Friday, March 31, 2017

Early morn: D Day. Link to Anders' website.

Up early for a 4am run.  Doing last minute things.  Feeling nervous and a bit overwhelmed.  This is a big adventure for sure.  I'm just going to take deep breaths and let it come to me--whatever the future brings, we'll deal with it as it happens....

Anders is out running and in less than an hour we'll be off to the airport to begin the journey...sure glad to be doing this with my partner and son!

Here is a link to Anders' new website:

Here we go!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My climbs

In case you're wondering.  I'm possibly climbing three mountains on this trip: Kala Pattar (18,192 feet), Lobuche East (20,075), and Island Peak (20,161).   The later two will present some interesting challenges for me:

Lobuche looks like this:

And Island Peak:

Start the later at about 3 minutes

Time to HTFU!


Anders guide: Brent Bishop

BTW, Anders' guide is a fellow named Brent Bishop.  He is featured in the 1/30/17 Sports Illustrated issue.  He has an MBA and has summited Everest 3 times.  he is the first person to summit Everest who's parent had previously summited Everest--his dad was part of the first American team to summit Everest back in 1963.

SI did a Sundance film featuring his climb last year.  Here is a trailer from it:

Travel Logistics and time zone gymnastics

Well, the time to begin is drawing near!

We leave tomorrow at 9:25 Cali local time and fly for 15 (count 'em) hours to Hong Kong.  A smallish 3-4 hour lay over and then another 5 hours onward to Kathmandu.  If all goes well we arrive at about 10pm local in Nepal.

Ok, so here's the deal on time zones:

Nepal is GMT + 5:45 (I'm not making this up).  Here is the official explanation:

"India's standard meridian passes along the 82.5 degrees East longitude, which is towards the west of Nepal's apparent central meridian.

But, the International Convention on time zones dictates that the standard meridian of a country be a multiple of 7.5 degrees, so that there is a difference of multiples of 30 minutes (7.5 × 4 minutes per degree = 30 minutes) between time zones. As you can see from the map, the convention means Nepal's standard time zone should be the same as India's.

However, Nepal is one of the two exceptions to this convention, as it adopted in 1956. The 82.5 degree longitude divides Nepal into two very unequal parts, with the western portion covering a very small area. So it was decided that Nepal's Standard Meridian should pass through Mount Gauri Shankar (86°20' E), which lies 100 km east to Kathmandu. This is not a multiple of 7.5 degrees, and gives a standard time zone of approximately GMT+05:45, which is approximated to GMT+05:45."

Since all of this was adopted a year before I was born i assume no responsibility for it.

What this means is:

Nepal is 12:45 ahead of California and 9:45 ahead of the East Coast.

When it's 7 am in Nepal, it's: 6:15pm the prior day in Cali and 9:15pm on the East Coast--this means we can call in before our day begins as all of you are about to go buddy bye.

When its 9pm in Nepal it's 8:15am in Cali and 11:15 am on the East Coast.

This will be perfect for us to update you all twice a day back home.

Here is the Madison Mountaineering overview of our trip up to Everest Base Camp:

Day 1: Depart country of residence. (this is tomorrow, March 31st)

Day 2: Transit day

Day 3: Arrive in Kathmandu. We will pick you up at the airport and take you to the Yak & Yeti hotel. This is historically the ‘climbers hotel’ where many expeditions have stayed over the years. We enjoy a welcome dinner with the team.

Day 4: City tour of Kathmandu, we visit the Monkey Temple, Boudhanath (one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu), Pashupatinath, and the Swayambhunath. After the tour we have dinner, then prepare for an early morning flight to Lukla.

Day 5: We fly by fixed wing aircraft into Lukla, and begin our trek! We pass through several Sherpa villages, and enter the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. After crossing the river by suspension bridge, we arrive in the village of Phakding.

Day 6: We continue trekking along the Dudh Kosi River through the village of Monjo, then up the hill to Namche Bazaar. Here we will spend 2 nights in our comfortable lodge acclimatizing and enjoying the sights and cafes in Namche.

Day 7: We go for an acclimatization hike and return to our lodge to rest and prepare for the next day of trekking.

Day 8: After breakfast we head out of Namche and traverse the magnificent valley towards Tengboche. Here we have spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam for the first time. We arrive in Tengboche and tour the famous Tengboche Monastery, and then continue to Debuche where we spend the night in the Rivendell lodge.

Day 9: Depart Debuche and trek through the rhododendron forest then cross the river and hike up the short hill to Pangboche. Here we visit with Lama Geshe, the high lama of the Khumbu Valley, who many climbers visit for blessings before heading to climb peaks such as Everest, Lhotse, or Island Peak. We continue up the valley to Dingboche to stay this evening.

Day 10: Today we do an acclimatization hike above Dingboche to gain spectacular views of Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Lhotse, then return to our lodge in Dingboche to spend the night.

Day 11: After breakfast we trek onward past Thugla and arrive in Lobuche, the highest yak grazing ground in the Khumbu Valley. We overnight in Lobuche.

Day 12: Trek to Gorak Shep. After checking into our lodge and having lunch, we hike up nearby Kala Patthar for an amazing view of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and the other surrounding peaks. We return to Gorak Shep for dinner.

Day 13: We trek to Everest base camp (this should be around April 12th)

OK, time to batten down the hatches.  tomorrow it begins!

Altitude Reference Chart

For all of you altitude junkies, here is a listing to the various places and their altitudes that you'll see on this blog over the next 60 days:

Santa Monica: 0 feet
Kathmandu: 4,594
Lukla: 9,448
Phakding: 8,704
Namche Bazar: 11,302
Tengboche: 12,687
Pangboche: 12,799
Dingbouche: 14,475
Lobuje: 16,178
Gorak Shep: 16,929
Everest Base Camp: 17,590
Kala Pattar: 18,192
Island Peak: 20,161
Lobuche East: 20,075
Lhotse: 27,940
Everest: 29,035

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

D Day minus 2

We spent the day today mostly continuing to ready all of our stuff for the trip.  I made some decisions on stuff to bring vs stuff to leave (for example, I decided to leave two non-locking biners and a number of my slings).  I think we are both just about there although Anders still is awaiting one more item to complete a custom close-to-the-body hydration system for his use on Summit Day.  I'm pretty much good to go and spent a lot of my time figuring out how to use my Go Pro and the gimbal I have to stabilize the video while hiking--pretty cool stuff!

I elected to not hike today and instead did a 90 minute ride and a 4 mile run.  Tomorrow I plan to do at least 3 hours out on the trails for a final tune-up.

My Emirates flight out of Dubai on the way home had a schedule change which really messed things up (I would have had to spend a day in Dubai) and I took advantage of this to route my return through China to avoid the ban on electronics that was recently put in place for flights out of Muslim countries.

Getting close!

I leave you with a copy of Alan Arnette's Everest Blog entry from today:

Everest 2017 is officially underway. If you were on a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla over the past few days, you would have seen lean men and women with a backpack slung over their shoulder boarding the plane. If you could have looked in their minds, you would have seen visions of the summit of Mount Everest.

Late March and early April marks the annual migration to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side. It will be another week or more for those climbing from Tibet to begin their journey to base camp. By mid April, both base camps will be overflowing with cooks, Sherpas, Tibetans, guides and climbers from all over the globe.

Some of the commercial teams including IMG, AAI, Tim Mosedale and others are on their way. Pictures are being posted on Facebook, Instagram and blogs of their journey. Many are returning after the premature endings of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. They know the drill to this point but are eager to get back to climbing.

A Time for Patience and Anticipation
It seems popular these days to want to rush to base camp and then speed up the mountain. While I understand people have busy lives combined with big goals, I respectfully suggest that they are missing the point.

Long time operators will take 10 days to trek to base camp, some will take longer and others will try to fly in bypassing the trek entirely. Most experienced operators feel that a slow walk to base camp is the safest way to acclimatize to 17,500′.
For me, the trek is a time to focus on why you are there, connect with the Khumbu, support the local economy and take in some of the most stunningly beautiful mountain views anywhere.

It is a time to adjust your “work clock” to “Sherpa time”. It is an opportunity to slow down, breathe deeply and open your eyes to what surrounds you in space and time.
And it is a time to let your objective sink in deeply, like it never has. This is not a beach vacation or an adventure trip with zip lines and canopy walks.
You are climbing Mt. Everest. It will take all you have, and then some. The question to ponder is how much of “then some” do you have?

After arriving in Kathmandu, teams will assemble at their hotel in Thamel or nearby. They will begin the process of silently evaluating one another for personality, skills and most importantly, their ability to communicate and sense of humor.

After a couple of days used to recover from jet lag and pick up a few last minute items, they leave the hotel before dawn and hopefully catch a flight to Lukla. For most, this is when their Everest dream begins to be real.

The trek is simple compared to climbing Everest, but it is also a time to work out any kinks. Your body will slowly adjust to the ever increasing altitude. You begin to shift to a different type of diet. And yes, some – actually most – people, will deal with an upset stomach along the way. Better to get that over with now than dealing with it at base camp.

Lost in a Walk
Have you ever been so lost in thought that you don’t hear someone talking to you? This can easily happen in the Khumbu on your way to Everest.

My eyes look down at the dirt path trying to avoid any rocks. A sprained ankle on day one of a 60 day expedition would not be the best way to start. But it is almost impossible not to look up, way up, and see the snow covered peaks of the Himalaya. Back home in Switzerland or Colorado the peaks seems large, but they are dwarfed by these 20,000 foot giants.

The scale is hard to understand. When you get home, a common phrase will be ” The picture doesn’t really capture what is was like.” But you try anyway, quickly filling up the tiny storage card in your camera.

The trail is well worn. After all this is the main highway. It is used by porters carrying supplies to the villages. The local people walk this path each day to make visits or buy basic food items they cannot grow. Each year before and after the summer monsoons, this same trail is filled with people trekking the Khumbu or on their way to Everest Base camp for a life changing experience.

Then there are the children of the Khumbu. This is their path to school. It’s their playground. It’s their home. You are a visitor.

Your mind drifts to a year earlier, when you walked on a dirt path in a nearby forest. Your 40 pound pack felt heavy then, during your training, but now your simple day pack goes unnoticed. You think about your family back home. For a moment you can see their faces, hear their voices, feel their love. You left home leaving nothing unsaid. You know they are walking the path with you today.

The sudden clanging of bells knocks you back to the present. You look up and a huge smile covers your face. Yaks!
You remember what a Sherpa once told you. “Always stand on the the uphill side when yak passes by.”
The huge furry beasts lumber by, oblivious to you and the non stop shutter click coming from your camera. By now you already have several hundred yak pictures, but this shot is different!

The trail becomes quiet again as you walk. Your pace is relaxed. Today is only a few miles, not taking more than a few hours. There is no reason to hurry. You are adjusting to “Sherpa Time.”

The Great Negotiator
As you approach one of the countless villages that all seem to end with the word “boche”, you are greeted by a table of souvenirs. A beautiful woman stands quietly behind the table. Her dark hair is covered with a scarf, her black eyes look at you with a pleasant feeling. She smiles softly as you look at the table of goods.
You focus on a bracelet. This would make a good gift, you think. She feels your interest and picks it up, offering it to you. You hold it carefully, turning it over, inspecting it for, well you have no idea. “How much?” you ask preparing to negotiate like you did for your last car.

“500.” she says with an air of authority. “No, too much.” you say even before you do the calculation to your own currency. She looks at you. This is not her first rodeo.
You place the bracelet back on the table. But then you see a small prayer wheel. You like it. “How much?” “3000 rupees” and a strategy begins to develop.

“You like both? she asks recognizing the strategy. “3,000 for both.” she offers. “1,500” you counter knowing she will come back. “no, no, no” she says with a laugh and a smile. Now you are both in your element. Let the games begin.

“OK, 2,500 for both” you offer with an air of confidence. OK she says quickly.
You pause for a moment but then reach in your pocket pulling out what looks likes Monopoly money to you. You fumble with a blue one and a green one and there are a few reds. Finally, she reaches over and quickly pulls out two 1,000 and a 500 from your pile. You both laugh as she puts your money along with her wad of money that as big as a grapefruit. This was not her first rodeo.

Feeling smug, you walk away once again looking at the dirt trail, the snow capped peaks and the blooming rhododendrons and cherry trees. You hear the laughter of kids playing in the distance.

You begin to review your amazing negotiating skills. She wanted 3,500 rupees, you paid 2,500 rupees. Yes, you just saved $9.60.

Welcome to the Khumbu.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

D day minus 3


Anders and I continue to progress towards leaving these great United States on Friday morn.

Today we made some important steps forward.  Most notably, Anders finally received his Full 8,000 meter Down Suit.  These are essentially very thick sleeping bags with arms and legs sewed in and are designed to keep you alive at 29,000 feet and minus 50 degrees (with a lot of wind).  We had some fun checking it out:

Beyond this it was, as always, list management and staying focused on making sure our bods were ready to go.

On the later, I rode for 90 minutes and then hit Sullivan Canyon for a 9 mile hike this morning, Anders did a 7 mile run in like 10 minutes (just kidding, but boy is he in shape!).  Later, we headed back up to Westridge and checked out our big boy boots:

And as promised, some pics from yesterday on our prep:

Onward and upward!  More tomorrow!

Monday, March 27, 2017

D (departure) Day minus 4: Update, Technology and Weightlessness...

I'm happily sitting here in Santa Monica with Anders as we nerd out on getting ready to head to Nepal.  I landed in LA last night 45 minutes early but then proceeded to sit on the runway for 80+ minutes.  But as we say, there is no such thing as a bad flight--just bad sure beats walking or driving for that matter (which I know from personal experience).

I awoke at about 6 am LA time after about 4 hours of sleep and after securing my favorite "Flagels" (flat bagels) and a cup of Jo set about unloading all of my stuff in Anders living room (I'll post a pic or two tomorrow) in anticipation of the making a list and checking it twice ritual to come.

Anders and I chatted a bit and since his coach has him on a rest day, I went out and ran 4 miles and then headed over to Westridge Canyon and did the "Nike Missile" hike--just over 7 miles and about 1200 vertical (pretty easy) in under two hours.  We're chilling tonight and just attending to many of the things we need to do to get ready.  We have the luxury of another 4 days before go time.

In case you have interest, I thought I'd share with an inventory of the technology I'm bringing on this trip.  It falls into three main categories: communication, documentation and entertainment.

Communication wise we have an Iridium Satellite Phone and several batteries and charging stuff.  Rumor has it that Iridium is not super good in Nepal but hopefully it will work well enough.  We both have our iPhones, which apparently can be quite useful with a Nepalese Sim card, which we'll need to purchase in Kathmandu....we'll see.  Also on the way up to EBC and when we get there, we may be lucky enough to catch Wi-Fi here and there.  Hopefully, Anders and I, with our manager Judy back home, will be able to maintain a regular communication to you throughout this journey.

On the documentation front, my main mode will be my fantastic Sony a7rii, a 42MP mirrorless digital ILC.  I have my Zeiss 16-35 wide angle zoom, a Sony 35mm/f2 prime, a Voigtlander 10mm hyper wide prime and a Sony G Master 70-300 zoom lens to capture what will hopefully be some great pics.  I can also shoot 4k vid with the Sony but both Anders and I are also rocking the Go Pro Hero 5 Blacks for that need.  We also both have Sony RX-100 mark Vs (24MP point and shoot) for back-ups.  I'm really, really excited to record all of the incredible beauty that awaits us.  I hope to share with you when I return in the late spring.

To give you a sense, here are some of my earlier mountaineering vids:

Aconcagua 2014:

Vinson Massif 2015:

Kilimanjaro 2016:

There are a bunch more on my YouTube page if you are interested.

Mostly our entertainment will be God's great beauty and ourselves--it truly is a great thing to be part of a major expedition like this!  That said, I also have the following:

- 2 iPods--one with Kara's music and one with Alex's
- my iPad with about 20 hours of TV shows and a couple of movies
- my Kindle which currently features books on Buddhism, theoretical cosmology, entrepreneurialism, and quantum mechanics
- my MacBook Air
- some playing cards for some epic Hearts battles
- my journal to record my feeble thoughts


I was thinking about this quite a bit on my hike today.  It's a very weird thing to unplug and go to Nepal for 30+ days (or in Anders' case, 60).  So much of my life is about routine and patterns.  We have friends and family that we visit, talk to and have fun with.  Work.  Training...etc.

It all gets unplugged.  Untethered.  Disconnected.  We head off to Nepal and everything is different.  No getting up in the morning and grinding some fresh brewed Jo.  Stomach problems.  Dodging Yaks.  All new things.

Many times I've had dissidence about routine in my life--I like new things.  However, when the routine goes you realize how much you miss it.  You drift and feel a bit weightless.  It's unsettling for sure.  I'm really going to miss Judy.

But I also know the dislocation brings the opportunity for great personal growth.  I'm getting my head rapped around the weightlessness of it and trying to find peace.  I'm also beginning to get very pumped for the adventure!

What a privilege it is to go experience Nepal and Everest (well for me "near Everest") with my son.

Hey folks--this is very exciting!

I'm honored to have you join us...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

And so, the Great Adventure begins....

Well, here we go!

I boarded a late flight tonight for LA and will land there early tomorrow, Monday the 27th.  Hopefully I'll collect the 96 pounds of stuff that is checked in my two big 150L expedition bags and head over to Anders' house in Santa Monica.  He'll be asleep since he's coming off a 45-mile, 13,000+ vertical weekend session--plus his friends are throwing him a going away party tonight.

I can't believe it.  But us two posers are soon to be on our way to Nepal, where if all goes to plan, Anders will attempt to climb the highest mountain on our planet.

I've spent the last week, since Judy and I returned from our six-week residence in Santa Monica, unpacking, repacking and driving up to New York to deliver Kara's more fragile stuff to help complete her move to NYC (she loves her new job).  We had a nice visit with her and Alex and Rachel and then Judy and i attended to our various work tasks.  On top of that I spent my time in final prep for Anders' and my journey to Nepal and the great Himalayan mountains.

We had a nice visit with friends on Friday night and Judy and I had a wonderful dinner with Jen and her boyfriend Jim on Saturday night.  Then finally the time came for me to head off on this latest adventure....

And so it really does begin now.

Here's the plan:

I get into LA early Monday and Monday-Thursday, Anders and I will be going through all of our pre-game rituals making sure we have any and every thing we need to be successful in Nepal.  I plan to do 3 pretty significant hikes/climbs and if Anders' taper/training schedule allows we'll probably do some or maybe all together.  In any event, i want to top off my training as I've had a bit of a interruption with our migration across the country.  No worries though as i was able to hike/climb/trek/run for 31 of the 42 days we spent in LA so I feel like I'm very good to go.  I actually feel stronger than I was last year for Kili (which was very strong for me) and definitely prepared for the journey in front of us.    I'm a bit heavier, in part by design, as I'm sitting at 179 pounds this morning vs. the 168 that I left for Kili.  However, with a month + in the mountains, I think this will be to my advantage.  

Anders is in phenom shape, and he'll certainly need to be to go after the arduous agenda in front of us.

And what is that agenda?  Well, it's very fluid by its nature but here is roughly the plan ahead:

3/27-3/30  Anders and I final prep and training in LA

3/31-4/1  Travel to Kathmandu

4/2-4/10-14  Settle in.  Trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC).

Mid April:  Anders and I head to Lobouche East and hopefully to climb that 20,000+ mountain near Everest, Nupste and Lhoste, the later being the fourth highest mountain in the world.  Our climb on Lobouche, while paling in comparison to Everest, is a very significant challenge (at least for me) given its modest technical nature and significant exposure.  It was first climbed in 1984 and recently has become a somewhat "popular" acclimitazation option vs. another rotation through the Khumbu Icefall, for those seeking to climb Everest.

We would then return to EBC and Anders would turn his complete focus to scaling Everest.  I'll hang with him and probably tag along on some of the ice climbing/training he'll do in the lower icefall--should make for some great pictures!

Towards the later part of April, Anders will begin the necessary rotational climbs ever higher up Everest and eventually, I'll say goodbye and head down.  I hope to climb a second 6,000 meter peak--Island Peak--on the way down from EBC, but that will be a game time call as logistics may not allow it.

From there I head back home and Anders heads ever upward, hoping to to attempt climbing to the summit of Everest around the 3rd week of May.  He also is maintaining the option, after a successful Everest summit, of upon returning to the South Col, leaving for the Everest/Lhotse double, the same evening as summiting Everest.  I'm decidedly against this, but Anders will ultimately make the call.  As an aside, just 5 Western climbers have ever done this--climbing the 1st and 4th highest mountain in one more or less continuous push.

All of this is a bit overwhelming as you might expect but I'm sure the journey will be amazing.  I invite you to stop back here over the next couple of months to experience it with us....

Monday, March 6, 2017

Training totals

This past week saw me sharply curtail my training as my Mom came out and visited for most of the week.  Here are the last two week totals:

Week ending 2/26

Swim: 3500 yards
Bike: 198 miles
Run/Hike: 41 miles
Time: 24:18

Last week

Swim: 2000 yards
Bike: 147 miles
Run/Hike: 27 miles
Time: 16:26

Here is February's comparison to January

 -Jan:  8,000 yards
 -Feb: 11,500 yards

 -Jan: 661 miles
 -Feb: 668 miles

 -Jan: 138 miles
 -Feb: 188 miles

 -Jan: 88 hours
 -Feb: 98 hours