# Friday, October 08, 2010

Last week I wrapped up a successful high altitude trek and climb in Nepal. I did this to help raise money for Education Elevated, a charity that is building a school and library in rural Nepal.

Kids first, then mountains: We visited two Hillary Schools on the trek, one in Khumjung and the other in Junbesi. We started in Jiri and it took us four days to trek to the first school in Junbese. It then took us another four days to reach Khumjung.  I scoped out the IT training. ;)

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As always the kids are super cute.

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After the schools, it was time to gain altitude. (Ok both schools are over 3000m/10000’.)  After we visited the Hillary School in Khumjung, we started to gain altitude and the scenery was stunning. We climbed the Gokyo Valley side, not the Everest side that I did in 2008. Even our sherpa’s geeked out and took tons of photos.

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We trekked through several small villages over three days. Our sherpa were lazy. :)

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After three days we reached the town of Gokyo (15,000’), right on the third glacial lake.

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The next morning we climbed Gokyo Ri (5400m/17500’) and the views were amazing, the best I have ever had in Nepal. If you are planning a trip to Nepal, make Gokyo your base and Everest Base Camp your secondary target.

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The cool thing about being on top of Gokyo Ri is that you have a 360 paranoiac view of the Everest portion of the Himalayan Range. Here is a video I shot trying to show it off.

We started the climb at 5:15am, I argued with Ngima Sherpa and Kathleen about that, but lost. We got up in about 1.5 hours, just in time for the sunrise. While that is cool, the sun rises directly over Mt. Everest, so the photos (and video above) are not perfect. Sorry, if you want to see a better show of Everest, you will just have to climb Gokyo Ri as well. ;)

After a short rest, we trekked to a village below the Cho la pass (5400m/17500’). The pass was very, very hard, straight up in the snow for over an hour, a lot of the time you are on your hands and knees.

Look at me climb (Yes the is Bollo Sherpa behind me, he did it in sneakers):

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Our shepra’s are too cool for school on top of the pass. (But they did take the Cliff bars I gave them.)

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The view from the pass is pretty stunning:

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Once you are up over the pass you think the hard part is over, right? Ha! Now you have to walk in-between two Himalayan peaks (taller than anything other than about 15 mountains in the world) in the snow over a crevasse ridden field. (Thank god for my  crevasse rescue training in Alaska! I had to teach Kathleen how to probe for crevasses!)

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After a few hours in the snowfield, we finally reached our destination. After about 7 hours of climbing and trekking, it was about 1pm (we started super early to avoid the wind and sun making the crevasses unstable.) After lunch, we pushed on 3 more hours to Loboche village at about 5000m/16000’.

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The next day we pushed on to Everest Base Camp and then headed down the mountain.

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A few days later we were back in Kathmandu dreaming about our next Nepalese trek!

posted on Friday, October 08, 2010 6:15:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Monday I am leaving for a 3 week trek to visit the Hillary School in Kumjum, Nepal as well as Everest Base Camp. The goal of this trip is to raise money for the Education Elevated charity that I have been working with (see last year’s school work project write up here.)

We’ve raised a ton of money so far, but you can still donate here. For those of you who have donated already, thanks!

See you when I am off the mountain. ;)

posted on Sunday, September 12, 2010 11:57:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, August 02, 2010

In a little over 5 weeks from now I will be headed back to Nepal. I will be going to visit the Hillary School in Khumjung and trek to Gokyo Peak and Mt. Everest Base Camp. I am doing all of this to raise awareness for a charity I am involved in, Education Elevated. (Donate here!) We are raising money to follow-up our September 2009 trip to Chyangba village where we built a library for the current school. Next April (2011) we will go back to Chyangba and distribute the school uniforms and text books that your last round of donations purchased. We will also start a campaign to raise money for a new building to house the school. Thanks to all of you who have donated!

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PS I’ll also be carrying in donated supplies for a high altitude health clinic. If you want to donate, you can pay me directly via PayPal and I will be bringing in over the counter drugs and medical supplies from Hong Kong.

posted on Monday, August 02, 2010 5:38:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, May 03, 2010

Last year I went to Chyangba, Nepal, my Sherpa's village in a very remote section of Nepal and helped build a library for the local school. I was part of a charity effort and we raised a lot of money, a good portion from the Microsoft .NET Community. I’ll be headed back to Nepal this September and will help start a new drive to raise money for a new school building.

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While we were in Chyangba, Engineers without Borders started a water project. An engineer from the US, Jim, arrived and started working on bringing running water to the 60 homes in Chyangba. This is a big deal since the common water tank usually has poor water. Well, 7 months later, the project is a success. Below is the full report from Jim the engineer.

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Water is coming

We've had the system running off and on for about 10 days, but now it is completely online and serving all 56 houses.  It is also set up to serve two more houses that will be built in the coming months.  The people seem very happy and some of the older women especially are grateful to have taps in their houses.  I have a lot of kahtahs.  I'm in Kathmandu.  I arrived yesterday and leave in two days for the US.

All in all it seems to be working remarkably well.  I didn't get to measure the flow rate at every house, but the houses get 1 L between 7 and 13 seconds depending on their location relative to the tank that serves them.  It's a pretty good flow rate.  As Phula so eloquently puts it, "the people are really satisfaction with the water."

Boring Engineering Notes

There were a few bugs that we had to work through. 

1.  The pipeline from the intake to the reservoir was having low flow issues.  At times we were only getting .4 LPS down to the reservoir when we would measure 1 LPS or more at the intake.  Installing a control valve on the tank inlet and closing the air vent at the intake appears to have solved he problem.  I think the pipe was not flowing full and that caused the water to slow down when coming through some u-profiles.  Blowing into the air vent pipe at the intake would cause the pipeline to flow anywhere from 1.5 to 2 LPS for half an hour to 2 hours, but then the flow would drop to .4 LPS.  With the control valve, were are getting .83 LPS into the reservoir, which is enough water.   I measured the flow over 48 hours and it stayed constant.  I've been talking to Phula every day since I left the village he said the water is still coming the same.  

2.  The pipeline from the reservoir to PB B1 does not flow well unless the tank is full.  First we were able to fix the problem by adjusting control valves to PB A1 and B1 to keep the tank full, but today Phula installed float valves in the three tanks in Community A and he said that works much better.  He said that keeps the tanks in Community B mostly full, which is good. 

3.  We had a blocked pipe on one of the house lines--it ended up being easy to find because it was before the first tee and the first tee was close to the PB.  We never found out what the block exactly was--I presume it was mud because dirty water came through the pipe we dug up and disconnected.  After rejoining it, the water was working fine.  We have had only tarps covering the PBs as we've been playing with valves and checking flows at all the tanks.  The roofs are too heavy to be moving on and off several times per day.  That allowed some dirt to get into the tanks, which is what must have caused the block. 

4.  Phula is currently cleaning all the tanks and putting the roofs on, but it will take a few days.  We had built a rim around the water tank at each PB for the roof to fit into, but we have had some tolerancing issues--some of the roofs don't fit inside the rim because the corners aren't perfectly square, despite multiple measurements a few inches of safety margin.  The rims will have to be chipped slightly and then replastered.  It is really only a cosmetic issue; I liked the idea of rims to help keep dirt from sneaking in under small spaces between the roof slab and the top of the water tank, but it is difficult to do things with much precision here, at least with these masons.  The masons have generally refused to use levels, claiming they could eyeball it.  Some of the tops of the tanks are little sloped or uneven, and the roof does not fit snugly.  For now I think putting a tarp under the roof will be sufficient, but it is a repair job that we should address in the future.

5.  There are seven houses that are sometime affected by a weird air block.  If the tank above them is drain and then refilled, water won't flow to the houses.  However, the problem is an easy fix--the houses take their pipe outside, open the tap, and once the water comes, close the tap and put it back into the house.  The pipes enter the houses by climbing up the outside stone wall, through a hole in the rafters, and then back into the kitchen.  The people seem to prefer this to tunnelling to the mud and stone walls or foundations.  The seven houses are the five houses in Community C, one house in Community A, and one house in Community B.  The house in Community A is probably not far enough below the tank that serves it.  At only 7 meters of elevation difference, it's right at the limit of the design recommendations.   The water level in the tank adds about 80 cm of head.  However, the water flows well once the pipeline has been reset--that house gets 1 L in 13 seconds.  The house in Community B is served by an HDP pipe PB and is 12 meters below it.  The pipe tanks are small and they don't add much head to the outflow, but the pipe into that house also climbs steeply up into the house.  The five houses in Community C are more of a mystery to me:  blowing into the air vent at the PB C1 outlet or taking the pipe outside and opening the tap fixes the problem.  PB C1 is small and only adds about 40 cm of head to the outflow, but the pipes in Community C climb straight up two meters into the top floor of the houses, which is more than in most places.  All of the houses are between 23 and 29 meters below the tank, which seems like it should be more than enough to force the air out of the pipeline. However, all of the houses are affected simultaneously--it makes me wonder if there is some air block before the first tee.  There is a small U-profile of 115 cm, which seems like it should be insignificant as it occurs 9 meters below the tank, but maybe because the water level in the tank is relatively short it makes a big difference.  None of the houses get this problem when we leave the water running continuously, which we only did the last 48 hours I was in Chyangba.  I will continue to check in with Phula about it, but he has not reported any more problems.  In this case, I don't fear not hearing about problems due to the Sherpa cultural taboo on disappointing a guest; the villagers have not hesitated in the past to tell me--sometimes quite rudely--that their water was not coming.

Work Left to be Done

Right now, Phula is working on some tasks like building a fence at the reservoir and at the intake; cleaning all the tanks and putting on the roofs and making sure they fit; organizing and cleaning the tools; and backfilling the partially buried joining and tee areas (which not filled in to see if there any leaks once we got water running).  He thinks he will be finished in one week.  I left him with a specific list and I have a copy of it; he signed an MOU stating that he will email pictures for me to review before he will be paid by Pem.  I get the sense that he is doing a good job with it.  He does have some pride in the work he has done, but I think he doesn't express it when I am around because he focuses on trying to guilt trip me into getting him either more money from EWB or a visa to USA.  It's annoying and disappointing, but it's part of this game.  At least he does the work. 

Sishakhola

Due to the troubleshooting, I did not have time to survey Sishakhola.  I think an adequate survey time would be three of four days, and I didn't have the time.  It was more important to me to get Chyangba's system working well enough to where I felt comfortable leaving it with the village and Phula.  I know that may disappoint some of you and I know I said I would make the time for it, but respect that I have worked every day for 7 months straight in considerably frustrating conditions.  We really need to see how well Chyangba's system works in the long run before we start on Sishakhola and an inadequate survey would only create the same problems for Charlie that I had.  Additionally, surveying is more than measuring; when you do it, the people expect you to come back and build it the system.  I don't know what is going on with money and commitments at home and I am certainly not ready to make a commitment to Sishakhola myself.  Speaking of you Charlie, I really think you should come for a short visit first, see the village, and know what you are getting into before you spend 3-4 months here.  You will benefit a lot from what I have learned and that will make it easier for you than it was for me, but this work is difficult. 

Trip in the Fall and the Training Course

I think a trip in the fall is still very important to check on the Chyangba system and making sure it is being used properly and the people are taking care of it.  Phula and I did a one day training course the day before I left; the people impressed me with how quickly they learned, how handy they are, and that they have the patience to fiddle with valves and pipe wrenches.  They can be incredibly creative and come up with simple and effective solutions with limited resources--they made tweezers out of bamboos to clean the tap drains, for example.  While the villagers and those on the training course seem like they know how to do everything to take care of the system, I worry that they don't understand why they must care for it.  They complain a lot about their old government system--that there wasn't enough cement used or that is was a "Nepali project"--but the reality is that system worked surprisingly well, and got away with fewer and smaller PBs.  Had the pipe been adequately buried, it would probably be still functioning.  The real problem is that the people in Chyangba never took any responsibility or leadership for trying to fix the old system.  They could have easily remade roofs for the PBs from relatively inexpensive local materials like slate and wood--concrete is not always necessary.  They could also have made fences from local wood around the PBs to protect them.  What they had before was good enough that they could live with it--there was no motivation among the villagers to try to improve it.  That's what worries me about the future of this system--their lack of motivation, not lack of knowledge, skills, or resources.  I hope that between 40 days of labor from each house and 500 rupees from every house, they will value their own efforts and money and will want to take care of it.  I wish I had more time to spend on the training course, but I had to spend the time to fix the bugs in the system.  Phula will create a new water council from the training course members that has several women and fewer monkey brains--it will be important to keep working with them in the future.

A trip in the fall could focus on reviewing the training course and maintenance requirements and surveying Sishakhola.  A bigger intake and a collection chamber would capture more water and would make the flow to reservoir greater and will probably be necessary if Chyangba's spring serves Sishakhola; that could also be done in the fall.  As I keep in touch with Phula and learn more about how the system works, it may be that float valves everywhere would make it better.  If that were the case, we would need to build 5 more PBs in the fall.  I'm hoping that won't be necessary.

Jim

posted on Monday, May 03, 2010 3:10:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, October 05, 2009

I have just completed an amazing 8 day journey to the village of Chyangba in a remote mountain area of Nepal. Chyangba is a village of about 55 homes inhabited by the ethnic group called Sharpa. Most of you will know Sherpas as the folks who climb up to Mt. Everest, and several famous Sherpas come from Chyangba. My friend and guide in 2003 and 2008, Ngima Sherpa, comes from Chyangba and I was going to visit him. In addition, I was working with a charity called Education Elevated to help fix up a school and set up a library. While in Chyangba, I worked on the school and library for 4 days.

Getting to Chyangba

Getting to Chyangba is not easy. We had to fly on a 16 seat Twin Otter from Kathmandu to Phaplu. Phaplu has an “airport” consisting of a dirt strip and a dude with binoculars and a radio. After landing in Phaplu we trek a few hours (mostly in the dark) to our camp.

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Our camp was visited by some local kids in the morning and had great views of the valley. We then trek the whole next day and finally arrive in Chyangba.

Visiting the School and Library

Upon arrival, all the school children were lined up waiting for us. We then walked around the school and library for a few hours and took hundreds of photos. Imagine hiking for 7 hours and going directly into a photo shoot. :)

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The kids are super cute.

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Project Planning

We start to size up the job ahead of us. Here is a photo of an empty room we will convert into the school library.

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Being geeks we decide to be agile and use the scrum methodology. We decided we would re-assess the situation twice a day and see how far we get. We took stock of what furniture we had in the building (school desks, etc) and since we are MVP geeks, we decided to use a GUID system (globally uniquely identifier for Tanya and my mom, the only two non-techies I know who read my blog.)  We put the benches into four categories: good enough, reinforce,  take apart and put back together with some new wood, and ask Roger (the scrum master).  Here is a photo of a school bench with GUID # 8.

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Getting to Work

Roger the carpenter and general contractor (and scrum master) worked wonders. We computer geeks just hung around and he told us what to do. Before I knew it I was taking apart school chairs, benches, desks, etc, and rebuilding them. I got pretty good with a hammer.

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We continued for a few days, constantly reassessing. I did not think we could fix all of the furniture in the four days we had as well as build a library (shelves, tables, and desks.) But Roger kept us on target. He did have electricity from 9:30am to about 2pm each day and was able to use a power saw. Awesome. But the kids were attracted to it like moths to the light, so I had to distract them by balancing wood on my head. As the week progressed I got better and was able to balance an entire bench on my head while standing on one foot (in the Dancing Shiva position for you Yogis.)

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The kids started to imitate me.

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Sprints 6 and 7

We did two sprints a day. Sprint 6 was on day 3 and we (mostly Roger) installed the shelves. We brought about 100 lbs of books and started to stack the shelves. After that some of us read to the kids and helped them practice counting in English.

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Sprint 7 was awesome. We gave out all of the school uniforms to the kids. (In Nepal you can’t go to school if you don’t have a uniform.)

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After we give out the uniforms, the kids all ran to change and then do a little dance for us. After we celebrate and I teach some of the kids the fist bump.

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Leaving :(

After spending the last few hours with the kids and helping them read and count, we departed for a final meal at our campsite. The Sherpas cooked us a chocolate cake, I have no idea how they did that over a campfire. We then went to one of the local's house for a party and drank the local drinks: Chang and Roxi. They are evil drinks. Apparently it is a Sherpa custom to refill your drink immediately after you take a sip. I have no idea how much Chang I drank, but I think I can still feel it. We then turned the house into a Sherpa Disco and danced the night away to local music. (Sherpas can get down.)

The next day we had a final going away ceremony with the whole village and they put tons of Buddhist koda and flowers on us. Since we were mostly going down, we trekked the whole way back to Phaplu in one day. We treated ourselves to $5 a night hotel rooms and flew back to Kathmandu the next day.

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This was a great experience, we spent a week in a local village, a village not even on the map, and made a difference. For geeks, we did the best we could-which was far more than I thought we could do. I hope that the tech community can donate a lot in small amounts, it only takes $10 to buy a school uniform or a few books so a kid can go to school. You can donate here. :)

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posted on Monday, October 05, 2009 8:30:25 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, June 25, 2009

I have been to Nepal several times and trekked to the Everest Base camp twice. Since 2003, I have used a sherpa, Ngima, who totally rocks. Here is a photo of him on top of Mt. Everest:

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While trekking to Everest base camp last year, Ngima invited me to come visit him at his home village Chyangba. I wanted to eat his mother’s cooking (dal bhat!) and visit the school children in his village. (They can help me improve my soccer skills.)

One thing led to another and it turns out that his Uncle, Pemba, is in the States and is working to build a school, library, and bring running water to the village. They are leading a trip this September that will raise money for the library via a US based charity called Elevation Education. We will be going to Chyangba with Ngima, Pemba, and Elevation Education on September 25th, to both raise money and do physical labor in the town. (Yes think of me giving up the laptop for a week and chopping wood and building a library.)

You can donate here. Please do.

posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:49:41 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm off to Mt. Everest. Keep track of my trek here.

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posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 12:06:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, August 01, 2008

One month from today I leave for my 4th trip to Nepal and my second trip to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I am the expedition leader (wow!) and we will climb up Kala Pattar (19,000') in route. I helped raise money for charity on this trip (over $12,000 raised for computers for inner city schools) and will be blogging about the trip for the kids from Nepal.

I am off for a week of training in South America at altitude (and some R&R too). Back blogging in mid-August. Stay tuned...

posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 8:25:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Today Garry talks about me whining on Mt. Rainer (not true!) as well as the David Sharp story and the commercialization of Everest. Read it here.

posted on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 9:15:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Part II of Gary's interview is here.

posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 10:31:43 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, November 20, 2006

Check out Part I of my three part interview with mountain climber Garry Porter.

posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 10:28:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, June 01, 2006

By now you must know about the climber on Everest with severe altitude sickness up at 28,000’. The climbers walked past him and let him die, and the morality of Everest is under attack.

First, I say to all of those who judge the climbers on the mountain that day: you can only judge if you have been at altitude on a climb. I have been on the mountain and lived and worked with the Sherpa for a month; they took me into their homes. If a rescue was possible, they would have done it.

 

But there is no way to rescue someone from 28,000 feet. Absolutely no way! If you have such severe altitude sickness like he did, the 18 hour journey down to base camp would have killed him. (Plus how would you get him over the Khumbu Icefall without killing him?) Base Camp is not low enough to recover from Altitude Sickness since it is at 18,000’ and there is exactly 1/2 the oxygen in the air than at sea level. And that is assuming that he would have had a rescue from Base Camp, the last time a helicopter tried to go to base camp, exactly 3 years ago last week, it crashed and killed everyone on board. (Remember I brought a piece of the helicopter home?) So he would have had to go down, all the way to Namche Bizarre for a helicopter or plane.

 

 

If it was me some friends have asked?  I remember on September 11th we went over to the hospitals to give blood. What was amazing about that scene was that the Doctors set up a triage unit in the street. (Thankfully it was not necessary since there was so much less damage than there could have been.) But it gave me a lesson in triage. Sometimes it is ugly, but necessary.

 

 

I would have given some spare oxygen if I had some (which DID happen by 2 climbers and is not in many articles) and moved on. I walked past a climber in very bad shape at about 14,000 feet on Mt. Rainer. I stopped and said "Are you all right dude?" He said "No, but I will be ok, I’ll be going down with my guide when he returns from the summit." At that point lacking any emergency equipment and oxygen myself, not to mention the severe pain I was in, I moved on. (He did make it down, I checked.)

 

This is not the commercialization of Everest, this is the popularity of Everest, people want to do Everest and it gets crowded. Statistically more people die then in the 1960s when nobody was on the mountain. (Sir. Edmond Hillary is just bitter about that. Climbers disagree with his criticism.) Some "real" climbers want to keep the "paying" climbers like me off the mountain. Let me tell you, every "paying" climber I met was an amazing person in amazing shape with lots of experience. Anyone who trains, has some experience, and is willing to pay for an expedition should be allowed on the mountain. (Though the Government of Nepal should limit the permits it gives out.) They do have to understand the risks, you can be left behind.

 

Baseball, football, tennis, etc usually doesn’t involve death as one of the risk factors. Mountain climbing does. Get over it.

 

The death is a tragedy and sad, but unfortunately a risk we take when we climb Mt. Everest. One in seven climbers die above 28,000’. 

posted on Thursday, June 01, 2006 3:28:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, May 12, 2005

Today at 2 p.m. Nepal time, Ed Viesturs, reached the summit of Annapurna. He has failed in the past, but by getting here he has become the first American to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks (and all without oxygen, having been there I know how hard that is!). In a call from the summit, Ed said that it's "one of the happiest days of my life, one of the hardest days of my life."

Congratulations Ed!

posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 3:59:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [104] Trackback
# Thursday, August 19, 2004

My favorite city, Kathmandu is under a blockade by the Maoists rebels. This is a problem, the rebels have been targeting Kathmandu more and more in recent months (starting with the General Strike and such when I was there a year ago). A few days ago a hotel I stayed in in 2002 had 5 bombs go off in it. This is going to kill tourism to the South Col Route to Everest and force climbers to attempt Everest via the China side.

posted on Thursday, August 19, 2004 10:25:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Saturday, August 14, 2004

A year ago today was the blackout. Like most New Yorkers I can’t believe it was an entire year ago. For me personally the blackout was a turning point, a chain of events were set off for a truly amazing, unexpected and strange year that took me to Mt. Everest, Mt. McKinley (Denali) , Mt. Rainer, India, Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia rainforests, the bars of Bangkok, Hawaii, London, Paris, Amsterdam and so much more.

 

Looking back on a year you think about what matters most, what you learned, mistakes you made, etc. I learned a very important thing last year on Mt. Everest. Inner peace. After more than a month away from home, (a week in Malaysia and 4 weeks in Nepal), I had achieved inner peace in that bar in Lulka. It may have had something to do with the dirt cheap happy hour drinks, the bartender playing No Woman No Cry four times in a row for me, but it was more than that. I had time to reflect on life, the universe and everything. I found that nothing is more sacred than finding inner peace. You just can’t get it working 9-5 in a cube and worrying about picking up your dry cleaning and rushing to the downtown 6 train. Around Christmas time last year I contemplated moving to Lulka and buying that bar and making a living there. (Don’t underestimate my desire to get back there, one day this blog may be hosted in Nepal.)

 

Short of moving to Lulka or Goa, India, once a year I plan to find that inner peace somewhere, it doesn’t necessary have to be on a mountain, but that is a good place to start.

 

So this next year brings some crazy things. I get ready to travel back to Tech*ED Malaysia in KL with stops in Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Then off to Kilimanjaro in October and Antarctica in February. Somewhere, whether it is the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh or the highest point in Africa, I will find that inner peace somewhere. I just hope that all of you can try to do the same at your time and location. Don’t lose the desire to keep looking for it.

posted on Saturday, August 14, 2004 1:42:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Friday, February 06, 2004

You Have Photos

 

Last year I took about 4 gigs of photos around the world. I choose to post a select few and have put them on line yesterday (Finally!)

 

A few trips have already been up, you can get all the photos here.

 

The trip to Tunisia for the NDC 2003 in June was a lot of fun.  Beach, conference, Carthage, Tunis and lots of smoking J.

 

The next week I was speaking at TechED in Barcelona.

 

In August I scaled Mt. Rainer with Kevin and Joel.

 

In last August I spoke at TechEdD in Kuala Lumpur, before heading to Mt. Everest and India.

 

This year I promise to get my photos online faster.  Last week I spoke at the MDC in Egypt. Some photos are here.

posted on Friday, February 06, 2004 2:11:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback
# Saturday, November 22, 2003

Leila Called Today

 

It was 11:46am and I was riding my bike against traffic down E89th Street after an exhausting training ride in Central Park and the cell phone rings with a strange caller ID. I stop my bike to the oncoming traffic on Lexington Avenue and answer it. It was Leila, Wally Berg’s wife and our base camp manager on the Everest trip. When you travel to Everest with someone, you have a lifelong bond that can’t be broken, and the minute I heard her voice it brought me back to the mountain. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Also the calmness and tranquility of life all came back.

She filled me in on the fact that while they did not bag the summit, the team did have a successful summit of the South Summit (the second highest peak in the world) and assured me that a good time was had by all despite Mother Nature getting in the way. She also said that the sherpas were STILL singing the songs I taught them and saying the sayings that I taught them-a part of me is still in Nepal and that makes me feel special since a part of Nepal is definitely still in me. She was calling to tell me that they found a new blue hat to send me (one that I whined all trip for that I wanted) and took down my new address to send it to me.

 

While it is impractical, everyone should go to Everest, or at least their own personal Everest.

 

posted on Saturday, November 22, 2003 8:15:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Two Chix and a Skillet

 

This weekend my good friends, Ned and Laura Gardner made it to the top of Katterskill High Peak (along with 5 of their closest friends). This was their 35th peak and 39th climb to gain entry to the Catskill 3500 Club. I did the honors and opened the Champagne at 3600’ and we had celebrated in the ice and snow. I personally have 12 more climbs before I can gain entry into the club, so we did two more peaks on Sunday, only after we had “Breakfast Grub” at Two Chix and a Skillet.

posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2003 9:59:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback
# Thursday, October 16, 2003

Email From Maegan This Morning

They are going for the summit next Tuesday (10/20) or Wednesday (10/22). Everyone asks me "I thought you can only summit Everest in May." It is still possible to do it after May in the fall. Here are the stats, odds are against my team, but I know that they can do it! Out of 1924 successful summits on Everest, only 279 (18%) has actually occurred in the fall. Out of those 279, only 17 happened after October 20. The majority of the fall summits happened 1953-1993. Those years had 608 summits out of which 232 (38%) were made in autumn! Strange. From 1994 to 2003 however, there has been an explosion of 1320 summits - but a mere 47 (3.6%) in the fall.

So if she is going to summit and ski down, she will just have to forget the odds and go for it. Good luck and remember to come back-please.

 

posted on Thursday, October 16, 2003 7:27:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [16] Trackback
# Monday, October 06, 2003

 

The Buddhists say that the Earth has a song and that to hear it, you have to go to the Himalayas, away from the noise and commotion of the busy world. They also say that once you hear it, you don’t want to stop hearing it. Well, I heard it and want nothing more to hear it again and again.

 

While I was on my trek, I learned a few lesions from the simple life of the Khumbu Valley and the power of nature on the mountain. Here they are with some commentary following:

 

  1. Live your dreams
  2. Just do it
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Be thankful of what you have/make the most of what you have
  5. Its not about you

 

  1. Live your dreams. The first lesson that I learned was to live your dreams the best you could. I have wanted to go to Mt. Everest since I was 7 years old. I have finally did and when I got there a little voice in my head said “What were you waiting for?” Life is too short, live your dreams. No excuses, make it happen.
  2. Just do it. Damn those Nike people are smart. There were a few scary things on this trek. The first time I saw the Khumbu glacier, it looked very intimidating. A friend told me, “Just do it.” Just have no fears and inhibitions and face your fears and challenges head on. Once again, life is just way too short.
  3. Keep it Simple. When I was trekking in the Khumbu valley there were no cars, roads, phones, etc. I now fully appreciate the term “dirt poor.” The day of the week doesn’t matter much to these people. For the first time in my life I went days not knowing what day of the week it was or the day of the month. The folks in the valley are so poor, yet so happy. But you can see the look of joy on the kids faces living a hard but uncomplicated life. I noticed if you keep life as simple as possible, your life will be good.
  4. Be thankful of what you have. It is impossible to come to Khumbu and not pick up this concept, Once again the people are poor, yet they make do and are very happy. They make the most of what they have, don’t complain and live great lives. It may take 2 hours to cook the evening family meal, but it is a social event just preparing it and the family and friends bond while preparing and eating.
  5. Its not about you. This is the most important lesson you can learn from coming here. There is a whole universe out there, don’t spend too much time thinking about yourself and your needs. In the Khumbu there is an overwhelming sense of community (to the point that I still feel it here in New York). In the west we live in such a materialistic and selfish society, take it down a notch and see what you can give to the community at large.

 

posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 12:28:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Monday, September 29, 2003

 

 

Ok, now that I am home here is the report since I was not able to blog each day.

 

First let me give you the skinny of the plan. The plan was as follows: my buddy Kevin Collins (SQL Server Mobile Edition PM) and I were planning to trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Most trekkers hike for 2 weeks and then touch their toe at Base Camp and turn back. Kevin and I wanted to spend some serious time at Base Camp. The problem is that nobody is allowed to camp at Base Camp unless you have a climbing permit and the Nepal government charges $60,000 US for one. Kevin and I are not rich, so what we did was hook up with an Expedition that was going to the summit (they should summit in the middle of October.) So we left the US knowing that we would have a unique experience of being on a real summit expedition and then sleeping two nights at base camp. The expedition was lead by the climbing superstar Wally Berg (4 summits under his belt) and has 4 other clients (including a woman who is going to ski down and be the fist woman to so.) Here is the full story of our three weeks in Nepal (photos up soon, so check this page again in about a week):

 

 

Day 1. “The Talk”

We arrived in Kathmandu and got the talk about the expedition from Wally. Was so cool to hear about his summit plans and how it all works. Being my second time to Nepal, it was nice to come here with a Visa already in my passport this time (note to people who are coming here in the future, get your Visa in advance, trust me!).

 

Day 2. “Burning Dead Bodies”

Today was a rest day and day for others to arrive in Kathmandu, so we spent the time sightseeing Kathmandu. We visited a few sacred Buddhist sights and a Hindu death ritual cremation sight.


Day 3. “Start Walking”

Today we flew a twin otter 15 seat plane to the town of Lulka (9,000’) to begin our trek. The flight was cool and most of the empty seats were filled with our gear and lots of climbing equipment that was going by Yak straight to Base Camp. The airport at Lulka is from the twilight zone since the runway was short and faced totally uphill at about a 75 degree angle, so landing was an experience. From here we begin the trek to Base Camp that is over 60 miles and almost 10,000’ elevation gain away. From Lulka on there are no roads, TVs, phones (land lines, Sat phone only), machinery (all human or animal power) and a very simple way of life in the Khumbu Valley. Some towns have no running water and all supplies are carried by human or yak power.

We trekked for about 3 hours down to the town of Phakding (9,500’) over beautiful waterfalls and mountain views.

 

Day 4. “Running with Sherpas”

Today we trekked from Phakding (9.500’) to the major town (maybe 100 buildings) of Namche Bazar (11,500’). Since I was feeling in such good shape I went ahead with two sherpas (Our Sirdar and Camp II Cook) and a climber. They travel very fast, but at this elevation I am not worried about getting sick. Our Sirdar wanted to hear all about New York. We trekked fast and cleared Namche hill very fast and got to Namche very early and spent time in a tea house cleaning up, doing laundry and took a shower!

 

Day 5. “Glacier Melt”

Today was a rest day for acclimation to the altitude. It was spent trying to use the internet over a Sat phone (a very painful experience), hiking up the hill to see our first glance of Mt. Everest and eating “Glacier Melts” in the Khumbu Lodge. (A glacier melt is a deep fried Mars bar.)

 

Day 6. “Sherpa Home”

Today we hiked from Namche to Pangboche (12,700’) and stayed at our Sirdar’s home. Once again I am ahead with the sherpas and faster climbers, but while I got to the destination early, I was pooped, so decided to stick with the main group from this elevation on.

 

Day 7. “Blessing by a Lama”

Today we were blessed by a Lama at the Pangboche Monastery in a delightful ceremony. It was so unique since he blessed the climbing team for their climb and we got to witness that part too. Maegan who is skiing down the mountain had a very moving experience when the Lama spoke directly to her-which affected us all.

We then trekked on to Pheriche (14,000’) over some great hills with views of all of the Himalaya. From the next 8 days or so, I spend over 14,000’, higher than almost anything in the Continental United States.

 

Day 8. “Please don’t Hypnotize me to have Sex with Yaks”

An overnight rest day for acclimation so pretty much dominated by some Frisbee games and a hypnosis session led by the climber David Burger. I was joking that can he hypnotize me to spend less time thinking about the opposite sex and someone suggested that I get hypnosis to start liking Yaks. (Sorry Dennis, I still like girls.) We start to test our Oxygen levels in our blood, I come in at about 86%, which is great for 14,000’ but would put me in the Intensive Care Unit at Sea Level. My body is doing great with the altitude.

 

Day 9. “Too Many Deaths”

For every 6 people who summit Everest, 1 dies. Today we visited on the trail from Pheriche to Loboche (16,000) a memorial site for those who died on Mt. Everest. If you read “Into Thin Air”, Scott Fisher’s memorial was quite prominent, he was popular with the Sherpas who made this memorial-and was also Wally’s best friend, so it was a solemn visit. I spend about two hours trekking alone before Kevin catches up with me and all I could hear is the river and my footsteps, I used this time to contemplate life.

Today we also meet Magi on the trail, a random trekker from the United Kingdom who has been traveling around the world for a year.

 

Day 10. “Just What is Spotted Dick?”

Today we trekked to Gorak Shep (16,800’) to stage our assault on climbing the peak of Kala Pattar (18,700’) the next day and then trekking to Everest Base Camp (17,400). We discover a dessert for sale called “Spotted Dick” and Wally asks “Just what is Spotted Dick” which Magi replies that it is a traditional English dessert. Since it is freeze dried, Gary bought some for us to have at Base Camp. Gorak Shep is not really a town, but just two lodges on the side of a river.

 

Day 11. “Game Day”

Today we woke at 4am and started the climb up Kala Pattar at 18,700’ (but my altimeter said only 18,300’). It was a very hard climb, just about a technical climb for the last 100’ or so with 3,000’ drops into Tibet if you slip. We had to crawl over rocks and ice and snow to get to the top. We watched the sunrise and had a spectacular paranoiac view of the entire range. Saw Everest and Base Camp, the Khumbu Icefall, Pumori and Nuptse and most of the other 8000 meter peaks. This was one of the most amazing sights in my life.

We spent the rest of the day trekking over the Khumbu Glacier to Base Camp (17,400’).  The views of the rest of the glacier were amazing, rocks and ice just falling into glacial lakes. It was very slippery to trek over, so it took well over 4 hours. We spent some time viewing the remains of the helicopter that crashed in May 2003, I stole a piece of the debris for a momento. Upon arrival at Base Camp Kevin’s and my tent was on top of a ice and rock pile at the foot dangerous Khumbu Icefall. We got to sleep at night with the constant sound of the glacier moving and constant avalanches (they occur every 20 minutes or so.) What a sound show.

 

Day 12. “Puja Day at Base Camp”

What a day. We spend the day at Base Camp and witness a Sherpa Buddhist Puja to bless the Icefall and climbers. A totally unique experience, the Sherpas will not begin the climb until the Puja is completed. A Puja is a Buddhist religious ceremony. The monk chants paryers while we throw flower and rice and reflect. We all get prayer strings blessed by the Dali Lama.

It gets so hot that Kevin sneaks a photo of me walking around Base Camp shirtless trying to get a tan (which resulted in a massive sunburn). My body is feeling great that I did not realize I was spending the entire day at over 17,400’ on top of a glacier and at the foot of the largest icefall in the world.

Since we were the only climbing permit, we not only have base camp to ourselves, but all of our Sherpas are the cream of the crop. It was so educational and moving to talk to them and learn about the 1996 tragedy first hand (many were there).

Gary, Maegan, Grant, Ama Timber, the dog and I eat the spotted dick after supper.

 

Day 13. “Snowball Fight at the Top of the World”

Today we wake up to 6+ inches of snow at camp and have a snowball fight with the sherpas. Too bad, but we do have to leave Base Camp today, after 3 days and two nights there. We trek 6 hours through the snowstorm and over the icy glacier all the way back to Loboche (16,800’). I got very friendly with the climbers and it was hard to say goodbye. I lent my gloves to David and he is going to wear them on summit day and Meagan scored my down jacket to leave at Camp II.

 

Day 14. “I need a new Sherpa”

Today we trek down from Lobache back to our Pangboche (12,700’) and I was feeling so good that I decided to race my sherpa a few times at 15,000’ without packs and WON. Kevin and I were so strong that Nima our Sherpa was worn out (we have photos to prove this.) The air is still feeling very thick.

 

Day 15. “Hillary School

Today we trek down to Kumjum (12,500’) and visit the Hillary School and take lots of photos with little kids. Today it hits me why I came here in the first place, seeing these kids with nothing, but just so damn happy.

 

Day 16. “Back to Namche”

Today we walk down to Namche Bazar and rest at 11,500’. Do some shopping for prayer flags and other fun stuff. I made an attempt to check my email on the sat phone computer and it was bad, very bad.

 

Day 17. “Back to Lulka”

Today we did a long haul all the way back to Lulka. It starts to pour but the return to Lulka was glorious, all the porters were with me and singing “Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.”

 

Day 18. “Waiting for the Fog”

Totally fogged in at Lulka, no flights allowed in our out. The military has a curfew of 6:30pm due to the Maoists rebels and walks around with machine guns pointed at you. We comply with the curfew.

 

Day 19. “No Woman No Cry”

More damn fog. I am starting to lose it until we discover happy hour at the one local bar that also has a pool table and a bartender who will do anything I say (including playing Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” 4 times in a row). I beat Dennis at 9-ball and also get incredibly drunk. I also get Mihn Sherpa very drunk, hard drinks were 2 for 1 and about $2-so $1 shots basically-you do the math. Getting super drunk at about 10,000’ is fun.

 

Day 20. “Back to Kathmandu-More dangerous than Everest”

We finally make it back to Kathmandu on the only flight in and out of Lulka for the last 3 days. They also close the airport just after we leave, so we are so lucky. Get to see the first road and car, etc in Kathamndu, however there is a Maoist revolt in Kathmandu and yet another curfew, men with machine guns, etc. This time there are battles with the good guys and bad guys and stuff gets blown up and power constantly goes out. No cars on the streets. Our van that picks us up hides their liscence plates (so the Maoists won’t know who they are) and spray paints “Tourists” on the car, not sure if this makes us a target of snipers or not. We survive and fly off to Delhi the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

posted on Monday, September 29, 2003 3:37:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [9] Trackback
# Sunday, September 21, 2003

Well the Maoists and 3-day general strike is over but it left Kathmandu a mess. At least two bombs went off yesterday and power was lost several times. The Army was all around the city all day today. Garbage and such is everywhere.

Well the trek to Everest was not as dangerous as the Maoists in Kathmandu, except for a sivere sunburn and about 22 pound weight loss I am fine. No altitude sickness (only went under 19,000') and no "runs" or anything like that. I did accidentally delete all the messages in my inbox, so I have no idea who sent me email when I was away. Oh well, ORCSweb Team to the rescue (Like always)!

Off to India, more on the trip soon!

posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 5:43:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [24] Trackback
# Saturday, September 20, 2003

After 21 days of hiking in the fresh air without hearing any automobiles or seeing any paved roads, phones, electricity and all work was done by human power or animal power, it was kind of strange getting back to the busy city of Kathmandu today to witness a 3-day general strike. 2.2 million people live here but a general strike because of the Maoist rebellion has reduced the city to a standstill, no cars, and sometimes even no power.

Soon I will be reunited with my laptop and have a high-speed connection in India, move news to come...

posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:12:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback
# Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Snowball Fight at the Top of the World (17,400')

We all made it and are feeling great. Summited Kala Patar at 18, 500' and went to Base Camp (17,400'). Spent three days and two nights at Everest Base Camp. Before we left, out last morning we had 6 inches of new snow and the sherpas (16 of them!) attacked us in a snowball fight, it was not pretty.

Internet sucks, so more detals later in the week...

posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 5:50:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Friday, September 05, 2003

Rest day at Namche Bizarre (11,500')

We arrived yesterday at the sherpa village of Namche Bizarre and today is a rest day to deal with the altitude. Civilization, sort of, shower, internet (dial up speeds) and a warm bed to rest up for the push to base camp. Tomorrow we head to higher elevations well over 12,500' and eventually to 19,000' over the glaicer down to Base Camp (17,500') next week.

We did an early morning stroll to the outskirts of town to see the spactular mountaion views (photos to come when I get home) and got the first glimpse of Everest today, what a sight. We are still about 5 or 6 days out, depending on how strong we all are.

Wally got the permit to summit (at $60,000 US) for the climbers, so they are very excited it is a very special time, since we are the only expidition on the mountian with a summit permit. Since Wally has a permit, Kevin and I get to spend some significant time at Base Camp and witness the Sherpa Puja at the icefall on September 12th.

 

posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 5:01:24 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Dinner at Rum Doodle (4,500')

So many Everest summit trips have a farewell dinner at the Rum Doodle the night they leave Kathmandu and we are no different. A great night was had by all and we leave tomorrow to start our trek. I am all packed and ready to deal with the altitude, etc. Wish me luck!

posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 3:31:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, September 01, 2003

 Staging in Kathmandu (4,500')

Wally met with us today for the “talk” about the ins and outs of the expedition. Also met the climbing sidar Sherpa today, a very impressive man who has summitted 4 times. We fly to Lukla Wednesday to start the trek. We will be arriving at Mt. Everest Base Camp on September 11th, a strange day to make it there. A Buddhist ceremony early in the morning on the 12 marks the official beginning of the ascent for the rest of the team. Kevin and I will be spending at least 2 nights at Base Camp helping the expedition get settled in.

Here are the climbers bios:

Wally Berg, Canmore, Alberta

A four-time Everest summitter, Wally Berg is BAI’s founding director and head guide. His achievements in planning, organizing and guiding successful mountaineering expeditions have established him as one of the world’s foremost expedition leaders.

David Burger, Boulder, Colorado

David Burger has guided throughout the world for decades and has climbed to above 6,000m more than 50 times. In 2002, he was part of the successful BAI guiding team on Ama Dablam. When he is not guiding, David is an executive coach and senior team builder.

Maegan Carney, Seattle, Washington

 Two-time World Freeride/Extreme Skiing Champion Maegan Carney aims to be the first American and first woman to complete a ski descent of Mt. Everest. Now making her home in Chamonix, France, her passion is for climbing peaks and skiing obscure, steep couloirs. In 2002, Carney made the first descent of 24,000-foot Cholatse Peak in Nepal.

Brad Johnson, Ridgway, Colorado

Brad Johnson has climbed 25 peaks between 17,000ft. and 27,000ft. high via 30 different routes and summitted Cho Oyu in 1999. He has participated in two expeditions to Makalu and K2. With over 20 years experience as a climbing and trekking guide, Brad spends much of each year leading mountaineering expeditions in Peru.

Garry Porter, Olalla, Washington

Since retiring from Boeing, Garry Porter has dedicated much of his life to mountaineering – and being a grandfather of four! He has reached the summit of Aconcagua, Denali, Cotopaxi, Island Peak, Huayna Potosi, Illimani and Ama Dablam with BAI in 2002.

posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 3:02:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [9] Trackback

To The Summit and Safe Return

 

Train Harder. Climb Longer.

 

After more than 8 months of preparation, Kevin and I are in Kathmandu to begin our trek to Mt. Everest. We are waiting for the other 5 trekkers and 4 climbers. (who are going to the top!)

 

To all of my friends and family reading this, you know me well, I will be safe. Thanks for your support. And Dad, one day I will return to this mountain with you.

 

 

 

posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 1:28:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [11] Trackback
# Sunday, August 31, 2003

Bangkok Day 2

After sleeping in I got up and got a haircut for about $0.30 and did my laundry that piled up while in KL.

Spent the day seeing the sights I have not seen before, spent a lot of time in the National Museum. Waiting for Kevin Collins to arrive in from Tokyo tonight then one more night of fun before we head to Kathmandu tomorrow!

posted on Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:01:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [17] Trackback
# Saturday, August 30, 2003

I ain't goin' out like no punk-bitch

 

It seems that in KL they really like House of Pain’s Jump Around and the DJ at one club last night mixed it in with Kriss Kross’ Jump for an insane party. Add that to the almost local Panjabi, of course mixed with Jay-z. After an epic night of partying in KL with fellow speaker Chris Featherstone, it was time to say goodbye to KL.

 

So I have arrived in Bangkok and have to move from speaking/working mode to R&R mode for the weekend before moving into trekking to Everest mode on Monday. Bangkok is one of those places that I just seem addicted to and have to visit if I am in the region (Paris is another). Fun, cheap, and very friendly, Bangkok has lots to offer everyone including many Royal and Buddhist sights, awesome shopping (can you say custom clothing) and of course the wild and crazy nightlife. Now my third time to Bangkok in the last year and a half, I already know the cool places to party down at Pat Pung, so if any of you are down at Lucifers’ tonight or tomorrow, come dance with me to Indian Hip-Hop and a little old school Irish Rap (they like House of Pain here too)... And Tom, I am wearing my purple shirt that you hate so much…

posted on Saturday, August 30, 2003 10:40:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [9] Trackback
# Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Big E

So many people have asked many different types of questions about my trek up Mt. Everest (starting after TechEd on August 30th) that I decided to do a brain dump here. Ken Getz's sister asked two important questions here:

* How do people go to the bathroom when tied down to sleep on the mountain?

* How do people cook stuff up there? Like how do they boil water for coffee? Is there like a platform to cook on?

 

My answer:

Well you are not actually tied down, the tent is “tied in” to an anchor so if there is an avalanche or massive wind, the tent doesn’t blow away. So here are the options: 

  1. There is the notion of a “pee bottle”, I can leave it at that. J
  2. If you have to do the other, you can just go outside and risk it, but if the wind is strong and there is a really high grade of steepness, you can put on your harness and rope on in to an anchor.  

Cooking is always a challenge at high elevation. At the lower elevations you use portable camping propane stoves that porters or sherpas carry. At higher elevations, it gets really hard to cook with propane over 18,000 feet (the magic elevation for a lot of reasons since at 18,000 there is exactly ½ the oxygen in the air then at sea level. This is why most major base camps for major mountains are at  <18, 000, Everest is at 17,600 for example.)  So you don’t cook much over 18,000 feet, but at the same time you also don’t spend that much time at that elevation, you really use base camp as a “base” not because it is on the base of the mountain. You eat a lot of packaged foods and energy bars. Usually for coffee/tea at higher elevations, you use a thermos. We have some thermoses that can keep coffee/tea hot for 24 hours. 

I bet you also want to know how to shower and clean our clothes. Clothes are simple, we boil water and then when it cools wash our clothes in a bowl each night and hang it do dry, we wear the “quick dry” athletic gear so it dries overnight. Showers just don’t happen, so we wash also with those bowls and at lower elevations set up a little “wash area” like in the military and shower under a watering can type of thing.  

What is funny is that a lot of people walk around base camps in their underwear and flip flops during the day-because they are doing laundry, I know I always do. If you hike fast and get there in the afternoon, it is warm and your clothes are sweaty. If you want to sleep in clean clothes (no time for laundry in the AM before hike), you have to wash in the afternoon and hang all afternoon. So a lot of people wash everything they have dirty, including the clothes on their back.

Also, Kevin and I are going with Wally Berg, super famous Everest dude (see his world famous NatGeo photos here. He is also getting married on the trek at Namche Bizarre, look for my photos and bolog entries after the trek.) Wally has summited about 6 or 7 times and was the guy who took the GPS up in 1989 and they reevaluated Everest's height based on his readings. Wally's recomedation gear list besides the ice axes and crampons type stuff for us to bring are:

FOOTWEAR 

 

q       Running Shoes  - for travel & easy walking

q       Hiking Boots - leather with sturdy mid-sole and a vibram sole. ½ or ¾ shank, boots should be warm and fit well over light and heavy sock combination.  Fit is much more important than brand.  Take time to select a pair that fits, and break them in well. (Asolo, Merrill, Scarpa Delta M-3, Sportiva TRK)

q       Gaiters – Short, simple gaiters are best (Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low) Gore-Tex gaitors are not necessary.

q       Sport Sandals – Excellent in camp during evenings when worn over wool socks, Perfect for living in tea shops, Sherpa lodges and for visiting monasteries.  (Teva)

q       Down or synthetic camp booties - optional luxury, any brand with thick foam soles

q       Lightweight Socks - 3 pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Bridgedale, Patagonia, Wigwam, Fox River)

q       Heavy Socks - 3 pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Smartwool, Bridgedale, Wigwam, Fox River)

 

CLOTHING 

 

q       Lightweight Pants - 2 pair (any brand Supplex or “stretch woven” pants).

q       Lightweight Long Underwear Top  - (Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op)

q       Midweight Long Underwear Top - Zip T- neck design is good. Light colors are better for tops because they are cooler when hiking in direct sunlight and just as warm as dark colors when worn underneath other layers.  (Patagonia Capilene, North Face, Mountain Hardware). 

q       Lightweight Long Underwear Bottom  - dark colors are preferable. Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op.

q       Midweight Underwear Bottom - dark colors are preferable because they do not show dirt (Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op). 

q       Briefs - 4 pairs synthetic or cotton.  Running shorts also work well for underwear.

q       Short-Sleeved Shirts - 2 synthetic; most nylon running shirts or athletic shirts work.  (North Face Tek Ware, Patagonia Tech Dri, or any brand of PowerDry).

q       Fleece Pullover or Full Zip Jacket-  (Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, ArcTeryx).

q       Fleece Pants -  Polartec 100 or 200  A good alternative for fuzzy fleece for this layer is Mountain Hardware Chugach Pants.  (Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, ArcTeryx). 

q       Down Insulated Jacket - Medium Weight, Hood Recommended. (Marmot, North Face, Mountain Hardwear).

q       Waterproof/Breathable Jacket & Pants - jacket must have hood, pants must have full-length side zips (ArcTeryx, Marmot, Mountain Equipment Co-op).

 

 HEAD & HAND GEAR

 

q       Liner Gloves—Lightweight Synthetic (Patagonia Capilene or any brand of PowerStretch).

q       Windstopper Fleece Gloves – (any brand of Windstopper fleece).

q       Mittens w/ pile liners - Outdoor Research

q       Bandanna -Traditional Cotton, 2 or 3.  Very important item, large size is best.

q       Sun Hat - any lightweight hat with a good brim or visor

q       Wool or Fleece Hat - any brand of warm hat that can go over ears

q       Balaclava – Should fit underneath your wool or fleece hat or be thick enough to be worn alone. 

 

 ACCESSORIES 

 

q       Sunglasses -1 pair High quality 100% UV 100%IR.  For general use, travel and lower elevations

q       Glacier Glasses - 1 pair High quality 100% UV 100%IR min 80% light reduction, side shields are optional, but size and shape of lens should offer maximum protection from bright light on snow.

q       Headlamp w/ spare bulb - AA or AAA battery powered (Petzl or Black Diamond)

q       Spare Batteries – bring plenty for reading in tents at night

 

 CAMPING GEAR 

 

q       Backpack - 2500 cubic inches or more, internal frame. Top opening mountaineer’s rucksack style is best.  Avoid large zipper openings and excessive outside pockets.  Larger packs are better than smaller, because they are easier to pack with cold hands and they distribute loads more effectively. ( Dana, Arc’Teryx,  Gregory)   

q       Sleeping Bag – 0 to negative 10 degree Down 700 fill minimum (Marmot, Mtn Hardwear, Moonstone)

q       Water Bottles - two 1 quart, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles) 

q       Pee Bottle – Optional. One 1 quart, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles)

q       Pee Funnel for Women Optional (Freshette)

q       Pack Towel - Small or Medium size (PackTowl).  Do not bring “terrycloth”, Bandanas work in a pinch

q       Trekking Poles – Recommended. Useful for going up and down trails of the Khumbu.  (Leki 3-section)

q       Swiss Army Knife - Remember not to leave in carry on bags for any international or domestic flight

 

 MEDICAL & PERSONAL

  

q       Sunscreen - SPF 30 or higher, non-oily (Dermatone or Terrapin)

q       LipscreenSPF 30 or higher, any brand

q       Toiletry Kit—t.brush, t.paste, lotion, alcohol-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial soap, comb/brush, shave kit, lighter, small long-burning candle, needle/thread, throat lozenges (bring travel size bottles to keep you kit small)

q       First Aid Kit - ibuprofen/aspirin, assorted band-aids, moleskin, little of hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin-type suave, Nu-skin spray, small gauze pad, roll of adhesive tape, tweezers, safety pins, small bottle of water purification tablets. Include any prescription travel meds that might be prescribed by your doctor. (Antibiotics, diamox, malaria meds, sleep aids)

q       Large Trash Compactor Bags For waterproofing some items inside your duffel.

q       Zip-loc bags  - always useful

q       Baby wipes

q       Earplugs  - Very useful for sleeping in tent and lodges. Available in most hardware stores.

  

TRAVEL ITEMS

  

q       Expedition Duffel Bag – Important.  Large one with strong zippers.  Wild Things “Burro Bag” North Face, Eagle Creek, Patagonia Black Hole.

q       Small Travel Bag – or second duffel bag.  For storing travel clothes and personal items at the Hotel in Kathmandu

q       Nylon Stuff Sacks – 2 or 3, for organizing, light colors preferable for labeling

q       Clothes for Kathmandu and International Travel 2 –3 three changes depending Comfortable simple travel clothes.  Evening in Kathmandu can be slightly cool in autumn and spring.  Bangkok is very hot.

q       Work-out clothes and/or bathing suit simple and versatile, for hotels

q       Passport Belt/Pouch

q       Small Padlocks - for locking duffel bag(s)

q       Book(s)

q       Journal

q       Camera

q       Film Be sure to keep in your carry on luggage, in clear zip- lock bags so that it can be inspected.

 

 

posted on Sunday, August 17, 2003 3:45:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback