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Prayer flags above Dingboche. Lhotse and Island Peak in the background.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The countdown begins

In ten days I will be leaving again for Kathmandu, Nepal for my third (or is it my fourth?) attempt on Everest.  All the training at the gym is finished, the gear is sorted out and now I am just trying to find a little time to pack my duffle bags.

However, before the climb begins, I will be leading a group of four great people to Everest Base Camp. This trek is a fundraiser for Tiny Hands International who does amazing work within Nepal to stop the sex trafficking of young girls and also to lovingly care for orphaned kids. Our trek will not be on the traditional, shortest, route to Everest but rather we will take the scenic route over two high passes with far fewer people along the way. 

After reaching base camp, three of the trekkers will return to Kathmandu while Scott B. and I will do our best to climb Island Peak, a 22,305’ peak on the south side of Lhotse and Everest. Post climb, Scott will return to Nebraska and I will head back to the Everest base camp which will be my home for the next 5 to 6 weeks.

Before heading to the mountains,  we will visit many of the awesome sights around Kathmandu including two of the three palace squares, a Hindu holy place where the dead are cremated, two famous Bhuddist stupas and the Tiny Hands offices. We will enjoy some great meals and do our best to absorb the incredible chaotic culture of Nepal. We will also take a side trip to Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal, and visit the Tiny Hands Dream Center. The Dream Center is a rural property that houses several of the family style orphanages that is one of Tiny Hands’ hallmarks along with a school for the kiddos. Pokhara is a beautiful town set on the edge of a lake and surrounded by peaks on all sides, especially to the north. 

Now, why do I question what attempt this will be for me? Well, the first time I tried was in 2010 and bad weather turned me back at 27,800’. I went again in 2013, this time to the north side (in Tibet) and made it to 27,500’ before my freezing feet stopped me from going any further. I returned again in 2014 but that was the year of the tragic avalanche that killed 16 mountain workers. The mountain was closed in the aftermath of this horrible event and I never even had a chance to step foot onto the mountain. 

I have very high hopes for this trip. I feel more prepared than in the past, have some new ideas on how to deal with my two biggest problems - the inability to eat and very cold feet - and will be climbing with my buddy Sange Sherpa and also hopefully with the incredible Pasang Ongchu Sherpa. If anyone can get this old guy from Nebraska to the world’s highest point it is these two incredible people. 

I will be doing my best to blog and Patty will do what she can based on my short phone calls home when I am unable to get online.

Here’s to a great season for all the climbers on Everest with absolutely no drama of any sort!!