Friday, April 25, 2014

Mt. Everest 2014 South Side Basically Over

Well, that’s it. There is a Russian team left, because the mountain is officially open, and Russians have a reputation to uphold. Everyone else, all the major guided teams are out. Why? The short answer is the physical safety of everyone going above base camp can not be assured because of threats from a small number of local high altitude workers. The long answer is more complicated and I don’t have the energy to share it now.

Saturday we trek out. We are going out over Mera Peak, which apparently is like 6380 meters, or around 21,000 feet. I’ll be honest, I don’t really care how high it is. It’s depressing, I came here to see how high I could walk and breathe or climb and breathe and now we are trekking out over a little mountain, that while tall, is something like 8,000 feet shy of the top of Chomolungma. I think it will take around 7-10 days to get to Lukla (five would be better) and then we fly out depending on the weather. 

What’s next? Well, I will change my flights to leave Nepal almost six weeks early. Then I plan to stop by Pune, India to meet some friends and coworkers in person for one or two days, then back to Chicago. However, It was a fair amount of work getting more than two months off from work, and I am very acclimated, so I’m going to go climb something else. I'm still in a state of disbelief that I came all the way here, I have been to 18,500 feet twice, I am healthy and I have only worn my crampons for two hours of practice on the glacier beside our   base camp.

My first choice is Aconcagua in Argentina, it’s not the right season, it’s fall down there and wind is an issue, but I would like to talk to a few of my resources to see if a solo on the normal route is possible this time of year. I’m really strong right now, all I need is like two days of good weather. I’m also open to Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia climbing because I speak Spanish and I’ve just never been down to those mountains. 

Second choice is Europe, specifically, Chamonix. Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Eiger, who knows what else. The issue is that those mountains are low enough that being acclimated won’t help as much as being in great technical shape, and I’m not in the best steep technical shape right now. Plus, Europe has never really thrilled me as the place to go alone, I mean, it seems romantic to me.

Either way I will still end up back in the states by the end of May. This is depressing. I’ve been planning for years to come here. I am here, I’m fit, I’m healthy the weather has been mostly great, there was a tragedy and most of the high altitude workers demands were met, thanks in part to media pressure, yet there are more demands and then threats. Dawa Steven Sherpa, our expedition leader and owner of Asian Trekking has offered us a generous deal to come back in the next few years, but I really am not planning on coming back next year. The number of sacrifices I had to make to be here right now... I’m not coming back until this place is somewhat more organized than it is now. A small part of me says I don’t even want to come back. I don’t know. I’ve changed my mind many times before and I’ll change it again. Part of me says that Nepal is so concerned about this incident that next year will be flawless and only about climbing. I don't know. 

There is a lot more to say in the future, but my fingers are getting cold on the 3G rock. Until later friends, stay safe!

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