Home
   Today's News
   8000 Meters Facts
  
Banners Ads
   Bookstore
   Classified Ads
   Climb for Peace
  
Contact
   E-mail (Free)
  
Educational
  
Expeditions
  
Facts
  
Games
  
Gear
  
History
  
Interviews
  
Mailing List

   News (current)
   News Archives
   Sat Phones
   Search
   Seven Summits
   Snowboard
   Speakers
   Students
   Readers Guide
   Risks
   Visitor Agreement
 

 

  


Everest 2003: Charlie Wittmack
Dispatch


(Transcribed from six interrupted satellite telephone voice messages received May 14, 2003 beginning at 5:23 AM)

Base Camp 17600 feet May 14, 2003

I am starting to become a bit reticent about my entrance into law school this fall. Over these last several weeks I have become an expert at wasting time, and I am very concerned that there may be permanent damage! These last few sentences, for example, have taken literally hours to write; in that same time I have, however, accomplished several other important tasks: I managed to drink a cup of tea, eat five pieces of taffy, and give directions to a lost man from Boulder who was wearing a t-shirt with “CANADA!” in large, plaid letters across the front.

What ever happened to “I’m Proud to be an American!”?

Now perhaps I am jumping to conclusions, but I have become sensitive over the last several years to a disturbing rise in the number of Americans traveling under a Canadian disguise.  Here at Mt. Everest there is a tradition that each team displays the flag of their country above their base camp. Of all the American expeditions this year, only the Texan, Gary Guller, has raised “Old Glory.” (I am ashamed to say that my flag is presently stored in Camp III awaiting a shot at the summit.)

It seems that in times of political crisis, many Americans do choose to take down the flag and deny responsibility, rather than becoming informed and taking a position of support or opposition for our government. What has made our country so strong is the opportunity to make that choice, and it is our obligation to demonstrate it on the international level.

Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to the country always; loyalty to the government, when it deserves it.” This passage may seem tangential to our purpose here on Mt. Everest, but I assure you that it is critically related.

The biggest team on the mountain this year is the Indo-Nepalese military expedition. Throughout the season they have provided an incredible model of compassion and hospitality. They not only share the weather reports generated by their weather bureau in Karachi, but they frequently dispatch a messenger with critical information in order to ensure everyone’s safety.  Each of their camps is always staffed, and when passing, members are always invited in for tea and biscuits. Frequently in the afternoon there is a member of the expedition offering tea to tired climbers as they exit the Icefall. As the route was advanced up the mountain, they provided food and shelter to the group placing the lines, then added an entire second line to insure the traffic could move quickly and safely. Any of their resources, including the Base Camp movie theater, are open to all any time.

Let me now contrast that with the American behavior.  Several days ago a young Irish trekker stopped in for a chat, as trekkers often do. He had stopped at several of the camps and from one of the American groups was met with only, “what do you want?” before denying him even a cup of water and sending him on his way.

It came to no surprise to us that this group has done nothing to help advance the route, and while claiming to have the most accurate weather reports, would never dream of mentioning so much as a wind speed. I was shocked when another American joked to me of the level of secrecy that teams have, and their related acts of “espionage.” I tried to assure him that this was uniquely an American perspective.

Every day I talk openly with many groups about any and all information that is available. Everest climbing is not a competition.  And while there are many climbers on the mountain this year, it is certainly possible for all of us to reach our goal, all safely, by working together. It seems that our lack of nationalism has made us forget that we are on the same team, working towards one common goal.  Having forgotten that, our competitive spirit, which was so recently our strength, has become our great vice.

On a lighter note, I realized last week that I had been confusing the Sherpas with my own nationality. I overheard a conversation where one Sherpa told another, “He’s not an American, he is an Iowan.”

With my excessive pride for our state, I must not have been clear on that one important detail: Yes, I am an Iowan… and yes… I am very proud to be an American!

Dispatches

 





  Altitude pre-
  
pre-acclimatization
  
Backcountry Gear
  
Backpacks
  
Bags& Luggage
  
Bindings
  
Boot & Fabric Care
  
Cameras

  
Camp Furniture
  
Camping Accessories
  
Car Racks
  
Carabiners
  
Cards
  
Child Carriers
  
Climbing Bags
  
Compasses
  
Cooking Supplies
  
Cycling Components
  
Cycling Repair
  
Dry Bags
  
Dry Boxes
  
Electronics
  
First Aid
  
Fishing Accessories
  
Fleece
  
Float Tubes
  
Fly Boxes
  
Fly Line
  
Fly Rods
  
Fly Tying
  
Fly Vests & Packs
  
Food
  
Footwear
  
Gaiters
  
Gifts & Games
  
Gloves & Mittens
  
Goggles
  
Harnesses
  
Hats
  
Helmets
  
Hydration Packs
  
Indoor Climbing Gear
  
Infant Apparel
  
Jackets
  
Kayaks
  
Kid's Cycling Gear
  
Kid's Paddling Gear
  
Knives & Tools
  
Leaders & Tippets
  
Lifejackets/ PFDs
  
Lights
  
Locks
  
Long Underwear
  
Maps
  
Messenger & Bike
  
Mountaineering Gear
  
Neckwear
  
Neoprene
  
Nets
  
Paddles & Oars
  
Paddlewear
  
Pants
  
Pet Gear
  
Poles
  
Pontoons
  
Prints & Posters
  
Rafts
  
Reels & Spools
  
Rescue Gear
  
Rock Climbing Gear
  
Rod & Reel Kits
  
Rod Tubes & Bags
  
Ropes
  
Shell Outerwear
  
Shirts
  
Shorts
  
Showers & Toilets
  
Skates & Scooters
  
Ski & Board Repair
  
Skirts & Dresses
  
Skis
  
Sleds and Tubes
  
Sleeping Bags
  
Snowboards
  
Snowshoes
  
Socks
  
Sprayskirts
  
Stoves
  
Strollers
  
Sunglasses
  
Sunscreen
  
Sweaters
  
Swimming
  
Tents
  
Travel Accessories

  
Underwear
  
Vests
  
Videos
  
Waders
  
Watches & Clocks
  
Water Bottles
  
Water Filtration
 


Send email to everestnews2004@adelphia.net   •   Copyright© 1998-2003 EverestNews.com
All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Disclaimer, Privacy Policy, Visitor Agreement, Legal Notes: Read it.