Everest Redux 2011

Date: July 15, 2010

Dear Family & Friends:

You will recall from my last post that, in June, the Chinese placed age restrictions on North (Tibet) side climbs.  Under the CTMA regulations, no one under the age of 18, or over the age of 60, will receive a permit to climb Mt. Everest from the North side.

Great news!  Asian Trekking has just informed me that the Chinese have granted me special permission to climb Mt. Everest from the North side in 2011.  I am thrilled since I can now complete this unfinished business. If I feel good after the North side summit next year, I will try for a double summit on both the North and South sides.  If the Chinese permit traverses next year, I will switch to that option.

I have relived summit day 2010 over and over in my mind.  I recall, like it was yesterday, clipping into the fixed line at Camp 3 (27,500 feet) on the night of May 22.  The wind was blowing furiously, it was pitch black dark and sub-zero cold.  I knew immediately that I frostnipped some fingers through my heavy gloves the moment I tightly gripped my jumar attached to the line.  I recall yearning to reach the Northeast summit ridge so I could make the right turn and complete the relatively easy traverse to the summit at 29,035 feet.  I felt a sense of awe and relief as I approached the summit ridge framed against the black horizon.  I reached the summit ridge, feeling confident and good, and made the right turn, heading for the First, Second and Third Steps before moving up the snowfield to the peak.  At the Second Step, approximately 700 feet from the summit, I felt the energy drain from my body.  My legs turned to jelly, and I knew that my trip was over.  It was really quite an easy call, and one that I celebrate to this day.  Two climbers that followed me on succeeding days are still on the mountain and will never come home to family and friends.

Maybe I am being too stubborn about this mountain.  But, summit, or no summit, I love the experience, and I am counting the days to my return.  Dreams rooted in the heart are slow to die.  In the next few days, I will post some photos and video of my climb this year.  Perhaps, these will help explain my passion with respect to Chomolangma–“Mother Goddess of the Earth.”

My Sherpa for 2011 will not be my beloved friend, Mingma, who has been my Sherpa for the last three years. Mingma will be the Sirdar for the expedition and will have overall responsibility for the entire trip.  My Sherpa will be Fur Gyalzen, who has summited Mt. Everest multiple times.  I know him well and am comfortable with this change.  I am also happy for Mingma since this is a huge step forward in his mountaineering career.  Mingma also has accepted a job as a local Kathmandu television reporter so he will soon be a media star.

This year, because of work and family commitments, I did not start serious training until January, 2010.  For the 2011 expedition, I plan to start training immediately so that I will be in top physical condition when I return in April of 2011 at the age of 69.

As always, I appreciate your prayers and support, and I will keep you informed of my plans.

God bless you,

Bill