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Featured Everest Expedition: Team Everest '03

May 7: Hello from the Base Camp of the tallest mountain in the world!

HIgh Winds at BCA huge round of applause to our fearless leader Gary Guller and our skilled high altitude climbing Sherpa who braved the ferocious high winds at Camps 1 and 2 the past two nights. Upon arrival at Camp 1, Gary and Nima Dawa Sherpa assessed the situation and found that at least 70% of all expedition teams' tents were destroyed or missing from the mountain.

Our tents suffered the same fate, but luckily extra tent poles were brought and several yards of climbing rope was used to tie our one remaining (but collapsed and damaged) tent down securely. All this repair work done at an extremely high altitude and after a long ascent through the Khumbu Icefall. Needless to say, Gary and Nima Dawa were ready for a good night sleep after the day's ordeal.

But, as the mountain and Mother Nature would have it, the winds continued to rack the mountain and the two spent the night bracing themselves against the walls of the tent. Many times they needed to stand up to make sure that the tent did not become dislodged and tumble down the mountain - with them in it. Needless to say, they had little sleep during the night.

The Sherpa that continued on to Camp 2 found a similar scenario. However, they were also prepared and spent several hours repairing what they could after a long day's climb. They also had a sleepless night, spending most of the time preventing supplies and tents from being lost to the whipping winds.

Morning came and it was time to decide what course of action to take. Here at Base Camp, I had spent the day comparing weather forecasts with other teams in order to provide as much information as possible to Gary so he could make an informed decision. At 4am they called to see what I had to report. The weather reports were conflicting, but after 4 days, we figured the wind had to let up soon. They made the decision to stay on the mountain and make the push to Camp 2 despite continued wind. Gary also felt that if he wanted to keep the hope of an early summit push alive, it was best to stay on the mountain. Gary Scott, who had just returned from a week of re-oxygenating and acclimatization at lower altitudes conferred and agreed.

So, this morning, Gary Guller and Nima Dawa Sherpa made the push to Camp 2 through the wind and arrived safely before lunch. Vince left Base Camp and ascended to Camp 1 and will meet up with Gary G. and the climbing Sherpa at Camp 2 tomorrow. Gary Scott, after one more rest day at Base Camp, will head directly to Camp 2 tomorrow. All the team will be together and poised for a summit push as early as May 12th. To assure the best chances for success, our climbing Sherpa will be taking loads to Camp 4 tomorrow.

Nima Dawa Sherpa will be ascending to Camp 3 to assess the wind damage there. Although we have not seen Camp 3 since the high winds hit, we have heard reports from other teams, some who lost everything, that the damage is great. We all have our fingers crossed that our supplies such as tents, sleeping bags, high altitude down suits, high altitude food and fuel have not been blown off the mountain. For some expeditions, these losses will be catastrophic and mean their chance for the summit is over. For others, it will mean expensive replacement costs as well as the time and effort involved in re-supplying a camp at such a high altitude.

As always, we owe a great thanks to all our supporters and sponsors who have made this expedition possible. With each passing day, we are closer to bringing the message of the limitless potential of people with disabilities to the top of the world. We could not be where we are without all the personal emails from all of you out there following our progress. We especially thank the students following this expedition from Dripping Springs, Texas School for the Deaf, Easthampton Middle School, Sollars Elementary School in Japan, Dr. Janis's sister's class in Riga, Latvia, the 3rd and 4th graders in Westminster, CO and all other students who have contacted us.

Top Five Reasons to Climb Everest (in the humble opinions of those crazy people who have come this far to do it):

5. Because we are not all there (upstairs that is)!
4. Because it is too hot in Texas.
3. Because who doesn't love walking across ladders above bottomless crevasses?!
2. Because we love staying awake all night at altitude wondering if we will be blown away by the fierce winds.
1. Because we are sick and tired of indoor plumbing, hot showers and the conveniences of modern life.

Stay tuned for the next dispatch about the exciting developments over the next few days. We are counting on you to send lots of positive Karma our way (and to make arrangements for optimal weather and strong legs for our climbers!). Sherpa language lesson number gu (9) in the next dispatch!

Talk to you again soon,

Christine Kane
Base Camp Manager
Team Everest '03


Tashi Delek from another extremely windy day at Base Camp.

Avalanche near BCOur climbing Sherpa and Expedition Leader, Gary Guller arose at 4:00 this morning determined to make the ascent to higher camps. Having been forced to stay down due to strong winds (50 mph and higher), the team was getting restless here at Base Camp wondering how the high camps were faring in this harsh wind storm. Despite continued wind this morning, they packed up, lit the juniper to ask for safe passage from the mountain gods and were on their way as dawn crept across Base Camp. The Liaison Officer and I walked with them to the entrance of the Khumbu Ice Fall and bid them farewell. Their bright down jackets were the only ones visible on the Icefall.

Although the wind died down briefly early on, it picked up again with renewed force by lunch time. We wondered all morning how the climbers were doing traversing the Icefall with the added treachery of the forceful winds. To our relief, Gary just radioed and they are well and safe in Camp 1. Unfortunately, the Camp has taken a serious beating due to the winds of the past three days. Gary said that he has never seen as many broken tent poles in all his years climbing as he witnessed when he arrived to Camp 1.

The climbing Sherpa let us know that Camp 2 has also sustained a lot of damage from a wind storm that continues to rack the mountain. Gary and our wonderful team of high altitude Sherpa had the foresight to bring extra tent poles and mending materials so they will be able to fix the damaged tents. Gary and Nima Dawa Sherpa are making camp tonight in the one tent that is habitable in Camp 1. The other climbing Sherpa are making do in Camp 2 and will make most major tent repairs tomorrow. Such is Mother Nature in the mountains and especially Mount Everest! Vince B., Gary Scott (who is now back at BC, rested and re-oxygenated after time at lower altitude) and their climbing Sherpa will soon be making their way up the mountain to join Gary G. and head up the mountain.

Meanwhile at BC, we continue to see, hear and feel avalanches very near our camp on a daily basis. Sometimes they are incredibly loud, blowing snow into our faces even though we are few hundred feet away. Sometimes they last more than 3 minutes!

Christine Kane sends team dispatchFor the students around the world following the expedition, thanks for your wonderful messages. Here is Sherpa language lesson tuk (6), or is it lesson number din (7)? The topic is "animals". I have been surprised by the number of animals I have seen on the mountain. Of course there are yaks, but I have also seen lots of birds, spiders, flies, butterflies, and snow cocks. I also saw two mountain goats at lower altitudes.

To add to your Sherpa language dictionaries we have the following words:

animal: chuma, dog: gi, cat: bermung, bear: thom, elephant: lungbu, tiger: tak, horse: tah, cow: palang, snake: rool, monkey: khrick, chicken: cha, eagle: tha, rat: peh, spider: baljyang, and most importantly yeti: sokpa! I don't think I'll see many of these animals here at BC except maybe a tha, baljyang and maybe the sokpa!

A funny story: one of the Sherpa started calling me brown-headed khrick because I had to jump into a tree once to avoid getting hit by a yak! I am happy that I knew how to climb trees and didn't get hurt by the yak horns. That ends our Sherpa language lesson for today, but more soon to come!

We do appreciate all your well wishes and positive energy - just keep it coming. We need it now more than ever with our slight setbacks at Camps 1 and 2 in this horrible windstorm. With any luck it will let up tomorrow and we can get back on track with the ascent to higher camps and a hopeful summit attempt in the near future. Nothing will stand (or blow!) in the way of bringing our message of the limitless potential of people with disabilities to the top of the world!

We'll keep you posted on the team's progress ascending and tent mending!

Warmest Wishes, Christine Kane

Gary Guller, veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational speaker. To book Gary


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