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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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