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Everest 2003: Charlie Wittmack
Dispatch Five


Tuesday, March 18, 2003 11:41 AM

Pacific Ocean 31000 Feet

I'm currently skipping across the globe at a comfortable cruising elevation of 31,000 feet. Looking out the window I try to determine what those last 2000 feet beyond Everest's summit are worth. With a mountain like this one we find our perspective in the most peculiar places!

Some Everest veterans have told me that the view from the summit is not as spectacular as one might imagine. At that extreme elevation they say, the scale becomes completely incomprehensible. From this view it looks as if the clouds are floating on the ocean and I have a slight taste of what awaits.

In a way, it's appropriate that the view from the summit dissolves into fantasy as the entire experience has evolved in a similar manner. The last week before my departure is as clear in my memory as a dream. Was it a week ago that I kissed catie goodbye... just yesterday that I

flipped burgers on the BBQ... this morning that I waved goodbye? Each

time zone that ticks by below seems to take my memories another day away.

In the great English tradition of Boardman and Tasker, I arrived at the airport this morning in my Himalayas boots. It wasn't exactly planned, but a matter of necessity as my bags were dangerously close to the 70 LB limit.

It's made for an interesting conversation piece. Two of the most memorable discussions included and introduction by Himalayan vet and Everest author Stacey Allison's neighbor, and some advice from a Russian, who on landing in LA pointed out that the boots were "not at all appropriate for California!"

As I walked off the plane in Denver I was astonished to be greeted by my long time climbing buddy, Avery. He had caught wind that I was passing through and came to lend a hand in making my tight connection. Going only on yesterday's ambiguous email, Avery had determined my incoming and outgoing gates and airlines and had me on my way. What a great surprise!

Avery is part of a small family of climbers that taught me my first climbing skills and we have since enjoyed adventures around the world together. I have always looked to him for guidance and advice. Today as I embark on the biggest adventure of my life, his advice was simple and concise.

"Send."

-Charlie

Dispatches

 





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