Everest-007 March 2007

Walking in the footsteps of others 3/31/2007

Flat Stanley at Pumori Flat Stanley in front of Pumori.

I am so aware as I trek to Everest Base Camp that I walk in the footsteps of so many others. Camped here in Loboche, I am reminded of when I was last here in 2002. Then, as I trekked, so did the Ford All Women’s Everest Expedition. I remember being both in awe of the women I shared the trail with as well as surprised at how “ordinary” they looked. I still find it hard to believe that I am camped where they camped and will follow their footsteps high on Everest.

Someone remarked that we weren’t wearing gloves as we trekked. The weather actually has been delightfully warm most of the time so we haven’t had to wear gloves very often. Last night with the jump in elevation to close to 5000 meters, we all pulled out our puffy jackets and more clothes than we’d needed before.

I continue to feel better though seem to be catching the team cold that is going around. A major challenge of any Everest expedition is staying healthy over the long haul. I’m taking it easy today and pumping in fluids and Cold FX.

Our sherpa climbing team dropped in on their way to base camp today. I got to spend some more time with Mingma. I look forward to climbing with him. Thanks to my friend, Marie, I’ve got an Everest-007 toque and t-shirt waiting for him at basecamp. I’m sure everything will seem much more real and less abstract when we reach base camp in two days.


This Everest-007 Update is made possible through the generous support of AppleCore Interactive, http://www.applecore.ca

Different Kind of Dispatch 3/30/2007

Location: Loboche
Weather: Sunny and warm, cool and overcast
Elevation: 4930 Meters
Elevation Gain: 600ish Meters

Sometimes gifts come wrapped in funny packages. Last night something did not agree with my innards and I had to spend some time outside the tent “dispatching” dinner in a most violent way. I felt much better sans the meal, but wasn’t sure if I would be able to move up with the group in the morning.

I spent much of the rest of the night playing through various scenarios-mostly telling myself that the light of day would bring the answer. Breakfast was a big challenge, but I managed to get some hot drinks to stay down. At the decision moment, I felt less nauseous so I elected to give it a go. My duffle was given to a porter so I could turn around at any point.

I knew slow and steady was the way and just put one foot in front of the other. I was surprised that I wasn’t too far off the pace since I expected to be bringing up the rear. A few times I ran out of gas and would take a “GU” (basically flavored corn syrup) to give me the energy to keep going.

We arrived at Tuglha for lunch and I managed to keep soup down-though still not many calories on board for the day. After lunch we climbed the Tuglha hill to the Memorial Chortens for both Westerners and Sherpas who have died in the mountains. The group drew quiet and stopped to take in both the sobering and inspiration sense of the place.

I got very emotional when I saw Sean Egan’s chotren. He, like me, was a university professor in Canada seeking to inspire his students to higher aims. He died at Everest base camp in 2005. Last year, one of his students summitted Everest in Sean’s honour.

After lunch, I was able to stay with the front runners of the group, though that wasn’t my intention. When we reached Loboche, the basecamp doc remarked, “TA you kick ass!” It was then that I realized the gift of the different kind of dispatch. I could see, and take in and claim, the mental and physical strength I possessed today in gaining 600 meters on clear fluids alone. Feeling poorly allowed me to reduce my own expectations of myself and that freedom was a gift.

As we climbed higher, we began to be cradled closer by the snow-covered peaks. We left Ama Dablam behind as we climbed a peat-covered bench and the mountain shined her pearlish summit in a way that is hard to describe. As we near basecamp (only three more sleeps!), I find the excitement in my belly growing and expanding and I’m eager to see my home for the next months.

This Everest-007 Update is made possible through the generous support of AppleCore Interactive, http://www.applecore.ca

There is TA 3/29/2007

There’s TA!!

“There’s TA!!!” is a chorus we heard from thousands of students in the dozens of schools we visited in the province. Please keep those messages coming as TA loves hearing from the students that she has met. Judy

Location: Dingboche Weather: Sunny and warm Elevation: 4343 Meters

This was another rest/acclimitization day. After breakfast, I headed out solo again up the valley towards Chhukung and Island Peak. After yesterday’s high, I had a sense I might struggle again with “pace” so I thought it would be good to reduce the amount of external stimuli. I knew it was time for to work with “The Climb Between My Ears.”

As someone pointed out in response to one of my dispatches, climbing Everest will be as much an internal process as external. So far on the trek to basecamp, it’s been an intense internal process. By the end of walk today, I’d succeeded in reducing the amount of chatter in my mind and enjoyed drinking in my external surroundings rather than my internal landscape.

After lunch, we ventured down to Pheriche to hear the High Altitude talk at the Himalayan Rescue Association Aid Station. We were reminded that it never makes sense to ascend when experiencing any symptoms of acute mountain sickness. The memorial outside the clinic was another stark reminder of the potential consequences of bad luck or bad decision-making.

Tomorrow we make another big jump to Loboche. Hopefully everyone does well with the second night at this altitude.

Thanks to the students at Macpherson Elementary-I enjoyed your messages. I am climbing the South Col route and I will be on the mountain until the end of May.

Catch ya tomorrow,


This Everest-007 Update is made possible through the generous support of AppleCore Interactive, http://www.applecore.ca

TA is in the middle 3/28/2007

From Coleman Everest 2007


Apple Dablam 3/28/2007

Please note that TA’s updates are initially posted to:


At the myeverest web site, you can post messages to TA, see her pictures beside the daily updates, and follow Paul Adler of Australia during his second Mount Everest climb.


Apple Dablam Ama Dablam was on my right shoulder for most of the trek. It is such a striking peak-it reminds me of the Universal Pictures logo. It’s a peak that seems impossible to climb, but I know several expeditions make their way up it each season. I want to thank my dear friends Deb and Wilma and their business, AppleCore Interactive, for making these live updates from TA’s Everest-007 possible. They are on the forefront of innovative communications and I appreciate their generous support of these dispatches.

No More Trees for Months Making the jump from Deboche to Dingboche, we have left the trees behind. We began the day in a pine forest and now, we see only small brushy scrubs and lots of rocks. As a rock wall fan, I could admire many examples of Nepali stone masonry along today’s hike. Absorbing the amount of labour that must have gone into building the walls, yak pens, houses, and lodges is near impossible. Tonight we are camped in a yak pen as we were last night. I fell asleep to the sounds of softly chewed cud and the tinkling of yak bells.

Much Appreciation Thanks to all the Grade Five students at Hazelwood Elementary who sent emails of inspiration and advice. Thanks as well to Fiona for sharing your experience. I had been telling myself the same thing, but sometimes it’s helpful to hear something from an outside source.

Someone had asked about dogs. We’ve heard dogs more frequently than we’ve seen them-though a few have tagged along at points along the trek.

Until tomorrow,


Nuns and Monks 3/27/2007

Location: Deboche
Weather: Snow and cold in the morning, sunny and warm after
Elevation: Same as yesterday

Soon after breaKfast we headed down trail for about 10 minutes to the Deboche Nunnery. It houses six nuns at the moment and we made a special effort to visit since it receives far fewer visitors (and therefore less donations) than the Tengboche Monestary.

A young nun opened the prayer hall and watched with curiosity as we Westerners explored the unfamiliar surroundings. I was struck by the Buddhist iconography that adorned the walls and several times I became teary at its meaning that provides comfort and direction in my life.

Since we knew the Rinpoche was not going to be in residence today at the Tengboche Monestary, several of us chose to light butter lamps in offering for our safe ascent and descent of Mount Everest. This was an emotional moment for most as we squarely faced and accepted the dangers that lie ahead.

After lunch, I headed back up to Tengboche on my own. It was great to have some time hiking alone and I climbed high above the village to commune with thousands of prayer flags catching the wind. The ridge had several chortens (memorial sculptures) to past lamas of the monestary.

The Tengboche monestary allows visitors to observe afternoon chants. The young monks had an assortment of modern logoed clothing in yellow, orange, and red. After the conch blew, they quickly came back with traditional robes covering their more modern accouterments.

They assembled behind the head monk who swung burning juniper. The aromatic smoke filled the hall along with the melodic chants and mantras. The vibration in the hall seemed to emaniate from deep within the polished wooden floor and cradled all who heard the rhythmic syllables.

So, as this day comes to a close, I am deeply appreciative of having the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) in my life and, I suspect from past experience, that climbing Everest will provide many more embodied lessons of my Buddhist path.

Tomorrow we make a big jump in elevation as we climb to Dingboche.

Thanks to all for your supportive messages. I receive a compliation email once a day when I send out this update. A true highlight to each day.


The Road to Tengboche 3/26/2007
Location: Deboche
Elevation: 12,200 feet
Weather: Super hot then overcast and cool
Hours of Trekking: Six

Our Amazing Sherpas
Today was a typical trekking day. We were up at six, packed by seven and on the trail by eight. The sherpa staff spoil us left, right, and center with tea delivered to our tents and meal after amazing meal.

Sherpa refers to both an ethnic group of people in Nepal and to a job of assisting climbing expeditions. Not all climbing sherpas are Sherpa but most are. In Nepal, people’s last names are their ethnic group…for example, my climbing Sherpa’s name is Mingma Ongel Sherpa.

There are two major monestaries in the Solo Khumbu region: Thame and Tengboche. Today, Flat Stanley and I passed the Tengboche Monestary. Tomorrow, if the Lama is in residence, we will climb back up to Tengboche to receive his blessing.

Today’s route contoured around from Namche then dropped back to the riverand then climbed dramatically up to Tengboche.

Lessons Already
I suspect I wasn’t the only one to wonder, “if I’m breathing hard here at 3800 metres, what will it be like at twice that elevation?” When such an avalanche of doubt would descend, I reminded myself to just keep taking one step at a time and to keep my view quite narrow to the trail in front of me. This grounded me in the present moment and I could remember that “this moment” didn’t mean anything about “the next moment.” Everything is impermanent including big hills while acclimitizing.

A few questions people had asked…the distance from Lukla to Base camp is approximately 40 miles.

The market picture…there is a pile of ginger, some red chilis, some mushrooms, eggs, and tumeric (a frequently used spice).

So, already the mountains are teaching me much. TA

Sushi and Showers 3/25/2007

Location: Last Night in Namche
Activity: Training Hike to Thame
Weather: Another Day In Paradise
Highest ElevationToday: 13,200 feet

It’s Sunday. I usually send out a weekly summary to my cyber support team on Sundays. In honor of that reflective tradition, I am going to make an audio blog called called Sushi and Showers. Be sure to listen in to hear more. TA

Note: TA’s audio blogs are available at http://www.myeverest.com


Market Day 3/24/2007

From our high perch above Namche, the blue, red, and green roofs of the village form a vivid patchwork of color reminiscent of a Shepani’s apron. Soon after breakfast, we headed down to town to take in the weekly market that draws folks from neighboring villages.

The market is crowded with goods and people: spices, recently slaughtered meat, chinese shoes, and packaged food stuffs abound. We squeeze through and then explore Namche’s horseshoe shaped, cobbled streets.

My First Post Mail
Congrats to my Mom and Dad, Brenda and Jean-Marcel, and Karen for getting me my first post mail. It arrived today with Jangbu when he arrived from Kathmandu. Have I mentioned that I look to receive snail mail? My post address is on my website: http://www.taloeffler.com.

Today I met my personal climbing Sherpa, Mingma Ongel Sherpa. He is from Phortse. Our sherpa team has 76 collective Everest summits. Mingma has summitted four times! I very much look forward to climbing with him.

The base camp doctor also arrived today. Turns out I met her in Pheriche in 2002 when she helped me get over a high altitude gastritis problem from drinking too much Nepali tea. A small world indeed!

Namche Bazaar 3/23/2007

Location: Namche Bazar
Highest Elevation Today: 3880 metres
Weather: Couldn’t be better!

The night was punctuated by the a chorus of dogs competing for the loudest bark award. Morning came a delightful light and lofty views of snow covered peaks.

Everest View
We headed up to the Everest View Hotel to catch our first view of Everest. Many ohs and ahs and photographs were had. Flat Stanley was very excited to see the mountain so early in the trip. Using binoculars, we tried to identify numerous landmarks on the peak. One thing that did not escape notice was the huge plume coming off of the summit.
The hike provided us with a chance to stretch our legs and breathe deep while we introduced our bodies to the new altitude. The idea is to climb high and sleep low as a way to acclimitize. One acquires funtional acclimitization about one week after such an introduction but complete acclimitization requires four to six weeks. You can’t rush acclimitization-only support the process.

Tomorrow is Market Day
Tomorrow is market day in Namchee. Many porters and sellers will arrive with goods in baskets like I showed yesterday. There will also be meat, vegetables, and spices for sale.

Lukla to Base Camp
Someone asked about the distance to Everest Base Camp from Lukla. In my experience, people often think more in hours of travel or elevation gained. We are taking 14 days to trek to basecamp because we have lots of time and want to acclimitze well. In 2002, I got there in 8 days because I was ready acclimitizated from a previous trek.

Other Views
There are a few other folks on the expedition who have websites they are updating. Here are the URL’s if you’d like some other perspectives on the trip:


In answer to another question, I do have a brother. His name is Mike.

Finally, today I felt like I was easing into my Nepal life. I’m apprecating being back here surrounded by beautiful peaks and wonderful people.


Back to Namche 3/22/2007
Location: Namche Bazar
Elevation: 3440 metres
Elevation Gained: 1180 metres gained
(as per Jean’s altimeter)
Weather: Beautifully Warm & Sunny

Back to 2002
Today as I trekked I remembered many more of the sights and sounds of the Khumbu. Passing tea houses where I had a meal or crossing suspension bridges over the Dudh Kosi, memories tugged at my heart repeatedly and I was transported back to 2002.

I repeatedly brought myself back to 2007 so I could drink in the colors, smells, and sensations of this trek. I can’t go far without the aroma of dung or wood smoke filling my nostrils.

Humility Awaits Around Every Corner
I am passed frequently by trains of zupkios (a yak cow mix) carrying reams of gear to higher locals. Humility is dished out at similar intervals when I notice the porters outpacing me using baskets to transport loads that weigh almost as much as I do.

We all dread the Namche Hill (a 600 metre gain) to close the day. It turns out, like most anticipated challenges, to be easier than we expect, and we arrived at camp in time to organize and get things dry.

One funny thought I had today was that the preparations for Everest were like prep school and the trek in, like “finishing school”. Altitude does funny things to my thoughts.

I’m feeling good and looking forward to exploring the Namche area as we take an acclimitization rest stop. TA

Hello from Phakding 3/21/2007

Elevation: 8700 feet
Weather: Pouring Rain

At last, after 18 months of planning, the trek to Everest has begun. We flew to Lukla early this morning on Yeti Airlines. Flat Stanley was excited for his first flight on a Twin Otter. We trekked about 4 hours to Phakding, arriving in the pouring rain.

I spun my first prayer wheels asking for determination, courage and confidence. Prayer wheels often mark the entrance to villages. They are brass ringed wheels with prayers imprinted in the brass and on scrolls inside. As the wheel spins, the prayers are released.

It’s very good to be underway as walking helps the nerves move on as life becomes the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other.

We’re off to Namche tomorrow.


Hi from Kathmandu 3/19/2007
Hi. Just a quick note to let you know I arrived safely in Nepal. I just had lunch at one of my favorite Thamel haunts and I’m getting ready to go pay a visit to Boddhinath Stupa. As it is not much beyond Tibetan new year, the stupa should be flying many, many colorful prayer flags.

Raj, a Nepali friend, met me at the airport with a lei of fresh flowers and a kata. I’m going to visit his family for dinner tonight. Thamel seems to be bustling with tourists these days.

We are having a team briefing tomorrow afternoon. I look forward to meeting everyone then. The 36 hours of travel passed relatively quickly and flying over two nights has me so messed up that the transition to Nepal time shouldn’t require too much effort.

More soon,


Happy St. Patrick’s Day 3/17/2007
The week began and ended with send-offs. Several friends gathered Sunday night to wish Flat Flanley and I well. It was lovely to see everyone and one of the highlights of the night for me was the Vanilla Dip Tim Bits. When I learned six months ago that Tim’s could make them as a special order, I knew I wanted them at my send-off party. They were an absolute delight to ingest–mini religious experiences in every sprinkled self-contained bite.

My second big send-off of the week was at MacDonald Drive Junior High school yesterday. It was the last day of their spirit week and I did my last presentation and the school chorus did a very moving version of “There ain’t no mountain high enough.” The media were there in droves and it was a terrific ending to the adjunct program of the expedition-in all I spoke to over 10,000 kids in the province in the last 10 months.

Now with parties, packing, and good-byes done, it’s time to embark of the big adventure. I’m taking several wonderful gifts along: a four-leaf clover, a gold stone, and a hand-spun, hand knit hat. The hat is a real Newfoundland-to-Nepal-and-back-again hat. It has a coloured stripe that was silk handspun by women in Nepal, and a cream stripe that is fleece spun here in Newfoundland, and it has a bit of grey wool in it that textile artist Janet Davis in Wesleyville had leftover from hooking a giant mat of fish flakes that just exhibited in The Rooms – the gray wool was from the cod tails.

According to Vera, who gave it to me, the Gold Stone is a stone of wisdom and science along with great drive and ambition. It teaches us to reach for the stars and reminds us of the light within the darkness. Earl who sent me off with the four-leaf clover also gave me this quote: “There is no luck without discipline.” Thanks to Janine for the wonderful massages–I’m heading to Nepal with a relaxed body. And thanks to all for the well wishes, cards, batteries, trail bars, and chocolate!

As I finished packing, I realized that I couldn’t find Flat Stanley. Turns out he was hiding in the T-shirts from Sunday night. He was feeling a bit anxious and scared but we had a chat and he’s ready for the Big E. I’ve got two huge duffles weighing about 60 pounds a piece, all the tech gear in the carry-on and hoping the big snowstorm off the eastern seaboard lets me get off the island later today. If not, it will be great practice for the enormous amount of patience and sitting and waiting that will be required of me in the next ten weeks.

So, I’m off (you sure are son!) That’s a line from a melodrama I was in high school. Little did Mr. Hamilton know when he introduced me to rockclimbing and mountaineering in 1982 that I would be heading for Mount Everest. My goals are to have fun, learn from every step, come home safely and try my best to reach the summit. I know the next weeks will be long, short, up, down, hard, amazing and everything in between. It’s time to go. I’m filled with gratitude to all of you for bearing witness over the past year, month, week, and days and I am buoyed by knowing that you’ll be there every step of the way. Big hugs, TA

Total Vanilla Dips the past week = 1, Vanilla Diplets = 13 Total for the Climb = 45

Leaving on a Jet Plane 3/16/2007
I had a fantastic send-off this afternoon at MacDonald Drive Junior High. The chorus sang “No Mountain High Enough” and I received a standing ovation from the 600 kids. There was lots of media at the event so watch for me on NTV and CBC St. John’s tonight.

With parties, packing, and good-byes done, it’s time to embark of the big adventure. I’m taking several wonderful gifts along: a four-leaf clover, a gold stone, and a hand-spun, hand knit hat. The hat is a real Newfoundland-to-Nepal-and-back-again hat. It has a coloured stripe that was silk handspun by women in Nepal, and a cream stripe that is fleece spun here in Newfoundland, and it has a bit of grey wool in it that textile artist Janet Davis in Wesleyville had leftover from hooking a giant mat of fish flakes that just exhibited in The Rooms – the gray wool was from the cod tails.

According to Vera, who gave it to me, the Gold Stone is a stone of wisdom and science along with great drive and ambition. It teaches us to reach for the stars and reminds us of the light within the darkness. Earl who sent me off with the four-leaf clover also gave me this quote: “There is no luck without discipline.” Thanks to Janine for the wonderful massages–I’m heading to Nepal with a relaxed body. And thanks to all for the well wishes, cards, batteries, trail bars, and chocolate!

So, I’m off (you sure are son!) That’s a line from a melodrama I was in high school. Little did Mr. Hamilton know when he introduced me to rockclimbing and mountaineering in 1982 that I would be heading for Mount Everest. My goals are to have fun, learn from every step, come home safely and try my best to reach the summit. I know the next weeks will be long, short, up, down, hard, amazing and everything in between. It’s time to go. I’m filled with gratitude to all of you for bearing witness over the past year, month, week, and days and I am buoyed by knowing that you’ll be there every step of the way.

Flat Stanley briefly went missing but I found him working out hard at the gym. He wants to be in prime shape for the challenges of Mount Everest. Thanks to all for your support and good thoughts! TA

Less than a Week to Go! 3/11/2007
It was a very busy week! I spoke at eight schools-four of which were outside St. John’s. In school, the Grade two’s had made small Newfoundland flags on Popsicle sticks. During the “We are the Champions” song they wove them in unison and I just about melted. We passed the 7500 kid mark and I’ve been receiving great feedback about the Physical Education curriculum we designed called “Train with TA.” The PE teachers at schools where I have visited say it’s been a tremendous resource for them. I’m proud of the outreach program. I have three more schools presentations this week including a big send-off on Friday at MacDonald Drive Junior High.

Along with all of the presentations, it was my last big week of training. I didn’t quite get it all in but I think it’s OK since I’m on the taper part of my program. I’ll do a bit more in the upcoming week and then it’s time to take it to the mountain in less than a week.

Life continues to be an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs, fears and confidence. I’m just riding the waves and know that the upcoming week will be filled with celebration and good-byes. Excitement continues to sprout and I imagine it will blossom as I finally land in Kathmandu.

As you know, I am taking Flat Stanley to Mount Everest on behalf of the Grade Three class at Woodland Elementary School in Grand Falls-Windsor. Zachary Davis, a student in that class, dropped by my office with his dad to meet me. He brought a tape-recorder and conducted a most professional interview. He knew his classmates had some questions and so he wanted to bring the answers back. I gave him some prayer flags to take back to his school because they have a large Everest painted on the wall and I thought the prayer flags might be the finishing touch.

Saturday, Mrs. Stoodley, the teacher of the class came by the house to meet me. I loved hearing about how the school was embracing the climb. Like St. Francis of Assisi School in Outer Cover, they will move Flat Stanley up the mountain as the children complete physical activity. Her class held a gum drive to raise money for the expedition. Wow!

Summit Day Vigil

I have a request. I would ask that in whatever way you might do it, you would give thoughts and prayers for my safety while I am on the mountain. Some of my friends are going to keep a candle lit, others have a picture of me someplace they can see it, others will just call me to mind. I’ll be starting the trek to base camp on March 22.

Along with keeping me in mind for the whole climb, I would ask that those of you that are willing to hold vigil on the day/night I am going for the summit. Perhaps some of you might gather together and hold me in the Light or watch Everest TV shows or play a game of hockey but I am comforted by the idea that my friends and supporters will be gathered around me on that big day. IMG does its best to keep people informed during summit bids with frequent email updates. My summit bid will happen sometime during the last two weeks of May.
Contacting and Following TA on Everest

I hope to update my website daily if the technology cooperates. If you would like to send me an email while I am on the mountain, you can email me from my website or at taloeffler@yahoo.com. My site moderator will amalgamate all of the emails each day into one large email that I’ll download via my satellite phone. I won’t have the capacity to respond to individual emails but I will post answers to questions to my website.

You will continue to receive a weekly update via email. If you would like to receive more frequent postings, you can sign up at http://www.myeverest.com. I will be posting updates there as well and that site can accept comments and can email you whenever I post an update. The site will go live very soon and you can set up an account there if you wish.

TA’s FAQ’s

Here are some answers to the questions I most frequently get when I present to kids.

What does TA stand for?

Totally Awesome

When did you start climbing?

I started climbing trees when I was nine. I then moved onto climbing the garage, the house, rock cliffs, and eventually mountains. My high school had an outdoor pursuits club and that gave me the skills to begin my career as an outdoor educator.

Why do you climb mountains?

I climbed Denali because I needed a really big project in my life to throw my heart and soul into. After that experience and seeing how, by sharing my process, others were inspired, I’ve continued to climb and adventure as a way to move others and myself forward. When I climb to high places, I see my world and myself in new ways. Even when I return to sea level, I carry what I saw with me through the rest of my life. I also love living and adventuring outdoors–it’s when I feel most alive and most “me.”

How many mountains have you climbed? What is your favorite mountain that you have climbed?

Actually, I forgot to count. I figure I have climbed 40-50 mountains in total. Denali is my favorite mountain to date.

Will you be the first Newfoundlander to climb Mount Everest?

I usually answer this question by saying “I made a mistake at birth.” I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta but now after 12 years in Newfoundland consider myself a NBC (Newfoundlander by Choice). As far as I know, I am the first person from our province to climb Mount Everest.

How do you train for Mount Everest?

I train 15-20 hours per week. I run, attend step aerobics with a pack, lift weights, do yoga and pilates, play hockey, ride my bike, and meditate. I train a few hours in the morning, at midday, and then in the evening.

How do you train and fundraise and still manage your job?

I don’t have much down time. I haven’t watched TV in four years. I multi-task. Sometimes I don’t get much sleep. Memorial University has been very supportive and my job allows me some flexibility in scheduling.

How much can you bench press and leg press?

I can bench press 160 pounds and leg press 750 pounds.

Have you always been fit?

I have always had a good level of fitness. When I started training for Denali, however, I had never been a runner. So I began by running one minute and walking one minute, running one minute and walking one minute. I then gradually increased the mileage until I was able to run more than 25 kilometers. Before Denali, I had never trained to the extend I do now. I am fitter now than ever before in my life.

How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?

Mount Everest is an expensive mountain to climb. My budget is $60,000 which includes the Everest permit, outfitter fees, my personal Sherpa, satellite phone and airtime, gear, and travel.

Where do you get your equipment for the climb?

My gear came from many sources including my personal stash, Mountain Equipment Co-op, The Outfitters, and Arthur James. The new equipment I needed for Mount Everest cost about $6000.

How is your fundraising going?

I have raised about $29,000 thus far. I’m thankful to all of the folks who have supported Everest-007 on the grassroots level by buying t-shirts, toques, carabiners, attending public talks, and making donations. As of yet, I have secured relatively little corporate and no government funding. I’ve mortgaged the house to make up the shortfall for now.

Are you scared about climbing Mount Everest?

You betcha! Mount Everest is a mountain with many hazards. I have worked hard to develop a high level of fitness and skill that I hope will help keep me safe but there are no guarantees. I’m scared of the Khumbu icefall, the effects of extreme high altitude, and the traverse to the summit. I have learned to work with my fear and use it to practice good hazard management. All said though, I am both excited and scared.

Have you ever fallen into a crevasse or been in an avalanche?

Knock on wood. Neither my team nor myself has ever fallen into a crevasse or been in an avalanche.

Will you climb with oxygen?

I will use oxygen on my summit bid. Using oxygen reduces the chances of getting frostbite.

How long will it take you to climb Mount Everest?

I leave St. John’s on March 17 and will return during the first week in June. It takes two weeks to trek to base camp and six to eight weeks to climb Mount Everest.

What will you miss while you are on the mountain?

I will miss hockey! It seems just when I get my hockey legs back it’s time to go climb another mountain. I will also miss my friends, family, and Buddhist Sangha. I’ll miss the smell of the ocean and of course, I will miss Vanilla Dips!

What books are you taking to read on Mount Everest?

I’m taking Endurance, The Story of Shakleton’s Expedition, The Dairy of Anne Frank, Training the Mind, and Awakening the Buddha Within.

What will you do after Everest?

I plan to sit on the couch! After some couch time, I’ll see what comes next. At some point, I would like to complete my climbs of the Seven Summits. I still need to climb the “A” continents: Antarctica, Africa, and Australia. I also want to return to filmmaking and do a post Everest speaking tour.

Thanks for your continued support! I can’t believe it’s less than a week.


Total Vanilla Dips the past week = 1.5, Total for the Climb = 41.25

Happy March 3/4/2007
March certainly came in like a lion around here! I had students out in some of the stormiest weather yesterday afternoon! I was very proud of them as they put all of their semester’s learning to the test while digging out their quinzhees in some ferocious blowing snow. I tramped from quinzhee to quinzhee checking in on each group as the afternoon wore on and the snow piled higher. I pitched my megamid thinking I would sleep there but given the big gusty winds, I played hermit crab and dug out one of the leftover “snow balls” from the trip three weeks ago and crawled into through the small hold to make my home for the night.

I brought my Everest North Face Himalayan down suit to try out–the stormy conditions were a perfect trial. Looking slightly like a cross between Big Bird and the Michelin Man, I waddled warmly from group to group. I really felt like I was cheating but it was great to try it out. I made my first excretions through the “rainbow zipper”– how amazing not to bare my bottom to the howling wind.

I felt like I was transported back to childhood and the infamous “snow suits” that all Canadian children of my generation went outside to play in. In my entire school career, we never had a snow day or recess cancelled because of weather–we just bundled up and went outside in all conditions. I do remember once, freezing my hands pretty good in grade five because I was punting a football at recess in minus 20 degree temps and preferred my bare hands to gloves because I could kick the ball further. Perhaps, this all explains a few things.

You have all heard, “Be careful what you wish for–you might get it.” I thought to myself, “High up on mountains, folks often sleep in their down suits–perhaps I should try sleeping in mine.” About an hour after that thought, a student came by saying that she’d ended up with a scrap of a sleeping bag instead of one of the school’s new winter bags. I paused and thought. I quickly realized that I needed to give her either my down suit or my sleeping bag…since I was currently snuggly in my suit-she got the minus 29 summit series sleeping bag. I got my hood, my summit gloves, and my boots. She had a toasty night. I missed having covers.

I crawled into my quinzhee and pulled on my neck gaitor, positioned my hood, and put my backpack over my pad where my boots would lay. I’d taken my big Everest boots on the trip as well because I’d had to replace the pair I’d taken on Aconcagua because of a zipper issue. They didn’t have my exact size to send back so I had to go up one size. I’m happy to report that the new ones will work fine (which is good because there is no other option). Anyway, it was funny to be trying to sleep with no covers, big boots, and a fluffy hood. I curled up and was mostly pretty warm through the night and getting up in the morning was simplified since there was no warm bag to have to get out of into the cold.

Those of us who braved the freezing drizzle to get the campfire going were treated to a spectacular view of the lunar eclipse. The clouds parted just in time for us to see the moon return after its time of darkness. The tiny sliver of light seemed to penetrate the sky to land right on the freshly fallen snow. A rare glimpse of skyward magic heightened by the contrast from the brutal weather earlier in the day. Flat Stanley who came on the overnight again was struck speechless by it all!

This week time seemed to speed up once again and I’m worried that the to do list seems to be getting longer instead of shorter. I had some good success with the PDA and learning to post to the myeverest website. If you’d like to get daily reports from the mountain, you can go to http://www.myeverest.com and sign up to receive emails when I post to the site. My website will also be updated daily or close to it and Judy Cumby will still send out weekly updates or more frequently when exciting things happen (like I reach base camp, my first trip to the ice fall, etc.). My expedition will also be covered by Everestnews.com and Alan Arnette’s Everest site. If the technology cooperates, I should be able to send reports and pictures from almost anywhere on the mountain.

As many of you know, the Omamobile is covered in bumper stickers. I have a new thermos and new duffle bags I’m taking to Everest. They seem so fresh and new that I was thinking that they might need some stickers to liven them up-so if you have any fun or inspiring stickers lying around–send them my way-they help me think of you as I climb.

I spoke to a few more schools this past week. There are a few precious moments to report. I often use the metaphor that we all have an inner puffer fish that blows up inside us and pokes us until we pay attention to our dreams/passions. So at an elementary school on Friday during the question and answer period at the end, a fifth grade girl put up her hand and said incredulously, “So ALL of this was because of puffer fish?” When I asked the group, “What is your Everest?” A young one in Kindergarten put up her hand and beamed, “My Everest is to be a butterfly.” Out of the mouths of babes!

I have one last big week of speaking at schools-eight more this week with a road trip to Placentia on Tuesday. Not sure much will get removed from the to do list this week. It’s also my last big week of training-that’s hard to believe! Eighteen months of sustained training is almost coming to an end-that means I must be going to EVEREST!

Eek. Double eek. I actually still have trouble saying that out loud. Denial is easier. I manage my fear and anxiety by breaking it down into steps/phases. I currently think of it as trekking into base camp. Then it will be climbing Island Peak. Then the first big trip through the Ice Fall. Then I might need to give up the denial 🙂 and actually face/accept/celebrate/imagine that I am actually going to climb Everest. I struggle to find the words to describe how my mind works with all this at the moment.

I do know that all the signs are starting to point towards a rapidly approaching departure…I’m off to play my second last Sunday hockey game before leaving, I sat my second to last meditation sitting this morning, I’m scheduling dinners and breakfasts with friends, these are all signals to me that transition will soon be upon me and I’ll be back in Kathmandu very soon.

Thanks to all for your well wishes, good thoughts, inspirational sayings, and prayers. I’m going to need them all. And thank you for coming along on this journey with me–I can’t imagine doing it without you.


Total Vanilla Dips the past week = 1, Total for the Climb = 39.75

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