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Locked In

“The need to climb comes from that tough, lonely place of searching for your dignity. You know, that place–where we actually choose to confront our weaknesses and fears, where we rebel against the terror of death–is actually about dignity. That’s why alpinism is not just the act of ascending a mountain, but also inwardly of ascending above yourself.” -Voytek Kurtyka

Tomorrow it starts. I am attempting K2 without supplemental oxygen. We have an intricate and excruciatingly hard plan…not out of choice, but necessity. The hope for perfect conditions and a beautiful, long weather window has predictably come and gone. K2 isn’t so much inviting us up as it is allowing us a glimpse of what we need…48 or so hours of 30 km/hr or less wind on the summit before it goes back to nuking. We are betting on the 26th (historically K2’s most popular summit day…44 ascents all time) but the window could move backward to July 27-28. I suppose it could also move forward in which case we have no chance to even be in position anyway. We only have the resources (not to mention the physical strength and sheer will) for one attempt, so this is it. So my plan as it stands follows:

July 23: Direct to Camp 2

July 24: Camp 2 to Camp 3

July 25: Camp 3 to Camp 4. Leaving early so we can be in camp by noon to hydrate and rest. Departure for summit around 10-11PM.

July 26 (Technically starting late at night on the 25th): Summit day and descend as far as possible. I expect at least 12 hours up and I will descend as long as I need to get safe. I am climbing with Nima who will be on oxygen and have extra for me in case I have a problem.

July 27: If this is summit day, I will likely take an extra day on the 24th or 25th in Camp 2 or Camp 3. I can not afford to spend extra time in Camp 4 without oxygen. Otherwise, descend to BC.

July 28: Reserve/descent

I will bring my DeLorme messenger up so “Where’s Hari” will be active. However, I may not take this on summit day (I am counting grams), so don’t expect communication/updates for periods as long as 48 hours or more.

 

I hope I’m not being too greedy by asking K2 for a chance. After looking up at winds ripping its icy flanks for the past month, I’d say I’ve already been humbled. But luck is nothing more than preparation and opportunity. I am hyperfocused garnished with a bit of aggression. I am ready for things to be far from perfect. I am prepared to suffer. If this mountain gives me a sliver of a chance, I am going to explode.

Hari

The Pivot, Part Three: Peru!

A couple days ago, a huge avalanche swept down from the vicinity of the traditional camp three on the Abruzzi (our camp three is protected in rocks below). The weather hasn’t allowed us to climb back up and inspect the condition of our highest ropes and supplies. The powder blast seen here is roughly half a mile high by a mile and a half wide.

K2 Update: I’m happy and healthy in base camp, but there’s still no good weather window on the horizon. In the meantime, I’ve done some strength work and fast hikes, not to mention laundry and tent maintenance. Waiting and staying calm is a big part of the game. Instead of distracting myself with movies and the like, I’m using the time to visualize an objective that will require my complete focus. Weather here in base camp isn’t so bad, but up high the mountains are getting absolutely blasted by high winds. The stars at night are beyond belief…I feel like we’re aboard the Hubble!

It was a lifelong dream to visit Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, home to some of the world’s prettiest mountains (and last remaining tropical glaciers)

It started with a simple email entitled “Cordillera Blanca.” In terms of lifelong dream trips, I’d say the top two ranges I wanted to visit were the Blanca and of course the Karakoram. Could I pull off both back to back? I agreed to meet with Justin anyway, despite my reservations about my current mental fitness…at the time, I’d been getting so confused with basic activities I wasn’t even close to being able to go for a weekend in the Sierra. But Justin had the right enthusiasm and attitude and we both agreed that we’d be able to make the trip work even if we weren’t feeling up to the bigger objectives.

Incredibly large sand dunes along the Peruvian coast north of Lima

We did it deluxe…taxi to the trailhead, burros to the refuge. Peru is sooo nice and easy!

Our first stop was the Llanganuco Valley…home to Refugio Peru and our first climb, Pisco, seen behind

Before I arrived, Justin took a bad spill on a mountain bike. Not so sure about the sanitation in the Huaraz clinic

Practicing crevasse rescue hauling systems on Pisco

We climbed Pisco in deteriorating conditions. Here I lead over a snow bridge leading to the summit ridge

We hiked out via the spectacular Laguna 69

Llanganuco

Heading to our camp beneath Ranrapalca. Gotta have at least one day with a huge pack per expedition

Ranrapalca. While traversing in the night to the col at the base of the photo, hidden crevasses whumphed on us. After scouting a few potential routes, we opted for the more logical and easier Ishinca

Huantsan as seen from Ishinca

Justin soloing some ice at the toe of the glacier

Tocllaraju. Our final objective was the direct west face, essentially the steepest line visible up the left side. We opted to attempt it in a single push from base camp.

Our German friends in the refuge

Me starting up the face. Crossing the bergschrund was a delicate pullup maneuver on icicles followed by a lot of cleaning rotten ice.

Justin following the lower face. We opted to simulclimb the whole thing, protecting with intermediate ice screws, pickets and Tiblocs to protect the leader

Justin leading into the rotten rock band

Justin approaching our high point…a rotten, uncrossable crevasse about 50-100 vertical meters below the summit

Justin on one of 8-9 rappels. Most were v-threads (holes in the ice) while the bottom couple were off pickets (aluminum stakes in snow)

Justin building the next anchor. We rappelled into the evening, and returned to the refuge after 20 hours of continuous climbing

The staff of the refuge, particularly Andre (second from right) were incredibly warm and hospitable

Huascaran, Peru’s highest mountain, shrouded in clouds. Despite consistently bad weather and snow conditions, we had a wonderful time in the Blanca!

 

 

 

Rotation

I’m back down after a three-night all-inclusive vacation to about 7200m (~23,600 ft) on K2. It’s pretty hard! But I handled it quite well and am busy eating fried eggs and paratha, guzzling Coke and Mountain Dew, and slathering aloe vera on my face here in base camp. Maybe tomorrow will be my laundry day. Now we wait for the next stretch of good weather to go back up into the ethereal world of complete detatchment that comes with extreme altitude. Here are some photos from the acclimatization trip:

Bluebird sky coming back down to camp one

Big avalanches routinely rip down the Chinese side of Broad Peak

Chiiring Pemba and John chopping our tent platform in camp two. Arriving an hour before anyone else, I spent about three hours shoveling snow and chopping ice for tents.

Nima Lama topping out on House’s Chimney

Camps on K2 are basically tents on top of the shredded carcasses of tents and trash from decades of prior attempts. Oh and poop! Even with modern expeditions following stricter environmental protocols, disgusting evidence from a past era of egregious littering will linger for many years on the world’s big mountains.

Masherbrum dominates the Karakoram skyline to the south

Base camp disappears into the moraine from camp two

The Black Pyramid

Nima Lama and Tashi climb the Black Pyramid. I didn’t find it much more challenging than the rest of the route, which is moderately steep mixed climbing with terrible snow!

Climbing above camp three, here Mingma (out of sight) fixes while Tashi and Nima Lama belay and carry immense amounts of Korean polyurethane static line

Upon returning alone to camp three, I was a bit tired and ready to hydrate. I made some ramen and tea for the Sherpas and tried to rest. In the morning, I puked up my coffee, wolfed down some porridge and descended to base camp in 4.5 hours.

K2: Upward Progress

“Mystery is essential to mountaineering. What is unveiled to the individual when involved with creative mountaineering forms part of a new bond with the mountain experience…it is in forging true bonds rather than the collection of numbers or establishment of records that unveils a bit of mystery…

If there is such a thing as spiritual materialism, it is displayed in the urge to possess the mountains rather than to unravel and accept their mysteries” -Voytek Kurtyka, The Art of Suffering

K2’s summit looms two and a half Grand Canyons above my tent

After a few weeks of travel, a few years of planning, and a few decades of dreaming, I set foot on the world’s second highest mountain. Our first rotation was a relative success…some marginal snow conditions and weather made upward progress more challenging than it would otherwise be, but I spent a headache-free night at camp one and climbed halfway to camp two before descending back to base camp to outrun an approaching storm. Now, armed with an excellent weather forecast, I’m heading back up the mountain tomorrow for what I hope will be my final acclimatization rotation. My primary objective is to sleep in camp three and touch as high as K2’s “Shoulder.” Located at approximately 8000m and above most of the technical climbing on the route, this task is in certain respects one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried. I’m just ready to embrace the mysteries of K2’s higher slopes and to interact with such historic features as House’s Chimney and the Black Pyramid.

I’m feeling great after a few rest days in base camp: my sinus and throat issues have mostly cleared up, my acclimatization is excellent, and I’ve been walking 1-2 hours each day to keep the blood flowing. Follow along on the Where’s Hari tab to track progress….I’m anticipating 3-4 nights on the mountain before returning to this deliciously thick air!

L to R: Farman, Ang Nurbu, Faisal, Ali Reza and Nima. I’ll be climbing with Nima this season.

Kumaran and I at our puja

Kami

Purjung Lama, our Nepali cook

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, one of the most accomplished high altitude climbers of the modern era and our expedition leader

My home for the next month

Mesmerizing melt textures on the upper Godwin Austen Glacier

Chhiring and John exit the icefall below ABC

Nima en route to camp one

Camp one on the Abruzzi. We arrived in a storm and chopped tent platforms so small that we clipped our boots inside the tent so they wouldn’t be lost during the night

Broad Peak

About halfway to camp two in a nasty wind. Soon afterwards, we called it a day and zipped down to base camp.

K2 shrouded in lenticular clouds

The Pivot, Part Two: Physiology of a Comeback

“Every alpinist who climbs 8000-meter peaks searches for ways to prepare the body so that it will adjust to the variables. The environment at extreme altitude is as alien as outer space; the dynamics play out in ways we cannot fully understand. A mountaineer can only hope that a commitment to constant training will prop up his or her ambitions to explore the Earth’s highest reaches.” -Anatoli Boukreev

This is the actual Pivot: a carbon 29er with a SRAM Eagle 1×12 drivetrain!

I have a confession to make: most of the climbing I’ve done in the past has been off the couch. It’s not that I don’t believe in training…far from it. But I think due to a combination of being lazy and rarely encountering my fitness to be a limiting factor, I simply chose to go climbing. But after last year, I knew I’d lost a lot of my overall athleticism, not to mention the mental fitness required to tackle big objectives in the alpine. Here, I’ll outline my approach to getting ready for the mountains, heavily influenced by my background in distance running and by works such as Mark Twight’s Extreme Alpinism and Steve House and Scott Johnston’s Training for the New Alpinism. These are outstanding resources.

First, I follow a progressive, periodized approach to training. This means that my preparation and climbing cycle consists of distinct phases, starting with a transition into training. When running was my full time gig, our coaches often referred to this period euphemistically as “active rest.” In college, I usually pounced on the week or two of freedom to go climbing. So starting this past late December, I started to very slowly build back. I could feel connective tissue straining, but I adhered to the main rule of this period: don’t get injured.

Most of my base volume was done on the back roads of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the BMC Roadmachine.

Most important, certainly for alpine climbing, is the base phase. This is where the vast majority of work gets done, and for something as aerobically demanding as my objectives this summer (I’m targeting summit days to be 18-24 hours of brutal aerobic effort, but I’d like to be able to climb for 40+ hours without food, water or rest in a survival situation). In short, I need to be resilient. The base period is where this capacity to endure comes from, and it’s all about relatively easy aerobic exercise. Since ankylosing spondylitis ended my running career in 2009, I opted to use biking and hiking as my primary modes of aerobic work. Of all the aspects of training, this is the one you can’t cut short. As Coach Weisend would say in high school, “You can’t pay someone to run your miles for you.”

My volume leading up to this summer’s expedition. These are Garmin’s “intensity minutes,” a somewhat opaque measure of aerobic exercise. This is likely a slight overestimate of my time in the saddle or on the trail, but it gives an idea.

Additional components of my base phase were mostly designed for me to gain some functional strength. I focused on core strength as well as coordinated body weight exercises like pull ups, push ups, dips, lunges, squats as well as some truly goofy looking balancey sequences. Once I’d gained a solid foundation there, I started focused on developing max strength in a few key areas that I find useful on really big mountains like quads, triceps and a few other areas. I added in maximum-intensity, 8-second hill sprints to develop maximum power in my quads. I quickly felt the gains on climbs on the bike and when carrying a pack.

Training volume categorized by activity type. Here, “runs” in March and April are max strength hill sprints, and May’s large quantity of “walking” is an alpine climbing expedition in Peru. I used road biking to develop steady aerobic work and mountain biking as a combination of aerobic work, strength and coordination.

Next up, things start to get fun…converting these general gains into more specific fitness required for the mountains. One of these was improving the efficiency of my fat burning metabolism. In the high mountains, it simply isn’t possible to eat enough to fuel your climbing. So training in a way that makes you highly dependent on carbohydrates really can backfire, leading to the classic “bonk.” To address this, I started taking morning bike rides of 3-5 hours with 3-5000 ft of climbing without breakfast or any food along the way. The other improvements I wanted to make were in muscular endurance and improved efficiency in high altitude climbing movements (kicking steps in steep snow and ice, plunging through deep snow with a heavy pack, etc). I did this in the best way possible, a quick alpine climbing trip in Peru!

Throne Room of the Mountain Gods

Caution: K2 in real life may appear way bigger than on this screen

“The cliffs and ridges of K2 rose out of the glacier in one stupendous sweep to the summit of the mountain, 12,000 feet above. The sight was beyond my comprehension…I saw ice avalanches, weighing perhaps hundreds of tons, break off from a hanging glacier nearly two miles above my head; the ice was ground to a fine powder and drifted away in the breeze long before it reached the foot of the precipice, nor did any sound reach my ears.” –Eric Shipton, upon his first view of K2 (from the north side) in 1937

After a week of trekking, along the raging braided channels of the Braldu River to the endless gravel, boulders and ankle-breaking cobbles of the Baltoro and Godwin Austen Glaciers, I have arrived at the foot of the world’s second highest mountain. It’s not an exaggeration to claim that this is the single most mountainous valley in the world, dubbed by Galen Rowell as the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods.

Gasherbrum IV, one of the worlds highest, most difficult and most beautiful mountains guards the hear of the Baltoro

 

Muztagh Tower

Broad Peak, the world’s 12th highest mountain and one of my objectives this summer

Mitre Peak

Amin chilling with one of the mules in Concordia

 

Winds blast Broad Peak from K2 base camp

Overall, the trek was objectively challenging but I did a good job keeping it relatively comfortable. Not easy, considering it’s about 65 rugged and dirty miles. I nursed a few things along the way (sinus and cold symptoms, very minor GI issues back in Skardu), but I’ve been able to bounce back quickly each time. So I’m hoping a couple days here in base camp will help my sore throat from all of the huffing and puffing in the cold dry air. My acclimatization is outstanding…I can’t even tell I’m at altitude here at base camp at 16,000 ft, so I’ll be eager to start getting higher ASAP for some added stimulus.

A bit of an underestimate of my trekking time this week as I always forget to turn on my watch! Averaged around 120bpm while trekking, enough to keep things conversational and try to breathe through my nose as much as possible to help my sore throat.

From here, we’ll rest, sort gear and prepare for our first rotation up the mountain. We’re the first large team to arrive attempting the Abruzzi Spur, so this likely means we’ll have our choice of good camping spots at the expense of additional work preparing the route.

Chogolisa. We met a great group of five Spanish climbers attempting a traverse

 

Baltoro

After a few days of waiting on some paperwork, we loaded up in Skardu. The ride was rough enough that I got pretty bruised up from repeatedly slamming into the roll cage.

What you can’t see is just how oppressively hot it is. Everyone in CA, I hear you but I think it had to be like 110+ the whole time in Skardu

Typical rockslide on the way to Askole. Guys took turns with the sledgehammer to keep the convoy moving

View from the window straight down to the Braldu River. They’re not big on guardrails in these parts…

Final stages of preparation before hitting the trail in Askole

Marching toward Jhula along the Braldu. The first two days of the trek were about 20km of sandy, dusty river bed. My sinuses were initially agonizing but nothing that a warm saltwater rinse from an old dirty Mountain Dew bottle couldn’t fix!

Near Paiyu, the valley started singing us upwards

I saw some mountains this morning. This is a picture I took of them.

Today’s brutal trek to Urdukas took us onto the Baltoro Glacier itself, a 50-mile long, 3-mile wide river of ice flowing from nearly one third of the world’s highest peaks

Ali Reza is a wonderful man

The Trango Towers! I’ve been looking forward to coming here for about 25 years

Lakpa finally put Flattop to good use!

 

The Pivot, Part One: Crash and Burn

“Allahu akbar! Ash-hadu an-la ilaha illa llah”

The morning call to prayer jostles me awake at the unholy hour of 3AM. As I roll over, the light body aches and night sweats of the fever I’m running add to the unpleasantness of the moment. It’s Ramadan, and the chanting over the loudspeaker serves a practical purpose for the Skardu locals: it’s their last chance to eat until sundown. At our northerly latitudes, people here will be fasting for 18 hours each day until we arrive in base camp next week. In any objective sense this is a strange time and place for me, but for some reason, I feel at home. More than ever, now I must go to the mountains as a process, a practice, a return to fundamentals.

Just a few months ago, I wasn’t even sure I’d be functional enough to make it here. To say last year crushed me would be an understatement. The short story is that my mom died. The long story is a circuitous inward journey to depths of myself that I didn’t even know existed. I moved home last March following my mom’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis. Showing the hallmark signs of Pierce family stubbornness, she furiously resisted my return home saying I should focus on work, but I could tell things were descending into chaos and everyone else urged me to apply for Santa Clara’s generous family medical leave. The first month and a half or so were filled with endless appointments, phone calls and meetings to get her things in order and streamline my grandfather’s affairs. We took time to fit in some of mom’s favorite activities: putting together puzzles, going to meditation groups and bossing me around in the garden 😉 During one last trip to the beach with friends in April, however, her condition worsened to where she went on oxygen 24/7 and even went so far as to take a quarter of an anti-nausea tablet. Despite constant and excruciating trouble breathing, she managed to resist medications even in her last hours. For her, my hunch is, the integrity of the process was more important to her than even the worst life had to offer.

Blowing bubbles with the neighbors

Over the next few months, her condition progressed and layers of her independence, personality and dignity faded. New and unforeseen problems abounded. For a while, patchwork solutions such as my teaching her the “rest step,” a high altitude technique to save energy, served as a temporary way for her to ascend the stairs to her bedroom. Negotiations over her move downstairs into a hospital bed produced some of the greatest anger and irritability one could experience. Then, one weekend in the beginning of August, fluid enveloped her heart and lungs drove her into constant and unmitigated torture.

The disease walked a tightrope between life and death, creating the sensation of drowning, vivid violent and paranoid hallucinations and profound nausea. The eerie parallels between her cancer and the symptoms of mountain sickness and the struggles to survive I’ve faced in the high mountains were not lost on me. Health crises manifested at all hours of the day and night, and multiple times we saw all the resources hospice had to offer. Finally, after six weeks of the worst suffering one can experience, she took her last breath, the trials of taking on cancer on her own terms over at last.

For a couple months I held my shit together. During September and October, I routinely logged 16 hour days settling her affairs, working on the house and getting ready for a move back west to return to Santa Clara full time for the winter quarter. Oh, and I quickly prepped for an expedition to Nepal’s Rolwaling Valley and Ama Dablam. In case you missed it, check out the trip reports linked in the previous sentence and the new expedition video.

Furtemba and I approach the summit of Ama Dablam, seen through telescope from base camp. Photo: Pasang Tenzing Sherpa

Then, during AGU, the largest earth science conference of the year (of course!), things changed. Instead of hopping on the train to San Francisco, I found myself shaking in the fetal position at home, my head racing. For the next few months, I was unable to focus on anything. Among other things, I became lost on the way to the grocery store, routinely sat in parking lots for hours on end trying to figure out if I needed to eat, drink or pee. Communication of all sorts was an enormous challenge. When people asked how things were going, I rarely knew how to respond. I tried to focus on the positives and use my time to work on things that made me happy like going for a walk, but often that was too daunting of an undertaking. Brewing with frustration, I routinely lost control and broke my things, often for reasons unknown to me even in the moment. I lost confidence in myself all of my abilities to work, be happy or contribute to my relationships. I wrote Mingma Gyalje and told him I might not be able to climb this summer. He told me he’d lost his father to intestine cancer and found himself slowly getting more hopeless and weaker. He told me he changed his routine, returned to trekking and climbing, shared moments with friends and gradually came back.

As a result of my mom’s death, I now care for my (103 year old!) grandpa

Slowly things began to change. Michelle got me a watch to track my activities. Old interests like biking and gear-fondling re-emerged. I bought a Pivot, a gorgeous mountain bike just begging to climb the steep fire roads and rip singletrack descents in the Santa Cruz Mountains where Michelle and I had recently moved. At first I was self conscious about the purchase, but soon the freedom opened me up. But the epic rains of this past winter quickly put the trails out of commission, so I did the only logical thing I could think of: splurging on a ridiculously capable BMC road disc bike ready to hit the rough pavement and gravel climbs. Soon, I felt my complete self returning to form. My legs rounded into shape and my aerobic fitness skyrocketed. I could finally focus long enough to send an email. I could do the dishes, make the bed and fold laundry. The house in Virginia sold, and I finally wasn’t getting caught by daily legal and financial surprises in the mail for my mom and grandpa. I started to feel new emotions: gratitude for my privileged and rich life, the support of those around me, the freedom from Santa Clara to focus on my health, and a desire to get on with things. I was on my way.

Redwoods from my back porch

Ohhh snap, I’m in northern Pakistan!

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The time is finally here…it’s been a hell of a year for me and this trip has been in the works for a few year. Way more on all of that later. For the time being, I’m just happy to soak it in and once again go along for the wild ride of a big expedition. Tomorrow, hopefully we’ll pack up into jeeps and head up to Askole, the last outpost of civilization before we march into the heart of the Karakoram.

Pakistan has the reputation of being the Golden State Warriors of big mountains. Ok, not really, but these are some of the “smaller” peaks on the flight from Islamabad to Skardu.

The time is finally here…it’s been a hell of a year for me and this trip has been in the works for a few year. More on all of that later. For the time being, I’m just happy to soak it in and once again go along for the wild ride of a big expedition.

Chiiring Pemba from Rolwaling and I after landing in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, gateway to the Karakoram.

The Diamir Face of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest mountain and the westernmost peak of the Himalaya.

Nanga Parbat soars over a sea of 6000m peaks

We had the privilege of flying on a Pakistan Air Force C-130, skipping a 35-hour bus ride through 100+ degree heat and Taliban country en route to Skardu

The first of many gear explosions in order to divide gear into 25 kg loads for the porters and pack animals

Great view of the Shigar River from the porch this morning.


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Ama

Projection: Cylindrical (1) FOV: 122 x 19 Ev: 16.30

Panorama from the summit of Ama Dablam. Five of the world’s six highest peaks (Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga) shape the skyline.

Climbers and trekkers have long considered Ama Dablam to be among the world’s most beautiful mountains. You could disagree, but alas, you’d be wrong. It says a lot about a mountain that in a range filled with giants, a shorter, slender fin of rock and ice has captured the imagination of those who walk beneath it for centuries. Ama is the mother. The dablam, represented by the hanging serac below the summit, is her amulet. Ironically, for climbers, it has been a source of fear. A collapse in 2006 that killed six is a harsh reminder of the realities of climbing big mountains. It’s also why Furtemba and I made the decision to leverage our acclimatization and summit in a long push from camp 2. And needless to say, on a mountain this steep and technical, I wore the amulet Lama Geshe had blessed for me from start to finish.

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Smeared with tsampa (barley flour) following our puja. A lama from Pangboche came up to base camp to bless us.

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Looking back down into the Khumbu from above the clouds.

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I wasn’t kidding myself thinking Ama would be easy, but I was definitely surprised by the amount of steep, technical traversing. Here, Furtemba negotiates somewhat typical terrain between camp 1 and 2.

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Furtemba on the Yellow Tower. OK, this was hard with a pack on at nearly 20,000 ft.

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We’d delayed our summit bid due to high winds one day. Then the weather was looking like it could take a cold snap. At camp 1, Furtemba and I agreed to continue upwards even though our potential summit day was forecasted to be significantly colder.

Camp 2 on Ama Dablam. Outrageous location.

Camp 2 on Ama Dablam. Outrageous location.

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I think I was smiling mostly because I could feel my toes again! Everest and Lhotse looked spectacular from our vantage point. It’s a bit of a tradition to have summit photos taken with Lama Geshe’s blessing card.

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Furte starts down the face. Base camp, which we reached under 10 hours later, is at the confluence of creeks below.

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Yours truly rapping the face. There are quite a few steep ice sections on summit day.

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Scattering mom's ashes, Everest and Lhotse behind.

Scattering mom’s ashes