Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2019’
As the dust settles on another Everest season, and our team makes its way across the Tibetan Plateau, I’m haunted both by what I saw on the mountain and by what I’m reading and hearing in the press. Sadly, none of it is new per se; it’s feelings and sight and sounds and reactions I’ve encountered and felt on all 8 of my expeditions.
Everest is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla, easy to beat on but difficult to understand. No one who knows it would disagree there are problems on the hill, issues of regulation and responsibility, actions and accountability. Does that mean the mountain is an awful, pathetic, despicable (insert your pejorative adjective) place? Does that mean the those who climb it – guide or client, climber or high altitude worker – are equally deranged? Certainly not. Like anything, Everest is a place of nuance, but nuance does not lend itself well to pundits who seek to color only in black and white.
The Everest I know has forever been a place of triumph and tragedy, where beauty and horror comingle in the subtle hues of its very landscape. Sadly, the drama usually outshines the normal, and the tragedy of death or poor decisions outplays the successes and the beauty and the human spirit that is on the mountain daily. If anything, Everest is a dramatic microcosm of humanity.
Yup, there are problems. Those problems need to be addressed so history does not continue to repeat itself. But if you look deeper, past the headlines and the hyperbole, Everest has a lot more to offer, always has and always will.
#liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019
“I glanced up at the mighty summit above me, which ever and anon deigned to reveal its cloud-wreathed features. It seemed to look down with cold indifference on me, mere puny man, and howl derision in wind-gusts at my petition to yield up its secret – this mystery of my friends. What right had we to venture thus far into the holy presence of the Supreme Goddess, or, much more, sling at her our blasphemous challenges to ‘sting her very nose-tip’? If it were indeed the sacred ground of Chomolungma – Goddess Mother of the Mountain Snows, had we violated it – was I now violating it? Had we approached her with due reverence and singleness of heart and purpose? “And yet as I gazed again another mood appeared to creep over her haunting features. There seemed to be something alluring in that towering presence. I was almost fascinated. I realised that no mere mountaineer alone could but be fascinated, that he who approaches close must ever be led on, and oblivious of all obstacles seek to reach that most sacred and highest place of all. It seemed that my friends must have been thus enchanted also: for why else should they tarry?”
– Noel Odell, June 9, 1924
#liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #NoelOdell
Sunset just now from 8300m on the north face of Everest. It’s our third night here, and the quiet camp we moved into is now anything but, with a small city of tents and humans to fill them. I find I’m definitely pining a bit for a couple decades ago when I shared this camp with scant few others. Times have changed, but the beauty of sunset high in the Himalaya has not. #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #Everest #shotbypixelRead More
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.
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.
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
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_pattisonRead More
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 #Everest1933Read More
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 @eddiebauerRead More
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 @eddiebauerRead More
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.
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
#liveyouradventure @eddiebauer #Everest2019 #GeorgeMallory #martyhoey #boardmanandtasker #voicesfromthepast #AndrewIrvine #TsewangPaljor
“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_pattisonRead More