Mount Everest Expedition 2011 Climb Report | Mountain Gurus

Mount Everest Expedition 2011 / Dispatch #1-16

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #1

It’s nearly six weeks to Everest… Lot’s to do, piles of gear… permits, logistics, logistics, logistics … We’ve got EBC trekkers, an Island Peak climb, a Camp 2 climb, plus everything for our summit climb… The good news is that we’ve got an excellent staff of Sherpa guides that will help make everything happen. Plus our logistics guy in Kathmandu. We’ll have great communication so we’ll be posting dispatches on our progress from Kathmandu to the summit and back. You can also Facebook me Dennis Broadwell … as I’ll be posting updates on my page as well… Mountain Gurus also has a few more spots if you want to trek to EBC, climb Island or to the summit 🙂 … stay tuned and invite your friends to join

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #2

I’m heading out the door this evening for Nepal. Getting ready for Everest is unlike any other trip I’ve prepared for… planning my life for the next two months plus all the things I’m leaving behind seemed insurmountable. I hope climbing Everest is easier than planning all this stuff 🙂 It will be a big relief to finally get on the plane and know I’m doing it… After so many trips to Asia, I still sort of dread these long flights. Something I never really get used to… My EVA airways flight departs Seattle around 2:00 am, then 20 hours to Thailand, then an overnight layover in Bangkok and another 3.5 hour fight to Kathmandu.

In many ways I’ve been mentally planning this trip for 25 years. At age 16, I climbed my first mountains in the Adirondack range of New York. We climbed Wright Peak, Algonquin Peak (5114 feet) and Phelps Mountain from Marcy Dam. Boy was I green, but this where my passion for climbing first began. I was instantly hooked, peak bagging was the name of the game and over the next six years I became an ADK 46er. In other words I climbed all the 46 high peaks (over 4000 feet) in NYS. Plus; over half of them multiple times or in winter… I soon moved on to bigger peaks like Mount Washington…climbing mostly in winter, much harsher weather and wind in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Anyway, I need to get on my flight… I’ll share more along the way… All our logistics are in place so stay tuned and invite your friends to join.

I’m heading out the door this evening for Nepal. Getting ready for Everest is unlike any other trip I’ve prepared for… planning my life for the next two months plus all the things I’m leaving behind seemed insurmountable. I hope climbing Everest is easier than planning all this stuff 🙂 It will be a big relief to finally get on the plane and know I’m doing it… After so many trips to Asia, I still sort of dread these long flights. Something I never really get used to… My EVA airways flight departs Seattle around 2:00 am, then 20 hours to Thailand, then an overnight layover in Bangkok and another 3.5 hour fight to Kathmandu.

In many ways I’ve been mentally planning this trip for 25 years. At age 16, I climbed my first mountains in the Adirondack range of New York. We climbed Wright Peak, Algonquin Peak (5114 feet) and Phelps Mountain from Marcy Dam. Boy was I green, but this where my passion for climbing first began. I was instantly hooked, peak bagging was the name of the game and over the next six years I became an ADK 46er. In other words I climbed all the 46 high peaks (over 4000 feet) in NYS. Plus; over half of them multiple times or in winter… I soon moved on to bigger peaks like Mount Washington…climbing mostly in winter, much harsher weather and wind in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Anyway, I need to get on my flight… I’ll share more along the way… All our logistics are in place so stay tuned and invite your friends to join.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #3

I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand… Feeling a blast heat as I exited the plane for the terminal… Thailand is my home away from home, my wife’s grew up in Bangkok and we met while she was studying in America. The Thai people are always friendly and the food is great… plus contrary to many, I love the weather. You’re always assured 80-90 degree temps. Coming from Seattle that’s a much welcomed feeling. As much as I love the mountains of Washington the cold and rainy winters can be a real drag. I guess the heat reminds me of the hot summers on Long Island where I grew up. After a 30 minute taxi ride I’m in downtown Bangkok. I’ll spend an extra night in town, doing some last minute shopping; grab a few beers and a much needed Thai massage. The next day I’ll meet Brian and Chris, show them a bit of Bangkok and we’ll all head to Kathmandu together. Once we arrive in Nepal, we’ll enter a much different world. Despite spending over a year of my life in the Himalaya it’s always a bit of a cultural adjustment. Kathmandu has a way of shocking your senses, the sights; smells and overall hustle and bustle of this underprivileged corner of the world has a way of transfixing you. This is true adventure travel and despite advances in technology, the city hasn’t changed much since 1993 when I first visited this mountain Kingdom.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #4

After an eventful morning at the Bangkok airport everyone finally arrived safely in Kathmandu with all our gear. It’s always a relief to known everyone’s stuff made it half way around the world. Although excess baggage charges, a confiscated multi-tool and a missing cell phone all made my morning a real headache. On the bright side, as we made our final approach over Nepal, we were blessed with fantastic views of Mount Everest and the surrounding high peaks. An amazing feeling to think Brian and I will be standing amongst those peaks, on top of the world over the next two months. Our friendly Mountain Gurus ground staff was eagerly awaiting our arrival as we exited the airport. We’re staying at the famous Hotel Yak and Yeti a few blocks away from Thamel, known as the main tourist district of Kathmandu. Tomorrow morning Brian and Chris will head to an orphanage and present gifts and toys for the local children. Brian’s goal is to give back to the local community while pursuing the seven summits. Something I totally identify with as I spent a lot of time as a young man working with a Christian relief organization in Pokhara. I’ll never forget those experiences, as it gave me a real passion for Nepal and its people. The rest of us will be taking in some of the local temples and cultural sites Kathmandu has to offer.

In the evening we’ll have our group orientation and dinner at the Rum Doodle. It’s always nice to enjoy some steaks and cold Everest beer before heading to the mountains. The Rum Doodle has a tradition of posting paper size Yeti feet all over its establishment in honor of Expeditions and Everest summit climbers. Hopefully Brian and I will return to claim our spot.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #5

After another restless night we woke early, packed our final bags and headed to Kathmandu’s domestic airport for our morning flight to Lukla. Flying past the highest peaks on Earth in a fourteen seated Twin Otter plane and landing at one of the world’s most dangerous airports is always exciting. Once in Lukla, we were quickly greeted by our Sherpa staff. Naga Dorje is one of Mountain Gurus’ lead trekking guides; he and I recently co-led an EBC trek together last October. Temba is our lead expedition climbing Sherpa; he has three Everest summits, with his most recent summit being last fall with Eric Larsen’s “Save the Poles Expedition”. His other summits were with Leif Whittaker and Dave Hahn from the First Ascent Expedition last spring and also one on the North side of Everest. In other words we’ve got a top notch guy leading our climb. After sorting porter loads we quickly headed out from Lukla for Naga’s house, just thirty minutes downside from Lukla, his lovely wife prepared fried rice, potato and apple pie for us. She’s a great cook and they have two cute little girls ages one and three, ironically the same ages as my boys. She so graciously presented Brian, Temba and I with prayer scarfs and wished us a safe and successful journey to the top of the world. After a few more hours trekking we arrived in Phakding, our comfortable lodge has nice rooms with an attached bathroom. All the trekkers in the group did well and the excitement of being in the Khumbu was evident as we enjoyed our evening meal. Tomorrow we’ll head to Namche Bazar the main settlement and trading center of the Sherpa people.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #6

After a night of listening to hard rain and lots of thunder we woke too much drier weather. Not quite sunny but warm enough for a good day of trekking. I enjoyed a really hot shower, almost forgetting I was in the middle of the Himalaya, the living conditions are constantly improving in the Everest Region. Electric lights, warm lodges, cell phone and internet access all make possible for me to update you daily while trekking in one of the most remote places on earth. I’m connecting via a USB wireless card to the local 3G network, something unimaginable just ten years ago. I was able to speak to my wife and boys; it’s really great to be able to stay connected with my family. Contrary to many I welcome all these advances, the mountains remain just as awesome as ever while still being able to enjoy some of the comforts of home. Brian and I will have plenty of time up high on Everest to experience the harsh conditions of mountain life. Not to mention the quality of life for the local people is increasing which is a really good thing. After breakfast we headed out for Monjo, an easy three hour walk before entering Sagamartha Nation Park, the Sherpa name for Mount Everest, meaning “Mother Goddess of the Earth”. Somehow the local people knew Everest was the highest peak before British surveyors told them so… after lunch we’ll climb the hill up to Namche, considered by some, the hardest day of the trek before climbing Kala Patar. At 11,000 feet the air begins to thin making the climbing slower and the need to properly acclimatize much greater. Altitude sickness becomes a real threat, so we’ll take two days in Namche to prepare for the higher altitudes. As a side note, I ran into Neil Beidleman and Mark Tucker today. Neil was one of the guides from the 1996 “Into Thin Air” story and Mark is fellow guide from my RMI days on Rainier. It’s strange, being so far from home yet running into so many people I know, once at BC it will be like a big reunion.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #7

After breakfast we headed up from Namche to sunrise point for great views of Everest. All the peaks of the range are spectacular, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. This is my eighth trip to the Khumbu (Everest Region) and still the view gets me every time. We continued our acclimatization hike to the Everest View Hotel. The views only get better the higher you go. We sat, drank tea and enjoyed the day. Later Brian and I did some final shopping in Namche; this is the last outpost to get any needed items. From here we trek to Tengboche and then enter the main Khumbu Valley.

 

 

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #8

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to update you over the past week, no 3G access. After Namche we headed down to the river at Phuki Tenga. We traversed around the Namche hill passing a large memorial to Sir Edmond Hillary, the first man to summit Everest. He’s known as the grandfather of the Khumbu. After his summit he spent the remainder of his life helping the Sherpa people build schools and hospitals. After lunch I witnessed my first major Yak traffic jam. The lead Yak refusing to cross the suspension bridge, after nearly thirty minutes of pushing and prodding the Yak finally began to relent. The Yaks were moving again and the bridge was cleared of dropped loads. Drama at 12,000 feet made for a fun afternoon. We began our steep climb to the Tengboche Monastery. After a brief tour of this famous Buddhist landmark we descended to Deboche for dinner.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #9

Today’s trek brought us to 14000 feet to the outpost of Pheriche, after a brief stop at the Pangboche Monastery where we were greeted by the head Lama for a Puja blessing; he wished us good luck and safety on the mountain. We would spend two nights in Pheriche, properly acclimatizing to these altitudes is essential. It’s also funny running into friends in high places. Not only rubbing elbows with guide buddies from days past but also meeting my old missionary friend Rob. I worked on a film project with him in the Khumbu in 1999. He’s been instrumental in producing Christian children’s videos in Nepal. The next day we woke to light snow fall, the weathers been quite cloudy so far in the Khumbu. We headed up to Lobuche passing the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier. We stopped briefly to pay respect to the memorial of past fallen climbers. Here at 16000 feet the air really begins to thin, we’re higher than any peak in the lower 48. We’re staying at the nicest place in town, an evening of good food and a game of hearts. The groups beginning to feel the buzz in the air, tomorrow we’ll hike to Gorak Shep. We should be able to connect to the 3G network again.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #10

We woke again to cloudy skies, heading up to Gorak Shep at 16,900 feet. I start to feel the dry air in my lungs as I gaze across the Himalaya landscape. Photographs cannot capture this place; the expanse of peaks is breathtaking. After being here so many times my mind still struggles to comprehend its awesome wonder. I start to feel my stride; I’ve been a little out of sync the past few days. I suffer from a rare form of juvenile arthritis and keeping this disease in check is my main concern. Despite it all, I keep climbing pushing my body beyond what it will allow me to do. Today I’m feeling good; I’ve always been able to stay strong at altitude. I’m eager as we pass yaks trains returning from Everest Base Camp carrying supplies. We’re crossing the moraine of the Khumbu glacier. I look out to Kala Patar and Base Camp, knowing this is just the beginning of my quest. Everest is still hidden from us. We won’t see Everest until we climb Kala Patar tomorrow morning.

We woke again to cloudy skies, heading up to Gorak Shep at 16,900 feet. I start to feel the dry air in my lungs as I gaze across the Himalaya landscape. Photographs cannot capture this place; the expanse of peaks is breathtaking. After being here so many times my mind still struggles to comprehend its awesome wonder. I start to feel my stride; I’ve been a little out of sync the past few days. I suffer from a rare form of juvenile arthritis and keeping this disease in check is my main concern. Despite it all, I keep climbing pushing my body beyond what it will allow me to do. Today I’m feeling good; I’ve always been able to stay strong at altitude. I’m eager as we pass yaks trains returning from Everest Base Camp carrying supplies. We’re crossing the moraine of the Khumbu glacier. I look out to Kala Patar and Base Camp, knowing this is just the beginning of my quest. Everest is still hidden from us. We won’t see Everest until we climb Kala Patar tomorrow morning.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #11

We wake early heading up Kala Patar on a cloudless morning, as we climb, Mount Everest comes into view. My heart races from the thin air as the sun begins to peak over Everest, It’s an awesome site. I make it to the top of Kala Patar, 18,200 feet right behind our lead Sherpa. I drink a cup of tea and take in the view. I look out across the endless sea of peaks. Dreaming of what it will be like to stand on top of Everest. It’s one of the clearest mornings I’ve ever experience in the Himalaya. We head back down for breakfast and begin our trek to Everest Base Camp. After a few hours we arrive in Base Camp. A mile of tents makes up this temporary city. Temba our climbing Sherpa tells me there are nearly forty expeditions climbing on Everest this spring. Climbers from all over the world come here to give it their best shot. Our camp is situated at the edge of the Khumbu Icefall. We’re quickly welcomed into our dinning tent by our friendly Sherpa staff, its top notch. A three course lunch is prepared for us. Expedition life doesn’t get much better than this; I’ll share more about our life here at Base Camp in the weeks ahead. We meet our Sherpa staff, Temba and Ngawang will be our climbing Sherpa’s. Lhachmi, Jangke and Gurung will be our Base Camp kitchen staff and Dawa will be our Camp 2 cook. After a long day we retreat to our tents for our first nights sleep at 17600 feet.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #12

After a cold night I wake to clear skies, it’s our first rest day in a while and I plan to make the most of it… Our stay at Base Camp will be short. We plan to descend again to Dingboche and then climb Island Peak with our trekkers. It takes time to acclimatize to these altitudes and our plan to spend time climbing elsewhere in hopes to limit our trips through the Khumbu Icefall. Mid-morning I took a walk over to our nearest neighbors RMI Expeditions. I started my guiding career as an RMI guide and it’s nice to be close to veteran guides like Dave Hahn. He’s guiding a father and daughter team. If successful she will be the youngest female to summit Everest at age sixteen. After lunch the local Lama will conduct our Puja ceremony at Base Camp. Each Expedition needs to hold Puja before climbing above Base Camp. This will allow our climbing Sherpa’s to prepare our higher camps while we’re away climbing Island Peak. During Puja the Sherpa’s will bless our climbing gear and ask for safety on the mountain. Although I’m not superstitious, it’s important to our Sherpa staff and I’m happy to receive their blessing as well as all the prayers and encouragement from back home. Plus it’s a fun way to kick off our Expedition, with dancing, music and merriment.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #13

Come morning we said goodbye to our EBC staff and headed down hill passing Gorak Shep, Lobuche and after a long day finally arriving in Dingboche. We were blessed by persistent wind and cold weather throughout the day and everyone was very happy to arrive at our warm lodge. Another long day lay ahead as we trekked to Island Peak Base Camp at 16,800 feet. Our camp is quite nice with a large dinning tent and plenty of staff to look after us. More clouds and cold weather added to the day’s long walk. Normally the Chhukhung Valley (Imja Valley) offers remarkable views of Lhotse (fourth highest on Earth), the Nupste wall, Baruntse, Ama Dablam as well as the Ambu Laptse Pass. Tomorrow after a lazy morning we’ll do some basic mountaineering training for our climbing trekkers and then head up hill to Island Peak high camp at 18,500 feet after lunch. Island Peak is a great way to experience Himalayan mountaineering. It offers remarkable views, a scenic and interesting route while only requiring a moderate amount of climbing experience.

finally arriving in Dingboche. We were blessed by persistent wind and cold weather throughout the day and everyone was very happy to arrive at our warm lodge. Another long day lay ahead as we trekked to Island Peak Base Camp at 16,800 feet. Our camp is quite nice with a large dinning tent and plenty of staff to look after us. More clouds and cold weather added to the day’s long walk. Normally the Chhukhung Valley (Imja Valley) offers remarkable views of Lhotse (fourth highest on Earth), the Nupste wall, Baruntse, Ama Dablam as well as the Ambu Laptse Pass. Tomorrow after a lazy morning we’ll do some basic mountaineering training for our climbing trekkers and then head up hill to Island Peak high camp at 18,500 feet after lunch. Island Peak is a great way to experience Himalayan mountaineering. It offers remarkable views, a scenic and interesting route while only requiring a moderate amount of climbing experience.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #14

This morning I woke up to the sound of huge avalanches coming off 7000 meter Baruntse Peak. We’re miles away but it reminds me of the dangers that lie among these awesome mountains. It’s a lazy morning, much deserved after the last few hard days of trekking. The sun hit’s the walls of the tent; it’s also the nicest day in a while. After lunch we climb our way up to Island Peak high camp at 18,500. Our Sherpa staff serves us dinner and we’re off to bed early. We’ve got a great staff and these guys are the unsung heroes that make everything happen. I honestly don’t think I could do it without them. It’s two in the morning and we’re getting ready to climb. Boots, harness, crampons, ice axe and head lamp, everything’s ready to go, it’s a beautifully clear night and not very cold. We climb through a boulder field, up a series of rock steps and ledges for 1000 feet, then over a rock ridge to crampon point. The sun begins to rise as we adjust our crampons. We continue to climb through the glacier, meandering through huge crevasses, we arrive at the base of the 400 foot snow and ice headwall. It’s much steeper then when I climbed here before. I gasp to breathe in the thin air and clip my ascender into the fixed line. Working hard up the icy headwall I finally crest the summit ridge. Brian and I ascend the last 100 feet together to the top at 20,300 feet. It’s a huge physical effort at these altitudes. The others in our group soon follow assisted by our two climbing Sherpa’s. It’s a gorgeous day with views of the Himalayan range as far as the eye can see. Lhotse the fourth highest mountain on Earth is starring us in the face, standing nearly 8000 feet higher than us; over its ridge unseen lays Mount Everest. In the distance Makalu and Cho Oyu are also visible, the fifth and sixth highest peaks respectively.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #15

After reaching the top of Island Peak we rapped the headwall and descend the route. I’m drained and immediately crash in our tent at high camp. After lunch we walk back to the village of Chhukhung. I gladly let Naga my head trekking guide carry my pack. I sleep early and awake feeling much more rested. I think with all our long days trekking at altitude my body needs rest. In Dingboche we say good bye to our Mountain Gurus trekkers. It’s been a real pleasure spending the past three weeks getting to know everyone. I’m glad they were all able to reach all their goals and experience these unforgettable mountains. Naga and Puba our trekking guides will take everyone back to Lukla and make sure they get on their mountain flight. They will be back in Kathmandu within a few days enjoying pizza, beer and hot showers, quickly forgetting the rugged mountain life they’re leaving behind. As for Brian, Pasang Temba and I, we’re off to Pheriche as they head down to Deboche. We’ll spend the next two days catching up on some much needed rest before heading back to Everest Base Camp to begin our climb. Again I bump into some old guide friends at the lodge. It’s fun to reminisce about past days climbing on Mount Rainier together. They say you can never get the mountain out of the man and despite pursuing other careers and ambitions, these guys, like me, all have found their way back to mountain guiding. It’s an unspoken brotherhood, the mountains have a way of shaping and transforming you unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. My second day in Pheriche I take a ten minute hot shower with very low water pressure and put back on my dirty trekking clothes, although it’s still nice to feel somewhat clean again. I catch up on email which I hope to upload as we pass the 3G tower in Gorak Shep tomorrow. I think about my wife and boys and hope to call them tomorrow as well. It’s difficult being away from them so long. Once back at EBC it should be easier to get into a daily routine opposed to moving from lodge to lodge each day. We’re all disappointed about not having 3G internet access at Base Camp this was the big hype before arriving here. It will just mean I’ll need to hike down to Gorka Shep every week to update you all.

Everest Expedition 2011 with Mountain Gurus – Dispatch #16

I’m back at Everest Base Camp. I felt a little worn walking into camp but after a few hours of rest and relaxation I started to feel upbeat again. Living at 17,600 feet is a real shock to the body; everything takes longer… taking care of oneself, the lack of appetite and slow physical recovery is all part of living in this harsh environment. Brian decides he will go to Camp 1 tomorrow with Pasang Temba, as for me I will spend another day getting over my Khumbu cough and just relaxing. We enjoy a nice dinner and turn up the dinning tent heater. Veronique Dennys a French Canadian climber is sharing Base Camp with us. Like Brian, she’s working on climbing the Seven Summits. The next morning I wake to a beautiful day, the sun is shining and I have Base Camp mostly to myself. I think this is the first time I’m sort of alone in three weeks. The warm sun fills the dinning tent; spring is finally coming to the Khumbu. The mountains look spectacular, despite this harsh environment where surrounded by an amazingly beautiful world. The sound of helicopters fills the air all morning, dropping off supplies and ferrying off sick climbers. As for me I feel great, I think all our work acclimatizing is starting to really payoff. I feel much more rested and my cough is beginning to heal, if all is well I plan to go to Camp 1 tomorrow. Regarding work on the mountain Ngawang Lakpa our other climbing Sherpa has carried loads to Camp 1 and 2 on Everest while we were away climbing Island Peak. He has six summits of Everest from the South Side so between him and Pasang Temba we have two excellent and very experienced climbing Sherpa’s. Also Dawa our Camp 2 cook will help carry loads as needed. So once again Mountain Gurus logistics guys have put together a great team. Now all we need to do is climb the mountain.