January 5, 2011

In April of this year, I will be returning to Mt. Everest to attempt a double ascent, which has never been done: ascend and descend on the North side in Tibet, travel to Nepal and then ascend and descend on the South side. Mingma, who was my Sherpa in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and is now part of my family, has been promoted to Sirdar and will have overall responsibility for the North side expedition. Although I regret losing Mingma as a climbing partner, I am very happy for him, as this is a huge, and well-deserved, promotion. My personal Sherpa for my unguided climb will be Fur Gyalzen Sherpa. He is a strong and competent climber who I know well.

I am pleased that my good friend and climbing partner, David Liano, from Mexico, will be joining me on the 2011 expedition. David has summitted Everest 3 times.

I will be climbing from the North side first for three reasons: (1) if I am able to make only one summit (e.g., because of weather or fatigue), I want it to be on a North side climb since I have already climbed Everest from the South side, (2) generally Everest teams on the North side summit earlier in the season than teams on the South side (not the case in 2010) and (3) I will be able to acclimatize on the North side without having to go through the deadly Khumbu Icefall three times (the North side does not have an icefall).

As I reviewed the video of my 2010 Everest expedition, I came to realize what I had suspected all along: that I was not moving as fast and efficiently in 2010 as I was in 2009. I recall the disappointment I felt at the fatigue I experienced in moves up from Advance Base Camp to higher altitudes. Part of this can be attributed to the lengthy time I spent at ABC on the North side because of the terrible weather on the mountain. ABC on the North side is 21,000 feet, which is 4,000 feet higher than Base Camp on the South side. At this altitude, the body deteriorates with each passing day even when you are in repose in your tent, reading a book or listening to music. But, I must concede that my pre-climb training for the 2010 expedition was paltry compared to my training for the 2009 expedition on the South side. Work and family commitments forced my training in 2010 to begin in January of that year, which is not optimal for a mountain as huge and challenging as Mt. Everest. To compensate for this deficiency, I began training for the 2011 expedition in July of 2010, shortly after I returned from the North side of the mountain.

My training for the 2011 expedition has been dealt a slight setback. I accepted a paintball challenge from my grandsons during the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday. As I walked off the paintball field in abject humiliation and defeat at the hands of my dear grandsons, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. An MRI revealed a torn meniscus. On December 23, I had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus. I trained right up until December 22, and resumed my training on December 29. So, I’ll be ready when I return to Kathmandu on April 9, 2011.

If you are interested in following my 2011 double summit attempt, please register on my website (eightsummits.com) and you will receive e-mail notices when I post expedition reports from the mountain. If you have already registered, you do not need to re-register.

I turn 69 in March.

God is good.