Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peak Freaks shake it off

Team Peak Freaks successfully completed Camp 3 rotation. A beautiful day!

Tonight Kevin Farebrother is alone at Camp 3 sleeping there without oxygen and reports a calm night, no wind and comfortable.

WHAT'S NEXT? The team will retreat down the valley for a much needed rest before its time for their summit push, their final steps to the summit push- they are ready.

THE ROUTE: The fixing has stopped for the time being to Camp 4 and the summit due high winds and more in the forecast.

Congratulations out to our team who exercised patience and good judgement in the path of the recent high drama.

Peak Freaks Sherpas were oblivious to the recent chaos, they were at EBC resting after carrying supplies for the route including a emergency rescue kit we've supplied for all expeditions at Camp 3. They were playing Texas-Hold'em with Tim at EBC.

Everything is going well here for Peak Freaks. See for yourself as the team shakes it off:


Over - Becky

Monday, April 29, 2013

Low moral at EBC

April 29, 2013

What has gone on up on the mountain yesterday has lowered moral here at EBC. Mountains have no place for egos, you see it time and time again, eventually a price is paid.

The short of the story is that three Western climbers from another organization disregarded the timing and efforts of the Sherpa fixing team who were appointed to place the ropes to Camp 3, they got in the way and conflict arose when both groups returned to C2. Marty and a couple other Western Mountain Guides helped to defuse the situation and no one was hurt.

A mediator was flown into EBC today by helicopter for a meeting, it ended with some hand shaking. The Sherpas continued with their work and the three foreigners involved cancelled their climb and have left the mountain.

I'm sure all the nitty gritty details will get revealed once the press starts doing interviews but this is all I have to say.

THE ROUTE: Was completed today today to Camp 3 and above to just above the yellow band. This is a location between Camp 3 and Camp 4. Big thank you's for that- we can get on with this climb.

OUR MOVE: Peak Freaks will move up to Camp 3, hang out, get used to the altitude, have lunch the retreat to Camp 2 for the night.

Kevin Farebrother who is attempting without oxygen will sleep at C3 tomorrow then go a bit higher, hang out there for the day before descending back to C2 and then joining everyone back in EBC day after tomorrow.

Over and out.... Tim


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Camp 3 tomorrow!

April 28, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT)

Tim checks in: The fixing of the route to C3 had a little set-back which has been sorted out so the fixing should be completed by tomorrow. While the Sherpa climbers are working on that Peak Freak members will continue to rest, wait and watch from Camp 2 and take a trip up to the lower Lhotse face for a close look.

April 30: Our team will all climb together to Camp 3, hand out for the day and retreat to C2 to sleep. Everyone except for Kevin Farebrother who will be attempting Everest this spring without oxygen, he'll be sleeping up there allowing his body time to adjust to the new gain in altitude gain.

Everything seems to moving along, pretty good weather, just a normal season with variables that pop up time to time. We must remember that nothing in mountaineering is absolute and especially here where there are so many people to share the experience with.

Over and out... Tim

Photo: Camp 2 after the storm

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Camp 2 -reached for second rotation

Team members are all checked in, the route fixing to C3 has ran into some more challenges so it will be delayed by another day.

Peak Freak members will just hang tight resting at Camp 2 till things gets sorted out.

Other than that, not much more to say, we wait, we watch and stay out of the way of our Sherpa teams that work hard for us.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Rope, politics, climbers and maps all part of the mix.

April 26, 2013' ROPE POLITICS... Tim and Karsang were making bets today, Tim saying the rope fixing  wouldn't get completed to C3 and Karsang saying it would. Karsung owes Tim 50 rupees. The Sherpas fixing the rope ran into a serac wall that needed to be negotiated, ran out of time and returned to Camp 2. It will be completed tomorrow.

There's quite a bit of politics and planning that go behind the scenes for the fixing of rope up the route from Camp 2 to the summit. Well before the climbing season begins key operators exchange a few emails to figure out, size and kind of rope and who can get the best price and delivery of it. One operator takes this on. Then one operator gets it to base camp.  
The second step is figuring out who will do the work to get it up and fixed on the mountain when it gets to base camp. This is sorted out at the leaders meetings. It's usually the key operators that will kick in with Sherpa power but they also try to get some of the private teams to help out.

The entire process is a team effort, everyone pitching in in some way. It's figured out how many Sherpas are needed between each camp to get the rope fixed. In this mix they'll need Sherpas to carry rope and oxygen for the fixing Sherpas that will be fixing the rope to the route to the summit. The most haggling is "who gets to fix the final summit rope". This of course gives the highest media coverage, this operator and Sherpas will get their names in lights as heroes of the day as they top out. It should not be forgotten about all the other Sherpa climbers and operators who pitched in to make the way for everyone to reach the summit.

Lee and Murad are sleeping peacefully at Camp 1 tonight and tomorrow will move up to Camp 2 and be joined there by the rest of the team.  Tim says it's a beautiful day again on Everest, sunny and warm. This kind of weather sure helps in lifting spirits. 

  Part of being married to a guide like Tim is being required to live with terrain maps as your decorative wall and ceiling paper throughout the house. It's not uncommon to find pins in our bed that fall from the ceiling, red ones for marking goals reached and green for those still on the bucket list. I've been getting spiked by quite a few green ones lately. I think I'm being told something.
When a guide sits down to paper and pencil to sketch out a map, you know something is on the burner. From my perspective this translates into a business plan, laying out all the stuff that needs done like logistics.
So if you’re wondering where I'm going with this, my thoughts today are being prompted by a news cast this last week in Canada when it was announced that Google Street View was mapping the inside of the Parliament Building in Ottawa to offer virtual tours. This turned my focus to check out the Google Street View shot that was recently taken at Everest Base Camp. A quick google search takes me to the shoot of the EBC moraine area that you can rotate around - that's it?...  I felt let down.
 Now if we could only incorporate Tim's map that he did last year for his action plan when the Lhotse face fell apart and things got a little rocky around camp.

To help glue everything together, the map was very helpful to coordinate much needed team communications, especially in light of the large number of teams who showed up, some didn't have radios, or didn't join operators meetings to get important information like radio frequencies for emergencies and so on, if they even had them at all. This map turned out to be a very useful tool never mind the social rewards he enjoyed while getting around and meeting everyone in the making of it. 

 Now just watch, "Google maps the streets of Everest Base Camp".. coming soon.  I understand that Tims map idea has been widely accepted by other leaders to continue with this in the future.

Have a good weekend..... Becky Rippel
Photo: 2012 Everest Base Camp team locations Map: Prepared by Tim Rippel

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Camp 3 a go, RMI vs Peak Freaks... we win!

April 25, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT) Camp 3 fixing ...starts tomorrow and expected to be completed around !5:00hrs if all goes well. 

Climbing to C3: Tomorrow Murad and Lee will head up to Camp 1, the next day the other members at base camp will meet them on the route heading up to Camp 2 where they'll spend one or two nights depending on wind and fixing completion to C3. 

Base Camp: The team is in high spirits today, right now we are the eve of the full moon tomorrow. It's incredibly beautiful, the mountains with all the new snow and torched up by moon, words can't describe it. Just wow!!

To add the fun today solo trekker Craig Falkenhagen from California who we've been following his progress up to base camp arrived in great shape today with Ngima Sherpa, Ang Nima's son. It's always fun to have someone new to talk to and get tales of the outside world that they bring with them. We are all sure enjoying each others enthusiasm for how things are working out and how much fun we are all having.  

I'd have to say my personal highlight today beside meeting Craig was the horseshoe tournament: 

RMI - Marker Tucker joined with Justin Merle from IMG  vs  Peak Freaks - Tim Rippel/Marty Schmidt...... and.......... wait for it........... WE WON!!!!!!

Back to the tent to get in on movie night with the team.
Over and out...Tim

Our all time favorite night photo taken by Peak Freak Everest summiteer Dominque Gilbert from Quebec in 2008 during the full moon at base camp. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

HAR.. Saying good-bye to Christof

April 24, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT) no... that's not a har har, we certainly aren't laughing. HAR is the short for High Altitude Retinal Hemorrhage, another one of those difficult effects of climbing at these elevations. Studies are starting to show that a good portion of mountaineers have this, some will know and some never will. 

When team mate Christof Deblauwe from Belgium returned to EBC he complained of seeing flashes and some yellow color on his return from Camp 2 yesterday. Tim took him over to EverestER immediately to have him checked out and it was determined he may have developed HARH. A re-check this morning the doctors confirm HARH and explained that he's in a situation that would only get worse and potentially cost him loss of vision if he were to continue climbing higher. Altitude sickness and effects is something that should not be taken lightly up here, being able to communicate your symptoms with your guides and team mates is very important as Christof did. 

Christof was evacuated this afternoon to a lower elevation and with weather on his side made it all the way back to Kathmandu today. His climb is over, he will be missed as part of our dynamic team in 2013. 

There's a good article about HARHs on the Base CampMD site: http://basecampmd.comexpguide.snowblind.shtml

Nice weather today, lots of resting, laundry detail... Tim frustrated with Ncell the 3G network here, wondering why it seemed to work fine last year and what's up with this season? I told him it's because somebody is probably watching NetFlix over closer to the tower....... I don't know, just a funny thought :)... cheered him up.

Over Becky

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

C2- complete- Camp 3 tentative schedule

April 23, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT)  HAPPY CLIMBERS BACK AT EBC.. The team enjoyed a beautiful day today for a down climb return to base camp after their successful two night acclimatization rotation at Camp 2.  We were complimented today by another expedition on our good weather reading the past few years, credit due Becky for that. :) 

CAMP 3 SCHEDULE and SUMMIT:  It looks like the route will be fixed up the Lhotse Face on or around April 29. This lines up perfectly with the position we are now in. Our team will rest here at base camp for three or four days then head back up and get on the route to gain acclimatization at (24500 ft / 7467m). Whether or not they will sleep here or not we be determined later on. We'll need to look at the big picture and where things sit when that time comes. 

After CAMP 3 is fixed the Sherpa climbers will move up to fix the route with rope to Camp 4 and then the summit. If all goes well the route the summit rope should be fixed starting anytime after May 1st to 6th. This is the typical time it's been fixed the past few years so we are on schedule and then if it's a typical season we will get hit with weather that will ground everyone for a bit. 

Good talking with the team tonight, good laughs.Proud of their movement up there. Everyone is doing well, we just need to keep Murad warm. Murad was with me on our Everest Training Climb - Triple Crown this past autumn. That's another reason why this is such a good tool for those who aspire to climb Everest to have, he had a good sleeping bag, but where he comes from he's not used to cold. Since we learned this in October I had his bag taken to Sonam and Norgay at Everest Hardwear to put extra feathers in it, he's still cold!!...... he won't be sleeping alone up on the mountain on this expedition, definitely needs a tent buddy. 

Over and out... Tim

Monday, April 22, 2013

Home in time for lunch...

April 23, 2013: 10:45hrs (NPT) Tim just checked in and the team is about 1.5 hrs from base camp. It's a gorgeous day and they are making good time between Camp 2 and base camp. The route is easy going as there are lot of climbers now deciding to move up the mountain for their rotations packing the trail in. Ang Karsang says "soups on - come on and get it".  It's all theirs, we're out of their way.   Over and out... Tim

CAMP 2 - All is good...

April 22, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT) CAMP 2- All is good.. our team got out to look at the Lhotse Face close up. Lots of snow built up on the lower mountain but not much at all on the Lhotse Face. We've been watching how things were going to develop up there and make a decision on the fixing of the route to Camp 3. It's pretty much decided now to not even bother with the route used up until last year, instead the the old original route that was established years ago we be fixed as we did last season. The wind keeps blowing the new snow off the Lhotse Face so this will be the safest option once again in an attempt to avoid potential rock fall hazards.
There was quite a bit of snow building today on the lower mountain, between Camp 2 and base camp. Several teams turned around and it's not snowing now and is predicted to give us a good window for travel back down tomorrow before the next storm. The snow was knee deep in some sections but with the other teams turning back they've nicely punched in the trail for us so it's looking good. 
Everyone is having a fabulous time up there.   Over and out.... Tim
April 21, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT) Camp 2- checked in. Team made it to Camp 2 in good time and have settled downPeak Freaks Camp 2 Mount Everest for the night after a good dinner. Tomorrow they will hike up to the Lhotse Face and have a close look, oxygenate and keep the legs moving. They'll sleep there again tomorrow night and then come back to base camp to rest till the route gets fixed with rope up the Lhoste Face. Once the route gets fixed the Sherpas will start hauling loads up to C3, tents, fuel, food, stoves, oxygen and more rope for fixing the rest of the mountain to the summit. 
After Camp 3 is established and stocked the last camp, Camp 4, often referred to as the South Col because of its position will be assembled. This is the most critical camp. This is a life saving camp near the death zone after a summit push, if you can make back to hear in bad shape chances are you will survive. You don't have this option of dropping down quickly to a safe heaven quickly when climbing on the North Side but then you don't have the ice-fall to deal with either. Both sides have their crux.
Base Camp: Meanwhile back at base camp all the leaders attended a memorial service for the resent deaths of Sherpas that have worked here for a very long time and who have made great sacrifices in making climbing Everest possible for everyone.  It was a very touching event put on by the SPCC, the environmental control services for parks. The leaders all left with envelopes for collecting donations for the passing of two senior ice-fall doctors who have been major contributors, Mingma Sherpa (49) the most recent who fell in a crevasse while working here on April 8th, and Ang Nima Sherpa (59) the oldest of the team who passed away in his home in Pangboche in January. It was a nicely orchestrated function. 
Over and out... Tim
Photo: Camp 2

April 21, 2013: 08:00hrs (NPT) Camp 2 here we come!  Change in plans, the snow quit around 22:00hrs last night and the team woke to sunny skies so they're going for it. They should be in Camp 2 in about 4 hours. 
Tim also reports that he's happy with what's being blanketed on the Lhotse Face and how it's bonding with the warmer temperatures that they're starting to enjoy. This is the perfect fix for what was a rocky route. A bit of wind took off more than we had hoped for but at least its some.
Over, Becky

April 20, 2013: White Out.... Team holding up at Camp 1 due to white out conditions making it too difficult to climb up to Camp 2 so the decision was made to hold tight for today and see what would come in the form of snow.  It snowed most of the day off and on and has built up enough to cause concern to climb higher to Camp 2 at this time. 
The weather reports are showing that the precipitation is going to hang around a while longer so the safe thing to do would be to return to base camp and wait it out and then let things settle before going any higher.
The good thing is they have tagged Camp 2 so our team is certainly in a good position to move when things improve. All part of climbing in big mountains, weather rules!
Over and out.. Becky

April 19, 2013: Good work team!  Good day!... Everyone made it to Camp 2, spent the day and are now sleeping back at Camp 1. Tomorrow they will go up and stay one or two nights and get used to life there. 
Camp 2 is our advanced base camp at an elevation of (19,900ft / 6492m). Here we have all the same facilities we have at base camp except for a shower, We have a dinning tent, sleeping tents and a toilet tent where human waste is collected in buckets and carried off the mountain and disposed of down the valley where it is able to break down, dry and be burned and in some is used in the fields. 
Our human waste is collected in biodegradable individual bags from C2 on up, we highly discourage human waste anywhere on the mountain and have been promoting this responsibility to other teams for years. They eventually got on board and tried all kinds of procedures to try and find something better but the biodegradable kitchen bags are the trick. No chemicals, no plastic to burn and proven to start to break down in less than 10 days. They can be bought at Walmart, a bag of 40 for $3.99.  Pretty simple...

Our Camp 2 kitchen crew will stay up here at this elevation throughout the expedition from here on out. They will keep the home fires burning making sure there is hot water and hot meals available for the team as they come and go. Some members will be climbing up high, while some passing through coming down at different times. This allows our members to have some flexibility in their movement on the mountain. Knowing there's back up oxygen, food and that there's someone home really helps up here.
What's next?  The team will move up to Camp 2 tomorrow and the plan is to sleep there for maybe two nights. Then they'll return to base camp and be ready for Camp 3.
  • EBC-  (17700ft / 5395m)
  • Camp 1 (19900ft / 6065m)
  • Camp 2 (21300ft / 6492m)
  • Camp 3 (24500 ft / 7467m)
  • Camp 4 (26000 ft / 7924m)
  • Summit (29028 ft / 8847m)
COMMUNICATIONS: The climbers are out of reach for satellite conversation back home or 3G for the next few days. We have radio communications between them and base camp during these times. Just a heads up to family at home that this is why you won't be hearing from anyone for a few days. No news is good news is the way it works here.  
Over and out... Becky
Photos: Route map of Everest South  - Team 2013 heading to Camp 1:  More photos uploaded on Tim Rippel's Facebook today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Leaders meet and Camp 1 reached.

April 18 2013:  CAMP 1 - Everyone made it in good form, just a couple headaches which is to be expected.

We have up there with Marty and Joshua and our Sherpa
guides: streak of lightening- Patrick, Tony, Murad, Lee, Christof, and Sean right behind Kevin who went up like a wolverine chasing a rodent- hence the nickname.

It's always good to see good speed when climbing in the ice-fall. The next rotation the slower ones will pick up speed, their time can sometimes be doubled once they are acclimatized fully and have more experience crossing the ladders and working the route and for some overcoming fear.

Leaders meet happened again today now that all leaders are here. Today it was decided among the teams how many Sherpa climbers are tossed in the mix as a joint effort to carry the required rope up the mountain and fix the route to the summit. It works best that the teams with the largest amount of climbers and Sherpas kick in more support, this was accomplished. It all went well and it was nice to see our Nepalese leaders taking the lead in organizing this ritual this year.

What's next? The team will move up to Camp 2 for a day trip, have lunch, hang out there resting, taking photos and then return to Camp 1 to sleep for the night before returning the next day to sleep at Camp 2.
Looking good..... over and out Tim

File photo of Camp 1 area adjacent
. Expect a photo upload in the next day or two.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ABORT!... return to EBC

April 17, 2013:  Abort!  Trip to Camp 1 was aborted this morning. Sometime shortly after 4:00hrs our members were adjusting their packs on their backs and noticed headlamps turning back from other climbers moving up the ice-fall. Tashi made contact with Sherpas ahead and learned that the ice-fall had broken up in a section and needed to be re-routed and ladders reassembled. 

Our team decided to turn back not knowing how long this process would take and if it would create a slow moving line so they opted to give it a go again tomorrow.
Tim said it was a good practice for everyone to see how long it takes them to get ready for a 3:00 wakeup call, eat, load up and get climbing within an hour. 

While the climbers rested more and entertained themselves Tim ran the Sherpas through more rope rescue scenarios. They really enjoy this kind of thing, love to learn. The day before he had ran them all through their First Aid training. You can never practice any of these two skills too much. 

The ice-fall ladders were adjusted and re-routed in about 2.5 hours.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We are climbing & Rope preparations underway

April 15, 2013:  We are climbing.... rope fixing preparations
Peak Freaks are up at 3:00am tomorrow morning, grab some breakfast and head out to begin climbing at 04:00hrs. Everyone is super excited to be getting the acclimatization rotations underway before the big push.

Here's the plan:
Tomorrow Camp 1, they can stay over night here now because they slept on top of Kala Pattar the night before. If they had not done this they would have only been able to handle a day trip to Camp 1 and would have to return to base camp to allow their bodies the time needed to adjust to the higher altitude. We approach the climb this way to lessen the time spent in the ice-fall, only one trip through it up to again acclimatization to Camp 2. 
  • April 16: Climb to Camp 1 - sleep
  • April 17: Day trip to Camp 2 - return to Camp 1 sleep
  • April 18: Climb to Camp 2- sleep 2 nights here
  • April 19: Return to base camp and wait for the rope to fixed to Camp 3 and then that rotation will take place. The last one before the summit push.
ROPE- An essential piece of equipment for climbing mountains. Today the Sherpas worked on preparing the rope for fixing the route up the Lhotse face and to the summit. The 10mm rope comes on spools, we take it off the spools and cut it in sections for carrying up the mountain by the Sherpa teams. They are cut into 200m and 100m lengths and put into bags.

The bags are then numbered and will be checked out before it goes up the mountain and checked back in to make sure all bags are accounted for so we know it has all been used properly and nothing has been missed. 

The Sherpas will carry the 200m bags at the lower elevations and save the 100m bags for higher up where the air is thin. These bags get heavy the higher they go with the thin air. 
Time to sleep, early start tomorrow.

We'll report back here when the team is all settled at Camp 1.  
Over and out... Tim

Photo: Sherpas carrying heavy loads.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Climber introductions and mountain conditions

April 15, 2013 - 
The last of the trekkers were forced to take a helicopter out to Kathmandu today due to high wind. This is the first time we've had a trek group stranded here. Climbers at the end of the season with the onset of the monsoon is common but I don't think we've had trekkers before, first for everything I guess. Most are on their way home.

The climbers were sleeping at 5545m last night This is an important step we like to use for visualization, a wicked tool we believe in to prepare the Everest climber mentally. On top Kala Pattar they can see the route and see yourself on it. Once you reach base camp you lose all views of Everest, you are so close and tight up in the glacier and that's all you see: the scary part - the gaping ice-fall - the constant crashing of the avalanches- the groaning of the glacier under your tent. It's good to get back and up high where you can have a good look and see what you're hearing to clearly understand what you need to do to stay safe and realize that the summit isn't really that far away and that good speed of ascent is critical in certain sections. 
Here they can gain some altitude, do an exercise in how everything works up there after you've tired and have been climbing all day, settling in for a night, how the stove works, how water boils at altitude, how food is working for you and more than anything, get inspired to begin this climb. 

It's great having a climber like Kevin Farebrother, a firefighter from Perth is on the team again. Kevin (aka- Wolverine) offers mentorship to this years team. He's one strong climber who has proven himself up here with us previously in 2011 with a speed ascent from the South Col to the summit, it wasn't a race and he wasn't even timing himself, that's just how fast he moves at altitude. He was on top so fast that it was still dark and alone and was able to sit up there and take it all in and watch the sunrise. If my house ever caught on fire this is the kind of guy I'd want busting me out with an axe. 

He's back again this year to attempt the summit without the use of oxygen and plan to climb Lhotse on his way directly afterwards. We have great faith in his ability to pull it off, if all the stars line up for him and of course good weather and health. 

 Photo adjacent: Kevin Farebrother on the summit of Everest in 2011.

Everyone had a good night out and now back at base camp in their personal tents.

THE PLAN: We had a skiff of snow today, nothing much but expecting a few more centimeters tomorrow backing off on Wednesday night according to weather reports.  I'm liking this report for the team heading up day after tomorrow up to Camp 1, it's certainly not a lot of snow to be concerned about in the ice-fall and in fact it will a blessing making it not so hot as it would be with sun beating down on us. 

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS: Tashi Sherpa, our team sardar has been up and down the mountain several times to Camp 2. He reports that the ice-fall is so far in good condition, no extended double ladders and nothing significant looming overhead and so far no towering chunks have developed that can collapse, so that's all good news. However it can change as things start to warm up, that's all typical stuff we watch while climbing here.

The Lhotse Face, hmm.. it looks like we may have to consider the traverse away from the section prone to rock fall again this season. We really don't see the snow here that we were hoping for. There was a good dump just days before the climbing season kicked off here that sounded promising when we heard about it in Kathmandu, but it appears to be gone now. It's actually quite dry looking up there again. We could use some more for sure to glue things together better. 
 Over and out...Tim 

April 13, 2013: Trekkers delayed by high wind... Lukla airport, six of ten managed to fly by helicopter to Kathmandu today. Hopefully tomorrow is not a repeat and the other four get out without issue. Safety first!   

Climbers had a rest day today and were watching a moving this evening when Tim checked in.

Over and out... Becky

April 12, 2013: Time for an introduction of one our climbers this year, meet Sean and learn of his excellent cause to climb:

Sean Mooney, an Associate in the commodities division at Goldman Sachs in London, England, will attempt to summit Mount Everest this spring to raise awareness and funds for Right To Play.

Sean grew up in Winnipeg, Canada and spent most of his childhood on the soccer field. He was first introduced to Right To Play as a teenager when his parents made a donation to the organization in his name for his birthday.

“I was impressed by the philosophy of this charity which uses sports to teach, empower and enrich the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world," he says. "Given the integral role sports played in my personal development, I recognized the transformative potential of Right To Play’s goal.”

Sean played soccer as an undergraduate at Cornell University before starting his career in finance. Since graduating, he has participated in various charity endurance races and sporting events. Highlights include the Enduro Challenge ultra distance triathlon from London to Paris, the Fight For Independence boxing event, and becoming the inaugural ‘Battle of the Bankers’ Chessboxing Champion (watch highlights on BBC here).

Lets battle out together a challenge to help Sean with his donations and awareness for Right To Play. For more information and donate.  

We wish Sean good luck on his climb and may he reach the summit and the donation goals. Great feelings about both. 
We got on the ladders today in the ice-fall and put our skills to work and for some like Sean they linked to 3G and got on Twitter. Tomorrow we rest and then we will be heading out for an acclimatization night out.  

Have a good weekend, Tim and Becky


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good, Bad and Ugly on helicopters

April 11, 2013 "The Good, the bad and ugly on helicopters" Dang.... woken up by
a fly by helicopter over
head at 6:45 this morning. The thing was it didn't appear to be up here for a rescue as it never landed, I listened and the sound just rattled off into the distance. It's becoming a bit concern here with regards to there not being any ontrolled airspace, something that will need addressed at our operators meeting.  A bit unnerving considering all that's between me that machine is a piece of nylon. 

The good is the ability to quickly evacuate someone by helicopter to Kathmandu compared to the way it used to be done. There is more education on mountain sickness today but there is also the option of helicopters which may be taken for granted, it's only an option if the weather permits and that should be taken into serious consideration when playing in the mountains. If weather fails you'll have to be prepared to do it the old way. The quiet way. 

Before helicopters a climber or trekker with injury or AMS would be walked out, and in the night if it was life-threatening by a porter. The patient would be stuffed into a basket and carried on the porters back suspended by a trump line (woven sash) around his forehead. It would take a
couple porters switching off and on for the entire journey till you could be taken out further by a very large- tank like - M-17 Russian Military Helicopter, these could be accessed in Lukla. Later an airstrip was built in Syangboche, above Namche Bazaar. Airstrips up here at these altitudes need to have a drop off to allow the crafts blades to catch wind on descent because of the thin air. That was a bit of a screamer as a passenger.

  1964: Tenzing-Hilary Airport opened in Lukla for fixed wings. It was a dirt airstrip up until 2004 when it was paved. Only small fixed wing and helicopters can land here.

1997: A helicopter crashed at EBC, however, no one was killed. The pilot was Colonel Madan, who had piloted the world’s highest helicopter rescue a year earlier. In 1996 he had flown above the icefall to rescue American Beck Weathers, famed by the book "Into Thin Air". Madan said of the 1997 crash that he had just lost complete control of the helicopter and this would have to do with the thin air.

2003: A team of 9 climbers were looking for a quick way out after their Everest climb and hailed a Russian Helicopter to camp. It got just a short distance from camp and fell, killing two of the nine passengers.

2005: Another crash! MI-17...No one hurt, video link below: There was a brief quiet time here after these incidents up until the new high tech helicopter AS350 B3 owned by Fishtail Air made it's high altitude test flight to the summit of Everest. This was when everything changed here. The Russian helicopters weren't working out here so the new technology was impressive, or so we thought.

2010: Fishtail Helicopter crashes on a rescue mission on Ama Dablam (near Everest) the pilot and technician were returning to collect the last climber when they crashed killing both of them. 

YouTube Link: Everest Base Camp Crash  I like how the pilot just walks off the craft like it was all planned and the soothing music. Lucky for him.  These helicopters became the way to transport groups to Lukla for a few years. We used them often ourselves. We could move all our climbers, trekkers and gear in one haul. Those were the days. 

Group with gear piled in the middle 1996

The new high altitude AS350 B3

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Looking HAPE in the FACE.. one scary hour

April 10, 2013' "All in a days work... our Sherpa team carried loads to Camp 1 and Camp 2 today. Everything is moving along to plan, by the time the camps are complete and ready for occupancy the climbers will also be ready to move pending weather. We don't want to put them up there in a storm, it's snowing right now at base camp lightly but we are expecting a good dump this coming weekend. 
Everyone did well with equipment briefing today and tomorrow we have more work to do on the ladders, ropes, jumars and so forth. Not much to say so I'll turn this over to Becky now.  Over and out .. Tim"

LOOKING HAPE IN THE FACE  "High Altitude Pulmonary Edema" The adjacent photo is of a good friend of ours, John Dyck from British Columbia. His wife Trish, my friend of over 30 years made contact with me last night via Skype. The two of them were headed up to base camp. John is a highly regarded climber back home, he was headed to climb Lobuche after base camp. They were not on a Peak Freak trip, they were doing this independently with the help of Ngima, our Ang Nima's son, their guide. 
I'm telling this story to show just how quickly someone can get into trouble up here. So far there have been two deaths of trekkers not known to us, John could have very well been a third. He reached Namche Bazaar and fell ill and was running a fever, nothing new here with GI bugs, colds and so on being passed around - so you just go to bed and hope for improvements come morning. 

Morning came and things quickly spiraled into a desperate situation of survival. This is when Trish Skyped me. I know this stuff, I've had HACE myself and I've seen HAPE. HACE effects the brain and HAPE the lungs. HAPE is by far the worst one to get in a remote location. You need oxygen, dex and to get down and out quickly. All of which we were able to organize within one hour of when she told me he was making a funny sound, like a cracking in chest, like a cold. 

"Oh hell, we have a problem". Ngima summoned the doctor in Namche, Tsedam grabbed the oxygen and the helicopter was fired up in Kathmandu within minutes. John's oxygen saturation dipped to 46%. He was losing consciousness and as Tim later puts it, "it sounds like he was definitely checking out".  

Had the weather not been good or the helicopter not been available, its quite possible we could have lost a good friend.  

I Just wanted to share that with everyone. John is super fit and an avid climber and for some reason his body said, "not today John". This can happen to anyone, accomplished climbers and high end athletes alike. Fitness doesn't clear the way for people coming here. You still have to be on your toes and listen to your body, if you can. John didn't have a chance to listen to his, that was left for other people at this stage to do it for him.  John had good resources to help and support him and we can't stress enough how important it is to make sure when you visit here that you know who you are associated with and that can you trust their actions should things go wrong. 
 More....  HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)  HACE (High Altitude Cerbral Edema). 
Phew.... Becky   

Down to business now..

April 9, 2013' Down to business now... The trek team departed camp today after a

fantastic early morning puja and shortly thereafter getting up close in the ice-
fall. Tears, fears and complete joy were all part of the emotions circulating the group. After a late lunch they packed up and headed down to the closest village to base camp called Gorak Shep. Tomorrow very early they will make their own summit bid on top of Kala Pattar. They think they were impressed at this point, wait till they get up there. 

The climbing team got down to business after camp cleared out, showers first order of business. It's all been one big social for the past nine days, now it's time to start talking climbing and getting into each others heads to begin playing this mountain with so many variables. 
Tomorrow we rest and begin our strategy and safety talks, the next day we'll get out on the ice and start assessing skills to make sure we are all on the same page. This serves as a good opportunity for the personal Sherpas and the western guides to see how well honed these climbers are and if any adjustments are needed. Some are known to us, repeat climbers or participants of our previous training climbs, while some we've not seen in action till now. As certified guides there are ways to run climbers through the rigors and see how well they respond so we can trust them up there when the going gets tough. Sometimes decisions have to be made quickly to avoid situations that should be prevented. Rule number one of leading people up here in this hostile environment is "prevention". 

Busy? looks much the same as last year, it's hard to tell. Not sure how many folks are here as trekkers and who are climbers. We'll have a better idea in a few weeks when things settle out. Maybe some are doing Island Peak or Lobuche or even Nuptse. Those climbing Lhotse will be on the same route as us till the South Col or Camp 3 so you can count them in the busy factor. I will say there are some extremely large expeditions here. Just as long as they carry their poop off the mountain we're ok with that. 

Over and out.... Good luck trekkers.... Tim
Photo: Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse & Everest 2013 climbers with Ama Dablam in the background.

Monday, April 8, 2013

We have arrived.. Everest Base Camp

April 8, 2013' - Tim checks in: "We have arrived.. Everest Base Camp.. 5360m..."  So good to be home at base camp. Karsang and the crew cooked up a fantastic roasted chicken dinner, sushi for starters, veggies and an awesome cake, followed by some good laughs and tired team. Everyone is off to bed now. 

Tomorrow I'll take the trekkers out to touch the ice-fall so they can say "they could go no further" and get that photo. Then early afternoon Ang Nima will take them down to Gorak Shep. They are going to climb Kala Pattar to get the most sought after photo of Everest with the Khumbu glacier, Lhotse and Nuptse from the summit of Kala Pattar at 5545m.  

We have our old location back that we had a few years ago here at EBC. It's tucked up into a cave feature very close to the ice-fall, no wind and quiet. I was super tickled to see what the Sherpas did for me. I have my own island. They built my personal tent camp in the middle of a lake with a stone walk way to the  middle of it. They placed rocks to put my tent up high on it for great views, I love these guys! They are best team one could ever have, I feel so honored to have them in my life all these years, truly my family away from family. 

Tashi went up to Camp 2 today to organize our camp location. Tomorrow the climbers will start organizing their equipment while the Sherpas will begin carrying loads to build Camp 1. This is a temporary camp used in the early stages of the climb for a layover place if needed. We'll need to take the dinning tent, toilet tent, sleeping tents, kitchen equipment and food supplies. The next work load will be carrying supplies and equipment to Camp 2. 

Before any work begins on the mountain we'll have a Puja ceremony, this ceremony is believed to make contact with divine Sagamartha (Mount Everest) and ask her for clear the passage for everyone, the Sherpa climbers will not climb before they are blessed, this will take place tomorrow morning so the trekkers can be part of it too. This is the most important blessing for our team; Western climbers, Sherpa climbers, foodand equipment. Climbing boots and axes and crampons will be piled around the Stupa, it's a moving experience for anyone who has had the opportunity to be part of one, the burning of juniper and the chant from Lama Mingma, the tossing of rice and drinking of chang (or beer) all adding to this magical and spiritual event. Of course there is also a monetary part to help support the local monasteries. 

Climber Lee den Hond is here with a TV crew, Kate Barry and Jonathan Crawford of "Carte Blanche", we are happy that the timing has worked out for them to capture this part of the expedition to share with everyone back in South Africa. 

Good news on the communications front. 3G seems to working well from EBC. Over and out..... Tim

Photos: Camerman- Jonathan Crawford at work.... Mountain Guides- Joshua and Marty sporting their styl'in white glasses and their fat guide packs. 


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Short Dispatch - why? need tent!

April 7, 2013' - Shortest dispatch ever... "In Lobuche, cold, food was a nice treat with Karsang's cooking, can't wait to get to base camp and get into my tent so it will be warmer to communicate from inside my sleeping bag, everyone is good.... over and out!... Tim "
The deal here is in order to get a good signal on the satellite phone, Tim needs to be outside the building where it's pretty chilly this year. 

The food part is the teams great appreciation for our camp crew coming down from Base Camp to Lobuche today. Bringing with them our kitchen equipment, pots, pans, eating utensils, food supplies and so on. We do this because Lobuche is not a regular habitat for the Sherpa people, it's a seasonal village for the climbing and trekking season facilitating everyone with meals and lodging while here. 

Lobuche is at critical altitude where one could get AMS- Altitude Mountain Sickness if they do not layover here for at least one night before going any higher. It's not a home based lodge, it's instead staffed by contract workers who do the best they can in providing meals with limited water resources. It lacks a sense of pride like you'd find in a lodge that is someone's home like the ones we use throughout the valley. It also gets overcrowded as all trekkers/climbers must layover here for a night, or for some two nights, before heading high up to Everest base camp. The risky part in staying here is that illness tends to circulated around through the kitchens in Lobuche. Because of this we have our kitchen brought down and our staff do the cooking to keep our team quarantined in an effort to keep them healthy for the days ahead. An intestinal infection at this stage is not something a climber who invested so much money, and time, and training into wants to have to deal with. 

At the end of the day their bellies are full with good food and they are more than excited to get to base camp tomorrow and check into the comforts we provide for them there. 

The one good thing about reaching Lobuche for me (also spelled Lobuje) at an altitude of 4931m is I get reminded of my favorite Youtube of all time of this area.  The team has been here the last couple of season's at full moon, not this time but equally just as beautiful and I could not resist showing this again. Enjoy!   Make sure your screen is clean, that is not dust you see in the sky....   Becky


Friday, April 5, 2013

Cold and clear at 4412m

April 5, 2013'- Cold and clear at 4412m - Dingboche.. It's chilling cold this year. Some of the trekkers were having
trouble staying warm in Deboche last night, wait till tonight here in Dingboche, 678m higher. We are happy we've got the clear skies though, makes it all worth while.

Everyone is doing awesome!.. Tomorrow we will be hiking above Dingboche to boost our haemoglobin to kick in and allow out bodies to adjust to the new heights we will move to the day after. We will sleep two nights here to help make that happen before moving up to Lobuche for one night, then that's it, we will be at Everest Base Camp on April 8th as planned.

 I uploaded a bunch of photos but same as last autumn there seems to be some issues with the Internet here in Dingboche. Not much say other than everyone gives a big shout out to all the followers of this blog.  Over and out till tomorrow... Tim

Great shot from Kuntal Joisher taken from Dingboche while on our Pumori Expedition in 2011. This is what we see tonight.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Over 50 YEARS OF high altitude mountaineering experience.

April 4, 2013: OVER 50 YEARS OF HIGH ALTITUDE MOUNTAINEERING EXPERIENCE with Marty, Tim and Joshua- photo left to right.

This is Joshua's 2nd season on Everest and he's already gained elite private guide status. Marty is off to climb K2 immediately after Everest. These guys love what they do and are better than good at it.  Tim's next altitude adventure will be training aspiring Everest and other climbers on three 6000m peaks in Nepal during our Everest Boot Camp - "Triple Crown" expedition. 

Day 4 on the trail:  Brrr... Climbers are in Pangboche (3901m), the team is somewhat protected here from the extreme winds up high. Only the climbers are sleeping here tonight so they will be ready to rise and shine early for their puja with Lama Geshi who resides here, this is a spiritual highlight of this journey. They will be blessed with prayers, chants and given the "protection and blessing cord", Lama Geshi will tie a knot in the cord, then prays over it and blows the power of this mantra into it. Then he places it around the climbers neck as a blessing to keep them safe throughout this journey. Tim has a drawer full of them at home as he never takes it off till 2 weeks after he returns. He gets pretty attached. Lama Geshi tells Tim that because he is a leader and has great responsibility and he needs added protection. He's given a little hand made silk stash pouch stuffed with juniper, a prayer note, and other spiritual herbs of the region. It is then strung onto the red cord and hung from his neck. 

The trekkers are spending the night at Deboche (3734m) by the river. Lower elevation and ambient in the rhododendron forest by the river. Tomorrow morning they will hike back up the trail for a morning chant with the monks at the Tengboche (3867m) monastery. The next blessing will be the big one at base camp with all the equipment, food and Sherpas that must be blessed before they begin to start working on the mountain.    
Destination tomorrow for both trekkers and climbers is Dingboche (4412m), at this elevation everyone will really start to feel the effects of the thin air. They will also start to feel the wind and chill here. It's certainly colder than it has been the past couple of years this time of year. Winter came in like lion which has been good for healing the glaciers with lots of snow and cold temperatures.

TIDBIT: What's "boche" ?  In Nepal it defines a village.
Over and out... Becky

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Team Meets "Man Who Skied Everest" Chat with Yuichiro Miura

April 3, 2013: REMEMBER THE MAN WHO SKIED EVEREST?   Tim reports bumping into a bunch of oldies this year who are attempting the summit of Everest.  One of the definite "over the hill" types to mention is 80 year old Yuichiro Miura. Miura climbed to the summit of the 8850m mountain in 2003 and 2008. He skied down Everest from an altitude of 8000m in 1970, or so Tim often jokes- slid or flew down Everest- rather than skied it, no turns and using a parachute. 
Tim would know the difference having been the first to ski on the north side of Everest in 1991 from the North Col during a Canadian expedition. Pat Morrow filmed his ascent but the footage was given to a film company who had the rights to it and we've never seen it. I think it was Yale Productions out of Vancouver. We've never asked for it but should one day.
Tim was excited to meet Yuichiro today and remembers when he came to our home before his 2008 ascent on Everest with his leader of his ski ascent - Don Kato.  All eyes will be watching Yuichiro this year because of his age, experiences here and the fact he's had heart surgery four times. Crazy!  love these guys who wear their man pants. Peak Freak members are enjoying the opportunity to meet some of the characters that are lured to this region each year. There's a certain kind of addiction to this place for anyone who has been here. I'm sure a lot of our past climbers and trekkers who are following the blog would agree.  Today the team went to Ang Nima and Kamrita's house up in Khunde for lunch, took a walk around and visited the Sir Edmond Hillary school and captured some great shots. Photos will be posted on Tim's Facebook. If you aren't already following his FB click on the FOLLOW button up top and have a look. MOUNTAIN WEATHER: Typical high winds   Over and out.... Becky

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Well on our way now- 3445m- Namche Bazaar

April 2, 2013'- Everest 2013' team arrives in Namche Bazaar (3445m) Full bellies and ready for bed. Most of the team have already hit the pillow, just a few of us burning the candle for a little longer.

The enthusiasm is building after everyone caught a glimpse of Everest today from the little hidden trail on the way to Namche today. This is the first time trekkers will see Everest, we'll see it again till tomorrow when we hike to Khunde and Khumjung to acclimatize higher for the next days rise in elevation and enjoy it in the comforts of Ang Nima's home.

Slowly we go... climb high sleep low rule of thumb for staying healthy here. 
It's great to be back in our second home and with a great bunch.  Everyone is doing really well and having a great time.  Over and out.... Tim
April 1, 2013' - 07:00 hrs - (NPT)  PERFECT..  perfect day, perfect weather, perfect landing in Lukla...  Time for some breakfast then we'll pack up and head'er to Monjo (2804m). The team is stoked to be out of the city and looking forward to sleeping by the river tonight. No barking dogs, no honking horns and clean air.   ..Tim