arrive yesterday into Tuglha (15,000ft), passing through some amazing
villages and mountain scenery. Visiting one of these villages, Pangboche,
was an uplifting experience for all team members. It was one of the most
incredible and fascinating mornings of the entire expedition so far.
The highest Lama of the
village was kind enough to visit the expedition at the local monastery. As
expedition team members usually go into the monastery to pay their
respects and monasteries are not that accessible, the Lama thought it was
a good idea to come outside and sit in the courtyard in the sun. Amazingly
enough, the sun shone directly on the Lama. Everyone was truly touched
during the ceremony and the Lama gave our expedition an extra boost of
higher power in order for us to accomplish our mission and our goals of
the whole Team Everest '03 campaign.
The weather thus far is
improving on a daily basis in typical pre-monsoon fashion. Beautiful clear
blue, high Himalayan mornings with the sun melting the frost on our tents
from the previous night. I think all of the team gets energized by the
early morning warmth.
Support thus far from
trekkers, climbers and the press as we continue to Mount Everest Base camp
has been overwhelmingly positive. A Korean expedition and all its members
took the time at the end of a long day for their team to come by our camp
and wish us all good success. Disability awareness is continuing to thrive
throughout the world.
ascended very slowly from Pangboche at 3,800 meters (12,500ft) to one of
the oldest yak settlement villages in Nepal - Pheriche at over 4,200
meters (13,800ft). This is the village that we will be chartering a
helicopter from at the end of the expedition to fly back to Kathmandu.
Pheriche was a welcome sight as we all found the leap of around 1300ft a
bit of a hard push. We are functioning, living, camping as a team at a
height higher than any point in the continental United States.
Of all the villages in
Nepal, Pheriche is possibly one of the most accessible and everyone is
enjoying the flat bottom of this valley. We will spend another day here in
Pheriche to acclimatize, build team spirit, and enjoy the progress we have
made thus far.
All the local villagers
are in awe of our expedition and how far we have come. It is an amazing
contrast sometimes, because on one side, we have the media bringing us
international coverage, and on the other, we have basic grass roots
awareness building in the villagers of Nepal. If we can change the mind of
one villager in Nepal regarding the potential of people with disabilities,
why is changing the minds of so many in the Western world so difficult?
members are feeling positive, although the cumulative effects of the
altitude can break even the most determined individuals and hardened
athletes. After our first night in Pheriche, all members were anxious to
day hike/stroll during our acclimatization day. However, not everyone was
up to the challenge due to the altitude increase and opted to take a rest
day. Gary S. and Vince B. led the team members that were ready for an
acclimatization hike up the Chukkung Valley and ascended Chukkung Ri at
approximately 18,000ft. Another group of team members ascended a different
ridge to approximately 17,500ft in order to acclimatize further.
acclimatization hikes and a day and a half at this altitude, team spirits
were for the first time at an all-time low. You have to remember folks, we
are a team of 29 individuals from all backgrounds - different abilities
and disabilities - living, operating and working as a team in the most
extreme of conditions. To revitalize the team spirit, we read aloud all
the numerous emails of encouragement we have received from you, our
supporters. The effect this had on the team was awesome. Good positive
thinking, support and inspiration breeds very quickly.
mentioned in the last dispatch, Kim Smith has stayed behind due to stomach
problems and we had received word that she was ten minutes from Pheriche,
on her way to rejoining the expedition. We immediately sent two Sherpa
with hot chocolate to accompany her. As it was later in the afternoon and
the fog was rolling in and the temperatures were dropping, I went with the
Sherpas to assure her safe arrival into the awaiting arms of rest of the
team. Huge clapping, laughing, crying and a feeling of true renewed
encouragement filled the spirits of the team. We're whole again!
It even gets better. Nima
Dawa Sherpa along with our other high altitude climbing Sherpa sent word
that they have established our place at base camp and are awaiting our
arrival. Next it's Lobuche, Gorak Shep, then Base Camp! Team Everest '03
continues to move upward and onward. As Dennis Borel, the executive
director at the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, says: "Team Everest
'03 will crush the stereotypes and perceptions that are still held by so
many toward the disability community."
Please continue to
support our expedition, CTD and the improvement of the quality of life for
all people. You can do this through
emails, good wishes
and much needed financial support.
Thank you again. You'll
be hearing from us at our next stop!
Expedition Leader, Team Everest '03