All Should Know About The 7 Summits Challenge

Seven Summits

Most mountain climbers have heard or come to the understanding of what the Seven Summits challenge is. Basically, the term refers to the highest mountains found in all the seven continents worldwide. The challenge usually involves climbing the highest mountains. The challenge of mountaineering was brought about in the early nineteen eighties. Generally, the seven Summits are defined according to their continental borders and they use the same definition that Western Europe, Austria, and the United States.

There are several peaks that are still disputed; the first one is the Oceanic summit. It’s further argued that the highest mainland peak is Mount Kosciuszko at two thousand, two hundred and twenty-eight meters found on the Australian mainland. Puncak Jaya is the other peak talked about; it stands at four thousand, eight hundred and eighty-four meters high in New Guinea. Indonesia is also contested to be part of Asia; therefore, Mount Wilhelm which is 4,509 meters tall making it the highest in the Oceania area along the Papua New Guinea region.

Mt. Puncak Jaya

The other peak which lies in dispute includes the European summit. Mount Elbrus which is at 5,642 meters. It lies within the border of Europe and Asia; this factor makes its inclusion to the Seven Summit to be disputed, thus making Mount Blanc the highest at 4,810 meters. It is also found within the borders of Italy and France and yet it is undisputed.

The commonly used and well-accepted list of the seven summits includes the Messner and Bass lists. A lot of mountaineers agree with the list of Messner as the correct list to be used. Bass list involves the Mainland Australia Mountains; however, the Messner’s list includes the Puncak Jaya as the tallest Mountain in the oceanic region. The Messner’s list includes the most challenging as it upholds all the ideals that climbers need, unlike the Bass lists which include Oceania mount that is considered to be the easiest to climb to its peak as compared to the difficult Carstensz Pyramid.

The Seven Summit List According to Messner


Kilimanjaro is located on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, but the foothills of this mountain are located firmly in Tanzania. There is no any technical difficulties to be encountered when climbing this mountain. It is known to be a warm mountain due to its location on the Tanzanian plains close to the equator. Close to the summit glaciers are found and on some slopes but the usually used route is free from ice and snow. No expensive hiking gear is needed when climbing this mountain, the normal hiking gear is used, and the ticket prices to the country are moderate. The mountain is 5963m high.

Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid


This mountain is found on the continent of Antarctica, and it is officially not part of any Antarctica country. Low temperatures and cold winds characterize Vinson. Climbers should take advantage to apply winter climbing skills since the route is solely on ice and snow, and avalanches are possible. A good sized budget is needed to reach this mountain. Climbers should be equipped with good winter climbing equipment. Vinson is 4892m high.

Carstensz Pyramid

The Carstensz pyramid is found on the continent of Australia. Its foothills are firmly located in Indonesia. This mountain is known to have an airy summit ridge traverse and steep rock climbing sections including some rappelling. The most technical of Carstensz Pyramid is the rock peak found in the middle of the steaming Indonesia rainforest. On its higher reaches, the mountain peak is plagued with zero visibility and bad weather conditions. You can do climbing with ordinary clothing, but it is such expensive to reach this restricted part of Indonesia. Carstensz is 4884m high.


Mt Everest is at the heart of the Himalayan range at the border of Nepal and China. There are climbing threats at 9000m since there is not much oxygen and it’s cold with strong winds. It is not such an easy task to climb Everest. The mountain has a notorious icefall called the Khumbu which has collapsing seracs and dangerous crevasses. It is also quite expensive to climb Everest. Mt Everest is 8848m high.

Mt. Everest Peak

Elbrus at 5,642 meters on Europe in Russia

The largest mountain in Europe is located at the border of Georgia at the Russian peak. The highest point on the mountain of Caucasus.

This mountain is one of the easiest mountains to climb for new mountaineers as it does not require any mountaineering skills to climb. It is straightforward and no complicated sections. Elbrus can be climbed any time of the year but the most appropriate time is between May to September. You can do here with the standard cold weather gear. National reserve fees are applicable, but no peak fee is charged.

Mount McKinley at 6,194 meters on North America in the United

This mountain is managed by the Alaskan Range and is located in the wilderness of Alaska. It’s among the coldest climbs due to its location at the far up North of America. The climbing gear has to be quality cold weather gear this is due to its winds and weather which is not friendly. The route to the top is not complicated, but mountaineers need to have some skills in ice and snow climbing. The best season to climb is late April to early July, this is because during winter it gets intensely cold.


Aconcagua is at 6,962 meters, it is found in central parts of Los Andes in Argentina at the South American continent. The routes followed are well elaborated and the weather keeps on changing from time to time. During the night, it gets pretty cold due to its high altitude of about seven thousand meters and most climbers do not make it to its peak; this can be as a result of not going through proper acclimatization. The weather is never friendly. Summer months are the best moment to climb Mount Aconcagua, and the months to go climbing ranges from December to march.

For those who want the real adventure, try the seven summit challenge – a journey you will never forget!

Sierra Bivys

Post #144 – North Palisade 14,242’ #10 Sierra 14er Summit Bivy, Oct 6-7, 2014.

Post #144 – North Palisade 14,242’  #10 Sierra 14er Summit Bivy, Oct 6-7, 2014.
14,242’ North Palisade
A very long but enjoyable fall day in the Eastern Sierras took me all the way to the summit of 14,242’ North Palisade on Monday, October 6.
These peaks are rugged.  North Palisade is located to the southwest of Bishop, CA.  The peak is in fact a large mass if that includes three additional subsummits of over 14,000’ that comprise the Palisades:  Starlight, Thunderboldt, and Polemonium.  While each of these peaks are 14er summits, by definition of the 300-foot rule from a connecting saddle, only North Palisade is considered an “Official” Fourteener summit.
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The Meeting 11, Aspen CO Recap on a great conference, Oct 1-3, 2015.

The Meeting 11: Aspen-Snowmass. Oct 1-3, 2015. A must attend event in the Snowsports Industry!
Aspen CO Meeting
outdoor adventureFor me, an emerging outdoor adventure athlete, ski-mountaineer, author, TV consultant and expedition guide, The Meeting 11 serves as an awesome opportunity to learn about the snowsports industry and the relationship between creating content and what are the best ways to use it.  The conference portion of The Meeting in 2015 focused on all aspects of content with discussion focused on delivering marketing value, effectively using social platforms, fostering an audience, generating return on investment and identifying the next trend. A unique set of panelists and presenters representing a wide range of brands were assembled to share ideas and lead interactive discussions throughout the day.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Peroscope, YouTube, Snapchat, Vimeo, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr and more.  How can we keep it all straight?  I’ll admit, some of these forms of Social media I don’t use at all. But some I have been successful with. The amount of content being produced, posted and utilized in this industry is mind-boggling, and understanding which platforms appeal to which audiences is key to maximizing the ability for your own content to be seen and be made of value.
One of the best parts of the conference was the breakout session sponsored by Group Y.  In this interactive session I spent an hour with some professionals in the media industry, and our task was to create a marketing platform to appeal to all demographics.  Breaking down which social media is relevant to which age demographic was eye opening, especially since every social media brand actually has a specific age group that uses it more than others.  For example a marketing campaign that targets both the youth and the older generation in the Aspen area for the Ski Company can be possible through different uses of Social Media.  Aspen is truly a ski town of contrasts, (X-games youth, versus traditional rich families or the older generation that comes for their annual ski-vacations or to build a second home and stay in Aspen).
home and stay in AspenWith social media, reaching new audiences is often the challenge, and I can attest to this.  Have you ever been posting on social media but have the same people liking everything? How can you diversify your social media portfolio authentically? The VP of Integrated Marketing for Stance, Nick Tran and ISSA Sawabini from Fuse Marketing discussed ways that this can be done.  They provided some stellar tips and examples of a campaign they did with Taco Bell, which not only promoted their Instagram account, but maximized the expenditures of customers during a particular period in time when they introduced a new taco to the market.
The great Penn Newhard of Backbone Media presenting with my group during the breakout session presentations.
Overall the biggest thing I pulled from the meeting was understanding the space of content with authenticity, which will truly reach every demographic. Content is valuable, and a great way to give a sponsor something in return.  Quality content can go a long way to building a true partnership with a brand.  Content delivery and creating quality content can be sold to sponsors at a high value.
With brands these days, their Goal isn’t to sponsor, its to collaborate and make content. Content creates an experience for the consumer and gives a person an experience through a brand. There has to be a story behind the content to give it depth. Given this concept authentic was a buzz word.  So was doing something because you have a passion for your own adventures in the outdoor world.  In my opinion this is very true.  There are so many people out there trying to post content to become “Insta-famous” on social media.  I personally think that those people aren’t in this business for the right reasons.  Do something because you are passionate about it, not because you want people to like your posts or garner attention.
To wrap up some short highlights:
Cool product: Iphone 6 shoots 4k.
Can be shared with the CS1 placing the Iphone 6 right into the device for instant sharing and no downloads necessary.  You can create edits and share instantly.
Scott McDonald Cofounder Lumenati @Lumenati_CO
Something on the horizon: Live Streaming coming with Snapchat and Peroscope and different perspectives from different camera angles.   This new concept is where social media is becoming even more “Live”.
The event  (THE MEETING 11) isn’t just about the conference sessions, its about having fun, collaborating with others, networking, and enjoying the festivities in and around Aspen for the weekend. Other highlights of the conference:
Ski and Snowboard Films: Almost too many to count, but some were packed.  The best film: Paradise Waits by Teton Gravity Research.
Also The Transworld Snowboard Film  – “Origins” , was a great film because of the history behind snowboarding.
Red Bull
Go Cart Racing – Always a Hit, Sponsored by Aspen Snowmass and Red Bull as well as GoPro.
And I even had a chance to run in a 10K race to benefit MS.
Looking forward to THE MEETING 12 in 2016.
Dr. Jon
Car Racing

Kathmandu; The Long Trip Home, Trying to Comprehend it All, May 9, 2015.

Post #169: Kathmandu;  The Long Trip Home, Trying to Comprehend it All, May 9, 2015.
With any luck I will get this posted when I am back on U.S. Soil.  Suddenly I am sitting on a very long 15 hour flight from Doha to Dallas.
flight from Doha
Well, eventually I made my way to Lukla, and in clear skies jumped on a flight to Kathmandu, ending my adventure in the Everest Region.  I felt fulfilled with the activities I was given in the days after the Earthquake, but knew it was my time to leave. The morning I came out I was on about the 10 flight of the morning, so while there wasn’t 500 people trying to leave Lukla, 10 planes throughout a clear morning with 10-15 people is still a fair amount.
trail from aNamche
The evening before I arrived to Lukla on the trail from Namche, I observed Most Teahouses from Monjo to Phakding to Lukla with minor cracks and damage, and there were a handful with complete destruction.  One thing was clear and bizarre at the same time: it felt desolate and deserted because the teahouses were empty, and there was not a single trekker coming up the trail from Lukla.  I an almost guarantee you’ll never see it like that ever again during trekking season.  It reminded me of 2013 when I trekked down from Gasherbrum II on the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan.  Terrorism had effectively wiped out the people coming in. As I strolled out of the Khumbu to similar stillness, I thought that this would also be the only time that such a famous trekking route to Everest BC will be so deserted.
What will the implications be this fall then when the fall trekking season is slated to begin? I am going to go out on a limb and say that this fall may be slightly lower than usual, but I believe the crowds will be back.  As for Everest next year, I bet it will be as crowded or have even more aspiring climbers in 2016.  Let’s see what happens.
I minimized my time in Kathmandu, but I saw enough.   In some places homes had completely collapsed.  In most places, the city was fine and completely normal. Now that the Death Toll is Approaching 10,000, the people in Kathmandu also have to try and move on with their lives.  In some cases it’s not easy, especially for the poor who likely can’t afford to build or rebuild for themselves. In a metropolis that includes almost 4 Million people (Including the outlying ex-urban  areas), almost a Million people have fled to rural villages to either help family and friends, or to go to a place that has standing homes ad running water.  For a while, Kathmandu was running out of supplies, but life is actually getting easier in the City, because so many people left.  One of the days in Kathmandu I actually saw the Snow-Capped Himalayas in the Distance, a site that is rare because usually there is too much smog and haze choking the air.  As a result of less people driving, less people burning fuel for cooking,  and others leaving the city, you could argue that the air  quality had improved quite a bit.  In my previous years of visiting Kathmandu, I had actually never seen air so clear there.
I took a walk around the city one day and shot some photos of the lingering damage.  One place that startled me was a watering hole/temple behind my hotel  in Thamel that was completely obliterated since 2012 from when I saw it last.  A building collapsed, the debris fell into this pit the size of a basketball gymnasium,  about 15 feet deep and up to a dozen people were killed and are still beneath the rubble.  Sadly, this is a common sight in various parts of the City.  You can go for long blocks and nothing has happened, then randomly a building will have collapsed.  Although I wasn’t able to go see it, a famous place in Kathmandu has been devastated, called Patan Durbar Square.  I visited the place in 2008 when I was here and there are photos and videos on the web that show it collapsing.
In leaving Nepal, I find myself feeling what only a human being can feel, sad, helpless, concerned, amazed, and grateful.  While my efforts on the ground in Basecamp and coming down the Khumbu felt good and rewarding, the situation for the rest of Nepal quite honestly feels hopeless for the unlucky ones.  Life goes go on for people not affected, but you come away from it all wishing you had a recipe for recovery.
In thinking about this now on my ride home, if you contribute financially to the causes over here, you should definitely go with good organizations that have a proven track record, and the ability to do something good in Nepal with your donation. Unfortunately the Nepali Government is not very responsible, so money going to them may never reach the right place.  I think 3 organizations for now get my approval.
1.     The Dzi Foundation
2.     The Juniper Fund
3.     Raise Nepal: A disaster relief fund by Nepal Adventurers. (Google Global Giving to find Raise Nepal)
I do know there are regions much more impacted than Even Kathmandu.  The Manaslu and Langtang regions of northern and northwestern Nepal in rural villages were heavily hit. Hopefully the rescue organizations and relief efforts can help them out as by-an-large the Khumbu region not only has wealth to recover, but sustained small damage overall as compared to these other regions.
 What has transpired in Nepal before my eyes was unprecedented.  I can’t imagine having something like this happen again on one of my Climbing Expeditions, or even living through such a powerful force as an earthquake like this one anytime I travel to a different country.  Lets all hope for the best and understand that every little bit helps.
This will officially conclude my posts from Nepal for this Expedition.  I want to thank all of my friends, family, and followers new and old for coming along for the journey.  While I will be continuing to put up some occasional entries from this expedition and the follow up through Media and Television projects and interviews, I also plan on trying to get posts  and videos of my adventures this summer up on a regular basis, including a return to Africa in the coming months.  My best-selling book “Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado 14er High Bivys” is also being released for it’s Third Printing here in June next month, so get your copy today from my website, one of my upcoming events,  or bookstores all over Colorado and the Western US.
I want to send a special thank you to my good friend and colleague Chris Tomer who did an outstanding job and helping me post updates, do my Media while away and keep the blog running when I sent him dispatches.  I am looking forward to getting home for awhile and enjoying the Spring and Summer in Colorado, not to mention visiting my parents for some of my Mom’s amazing home cooking!
As always, thanks to my Sponsors, especially Enerplex and Zeal Optics who will be organizing a fundraiser in the coming weeks for Nepal with my help.  Also thanks to GoScope, SilverOak, Honey Stinger, Kastle, Mountain Hardwear, Korte, and Aclimate.  Without my supporters this trip would not have been possible.
Until Next Time- Keep Climbing!
Dr. jon

Collecting USGS Earthquake Data in the Khumbu, May 2015

Post #168- Collecting USGS Earthquake Data in the Khumbu, May 5 2015.
Happy Cinco De Mayo Everyone! Of course over on this side of the planet, the holiday here kind of goes un-noticed. But, nevertheless what does go noticed is the incredible resilience of the Nepali People. Everywhere I have journeyed to in this great Khumbu Valley, folks are now going about their business, whether its rebuilding a wall, gathering supplies and blankets and tents for friends, or helping to start building a new home. While I know for sure people here in the Everest region are not as affected as other places like Langtang north of Kathmandu, everyone has an understanding that things are getting better, because better is the only way.
Earthquake Data for the USGS With that being said, I wanted to talk about the day I spent out collecting some important Earthquake Data for the USGS. Just by the most random inquiry from a former student of mine from when I was teaching in graduate school, I was able to stay near Namche and make a difference. Like I mentioned in my last post, I read an interesting article on National Geographic about these scientists who, because of the earthquake, wont be able to access a number of data locations across the Himalaya. These data sites are full of recorded readings from the Earthquake and subsequent aftershocks last week. If all the data is combined and read it can “paint the picture” according to John from the USGS, about possible displacement of the landscape including the height or any changes to Mt. Everest. If we don’t access the sites before about 14 days time, the data gets overwritten and lost forever. What an incredible coincidence it was to get an email about helping out right after I had read the Nat Geo article! I was happy to do so!
My former student Victoria set me up with John with the USGS and he told me to stand by at my lodge in Namche. I did some side trips to villages over the weekend, including Thame and then I got an email from John. He said to stay put and Lt. Col KC (real name protected) would be stopping by the hotel to bring me a key to the site. One fine afternoon KC dropped by as I was doing some writing. He was a handsome young lad in a Nepali Military Hat but wearing a hoody sweatshirt. He gave me an envelope. I invited “KC” to stay for tea and some chocolate cake. We chatted about our families at home and about the relief efforts here in Nepal. Before I knew it, the Colonel was headed back to his helicopter and I had the key and instructions from John as to where I needed to go up to the next morning.
I went to sleep somewhat anxious about my task. Would I be able to locate the site? Would the data be intact? More importantly, would my computer work to be able to download everything correctly?
At first light I was up and at em. No time to waste. I checked my email for the instructions sent to me for the site, and another wrench is tossed my way. “Access the data with your Ethernet port on your computer.” Ugh- “I have an Ethernet port but no Thunderboldt adapter….how on earth can I download the data?” I say to John in a quick phone call. “No worries” he tells me……”go see Tenjing Sherpa at the Alpine Lodge.” In a few minutes I begin to climb out of Namche to the lodge and Tenjing opens a tent he is sleeping in outside the lodge. “Good Mooorning Sir.” Says Tenjing. He tells me John called me, and first we have tea and breakfast as the morning sun hits us overlooking Namche. What a gorgeous morning it was, I was truly blessed to be in this position, what an adventure! After breakfast we went down to a local internet store where I met Mingma, a friend of Tenjing’s, Mingma was getting his computer fixed and was about to take his computer home to Khumjung which was up near the site on his way. What Luck, Mingma had an Ethernet port on his computer and so was happy to help. “On one condition”, he tells me, “You have to carry the computer up there.” What a deal….Sounds good to me!
So we were up and away by 730 now, warm and clear, the Himalayas were stunning. Up the trail we went through a schrub and Juniper forest. Eventually the path flattend out and we were on a stunning plateau where Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku were all in clear view. “Not much further” Mingma Said, and we continued on. Up on a hill near 13,000’ and I looked across a small bumpy and grassy field with a few yaks around me and saw what I was looking for. It was a solar panel and a box….pretty simple. This had to be it! In the Shadow of Everest and with Himalayas all around I pulled out my key as MIngma filmed me opening the box. Jackpot!
7.9 quake and a 6.9 quake aftershockI proceeded to take a look at the contents inside and began my work connecting to the Ethernet Data Port on a GPS and the rest is history. Mingma was generous enough to serve as my camera crew. A quick called to John in Kathmandu to confirm some files, and I had the data downloaded in no time. What an incredible setting, and it felt great to know I was pulling data from the 7.9 quake and a 6.9 quake aftershock the next day.
I am Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about the results of this earthquake. Did Everest get Taller or Shorter? What other changes occurred in the earth’s crust in this area? Hopefully this data will add to the other sites they have as well across the Himalaya.
Once the collection was done, we closed up, locked the site again and Mingma was generous enough to invite me to his home in Khumjung, about 30 minutes away. I had never been to Khumjung, so I walked across a small pass with him, and descended a bit into a small flat valley that was tucked away between some rocky bluffs, Juniper forests and the peak of Khumbilia (5700m).
Khumbjung School Yard Entering Khumbjung we walked past the School Yard, where many young kids were lining up and also about to play yard games like soccer or Volleyball. Across from the school house we arrived at Mingma’s Home. It was only slightly damaged by the Earthquake. A few cracks here and there and rocks fallen from the frame but for the most part the place was alright. I met Mingma’s wife, and then soon after the kids from the school yard came across on a break. I was generously treated to fresh potatoes from their garden which was dipped in salt, and we drank some milk tea. They were very generous to have me as a visitor. The potatoes were delicious. IN addition to their two sons and daughter, Mingma’s home was also open to many school kids. You could tell that the kids always came over on their school breaks it was a fun atmosphere and a nice place to relax. It reminded me of home years ago when all the neighborhood kids would come over to play and do things.
Neighborhood KidsI handed out some of my ski-mountaineering and climbing bookmarks. The kids loved them and all said thanks. All the kids seemed so happy and just going about their everyday lives which appear to be in good order in Khumjung. We laughed and joked about my GoPro camera when I pulled it out, and the kids all asked me where I was from. I snapped a few photos as well.
Soon I had to get going, the kids hugged me goodbye and I thanked Mingma for his hospitality and help with the computer and the data. I was so humbled by the generosity and the relaxing time I spend in Khumjung. I took one lap around town to see that the village was in pretty good shape. I had heard that there was a lot of damage and that was true to a certain extent, but for every solid house standing there, the damage was confined to older structures. Yes, there are people living in tents until they can repair or build new homes, but the people have plenty to Eat and most are doing fine. Supplies to rebuild again are coming up the trail or have arrived.
KhumbuSatisfied with my day I headed back to Namche, caught a final glimpse of Everest, and felt happy with how everything went. I have a hard time believeing this wis the last time I’ll ever be here near Everest, and I am pretty sure I might be back several times in the future before my career is done. Next I’ll be heading down out of the Khumbu en Route to Kathmandu and will be interested to see the lower valleys to Lukla and Eventually get a first hand look at Kathmandu after I fly from Lukla.
Thanks again for all of your support and good wishes. I have been getting lots of emails from people asking about foundations you can send supplies or money to for the efforts here. I will respond to your emails as soon and best as I can.
Keep Climbing! Visit website homepage for further details.
Dr. Jon
Khumbu Mountain View

STAYING HERE IN NEPAL FOR NOW, USGS, & Unleashing my Inner Indiana Jones, May 3, 2015

Post #167- STAYING HERE IN NEPAL FOR NOW, USGS, & Unleashing my Inner Indiana Jones, May 3, 2015.
Yep-  I am still here in Nepal. I am choosing to stay here.  I’m not just a climber, an adventurer or Ski-Mountaineer.  I am a Geographer….a scientist, and I am in the right place at the right time.
If you can, take a look at the recent article by National Geographic:
The article states that Ken Hudnut with the USGS is looking for a scientist in the field who can collect some data from a station near Everest.  This day is information about the earthquake and measurements from Mount Everest. I read the article the other day and then by sheer coincidence a former student of mine from when I was a professor (Victoria Stengel) contacts me and asks me if I happed to be available to help with this important project.  Wow, what luck for these scientists, and what a neat opportunity to put on my Indiana Jones Hat.
There is a station in the mountains somewhere above Namche with a clear view of Everest.  This data station needs to be downloaded to a computer (which I have), and I only have until this Wednesday to find it otherwise the data expires.  Ken and John with the USGS told me that Colonel Casey with the Military is bringing the key to open the tripod device and directions to the station and will deliver to me at the Hotel in Namche as soon as possible. Luckily I am acclimatized for this effort to go up high again!  If I don’t get the key soon I may have to be authorized to go a break into the data device, but we shall see.
village of ThameSo I wait, but meantime I spent yesterday taking a stroll up to the village of Thame. This is the birthplace of Tenzing Norgay, the first Sherpa to climb Everest.  This village was devastated by the earthquake.  I filled my backpack up with Cokes and snacks, and made the beautiful hike up for two and a half hours to the village.  Upon arrival, many of the houses were leveled by the quake.  Many villagers were in need of supplies and help.  I spend an hour or so not only taking photos, but handing cokes out to everyone I saw, and even took a bit to help a man as he was rebuilding the wall on his house with stones.
Namche militaryAs I departed around lunchtime and headed back to Namche, I was pleased to hear the loud rotors of a military helicopter which landed and dropped off food and water to the townspeople.  As I headed down the trail, there were lots of porters on their way up carrying plywood and other building supplies.  Truly there is lots of support coming from everywhere and Thame is on the path to recovery.
I will update more soon once I hear from Colonel Casey. Please continue to send your good thoughts and prayers out to the people of Nepal.  Things here in the Khumbu are improving rapidly, but I know Kathmandu is still in need of help.
Keep Climbing!
-Dr Jon
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Full Summary of Earthquake, Avalanche, Everest Season Over.

Post #166: Full Summary of Earthquake, Avalanche, Everest Season Over.
Wednesday April 28th, 2015.
Village of Namche BazarIt’s a beautiful day here in the Village of Namche Bazar. This village was rumored to be in dire straits, completely destroyed and devastated by the earthquake that happened on Saturday.  Strolling around the village here about a 7 hour walk from Everest basecamp you can actually hardly tell anything has happened.  There are a few stones displaced, a few walls cracked or damaged, but life moves on as usual here in Namche.  I’ll also say that its very quiet here, trekkers of course aren’t being flown in to trek towards basecamp since Saturday, and because the Everest Season is over now, cancelled for the second year in a row, many have fled down to Lukla, thinking that they can somehow get flown out of here….more on that in a moment.
The purpose of this post is to look back on last Saturday’s Devastating Earthquake with some perspective, and some analytical dynamics. Starting with what I saw, the aftermath and then the trickle down to the bigger and more important picture, which is the Millions of people in one of the world’s most poorest countries being impacted by this event. This in itself is precisely why the Everest season as well as Mountaineering on most of the major peaks in Nepal and Tibet is finished: the Sherpas, expedition leaders, and other locals are trying to reach their families in this time of crisis, which is much more important. (I also heard from my friend Grace on the North Side
that the Everest season is finished there too).
While myself as a ski-mountaineer was impacted in Basecamp, and escaped this powerful phenomenon unharmed, there were thousands of people in this country whose lives were turned upside down.  I want everyone to know that while there are many out there sensationalizing and wanting to focus on Mt. Everest, the bigger picture here is Nepal.  This event and the aftermath now is no longer about climbing or mountaineering, because that’s not important. In that regard it was very easy for me to walk away from the climbing expedition.  In fact, even in the moments after the quake and the avalanche I immediately thought about a few things, and one of those things was that I was no longer interested in going up Everest and Lhotse this year.  As an adventure athlete, the climb may be over, but the scientist in me is clearly fascinated by the Natural disaster that occurred, so not focusing on the deaths and injuries of people, but the natural environment, I begin this assessment of the events and will weave the Human-Environmental interaction afterwards.

The Earthquake: 1156am Saturday April 25th.
According to the US Geological Survey, and the National Earthquake Center in Golden CO, on Saturday April 25th just before Noon Local time (Approx 1211pm Colorado US MDT) a 7.9 Magnitude Earthquake was felt for nearly a minute here in Nepal.  The Epicenter was Northwest of Kathmandu about 30 miles or so, and about 60 miles to the southwest of Everest Basecamp.
As a physical geographer, weather and climate scientist, and mountaineer in the field this could be considered a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience such an incredible Earth-created phenomenon.
Khumbu glacierFrom that perspective I’ll say that when the earthquake began and I emerged from our dining tent in basecamp, the 30-40 seconds that I got to stand on the glacier, look up and down at the valley and ride the earthquake out was one of the coolest feelings I have ever experienced.  The Khumbu glacier was so fluid during the quake.  The lubrication underneath the glacier from the water blending into the ice, snow and rock was almost like riding a series of smooth waves in the ocean.  Of course the noise of the ice and rock grinding was loud, but it was absolutely fascinating.  When it stopped, what followed next was indeed scary, and you never want people to be involved, but lets face it, the Himalayas are also the largest mountain range in the world, and I don’t think ANYONE was expecting what came next.
The Avalanche: 1158 to 12 Noon.
  Within a minute, the History of Everest Basecamp was changed forever.  To my knowledge, a natural hazard hitting basecamp at 17,600’/5300m has never directly killed the occupants of Everest Basecamp. In 2002 there was a similar avalanche from that same side of Pumori that sent a smaller blast of compressed Air, Rocks, Ice, and Powder into the camp, but nobody was harmed.  Also, in talking to many people that have been here in Basecamp much more than I, the threat of Avalanches are always there, but just considered a minor threat.
Avalanche Path
In my last post I took some before and after photos and briefly discussed the Avalanche Path.  In the future when I have some more time to go through more of my photos and video (And we may see this on a future documentary) the basic dynamics were that the ridgeline between Pumori and Lingtren cracked and released a large volume of Ice.  The connecting ridge between the two peaks and where the ice came from was at approximately 6000m/20,000’.  Because it was very foggy the instant the earthquake and then subsequent avalanche took place, NOBODY has photos or video of the upper mountain of Pumori and the ridge from where and when the Avalanche originated at that moment.
Avalanche Earth Quake
(There are some videos of the blast out there and more may get released soon as well, we shall see).  There is one piece of evidence that can show where the snow came from, and that is in detailed repeat photos of the mountain and ridgeline.  Just by sheer luck, I do have some photos from the day before the avalanche. (Many other people who were there during these days may also have some photos too) Studying these photos clearly can help us piece together not only how much snow and Ice came down, but where it mainly came from.
The strongest (See photos) line of Ice and Snow Release originated from one jagged point on the ridge and then follows the chute at an angle from the face down into a prominent bowl at the base of the moraine adjacent to the Khumbu Glacier.  Many sections of the upper face of ice and snow on this face of Pumori are showing stark differences in the volume of snow that came down and of course triggered what I would term as a “Sonic Blast” of Compressed Air that obliterated the central portion of basecamp.  I am sure there will be some scientists out there that do a calculation of all of this volume of snow and Ice that came down, just like from last year’s devastating Ice Block Avalanche that came down in the Icefall.  I would estimate so far that the volume of Snow and Ice that came down this season was anywhere between 20 and 50 times larger than what came down last year a killed the 16 Sherpas.
Also, the Ice and Snow broke off from the Earthquake, fell and accelerated up to nearly 800 meters (2,500’) before slamming into a small bowl pocket in the glacial moraine adjacent to the Khumbu Glacier and Basecamp.  That impact in the ground from the blast had to go somewhere. That blast was released directly into the tents and people across the basecamp.
The Sonic Blast.
Sonic BlastCompressed Air is a phenomenon that can be very difficult to predict and understand.  The geography of the glacier and the geometry of the landscape in Everest Bascamp was the deciding factor as to who and what were impacted by the blast.  In some places people in tents were perhaps sheltered by a surrounding rock or moraine, and the blast did nothing to them.  In other cases, the gust of wind from the blast flattened everything in its path and tossed items such as duffel bags, computers, supply barrels, and climbing gear further towards Nuptse and across the Khumbu Glacier. Individual tents, dining tents.
communications tents, small rocks, and other debris injured up to 60 people and as of now between 19 and 24 people are dead. From a weather perspective, the strength of the compressed air blast was at least of Category 3 Hurricane force (Over 100mph), and up to an F3 tornado rating in the United States.  When I walked through the devastated areas during the rescues, in some cases camps were completely gone.
Again my feeling was more of the times I have walked through tornado ravaged towns in the Midwest, or when I lived through some hurricanes in Florida in the fall of 2005.  I had listed off some names before, but of the teams I know of impacted for camps I walked through included the SPCC Icefall Doctors, SummitClimb, Henry Todd’s, Jagged Globe, Adventure Consultants, The Ghurkas Indian/British Army Expedition, a team of Norwegians, and Madison Mountaineering, as well
as a handful of others less well known.   The Everest ER Clinic was
also partially destroyed.   In the few days that passed, since our
seven summits team was intact, our dining tents and personal tents ok, we offered to take in people from for example the Indian Ghurkas team.
Can you imagine coming down from the mountain essentially homeless?
Kudos to the many who did stay and help all the ones in need. Many folks in the climbing community need to be credited for helping others in the basecamp.
The fortunate thing was that a majority of these teams were actually up in Camps I and II on the mountain when this blast occurred.
Upwards of 100 climbers were not in the Basecamp, and so they were fortunately not injured or killed.  Deepest condolences to the families and friends of all who perished.  It’s not necessarily my duty to list any names here, but please pray for all of Nepal at this time for what has happened not only in basecamp but Nationwide.
The Rescues from Camps I and II on Sunday and Monday April 26-27th.
 On both Sunday and Monday three separate helicopters flew to the vicinity of Camp I at 6000m/20,000’ and helped rescue the stranded climbing teams in the Western CWM.  Some may argue with me on this point, but I do believe the helicopters were necessary to get these climbers down for a few reasons:
1.            Up to 38 of the ladders installed in the Khumbu Icefall were
broken, lost, mangled, and gone, therefore there was no way to climb down through the icefall on your own.
2.            The instability of the icefall was very real, a number of
aftershocks were felt of a magnitude of 3.0-5.0 in the 72 hour period after the quake. (One of 4.8-magn at 1pm local time Sun Apr. 25th, with a few more after that).  Anyone going through the icefall was at extreme risk.
3.            Clearly going through the icefall was not an option, especially
since 3 of the SPCC Icefall Doctors were killed in their camp and not available to help re-fix the icefall, even if there was equipment and supplies to do so.
Three people I know, Alan Arnette, Jim Davidson, and Dan Mazur all were reportedly above the Icefall and when they were flown out (Mazur several days later actually), all mentioned how mangled and large the crevasses were on the route, some of this arguably was made even more un-navigable by the Avalanche.
Tuesday April 28th. Basecamp. Climbing Season Over.
Before we left basecamp, we had heard that there was one team that stayed a few days later (Dan Mazur’s Summit Climb) for some reason wanted supplies delivered to them so they could maybe continue their climb.  By the 29th or so there are maybe 50 people and a handful of small teams holding out hope to perhaps either figure out a new way to re-fix the icefall route, or we may see helicopters from basecamp to Camp II and then a attempt to climb Everest or Lhotse.  Himalayan Experience, and the 6-Summits team led by Nick Cienski may also be deciding what is next for them.  I know their project for the Summits of Everest,Lhotse, and Makalu this season is important to them (As I climbed with Nick last year) but at the end of the day the attention should be probably turned to relief efforts here in Nepal instead of the pursuit of mountains.  On my way out of Basecamp Yesterday I ran into my friends Melissa Arnot, Ben Jones, Jon, and Adam and they were actually headed into basecamp after coming off  Luboche East when the Earthquake Occurred.  I think they may also be walking away from Everest this season, like most others.
Tuesday April 28th- Wednesday April 29th The Trek out To Namche and the State of the Villages, My personal Observations.
I trekked out through the Khumbu in the past few days and made some brief observations:
Gorak Shep– All teahouses standing, some minor cracks in some of the buildings.
Luboche– Minor cracks in buildings, The Mother Earth Lodge had an entire eastern wall of stones collapsed with debris everywhere.
Thukla/Dhugla– Essentially no damage.
Pheriche – Not a single teahouse open, village deserted except for a few locals starting to rebuild.
Pangboche—The sides of a few buildings with minor collapses, but most teahouses operational.
Deboche– Most Teahouses operational, one nearly collapsed due to poor construction.
Tengboche– Minor damage to the Monastery there, cracks and upper level damage to exterior.
Namche– Minor cracks to some buildings, some rock walls down but very minor overall.
Namche What’s next:  Again, the people of Nepal are pretty devastated by this Quake.  Perhaps 5,000 people were killed, while Up to a million people have left Kathmandu to villages where they can find resources and even a place to live at so many homes are not considered safe, or have collapsed already.  I think life in the Khumbu will recover, but the future of tourism here will be decided in the future.  The well being of the people in Kathmandu is not great at all right now, and so only time will tell the story.  Many organizations are coming together to contribute to the relief efforts, and I certainly hope that at some point the government will act and work with any aid that is coming in as well to help the Millions affected.  At this point I will try to get home in the next week or two, but since I am ok here in Namche, I am in no rush to leave until they open Lukla and I can be guaranteed a safe way out of Kathmandu at some point.  As of Thursday April 30, Lukla Airport was opened from what I heard, so getting to Kathmandu is now a possibility. We’ll see what happens.
Thank you for everyone at home who have followed the blog and this trip up to this point, your support and kind thoughts are very much appreciated!
That’s all for now.  -Dr. Jon


Earthquake in Everest Basecamp – My Account of What Happened

Massive Avalanche and “Compressed Air” Devastation to Basecamp Caused.

Sat April 25, 1157am.

I was sitting in the dining tent right about 12 noon when the vibration of the glacier below me began. It was very subtle at first. And the sounds from outside made you think it was just another minor avalanche coming from one of the big walls in the amphitheater surrounding basecamp.

Then the shaking didn’t stop. The roar of the surrounding mountain grew stronger and stronger. I grabbed my small laptop computer which I was writing on, got outside quickly and watched others emerge from their tents. It was snowing lightly and the roar from the earthquake, the shaking of the ground, the movement of the glacier was intense. The shaking lasted for almost a minute. I have been in a small earthquake before but this was huge. I would estimate 7-8 magnitude on the Richter scale. Then the scary part is immediately after the earthquake stopped….the roar from a huge avalanche…..a few moments passed, we could hear but couldn’t see in the fog and the snow storm. I was just up on Pumori Yesterday……as we looked towards Pumori to the southwest, a HUGE snow avalanche cloud began to consume basecamp on that end. Snow dust engulfed the tents below us of Madison Mountaineering, Him Mex,, Jagged Globe, the SPCC, Henry Todd, and many others those lower camps really got dusted. IN fog the hillside which was brown before is completely white. It is too stormy foggy to see the Mountain of Pumori above, but the avalanche path is very near where I hiked yesterday and thank GOD I am not up there today. Anxious to see what the upper mountain looks like when the storm clears.

All communications are down, NCELL, WiFi and even satellite phones to Kathmandu. I was told sat Phone calls can be made to the US or other countries, we will see. This is a very Geologicaly active area (the Himalayas) as smaller earthquakes are common because these mountains are still growing taller by up to 1m per year in places. The forces of Nature make us as humans here in Basecamp feel so insignificant.

Now attention is turned to the icefall. There were probably 75-85 climbers in the icefall…this much vibration could mean avalanches, ice seracs collapsing, people falling if they were on ladders, etc. We have confirmation of one Sherpa buried in a small ice or snow of some sort, and one also killed when a ladder collapsed, the Sherpa fell in and was covered by snow during the earthquake, but as soon as 15 minutes after the earth quake, a line of climbers emerged on the bottom of the icefall, so some made it down ok. (I took a photo of it too).

Lets hope everyone is ok. More reports will be coming soon.

I’ve been in contact with meteorologist Chris Tomer for daily weather and now during this entire earthquake and it’s aftermath. He put together a great report….take a look:
Colorado climbers safe, expecting airlift after being stranded on Everest during quake


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Everest Earthquake & Avalanche Aftermath & Photos

A lot happened yesterday afternoon. The areas of the middle of Basecamp that I mentioned that got dusted were actually COMPLETELY DESTROYED. 40-50% of basecamp is gone. The bowl to the southwest of basecamp and to the west side of the Khumbu Glacier below the eastern faces of Pumori took an avalanche of seracs and ice chunks that fell from at least 3,500’ above. I have before and after photos of the ridgeline. They are startling. A huge jagged point along the ridge north of Pumori was intact before the earthquake. Now the jagged serac of ice is gone and the result was the most devastating event to ever hit Everest Basecamp Proper.

The compressed air that the chunks of snow and ice created in the bowl adjacent to the Glacier had to be released somewhere. The release of this air and pressure was similar to a whoopee cushion or balloon. The air blast was concentrated towards the tents in the central portion of Everest Basecamp. Hurricane force wind from the blast completely pulverized and blew the camp away. Some Duffels from Expedition members were tossed for more than a football field’s length. Expedition boots, dining tent frames, and ice axes were tossed far across the glacier too. Right now 20-plus people are injured and the death toll is 8-20 people, but that may increase. Many of the injuries were similar to ones you might see in the Midwest when a tornado hits, with contusions and lacerations from flying debris. Head Injuries, broken legs, internal injuries, impalements also happened to people. Some people were picked up and tossed across the glacier for a hundred yards. People that took refuge in tents turned out to be the unlucky ones…..only a few feet away if a person hid behind a rock or a ice bank they escaped unharmed. People in tents were wrapped up in them, lifted by the force of the blast and then slammed down onto rocks, glacial moraine and ice on the glacier. Such an unbelievable force of wind and compressed air from the falling ice seracs and snow, it’s very hard to wrap my head around it.

Everest EarthquakeYesterday I walked to check on friends of mine in the hours after, and to lend a helping hand to the injured. I arrived in Madison Mountaineering’s camp to find it completely leveled. I was relieved to find out that Alan Arnette and the rest of the team was up in Camp I or II on the mountain, but when they return, they will have nothing, they will be homeless and their camp is destroyed. Many other teams will have to accept the same fate, but they were lucky, and so were we. An old friend of mine, Dan Mazur and his Summit Climb Camp was also leveled, but again their members up in Camp I, spared. But the next worry is the state of the icefall, made even more unstable by the Earthquake, and some of the route is now not even intact. On top of that the SPCC Icefall Doctors camp is completely gone, and three of their members dead. Who will emerge to help secure the route so at least these people trapped can come down? Luckily it is cleared here today for at least the morning for a few hours and in the fog a couple of helicopters are not only here to help rescue the injured, but they are bravely flying up to Camp I to see who they can evacuate. Also up higher (Though their camp not destroyed) is Jim Davidson, another one of my Colorado Mountaineering Friends.). Let’s hope these climbers can all make it down safely. For now, Climbing Everest and Lhotse is not a concern. The well being of the people here is. This is a complex conflict now, as the rest of Nepal is also impacted by the Earthquake. Villages below us are damaged, people are dead or injured, and Kathmandu is also in trouble with up to 40% of the City flattened and maybe 1500 dead.

Everest EarthquakeAll we can do for now is stay here and wait, but assist others in need. Climbers and Sherpa Climbers are all in need of Shelter, food, and medical care. The lucky ones here that are unharmed and have plenty of supplies it is up to us to stay for awhile and lend a hand.

For now please send good thoughts to the injured, pray for the lives of the ones lost and also good thoughts to all the people here in this huge tragedy. We will be strong and pull through, and I will continue to keep everyone at home updated. I am ok, and unharmed and so is the rest of my team here, grateful we were lucky to escape the Earthquake and the Avalanche unharmed.

I’ve been in contact with meteorologist Chris Tomer daily for weather and now to relay details of this tragedy.

Keep Climbing- Dr. Jon.

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LHOTSE OR BUST! The adventure to Nepal begins