NOTE: Prior to posting this recap, I had my climbing mates comment on the material. All but two commented after I sent requests (Franz did not reply and Jon was busy climbing Denali - and summited!). After a few discussions via WeChat and such, I had to make some tough decisions. Those decisions pertained to how much material to reveal to the public and what impact those revelations might have on the individuals. Let me begin by saying that what I wrote below is my perspective. Some material was edited because my perspective was incorrect. In those places, I chose to report what actually happened rather than what I thought happened. Those corrections are noted in bold. Additionally, I do not want to implicate SummitClimb as a prime cause in the outcomes mentioned below. These events unfolded organically and, I suspect, almost all expedition groups experience similar problems. From the leadership at Kathmandu through the cook staff, all those employed by SummitClimb did a fantastic job and I would happily climb with them in the future. Finally, I am reporting these events for completeness and not to raise the attention of the media. If you are a member of the media and are interested in following up with these stories, look elsewhere. You will find many others willing to engage you; I am not one of those people. My friends, family, and followers who were loyally tracking my adventures are the primary beneficiaries of these stories. Thank you for attending to this important disclosure.
Hopefully, I left you wondering what transpired with the rest of our SummitClimb team. There were several climbers that remained in my thoughts - mainly Magnus because he was acting so oddly on the summit ridge. Brendan and I sat for a good portion of May 20th - the day we arrived at ABC from the North Col - discussing the summit experience. He pointed out that I was clueless on the summit. He was right; I was clueless on the summit. Not wanting to spoil the mood, I didn't go into my mask problems just yet. Instead, we enjoyed (well, perhaps not really enjoyed) our first tastes of beer. We talked about how our rehearsed script for pictures and video on the summit was an utter failure. We never planned on windy, cold, and crowded conditions with no cell phone cameras. After a few laughs, we turned back to our team.
|Uhm...."enjoying" a cold beer. Cold it was, good it was not. Yes, I used this picture before. Want another? Check out the rest of my pictures here (careful, there are almost 1600 pictures and video with more to come)..|
|Magnus (R) and Martin (L) in front of the famous "Big Plate Chicken"|
|Franz waving hello on the climb to the summit. Given the number of read suits, I presume the boys are surrounded by the 7 Summits (Russian) team. Photo by David O'Brien.|
My initial thought was to stay as far away from him on the hill as possible. With that [the events during the previous day recounted above] fresh in my mind, during the first climb to the North Col, I found myself just in front of him when getting on the ropes at the bottom. I tried hard to push away, but he kept coming up behind me. When I decided to turn around, of course he also decided the same thing… You know this already, but on the way down there was a little crevasse around 30% up the hill. Franz was right behind me and so around 10m before the crevasse I started running (running is relative up there) down the hill and managed to get a 25m gap between him and me. Having never done an arm-rappel in his life, he slipped, fell on his ass and slid right into the crevasse. As he held is legs up, he managed to slide like on the bottom tip of a letter “U” and stopped with his calves on the bottom side of the crevasse and shoulder blades on top, like a plank..... He was yelling Help and “What should I do”. I yelled to him to get out his axe or attach the jumar or anything to get an anchor set, but he was unable to do anything. Dorjee came running down from above and pulled him out quite quickly, but I am still surprised over how little this incident seemed to affect Franz.I was a bit perplexed as to how a person who never used alpine climbing gear could feel prepared to climb Everest. Some of us tried to help where we could but we all felt somewhat uneasy that a climber with us was not able to ascend or descend a small ice pinnacle. I felt bad for David and for the rest of the climbing team who were responsible for Franz. They had to shoulder the burden of Franz but neither I nor anyone else realized how much they would have to eventually shoulder. NOTE: At this point, I feel obliged to weigh in on this material to absolve SummitClimb for any direct responsibility. We all know weaker climbers who manage to find their way onto these expeditions. If you took the time to read past recounts of expedition teams, then you will certainly know that not all high alpine climbers are equal. Some climbers are bold and unprepared and others are well seasoned and prepared. That continuum exists on every expedition. The price one pays for their expedition team does not ensure that all fellow climbers are equally prepared; that price ensures that all are equally well-off financially to pay for the expedition team. The services that we had from SummitClimb were equal to or better than most other teams. We know; we visited every team while at Basecamp. So if you think that weak climbers get excluded from the high-priced teams then you are sorely mistaken. Every climber must assume responsibility for himself or herself.
|We are happy to be done and headed back to Kathmandu to party. Oh wait, we started already.|
|From L to R: Grant, Magnus, David, Franz, Dom, Martin, Jon, Brendan, me, and Heikki|
I encourage all of you to read the summaries from the other climbers. To date, I have these recaps posted online:
Jon: Sand To Summits
Grant: Dingofish Express