Everest 2010: Week Five

Resting 4/27/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from the village of Pheriche at 4220m, and look I can talk in full sentences down here in the thick air. Mango and I walked down in about 5 hours today and are now happily ensconced in the Himalayan Hotel which is where I spent most of my time in Pheriche, the lodge owner remembered me. I am going to move into the tea house proper tomorrow, right now we are staying next door but eating here tonight. It was good to actually move a bit, I have a built in inclinometer I slowed down as soon as we started to climb uphill, but going downhill wasn’t too bad. It was good to move, to get out of base camp because I had been there for quite a while. I met Tim Warren today, who was on my 2007 expedition and got sick like I did, then he summated in 2008, so he gave me a great pep talk on the way into Lobouche. Probably some rest tomorrow, and then we will see about getting some movement and some strength back, and then we will go from there. I wanted to say a big hello to Madam Edwards grade 3 class in Corner BrookNewfoundland, at CC Loughlin school, Flat Stanley is here with me in Pheriche and he is excited to see a new village. Thanks to all my sponsors for their support. Between the ice fall excursion and walking down here I did about 7 hours of walking so that is a whole lot of steps, so I hope you are all out stepping up to the summit challenge and climbing this peak with me. Thanks a lot take care.

TA

Team Bactrim 4/26/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp. Another tough day emotionally, wondering how tomorrow is going to go. There are three of us who are going to attempt the ice fall tomorrow. We are calling ourselves “Team Bactrim” because we are all on the same antibiotics. I packed my pack so that it is significantly lighter then two days ago so hopefully that will help. I’m drinking lots, and forcing myself to eat; I seem to be on that cusp of where nothing tastes good. I’m thinking some movement might help; I actually haven’t had much exercise since arriving at base camp. So I’m hoping I will get some activity tomorrow and get a new view, because the view from here is getting a little tough to get my head around. I’m hoping there is more strength in me then I know at the moment, but we will see tomorrow morning. I think we are gong to head out around 4 and again I will give a shout when we get through the ice fall so people can stop worrying. Another of my teammates decided to call it quits today and head down, and a couple more made it down from the mountain they have already had one night sleeping at camp 3, so they are down enjoying the thick air here at base camp. Our other teammates are all up at camp 2 probably making a foray to camp 3 tomorrow. That’s the scoop from here, thanks for all the good thoughts you are sending my way they are very much appreciated. Catch you from tomorrow, bye.

TA

KD at BC 4/25/2010
Hi this is TA calling in again from Everest base camp with my usual daily update. If you heard/read the earlier update you know the morning was a little tough. Moral was a little low around here, so I knew it was time to reach into the tickle trunk of treats and pull out the KD, the Kraft Dinner. The meal that I packed that I knew I could eat at any point, so the cook done a wonderful job of cooking up two boxes of macaroni and cheese, and we are looking forward to having the leftovers for dinner. Treated myself to “Finding Nemo” for part of the afternoon, and was looking over the Buddhist slogans that my mentor sent and the one for today has to do with a practice that is prefect for today so I will continue to do that practice. I continue to hope that the antibiotics do their work again and I’m looking at all the ways I could have been re-infected and trying to eliminate those. I got a teammate who is coming up from the thicker air today; he is going to rest tomorrow and then try to head up on the 27th. So right now my plan is to make another attempt on the ice fall on the 27th, so we will see how that goes. Reminding myself that often the true measure is not when things are going well but when things are going tough. Things had just gone so well for the first 2 ½ weeks I guess things where bound to catch up with me, but I’m doing my best to stay with the pathful and continue to look for options. Hope all is well with your Sunday, hope your weekend was great, and thanks for thinking of me. Catch you from tomorrow, bye.

TA

Finding Footsteps 4/25/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp. I gave the ice fall a good go this morning, I found I had no energy leaving camp, but decided to see if I could find some. So I kept pushing upward, finding footsteps from deep within, after about 2 ½ hours Angel came by, he was the tail, and it was time to make a decision. I realized that at the pace I was able to move it would be an 8 or 9 hour ice fall experience, which given the dangers and realities of this years ice fall just doesn’t make sense. So I turned myself around and headed back to base camp. I knew I didn’t have much energy when Ming-mar came out and I let him carry my pack back. So it was a tough morning, I paid a visit to the clinic, and it turns out when they tested my urine there is puss back in there again. Luanne doesn’t think it is the same infection but rather just a recurrent infection so we are trying Bactrim this time and hopefully we can get this little bug taken care of. I have a team member coming back up from below today and then taking a rest day so we may try again on the 27th and see if we can’t get a little higher. I just wanted to let you all know that I’m safely through the ice fall just not in the direction I had intended, but life goes on and it is good to be safe. Going to start taking the antibiotics, drinking a ton and hopefully flushing this thing through, I will do an update a little later in the day.

Take care, bye.

TA

Sense of Quiet 4/24/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp, it’s the 24th of April which is my monthly birthday, as many of you know I like celebrating my birthday every month. It’s been another day of quiet preparation and reading, there’s a definite sense of quiet about the group, and about me in preparation for tomorrow’s trip through the ice fall. We are going to leave somewhere between 2:30 and 4 in the morning to make our way. I will do an update once I’m through the ice fall, so prayers and thoughts are very much appreciated. We got our “top out” masks today, so that was very cool, we will take them up on the next round. It will be good to get moving, work out some of the nerves, and get up into the Western Cwm, so I’m looking forward to that. Thanks to everyone for following along and remember to step up to the summit challenge and get out there and get active.

Thanks so much, bye

TA

Books, Essential Climbing Gear 4/23/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp, wrapped snuggly in my sleeping bag for that part of the afternoon when the temperature drops and its time to read books. I’m halfway through my 7th book of the expedition, lots of down time while we are waiting to go up high again. I finished my antibiotics today and just took it a little easy, I was feeling a little low on energy so I thought I would just read and enjoy the company of my teammates. The day began with a little sadness as one of our teammates had to call an end to his expedition because of a health concern, so that was a hard way to begin our day. Folks have been reading, writing, carving, watching movies every evening, and waiting until we can go up through the ice fall again on Saturday. Quite day, not much to report, hope all is going well with you. Thanks to the folks at the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, and School Sport Newfoundland and Labrador, for their support of me here. Hope you all are having a great day, talk to you from tomorrow.

TA

Don’t forget you can help support TA by donating to the Everest 2010 Mountain of Learning Award at MemorialUniversity. To donate go to: https://www5.mun.ca/dir/viking.gv020.p001
and be sure type Everest 2010 Mountain of Learning Award in the box

Thanks so much for your support!

Mushrooming 4/22/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from atop a rock in the middle of base camp, I am perched where I can see most of everything in base camp, and Hugo is just walking by. What I’m noticing is colorful dollops of tents, and on all of the tents you can start to see what we call “mushrooming”. This is when the water begins to run around the elevated platforms of our tents, while the main part is protected, so our tents appear to be growing when in reality is the little gullies around them are dropping. Just did a little maintenance in my vestibule, covered up some ice along the sides, to try to fully protect my tent flatness, and solve the issue I was having with my mattress and some wetness. So it was another rest day here at base camp, I will probably try to go out and gain some elevation tomorrow. It looks like we will be heading up for a 5 or 6 or 7 day acclimatization round on the 25th, and that could be the last acclimatization round before summit pushes. We will just have to see how the route, and weather, health, and acclimatization all develop. But right now that’s the plan, to go up and spend a few nights at camp 1, a few nights at camp 2, and hopefully even a night at camp 3 on that next push. Feeling pretty good today, I wandered into camp fairly slowly after yesterday, that’s why I decided to take another rest day today, and I will go out walking again tomorrow. Some of my teammates have gone to Gorak Shep for some email, some folks are having a little R&R, I had a wonderful little base camp shower again today. So its just pretty mellow times here in base camp. Again I wanted to say thanks to the folks at Applecore Interactive, for all of their support, for teaching me about all this stuff, and for maintaining my website, thanks to you for following along, and remember to step up to the summit challenge.

Catch you from tomorrow, have a great day.

TA

Remember as TA heads up Mount Everest you too can be involved by taking part in Recreation Newfoundland & Labrador’s “Step Up to the Summit Challenge.” The challenge begins March 18th and continues through May 31st. RNL’s Small Steps, Big Results website allows individuals and teams to track a wide variety of physical activity by converting all to a number of steps. Sign up your team for the challenge today at http://www.recreationnl.com/smallstepsbigresults.

On the Mend 4/21/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from about 5700m on the flanks of Pumori, what a difference 48 hours makes. I got up here decently well, took it nice slow and easy, so I could just wander up. Got to Pumori camp one and actually a little higher, from where I am right now the view is amazing, I’m looking across to the triad of Everest and Lhotse and Nuptse. I can see the ice fall in its entirety; I can see up the western cwm a bit, and the Lhotse face in its entirety. And wow! That’s all I can say is wow, its amazingly intimidating when you look at it and how really big it is. I can also look down valley and see Gorakshep, Kala Patter, I can see where Lobouche is, and can actually see all the way down to the memorial hill, lovely view of Ama Dablam. The clouds are beginning to roll in, I’m going to hang out here for an hour or so for some extra acclimatization and then head back to camp. I’m very excited that my body let me come up here today, and we will see what happens from there. Some clouds over the summit of Everest but actually looking pretty calm up there, a half moon. I met some climbers and a Sherpa from IMG, talked about all the folks we know in common and the Sherpa was very kind and shared his Mars bar with me, so thanks to him. Hope your Wednesday is going well, I’m feeling pretty good today and I’m excited to be up above looking down at base camp and all the amazing Himalayan peaks that are in my view. Thanks to RJG Construction for their support of the expedition, I seen a lot of the Sherpas wearing the t-shirts as they make their rounds carrying stuff through the ice fall. Remember to get out and get active, step up to the summit challenge, get those steps in and climb this mountain with me.

Take care, catch you later

TA

Full House 4/20/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp, tucked into my tent, during our little afternoon snowstorm. We have been having a weather pattern of sunny mornings and then snow showers in the afternoons as the temperature drops. I’m feeling pretty good today, I decided to just take another rest day, but I didn’t want to leave camp anyway because I wanted to be on the welcoming committee for our team members as they came down from camp one. It was great to see them come down and welcome them home, and listen to the stories of the last few days. So it was an enjoyable morning, I cant believe its afternoon here again, days at base camp seem to be going quicker now that the expedition is moving along. We have been talking a lot about how unseasonably warm it is here this year, Tim say we should actually be freezing every night in our sleeping bags needing hot water bottles etc, but it is almost a month warmer then it usually is. The ice fall is making everyone very nervous because it is already so much warmer then it usually is, there have actually been climbers who took one look and went home, and some close calls for other climbers. There is some talk about the possibility of reaching the summit earlier this year because of the unseasonable warmth, and because there seems to be relatively little wind up high at the moment, which is again unusual. So who knows what the 2010 season will bring in terms of all of that. Its great to be a full house here again today, hopefully the healing continues and I continue to get stronger, that’s sort of what its feeling like at the moment, and its great to be surrounded by teammates once again. Have a great Tuesday, and again a special hello to all the folks at the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, and thanks to them for their sponsorship and helping me be here doing this.

Talk to you tomorrow, bye

TA

Remember as TA heads up Mount Everest you too can be involved by taking part in Recreation Newfoundland & Labrador’s “Step Up to the Summit Challenge.” The challenge begins March 18th and continues through May 31st. RNL’s Small Steps, Big Results website allows individuals and teams to track a wide variety of physical activity by converting all to a number of steps. Sign up your team for the challenge today at http://www.recreationnl.com/smallstepsbigresults.

Time, Patience, Antibiotics, and Rest 4/19/2010
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp. I awoke feeling pretty good after a decent night sleep; our camp was dusted at about 6am by spin drift from a massive serac fall off Nuptse. I had hoped I healed enough to get up out of base camp and gain some elevation on the flanks of Pumori. I packed by backpack with supplies and headed out with the goal of gentle walking, and elevation goal, and a caution to myself to take it very easy. As I pasted by the various camps on the way out of Everest base camp it instantly became clear that I was still fighting the infection and was profoundly weakened. I tried to walk slow enough to keep both my pulse and breathing down, after an hour of painfully slow walking, painful only in comparison to how strongly I walked just days ago, I reached the junction of the EBC Everest base camp trail and the Pumori cairns. I headed up but as the slope steepened I was forced to stop every few steps to catch my breath. I slowed further and I realized after about 20 minutes that it was unwise to continue and I found a rock in the sun to curl up onto. Here I was awash in emotion, fear, disappointment, grief, anger, disbelief, how could I have gone from such strength and confidence just five days ago in the ice fall to humbled by a slight incline. Bacteria, I reminded myself, that I have only been on the antibiotics for 1.5 days and perhaps I was asking to much of myself. I thought of my dad and how hard it must have been for him to lose strength and ability over the course of his illness. I allowed the emotion to spill over into tears and reminded myself that altitude magnifies everything, everything and every emotion is bigger up here. Spent, I turned for home and wondered down a slightly different path and when I reached the ridge I looked left and spotted Michaels Inukshuk, a few rocks had tumbled but the base remained. In January 2007 a student of mine, Michael Beacher Smith passed away, while I was on Everest on the time near his birthday, his family asked if there was something I could do to memorialize Michael on the mountain. Then as now, I made the same walk as this morning and was moved to build Michael and Inukshuk to help him find his way in whatever comes next. The Inuksuk looks across the Khumbu glacier to the summit pyramid of Everest, I had no idea in that moment that the Inuksuk would also become a symbol and a guide for Michaels family in their journey of grief. Today I rebuilt Michaels Inuksuk and sat down by it once again as I had in 2007, as I sat I was filled with a sense of relaxation, trust, and letting go. It can be a challenge in the intensity of the Everest experience to remember, that things do, and will change. The profound weakness that I feel today can be transformed back in profound strength through the alchemy of time, patience, antibiotics, and rest. That illness, like grief and everything else are impermanent and as always the real learning is to accept each moment for what it is. I reflected on yesterdays quote, I am aware that I am beginning again just as my grandmother, my Oma , has had to start over in her life many times. Choosing to attempt Everest again I recognized my Omas courage in beginning again. So today I especially take inspiration from her and respectfully remind everyone that I am raising scholarship funds with this climb in her honor. The “Everest 2010: Mountain of Learning Award” will support and recognize experiential education at memorial University of Newfoundland. Contributions can be made to www.mun.ca.

The rest of the team is still up high, they made an acclimatization foray to camp 2 this morning, and will return to base camp tomorrow morning with lots of stories I am sure. Thanks so much for all of your support and good thoughts I will catch you from tomorrow.

Bye

TA

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