Monday, May 4, 2009

Back to BC, Meeting an Icon

5300m Himex Everest BC - I am lying here back in my BC tent safe and sound after descending this morning from Camp 2 through the Khumbu Icefall. This time we traveled through the danger zone in full light, stopping for brief moments to snap photos (see what one of the vertical multi-ladder crossings looks like). I was traveling with teammates Valerio Massimo and Chris Macklin and as we exited the icefall a couple of avalanches let loose, one of which "dusted" a few of our teammates moments behind us. Whew!!

After removing the crampons and drinking some water I was off on my next mission: to meet Ed Viesturs. I saw Ed descending the glacier just below the Lhotse face when we were on our way up. No place or time for a greeting. This time however I was very lucky to find him in his RMI/First Ascent tent. What an extremely nice man. What most people know is that he was the first American to summit all fourteen 8000 meter+ peaks without oxygen. What some do not know is that Ed is a Midwest US "boy" from Illinois and actually earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree prior to becoming a professional mountaineer. No, I am no professional mountaineer but like Ed am from the US Midwest and still carry my D.V.M. degree. Ed graciously agreed to a couple photos (see one attached). Beyond getting through the icefall safely (now 50% done) this was the highlight of my day for sure.

We also said goodbye today to another team member, Jon Hansen of Wisconsin. Jon and I traveled to Everest together with the hope of standing on the summit together yet Jon has been having difficulty acclimatizing. Having only climbed Lobuche once to just under the summit and recently turning around after reaching Camp 1 above the icefall, Jon's earlier physical ailments have taken its toll on him mentally so he decided it was not his time to climb Everest. We wish him a safe return back to the states.