17: May 24, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation
17,600 feet: I did it, I really, really did it! Wow!
It was a very, very hard slog to the summit. The winds
were again strong. It just knocks the energy out of
you. At one point, I was forced to take some oxygen so
that I could continue.
I reached the summit about 9 AM. For a moment, the
pain was forgotten. Not many have seen this view with
their own eyes. This will stay with me forever.
I had planned to make some calls from the summit, but
the phone was dead.
The descent was very difficult. The battle of will to
reach the summit was over, and the glory was gone. Now
I had to get off this place and get down to where I
could breathe. I refused to use any oxygen on the
I crashed hard at the South Col and slept a fitful few
hours to gain a little strength. Round trip from here
to the summit and back was 22 hours.
Descended to Camp 2 on the 23rd and back to Base Camp
The most serious condition seems to be severe
frostbite, primarily in my two big toes. I'm a severe
enough case to warrant an airlift back to Kathmandu to
the hospital. I'm going to insist that they make room
for Gabrielle so that she doesn't have to walk out.
I'm a little embarrassed to be airlifted out. I had
wanted to have the time with Gabrielle to enjoy the
mountains without the pressure of Everest.
I'll call in a more complete report from Kathmandu.
Thanks for everybody's support. I couldn't have done
it without you. Sean