3/28/2009

Just 3-days to liftoff, and time for my last update before I depart for Nepal. First a few developments, some not so happy. The Chinese are still not issuing permits for the North (Tibet) side of the mountain, which makes a traverse impossible. So, my good friend, David Liano from Mexico, has cancelled his Everest climb this season. As you know from my last report, David has summitted Everest from the South (Nepal) twice, and was planning an unprecedented double traverse of the mountain this season. I was really looking forward to climbing again with David, so his departure is a blow. But, the good news is that my other good friend, Bud Allen, from Columbus, Georgia is going, so I am happy about that. My plans for a single traverse are also dashed unless the Chinese change their tune and start issuing permits. That’s not likely to happen, but we’re going to monitor the situation after I arrive in Kathmandu. If things change, and I can obtain North side and traverse permits, my original plan for a single traverse will be right back on track.

My Sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, was not able to obtain a VISA from the United States Embassy in Kathmandu, so he won’t be traveling back with me to the United States in June. This is the second time his application has been denied, without any reason being given by Embassy officials. Mingma is crushed, as he has never been to the United States, and was really looking forward to this visit. I plan to meet with Embassy officials when I arrive in Kathmandu to find out what we need to do to secure this approval. VISA’s are hard to obtain from the US Embassy, usually because of worry that the Nepalese citizen will not return to Nepal from the United States. This should not be the Embassy’s concern with respect to Mingma since he has a wife and young daughter in Kathmandu who he would never abandon. He is also a dedicated and accomplished Himilayan mountaineer, having summitted Mt. Everest multiple times from both sides of the mountain. I know he is a person of honesty and integrity, so this cannot be the issue. It’s all a mystery that I hope to unravel. But, for now, this is a big disappointment.

Despite these setbacks, I remain more optimistic than ever that this will be my year on Mt. Everest. I feel great, physically and mentally, and I just can’t wait to begin this journey again to finish what I started two years ago. On the subject of optimism, one of my favorite bluegrass tunes was penned by the Carter Family and is called “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.” I love the melody and lyrics of this classic gospel song, and strive to live by its message of hope and trust. One of the best renditions is by the Gaither’s and can be viewed on You Tube. I just love music. It has such a liberating influence on the human spirit.

I’ll keep you posted with expedition reports from the mountain. Remember to register on the website so you will receive an e-mail notice when a report is posted. I’ll try to keep them short and
interesting. I celebrated a birthday last week, so now I’m 67-years young, as my friend Alan Arnette likes to say. In my interview with Alan for his website, he asked “Any other thoughts for us followers this year”? I will end this report by sharing my answer: “Follow your dreams, whatever they might be, and wherever they lead you. Believe in yourself, and don’t listen to the naysayers. If you fail, pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and march right back into battle. Have compassion for those less fortunate, and do something to make a positive difference in a life.”

Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes, and God bless you,
Bill