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Featured Everest Expedition: Team Everest '03
Reports


Gary Guller, veteran expedition leader, Everest Summiter, author and motivational speaker. To book Gary
Gary Guller and Nima on Everest's summitGreetings, Namaste and Tashi Delek!

Having realized my dream to stand on top of the world, I could not have wished for a better summit day. The Sherpa and I had a plan and we stuck with it when everyone else was telling us that we should move. We waited for the right time to make our push for the top. Our reward - and I do mean OUR reward - all the supporters of Team Everest - was to have the summit of Mount Everest all to ourselves.

I cannot stress enough how deep I had to dig within myself to reach this goal. We left Camp Four at approximately 8pm on May 22nd, starting out in very windy conditions, but luck changed in our favor. From the South Col to the balcony to our arrival at the South Summit, we had good weather, and continued as a team, step by step, up this great mountain. From the South Summit, traversing the Hillary Step and other extremely difficult areas, we kept our confidence while feeling the balance we were walking between life and death. We all pushed through and arrived at the summit within 5 minutes of each other. Immediately, Nima Dawa, Da Nima, Pem Tenji, Namgya and I all fell to our knees, put our heads together and cried.On the summit

In all my life as a mountaineer, I have looked up at the mountains. This was the time that I could look up no further. We were at the highest place on earth and could see everything - even the curvature of our great planet. None of us could truly believe what was really happening, that we were actually there, but is was the most beautiful site I've ever seen.

We stayed approximately 20 minutes at the summit, but knew that the most difficult and dangerous time was ahead - we still had to make the difficult descent back to Camp Four. As a left arm amputee, the descent from the Summit to the South Summit is more dangerous and requires careful balance - the route is extremely tight with steep drop offs into both Nepal and Tibet. We had stayed at over 26,000ft for two nights before our attempt, and as a result of being so long at such a high altitude, our bodies were exhausted. At approximately 7pm - almost 24 hours after our departure - we arrived back to Camp Four in the dark, absolutely shattered, but we knew we had succeeded in taking the message of Team Everest '03 to the top of the world.

We immediately made drinks to rehydrate and prepared for a night of rest before our descent to Camp Two the following morning. A couple of hours after going to sleep, I awoke to severe pain - like someone putting knives into my eyes - and I had no vision. Snow blindness. Fortunately we were safe in the tents at Camp Four, but the pain was so great, it felt like I would never ever see again.Gary G. with Snow blindness

Although I had never had snow blindness before, I knew it should pass within 24 hours provided I kept my eyes closed as much as possible. Nima Dawa and I made the decision to stay an additional night at camp Four so I could recover, increasing our stay at 26,000+ feet to 5 days. By 25 May, although still in pain, I could see again and we made the descent down the steep Lhotse Face to Camp Two.

By the time we had arrived to Camp Two, I had learned through communications with Base Camp that I had lost my friend Karma Sherpa. Team Everest '03 has always been about celebrating the human spirit and Karma believed in everything the expedition stood for. He was like my little brother - I have known his family for years and I can't express how saddened I am about losing him. My gratitude to all those who tried to save Karma's life while he was trying to descend. A very special personal thanks goes out to Gary Scott, Willie and DamienBenegas, Christine Kane, Luis Benitez and all the Sherpa who assisted in the rescue attempt.

South Col Salute!On May 26th, Nima Dawa and I made our final descent to Base Camp with very heavy loads and hearts to our awaiting team. I cannot thank you all enough for your inspiration through your prayers and emails while we were on the mountain: CTD, our sponsors and the entire TEAM of supporters. There is no way we could have succeeded without you all.

As Tenzing Norgay said, "Be great, but make others greater." We have a long way to go to change the stereotypes that are still associated with those with disabilities. Please support our message in the future. It is simply the right path.

I'll be on my way to the US soon [still awaiting flight confirmations] and I look forward to speaking to everyone who has supported our message. See you soon!

Best Wishes, Gary Guller 

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