Posts Tagged ‘everest’

Everest 2011: Summits and Deaths

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Just a quick update on the things happening on Everest this year. May 6 saw the first Sherpa team reach the summit from the south (Nepal) side, fixing ropes to the summit as they went. This now opens the doors for any and all teams to follow and try reaching the summit when the next weather windows come.

Also, there have been two deaths already reported on Everest this year, both on the south side. One of them was an American, and you can see a story on him here. When I read a story like that it definitely brings things into perspective again of what can happen out there, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

Anyways, now is a time to be staying on top of Everest action, as more and more teams plan for the summit, and more news should be hitting the streets as people do and don’t make it. For some of the latest news keep an eye on, they usually have the latest.

Hope everyone is enjoying their May so far! For those coming to my presentation at the CPL this Saturday, see you there! That will be three days away from my one-year Everest summit anniversary.

Take care!

How to Train for Mount Everest

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

As the next batch of adventurers get ready for their own attempts at Mt. Everest, I find myself asking them how they train for “the big E” (as some people call it). When I was preparing and training I did all the research I could, asked all the people that might know, so that I would be as prepared as possible. Looking back on it almost one year later I thought I would list the things that I thought helped me the most, and in general they can be applied to other circumstances also. In order if decreasing importance they are:

1. Listen to people that have done it before.

The fact is Everest has been climbed by thousands of people. Chances are if you are at all entertaining the idea of climbing Everest you’ve met someone who has done it. Hopefully you’ve climbed with them. Ask them all they know and take it seriously. I attribute a lot of my success to picking the brains of Ryan Waters at Mountain Professionals, who I climbed Aconcagua with, and Arnold Coster, who I climbed Cho Oyu with.


2. Climb an 8000m mountain before attempting Everest

One of the things I learned from point (1) above is this point. The company I climbed Aconcagua with stated that climbing Aconcagua was enough to qualify for Everest. However I was convinced by others it would be better to climb Cho Oyu first, and I’m glad I did. Aconcagua to Cho Oyu was a step up, a predictable one to be honest. And Cho Oyu to Everest was of course a step up also, but more that I thought it would be.

I have since developed my own reason for recommending that people climb Cho Oyu first. The straight fact is that nobody knows how their body will react to elevations of 8000m. And to put it bluntly, it’s much easier for others to drag your unconscious or otherwise disabled body from or near the summit of Cho Oyu than from most points on Everest. So as you learn how your body reacts to 8000m, do it in a place that has more room for ‘self discovery’ than Everest.

Another, less important reason, is to prepare one’s mind to long expeditions. Going from a three-week expedition like Aconcagua or Denali to an eight-week Everest expedition is a big jump. Most people that don’t summit Everest are not turned back by bad weather or from being too tired or not having enough technical experience. They choose to go home early because they don’t know how miserable an Everest expedition is, how taxing on the mind and body, how much they’ll miss their families (keep all family contact to a minimum when on the expedition to help with this point).

I have met a bunch of people, from marathon runners in tremendous shape to true Alpiniste mountaineers who make first ascents in the Alps and Andes, decide to go home early. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I also wanted to go home early at various points. But there is a way to be prepared for it.

Climbing Stairs with Pack

3. Train Mentally

I could write a lot about this but I think it has been said better by Ice and Mixed Climber extraordinaire, fellow Canadian Will Gadd on his own blog Gravsports. An excerpt is below:

Nobody wants to think about mental fitness. It’s a lot easier to keep track of physical improvement than mental improvement. To become stronger mentally you have to look inside yourself and realize that, even if you can do a one-arm pullup with an engine block in the other hand, the ultimate limiting factor is your head. And most people are simply too weak mentally to actually get stronger mentally. For many people the area between their ears is completely dark, off-limits and filled with soul-twisting demons that just can’t be faced much less slain. But, unless you know how to hit your ideal mental performance state, all your training is quite literally a waste…

How did I train mentally? By climbing Cho Oyu first (see point above). By going (several years in a row) on a ski trip with friends, which involved a profane amount of drinking all night, followed by extreme hangover pain the next morning, but going skiing anyways when I felt like dying, feeling that nauseating sting of yesterday’s alcohol still in my system course through my veins as my heart rate climbed as we skied. By following a strict diet in my training, eating things that were good for me but rarely good tasting, often the same thing day after day.

(Just to elaborate on a couple of those points above, my training specifically for Everest involved a strict diet and no alcohol at all, with the exception of that New Year’s ski trip I mention above. I jokingly called it part of my mental training as I took those few days off, but there was a lot of truth to it. Also, the discipline I learned from my diet of eating the same thing day in and day out helped me to eat whatever was available on Everest, to wolf down that tasteless bowl of Dal Bhat in Camp 2 and ask for another as I watched my companions play with their first serving even though I was sick of eating it as much as they were. I lost 25 pounds on Everest so eating all you can plays a big role.)

Ice Climbing

4. Everything Else

After those three points above comes the thing that most people focus on, the physical training, technical climbing ability, mountain experience, etc. I think they are still quite important, but there are enough other people that have written about them that I will defer to them. I say quite often, you have to come to Everest prepared physically. But once you show up physically trained, climbing the mountain is 90% mental.

That’s all for this post, I think it came out a little longer than expected. But I cannot finish before saying that this is just my experience and opinion. Your mileage may vary. Because honestly, what do I know; I have only summited Everest once, and I consider myself lucky to have done that. So chances are I might have no idea what I’m talking about.

Back on the Blog

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Hello all, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and even longer since I’ve written anything meaningful. Now that my life has come into some sort of order post Everest I think it’s a good time to start putting thoughts on [digital] paper.

I have been thinking about this blog and my life and I asked myself what topics this blog should cover. I am definitely into climbing, but I am also into many other things, trying to fill my life and be useful wherever I can. So for now I think I will stick to the climbing theme, but don’t be surprised if once in a while I post on things completely on a different topic. FYI, other topics I am into: charity work, photography, computers, energy industry. Maybe when I post on these other topics I will try to tie them into the climbing / outdoor theme.

Mountains Around Namche

It is now February 2011; people that are going to attempt Everest this year are in their final weeks of preparation. I personally know three people that are heading there this year, and I’ve exchanged emails with another few. It’s an exciting time for them, and I know what it’s like to be nearing such a big adventurous expedition. In fact, I find myself being a little envious of the big journey they are about to embark on; I find myself thinking that I would also like to be a part of an experience like that again.

This makes me remember a little conversation I had at the Calgary Airport with Calgarian and Everest Summiteer Andrew Brash. It was the day I was leaving for my Everest trip, we were on the same flight to Vancouver. When I told him I was heading to Kathmandu to start my Everest journey, he said how nice it would be to go and do the same, head back to Everest and go climb there. I thought little of it at the time, but later on as I hated my life in Everest Basecamp, I wrote a blog post where I wondered about people like that:

We all discuss and wonder about those people that climb this mountain more than once, or those that hear about us going and say “Oh wow, I’m envious, you’ll have such a good time, I wish I was back on Everest!” Maybe it’s the fact that after a period of time all the hardships selectively leave our memory, and only the good memories remain. Well let me go on record while I still go through all the bad things and say those people can go knock themselves out and have this mountain when we’re done with it. There’s not much fun to be had in climbing Everest.

(link to full entry)

Well, isn’t it funny, what goes around comes around. I am now one of those crazy people that, knowing how much pain and suffering is involved in climbing Everest, I find myself missing it (or certain parts of it).

For those interested in following along with the latest Everest climbers, here are some links: News items are posted along the right side of the main white column. Everest and associated climbing news. Two fellow climbers I met on Cho Oyu that have established their own charity to raise money for Greg Motenson’s Central Asia Institute with their Everest climb. Best of Luck Patch and Eric! Seth Wolpin from Seatlle, Washington area. Bill Borger from Calgary, who swam the English Channel in 2000, is attempting to climb Everest while raising money for Calgary Handibus. Gavin Vickers, fellow climber from Cho Oyu, is not actually planning to go up Everest (he’s already done that), but is leading an expedition up Lhotse, which shares the same route as Everest from Nepal up to Camp 4, where it splits off.

After Everest, come hear about my trip!

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Since coming back from Mount Everest, I have managed to keep quite busy with life and haven’t written anything for a while. I have given a few slide shows to friends and family, and passed along some of the stories, but I’m now doing one as an open event! I will be doing a talk and showing pictures from my trip this Thursday, I encourage everyone to come out! But this event is not just about me, it’s a little different than the other presentations I’ve done; this event is organized along with World Vision, there will be printed pictures from my trip, and it will all be tied in to the larger picture of my fund raising efforts and World Vision as a whole. So even if you have seen my pictures before, you haven’t seen it like this!

If you’re at all interested in my Everest adventure, or in my fundraising campaign, come on out! The official invite can be seen here, or read on:

You’re invited to an inspirational photo exhibit. This one day, open house features photos by Wiktor Mazur, a local World Vision Child Sponsor, who climbed Mount Everest.

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Open House from 6:00 – 9:30 pm, with Wiktor sharing his story at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30
Health Sciences Centre, by Foothills Hospital
Theatre 3 (2nd floor, elevator available upon request)
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary AB T2N 4N1

Back from his climb, Wiktor wants to share with you – through photos and stories – the challenges he endured and the triumphs he celebrated. Inspired by the children who live each day in poverty, Wiktor took on the grueling journey of climbing to the world’s peak, Mt. Everest; hoping to help these children enjoy life to its fullest.

Come see what he saw from the top of the world – see his photos and hear his story about climbing Mt. Everest.

SPECIAL FEATURE for Calgary: Seeing life through the lens of a child is a powerful experience.
Using a photography workshop, sponsored children, in Bangladesh and Zambia, learned basic composition and photography techniques. Then they took the cameras into their world – offering a rare photographic insight into the lives of sponsored children. They captured images of things they want to change and things they are proud of. The result is a celebration of their vision and their enthusiasm.

The children were also asked to photograph what they want to share with the world. Now you are invited to share in that experience with them – and see how the children look at their world.

Visit for more information (including map and parking information).

Suffering and Hope

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

For those who may not have been reading my blog too much, I often talk about how much suffering is involved in mountain climbing. What we have to put our minds and bodies through in high altitude mountaineering is not easy; you can’t quite train away the suffering that will have to be endured while acclimatizing on the mountain. It is the main reason I did this climb for charity, it was my way of putting myself into the suffering of those most needy in the world. On that note, there is a quote I heard just today that might put that suffering into a bit of perspective, for why people do it:

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.”

Maybe if you’re ever going through some tough times yourself (climbing your own internal Everest) keep the above in mind.

Below, a couple more pictures from the summit, holding flags of the Knights of Columbus. My fellow Knights supported me on this climb both in moral support and donations, so much thanks to them all!

KofC Summit

KofC Summit

Snow Blindness and Sun Burn

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I do not feel like writing too much right now, so I will post another couple of pictures that might tell their own story. While going from Camp 3 to Camp 4 I got sunburned on my cheeks under the sides of my eyes. That is what caused the scabs on my face. Also, while coming down from the summit I got mild snow blindness, which lead to my eyes and upper face being swollen. All together it looked like I got into a fight with the ugly stick and lost badly.

Snow Blindness and Sunburn

Making little mistakes on Everest like I did does have consequences. It’s an unforgiving mountain. Now things are better, I am in Kathmandu, once again back in civilization, enjoying it tremendously. My face seems to be healing well; while I still had scabs on my face it was a definite conversation starter. I got myself a haircut, now all I need is a real job.

Face Healing Well

Take care everyone and see you soon!

Namche Bazaar, 3440m

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Today we are taking a rest day at Namche Bazaar, our second stop on the way from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. If you look at our latest dispatch (which I see hasn’t been posted yet) you’ll know that everyone is doing good, and our bags not being here is the only issue that’s not perfect. So I wanted to elaborate on that a little bit because that’s pretty vague.

Myself, I am not feeling 100%. I started getting a little bit sick as we were leaving for our hike. I usually only get sick when I don’t sleep, and that was the case in Kathmandu, due to the jet lag. Also, the hotel room I was in was freshly painted and I seemed to get a little bit of an allergic reaction to that (or who knows what else that may have been in my room?) Anyways, it made me wonder what kind of paint they use in Nepal, somehow I don’t think it’s the latest and greatest in non-toxic paint, and I wonder how much lead is in it? Not something I would normally ask but under the circumstances… Anyways, I had a sore throat on the first day of our hike and felt pretty weak, right now I’m a little stuffed up, but luckily I have been sleeping a lot lately and seem to be getting over it.

I also have some stomach issues, I frequent the bathroom often among other things, but it’s something I experienced already on Cho Oyu, so I’m not too worried about it. I needed stomach antibiotics last time to sort that out, this time I’m hoping the pro biotic tablets I have can help.

There’s others on our team that are not at their best. One member has Giardia (sp?), another got a sore throat at the same time as me, but rather than get better his sore throat has been spreading lower, and now it’s sitting in his lungs. Others are getting typical headaches, things like that.

So things are not all perfect, but honestly this is about standard for these kinds of expeditions. But because it’s normal, don’t expect to hear these kinds of details in the dispatches that we send out.

That’s it for now, we’ll be another week or so in getting to base camp, I’ll try and write more if there’s anything worth mentioning, and if I have internet access. Hope everyone has a good Easter!

Everest Itinerary

Monday, March 29th, 2010

“Two and a half months? Why does it take so long to climb Everest? What will you be doing all that time?” To answer some of those questions, and to give you an idea of what we might be doing any given week you consider checking this blog out, have a look below at our proposed itinerary. Some comments on it at the end.

Arriving in Kathmandu:

March 30) Arrive in Kathmandu (1300 meters/4,250 feet). Hotel.

April 1) In Kathmandu; visit temples, city tour, shopping and restaurants. Hotel.

Trekking to Basecamp:

April 2) Fly to Lukla (2860 metres/9,400 feet). Walk to Phakding (2650 metres/8,700 feet). Teahouse or camping.

April 3) Walk to Namche Bazaar (3450 metres/11,300 feet). Teahouse or camping.

April 4) Rest and acclimatization in Namche. Happy Easter! Check email, send messages at cyber-café, and eat at one of the many great restaurants in town. Teahouse or camping.

April 5) Walk to Pangboche (3750 metres/12,300 feet). Participate in a Buddhist Puja blessing ceremony with the local Lama at the monastery if you wish. Teahouse or camping.

April 6) Walk to Pheriche (4250 metres/13,900 feet). Visit the Himalayan Rescue Association health clinic. Teahouse or camping.

April 7) Walk to Dugla (4600 metres/15,100 feet). Teahouse or camping.

April 8) Walk to Lobuche (4900 metres/16,100 feet).

April 9) Walk to Gorak Shep (5150 metres/16,900 feet). Teahouse or camping.

April 10) Walk to basecamp (5000 metres/17,400 feet).

April 11) Rest, organization, and training day in basecamp.

April 12) Rest, organization, and training day in basecamp.

Climbing Everest:

April 13) Climb partway to camp 1 at 5800 metres/19,000 feet. Return to basecamp.

April 14) Rest in basecamp.

April 15) Climb to camp 1 at 5800 metres/19,000 feet. Return to basecamp.

April 16) Rest in basecamp.

April 17) Climb to camp 1, sleep there.

April 18) Walk to camp 2 at 6200 metres/20,300 feet, return to camp 1, sleep there.

April 19) Return to basecamp.

April 20) Rest in basecamp.

April 21) Rest in basecamp.

April 22) Rest in basecamp.

April 23) Walk to camp 1. Sleep there.

April 24) Walk to camp 2. Sleep there.

April 25) Rest in camp 2.

April 26) Explore route to camp 3 (7300 metres/24,000 feet), return to camp 2, sleep there.

April 27) Return to basecamp.

April 28) Rest in basecamp.

April 29) Rest in basecamp.

April 30) Rest in basecamp.

May 1) Walk to camp 1, sleep there.

May 2) Walk to camp 2. Sleep there.

May 3) Rest in camp 2.

May 4) Walk to camp 3. Sleep there.

May 5) Descend to camp 1 or camp 2. Sleep there.

Rest in Basecamp or Descend to a Lower Village:

May 6) Return to basecamp.

May 7) Rest in basecamp or descend to a lower village such as Pangboche.

May 8) Rest in basecamp or a lower village.

May 9) Return to basecamp from lower village. Rest in basecamp. Happy Mother’s Day!

Summit Attempt:

May 10) Walk to camp 1, sleep there.

May 11) Walk to camp 2, sleep there.

May 12) Walk to camp 3, sleep there.

May 13) Walk to camp 4 at 8000 metres/26,200 feet, sleep there.

May 14) Attempt summit.

May 15) Attempt summit.

May 16) Return to camp 2, sleep there.

May 17) Return to basecamp.

May 18) Rest in basecamp.

May 19) Rest in basecamp.

May 20) Rest in basecamp.

May 21) Rest in basecamp.

May 22) Walk to camp 2, sleep there.

May 23) Walk to camp 3, sleep there.

May 24) Walk to camp 4, sleep there.

May 25) Attempt summit.

May 26) Attempt summit.

Going Home:

May 27) Return to camp 2.

May 28) Pack up camp 2.

May 29) Return to basecamp.

May 30) Pack up basecamp.

May 31) Pack up basecamp.

June 1) Trek down to Pheriche. Camp.

June 2) Trek down to Pangboche. Teahouse or camping.

June 3) Trek to Namche, Teahouse or camping.

June 4) Trek to Lukla. Teahouse or camping.

June 5) Flight to Kathmandu. Hotel.

June 6) Extra day in Kathmandu, in case of delay, and for sightseeing, gift shopping. Hotel.

June 7) Fly Home. Thanks for joining our expedition!

Of course this is just a proposed itinerary. The only thing 100% sure about this itinerary is that we will not follow it. Too many things vary from year to year to predict the detailed movements. But it’s an idea.

Another issue with this itinerary is that it proposes we cross the Khumbu ice fall at least 5 times up and down (it is between Base Camp and Camp 1). I have heard that some expeditions have changed their acclimatisation strategies to not cross the ice fall that often, as it’s the most dangerous part of the route. We’ll see what our plan is.

Here I go again on my own

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Going to climb Everest is one of those things that not many people are going to attempt. That means those of us that do usually have to go on our own and join up with a group once we get there, a group of people we know nothing about. That’s one of the hardest parts, leaving all behind and heading out on your own. It gets better once we all meet up in Kathmandu, and start talking to people that have the same goal as us. But until then I’m on my own, and for me it’s a bit of a difficult part! I usually end up getting this White Snake song stuck in my head, I find it’s surprisingly fitting for this occasion. I’ll share some lyrics below, though it’s better if you hear the song:

I don’t know where I’m going
But, I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time

Here I go again, here I go again

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

I’m just another heart in need of rescue,
Waiting on love’s sweet charity
An’ I’m gonna hold on
For the rest of my days,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

Dehydrated foods taste bad

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

In preparing for my Everest climb, one of the few things I still need to arrange is to have some food to take with me. While most of the food along the expedition is included, once we get to the high camps we have to rely on food we brought and carried up ourselves. Now, the problem with normal food is that a few days worth of it in your backpack can easily be a lot of weight. So one approach is to buy food that is dehydrated, which weighs very little, and you just add boiling water to a package and the contents are ready. Nice solution! The problem with that is it all tastes like crap!

But then again, everything tastes like crap when you’re at altitude. And I have only ever tried dehydrated meals at altitude. In fact, I thought they taste so bad that on my last trip in the Himalayas I could not even make myself open a package and try it. Mentally I was just so disgusted with the prepared dehydrated meal that would be the result that I was getting sick just thinking of it. So I just left them and snacked on other things instead.

In hoping to eliminate this mental block I thought I would prepare some dehydrated meals here at home, where they would come out better, and give them a try. The guy in the mountain store said this should be done, you should try eating them at home to see what you like and what you don’t. And it makes sense, because here you can boil water at 100 degrees (or close to is), whereas in the high camps on Everest you’re lucky if your water boils to 70 degrees. So the meals can be prepared better here.

Anyways, I just tried that with this one meal, and I had to throw half of it out. It was horrible. And while it sucks, I know I’m not alone. I’ve met at least one other accomplished climber who never touches dehy meals. It takes a bit more creativity and planning and thought to put stuff together, but it’s possible. I’m still working out what the best things are, it’s one of the things that I am finding is hardest to learn from one expedition to the next. I may not get it right for this trip but I’ll be closer than last trip. Wish me luck!

Dehydrated Meals