Sunday, March 29, 2009
I'm leavin' on a jet plane ...
T-minus 10 hours and counting before I begin my journey to Kathmandu, Nepal. The first leg is an early morning United Airlines flight from Phoenix to San Francisco. From San Francisco to Kathmandu I'll be flying Singapore Airlines all the way with a fuel stop in Tokyo, a long layover in Singapore, a change of planes, and a direct flight from Singapore to Kathmandu. I'll arrive in Kathmandu around noon on Wednesday. The last time I was in Kathmandu was 1994, so it will be interesting for me to see what's changed over the years. I look forward to meetin the other members of the expedition in person. We'll be staying at the Yak & Yeti Hotel for several days before flying to Lukla to begin a 9-10 day trek to Everest base camp.
I'm feeling a whole rainbow of colorful emotions right now. I'm worried, concerned, even a little fearful of the daunting challenges that lie ahead. The area above Camp IV, from 26,000 feet to the summit of Everest at 29,035 feet, is known as the "Death Zone" for good reasons. So many people have perished attempting to climb Everest. Yet I'm also feeling a profound sense of quiet confidence and certainty that this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. I honestly don't think I could have trained harder or smarter, especially sleeping in my altitude tent for purposes of acclimatization. I've had the hypoxic generator set at 20,000 feet for weeks now. I'll soon see how well my training prepared me for the climb, especially the first time I make the arduous ascent through the infamous Khumbu ice fall. I don't think there has ever been a climber gasping for breath on the summit ridge of Everest who thought to him- or herself, "You know, I wish I hadn't pushed myself so hard with all of the training. This is a walk in the park." I'll soon be grateful for all of the effort.
Our expedition leader, Alex Abramov, informs me that we'll have a satellite uplink to the Internet and our own wi-fi network at Everest base camp. I'm taking a pair of laptops, a Macbook Pro and a Macbook Air, to stay in touch while I'm climbing Everest. That means I'll be able to update this blog regularly once we get established at base camp. I've also just figured out how to use Skype to make video calls over the Internet, so with all of this technology I'm going to have a very different experience on Everest compared with what things were like on the other big mountains I've climbed. I had some porter help on Kilimanjaro, but everywhere else I had to carry everything I needed myself. On Everest most of the heavy load carrying is done by Sherpa, so you're not going to catch me boasting that I climbed Everest by myself. No way. I will give credit where credit is due. My chances of successfully summiting Everest are so much better precisely because of all of the help I anticipate from Sherpa.
I'm so very thankful for all of the help and support I've received from friends and family far and wide. I absolutely thrive on the positive energy, prayers, and best wishes so many people so generously send my way. I couldn't do this without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.