to Monjo, which is the official Sagarmatha Park entrance.  After going through the formalities associated with entering the Park, the team headed on to the big Namche Hill, crossing several spectacular foot bridges along the way. Ang Jangbu says that everyone did well, and the team were all in Namche Bazaar (11,300 ft) by 3pm.

Back in Kathmandu Phunuru and Pasang report that most of the Team 2 have now arrived and they will be packing tomorrow in preparation for an early departure for Lukla the following morning.

The Nepal Department of Tourism has begun issuing climbing permits. This is the tally as of March 27:

Peak Teams Male Clients Female Clients Total
Ama Dablam 2 7 1 8
Himlung Himal 1 3 2 5
Jugal 3 1 1 0 1
Annapurna I 2 14 10 24
Everest 2 18 5 23
Putha Hiunchuli 1 4 3 7
TOTALS 9 47 21 68

 

 

 

 

 

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything


Himalayan Database

I use the Himalayan Database as my primary source of Everest summit statistics. If you are climbing in 2024, they ask you to complete an electronic web-based survey. This replaces the time-consuming process of visiting each team in their hotel before the climb. Please use this link to complete the survey. You can now download the HDB for free at their site.

Follow Along!

I will post a few background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or email me.

The Podcast on alanarnette.com

You can listen to #everest2024 podcasts on SpotifyApple Podcast, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and more. Just search for “alan arnette” on your favorite podcast platform.


 

Preparing for Everest is more than Training

summit coach

If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level, from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 30 years of high-altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.

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8 thoughts on “Everest 2024: Leaving Nothing Unsaid

  1. Me thinks all of this has gone a bit overboard. I climbed everest years ago, didn’t summit, but still was on the mount.
    I can’t believe the amount of money spent. I’m now 88yrs in the tooth—-long that is, but it’s a climb, that’s all. Way to much hipe. I
    say, keep it simple!
    Molitor, old
    mountainer

    1. Thank you Gunter for your comment. I understand. Life was simpler, less expensive and without the noice that comes from social media years ago. However, I believe that “leaving nothing left unsaid” was as valid in 1780, 1880 or 1980 as it is in 2024.

  2. Thanks, Alan, for your time writing this article. My father had wanted to climb Everest but his time has been gone. At 92, I have taken his dream as mine. I love reading about climbs in previous years and feel as if I am along on the journey. Best of luck to you and those who are climbing this year. May you all be successful. Eileen Wright

  3. I follow your blogs intensely throughout the Himalayan and Karakorum climbing seasons in order to pray for protection for climbers and in specific ways. I used to do winter mountaineering and peak bagging in my 20’s in the White Mountains of New England, so I have an inkling of things to help me picture environs and empathize with certain challenges. I believe there are many Christian prayer warriors globally who do the same, right along with climbers’ family and friends. I stayed up to pray fervently while Kristen Harila made her summit push on K2 last year, following her tracker. I got more gray hairs! I cried tears of joy AFTER she got back down safely and was relieved she chose to stop climbing the 8000 M peaks. Thanks so much Alan for this blessing and ministry. I see it as ministry which spurs praying people to action!

      1. So excited for the season!! Great job Alan, I look forward to this time every year! Thanks for all your hard work and letting us at home feel like we’re there!

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