Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today I started climbing Mount Everest! Since I have been at basecamp for 3 days, it is now time to begin acclimating to the higher elevations. A climb of Mount Everest generally takes 4-6 weeks upon arrival at basecamp. The reason for this is that I have to allow the body time to create more red blood cells. These are the body’s cells that carry oxygen. As you can imagine the higher in elevation one goes there is less oxygen to breath. Therefore, to overcome this, I can further my acclimatization by climbing high and sleeping low. So today I ventured onto the lower portions of Everest, at around 18,200’, and have returned to basecamp for 2 days of rest.

The most notorious portion of the climbing route on the South side of Everest is the Khumbu Icefall. This is a two-mile long maze of jumbled ice blocks, crevasses, and seracs as big as a house. These crevasses, sometimes 20 feet wide and 150 feet deep, are overcome by aluminum ladders lashed end to end and then placed horizontal to span the enormous openings in the glacier. The Icefall is the first obstacle that must be overcome if I am to attain the higher reaches of Mount Everest.

The object of today’s little climb was to get to the first couple of ladders and work on the skills necessary to cross these frightening fissures with confidence and speed. The confidence needed to cross these wide gaps is easily understandable but why the speed? The Khumbu Icefall moves downhill at around 3 – 4 feet per day. The crevasses instantly get wider, and the enormous blocks of ice can collapse without warning. Once the sun hits the icefall the glacial movement accelerates. Since I will need to cross through the icefall 6 times in total, I must be fast and efficient. So most of the climbing on this portion of Everest is done at night for obvious reasons.

Please enjoy the pictures taken of me crossing a few of the crevasses in the lower icefall. Again, thank you to everyone who has remembered me in prayer. Words cannot express my gratitude.

In a few days I will venture all the way through the icefall and sleep at Camp 1. This will begin my first of several rotations up the mountain. Hopefully, if all goes well I will also push on to Camp 2 located at approximately 21,500’. I may be out of contact for a few days because carrying the computer, DSL modem and other technology stuff higher on the mountain is just too cumbersome. However, I will be able to call my wife via satellite phone and she can post an update on our progress. Thanks for following along as I attempt to stand on the highest point on Earth.