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Everest 2003: Charlie Wittmack Dispatch One

From the Inside Out, A personal account of the Big E...

Mount Everest.  It's hard to believe. 

This first dispatch is a difficult one to write because by its form, "the first dispatch" assumes that this is the beginning.  I am certain that most of you are here because of your love of the mountain and not your love for me.  I will therefore omit the story that brought me here as much as possible and concentrate on our mutual interest, the Big E.

My name is Charlie Wittmack and I am a climber. That much you need to know.  I'm attempting to climb Everest because I've dreamed of doing it since back when all climbers did.  While I have many friends in the neighborhood, right now it looks like I'll be climbing alone.  I'm not after any records, or "firsts" and I don't expect to be near the summit on the fiftieth anniversary.  I haven't managed any endorsements, major sponsors or even so much as one crummy book deal.  I'm just here because, like you, I'm in love.

In a way you could say that I am climbing for Marmet and Schmied, the two Swiss climbers that had the third and fourth summits of the mountain after Hillary and Tenzing.  Without the promises of fame and fortune these men followed their dream quietly through the shadow of this great mountain to their goal.  Sure Everest had been climbed before, but not by them!  Marmet and Schmied have been followed by more than a thousand others, some great and some foolish, but all deeply enamored with this hill.  And what fantastic stories they have. 

What else could it be that would drive these women and men so far, and cause them to take risks so great?  Why Everest?  Why Climb?  It's like asking, "Why do you love someone?"  You could spend a lifetime trying to explain.

This year, Mt. Everest is bringing a few more tricks to the usual slate of epic sagas.  The U.S. has promised war and the State Department is discouraging travel, Maoist rebels in Nepal continue to stage their revolution, record numbers of climbers are expected on the mountain to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary and weather predictions so far look dubious at best.  There are bound to be some stories.

I'll be there, as your eyes and ears, bringing you photos, interviews and reports from the front row.  The dispatches may on occasion, be motivational, cynical, ridiculous, educational or inspiring, but I promise you this, they will always be honest.

Mount Everest.  Here we go.

Email Charlie

(Photo:  John Richard steps off onto the clouds after summitting the Mexican volcano, Orizaba.  Photo credit: Charlie Wittmack)

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