Sunday, May 17, 2009

This is it . . .

When Bruce called last night he told me that he would be starting his summit attempt in the wee hours of the morning on May 19 -- midday tomorrow for us. I mentioned before that their group has been divided into two climbing teams, and that Bruce is in the second one. The first group actually left yesterday, and no, I haven't heard anything yet as to how they are doing.

I thought I would take a minute and describe what the next few days will be like for Bruce. Starting in the wee hours of the morning, they will head back up through the icefall. They do this at that time of day because that's when it's the coldest, and therefore the icefall is the most stable. (I have a hard time with this, because the icefall seems so scary to me even in the daytime -- I can't even imagine doing it by headlamp, but I can see the wisdom. The avalanche that killed a sherpa in the icefall a week ago occurred at mid-morning.)

They will continue on to Camp 2 (bypassing Camp 1) the first day and rest there for two nights. Then they'll ascend to Camp 3, which at roughly 24,000 feet is as high as they have been so far and higher than any point in the world outside of the Himalayas. My understanding is that they will begin using supplemental oxygen at Camp 3 -- sleep with it that night -- and will continue using it from that point on, until after they summit and get back down to Camp 2.

The next day they'll climb to Camp 4, located on the South Col at approx. 26,000 feet. This is the start of what's known as the "death zone." This refers to the fact that it is at this height that the body literally starts to deteriorate, no matter what, even with supplemental oxygen . That is why they will keep their stay above 8000 meters to a minimum.

Very early on Day 5 (sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m.) they will begin their final push to the summit. If the weather and the mountain and their physical bodies allow it, they should be standing on the highest point on the planet sometime later that morning. At that point they will have climbed just over two vertical miles from Base Camp. They will limit their time on the summit to 15 - 30 minutes -- just enough time for photos and to take it all in -- and then head back down to Camp 4. They will spend one night there, then descend to Camp 2 for one night, then back to Base Camp. Seven days total if everything goes as planned.

Bruce will phone again tonight and I'll post again if any of this has changed. In the meantime he directed me to the blog of one of the other climbers in his group, which has a picture of Bruce in the icefall. He's the one on top with the red gloves.


  1. WOW! I will be keeping Bruce in my prayers. This has got to be a whirlwind of emotions for you. I would be proud, scared, excited, impatient, etc...

    I will keep you in my prayers too!

  2. I will be thinking of Bruce (and you, too, Janet) this next week. What a thrilling time. Bruce has dreamed of this for so long. Go Bruce! (And please weather, cooperate:-)

  3. Oops, I guess I'm logged on as Jenn. This is actually Nan.

  4. This is dang exciting! We will definitely keep you both in our prayers, and remember, we are here if you need help breathing this week... (in through the nose, out through the mouth)

  5. Wow! This is monumental. We'll keep all of you in our prayers, that he will safely be able to acheive this lifetime goal! What's next???

  6. Good luck to bruce!! Saw the story on KSL and I am excited to follow it. Hope all goes well.

  7. Wow!! I am so impressed!! Way to go! Can wait to hear how it all goes. Miss you guys!

  8. "I have spent my life climbing mountains,
    I was told about the other side of them,
    That it was better over there.
    I found out later that what is on the other side,
    was actually in front of me all the time.

    I know now, that it is not important, what is over there.
    I just need to keep climbing and improving me.
    I need to take time to enjoy the present moments.
    They are what count.
    They are what shape the my future.

    Present moments are what make up the other side of my mountain.
    They are what make the journey all worth while.

    Now when I climb mountains, I look forward some.
    I look backwards, some. But most important?
    I look all around me - right where I am.
    And I smile."

    Thanks for letting us share in this experience.

  9. This is exciting. He even made the news down here in St. George. They didn't say much; just that a Logan man, Bruce Parker, would be making the climb to the summit if all went as planned. I guess we just hold our breaths from here on and wait for his exhilarating explanation of what it is like to be literally on top of the world. Mary and Dad

  10. Who knew? We are all so in awe of both of you. Way to make the most of life. We are not far from you now, we live in Mantua. If you ever need anything, let us know. For now, know that you both are in our prayers. Sri (Robert "Gentry" Kline's wife)