Thursday, May 28, 2009
As you have probably guessed because of the lack of a phone call, we are on the move. The day after I last called you (the day of the huge snow storm) it dawned perfectly clear and Russell got us all out of bed early and told us to get packed. I've never packed in such a hurry and within an hour and a half we were headed out of base camp and on our way. It was pretty tricky going for the first half of the day because the trail was covered with so much packed snow. As we slowly descended the snow turned to slush and it became very sloppy and wet but we didn't care because we are headed home! At about the 14,000' elevation grass and small bushes began to appear. That is always such a great sight after being in a lifeless land for so long. It was a very long day but after all the time acclimatizing at 17,000' I felt like I was getting drunk on air. It really feels great. We spent the night at Pangboche, which I am guessing is about 18 or so miles from base camp, at around 13,000'. We are below the snowline and it is absolutely beautiful. There are evergreen trees and grass and bushes. I'm suffering from sensory overload. It was nice for the first time in two months to not wake up in the night gasping for breath.
Today we walked for about 4 hours in a drizzle and have arrived and Namche Bazaar. It has changed since we were here two months ago. With the recent rain, all the fields around the town have turned green. The trekking season has pretty much ended so the place feels like a ghost town. Tomorrow we walk to Lukla and spend the night and hope for good weather the next morning so we can fly to Kathmandu.
As we have been walking I have thought a lot about what climbing Everest means to me. It still hasn't hit me what I have accomplished and perhaps it won't until I get home. All my life I feel like I have struggled with my ability to complete what I start. I have had many goals in my life that I have started and then allowed to fall by the wayside. This has taught me that I do have the ability to follow through if I want to enough. It is totally up to me. This probably sounds trite but I have learned that I can be a finisher and not just a starter.
Sorry I haven't sent any more photos. With the big snowstorm I spent so much time dealing with keeping my tent cleared off (so it wouldn’t collapse) and other housekeeping issues that I didn't get a chance. My laptop computer is packed away now and hopefully on its way, on the back of a yak, to Kathmandu, so I don't have a way to resize my photos and send them from here. They are so huge that I don't think I could send them full size. You'll have to wait until I get to KTM.
Keep your fingers crossed for good weather two days from now. I'll call you as soon as I can.
Okay, this is Janet again. Isn't it interesting how we judge ourselves so much more harshly than others judge us? I have never thought of Bruce as someone who didn't see things through, in fact to me he's exactly the opposite . . .
I will continue to update the blog at least until Bruce gets home, so that he can add his own thoughts and share some experiences and add some photos. At this point I'm not sure what day he'll be getting home. He will call from Kathmandu and then I get to start working on changing his flight itinerary. I imagine it will be sometime next week. I'll let everyone know as soon as I know.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Anyway, as the climbers came into base camp they were greeted by a huge crowd of the climbers in group one, the sherpas, sherpa cook staff, guides, etc., all banging on pots and pans and shouting congratulations. He said it was pretty fun. As we were talking some other climbers came into camp and I could actually hear the pot-banging through the phone.
He says he's lost weight and has the usual dry cough that always occurs at high altitude, but other than that he feels great, and still has all his fingers and toes. He will be home earlier than June 10th, which was the projected date, so that's good news, but we're not sure exactly what day at this point. He said he might email some pictures for me to post, so if you want to keep checking you can watch for those. I think I'll keep this blog going at least long enough for Bruce to add some of his own thoughts when he gets home.
Thanks everyone, so much, for all the prayers and good wishes. It has helped more than you know. You can't imagine how relieved we are and how proud I am of Bruce!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
He borrowed someone's sat phone and called at 3:15 a.m. this morning to let us know that he had made it and was back at the South Col (Camp 4). Still very high, and still using oxygen, he will spend the night there, then head to Camp 2 for one night, then back to base camp. He will call from base camp with much more information.
When I asked how he did, he said, "Oh, it was hard. I struggled, but it was so worth it." He said the weather was a little dicey at the summit; cloudy, windy and very cold. He said he feels good, and he sounded good (strong, healthy, no coughing) to me, and very happy. He said, "We still have a long, steep descent ahead, and we have to go back through the ice fall, but I don't anticipate any problems."
I will post again after he calls from base camp, probably Sunday. Right now I have to go do something -- cartwheels maybe . . . : )
Friday, May 22, 2009
The other morning, KSL ran a little news spot on Bruce. They had interviewed me on the phone the day before, and didn't tell me that they would actually use part of that interview in the news spot, but they did. I don't love to hear myself recorded, but oh well. And it was pretty short, thankfully, so I didn't have time to sound too stupid. Anyway, the newscasters made the comment that "he didn't take the satellite phone with him," and then at the end of the report, they joked, kind of sarcastically, about "What kind of guy goes to Everest and forgets to take the phone?"
If you logged on to KSL.com and listened to the story there, it was a completely different news person who did it, interestingly enough, and he didn't make a joke, but he also said that Bruce "didn't take the phone."
What I had said to them was that he didn't take the phone with him "to the summit," not that he didn't take the phone at all. The whole experience made me realize two things:
1. This is why I am squeamish about having articles or news stories done about all of this, and
2. Maybe everyone is wondering why he didn't take the phone to the summit, so I'll try to explain.
A satellite phone is not like a cell phone, it's bigger and weighs more. When you're at that kind of altitude, working so hard to just put one foot in front of the other, sometimes having to stop and breathe several times before you can even take another step, every extra ounce that you're carrying on your back makes a difference. There is a fair amount of gear that you simply have to carry, but anything extra could be a liability. Bruce and I together decided that he shouldn't take it with him to the summit, and I would endure until he could call me (most likely when he returned to base camp).
Of course I would love it if he had it. I would love to have gotten a phone call from the summit of Mt. Everest. I would love to not be sitting here wondering where he is and if he has made it or not -- but I wanted him to be able to fully concentrate on what he is doing, rather than worrying about calling me, having to take his gloves off for even a minute to make the call, having to take his oxygen mask off while he talked to me -- you get the picture.
So here we are. If everything is going perfectly according to plan, he should have made the summit by now and be on his way back to Camp 4. I hope, I hope, I hope. I promise I will update this blog the minute I hear anything -- and many of you will probably get a phone call. Thank you so much for all the support and concern and prayers and good wishes. It means more than you can imagine.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I pulled this video off of another group's daily dispatches from Everest. It's the group that includes Ed Viesturs, the well-known climber that Bruce mentioned he had seen in the airport in Bangkok. It shows what the weather is doing right now, and why they are waiting before they try for the summit. Interestingly, this video mentions that their weather equipment missed this storm, but Russell Brice saw it coming and made sure that all of the Himex climbers were safely back at base camp before it hit.
Bruce is feeling better every day and hoping these days of waiting will give him time to get over his lung congestion. Right now they are sort of predicting that the weather will break around the 18th, 19th, somewhere in there. Stay tuned.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The next time they head up the mountain will be with the intent to summit, and as of right now it's looking like the weather window for that is at least a week out. Bruce is glad for the chance to relax and regroup. He has had a lingering cough from the cold he had early on, and while he did great and felt very strong getting to camps one and two, he struggled a little bit the day they went to camp three. The camp doctor at base camp has given him some antibiotics, and he has several days now to rest, so we're hoping it doesn't prohibit him from performing well when it comes time for the summit push.
Apparently six or seven of the original climbers have quit and gone home, a couple of them because they simply could not face going through the ice fall. Russell (their guide) has divided them up into two groups -- the faster climbers and the slower climbers. Bruce was placed into the faster group but wanted to remain tentmates with a friend who is in the slower group -- so basically he's traveling with the slower group, but he's the fastest guy in that group : )
I've tried very hard not to put my opinions or thoughts into this blog -- my intent is purely to keep everyone informed of Bruce's progress. However, I want everyone to know how much it means to us both that you are keeping him in your thoughts and wishing him well. This is a hard thing he's doing -- physically, mentally, emotionally -- and while he made the choice to do it (and I made the choice to support him) that doesn't make it any less hard. So thanks for your positive thoughts in his direction, and if you could just keep them coming for a couple more weeks . . .
Friday, May 1, 2009
He said that the whole group was feeling a little anxious about this first trip through the ice fall. I can't even imagine doing it in the dark, but I guess they needed an early start -- I had been asleep when he called and didn't get up to take notes like I usually do, so I'm a little fuzzy about the details here. A little anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing -- it will certainly make them more careful -- but I have to say that when I went to the internet to throw some pictures of the ice fall on here, I had a little anxiety of my own.