May 31, 2009

It’s great to be back at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu!  Last night, I slept so good in the comfy hotel bed.  Sure beats a snow-bound tent.  The warm shower was also a God-send.

Here’s a few unrelated tid-bits I picked up upon my return to Kathmandu.

The ride from the airport to the hotel was far more harrowing than anything I experienced on the mountain.

A 66-year old man climbing with International Mountain Guides summitted Mt. Everest on May 20, becoming the oldest American to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world.  I was told there was a huge celebration and his home town was planning quite a homecoming celebration.  Then, just 3 days later, I kissed the summit, breaking his record.  I guess that makes me the spoiler as I rained on his parade. I feel kind of guilty, but you know what they say about records.

I weighed myself yesterday, and I weigh 72 kilograms, which is about 158 pounds.  So I only lost about 7 pounds on the mountain, which surprises me.  In 2007, I lost 30 pounds.  I must have been eating properly on the mountain and climbing efficiently.

The day before I arrived in Kathmandu, they had an award ceremony at the “Second Annual Sagarmantha (Mt. Everest) Day.”  I was given a really nice medal and scarf for my summit.  Bud accepted it for me.

I picked up a slight cold.  Here’s how it happened.  On summit day, Mingma told me he had been suffering from a sore throat for 6 days.  I knew he was not feeling well because he had been moving very slowly, and was hacking, coughing and wheezing all the way up the Lhotse Face.   When we reached the summit, the storm had frozen one of of the vents in my oxygen mask that allows ambient (outside) air to enter the mask and mix with the pure oxygen coming from the oxygen cylinder.  Keep in mind, the mask covers just your nose and mouth.  I told Mingma about the problem with my vent, which was making it hard for me to breathe.  Mingma put his mouth over the vent in my mask and blew real hard to discharge the ice and snow from the vent.  So, into the mask, and my nose and mouth, came the ice, snow and Mingma’s breath, with all the associated germs.  If there is a more efficient way of transmitting germs, I can’t imagine what it would be, and I knew right then that it was only a matter of time.  But, standing on the summit at 29,035 feet, it was sure nice to breathe that ambient air again.  Actually, my cold symptoms are quite mild, and I feel really good today.

The government of Nepal is still in disarray from the events I described earlier.  One week ago, there was a bombing in a Catholic Church in Kathmandu and 4 people were killed.  A Hindu extremist group is taking credit.

Poor Jesse Easterling is still in the hospital.  He was evacuated by helicopter from Base Camp on May 17, along with Henry Voight.  (Henry is fine, and he flew home to Germany a long time ago).  Jesse had been prescribed the wrong medicine by his doctor in the states, and the effects were devastating.  We finally convinced him to see the doctors at Base Camp and they were appalled at his condition.  They ordered his evacuation the next day.  During his stay in Kathmandu, he suffered internal bleeding and lost 5 pints of blood.  He also had ulcers in his organs and serious blood clots.  He was in the ICU unit at the hospital for 4-5 days.  When I returned to Kathmandu yesterday, Mogens, Bud and I visited Jesse in the hospital.  He is out of ICU, looks great, has a private VIP room and his spirits are up.  He will be flying home with a medical attendant on Monday or Tuesday.  What a nightmare, but he is lucky to be alive.

On a lighter note, here’s some more information on the Icefall Puppy.  He made it to Camp 2 and was preparing to ascend the Lhotse Face above Camp 2.  Thomsky, one of the Austrian members of our team, put him on a leash and returned him to Camp 2, where the puppy slept in his tent.  After that, I am not sure what happened, but I am going to assume he returned to Base Camp and his home, wherever that may be.  The reason I hold out this hope is that the same dog was seen in the Icefall in 2007.  Thomsky told us that even in the deep snow, the puppy could sense the location of the crevasses even though they could not be seen.  He would stop and then leap across the hidden crevasses. Is that an amazing story or what?

Ang Tshering Sherpa, the owner of Asian Trekking, and Pertemba Sherpa, our Base Camp Manager, visited me at the hotel today.  They were beside themselves with happiness and joy that I reached the summit.  They are truly quality people, and I appreciate so much their support.

My flight home is scheduled for June 9.  I plan to move that up a few days.

I told you this report was a bit disjointed.