The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

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Seems like perhaps Mother Nature is giving…

Seems like perhaps Mother Nature is giving us some better options finally. Our team of 6 made it in great time and style today to 8300m Camp VI (aka Camp 3). I don’t think there’s a more beautiful camp in the world, higher than all but 5 mountains, and perched high on the north face. To the west, it’s a true top of the world view looking at Cho Oyu, Gyanchung Kang, Pumori, Lingtren, Melungtse, Shishapangma, and so many more. Spinning around, you see the view in this photo: captivating, engrossing, stunning, and more than a bit intimidating. This photo shows the First, Second, and Third steps along the Northeast Ridge and the Summit Pyramid.
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I can never not imagine what this view must have looked like 95 years ago when George Mallory and Andrew Irvine saw it. I’d hazard to guess a combination of enthralling and abjectly terrifying. Which way would they go? Follow the Ridge as Mallory indicated, taking chances with the Second Step? Or try the route Norton and Somervell attempted 4 days before, below the Step to the Norton Couloir? If it were me, I’d take my chances with the Step, as the terrain beyond the Couloir has never looked anything but atrocious.
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Regardless of where they went and how high they got, the simply fact that they were here – in wool and tweed and hobnails – is nothing short of amazing. I’m cold in a down suit, and I’ve climbed much of their possible route with no fixed lines but modern gear, and still got quite nervous at times. My hat is permanently off for all the pre-World War II climbers. #respect @liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #malloryandirvine

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I’ve certainly had better days moving up…

I’ve certainly had better days moving up the North Ridge, but I’ve certainly also had worse. Our team made a big move today from ABC to Camp 2 in a push, trying to make the most of this possible weather window. Lots of vertical, lots of wind, but some sun and calm too. Fingers crossed that the wind dissipates overnight. #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 @adrianballinger @davidcmorton @sid_pattison

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A simple piece of wire. Looks like…

A simple piece of wire. Looks like trash, and in many ways it is, mere jettsom from days past. But, it is much more, with a story. In 1933, the 4th British Mount Everest Expedition ran telephone wire some 14 miles from Basecamp up to Camp IV at the North Col to enable better communications for the team. Bits and pieces of this wire artifact have been popping out along the route for the 20 years I’ve been climbing here. Trash, yes, but also a story, a connection to the past, a reminder of those quo came before.

I worry that, as the years pass, we lose touch with our mountain history, and the lessons and ethics the pioneers can teach. When we forget our history – or simply fail to engage with it – we not only run the risk of repeating mistakes made long ago, but we inevitably diminish the richness of the endeavor by ignoring the fabric of those who came first.

That little bit of wire carried the voices of legends 86 years ago. Whispers of Wager and Wyn-Harris, Frank Smythe and Eric Shipton can still be heard if you listen close enough, connecting our present to their climbs above 28,000 feet without oxygen in knickers and tweeds.

I wonder how many here on the mountain this year have given thought and pause to those who led the way, pioneered the paths we now tread or Sent the routes we only gaze at and shudder. High above me now, towering over ABC, the Pinnacles are raked with fierce, jet stream winds, the final resting place on this day in 1982 of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker. Is anyone else looking up there now, remembering their story, their sad passing, and the path they paved both in the mountains and in mountain literature?

Bits of wire poking out of the rubble. Meaningless trash, yet a physical tether to our collective, inspiring past. I left this bit on an obvious rock… Hopefully someone will notice and dig out its past, it’s story… And ours.

#mountainsofhistory #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #boardmanandtasker #Everest2019 #Everest1933

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It’s Mother’s Day here in Tibet, so…

It’s Mother’s Day here in Tibet, so taking a moment before heading up to the North Col to recognize the amazing mothers in my life. To my amazing wife, @wendebvalentine, who not only puts up with my antics, but is the voice of reason and logic in raising our great kids (the great is thanks to her, too!). To my mom, Alice, who’s given me nothing but love and support in spades for 45 years, allowing me to be who I am, but still helping guide a better course when necessary. To my stepmother, Susan, who’s always been there with a listening and loving ear, a vote of support, and a swift kick in the butt as needed (and it’s been needed a lot!). To my mother-in-law, Lynne, who has always been anything but the stereotypical mother-in-law, instead offering love, support, and inclusion day in and out. And, to my sister, Dolly, who lives life with conviction and purpose, raising 2 awesome kids on her own and always doing it in style. I can’t imagine where I’d be without these amazing women who are shining lights to follow, learn from, and emulate. Thank you, mothers, and tashi delek from Tibet. #mothersday #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer

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We all made the long journey to…

We all made the long journey to ABC today with a less-than-pleasant looking Chomolungma staring down at us. The jet stream is right on us – up high, not down low – making for beautiful lenticulars and a huge vapor plume off the summit. Probably blowing well over 100mph up there. A good time not to be above 8000 meters. #Everest2019 #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer

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Those that came before are never far…

Those that came before are never far from my mind here on Everest. At times you can feel their presence in the very landscape, watching, looking, listening, sometimes warning. Some are the legends – Mallory and Irvine, Marty Hoey, Boardman and Tasker – and some, like Tsewang Paljor and David Sharp are from the modern era. But still, their voices speak, their presence is felt, their lessons begging to be heeded. While seemingly morbid, I like to visit here on Memorial Hill, to remind myself of the stories of those who came before, their successes and failures, and the messages of humility and caution they silently scream from the ether. May the past inform the present and future.
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Those who have died have never, never left
The dead are not under the earth
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass
They are in the moaning rocks
The dead are not under the earth
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#liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #GeorgeMallory #martyhoey #boardmanandtasker #voicesfromthepast #AndrewIrvine #TsewangPaljor

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“I look back on tremendous efforts &…

“I look back on tremendous efforts & exhaustion & dismal looking out of a tent door on to a dismal world of snow and vanishing hopes – & yet, & yet, & yet there have been a good many things to set the other side.” – George Mallory in a letter to his wife, Ruth, in 1924 | It’s at times tough to remain optimistic on this mountain when the weather comes in and Chomolungma shows us all who’s boss. The fringes of Cyclone Fani have arrived, destroying tents at North Col (see @adrianballinger recent post for examples) and dumping a blanket of snow here at Basecamo and above. Work and timing have been set back, and it’s both humbling, frustrating, and depressing. Yet, it’s also the mountain way. If it were easy, all bluebird days with strong legs, it probably wouldn’t be worth it, the magic of tribulation stripped away and the endeavor robbed of its necessary hardship. As the saying goes, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. It also – somewhat perversely – makes us more motivated, more determined to push on and push through. So, that we will. Onward…once the storm clears. #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #Everest #cyclonefani @davidcmorton @sid_pattison

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As we sit here in relative comfort…

As we sit here in relative comfort at Rongbuk Basecamp, resting before heading again up the mountain, we’re – as always – tracking the weather and the course of Cyclone Fani as it hurtles toward landfall tomorrow near Puri. Certainly, Fani could cause some issues for all of us on Everest and other peaks – snow, wind, and heightened avalanche risk. I in no way want to trivialize the potential impact, but let’s keep in mind that we’re all here to climb, most of us by choice. We have detailed forecasts, nice tents, and ample warm clothes. While the concern and writing from @forbes in today’s article is appreciated, let’s keep the focus where it should be: on the tens of millions of people in India and Bangladesh who stand to shoulder the brunt of Fani, and who have far fewer resources and options than we Himalayan climbers. My heart goes out to all those in the path of Fani, and I pray that she will weaken greatly in the next 12 hours before landfall. Be safe and take good care. #cyclonefani #fani

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One hears a relentless chant about how…

One hears a relentless chant about how Everest is overcrowded, too many people, etc. While some elements of that argument are true, as with most places of beauty, history, and inspiration – be it Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Macchu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, or Mont Blanc – it takes but a little effort to remove oneself from the crowds and enter a realm of peace, tranquility, and beauty. Yesterday afternoon I followed the footsteps of John Noel, the expedition photographer and cinematographer of 1924, to his fabled “Eagle’s Nest” where he could monitor the upper Northeast Ridge and summit pyramid while his teammates went for the top. It was only a 30 minute scramble from the main route, but one which afforded me some peace and absolute solitude as the sun dropped behind Changtse and shadows played across the massive landscape. No people, no crowds, no noise save the wind and the flutter of chuffs disturbed by my presence. Beautiful. | In this photo, the Northeast Ridge and summit can be seen in the left background, the North Ridge descending in the left foreground until it joins the snows of the North Col on the right. #johnnoel #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest #Everest2019 #Everest1924

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Out under the overwhelming stars and relative…

Out under the overwhelming stars and relative silence of the Himalayan night, the words of Gaston Rebuffat echo through time and space:
. “In this modern age, very little remains that is real. Night has been banished, so have the cold, the wind and the stars. They have all been neutralized: the rhythm of life itself is obscured. Everything goes so fast and makes so much noise, and men hurry by without heeding the grass by the roadside, its colour, its smell and the way it shimmers when the wind caresses it. What a strange encounter then is that between man and the high places of his planet! Up there he is surrounded by the silence of forgetfulness…”
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While it’s always hard to be away, it’s always good to be back.
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#liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest #Everest2019

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The scale of everything at Advanced Basecamp…

The scale of everything at Advanced Basecamp is hard for my puny brain to reconcile. Standing here, sipping dudh chiyaa and gazing at the Northeast Face with the summit of Everest rising behind, it seems impossible the vertical rise could be some 8000 feet. The reality is even harder to define as yaks mill about here at 21,000 feet, and the sun burns off the night’s chill in a matter of moments. In this photo, you can see the morning wind whipping fresh snow through the Pinnacles, the famed crux of the Northeast Ridge Direct (and final, tragic resting place of Boardman and Tasker in 1982). The right skyline is the North Ridge, and the summit is just visible poking up behind. #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #Everest

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