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 Patrick Kenny Q&A                                                    10/17/2000

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
2000 ?

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 other failed...     

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 extremely cold.

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 few.

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] Yes, definitely.

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.

Cheers

Patrick Kenny

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