The abrupt end to the Everest season has given me a month I did not expect to have at home. The first few days were needed to overcome jet lag. To really reset my internal clock I did two fairly rigorous mountain bike rides and went into work. At work I had to stay active or I would fall asleep in my chair. On Wednesday I gave a lunch presentation to the employees of Ortho Development, the company that manufactures my artificial knees. On Saturday I gave another presentation at the Adventure and Gear Expo here in Salt Lake City. Those two events kept me busy for most of the week preparing slide shows for each. It has returned to winter here in Utah but I have been too busy to hit the slopes. I promised myself that I would go up tomorrow and do a hike and then ski down. The weather looks like it will warm up after Monday.
It already seems that Everest 2014 happened long ago and yet it was only a week ago that I came home. I have not mentioned the kindness shown to me by Pemba Sherpa, his daughter Shanti and the rest of his family in Kathmandu. He and Shanti made sure I got around Kathmandu to secure my flights home. I also spent a glorious day at their home where I took a delightfully long nap and had a nice dinner with the family. Their hospitality and the Sherpa people’s hospitality in general is just incredible.
After doing two presentations regarding Everest and the disaster of 2014 the magnitude that disaster has sunk in all the more. Apa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest a record 21 times and who lives in Salt Lake City , was interviewed by a local newspaper. He felt that it was appropriate to give Everest a rest this year. I now agree with his sentiment. However, it was difficult as a climber who trained hard and long to let go of the dream while still in base camp right at the bottom of the mountain. It may sound callous to still have wanted to climb after such a devastating disaster but it is really hard to dial back the drive that one must have to get there and survive there for such a long time. Once the reality that we would not be climbing set in I felt a significant decrease in my energy reserves both physically and mentally. In fact, I picked up the Khumbu cough (which I am still fighting) the day before we departed base camp for home. I attribute my getting the illness to going from a “game-on” to “game-off” mentality with much stress heaped on as will.
Finally, in reviewing my photos from the trip and recollecting all I went through with my team-mates I am able to declare that we had one heck of an adventure together regardless of the fact that we did not summit. It was an adventure marred by tragedy but also defined by that tragedy. We will never forget those 16 Sherpas who died so that the spirit of adventure can live on! I also like what another Everest expedition leader, Willie Benegas (he was instrumental in the rescue and recovery effort after the accident) said after the season was cancelled:
“The beauty of a successful mountaineering expedition to the Himalayas is not if we have reached the top of the mountain. It is that if at the end of the entire process – culturally and emotionally – a simple symbiosis a brotherhood is created. Where we begin as strangers and leave as brothers.”
This sums up how I feel about the men and women that were involved in the HIMEX 2014 Everest expedition. I will be adding pictures to the post but give me a chance to recover and catch up on my life.