And just like that, a years worth of work comes to an end. There is a marginal window approaching, but not one that warrants an attempt on our route. So, @estebantopomena and I will join scores of other expeditions and routes that have taken multiple seasons to complete, pack up our shit, and start the process today to return next season to try again. Disappointing? For sure. Realistic? Totally. Good luck to our friends who are trying to squeeze a summit in these last few days. Big thanks to our team @alpenglowexpeditions for the support. Only 12 months to be better, stronger, more refined, and more dialed. Thanks #Everest for keeping it very real this season.
Photo @estebantopomena 1st attempt: @estebantopomena and I only spent 40 hours on the wall with one open bivvy at 7300 m (around 24,000 ft). The conditions we encountered coupled with our chosen tactics compounded by exertion meant that we had to turn back at around 7,600 m. Downclimbing safely took another 7 hours from our high point. Back in ABC and reassessing our approach, we are looking into the early days of June for a potential second window and attempt. Is it a failure? In the most strict sense of the word, Absolutely. But is it a building block? For sure. I've always maintained that this is truly a journey vs. a summit sport. But to truly understand the whole process, you have to get to the summit. Fingers crossed that happens this season.
The weather window is here. It’s not ideal, but if we wait more, we risk loosing the opportunity. In alpinism, there are never perfect conditions, and that’s part of the process and journey. Taking calculated risks are expected, and luckily in our case, we are surrounded by experts who help us form our decisions. @estebantopomena and I aren’t proud and there is no machismo in attempting to 'conquer' or tame the wild. We are here on our individual journeys, together for a single goal. I feel scared as much as I feel strong. Fear is good - it keeps us safe. As I’ve expressed, my battle with mental health includes anxiety that runs high, and it is one of the factors that keeps me cautious and conservative in decision making. It’s that exact quality now that makes my near-and-dear a little more at ease.
We will be disconnected until we return back to basecamp, but my loved ones back home will be getting a evening update. But as the saying goes: No news is good news. Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive thoughts, energy, prayers, notes...there truly is no way to express how much this makes us feel supported and cared for. It’s times like these that make social media precious...it has given us all the opportunity to be participants on the journey to the mountain, and it’s provided connection, support, kindness, and inspiration. Thank you for all being a part of that - that presence, your presence, has been a part very much part of my getting up the mountain. #everest
More in stories // Our weather window is around the corner.
Topo and I are in our last rotation of “hurry up and wait”, so while we continue to get the slow drip of weather forecasts, we have posted the final Ask Me Anything’s we recorded before we left. We answered general questions about Everest Logistics. They will be posted slowly over the next coming hours to keep us all occupied until we go for the push. You know...just in case you weren’t planning on watching @gameofthrones or anything.
Link in bio // Climbing mountains can take months - even years - of preparation, but there is a point you have to roll the dice. Luckily, there isn’t a consequence of weighting the dice in your favor. In the 4th episode of “The Line”, we are down to the wire in the final couple days before @estebantopomena leave for #everest. We visit @jared.m.berg at Colorado University Sports Medicine and Performance Center (@cusmpc )for my final metabolic test, and on the day of departure, we are thrown a curve ball.
As always, we have to play by Mother Nature’s rules, whether on or off the mountain. With a bomb cyclone expected to hit an hour before our flight’s departure, Topo and I scramble to get on a plane 6 hours earlier than expected. I’ve thought at length about the drive to the airport and setting in motion all of this for the past 10 months. It’s always bittersweet because you are leaving things behind. Like the goodbyes to my close friends and girlfriend - all cut short. The intimacy we expected was traded with a camera crew and final errands.
Mother Nature’s message to us: Hurry up and wait. The dash to the airport brought us to the mountain no sooner, the wait is still long, the boredom still deep, as we wait for the weather window that’s peering at us around the corner.
Another video from @estebantopomena of our last acclimatization rotation. Seen here, against the foggy backdrop, I demonstrate the technique called “walking stupid slowly”. Super complex, I know. We are gearing up to head back up to basecamp soon and start the process as our weather window nears. Topo and I are fighting the boredom until then at a near by town indulging in Szechuan and watching any movie we can download. Thank you @ladzinski for the ultimate gift prior to leaving: an iPad loaded with @familyguyfox . True friendship. More soon when we make our way back to #everest. #climbing#mountains#training
The reality of altitude...Climbing. Up. Hill. Slowly. Topo and I descended from our final acclimatization rotation yesterday, seen here, and are recovering in Shegar, Tibet (altitude 14,000ft/4300m). Many have asked what the mask is that we are wearing, so here is a brief explanation: We all loose moisture with every exhale. And being we are at altitude, which is inherently dehydrating, every drop of hydration matters. Moisture loss and dehydration can cause diminished blood flow to the muscles, reduced kidney function and fatigue (to name a few). In addition, low humidity can cause dry nasal passages which can result in the body being more susceptible to viruses and infections. Wearing a mask helps us to retain moisture and combat dehydration at a slower rate. If you haven’t seen already. Take a gander at my stories. It gives a good understanding of the winds we’ve been experiencing. @estebantopomena and I are looking forward to blue skies and little wind soon. Until then...rest and recovery. #mountains#climbing#adventure#everest#training
Visit my stories for video // Topo and I have departed from ABC and have arrived at the North Col. Our plan is to be up here for the next 2 days, touch 8000m (26,000ft), sleep high, and get this last rotation of acclimatization in the bag.
Route Report: Back to ABC we go! Left first thing in the morning and arrived to ABC 6 hours later.
The plan is to do another acclimatizing round, hopefully getting to 8000m, if weather allows us. From there, it’s anyone’s guess...maybe we stay and wait for a weather window or maybe we come back down low again. Stay tuned!
Link in profile // Traveling with @ladzinski is easy. His humor balances my seriousness and relieves my anxieties, and in the month we spent together leading up to where I am now, that’s of great value. The almost week journey from Boulder, CO to Lhasa provided us a lot of time to discuss how we wanted to approach our project with @Nikonusa. They gifted us creative freedom, something a brand rarely offers to a professional photographer and filmmaker, to explore and capture Everest with their #NikonZ series. Keith and I were inspired to tell the journey of Everest through the symbolic representation of the Tibetan Prayer Flags. We are creating 5 chapters to this story with each representing a color in the rainbow of flags. Each color holds a unique meaning to me on this expedition, on the new path up the mountain, and within myself. With gratitude and excitement, Keith and I are honored and humbled to release Chapter 1: Red. Red represents Fire and the anxiety around arrival and the unknown. Click on the link in my profile to see the complete first chapter. Follow @NikonUSA for exclusive content Keith and I will be posting to their account. #NikonEverest
While acclimatizing on the regular route last week, @erichroepke captured one of many tents being swept away by the high winds. Though we had wished for more time to work our route, everything is going as planned. The weather we are experiencing is expected for this time of year. So Topo (@estebantopomena) and I are back at basecamp resting. Keith (@ladzinski) is on his way home to Boulder, CO. He was scheduled to be on the mountain for 1 month and while here, he has captured some of the most beautiful imagery ever of Everest. We will be sharing some of this through the @nikonusa Instagram page soon. In the mean time, since many of you have joined in on the journey while we were just getting to the mountain, I’ll be uploading my Instagram training, nutrition and mental health stories that have lead up to us being on the mountain now. I’ve posted a 2 minute video of the stories from 2018 to my channel. It is admittedly boring, but they become more informative as the time passes. This week I’ll post the January 2019 stories as well as our first “Ask Me Anything”. I hope it will help in building a back story to this climb and what it takes to prepare for something like this. And at the bare minimum, it will keep us all occupied while we wait for the next @gameofthrones episode.
#everest Route Report: As some of you have seen from my stories, @estebantopomena and I have been preparing gear and nutrition for the route. Many have asked if we are about to go climb, but the honest answer is the winds are high and we are bored. So, to occupy our time, as well as to keep the psych level up, we started preparing what we could. Based on weather, we most likely won’t be able to get on the new route again for another 2 weeks. Thank you everyone for the well wishes, the prayers, the kind thoughts and the funny notes. It helps us pass the time and makes it all feel a little less lonely. Regardless of being psyched and excited it still is a mental challenge to battle the internal conversations of loneliness, fear and everything in between. With May being #mentalhealthawarenessmonth, it is important to me to share both the good and the realities that come with climbing this route, not just as an alpinist, but as someone who lives with #bipolar and an advocate for furthering the conversation around #mentalhealth Pictured here, Topo and I maneuver to the base of the route to stow our gear for when the time is right. Planning and preparations is integral to a successful and safe climb.