Post 8: Kathmandu, Second Rotation, Namche

After a helicopter ride and then riding in an ambulance with sirens blaring, I am in the hospital in Kathmandu. 

I go through a series of tests including chest X-rays, and blood tests, and discover I have a severe sinus infection, laryngitis and inflamed pharynx.  Met the local ENT doctor who prescribed no talking and 3 days of IV fluids and antibiotics. After 3 days I get released and moved to the hotel next block and wait for my return to base camp.  I decide to take a extra day in Kathmandu to make sure I have fully recovered.  I am excited about returning but also nervous. I keep asking myself what did the illness took away, if anything? Only tomorrow will tell.  AC did a great job identifying I wasn’t well and getting me down for treatment and an early diagnoses that probably saved my expedition.

Our first challenge back is to go through the icefalls again for our second rotation.  This time we were to walk by C1 and span the 11 miles and 3,200ft elevation change in one hop.  I got to C1 the first rotation in less than 5hours.  The second time with the help of acclimated body should be faster and easier.  Couldn’t be more wrong.  I underestimated the hospital stay and the trip ended up being an 8 hour trip. I was hoping to make both camps by 10 hrs.  I was lucky I had Lydia that recognized I was wrecked and we set up our tent at C1 along with the melting snow and decided to cook emergency food. 

The next morning made it into C2 early but missed the C3 climb.  I actually feel good, just fatigued. Reassured by the group, I make the acclimatization cycle and return to base camp for our final rest cycle.  This is the cycle that climbers take a “drop back” where you drop to a lower altitude for a rest while the final ropes to the summit are being fixed and a window of opportunity with the weather hopefully appears. 

I am still getting beat up. Yesterday on my way down the Ice falls while trying to jump a 5ft crevasse, my foot gets caught in a safety line that I am tied to and only make it 4 ft. I came to rest with my hands on one side and my crampons dug into the other.  I am looking straight down the crevasse that is over 100 ft deep. I am hooked to a safety line but your confidence in equipment and the skinny harness and anchors that hold you up diminish with every second. Namgel gets across to the other side and drags me across. This is eye opening on how fast it could happen. I have been getting lazy with anchoring and this was a good lesson not to take anything for granted.

Base camp is comfortable, food is great, people are tremendous but it is cold, I am in a tent and it snows every night.  Last night is a bad storm lasting almost 2 hours and makes my decision to head for lower altitudes with green grass and trees.  Brad from Australia books a helicopter to take us to Namche where we will rest for 3 days then return to Basecamp and wait for summit push.

Lesson to grandchild:

I fell into a crevasse today. Don’t look down at how deep the crevasse is but measure how far you need to jump to get to the other side. Take chances, Your mom and grandma are going to shoot me, but you can’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself, and growth is a requirement for your well being. If you’re not growing, you’re slowly dying.  Risk makes you feel more alive and puts you in a state where you feel and perform at your highest level. You become absorbed in what you’re doing and live in the moment. When you do things that involve high risk, and high probability of failure, you’re forced to create, innovate and find a way to win. Don’t play it safe. Most people play life safe and easy. The goals they pursue are logical. There is little element of risk and little requirement for faith. Do things that make you feel alive and take the failures and the successes as a road map of your journey.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Gary,
    Your lessons are reassuring – calculated Risk On still requires extreme effort every moment. Most folks can’t/won’t ever get there. You’re a Live Trooper, and your written words are a wonderful, powerful motivator for each of us to recognize, “We can get there from here … maintain the buddy system … look out for each other … help each other reach the heights that are beyond the pinnacles of life.

  2. Excellent advice for grandkids, and any young folks …. even by sixty it’s not too late.
    Climb strong, stay safe, and have fun. Love following, great photos, great stories of the journey. -Allen

  3. Gary, we are all pushing for you, I’ve known you for 16 years now, always learned from you, your advices always helped me, learned from you to never give up, all I can offer is that my thoughts are with you all the way up and down that magnificent mountain, see you soon my friend

    Bojan and family

  4. I’m so proud of you and loved reading about your passions and goals in life. My religion classes are praying for you, for your summit, and for your family. What a lucky grandson you have to get such sound advice! St. Bernard Academy is rooting for you!
    God bless, Colleen

  5. I love your last piece of advice, dad. I’m going to read it to my class tomorrow. Good luck!!

    1. This is so true and inspiring! Definitely going to share. Good luck, keep climbing!

  6. Glad you are on the mend, Gary! We are thinking of you.

  7. So proud of you!!! Now, get off that mountain. 😘

  8. Gary, Came to know about your successful climb to Mt Everest. I am UCMO alumni from Nepal. Congrats. Hope you had a good time in Nepal.

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