Objective #1--Climbing Everest
The purpose is to climb the highest mountain in the world in an eco-friendly manner, and assist with the efforts of the ongoing initiatives of the Eco-Everest Expeditions from 2008-Present, led by Steven Dawa Sherpa (link to his page here). Asian-trekking, the leader of these expeditions focused on four main initiatives (DS Sherpa 2008):
A. The management of human waste is one of the easiest ways in which a person can help in the preservation of the mountain environment. It is also one of the most damaging if left unmanaged. The organization making arrangements and providing services need to ensure proper human waste management facilities as part of their services. All climbers on my expedition through various methods will pack their waste down off the mountain to basecamp to be properly disposed. We will also be testing containers such as the CMC (Clean Mountain Can), and Restop which have been effectively used on other mountains such as Denali in Alaska and Rainier in Washington. I will be collecting samples of water from Glaciers along the climbing route to test for presence of Fecal Coliforms, indicators of water quality. The water wuality testing will also be done to benefit the Mount Everest Biogas Project in Gorak Shep, a village below Everest BC. check out the project website: www.mteverestbiogasproject.org
B. The use of solar energy developed by modern solar technology is lightweight, affordable and effective. Using this renewable technology will allow expeditions to cut costs and utilize natural energy sources. Also, Parabolic Solar Cookers (PSCs) are being implemented by these expeditions, and the fuel savings are becoming substantial. We will use and test some of these devices and technologies on our expedition.
C. The SteriPEN saves time and energy. Being both light weight and easy to use for safe drinking water, it is a must have for all climbers and trekkers. We will also use and test these in 2011.
D. Management of Trash and Debris such as destroyed tents and oxygen bottles are being removed in large quantities each year from the mountain. We will continue to do the same in 2011. In recent years, expeditions have collected and brought down nearly 6000 kilograms of garbage and debris from Mt. Everest from previous expeditions and properly disposed of it. All human waste (approx. 80 Kilos) generated by the Eco Everest Expedition Team was brought down to base camp and disposed of properly. The “Cash for Trash” initiative by the Eco-Everest Expeditions and Nepal Based ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) pays climbers by the pound for assisting with removal from the higher camps. For every dollar collected through this initiative, I will donate it to the causes listed in Objective #3.
But what about climbing the mountain? What will the expedition entail?
I will be climbing Everest from the southern (Nepalese) side using the well-established South Col route. The South Col Route is the original ascent route taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. After flying to Kathmandu and then to Lukla at 9,317', I will begin the 35 mile trek to Everest basecamp at 17,200'/5300m. The long approach to Everest basecamp typically takes about a week to complete especially when taking the time to acclimatize and take in the culture of the small villages along the way. I will be climbing Everest as part of the 2012 Eco-Everest Expedition led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, unguided, but fully supported by my friend Dan Mazur with everything (ex. food, sherpas, and equipment). Sherpas will help us tremendously in ferrying gear from Lukla to Everest basecamp, helping to establish higher camps on the mountain, and climbing as a team to assist each other. After reaching Everest basecamp, I will begin to establish higher camps on the mountain over several weeks with the primary purpose of acclimitizing to the extreme altitudes. Camp I at 19,500'/6000m is just above the Khumbu Icefall in the Western Cwm (Pronounced "Coooom"). Negotiating the Khumbu Icefall is probably the riskiest portion of the south col route mainly because of the ever-shifting ice towers, seracs, and hazardous crossing of deep crevasses. The Khumbu Glacier essentially takes a nose dive down from the Western Cwm to Everest basecamp in a relatively short distance, thus "splintering" the glacier into crevasses and seracs. Camp II is at 21,000'/6300m at the far end of the Western Cwm just below the Lhotse face. The climb up to camp III at 23,500'/7100m involves a steep snow and ice climb up the 45-50 degree Lhotse face. Finally, after many trips and rotations on the route ferrying loads to camp III, I'll return all the way to basecamp for a good rest. The whole idea of climbing to successively higher camps and then back down again allows one to stimulate red blood cell production and hopefully acclimitize properly to the high altitude. On my summit attempt by mid-May, (around my May 12th Birthday!) I will climb from basecamp to camp I, camp I to camp II, camp II to camp III, and then from camp III to camp IV, which is known as the high camp on the south col, at 26,300'/8100m for a final rest before summit day. The south col camp is one of the most desolate places on earth where acclimitization is near impossible. The body begins to consume itself here and more than 2 nights that high up is not very wise! The idea is to get up and down as quick as possible in order to avoid prolonged exposure to elevations above 25,000'/8000m. Then, at about 11pm on summit day, I will leave camp IV (South Col) for the summit via headlamp along with a few sherpa teammates. At that point the journey of the top of the World will be nearly finished.....the pressure will be off, but as famed climber Ed Viesturs says: "Getting up is Optional, getting down is Mandatory!"
Summit Day will be intense....wake up early, leave around midnight, and give it everything you've got! the photo above shows the route from the high camp (Photos courtesy of the Doug Pierson/Breshears Expedition in 2008).
South ridge from the South Summit about 2 hours from the summit.
Infamous Hillary Step, toughest part just below the 150m summit ridge walk to the top of the planet!