Guller: This is his Q&A, Part Two
a climbing accident left mountaineer Gary Guller
without the use of his left arm, his hopes of
ever climbing again were shattered. But in
Spring 2001, Gary's biggest dream was attempted.
He will traveled to Nepal's Himalaya to attempt
to summit the world's highest mountain.
began rock climbing in the southeast in his early
teens and quickly moved on to other mountain ranges
throughout the US. He soon set his sites on the bigger
mountains of the world. In 1986, while Gary and two
close friends were climbing, all three plummeted down
a hard icy face more than 1,500 feet. A rescue team
found the group three days later. His good friend
Jerry had died; Gary and Dave were evacuated to
hospitals in the US.
neck was broken and the nerve roots going to his left
arm were pulled out of the spinal cord, resulting in
paralysis of his left arm and shoulder. In the two
years following the accident, he was experiencing
intolerable pain and was on heavy medication. Gary
underwent surgery to repair his broken neck
(successful!) and highly risky surgery to alleviate
the chronic nerve pain (Duke University -
successful!). He also had experimental surgery at Duke
performed by Dr. Alan Friedman to regain partial
movement of his arm. Unfortunately, this operation was
not successful and Gary made the difficult decision to
have his paralyzed left arm amputated.
the past years Gary has resumed his outdoor pursuits,
climbing in Europe and South America and in 1997,
attempting Nepal's Lhotse, the 4th highest mountain in
the world. Since 1997, he has spent the majority of
time in Nepal and Tibet, trekking and climbing
throughout the high Himalaya. He and his wife Joni met
climbing Mt. Everest, Gary wanted to raise awareness
and support for the potential of people with
disabilities and to show that life and dreams
continue. The expedition was called Everest Expedition
is part Two of his Q&A with questions from readers
sort of shape does one need to be in to 'trek' to
Everest Base Camp ?
I always say that the better one is in shape before
coming out to Nepal, the better the experience they
will have. For an Everest Base type of trek, I would
highly recommend a good 8-12 week "getting
ready" period before coming out to Nepal. In
addition to this, having a few longer days of
6-10 mile walking, carrying 10-15lb pack, etc. will
get those muscles ready and iron out the kinks, if you
like. If you are interested in more specific
info, I really like to discuss personally with
whomever before suggesting a plan to get ready. Feel
free to call me; everyone is different.
I hear of people dying at Base camp or on the way it
seems every year?
this true. People not only die trekking to base
camp but die trekking full stop, everywhere. The
higher altitudes in the Nepal Himalaya contribute
to most deaths, I'm sure. The secret is to allow your
body the time to acclimatize, and to eat, drink and
then eat and drink some more. It baffles me to this
day that trekkers endure sometimes over 30 hours by
flight, months and months of planning, with a goal to
reach Everest Base Camp, then they arrive and its
rush, rush, rush. The very last thing you want
to be doing is rushing at altitude in Nepal, or
anywhere for that matter. Kick back, enjoy the
mountain beauty, stroll with the locals, absorb the
surroundings and EAT EAT DRINK DRINK, and listened to
your body. If you feel slightly bad, relax.
If you do not improve, then descend. If
more people took a little more time on their approach
to BC, 1) they would simply enjoy themselves more
and 2) they would be a lot safer and get to base camp
with a smile. Finally, I have had the best results
with others and myself taking extra days if
needed to acclimatize better or even descend lower for
a couple of days. Most of the time, this is
what's needed and the trip continues with much more
This year, I understand you were filming.
Well, it seems that a few people thought I was
filming. In fact, we at Arun Treks were only
hired to assist the film crew in Kathmandu,
assist them with trekking to base camp and getting
them all safely back home. The same as with any group
that hires us. Of course, they had more gear
than most - ha! It was great, though, for our
Sherpa and local porters as it simply provided
more work for them. The film crew was a fantastic
group of people and I hope I cross paths with them
again. At base camp we all had some good laughs.
Just nice people doing their job.
What was the film on the death of Mike Matthews?
Yes, the film is about this young man and unfortunately
his life ended on Everest. After the film crew
left base camp, they sent a nice e-mail thanking us
for their our service. I think the film is coming
out in the UK soon.
If one wants to climb Everest one day, where would one
start (after the climbing guy)?
Eric Simonson has probably the best answer to this which
I'm sure has been posted up on the EverestNews.com
necessary for Mt. Everest].
What is the typical Sherpa climber paid to climb
It ranges wildly from the bare minimum to very nice
earnings, anywhere from $2,000.00-$10,000.00,
depending on the particular Sherpa. There are also
many ways Sherpa get paid that are rarely mentioned -
in the form of salary, equipment allowance, insurance,
trips abroad, education for their children and so on.
I know we keep this info between us and the Sherpa and
I know other operators do the same. But it's a little
more complex than Oh, we pay $1,000.00 and that's it.
Do you see Sherpa climbers guiding clients one day? I
know a few like Babu have guided several people. But
as I understand it, most just carry loads, fix the
ropes, and other activities, I would consider
Absolutely, Sherpas have always guided clients. A lot
of times, though, Sherpas do not speak enough English,
Spanish, Turkish, Russian or whatever to communicate
effectively as one needs to with say western clients.
Nor, do many foreigners speak the Sherpa language. So,
most, not all, commercial operators tend to hire competent
leaders, guides, assistants, etc. to assist the Sherpa
with and for the clients, who ultimately are
footing most of the bill.
It seems a big gamble to go for the Summit first? This
year the trend of the Sherpas laying the rope on the
North and South sides continued. Is it fair to have
the Sherpas do this work, and then claim you have
Well, where do you start with this question? Or
for that matter, where do you end? Look, let's
cut straight to it - expeditions rely on the
Sherpa and the Sherpa count on the expeditions.
Summitting Everest: hell yeah - I look forward to
the day when I can say I summitted Everest with the
assistance of everyone involved, Sherpa, other team
members, good weather, the cook, the porter way back
in Pheriche, the yak, and so on and so on.... The
point being, I want to know in my heart that I
climbed to the top in the best way I could
without being carried, short roped or hand held.
Everyone needs assistance on Everest to some
degree. Maybe it's time to start giving more
credit to those who gave the assistance.
Who was your favorite guys (or girls) on the
mountain this year that was not on your team ?and why
I gotta say most everyone I met was really, really nice
to me and to others. I enjoyed everything from
sharing meals and birthdays at base camp to
trudging up to camp 2 with many different folk. Most
everyone had time to say a quick hello and have a
brief chat. There are some really, really good folks
out there that spend most of their seasons in Nepal.
As I said before, the negative stuff is more
interesting perhaps in the press, but there is really
is a lot of goodness on the mountain.
Who is your favorite climbers of all time, and why?
The list is huge: Bonnington, Scott, Messner, Hillary,
Tenzing Norgay, Loretan, my friends Kipa &
Nima, plus plus plus. I admire anyone that just
pushes themselves as far as possible whilst remaining
humble with their feet firmly on the ground.
Part One >>>>>