October 19, 2016
Costa Mesa, Ca.
Dear Family & Friends:
One of the hidden costs of high altitude mountaineering is the emotional toll on the family. I am highly sensitive to this issue, which is why I have u-turned on Mt. Everest 4 of my 6 climbs, even though I was less than 1,000 feet from the summit and all the hard climbing was behind me, and why I u-turned on Burke-Khang last Fall, less than 500 feet from the summit.
My sister, Martha, left me a private message yesterday in response to my post. With her permission, I am sharing it with you. Her feelings are mirrored, if not exceeded, by every member of my family. I am blessed with a supportive family, but, if this expedition was put to a vote, I would be home watching the World Series in October.
I love Martha and my family beyond the capacity of word to express, and I promise to be safe on the mountain.
“Well, for a moment I was elated that perhaps the weather was going to have some impact on this trip to Burke Khang but read a little further only to read that “lift off was in 5 days from LAX”. I know that my feelings are impacted by the fact that this whole fascination with climbing these mountains are exciting to some, I’m just not one of them. So I don’t understand and as a result I feel some anxiety and fear about you going. I’m sure you can understand that. I know you will make smart decisions, and some hard decisions in some cases also, because you have done that in the past with good results. I have to trust that you will do that again. Of course there’s more unknown to this mountain since it’s never been summited before (and there might be a reason for that) but I know that you are going, the decision’s been made and the plans are in place. I will keep you in my prayers for a safe return for you and your group.
It was such an honor for the wonderful people in Nepal to honor you by naming this mountain peak after you. You are a fabulous example of what a truly great American man is, and a great representative of the USA. But please keep in mind it was an honor, not a challenge. So if at any time you feel at all uneasy about your next step please make that tough decision again to make it home safely.
I love you, you’ve been the best brother and you better get your ass home in one piece.
BTW, don’t forget your flag.”