Archive for April, 2009

Pictures/Video on Mountain Link’s Site

Hi everyone – Trish here again…

Wendy is high in the sky and the computers are down for the count.  Looks like you’ll be stuck with me as middle man for a while.  I just spoke with her via satellite phone and here is a quick  update:

Brooke is posting photos and video whenever possible to the Mountain Link website.  Visit http://www.mountain-link.com to see the latest news.

Here is slideshow of early photos from the mountain as well:

http://www.mountain-link.com/adventures/seven_summits/Mt_Everest/Mt_Everest_Slideshow/

The team spent last night at Camp 1 around 19,000 ft. and will be moving up to Camp 2 later today.  Wendy managed the Khumbu Ice Falls well yesterday, but is glad to have them behind her!  Very treacherous.  Camp 3 is still not ready to receive climbers, but it looks like the first summit attempts will be possible by May 6th or 7th.  Wendy does not anticipate trying to be the first to the top this year, but it’s good to know that soon the team will be able to move forward as they feel able.

Wendy and Brooke are still coughing and dragging a little bit.  Their bodies cannot heal very quickly in the thin air.  But she said that physically she is feeling strong and is not having any symptoms related to the altitude (good news!).  The expedition is just going to ‘play it by ear’ as to when they push for the summit based upon everyone’s health.  If they begin feeling the effects of the altitude, the team will move back down to lower elevations to adjust and then climb up again.

Thanks to all of you who are watching Wendy’s progress.  Everytime we speak I share your comments and messages of support.  It means so much to her.

Climb on!

Trish

Psych 101

 

 Something so totally unexpected – but the psychology of Everest is as important as the physical component of the climb. Perhaps even more so.

 

We wait.  We wait for weather, our health, wind, the internet.  We wait for our Puja ceremony, a load of supplies coming up from Lukla, rope to be carried to Camp 2, dinner!  We wait and we ponder.  And like a low lying fog creeping into our subconscious we have to be careful of  the tricks all this waiting can have on our mental toughness.  We’ve plotted and planned and trained so long and so hard it is difficult to now just sit and wait.  Hearing where other teams are or how high or how healthy, how strong only chips away at our own psyche. Ultimately our success, our safety and the pace by which we accomplish it is set by our Sherpa.  It is these amazing men who will forge ahead of us for days. First carrying supplies and then setting up ropes and establishing the route.  If they don’t go, neither do we.  And we don’t push it. We wait.

 

As Tom Devine taught me I am to “Define Major Purpose”

  1. Stay healthy (okay too late for that one so now get healthy)
  2. Keep nutrionally sound
  3. Mentally alert
  4. Listen to my guide and Sherpa
  5. Summit Everest

 

Other than that life is relatively simple – moment by moment, one day at a time……..and wait.

 

Climb On!

 

 

Double Nickles!!

 

 

As was the case last April, I once again am celebrating a birthday in the Himalayas.

 

Happy to me!  I’m double nickels…..that sounds a little better.

 

Ah but the day began most grand.  First, we are enjoying a rest day after yesterday’s foray into the icefalls and some altitude gain.  Second, we had pancakes (made out of rice flour but that’s okay) freeze dried blueberries from the states (Cosco does that count?) real US butter…. yes its true everything’s better with butter thank you Julia Childs!  Real maple syrup all thanks to Brooke’s smart shopping in the US.  Oh! But I forgot the most important delicacy – bacon.  Yes that too imported from Cosco in a special cooler flown to Nepal onto Lukla, on a yak, on the back of a Sherpa and delivered a few days ago to EBC along with the butter and some good old USDA beef!  Remember this is Nepal, 90% Hindu and pork and beef are on the big no no list.

 

And third for my birthday I had a shower –well not exactly a shower as you might picture it more like a 4 gallon bucket with a pitcher.  A small tent has been erected for just this purpose.  It offers complete privacy unless there is a strong wind gust and then everyone would be so busy running around catching their own gear no one would notice a naked woman covered is soapy water….at least this is what I tell myself.  The tent floor is stone covered with a piece of plastic insulation so your feet don’t kill you. I knelt on the insulation and tackled my hair first.  Since it had not been washed in quite sometime this took a lot more manpower and soap than usual.  After the hair I work my way down to my now frozen toes. Despite the air temperature of perhaps 40 in the morning sun the entire process is overwhelmingly enjoyable and a lot of hard work on everyone’s part. Our cooking Sherpa have to gather the water from the glacier flow, heat it on a portable stove and carry it up to the tent.  No wonder we bath so infrequently.

 

So now I sit in my tent covered in girlie girl lotion, baby powder, creams and just great smells. The only minor set back is that my shirt, pants and camisole are not nearly as sweet smelling as the rest of me.  Bummer.

 

The days pass quickly despite the lack of electricity, cell phones, any phones, tv or news from the outside world.  It amazes me that I am able to sit and write this from a Dell laptop and if we can get the remainder of the technology running you will be reading this shortly.  Technology continues to defy and frustrate and I apologize for the lapses in my blogs.  It is all predicated by the ability to get the internet up and running.

 

In the meantime we prepare to climb to Camp 1 within the next few days.

 

Climb On!

 

Into The Ice

Thursday April 23

It broke my heart to watch Tom leave. Brooke and I escorted him to the edge of Munchkin Land (as we like to describe the journey back to Lukla) and waved until he was out of sight. He is an amazing person. A spirit and joy few possess. He was our team cheerleader, confident and spiritual guide – plus we all constantly beat him at Hearts. He is very much loved and very missed. I’m certain Cinda and the girls can’t wait for his homecoming but life here at base camp is a whole lot quieter without him.

Despite the two of us hacking like chronic smokers, Brooke and I headed out this morning to train in the icefalls. The first two and a half hours were the usual death march, up and down, over the glaciers, past frigid pools and crystal blue frozen lakes. Over rocks and vertical ice pinnacles. This is difficult going since you never can find that place, that rhythm, that zone. The place where mind takes over and the body just follows and you can trudge along for hours. Nope, not going to find that amongst all this inconsistent terrain.

As things grew steeper there were ropes that had been set into the ice by those famous doctors I mentioned previously. Now things were getting interesting and I always love the technical part of this sport versus the mundane. We clipped into the ropes and kept heading up through the icefalls. The ever changing ice and variation of technique and physical requirements totally occupy the mind and you forget where you are and how high. After another hour we finally came to the first of the many ladders set up throughout the icefalls, we crossed seven in total, my training in Bend this past winter really paying off. I felt fast and efficient and unafraid. The ladders go in all directions, vertical, horizontal, up and down. There are ropes on either side anchored into the ice on which we are clipped and use for balance as we cross. Ladders on an upward slope we lean back and keep the ropes in front of us. Those going downhill (and often more difficult to cross) the opposite lean forward and hold the ropes behind for stability. I really thought when I came to my first ladder over a bottomless crevasse I would be crossing on my hands and knees (very poor form by the way) but I found the crossings very easy and no better way to navigate a gapping crevasse. We have often talked about crossing these ladders and I recall being instructed to look straight across the ladder not down into the crevasse. I can tell you what each ladder wrung looks like but I also recall seeing a very blue sliver that is so deep it turns to black. Brooke said she saw trash so go figure, two versions to every story!

It was a great day to finally be up and out of base camp. We were probably another two to three hours out of Camp 1 at 19,000 feet but that is for another day. In the meantime this gave us some much needed mental and physical training and the confidence to go even higher.

Everest Base Camp (EBC for future reference) is an interesting hub of activity. As mentioned previously, every rock star in the sport of mountain climbing is here. Russell Brice (for those familiar with the Discovery Channel series on Everest a few seasons back) is here for a new Discovery series. His team is enormous something like 28 clients, 54 Sherpa and 8 guides not to mention the film crew. As you can imagine the logistics are incredible. Just his camp alone, too big to be in the actual EBC, is like a city. Rumor has it he has a big screen tv, sofas and an expresso bar. As if this is not enough there is another Discovery Channel team with the International Mountain Guide expedition. Now you can imagine what is actually taking place here! We have a competition of the Discovery Channel teams! I can not wait until this all runs on tv next fall, should make for great viewing. Add to the mix the Eddie Bauer team being sponsored and funded by the sportswear company including Ed Viesters (he has done all the 8000 meter peaks without supplemental oxygen) and a UN delegation carrying a 50 year old proclamation for the UN by a climber who was in the original Discovery Channel series of last season….well EBC is a hopping. Rumors abound and this all keeps our little team highly amused and grateful to be out of the fray.

But! You can take advantage of some great footage being shot by the Eddie Bauer group by logging onto the Rainier Mountaineering website and follow the links to their Everest climb. Word has it that the footage is spectacular. I love that, now you can see what we are seeing and Brooke and I didn’t have any of the hassle!!! Also check Mountain Links website for photos and, if technology is working, some video Robert has been shooting. Getting anything out via the internet is extreme to say the least. This blog is so incredibly long because I am able to write it on a regular computer in Word. At the moment the internet is not working and this manuscript of epic proportion maybe for naught. Keep your fingers crossed!

Climb On!

We are experiencing technical difficulties…

Hi all!  Trish here with an update on the expedition…

The computers are not working as planned, and Wendy has had no internet access for 3 days.  We’re hoping to get things resolved so that blog posts and email access can continue, but you followers may be stuck with me as an intermediary for a while!

Anyway, I just had a nice long conversation with the birthday girl via satellite phone – although it cuts out frequently.  First and foremost, Wendy is on the mend!  Other than a lingering cough, she seems to be feeling fabulous and is ready to head for Camp 1.  She said that of 500 or so climbers on the mountain it seems that 200 are sick, so it is not just their team that is suffering with this bug.

After 8 days at Base Camp (most of it miserable with the flu and no ‘facilities’!), they are planning to climb to Camp 1 tomorrow.  The Khumbu Ice Falls were amazing, but treacherous, and Wendy said the mountain really is challenging and is taking all her concentration.  She’ll be climbing with oxygen for the first time tomorrow as they begin to prepare for the summit push and acclimatize.

Right now Camps 1 & 2 are set up for climbers, so the expedition may move pretty quickly from Camp 1 up to a higher elevation at Camp 2 depending on how they all feel at the higher altitude.  The winds are still too high at Camp 3 for the Sherpa to make camp there, so they’ll have to watch the weather before going higher.

Wendy is doing fine and feeling strong.  All the love and support of her friends and fans are much appreciated.  If we continue to have issues with internet access, I’ll post to the blog as often as I get an update from the team.  Thanks to all of you for following!

Climb on,

Trish

The Doctor Is In

 

 

Any kind of medical condition, a cut, a bruise, a cold , the flu all take a lot longer to heal.  The higher we are the thinner the air and the less oxygen. The longer our recovery – frustrating to say the least.  Both Brooke and I continue to improve but ever so slowly.  I have had fitful nights of sleep hoping to feel better the following morning only to find I am marginally improved.  So it is a day at a time and like everything at altitude, slowly slowly, paulie, paulie.  Robert assures us this is all part of the Everest experience and to take it all in stride.

 

So today we decided to go for a little walk to test the wobbly legs and venture into the famous ice falls.  We went out on the route we will eventually take to Camp 1 once we are feeling better.  The ice falls are gorgeous, mind captivating and rather fun to climb through.  Okay they’re dangerous as hell.  As we were slowly heading out we had the rare fortune of bumping into two of the famous “Ice Fall Doctors”  These are the guys  upon whom we all depend and who in the course of the entire climbing season will maintain the route through the ice falls.  Without them and their expertise things would be very different here.  These are the guys who put the ladders across the crevasses and up and over the enormous chunks of ice.  Most days they are out there early checking the route and making adjustments as needed.  Already our Sherpa have carried supplies to Camp 2.  This morning the route was closed in order that the ice fall docs could repair and maintain it and by later in the morning it was business as usual.  I got to meet them on their way home from just another day at the office. I waa touched by their calmness and competence.  The gentleman I met has been an ice fall doc for nine years.  He proudly showed off his title stitched on his faded ball cap “Everest Ice Fall Doctor” with his name on the back.

 

He assured me all was well on the route. It is even better than last year and  he was anxious to see me climb it!  Me too!

 

In the meantime back to my tent with tea and lots of tissuee thank goodness for some good books cause otherwise I would be feeling very sorry for myself just now.

 

Before I forget!  My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your comments and following my adventure!  I try to read as many as I can, they do come through and I so appreciate knowing nyou are all behind me.  This is harder than anything I have ever faced and the daily challenges are unbelievable.  I am staying totally “in the moment” taking it one day at a time otherwise the goal is far too lofty.  An amamzing place and an amazing experience!   My love and again my incredible gratitude for sharing this with me!

 

Climb On!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher George!!

To Christopher George!  (This was to be my blog of April 17 but I was way under the weather)

In honor of this your 31st birthday a Lama arrived from Pangbouche and preformed our Puja ceremony. The Sherpa will not climb until a Puja has been preformed.  A Puja begins as a solumn affair with prayers and blessings for mour climb.  The Lama blesses rice which is thrown on the stupa, a sort of stone altar that our Sherpa erected before we arrived.  It is prominent in our campsite and is the first item built after shelter.  Rice wine is blessed and poured on the top of the stupa which is adorned with prayer flags and khata (shawls or scarves of cream satin) and every where the stones are dabbed with Sherpa butter.  We sit crossed legged next to the Lama who has an alter at his feet with wine, water and something red in which he dips an ostrich feather and sprinkles it on the the stupa and on us.  It is a wonderful, emotional ceremony.  Our climbing Sherpa, Dawa jumps up and in the center of the stupa erects a pole much like a May pole with hundreds of colorful prayer flags spinning in all directions.  Theses strings of flags are suspended over the entire encampment.  This was followed by load chants  and all the Sherpa were involved.  A special string of flags was added to the pole, the prayer flags the kids from Mr. Cleere’s class made for me.  The now proudly fly over our tents as paret of our Puja ceremony. 

Along with the prayer flags all our climbing equipment, axes, crampons, harness rest next to the stupa. And! a pile of Boston Red Sox ball caps!  Incense burns, rice is thrown and out comes the Jack Daniels!  It was offered in capfulls so I was able to put my finger in it and not have to partake in too m uch.  Somehow between the flu and altitude I think I would have been a wreck!

Ah but ours wasn’t just any Puja!  Our Puja lasted well into the late afternoon with singing and dancing and a new record for the longest Puja.  Obviously others drank way more than that original capfull! Newcomers to the celebration were decorated with flour on their shoulders and faces””May you grow old enough that your hair grows long and your beard is gray!”

The Lama had long since returned to his village but our Puja was held on this particular date, April 17 on purpose, in honor of my Christopher so the ceremony ended with a huge crowd all with beer in hand yelling to the mountain top!!!  “To Christopher George!”

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.