Click here for Team's
Sean's Dispatches
Sean Route

American Sean Swarner takes on Everest: A Cancer's Survivors Journey to the World's highest Summit

Sean Swarner's Summit is CONFIRMED !!! He has done it !!!!

Update May 7-10, 2002: Day 50-53, Tuesday-Friday, May 7-10th: These were all waiting days. We were waiting for the weather to clear up. Sean is ready and waiting for the summit push, but he has to wait for the jetstream to push North. We are looking at summiting the 15th hopefully, and leaving the 11th for Camp 2. It is very tense around Base Camp as everyone is preparing for the Summit push.

Day 54, Saturday, May 11th: We all got up early to see Sean and Cami off! They are headed to Camp 2 with Nima Gombu headed up the following day with whatever else might be needed. Tomorrow is a rest day at Camp 2, then on to Camp 3, Camp 4, then they leave for the summit that night around 9 PM. We walked them to the icefall, gave our hugs and words of encouragement, and they set off up the icefall! 2 hours later they were at Camp 1, and a couple hours more, and they were at Camp 2 safely. We will monitor closely by radio, and I will try to update progress as it is reported to me. Sean is looking strong and should have a good window for the summit push. 

Day 55, Sunday, May 12th: Happy Mother's Day Everyone!! ....I think We kind of lose track of the days here. Anyway, Sean is resting a day at Camp 2 today, and moving on to Camp 3 tomorrow morning. He said he is feeling a bit nauseous, but other than that he is feeling good. We will see what he is feeling like at Camp 3 tomorrow afternoon. Everything is still a go for the 15th, and we all hope and pray that he is feeling good then, and that he has a good day. Nima Gombu went up this morning with the last of the provisions, and anything else that they might need up there. I threw in some extra batteries and some cold medicine, just in case. Like I said before, I will try to keep everything updated as best I can!

Day 56, Monday, May 13th: Sean arrived at Camp 3 today, and he said he is feeling very nauseous, and has a headache. He was put on Oxygen and he took some Acetazolamide to try to make him feel better. He Vomited a few times and he is trying to hold some food and water down, but it is not looking that good. He tried to do a line test (much like a sobriety test, one foot in front of the other) and he said he could not do it. He is going to sleep with Oxygen and see how he feels in the morning. Worst case scenario, he would come down tomorrow, and that would be the end of the Expedition. Here is for hoping he feels better in the morning.

Day 57, Tuesday, May 14th: Sean and I got up early to discuss the situation and access how he feels. We decided way before the Expedition started that all major decisions would be joint, between the two of us. Sean woke up feeling a bit better, but not much. He kept down two spoonfuls of oatmeal, and some water. We were both choking back tears because I think we both knew that Camp 3 could very well be the limit his body can take. As Sean stated before though... it is already a successful Expedition in his eyes. We decided though, that he should take a rest day at Camp 3, and see how he felt the next day. About noon he radioed down and said that he does not have enough Oxygen at Camp 3 to stay on all day. He was going off, and saving it for the night when he would sleep. We talked every hour, and I listened to his condition go back and forth from good to bad. We had a good talk about family, life, and what this Expedition means to he and hopefully the world. He went back on Oxygen and signed off for the night.

Day 58, Wednesday, May 15th: Wongchu trotted into camp today because it was getting near the exciting time of Summits! He wanted to give some pep talks and see how people were doing first hand. Wongchu is the owner of Peak Promotion, the company that organized our expedition, as well as the National Geographic one. I was talking to Sean in the morning about he felt, what he thought he could do, and whether or not to descend. Wongchu took the radio from my hand and made it perfectly clear, that there would not be any "Going down, you going UP, no going down... going up, then see how feel, then maybe coming down, but now going up!" So we all decided that he would head up a bit, see how he felt, then maybe head down. After a few hours of no contact I got kind of worried... next thing I know I get a call that says, "Hey congratulate me I made it to 8000 meters!" Sean started up... and felt like himself after a few minutes of good strong hiking, and was passing people in no time again. The plan was to leave Camp 4 at 9:00 PM for the summit bid... however since no one had attempted to summit before this, then no ropes were fixed to the summit. It was going to have to be done on the way. Due to the talking, resting for a bit, and getting everything ready, Sean left Camp 4 at 11:00 PM... the last of all the groups. It was a long night... for all of us, including Wongchu. Sean was climbing to the summit, I was feeding a fire all night at the puja, and Wongchu was trying to sleep next to a noisy radio. The fire must be kept burning all night to please the gods. I had a radio as well, and not like I was going to sleep with my brother on the way to the summit, so I fed it all night, anything to maybe help him along. Wongchu was sitting next to a radio that had static come through almost every five minutes... Thinking it might be Sean or one of his Sherpas, he would jump up and... "Hello Hello, This is Base Camp go ahead! Actually quite funny to see, but it also made for a long night.

Day 59, Thursday, May 16th: Still climbing, burning, and helloing through the night... the sun comes up and still no words from the mountain. I was really worried, I thought that they would at least come on and at least say, "we are ok" or something to that effect. Around 7ish in the morning Tashi Tenzing came on the radio, breathless saying he could see the summit and he was about 15 minutes from it. After an hour we got worried about him too. Sean got on about an hour and a half after Tashi and said he was in the same place that Tashi called from, and he could see the summit. Tashi called at 9:13 yelling that he had made it. I thought that Sean would call in about an hour and a half, with good news. Much to all our surprise Sean called 17 minutes later with great news!!! HE MADE IT!!!!! 9:32 AM, May 16th, 2002 the first 2 time cancer survivor to summit Everest!! Sean was the third "group" to summit, yet the last to leave Camp 4. He said he felt great the whole time and they were passing people left and right. This was a very emotional radio conversation. When it was finished I woke up some people in the states to tell them the good news. Now he had to get down safely. Down is very difficult, because people are so exhausted that people have just given up in the past. They no longer have the energy to go on, and they just sit down and "sleep above Camp 4." The call from Camp 4 was great, "I feel like an Ox, I could do it again I feel so great!!" Today was a record breaking year. In the afternoon the ministry of tourism came to the tent and I had to type up all the names of the people that summited that day. The official list consisted of 54 names... however, there were a few others that were not official because there was no one in their Base Camp to verify. The previous record in one day on the south side was 34, significantly lower! 35 people also summited from the North side. I believe this is the official number, there could be more like there were on the South side, however. Sean made it to Camp 4, and said he was heading all the way down tomorrow. Long and very happy day over, time for a nap!

Day 60, Friday, May 17th: Sean came all the way down from Camp 4 today. I watched as almost no one came walking through Base Camp! Most everyone took another day at Camp 2, but Sean said he was coming down, and sure enough he did. I went with a few of our Sherpa friends that wanted to go meet them in the icefall. We hiked about 3/4 of the way and met them with beer and Coke. I am glad we all went to meet them, because they all had huge huge packs full of camps. They packed up Camp 4, went down, packed up Camp 3, went down, packed up Camp 2, then we met them. They had 3 camps on their backs and needed some relief. We distributed some weight, and headed down to the party of people waiting at the end of the icefall. Down we went, arrived safely at Base Camp, took some pictures and basically went to bed.

Day 61, Saturday May 18th: We packed up and left for Pheriche in the afternoon. No rest day, we were gone. Made it to Pheriche and crashed in the dining room with the Sherpas. Sean's climbing Sherpas stayed to pack up yet another camp... Base Camp, and pack the Yaks. On the way to Pheriche we stopped at Peter Legate Memorial. Apparently his Sherpas made him a really nice memorial with his name engraved and everything on it. When dedicated Sherpas want to make something, it does not take long.

Day 62-63, Sunday-Monday May19-20th: On to Namche Bazaar, then to Lukla to fly out the next day! Another couple of long days of hiking down. We strolled into Lukla around 2ish on the 20th, ready for our flight the next day. That night we met a group of people that had been stuck in Lukla for 4 days. The plane just has not shown up for 4 days. Unfortunately for us, we had the same airline!

Q&A with Sean. 

Submit your questions to 


Click here for
Daily News
2002 Teams
Facts & History
Gear List
Everest 2001
Past Expeditions
Buy Gear
Buy Books