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Patrick Kenny reached the Summit of Everest this
spring 2000, as a member of Henry Todd's expedition.
This is his Q&A !
Q.) Tell us who Patrick Kenny is and what your
climbing background is?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] Hi, I am a Utah based, 36 year
old trip leader/ ski patrolman. I have been climbing
in the Himalaya since '96 and traveling the Himalaya
pretty regularly since 1989. Have climbed some of the
more commonly done 6000 meter peaks in Nepal and North
India, frequently as leader, many of them multiple
times ,as well as the traditional routes on Ama Dablam
and Cho Oyu, the latter without oxygen.
Q.) What made you choose to climb on Henry Todd's
Expedition to Everest in
A.) [Patrick Kenny] I work for an expedition company here in
Utah (Camp 5 Expeditions). We had a client who needed a
one on one guide for this trip, and I was chosen
primarily because of a friendship with Henry, whom I
have known for many years and climbed successfully
with on Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam.
Q.) Some were highly critical of the expedition for
attempting (or planning) to attempt the Summit of
Everest the "first" time after Babu and
A.) [Patrick Kenny] The forecasts indicated a break in the weather,
and in fact our first attempt came at the beginning of
a window of good weather which resulted in the summits
with the best conditions of the spring season. When
good weather comes one is never sure of how long it
may remain. It seemed at the time to be an opportunity
worth grabbing. I had the good fortune to have
extremely strong teammates, many with the advantage of
8000 meter experience. The attraction was not to go
first , but simply to go when the weather allowed, and
climb through tougher conditions lower down if
necessary. From a climber's perspective not difficult
to understand, but from a commercial expedition's
perspective , aggressive and potentially wasteful of
expedition resources. It was a beautiful morning, just
Q.) How was climbing Everest compared to your other
climbs before ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] Like no other. Although Cho Oyu prepared me in
part for the challenges of high altitude, nothing I'd
ever done previously (except perhaps firefighting in
Alaska) prepared me mentally for a two month
commitment filled with ups and downs of all kinds. The
continual tease of the weather, physical well being,
group dynamics, politics of base camp, just to name a
Q.) Describe Summit day and how it felt going up
the Hillary Step and up to the Summit ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] We left at 10:30 PM , the evening of the 25th.
The Col was windy as it probably almost always is, but
we soon climbed into calmer air. A core group of us
stayed together in tight order making good time up and
through the mixed ground between the Col and the
Balcony. We took turns breaking trail when the snow
got deeper, until Ric Allen and Dick Stone pretty much
took over the lead just below the balcony. The night
was incredible. Sheet lightning in the distance much
of the night. A brilliant moonrise negating the use of
headlamps, and Lhotse and Makalu dominating. At one
point I looked over to Lhotse and saw the camera flash
of two friends in the Lhotse coulouir who also
summitted that day. We arrived at the balcony around
2:30 am and took our first real rest. Hydrated,
changed bottles, and carried on.
We arrived at the Hillary Step just after sunrise.
It was just before the Hillary Step that one of my
summit partner's oxygen quit working and I noticed a
slight haziness in my vision. In addition one of the
fixed lines was blown over the cornice and unusable in
a very exposed section of ground between the south
summit and the Step. These things in combination were
a little disconcerting. We fixed the oxygen problem,
climbed over the unfixed ground, and my vision
remained accurate enough to go on. The step itself
seemed not too difficult this year due to the fact
that there was a cleft on the right side of it between
the snow and the rock , so a good, protected place to
do the final move up onto the rocks. I was surprised
to see the Hillary Step so well from the South Summit
, it seemed so near. After the step a pretty
tough grind up to the summit, but a grind made with an
increasing sense of the closeness of the summit.
I was keeping one eye on the approaching clouds coming
in from the west, clouds that completely obscured the
view west as I summitted. The view to the East and
North was still unobscured, though not for long. Ric
Allen, Dick Stone and I were on the summit together,
in that order. It was tremendous. 6:45 am.
Q.) How did it feel to know that others had died
climbing Everest in 2000 from the North, and it was
your "turn" to take the risk ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] Everyone who proceeds beyond base camp takes
tremendous risk in the icefall for starters, so there
is no sense of a turn really. I had some friends on
the North Side and after immediate concern for their
well being came the concern that any rescue attempt
would probably involve them, and how that would impact
their own safety and/or summit attempts.
Q.) Was Everest a spiritual Experience for you ? If
so can you describe for us ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] It would seem to me that anything that
committing plumbs the spirit. The feeling I had when I
cleared the icefall the last time was pretty powerful.
Q.) How did you feel on the Summit, when you
started down ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] I was concerned about the weather, the summit
ridge between the summit and the South Summit, and the
well being of myself and my summit partners. The
weather turned out to be basically ok, though in and
out with snow flurries the rest of the day. The ridge
went pretty fast, and we passed the rest of our group
on their way up just after the Hillary Step. We
cruised down pretty well, though with some visibility
problems, esp. around the balcony. We all ended up in
Camp 2 that afternoon.
Q.) Has reaching the Summit of Everest been a great
experience in your life?
A.) [Patrick Kenny]
Q.) Are you now a different person ?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] Fundamentally no, but with a cellular record of a
wild two months on Everest.
Q.) What is next for Patrick Kenny?
A.) [Patrick Kenny] Continue to participate in the Himalayan
landscape however I can. walking, climbing, kayaking
(don't laugh jerry) , by bicycle, or by bus.