Everest 2001: The American-Canadian Expedition
isn't about (me),'' Hommer told the Duluth News
Tribune in March. "This is about the
capabilities of the human spirit and what any of
us can accomplish.''
The Expedition Begins! August 9, 2001 Minneapolis, MN
the American-Canadian Expedition left Minnesota for
Kathmandu, Nepal. From there, well travel by truck
on a weeklong journey through Tibet to the base of Mt.
base camp it will take us about 50 days of intensive
climbing and altitude acclimatization to reach the
29,000-foot summit of Mt. Everest. Were going to
take the steep Great Couloir route on the mountains
north side, not the more traveled South Col route.
have the utmost respect for this mountain. The
mountain decides who succeeds and who fails, who stays
and who goes home.
I lost my feet and lower legs to frostbite in a plane
crash almost 20 years ago on Mt. McKinley in Alaska, I
knew I would always return to climbing. I love
climbing. So, I decided to pursue it to the best of my
ability and become an even better climber. Two years
ago, I became the first double-amputee to scale Mt.
McKinley the highest peak in North America.
motivation to organize the expedition sprang from a
desire to push the limits of what is possible as an
amputee. I wanted to provide a testimony for people
who find themselves up against hardship in their
lives. I wanted to show them that they can still reach
for the highest goals. They may not always be
successful, but theyve made the decision to go for
it, to make the attempt. Its about courage.
hope to help others with my new nonprofit foundation,
High Exposure. This venture will raise funds to help
provide prostheses for amputees in Nepal and the U.S.
2: Greetings from Kathmandu! August 13, 2001
expedition arrived here in Kathmandu at 7:30 p.m. on
the August 11 after about two days of travel with a
one-night stopover in Hong Kong. There were some
travel problems and moments of confusion, but we all
arrived together with all of our bags. We certainly
take that as a positive sign for this expedition.
always, when returning to Nepal, our senses are pretty
much overwhelmed by the many wonderful sights and
sounds and the bustle of activity in the streets. Just
going for a ride in a taxicab through the streets of
this fascinating place is indeed an adventure in its
and today the team prepared for our departure to the
Tibetan border on August 15. Tomorrow will be equally
busy as we take care of last minute details. We hope
to have our satellite communication system and our
computer up and running in the morning. As soon as
that is accomplished we will begin transmitting photos
from here in Nepal and as we travel through Tibet
enroute to the Everest basecamp.
have to say that spirits are high with anticipation of
what lies before us on this expedition. Initial
reports, although not yet confirmed, are that there
will only be one other expedition climbing on the
Tibetan side of the mountain. It seems that well be
able to sort of bask in the solitude of this great
think I speak for the whole team when I say that we
still find it a little hard to believe that were
here and well be enroute one day from now to the
north face of Mt. Everest. It seems like only a veiled
dream 14 months ago when the first planning stages
began to make this climb a reality. Just getting here
has certainly been one of the greatest challenges of
fact that we are here is owed to the overwhelming
generosity of our wonderful sponsors. For me
personally, that support has fulfilled a lifelong
dream a dream that I thought was forever dashed
when I became a double amputee 20 years ago. The fact
that I am here and about to embark upon the greatest
climb of my life and will realize my dream
leaves me at a complete loss of words to express my
thanks and gratitude for all of the people who have
made this happen for me.
only shall I climb upon the heights of Everest, I will
do it with a man who fostered countless dreams of high
and beautiful places in my mind as a young man many,
many years ago because of his chronicled exploits. To
go to Mt. Everest is one thing. To experience this
mountain with the seasoned leadership of Jim Wickwire
is just as good as it can be. I believe the entire
team echoes my thoughts.
Ill close for now. We all send our love and
greetings to our supportive family and friends. Again,
we hope to begin transmitting photos to accompany our
dispatches within the next couple of days. Good night
from Kathmandu and well be checking in again soon.
Crossing the Border Nyalam, Tibet
crossed the border yesterday afternoon and spent last
night in Zhangmu. Now we're in the village of Nyalam.
the journey from Kathmandu to the border, we
experienced about a four-hour delay due to a mudslide
that blocked the road. It was eventually cleared.
also stopped at the Scheer Memorial Hospital where the
team and I met with a Nepali doctor. This is the
hospital where we hope to open the first prosthetic
clinic in Nepal. It was a great meeting and further
intensified my desire to see this prosthetic clinic
become a reality and start providing limbs for the
people of Nepal.
as excited about the prospect of this clinic is my
prosthetist of 18 years, Tom Halvorson. Tom works for
Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, one of the major
sponsors of this expedition. Those who know me also
know that I call Tom the magic man, not only for
what he has done for me but for the quality of life he
has returned to others as well.
border crossing went well with only a few
complications that were quickly settled. As you might
imagine, getting 10 people and 5,000 pounds of gear
into a new country takes time and lots of patience.
ride today from Zhangmu, elevation 7,400 feet, to
Nyalam, elevation 12,200 feet, took about two and a
half hours and provided us with spectacular views.
Sometimes they were a little too spectacular. There's
something awe-inspiring about being on a rutted narrow
dirt road just two feet from the edge of a 2,000 foot
drop. It felt instead like I was in the cockpit of an
American Airlines MD-80 asking the captain if we were
to be fed on this flight.
will spend today and tomorrow here in Nyalam in order
4: Dreaming of Spam August 18, 2001 Tingri, Tibet
arrived in Tingri today after a four-hour drive from
Nyalam. Tingri is at an elevation of 14,300 ft. We
spent yesterday doing a short acclimatization climb
out of Nyalam. We did it in two groups going to about
13,700 feet. Everybody is feeling well and feeling
drive from Nyalam took us through some of the most
desolate yet beautiful landscape that I have ever
seen. The euphoria of these views, however, was
tempered by the impoverished existence that the
Tibetan people live. To have to refuse the many
children who beg for food strikes the heart in a hard
accommodations along the road here have led to many of
us having a few flea and bed-bug bites a small
price to pay to travel this region of the planet.
Another affliction in the group is shaved heads.
Were not saying who, but some of you at home will
be surprised when we return.
we will spend all day here to acclimatize before
leaving for basecamp early on the morning of the 20th.
local food has been good overall, but tonight at
dinner some of us were saying how much we looked
forward to getting into base camp and having a fried
Spam sandwich on chapatti with mustard and Velveeta
have been informed by our liaison that the road into
basecamp is quite bad, and the trip will take seven or
eight hours to travel the approximately 70 miles.
the weather is good, we will get some great views from
the high pass along the route, which is over 17,000 ft
high. As I said, we do have the capabilities to
transmit photos during the climb but have not yet had
the time to do so. We hope to give it a try tonight. Jim
Sturgis and Karl Swanson
are fine-tuning a few more items on this system to
make its use more efficient and user friendly.
we are in basecamp and can set the system up inside of
a communications tent, we will get more photos out on
a regular basis.
sure many folks are curious about how my legs are
working out. The answer is: very good overall. I
traveled here with three sets of my Hangar legs for
various conditions. Tom Halvorson
and I have been working a little each day, trying
various combinations of legs and inner liners. We are
seeking optimum performance, as nothing less will get
this job done.
is 23:45 hours here in Tibet, which is 10:40 central
time, Ill close for now. Best wishes from Tibet.
American-Canadian Expedition: The
on the Expedition