Everest-007 April 2007

They Shoot Horses… 4/30/2007

Location: Everest Basecaap

Elevation: 5300 Meters

Elevation Gain: 0 Meters

Weather: Highly variable

Quote of the Day: Life is short, things change.

At this point of the day, I expected to be writing you from Camp One. Better judgment was had.

Warning: This update is composed under the influence of much Gravol.

I digress. A hard night. Dinner became performance art (to quote Scott). “No big deal,” I thought. I’m used to losing a meal (though this was my second in a day). I fortunately went back to sleep fairly easily (small joys of living in a tent. You just need to make it past the zipper.)

The alarm went off at 4:30 am and I made all the right moves for a day on “the hill.” Layers on, inner boots laced, pack packed…when I went to pull my inner boots into my outers…the morning ritual began and I heaved all the water I drank all night out of me and into the tent’s vestibule.

“No problem,” I said. I got my boots on and stepped out into the cold, dawning morning. Unfortunately, this time, the upchuck didn’t make me feel better. I felt increasingly weak and nauseated. I kept trying to get my ice axe on my pack between attacks, but it became too much.

As an outdoor educator, I’m trained to assess risks. In the inky blackness, I told myself to step back and look at the bigger picture. I was now without food for almost 16 hours, and there seemed little hope breakfast would stick around.

No, this was not a condition in which to ascend the icefall! Hard words to tell myself but necessary ones. One needs to move fast and sharp in the icefall. In no way did that describe me this morning.

As you can imagine, I was overcome with emotion as I told Jean to go on without me. I called three dear friends for solace and perspective, for in that moment, I felt done. DONE. So done. So frustrated that the nausea wasn’t going away, so sad not be going on a rotation just then, so confused as to what makes sense.

All three were good to point out that I’d been a sick a long time on this trip and that maybe my body was reaching its limits. In the dark, I agreed. Maybe this was it. Maybe the game was over. Maybe I didn’t have enough reserve left. Lots of maybes.

The maybes remain. I went over to see my favourite docs to see if there was any other thing the nausea could be related to…given its intermittent nature and a few appropriate signs and symptoms, they’ve decided on giardia.

So, I’m pumped up on Gravol and have begun the two day treatment for giardia. I’ve kept lunch from becoming part of an artist’s palette and I’m hoping (with the help of Gravol) I can do the same with dinner.

With a diagnosis, comes hope. Maybe, the drugs will do their work and I can bring my eating back to normal which will bring my strength and reserve back up to where it needs to be to continue.

In the light of day, I am less clear than in the stark blackness of night. Some hope has snuck in the backdoor and I’m wanting to give the drugs a chance to work.

I’m clear that if the drugs don’t work, I’m probably done on the mountain as I have already lost 15% of my body weight. The general adage is that people who lose 10% of their body weight don’t summit.

I was feeling so poorly at the Doc’s that we didn’t talk future. They set me up with drugs and sent me back to bed. Now, with some food and water on board, I feel some better. I’ll rest the rest of today and tomorrow and then reassess my body’s capacity for climbing.

Many thanks to all for your well-wishes in the icefall. My climbing companions had a good trip through this morning and are now resting at Camp One. I miss being up there with them, but I made the right decision.

Part of a mountaineer’s job description is to make the right decisions over and over again balancing health, weather, terrain, mountain conditions, etc. I’ve always thought Ed Viesters approach was the way to go: “The summit is optional, getting down mandatory.”

As someone who is rarely sick, and for someone who is generally strong and resilient, this past month has been full of life lessons that can only be gained from seeing things from an entirely new perspective.

I didn’t/don’t wish for this new view, but can only do my best to remain open to the understandings and learnings that are presented from this vantage point.

Susan, Karen, and Judy – thank you so much for your support, perspective, advice, and willingness to listen this morning. I was a hurting gator and I appreciate you being there. I’ll keep you posted as I make my way through these next days.

I know you’re all out there cheering for me no matter what and I appreeciate that greatly.


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

Cheering TA Along 4/29/2007


Even though TA does not have the ability to reply to individual emails and messages, please know that each day she receives your encouraging words and news. TA loves hearing from everyone. From the time she left Newfoundland and Labrador, up until April 29th TA has heard from folks from the following schools and organizations:

* All Hallows, North River
* Balbo Elementary, Clarenville
* Baltimore School, Ferryland
* Beachy Cove Elementary, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s
* Bishop Feild, St. John’s
* Clarenville Primary, Clarenville
* Cowan Heights Elementary, St. John’s
* Girl Guide Trefoil Guild
* Gonzaga High School
* Hazelwood Elementary, St. John’s
* Holy Cross, St. John’s
* Holy Heart, St. John’s
* Holy Trinity Elementary, Torbay
* Humboldt Park K8 School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* Lakecrest, St. John’s
* Leysin American School in Switzerland
* MacPherson Elementary, St. John’s
* MacDonald Drive Junior High
* Memorial University, St. John’s: Instructional Development Office; OECR Wave Tank, Faculty of Engineering; Technical Services
* Newfoundland School for the Deaf, St. John’s
* Paris Elementary, Paris, Kentucky
* QECVI, Kingston, Ontario
* St. Anne’s Academy, Dunneville
* St. Francis of Assisi, Outer Cove
* Stella Maris Academy, Trepassey
* Vanier Elementary, St. John’s
* Woodland Primary, Grand Falls-Windsor

It would be nice if you would please mention what school or organization you are from when you send a message to TA. Thanks. Also, please be sure to check http://www.myeverest.com/ta for audio updates.


Communication to and from Everest is made possible through the generous support of AppleCore Interactive, http://www.applecore.ca

Taking It Easy 4/28/2007

Location: Basecamp

Elevation: 5300 Meters

Elevation Gain: Absolutely none!

Weather: Huge gusts in the morning, now gorgeous!

Lojong Slogan of the Day: Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.

It was another hugely windy night. At times I wondered if my tent would still be there in the morning. I slept pretty well and awoke to news that some teammates had headed up. The cold cutting wind made me happy to be staying put.

After an uneventful breakfast (praise be to all deities), I reorganized my Camp Two bag that will go up with me. I cleaned up my nest and attended to several mid expedition tasks (refilling sunscreen, refilling drugs, laundry, etc.).

The wind was so brisk and the wash water so cold that post laundry, I crawled back into my tent to restore my hands to life. I read some in my book and got that lovely drowsy feeling and took my first nap of the trip. The temperature in the tent was perfect and I rested deeply and contentedly until lunch.

I played about 10 games of Solitaire after lunch and am now lounging about writing my dispatch. It’s been a perfect day of taking it easy after a particularly intense stretch. Just what you all ordered! I took some codeine last night and started to use my inhaler again so my cough is much quieter today. No nausea yet today!

Jean and I have decided to do our next rotation together. We went back and forth between tomorrow and Monday for going up. The high winds this morning led us to choose Monday in hopes of a change in the weather system. I’ll be counting on all of you to be thinking of us as we make our way up the icefall again.

Judy pointed out that it was a year ago that I had my first major fundraising event. It was called “TA’s Road to Everest.” Having lived almost a month at basecamp, it’s still hard to believe the road actually led here.

A major avalanche just let go from the West Shoulder-it sent spindrift snow all over basecamp. Amazing to watch from afar. There is a huge line of people coming down the icefall. We think it is the group bringing Dawa Sherpa’s body down.

Nick-thanks for sharing your perspective on my tribute to Michael. I also appreciate the support you’ve been giving Judy, my Communications Queen.

Lorraine-thanks for continuing to post and share your own journey. I packed up the big flag today to take to Camp Two.

MC-you bring some important questions/perspectives to the questions I raised yesterday.

Katherine-any word on your thesis?

Karen-I gave the snowboard gloves to Mingma because they were too big for me. He sends his thanks. We got some cumulus clouds on the go today.

Scott-thanks for the additional noble truths…and your thoughts on bigger questions.

Darrell-can you deliver Tim’s to basecamp? Did you like my sailing/icefall analogy?

Eva-welcome back! I hope you got all you needed done-thanks for your words.

BPT-thanks for the tonglen reminder-it’s been a good practice to do.

Deb & Wilma-Welcome back! I hear the tans are good. How’s the new building?

Thanks to all for stopping by.


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

In Honour of Michael Beecher Smith 4/27/2007

Location: Mount Everest South Basecamp

Elevation: 5200 Meters

Elevation Gain: 100 Meters

Weather: Sunny and Windy

Michael Beecher Smith was a young man with a huge, huge heart. He passed away in January and the loss is huge. I taught Michael in two classes at Memorial University (MUN). He was a delight to teach and my mind is filled with fond memories of him.

He was also on the wrestling team at MUN and so spent lots of time in the weight room. We often overlapped there and he was a huge supporter of all of my climbs. As a wrestler and weightlifter, Michael knew how to “play through pain.” He had to make weight for wrestling and he was always trying to get me to take my greens and other supplements because I was training so hard.

Michael seemed just to know when to throw in an encouraging word or come over and tell me to push the bar a little further than I thought I could. I feel his spirit with me here on Everest. He was so excited for me. I have thought of him often when the going has been so hard.

I know if Michael were alive today, he would be following my climb daily. With permission of his family, I decided to create a memorial for Michael here recognizing his spirit, his heart, and his tenacity in a way that will help me climb both the literal and figurative mountain in front of me.

This morning I hiked out about an hour from basecamp towards Pumori and Gorak Shep. At a spot we call “The Ridge”, I climbed off the beaten path to a flat bench of land with a spectacular view. This special spot is on the shoulder of Pumori. Pumori means “Daughter of Everest.” I’m taking liberties and thinking of Pumori as inclusive of “Son of Everest” as well.

This ridgeline overlooks Everest basecamp, the Khumbu Icefall, and when there are no clouds, the summit of Mount Everest. At first, I thought I would build a memorial chorten as is tradition here, but since Michael did not die in Nepal, I came to a different vision.

Michael grew up in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The aboriginal people of Labrador use Inukshuks (stone people) to mark paths and guide people along the featureless tundra. Thinking that we all need guidance and direction, I decided to build an inukshuk for Michael’s spirit.

As I hauled each rock, I thought of each piece representing some part of Michael’s gifts and talents. It was tricky to get all the stones to balance on top of each other. During this time, I thought of Michael’s challenges and obstacles. When I put the crowning rock into place and hung Tibetan prayer flags from the inukshuk’s shoulders, I thought of Michael’s fondness and appreciation of me.

Michael understood that I am happiest when I can combine several passions into one moment. This morning, in Michael’s honour, I brought together mountains, teaching, spirituality, and stonework. I’m sure he would smile at the combination.

After the sculpture was finished, I sat in silence absorbing the same view at the inukshuk (the same one as in today’s picture). When the time was right, I stood, touched the inukshuk’s shoulder, wished Michael peace, and returned to the main trail with my eyes awash in salt water.

There is an award for student athletes at MUN in Michael’s memory. It is called the Michael Beecher Smith Heart Award. If by chance you would like to contribute to this award, please make out your check to Memorial University of Newfoundland and mail it to:

School of Human Kinetics and Recreation

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 5S7 CANADA

Attn: Michael Beecher Smith Award

I hope in the next hours, days, and weeks that I can draw on Michael’s heart, spirit, and determination to do “the thing I think I cannot do.” (Eleanor Roosevelt).

My thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family as they make their way through this tremendous time of grief, loss, and sorrow.

With both an open and heavy heart,


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

The Inevitable Moment 4/27/2007

Location: Everest Basecamp

Yesterday morning, it was easy to tell that something was up. The big people were standing about with radios, conversations were going back and forth, and many stared up the icefall. We waited. We knew we would be told what was happening when the time was right.

Our leader came over and told us a sherpa had been killed on the Lhotse Face. The group shrank into silence. Stunned. Not wanting to believe. We were reminded not to blog or call home about the death so the authorities would have time for notifications of his family.

There were few details available and we each had to stare at our mortality directly. It is easy to drop into denial about the dangers of being on this mountain. And like passing a car wreck on the highway or hearing of a plane crash, one couldn’t help examine what we are doing here, wonder if we should be here, and notice that eventually each of us will die.

It was hard on me not to share my reactions to “this inevitable moment” yesterday. It was what I was sinking into yesterday. Over the past year, I wondered what my reaction would be to hearing of a death on Everest while I was on the mountain. I knew I couldn’t know until it happened.

Knowing the dangers of this mountain, I think I knew it was not a question of if, but when. When I first heard, a leaden curtain descended on me. I felt horrible for the sherpa’s family. I wondered if he suffered. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.

Today, I’ve learned his name was Dawa Sherpa. I also learned that his death had already been widely reported on the internet yesterday. I gave thanks (selfishly) that he wasn’t on my expedition team so there was some distance from what would have been intense grief but it is still pulling at me nonetheless.

I questioned being here on this climb in a different way. Did I somehow contribute to this man’s death by being here? Am I comfortable with the sherpas risking their lives so much more than I do? Is this a climbing ethic I can live with? Is this a signal to stop? Do I honour sacrifice by continuing or by stopping?

These and other questions continue to swirl around in my head. I’m heading out for a planned walk that I’ll tell you about later today. I just wanted to acknowledge that I did know about Dawa Sherpa’s death yesterday and that I’m a processing it on many levels. My feelings and thoughts are complex and I suspect, the ramifications of yesterday’s inevitable moment will sit with and on me for some time.

My condolences go to his family, friends, and loved ones. I hope his team will take care of them. My appreciation and gratitude are with our sherpa staff for they make this climb possible and they undertake great risk on my behalf.

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

Three-peat 4/27/2007


I know this is getting ridiculous-three posts in one day-but heck-what else is there to do in basecamp 🙂

The first Noble truth of Buddhism is “Life is suffering.” Check!

The second Noble truth is that “Suffering is caused by craving.” I crave feeling better so I’ve got suffering on top of suffering. Check!

The third Noble truth is “The way out of suffering is to give up craving.” OKAY-I guess I’ll abandon all hope/craving of ever feeling better and perhaps, I’ll feel better. Check!

The fourth Noble truth is “everything is impermanent”. Including nausea and Khumbu cough. Check!

My apologies to the Buddha if I got those wrong. I’m really working hard to make peace with feeling so lousy. Breakfast was yogurt and two small pieces of bacon-nothing else seemed the least bit appetizing. On my hike, I could feel the lifeblood energy bleeding out once again and so choked down half a Cliff Bar.

It’s hard not to get discouraged pulling each step out of the depths of my starving body. Gagging was frequent on my walk and it feels like my esophagus is being turned inside out with each episode. I’m usually such a good eater and have never had such prolonged nausea.

As folks have suggested, I’m playing the field and just trying to get calories in. Last night, I had huge joy when Pemba served my favoritist meal in the whole wide world…sushi maki rolls. I revelled in devouring (and keeping) several wasabi drenched servings. I add sugar to everything and am hoping my body figures out once again that food is not our enemy.

So…I’ll keep resting and eating and reading and posting…folks are headed up to Camp One tomorrow-they were going there today but were hindered by weather and a route-collapse in the icefall. I’m pondering Sunday or Monday for going up.

We had a real treat this afternoon. The inventor of the “Top Out” mask visited our camp. He took us through the entire system and gave lots of tips for using the mask. I was thrilled that the base mask was quite similar to the one I used with the Go2Altitude hypoxic training system so that provides some familiarity. I have never used O2 in climbing but have enjoyed lots of SCUBA diving. We’ll have the opportunity to test out the oxygen system on this rotation up.

In trying to keep the support of a joyful mind, I wanted to share one of my biggest delights…going to bed with a hot water bottle. Before heading off to my nylon abode each evening, I fill one of my water bottles with hot water. This helps warm cold toes and ease the transition into my cold feather-filled sack. Try it the next time you are camping-just make sure the bottle is well sealed.!

I also want to wish Anne Budgell all the best in her retirement from CBC radio. She once called me “Newfoundland’s most adventurous woman.” Anne-may your next path be filled with adventures of all sorts.

Dr. Walker-so nice to hear from you-your words ring wise and true.

NB-I can feel you there with me. Thanks.

Students at Stella Maris-Thanks for writing from Trepassey. Say hi to the ocean for me. And yes, I’d love to come back to your school.

Ken-thanks for the daily encouragement from Kiwi land.

Ray-Thanks for your encouragement-you do know how tough life can be up here.

Leo-I hope your move goes well-you must be getting excited. Hope Takunda is behaving himself and getting ready to join the world.

Buddy-Looking for some side-spliting lenticular clouds. I’ll try to find you by phone soon.

BPT-perfect slogan…I’ll try to keep remembering that “this too shall pass.”

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and for putting up with my stuffing your in-box today.


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

Basecamp Rest Day 4/26/2007

Flat Stanley at Camp Two with some of the expedition’s oxygen supply. Each bottle weighs 17 pounds. The amazing sherpas carry them up from basecamp 3 or 4 at a time.

Location: Basecamp

Elevation: 5200 Meters

Elevation Gain: Thankfully None

Weather: Cold, deary, and cloudy

Quote of the Day: “To know something, then, we must be scrubbed raw, the fasting heart exposed.” Gretel Ehrlich (Thanks Karen)

The day began early. I listened to some favuorite music for the first time in weeks-laying luxuriously in my sleeping bag for a few hours before breakfast.

After breakfast, we had a crevasse rescue demonstration and I had that great pleasure of hot water falling on my body. The weather turned very cold at lunch and I spent some time visiting my doc friends over at the HRA.

They were excited to hear of my high altitude adventures, but didn’t really have any new suggestions for my current health challenges other than skip breakfast and try to eat later. I’ve been challenged but have kept all food down today and my cough is a little better.

Basically living at high altitude is hard on your body and as a result, life is often hard. Last night at dinner, our expedition leader said our suffering was really just beginning (“oh goody” she says-it’s been such a piece of cake thus far.) 🙂

The wind is chilly so I’m bundled up in my sleeping bag in my tent for the afternoon. I finished another book in the middle of the night and I’m about to start “In the Country of Men” by Hisham Matar. I figured it would help me understand my expedition mates 🙂

I started the day quite up and bouncy, but seem to be sinking as it goes on. A valley is to be expected after yesterday’s big day so I’m just riding it as well as the wave of fatigue that has set in.

The front wall of my tent walkway fell over today. Evidence of time passing and the glacier moving. Similarly, I changed headlamp batteries for the second time. It’s been 40 days since I left home-we’re hitting the midway mark of the expedition.

I also grew up during the Terry Fox era. I think the image of him running across Canada day after day is a good cure for self-pity-as was reading Anne Frank’s diary. I’m sorry Shakleton’s Endurance didn’t arrive in time to come on the trip. It’s another good one for illustrating how good we’ve got it.

This is the longest expedition I have been on to date. My previous record was 34 days. It’s funny how living in a tent can come to seem like the norm.

Maria-Thanks for keeping me posted about your speech. I am honoured that you chose me as the subject. I know you practised long and hard so I know you did a great job with it. Nerves are tricky. I think they help us preform our best, but we have to use that energy to that end rather than just have them run all over us. We’ve both been learning lots of late about nerves. Congrats on your bravery!

New Boss-I hope you are holding up-have you and Oma got a Everest worries support group set-up yet? I’m taking good care of myself and will continue to make the best decisions I can. Baby Boss

Shelley-The yaks haven’t made it here yet with Katie’s poem-perhaps if you have a copy of it-you could post it to this site.

KW-Thanks for the peptalk and advice. As always, your words are so helpful. Yesterday your assessment was correct -today I’ve swung the other way. Really thinking about high cirrus clouds today-maybe they signal a change in the weather.

Kristen-say Hi to Orcas for me. I could use a hit of that view from your amazing house.

Have a good Thursday,


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

Ice Capades 4/25/2007

Pics and updates are first posted to http://www.myeverest.com/ta You can read and post messages there. Judy

Mingma descending the icefall this morning.

Location: Basecamp

Elevation: 5300 Meters

Elevation Lost: 1200 Meters

Weather: Warm & Sunny, then cool

Quote of the Day: A ship is safe in harbour, but that is not what ships are for.

I think I’m coming to understand how women can have more then one child. I was once again swearing that this morning’s trip through the icefall would be my last and now a few hours later, the memories that caused that thought have begun to fade. Impermanence is such a powerful concept that needs to be grasped over and over again.

I awoke at 5 to pack and being the ever-optimist, had high hopes for the morning’s nutrition. I got through the meal and as soon as I bent over to reach for my crampons, I was running for some non-tented real estate to make a violent deposit. I finished and came back to my pack saying “breakfast is overrated”, which is a long running joke for me. More often it is sleep that is over-rated. I felt compassion for everyone in the world who feels nausea because of illness or treatment.

I rinsed out my mouth, put on my harness and crampons, and we began descending the awakening cwm at 6. Soon my pace slowed to a crawl and I knew I must have used up my liver’s glycogen reserve. I braved a gel and some water and eventually each step didn’t seem to have lead boots on the end of it.

I swapped out some gear at camp one and took a bit more water on board. I was still feeling leaden and weak. The undulations below camp one leading to the icefall were very taxing. My cough is acting up again and several times it was strong enough to bring on gagging again.

We kept walking and reached a part above a very dangerous section of the icefall. Mingma suggested a break and then said we had to move quickly. I didn’t think I had a quick bone in my body at that point, but I said I would do my best. In my weakened state, each step was an individual effort ,but I knew there was no other option to be had.

It was then that the metaphor of being on a sailing ship came into my head. There I was, feeling queasy and icewaves rose and fell all around me. We had no idea when an icy wave could be released from its mooring and crash down on our deck. I’m sure that uncertainty has been shared by many fishers and sailors in Newfoundland.

The path rose and fell, rose and fell. Icy blue towers hanging above. Icy blue towers fallen below. We were caught in a frozen storm that gives the illusion of stillness and permanence, but instead there was terrifying evidence laying all round of potentially murderous movement.

I was much more aware of the lethal surroundings than on the way up. There was no practical way to move any faster then, so perhaps the denial or naiveté was best. Today I cursed Mingma in my mind because it was such an act of will to make my body move. At the same time, I appreciated his knowledge of the icefall and times where we could stop briefly in a harbouring spot to delayer and hydrate.

At some point, enough calories found their way into my system so that I could begin to run with the wind and find flow in movement and clip the fixed lines. I was grateful for my relative ease with the ladders. We probably crossed close to 30 of them today.

The photographer in me loathes the necessity for fast travel through the icefall since there are so many beautiful images to capture in that vast ocean of ice. I snapped a few along the way and will send the “top shot of the day.” When we reached the lower icefall and my adrenaline began to fade, I again had to fight for each step uphill in those last unfair waves of ice.

“This should be easy since we just came down 4000 feet I thought to myself.” No such luck…when I reached basecamp many of my team mates commented that they also found those last waves taxing and unfair. I received a hardy welcome back and it’s been fun catching up with everyone’s adventures.

I’ll probably visit the docs over at the HRA to get their advice on the cough and nausea. I’m planning on a few days of R & R before formulating my next plan. I’m heading to the bakery with “da boys” this afternoon for a feed of apple pie. I hope I have more luck with it than lunch.

I arrived to some snail mail from Brenda and Karen (two letters and the box of glove options-thanks so much). I also finally got to meet Paul Adler. He was moving from Camp One to Camp Two. He is the reason you get to hear from me daily and so, many many appreciations and kudos go out to him. He coached me on the gear and software for these dispatches. He was looking strong and ready for several days at Camp Two.

Rayne -I’m glad you liked seeing your picture on my website. The heart you put on top of the mountain has given me much strength and courage to keep going. I love having your hand to hold and knowing you put yourself at the top watching out for me. I love you and Xander very much.

Mom – thanks for the update about Dad and Oma. Glad for the advise to keep taking it one step at a time and for your belief in me. Love you all.

Judy – thanks for continuing to dedicate a significant portion of your day to bring me the encouraging words of others.

Karen – thanks for the cloud ID chart-it will be very helpful in tracking the weather. It looks like we are having stratus clouds today during the afternoon build-up.

BPT – thanks for going Quaker on me. I’ll miss you tonight at Biancas-you and M should get there-and talk about me 🙂

Ray – everyone says hello. For the first time in two weeks, we are almost all in camp. Hope your cough is getting better.

Robert – 46% up Dhaligiri-can you all come and carry me up the icefall next time?

For all who thanked me for my honesty-you’re welcome and thank-you. Your receptivity to my inner process about this outer process is most supportive and helps me get through it. (Scott – I’m really hoping for only one more hormonal mountain to climb on this mountain).

Penny – thanks for all of your messages. I appreciate your perspective on my process.

And finally for all who exercised a little harder-great work-keep it up. It can be really good to dig deep every once in awhile.

Thanks again everyone for being there with every step of the way.

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

The Wisdom of No Escape 4/24/2007

Location: Camp Two

Elevation: 6500 Meters

Elevation Gain: 50 Meters

Weather: Cold then hot then cold

Quote of the day: “The true measure of one’s worth lies not where you come to be at journey’s end, but in the lives you touch along the way”- anonymous. (Thanks Shepp)

Greetings from Camp Two. I’ve decided that no woman should have to climb Everest under the influence of monthly hormones. Mine have lifted since yesterday and the Everest world seems like a different place.

Mingma and I took a jaunt out towards the Lhotse Face-it’s way big and way steep-I’m actually lost for words to describe its amazingly steep iciness. I used to worry about the icefall – now the Lhotse Face has joined the list.

Had lost and have now found my frontal altitude headache. I should go find some vitamin I (ibuprofen), but I’m hiding from the sun in the dining tent. One of my team-mates measured the temperature range in his tent from 12 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees…I am CorningWare, I am Corning Ware.

Today has been a much easier day. I’ve enjoyed the views that Camp Two provides and it’s been good to have a wider range of folks to interact with. I’m still bouncing like a yo-yo on steroids, but have more slack for the ride.

I’ve been thinking about a book by Pema Chodren, one of my favourite Buddhist authors. She advocates for taking away our habitual and other escapes. She knows that it can be human nature to run away at the first sign of discomfort. She instead recommends “running towards the biting dog.”

When I climbed Denali in 2005 there were no escapes that didn’t put the expedition at risk for the entire team. We actually did a ritual where we each tied a knot in a piece of rope to signify our commitment to the team and expedition. All 14 of us summitted after 26 gruelling days of climbing. I never once had to wrestle with ideas of escape.

Everest has been a very different experience in this regard. Escape is easy and enacted in the drop of a moment. I knew having such easy escape would send my mind into the wrestling ring. I knew I would prefer the Denali arrangement where I did not have this kind of wrestling to do.

But Everest is a different mountain-I have never wanted this climb to “be at all costs.” I committed to my family, to my friends, and to my community, to continuously evaluate the hazards and risks on both big and small scales with the intention always, of safe return. So…wrestling I have done, and wrestling I will continue to do. My ring name is “Totally Awesome.” 🙂

I’m heading down to basecamp tomorrow for some thick air and many trips to the bakery. I have some weight to gain. If any of you have any strategies for “morning sickness”, I’m all ears.

My nausea seems worse around breakfast, but can also be triggered by a dry throat or coughing. Yes-I have a bit of a cough again. Mingma blames it on the Camp One water. I think it’s just khumbu cough this time. Please keep me in your thoughts tomorrow as I cross the danger of the icefall once again.

I want to say specials hellos to everyone at Memorial University-especially my colleagues in HKR and the folks in Tech Services who have climbed the equivalent of at least the world’s six highest mountains in stairs.

Also a special hello to the students and staff of Holy Cross Elementary who brought in loose change as a fundraiser for Everest-007.

Another big hello to Holy Trinity Elementary. I hear the grade fours are learning about dung. It burns quite hot and gives off a sweet acrid smoke.

Thanks again to everyone for your support over the past few days; it means so much to me.

Fiona-can you email me with how you found the Lhotse face?

With appreciation and gratitude,


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

Hard Day in Camp One 4/22/2007

Picture of TA as posted on http://www.myeverest.com/ta You can post messages to TA on that site and read others’ messages of support.

Location: Camp One

Elevation: 6000 ish Meters

Weather: Very gusty and sunny, now snowing again-serious CorningWare weather

I was going to do an audio update today, but would rather write. It snowed much of last night; then big gusty winds started to blow down the cmw.

When Mingma and I got up, the gusts were bitterly cold so we decided to delay our hike. Later when the winds dropped around noon, it was scorching hot so we didn’t walk then either. I had another big wave of nausea hit over lunch so I napped and now it’s cold and snowing again.

I took a short stroll around the tents on our piece of glacier, but basically it’s been a long, boring hard day of vast temperature and mood changes. A valley after yesterday’s high -another round of rollercoaster and the reality of life up high. I’ve always believed that altitude and living on half as much oxygen as usual could affect one’s outlook.

Because we wanted to keep packs light, we have no books, cards, journals…no entertainment so my mind has had way too much time on its hands. Does a mind have hands?

Health and weather permitting, we’ll move up to Camp Two tomorrow and with teammates being up there, time should pass a bit quicker. It was also a long night as you know -altitude can play havoc with sleep.

So that’s my whining for today-I hope the nausea passes soon…thanks for all your kind support and stories and experiences. They really help on days like this.


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

Camp One – Yahoo 4/21/2007

All entries are copied here from http://www.myeverest.com/ta TA took this picture of Mingma climbing the last ladder near the top of the Khumbu Icefall. Judy

Location: Camp One

Elevation: 6000 ish Meters

Elevation Gain: 700 ish Meters

Weather: Hot and Sunny-Clouding over now and snowing

Quote of the Day: Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are probably right.

If you asked me this morning if I’d be lounging in a tent in Camp One this afternoon, I would have said the odds were near to impossible. For my 4:30 am breakfast, I requested one of my favourites: Japanese noodle soup with egg. It went down OK, but as I was doing the final packing job, a wave of nausea hit like a tsunami and I barely made it outside the dining tent before blowing breakfast all over the rocks.

Not the start of the day I imagined. Nerves perhaps. I went back inside sobbing wondering if I should call the WHOLE thing off. I finished my hot drink and packing and Mingma arrived.

I didn’t fess up to my rough start, but thought I’d go for a bit and see if everything settled. We reached the first ladder in about 45 minutes and I nearly lost the rest of my belly contents. For some reason, I wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel so I keep taking it ladder by ladder, step by step, wave after wave. I knew I could pull the plug whenever it got too much.

About 2 hours in, the steps and necessary narrow focus of achieving those steps had settled my being. At brief standing breaks, I took in some calories. We never stopped for more than five minutes at a go. As we made our way through the “popcorn” section, (a nasty section of very rotten ice), I began to nurture a small glimmer of hope (like the sun that was dancing on the ice,) that I might actually make Camp One.

There was traffic in the icefall and I just let everyone on my tail pass through. One kindly German fellow remarked that I was “one tough lady.” I wasn’t sure at the time, but I’m willing to accept the title now. In the ways that we do when things are hard, I told myself I never needed to climb the Icefall again.

The wiring of our brains is amazing though because lying here in amazing comfort at 20,000 feet, I can already sense a seed of willingness to perhaps tackle it again. It was 5.5 hours of some of the hardest climbing/living I have ever done, but being here now makes every second of that toughness worth it.

We had a lovely nutritious lunch of soup, bacon, and M&M’s (now you kids out there know how to eat better than that). I’ll spend the afternoon hydrating and breathing as I’ve just made a big elevation jump. I have a slight altitude headache that I hope will pass with the above strategies.

As we topped the fall, my pace was dropping off and at one point, I though camp was much further off. I was doing some serious talking to my feet and legs to keep them moving. Then I saw the tents and my mind filled with yahoo!

The views of the summit, Lhotse Face, and South Col are truly breathtaking and intimidating as all get out. Not exactly sure what my plan is. It will depend on how my body reacts to this new elevation.

Thanks to all for thinking of me today-I’m sure it helped me get up the “hill”.

Special Camp One hellos and hoorays to all the children of St. Francis of Assisi School, Outer Cove. Thanks for writing and letting me know that your mountain is half full! That’s fabulous and keep up all that good physical activity. It will get us all up the mountain. Hello to Mrs. Furey.

BPT-it was a very Buddhist day! Very much like meditation.

Deb. S.-hope you are feeling better so I can show you how to play the game of hockey. Thanks for writing.

KW-hope the paddling is fine.


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

I want a Vanilla Dip 4/20/2007

Location: Everest Basecamp

Elevation: 5200 Meters

Weather: Sunny and Breezy

Quote of the Day: “Learn to be still

and know that you can still learn.” (Thanks mc)

It’s been an “org and admin” day consisting of showering (how delightful); laundry (I hate sqeezing water out of clothes and I’m worried my climbing clothes aren’t drying fast enough); packing for Camp One (eek-oh me nerves); and eating (she who eats the most, gets to the top.)

Mingma arrived in the early evening. We’re going to try for Camp One at 5 am tomorrow. I’m both scared and excited. I’ve decided to save the new Everest Basecamp bakery for my return after this sojourn up the mountain.

So since I haven’t had a Vanilla Dip donut in 34 days (a regular donut dipped in vanilla icing and then dipped in multi-colored sprinkles-eating one is akin to a religious experience for me), I ‘ve decided to blame all difficulties on that dietary omission. I should have packed some portables rainbows so I could make a reasonable facsimile here at BC. We did have donuts one day for breakfast.

Having started my monthly hormonic journey today, I can see in hindsight why the climb out of Pheriche was so hard (even though as Mavis pointed out, the “why” probably doesn’t matter).

So tomorrow feels like a big day. I know you’ll all be thinking of me as I make my way up and through the icefall.

Thanks to the kids of MacPherson Elementary and the School for the Deaf for writing.

Karen-way big thanks for the great big pep talk. The clouds are cool today.

Katherine-way big congrats on getting the thesis out. I’m way proud of you.

Liz-thanks for the multitude of memories.

Mags-way good to hear from you.

Morgan-thanks for writing. I’m now on my third Paulo book. Yes-Everest is my pyramid.

Thanks as well to all those who took time to write such encouraging words. I appreciate them greatly and I do carry you and your words into every step.


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

Back at Base Camp 4/19/2007

Location: Mount Everest Basecamp

Elevation: 5300 Meters

Elevation Gain: 400 Meters

Weather: Sunny and warm

I got back to basecamp just in time for lunch. It’s good to be back in this strange home of rock and ice. I was greeted with hot orange drink and I downed four cups since it was no longer 50 rupees a cup.

I trekked up the past two days on my own because Mingma had to stay in Phortse an extra day. He should return to basecamp tonight and we’ll map out a plan for the next part of the climb.

Basecamp is very quiet because all of the teammates I trekked up with have gone back up the mountain for acclimitization round two. They’ll be aiming to spend some time at Camp Two. I keep reminding myself that there is lots of time.

When I arrived Ang Jangbu handed over a snail mail extravaganza…10 wonderful pieces were waiting for my return. Thanks to Judy (I love Easter Tigger – especially the hood with ears), Karen, Mavis (with three pieces!), Leslie, Sandy, Pat and Ellen, Eva, Heather and her grade five class, and Jacinta and the students of Stella Maris Academy. Thank-you for the fine homecoming mail!

Speaking of homecomings, welcome home Mom and Dad! Glad to hear you had a good trip and that Oma did well. Glad she is able to get out walking now.

I finished eight books on my low elevation jaunt. I’ll miss the library at the Himalayan Hotel but perhaps our new teammates from South Africa ans Singapore added some new books to our basecamp collection.

That’s all the news from here. Have a good day.


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

Mind Welding 4/18/2007

Location: Loboche

Elevation: 4910 Meters

Elevation Gain: 710 Meters

Weather: Crisp and sunny with the usual afternoon build-up.

When I started out from Pheriche this morning, the veil has transformed itself into a welder’s face shield that dropped heavily into place. It was hot and claustrophobic and as I took my first few steps out of town, I could hardly breathe.

Along with the dark shield, many feelings descended as well: fear, anxiety, stress, excitement…you name it – it was probably there. I reminded myself to breathe and to start walking. This eased things somewhat and I began to make headway up the valley.

As the climb steepened, I was catapulted into my head and behind the shield. For the next hour, I could perceive only my weakness, my fatigue, my cough, my fear. I had conversations with all of you about how hard it was being, how if I didn’t start back towards basecamp today, I wasn’t sure I would go back, how my training had been all wrong, how I’d peaked at the wrong time, how each step felt so hard. I was really whining in my head, but I kept stepping.

The dark glass of the shield kept me from seeing the reality that nothing was wrong with the present moment-that is was just being hard to go uphill. I think it’s often hard for most folks to go up at 4500 meters. It’s not that I wanted it to be easy necessarily, but I wanted to feel strong, resilient, centered…more like how I usually am. Like I’d felt two days ago.

I searched my mind for reasons for the difficulty and I could come up with a whole host of explanations. It was as if I hoped knowing the “why” might ease the suffering of that moment. I tried to just feel the angst, the pain, the fear and let the feelings wash over and through-trying hard not to feed them or cement them in place.

I kept stepping. I reached Dugla after about an hour of this-took a short break, and tried to go gently up the Dugla Hill. My cough was already aggrevated so I knew to go slow.

I set my sights on a rock, walked to it, and took a standing break. I repeated this over and over again. All the way up the hill. I reached the top, took another short breather, and left the Climber’s memorial chortens behind, after reiterating my intention of safe return.

Having gained most of the day’s elevation, the way forward now meandered along the edges of the glacial moraine. For awhile, the Lama who does the basecamp pujas, was behind me. I heard his deep throated mantras and the click of his mala (a string of beads using to keep track of the number of mantras said).

At one point, he and I locked eyes. I silently thanked him for our puja, fingered the protection cord around my neck that he had blessed, and asked intuitively for some assistance with the morning’s suffering.

As I continued towards Loboche, the faceshield began to dissolve and my mind emptied of its urgency. Three hours had now passed and the diamond hardness of the morning has passed paradoxically into memory. I could begin to see that I had arrived here safely, that I still had energy and will to go on, and that everything (as Dory had so aptly put the other day) was OK (as was I).

I feel a bit sheepish today putting out yet another dispatch describing the inner landscape, but it is what is most compelling to me at the moment.

Besides, Loboche is really the armpit of Nepal-covered in garbage and stinking of feces. Even my best descriptive writing cannot revive Loboche. It exists only because people trek and climb here. It is a necessary stop for most for acclimitization, but I don’t think it is anyone’s highlight. I’m here because it was part of the Doc’s prescription. I’ll hike the remainder of the way to basecamp tomorrow.

Natelle-have a great course in AK. Dig deep. Learn lots. You’ll be great.

My Sangha-I miss you all-the retreat sounded great-thanks for all the tonglen and thoughts.

Liz-thinking of you today with lots of memories of 2002-on the beach in Thailand right?

BPT-say hi to Bianca for me-unless you and M already have a new Wed. hangout.

All the Newfoundland Kids-thanks for writing-I can tell you are back from Easter Break. I hope you are all being very active these days-even though I hear the weather isn’t so great back home.

Thanks for coming along on this most unusual climb.


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

Hanging out at the Hotel Himalaya 4/17/2007
Location: Pheriche

Elevation: 4200 Meters

It’s four o’clock at the Hotel Himalaya. The young man who appears to do all about the place has just used kerosene to plunge last year’s yak dung into flame. Those in the dining room are grateful for the heat the burning excrement will soon throw our way as the afternoon winds blow cold in Pheriche. Don Williams crones from the boom box. I’m transported to Zimbabwe where Betty Maponde first introduced me to him as I was learning to master a right hand drive truck. He was the offical song meister of our long road trips to return street kids to their rural homes. Funny-I had an email from Betty just the other day. I think Africa may be calling me back.

The dining room is ringed by benches covered in Tibetan rugs. The walls and ceiling are covered in varnished plywood. At the appointed hour, we write our dinner order in the book that matches our room number. I stick to the traditional Dahl Bhat since tradition has it that one can eat one’s fill. Given my inner hungry bear has risen from its high altitude hibernation, it’s an economical way to feed myself. I have a confession. One of my most favorite things in the whole wide world, is a hot steamy towel. Imagine my delight that at the Hotel Himalaya, dinner starts with such a warm treat. There is a candlestick on each table that hands off a spiritied light. Quite a contrast from our breezy cold dining tent at basecamp. (To be fair-it does have a heater and my down parka keeps me toasty up there.)

I have been availing of the wonderful lending library having polished off seven books already. The books are diverse reflecting the interests of trekkers: Buddhism, Nepal, pulp novels, and self-help books. I’m sticking to novels and Buddhism.

My room is about 8X10 feet. The floor is poured concrete with green astro turf. Plywood again is the finish of choice and there’s a small window overlooking the river and yak pasture. The room is unheated and I appreciate my warm sleeping bag. The walls are actually quite soundproof for a tea house and I only hear my neighbour’s cough occasionally (and vice versa I hope).

I went on another gentle walkabout this morning to the ridge on the opposite side of town. I found a spot out of the wind and watched yaks graze for about an hour. While my Alaskan animal totem is the otter, my Nepal animal totem is definitely the yak. Yesterday, I saw a Himalayan fox-that was a special moment. Today’s hike was quite ordinary and has left me wondering how my lungs will do up high. I, again, took the most gentle of paces. I guess I’ll get the answer to my question as I start heading back towards basecamp tomorrow.

Snail Mail Champions Thanks to Sylvia and Fran for getting some snail mail to me. Sylvia-the ACCT sticker is on my water bottle and Fran-the necklace is beautiful-thanks so much for your thoughtfulness.

Davin, Alex and Maddi, Thanks for your cheers and encouragment from the rock!

Lorraine, Thanks for your reminder to stay in the moment-it’s critical here (and probably everywhere).

WP, I have found the most lovely spots out of the wind here to enjoy both the sun and the landscape.

Thanks for all for coming along on this most incredible journey.


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

Nangkartshang Gompa 4/16/2007

Location: Pheriche

Elevation: 4200 Meters

Elevation Gain: 500 Meters

Quote of the Day: Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life. (Paulo Coelho)

This was one of those days when I opened my eyes in the morning, I had no idea what the day would deliver (guess that’s really true every day).

I knew I wanted to walk/hike today so tomorrow would be a rest day before heading back up towards basecamp. Having read Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” yesterday, I set two intentions: to walk towards Nangkartshang Gompa and to listen to the mountains.

As I climbed the ridge from Pheriche, I knew immediately that I needed to take a most gentle pace-one that allowed me to breathe solely through my nose and one that would not tax me too much since I was on assigned R and R.

As I climbed higher on the ridge, I kept repeating “gentle, gentle.” That was the mantra for the day. I cut off the main trail choosing a contouring yak path to lead me to the lowest hermitage of the gompa. I figured yaks must know how to take the best line.

About an hour in, I arrived at the lower stone retreats. I circled the mani stones three times and explored the site. All the wooden doors were locked, but I noticed a profound stillness despite the whipping wind. I had a snack and decided to avail of the stillness by meditating (something I probably haven’t being doing enough of out here).

There was a small bench of granite and I took my seat there. The Chukung Valley dropped a 1000 feet below my stance and prayer flags cracked above me in the breeze. I knew I was sitting where monks from Pangboche had sat for centuries and I felt welcomed into the sanctity of the space.

I set my eyes six feet out as I do at home, but instead of carpet, my gaze dropped into the wild emptiness of the valley below. The space seemed to be a sponge for my mind and soon I found myself deep without much thought.

When I was done, I continued up the hill weaving amid cliffs and rocks, visiting each level of hermitage in turn. Some were in ruins, others were hosts to strings of fresh prayer flags. As I ascended, I kept repeating my intention of “gentle, gentle” and I relished going uphill for the first time in weeks. It was though climbing up today, was a gift instead of a chore. Being able to be out on the slope of that mountain alone, provided me freedom from the gaze, real or imagined, I’ve struggled under since the beginning of the expedition.

I was able to climb profoundly slowly, to stop frequently to really look, and to listen over and over again to nothing but the lonely wind and the hollow sound of my mind exhausting itself.

I was tempted to climb all the way to the summit of Nangkartshang Peak, but the afternoon build-up of clouds had already begun and I knew I shouldn’t really push it. I had had a profoundly healing morning on the mount and it was time to head back to the valley-trying to remember and embrace the lessons from the heights.

Susan-I seem to have smuggled “the stick” out of your office. I’ve given it to a porter to take down to Lukla. It will fly to KTM and then be fed-exed back to you 🙂

My AppleCore Hockey Team-I thought about all of you today. I really miss playing hockey and I think hockey play-offs must be this weekend. Maybe I can “score” Camp-One while you are scoring goals during the tournament. Keep your sticks on the ice.

Lin-Thanks for sharing your journey. Indeed, “Everest” takes many forms in our lives.

Courtney-Thanks for sharing your Dad’s story with me. Illness is often an “Everest” that takes a much bigger toll than altitude ever does. I’m glad your dad has you in his corner. We all needs words and deeds to pick us up when our “Everests” are asking much of us.


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

Yak Jam 4/14/2007

Please be sure to check http://www.myeverest.com/ta for audio updates, as well as the initial postings of picture and text updates by TA. Thanks. Judy

Location: The Pheriche Spa for Climbers with Reactive Airways 🙂

Elevation: 4200 Meters

Elevation Lost: 1100 Meters

Weather: Warm then cold and windy

Lojong Slogan of the Day: “Don’t Be Predictable.”

Lojong Slogans

Lojong slogans are pithy Buddhist phrases that we received by Atisha in 900 AD that are used to train the mind. My Buddhist mentor sends me on adventures with a slogan for each day. It was unprecictable for me to descent. I often power through-so good to try something new.

I’m sitting in the yak dung-warmed dining room of the Himalayan Inn in Pheriche. Haven’t really been indoors like this since we were last in Dingboche – when and where, I realized today, the saga of the last two weeks of illness began.

Ironic to return to close “to the scene of the crime” to rest and recover. It’s ironic, though I will live in much greater luxury (it’s all relative) over the next few days, I’ll be forced out into the wind and cold to make these dispatches.

Yak Jams

The hike down today went better than I imagined. With each step down in elevation, I felt my cells draw in a big breath and I imagine them now all with puffed-out chests. For parts of the day, we were stuck behind some yak jams. Other than the dust they kicked up, they set a lovely pace for my ailing lungs.

I tried to get a good shot of the yak jam but to no avail. Hopefully tomorrow I get something worth sending off.

It was SO good to move today. As a kinesthetic processer, walking often gives me new perspectives. As I stepped over rock after rock in the Khumbu Glacier moraine, “the veil” came into clearer and clearer focus.

The Veil

The veil is woven of fine taffeta. When it is held close to the eyes, its presence is barely perceptable. When it moves further from the face, it forms a thick mask that is both hard to see through and hard to ignore.

Hiking down today, I became aware of the veil that I’ve been looking through for the past two weeks. The weft of its fine weave is the voice of doubt. The warp has been the various illnesses. Woven together, they have been plaguing my mind and confidence. The veil has influenced how I have perceived everything – from the color of the sky to the steepness of a slope.

I am talking Michael and Fiona’s advice to deep heart (thanks to you both for writing) and I plan to take a Nepal vacation over the next few days. I will do little physical activity; I’ll induge in lots of food (I’m already down 10 pounds from home and that’s not good); read; and most importantly, try to take the veil off. I hope to use this time to begin again-to use my great mental strength in support of myself instead of against.

As many have said, this is a path. It’s all Everest. Every step and every breath. My task as I told so many young people, is to learn from all the moments along the way.

Many Thanks

Your support means so much to me. I’m sure you all saw the veil long before I. I appreciate you holding out hope and healing during the time it took for me to see it. I’m not fooled into thinking it won’t drop into place again but perhaps I will be quicker to brush it away.

A few specific notes to folks:

Michael B-Dave Hahn says hello. He’s in basecamp with his client.

BPT-thanks for the wise words-please keep ’em coming. I’m trying to repeat ‘the path is the goal’ at least 100 times per day!

Liz-thinking of the last time we shared R & R time in Pheriche. Had my first cup of Milk tea of the trip here in honour of our 2002 trip. Thanks for your encouragement. Say hi to Leo for me.

Buddy-you melt me. Hugs. Clouds. Keep the heat gun out.


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

Heading For Thicker Air 4/13/2007

Updates are initially posted to


Please check there if you would likely to receive updates quickly.

Location: Everest Basecamp South

Elevation: 5300 Meters

Elevation Gain: 300 Meters

Weather: High winds in the morning, some sun, cold in the afternoon

Quote of the Day: Always maintain the support of a joyful mind


Was awake much of the night. There were strong gusts of wind that threatened to take my tent away. I think I saw every hour between 8 and 4 am when I got up.

I stored my boot liners and socks in my bag so they would be warm to put on. I got all dressed and organized and headed out into the night. At first, I carried that lovely “bed warmth” with me until the wind striped it from me (OK-HKR 4210-What kind of heat loss is that?)

The sliver moon hung in the gap over the icefall and the stars seemed one level brighter than usual. I watched the headlamps of the many sherpas ascend the icefall. It was like a reverse of those ski hill scenes with skiers carrying lights as they ski down in the dark.

I choked down breakfast and met Mingma by the altar. We threw rice and asked for safe passage in the icefall.

The day’s light was beginning to break through as we put on our harnesses and crampons. The “trail” was much more spiked in this time than last since sherpas from many teams have begun carrying supplies to higher camps.

In some ways, this trip up was easier than the first (they promise it gets easier). We covered the distance to the first ladder in a bit less time. Soon after doing a radio check-in, I noticed my energy beginning to take a dive and I had my first of many “cough so hard I almost vomit” sprees – so I turned us around.

We got back and I loaded up on hot drinks and headed for my tent. For the next two hours, I could do nothing but stare at the ceiling. I was profoundly exhausted. As we say in Newfoundland, “the arse fell outta ‘er.” I felt quite poorly and wondered if I was going down the HAPE path again.

Having graduated yesterday in high spirits, it was hard to make another appearance in the HRA clinic. They checked me out, my sats were fine (low eighty’s), and the diagnosis was exhaustion from being sick for nearly two weeks up high.

With me teary and knowing what the answer was, the doc said it was time to head down valley for some thick air and R and R. That it would be hard to regain the strength that I need for the climb up here in basecamp since exerting up here really takes it out of you.

Down lower is thicker air, warmer temperatures, and trails to hike on that don’t lead to avalanche slopes. I hear an avalanche just now (we hear them all the time). So the long walk tomorrow seems daunting, but I take that as evidence that it is time for me to go down. I can’t get completely well here.

Thanks for all your healing thoughts and prayers. I continue to need them. I didn’t foresee having to climb an “Everest” before the actual Everest.

Would someone please pass on greetings to Paul Adler and thank him for sharing his experience of last year. I’ll hopefully meet him when I get back from the Pheriche “spa” :-). Mingma will accompany me down to Periche or Deboche or Pangboche. Our trip leader says it might be good to see trees.

My teammates had a windy night at Camp One and made a foray towards Camp Two today. Many will return to basecamp tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with one image that stands out in my mind today. As Mingma and I descended the icefall, he pointed out that one of eight strands of prayer flags had gotten lose in the wind. About 100 prayer flags danced and snaked and celebrated their newfound freedom whipping to and fro the beat of hidden drummer.



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

Life as CorningWare 4/11/2007

Location: Everest South Basecamp

Weather: Wind, Snow, Sun, Cold, Warm, Repeat Several Times

Quote of the Day: “Stay strong in your beliefs and believe in your strength.” (Thanks MC)

Do you remember those old CorningWare commercials? Out of the freezer and into the oven. This describes life on a glacier to a “T”. When the sun is out, we’re toasty warm, blazing hot, parched, sweating, and think we are at the beach. When the sun drops in behind a cloud or gives it up for the night, the temperature plummets and we make a quick trip into the freezer.

So I imagine myself as a piece of CorningWare from my mother’s kitchen – able to withstand great temperature variation and decorated with sweet blue highlights.

The weather last night began with snow and progressed to high winds and lightning. At five a.m., there seemed to be no break in the weather coming, so the trip up to Camp One for my teammates was postponed by a day. It’s been breezy much of the day, but the strong gusts have dropped off.

I made my daily pilgrimage to the clinic this morning. Good news. My lungs are now clear and the docs are no longer concerned about HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). They liked how the codeine interrupted the cough cycle so I’m doing another round of that today. My O2 sat was better today (79) and didn’t drop much with exertion (73). So, I did a bit more walking today – at a speed that didn’t trigger coughing – and we’re hoping for a gradual return to increased activity over the next days.

I wanted to say a special Base Camp hello to Benjamin Andrews. He is a frequent correspondent and I appreciate his commitment to following along.


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

Patience is a Virtue 4/10/2007

Location: Mount Everest Basecamp

Weather: You Name It, We Had it Today

Quote of the Day: We don’t do it because it is easy. We do it because it is difficult. John F. Kennedy (Thanks Fran)

There is quite the buzz about basecamp as everyone is preparing to make their first push to Camp One tomorrow. Climbers are sorting loads to be carried to Camp One and Camp Two. Some are attending orientations like I did yesterday and lots of questions can be heard bouncing from tent to tent such as “What are you sending to Camp One?” “Where are you sending your downsuit?” “What kind of food are you packing?”

Me? I have a different sort of buzz on the go. After my daily visit to the clinic, the docs decided to try to interupt my cough cycle by getting me to take some codeine. They’ve treated the underlying causes of the cough so this was the next step. Codeine can be a respiratory depressant so they didn’t want me to take it at night.

So I’ve had the most interesting kind of day trying to keep myself awake and focused. I must say the past five hours of freedom from coughing have been heavenly and I hope this day of both physical and coughing rest gives the inhaler drugs a chance to do some good work inside my lungs.

The docs and I discussed whether or not to have me go to a lower elevation to heal-they thought in their best judgment it made sense to remain here for now. I brought them some Swiss chocolate this morning.

My clinic visits provide some “girl time.” As the only woman on my expedition, I sometimes enjoy getting out of the all-male environment and sharing the company of women for small bits of time.

When I asked former Everest climbers for advice, they often mentioned patience. It will be very tough on me tomorrow when the entire team that I trekked in with heads for Camp One, but I know that it will be a time for me to practise that patience they spoke of. It’s actually snowing right now so who knows? Maybe no one will go up.

The stretch of obstacles and illness has been quite humbling. In my sea-level life, I am not often sick so this experience has filled me with compassion for me and for all who suffer from sickness or hurdles. Each obstruction has provided a decision-point location from which to continue to chose the climb. I can look back and appreciate how I have hung in despite the lassitude that both illness and altitude bring.

I’m a bit worried about how my fitness will be when I allowed to climb again. In hearing this worry in myself, I remind myself that I’m actually currently on schedule with my teammates. Given everything, I still haven’t dropped off the pace. So, it will be fine; however hard I have to breathe, however slow I have to walk, however hard it will be, I know how to make my way.

A Touching Moment

With yesterday’s technology glitches and sending out an audio blog for the second day in a row, I received this reply from Rayne and Xander. As some of you know, Rayne and Xander are my neice and nephew (almost 5 and 2). With the help of their mom Shawn they wrote, “Aunty TA-we like it when your computer misbehaves because we then get to hear your voice. We get a bit confused that when we say ‘Hi Aunty TA’ you don’t answer back. We’ve learned how to turn on the computer by ourselves so we can hear your voice whenever we want.” I just melted when I read that and I hear from many of you that you like to hear my voice so I’ll keep sending off a variety of updates.

I’m going to send this one off as text only-if it goes well-I’ll try a few photos.

I’m grateful to have you all thinking of me, sending healing thoughts, and messages of inspiration. All are wonderful to receive. I wanted to send a special thank-you out to Renee Sagebear who provided me with homeopathic remedies to bring along. I have been taking them along with the Western medications and I’m sure they are helping me heal as well.

Take good care,

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

The Icefall 4/7/2007
Flat Stanley on Ladders


Location: Basecamp

Elevation: 5500 Meters

Elevation Gain: Not sure-my altimeter was accidently sacrificed to the Khumbu gods today

Weather: Currently snowing with thunder in the background

My Experience of the Icefall

After years of imagining and dreaming, today was the day for me to first experience the Khumbu Icefall in its icy flesh. Knowing we’d set a goal of the lower ladders, Mingma and I set off after breakfast.

The icefall. A horrible beautiful place. Glistening in shades of white and blue. Frozen waves captured by time in undulations that range from the miniscule to the towering.

Like the gods were laughing when they spilled solid white ice cubes from heaven’s freezer, letting them melt into a chaotic terrifying heap, and then allowing them to freeze again into a river rapid of ice.

The lower icefall is more horizontal than vertical with the ice waves coming at you like a huge surfing day in Hawaii. Wave after wave to be surmounted and descended, surmounted and descended, gradually but with increasing effort, gaining altitude and losing breath.

As the fall steepened, it was almost easier as rhythms of breath and step could be recalled from the depths of memory of other high altitude challenges. Fixed lines appreared and my attention was focused by ladders and the process of clipping and unclipping my safety tether. No longer could I luxuriate into the suffering part of my mind-instead, the terrain demanded every molecule of attention I could give it.

Prior to that part of the icefall, I felt as though I was being deeply humbled by every step and every breath. The experience was picking the meat off of my bones in the way that vultures do in a Tibetan sky burial. I wasn’t sure how much of me would be left as the icy shards I was climbing, cut deep to the heart of my soul.

Again, armed with my Oma’s (my German grandmother who is 89 years old and who hates that I climb mountains) stubbornness and strength, I knew the only thing to do was continue to step over round after round of the icy knives before me and trust that I would exist at the end of the gauntlet.

As I mentioned, the climbing actually got easier for me as the terrain steepened and the focus shifted from horizontal waves to cascading ice. Setting the objective dangers to one corner of my mind, this part of the icefall felt like a vertical playpen.

I’ve always liked to climb things starting with trees, progressing to the garage, the house, and eventually rocks and ice. When we began to encounter the Khumbu’s famous ladders, I was more than ready to engage my inner climbing queen who has always loved climbing out on edges for a view.

The first ladder was a “single”: a single aluminum ladder (about 10 feet long) assisting us over a steep section. The second ladder was also a single-this time bridging a narrow crevasse. Ladder Three was appropriately “a triple” spanning a much wider crevasse: classic Khumbu. Sitting there, I captured images with my own eyes and camera that I had seen in pictures for years.

I wasn’t scared or nervous-just eager to give it a go. I crossed over and back with no crampon snags or near misses. I even felt confident enough to capture the classic photo looking down through the ladder rungs.

Flat Stanley did well on the ladders. He deftly jumps from ladder rung to ladder rung managing a delicate balancing act with each step.

After Ladder Three, it was getting warm in the icefall and time to head down. The steep section passed quickly and the horizontal waves again took a toll on my tired mind and quads. We got back to basecamp just in time for lunch having spent two hours ascending and one hour descending.

Clinic Update

I visited the HRA clinic today for follow-up. There were pleased with my progress and the absence of any wheezing but would like to see me hack free in two days or they will consider prescribing a puffer. After the big aerobic output of the morning, my O2 sats had dropped to 80 but they were not concerned. The humidity in the air here is 2-5% so I do my best to breathe through a scarf and twice a day I hang my head over a bowl of steaming water and breathe.

Back to You

Michael and Emily-I know you’ve been reading the Everest trilogy-and know one day you made “ascents” of the Khumbu Icefall on a snow day from school. I’m thinking about you. I hope the Easter Bunny finds Torbay.

Sandra-your hunch was correct-the “Icefall Doctors” are a group of sherpas hired by the national park to maintain the sytem of ladders and fixed lines through the icefall and the Western Cmn.

Scott-I got a great shot of the many basecamps from the icefall today. I’ll post it tomorrow as Ladder Three gets to be the star of the show today.

Bev-Welcome aboard. I am glad you are enjoying coming along on the adventure. Sorry thatyour knee won’t allow you to experience the Khumbu Valley in person.

Pam-Thanks for your reflections. Yes-you are right-this journey has required me tapping into my inner strength reserves sooner and deeper than I ever anticipated. I hope the well is as full as it needs to be.

Bob-Thanks for bringing my journey into your classroom. The time I spent at Holy Heart was very special and I carry some of that “Heart” with me now.


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

Gravel Pit Camping to the Max 4/6/2007

gravel pit camping

TA’s tent has the Newfoundland flag on top!

Location: Everest Basecamp

Weather: Sunny & Windy

Quote of the Day: (Thanks Scott)

The Buddha once said…Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

In early spring, as soon as the roadsides are clear of snow, some Newfoundlanders make a pilgrimage to their favourite “gravel pit” to deposit a trailer or RV to secure their spot for the upcoming camping season. Similarly, IMG sent sherpas out to basecamp in early January to reserve our spot in the gravelly world of the Khumbu glacier.

During the past year, when I presented to nearly 10,000 children in Newfoundland, I often showed a picture of our expedition’s approach to the north side of Mount Mckinley. We traveled up the Muldrow Glacier from its very toe, mounting gravel heap after gravel heap. The students always laughed when I refered to this as “gravel pit camping to the max.”

Here in Everest basecamp, I find myself camping amid gravel again and thought I would share some of life on the glacier with you. We are camped right on top of the Khumbu glacier. The glacier is said to move at close to a meter a day. The glacier is covered in a fine coating of gravel somewhat like hair on a newborn (not soft but barely covering the icy surface.) We’ve worn paths of convenience between all parts of camp, but we always have to be on guard for slips and falls.

Depending on the temperature, the small glacial ponds and rivers are flowing or frozen. Each team climbing Everest puts down an environmental deposit which is not returned unless the team properly deposes of all trash and human waste in mandated ways.

At basecamp, we take “dumps” into barrels. The excrement is hauled down valley by specialized porters to specific locations where it can be dealt with appropriately. Showers take place in the shower tent-often nicely warmed by the sun. You get a lovely bucket of hot water and a cup. It is a divine experience we’re allowed to have once a week.

Our garbage is collected and sorted and taken down valley to various disposal sites. Meals are cooked over kerosene stoves. Electrical power for lights, cameras, and communications action is provided by the sun. The solar panel I have on the back of my tent is charging my PDA as I type.

More and more expedition teams are arriving each day, creating similar villages on the ice and gravel. Mingma and I took a gentle hike to where the icefall route begins this morning. It gave us quite the view of the Khumbu gravel empire. Tomorrow, assuming today’s healing trajectory, Mingma and I will make our first foray into the lower icefall.

I woke up feeling much better- with a looser cough and more energy. I was praising antibiotics as the wonder drugs they are. This afternoon, having endured some “fecal” emergencies -I’m cursing the same drugs. How does that go? “When it rains, it pours!” Maybe I’m just trying to get every Everest illness challenge out of the way in the first week at basecamp.

Anyway-as many of you have suggested-this too shall pass 🙂 Thanks for all of your kind words and suggestions.

Judy-I hope you are enjoying your family vacation. Please wish your Mom a happy birthday from me. WAY BIG THANKS for being “Communications Queen” – managing my email and sending the wonderful marvelous compliation email each day.

Hazelwood Elementary Students- Thanks for all of your emails. I hope you have a good Easter break. I will go into the Khumbu Icefall for the first time tomorrow. I miss playing hockey; my favourite team is the Edmonton Oilers. Thanks to Mr. Ezickle for keeping you posted of my progress.

Scott-Thanks for today’s quote and all your encouragement.

Alison & Al-I’ve been enjoying the chocolate and Far Sise cartoons you sent along.

Ann & Graham-Thanks for the push up through my illness challenges.

MC-Thanks for yesterday’s quote and your perspective on illness and the Everest path.

Gillian-Say hi to the boys for me and eat lots of chocolate for me on Sunday.

Maureen-say hi to everyone in the IDO for me.

Trudy-Thanks for being right there with me on this journey. It’s not hard to beat NF weather this time of year. I’ll send a dose of sunshine your way.

Mavis & Colin-a big hug right back at ya!

Darrell-yup-tears are the cat’s meow-hope life on the rig is treating you well.

Shanda-I’ve been telling myself the same thing.

Mira-I hope to meet your friend when he arrives in basecamp. I understand how Everest fever can take hold-some folks from Newfoundland have been telling me it’s taking hold there as well.

Shelagh-thanks for the hug-hugs are great!

Nancy & Erika-Say hi to GFW and Mme Stoodley’s class for me. Flat Stanley says hello.

Sandra-yes-ladder practice is very helpful-I’ll put it to the test tomorrow.

Darlene-say hi to The Rock for me.

Buddy-The clouds are amazing-please wish Ye a happy Gotcha Day!

Until tomorrow,


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

Puja Blessings 4/5/2007

Puja Blessings

Location: Base Camp

Elevation: 5500 Meters

Weather: Initially sunny now overcast and cold

Quote of the Day: “If I may dare to step into the footprints of legends, I must place each step in unison with theirs and yet each step must be my own.”

Health Update

Hello from my little nest. It’s cold so I’m tucked into my sleeping bag typing this update. I’ve just returned from the base camp clinic with a diagnosis of bronchitis. I’m starting some antibiotics and hope to be on the mend soon. I’m ordered to rest at least one more day. The good news is that my O2 saturation was fine (84%-Judy I knew you would want to know). It will be hard to watch my teammates begin their icefall forays tomorrow, but I know I’m in this for the long haul and getting well is the first priority. The base camp clinic website is http://www.basecampmd.com.

Puja Blessings

Today, in the early morning we had our puja ceremony. I felt very blessed to attend since I had read about such ceremonies for years. The Lama arrived from Pangboche last night. The ceremony began with the lighting of juniper boughs to create a thick smoke and the Lama beginning to lead chants and mantras with four sherpas sitting beside him. It’s not unusual for sherpa young men to spend some time studying in a monastery.

The altar was a four foot high rectangle made of stone. The top was adorned with five mountain-shaped stones. On the altar, there were sculptures made of butter and tsampa (tsampa is barley flour). There were also butter lamps, chang (barley beer), mountain snacks, beverages, and katas (ceremonial scarves).

The melodic syllables wafted up towards the wakening icefall carried up and over the hazards by the juniper smoke. We will circumambulate the altar and burn juniper before each venture into the icefall. The smokey air was filled with an atmosphere of both frivolity and sacredness – a spiritual party reflecting both reverence and celebration.

Some of the climbing sherpas with tsampa on their faces. Tsampa is spread on the cheeks and forehead during the puja for good luck, successful summit, and long life. Mingma is second in line wearing his Everest-007 toque. We sipped chang throughout and threw rice towards the mountain whenever the Lama did. About halfway through the 2.5 hour ceremony, the puja pole was raised with prayer flags and katas flying in eight directions from the altar. Everyone stirred with excitement as the Lung Ta (which means windhorse) flew sending prayers up toward the Mother Goddess. The colors of red, white, yellow, blue, and green preside over every corner of our base camp.

Soon after the puja pole was raised, we each received some trampa to eat, to throw into the air, and to smear on each other’s faces for long life, safety, and summit success. At this moment, revery took over and the tsampa delivery approximated a cafeteria food fight with kindness. Blessings and good wishes were shared all round along with snacks and beverages (both alcoholic and non). A bit more rice was thrown and now our team is blessed, ready, and able to make it’s way up the mountain.

Buddhist Connections

I was touched to be participating in this Buddhist ceremony today because my home sangha (Buddhist community) is on retreat this week and I miss being there. I know that as we shouted “Ki Ki So So” and threw rice here – they would too on Saturday, so the puja helped bridge the many miles between us.

My Buddhist name is Tsultrim Mig Gya which means “Discipline Great Vision.” One’s Buddhist name is given at the the time of taking refuge (how one becomes a Buddhist) and reflects one’s life path. I’m sure my climb of Everest will require mountains of both discipline and vision.

Base Camp Update

There are 16 teams currently in basecamp and our IMG team will lead the way up for now since we are the first to complete our puja. Word has it that the icefall doctors have route laid into Camp One.

By the way, in case any of you haven’t figured it out (seems like Everest News has not), I am a woman.

Many Thanks

Thanks to the kids from Holy Trinity for the cheers and questions as well to all of you who are sending healing energy and prayers my way.

Thanks for tuning in,


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

Base Camp Confidential 4/4/2007

TA rapell

Big Mountain, Big Emotions

I cried myself to sleep last night. Don’t tell anyone. 🙂 I was so tired from two nights of dicey altitude sleep and my brewing cold had me feeling so poorly, that my emotions began to spill over. I didn’t fight the tears and I felt much better after the big release.

Given a headache and the cold, I took some diamox in hopes of a better rest. The increased urinary output was worth catching more winks. I woke up feeling more rested than I had in days but my cough had turned productive. The day hike to higher elevations was out for me (and as it turns out for everyone else on the team as well).

Training is Grand Fun

I felt OK enough to participate in a training session on fixed rope ascension, rapelling, and glacier travel. The session was great fun and helped me appreciate the mountain skill set I possess.

During the session, one of Nupse’s hanging glaciers let go and we watched the avalanche excitedly descend, knowing we were in a safe location. Slowly and silently the giant white cloud descended upon us. We were covered in spindrift snow by the time it passed over.

From our perch atop the ice fin of the lower icefall, we could appreciate how the base camp universe was growing day by day. It was as if the Mother Goddess had sprinkled wildflower seeds over this corner of the Khumbu. Colorful blossoms are popping up on the ice in clusters any gardener would be proud of.

Base Camp Construction

Building a base camp takes tremendous labour. The glacier ice must be pounded into submission and levelness so that tents glarore can be set up to house climbers, sherpas, kitchens, communications,and medical facilities. Base camp has its own medical clinic staffed by volunteer doctors.

Since the glacier moves a meter per day, all structures need continuous maintenance. I actually moved tents today because my initial one was quite damp. The views from my new one aren’t quite so spectacular, but I have a lovely stone entry way and I could plant petunias if I only had some soil. My new location means the Newfoundland flag should be visible to all who ascend and descent the Khumbu icefall.

Send lots of healing energy my way. I’ve been hydrating, taking vitamin C, cold F/X, and doing reiki over my lungs.

Thanks to all the encouragement from Bishop Feild School and from everyone else as well.


You can see a video of the spindrift on Mike and Casey’s site:


under “Day of Sun”, 4 April 07. There’s a glimpse of TA sitting, watching the spindrift. You can spot her yellow Sportiva boots.


Busy Day in Base Camp 4/3/2007

Newfoundland flag on TA’s tent, in front of Khumbu

This is my tent in Base Camp, draped in the Newfoundland flag. The Khumbu
Icefall is in the background.

Location: Mount Everest Base Camp

Elevation: 17, 500 feet

Weather: Sunny and warm during the day, minus 5 C in my tent overnight.

The excitement of arriving in base camp continued today. We spent our first night in our new homes. The night was crisp and cool, with the remnants of the full moon beaming down on the glacier.

The day began with a briefing for summit climbers that was necessary, but left me temporarily wondering if I was skilled enough to be here. I met with the team leader and was assured that I was in the right place.

We met with our personal sherpas and got our icefall and glacier rigs together, got our radios, practised crossing ladders with our crampons on, and put our crampons to the test on the glacier.

The day helped me settle into base camp life and eager for the challenges that lie ahead. Tomorrow we hike to Pumori base camp for acclimatization and then the next day will bring the Puja ceremony.

I’m nursing a bit of a cough but the guts have settled down (hopefully I’ve paid my dues on that level for good).


Monks on a Rollercoaster 4/1/2007

Location: Gorak Shep

Elevation: 5180 Meters

Elevation Gain: 240 Meters

Weather: Gorgeous

Judy, a friend who watched and helped out during the tumultuous months before leaving for Nepal, found the perfect send-off card. On the front, there was a picture of Buddhist monks riding a rollercoaster with their hands raised above their heads.

I had been using the metaphor of a rollercoaster to describe my inner process of ups and downs during the preparation phase. This morning, the image of the rollercoaster was firmly back in my mind.

I’m still struggling a bit with nausea in the morning. I have to work with my mind and body to get and keep food down in the morning. Gagging is a frequent occurrence but I know how important it is to eat.

We left Loboche and my body felt like it was on strike. Though the terrain sloped gently up, I felt like I was dragging each step out from the depths of my soul.

It was arduous in both body and mind and my thoughts cascaded to scripts I don’t want to admit to. I knew the only thing to really do was just keep returning to the present moment of putting step in front of step.

We stopped for a break before a steep incline. I took some GU on board and wondered how I was going to get myself up the hill. With more groceries on board, the incline fell away easily and the instensity of my inner world followed suit. Having survived the chugg chugg of the rollercoaster going up, I could now let go of the safety bar and enjoy the ride down. From a temporary place of impossibility, great views of mountain summits emerged.

It’s funny how many times I have to learn various lessons over and over again. On Aconcagua, I thought I’d learned the grocery lesson but I guess not quite. I am also getting glimpses of how intense physical sensations trigger equally intense mental/emotional sensations for me and one of my major Everest tasks will be learning to ride the rollercoaster with the skill of a Buddhist monk.

In 2002, Liz and I trekked from Loboche to Gorak Shep and then climbed Kala Pattar (5500 ish meters) and then returned to Loboche. I knew at the time how far Liz had pushed herself to reach the summit that day. Today, having followed in our footsteps again, I have a much deeper appreciation for that feat and I offer Liz my heartfelt congratulations once again from my perch above Gorak Shep.

In the last few hectic (i.e., rollercoaster) months before leaving for Everest, I used to joke that climbing Everest would seem like a vacation. Trying to balance work, training, trip preparations, and speaking engagements left little time for much else.

In many ways, the trek to base camp has been very vacation-like. Around the hours of walking, there has been time for reading, card playing, journaling, and taking life pretty easy. The sherpa staff have been spoiling us rotten and their efforts contribute to the vacation-like atmosphere.

Thanks for all the emails from Cowan Heights Elementary and from other places around the world. In the midst of feeling poorly, it’s lovely to hear words and stories of encouragement. I plan to do my weekly audio blog from base when we get there tomorrow!

We caught glimpses of Everest’s summit pyramid and the Khumbu icefall today as we made our way over and around kilometers of glacial morraine. We’re hoping to see Everest’s flanks bathed in alpenglow when we climb up Kala Pattar later today.

One more sleep until basecamp!


This entry was posted in Everest-007 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.