Journal: Everest 2010

The journey has started
20 Mar, 10 - 11:33

On the 18th of March at 12:40am as I sat in my seat for the flight that would be the start of my journey to the Himalayas I had time to reflect on everything that has happened sense my return home from Antarctica.

I got a call from the Children's Wish Foundation yesterday and they tell me that it takes app 10,000 for a wish to be granted. Congratulations to everyone who have made donations so far. We have made one wish come true and have 8 more to go. Please spread the word about making a donation on the web site, its very secured and you will receive a tax receipt from the Children's Wish Foundation. How cool is that.

For the last couple of days I have been in Providence, RI visiting my friend Tim Warren and his beautiful girlfriend Rose. I am still training, but doing it in a kayak.

Tomorrow I will start the next leg of my flight, Tim will drive me to Boston from there I will fly to London, then Bahrain finally to Kathmandu.

Cheers everyone


Deepest Gratitude

I feel easy with the knowledge that the time for preparation is over and now the test itself lies ahead. Once again I will set foot on one of Earths most beautiful but inhospitable places, Everest.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude and many thanks to all my sponsors and to all the people who believe in me , you have went out of your way and made the road to Everest that much easier.

To Alan Jodoin, of Merge Creative my head is bent with many thanks. You have worked on this project with me from the very beginning, your web site design and brilliant ideas have made me shine.

To my family, friends and everyone who has showered me with love and kindness, to each and every one of you, I say

Namaste


Welcome to Kathmandu 

23 Mar, 10 - 15:43

Hi everyone, welcome to Kathmandu.

It was a long flight from Boston to Nepal. I got a little jet leg but my mouth is hurting from smiling so much.

Today the owner of hotel Tibet gave me a ride to the Boudhanath Stupa where I spent the entire day with a monk.

At first I went around the Stupa eight times for good luck. Then I had the opportunity to light butter lamps. One for my late brother Derek , my Mother, Father , sisters , brother and another one for all my other loved ones back home. J. Then I sat while the head monk did a blessing over me for protection as I once again set foot in the coming days on Chomolungma, goddess of the universe, were know her as Everest.

Tomorrow I have a private sitting with the Rimponche for more blessings.

All of my personal climbing gear has arrived with me. Now that's way cool.

To my extend family in Warwick , RI. Tim and Rose, thank you for you're hospitality, it was great to say hi and spend some time together. Tim thank you for the ride to Boston, it was also very cool to say hi to old friends and to make new ones .

Cheers
Al


A typical day
29 Mar, 10 - 15:19 

Namaste everyone,

As of yesterday the team has started to arrive. Everyone should be here by tomorrow. So what have I been up to the last couple of days as everyone trickle's into town.

A typical day for me would be

Its 3:30am

I am awakened to the sounds of dogs barking. As I tip toe downstairs trying not to wake up the other hotel guest, the smell of incense is thick in the air. Like a shadow, I slip out into the coolness' of the early morning, to places with names like Patan with 15th to 17th century Hindu & Buddhist monuments. Bhaktapur that was founded by King Anand Dev in 889 A. D. Pashupatinath Temple, this temple is the largest Hindu temple and considered as the holiest of all Hindu temples. Swayambhunath Stupa : This is the largest Stupa in Nepal and it was built in 250 BC.

Cheers
Al


Why back on Everest?
April 1 / 2010 

Hello everyone,

The team looks great this year. We are a colorful looking bunch from all over the globe. We are 15 strong with one person who has a Everest summit under his belt.

One of the questions that I find myself answering a lot is, why are you back on Everest . I guess its rear for anyone other than a working guide to come back after already being successful .

The answer is simple.

I have been very successful as a climber and this time I wanted to climb with a bigger purpose ,other than the mountain . I wanted to make a difference , a difference in peoples lives. The Children's Wish Foundation is about granting wishes to children.

The climb for kids 2010 Everest expedition is raising funds for the Children's Wish Foundation and 100% of the public funds raised will go to making children's wishes come true.

I am no longer in Kathmandu but hiking in the khumbu valley, towards Everest . To night I am at a place called, Phakding.

Till tomorrow
Cheers
Al


Brain freeze
3 Apr, 10 - 13:47

Yesterday morning I slipped from my sleeping bag and went down to the waters edge and dipped my head into the ice cold water. "J" It was like taking a big gulp of a slurprie, talk about brain freezing.

The team and I hiked up through the hills and from time to time we had to cross Hugh swaying bridges to get to the other side of the gorge, at times we had to give the Yak,s the right of way. We arrived at Namche Bazar , which is 11,120ft early in the afternoon .

Today will be a rest day, My throat feels raw today. I hope that I am not coming down with something . I have started course of Cold FX just in case. It could be from all the dust that the yaks were kicking up.

Cheers everyone


My cleanest dirty shirt
6 Apr, 10 - 04:21 

April 5 /2010

Like a rabbit descending into its hole, I too have descended into a different world.

Here in the khumbu valley , the world as we know it no longer exist. There are no roads or automobiles, everything here has to transported on a porters or yaks back.

Yesterday we did a acclimation hike to 12,120ft and came back down to Namche Bazar for the night .

This morning I felt like the lyrics in a Kris Kristofferson song. "Every bone in my body hurt and I put on my cleanest dirty shirt".

Today we hiked to an altitude of 12,420ft to a little place called Deboche, which is just below the Monastery of Tengboche.

I keep meeting sherpas in the valley who remember me from 2007 when I was here. That's pretty humbling.

I have a slight cold at the moment , but happy to be here.:)

Cheers
Al


To the house of pain, I went
7 Apr, 10 - 11:23 

For the last three days ,I have been very sick with a cough ,cold & flu. To make matters worse, in Katmandu I sliced my little toe and have ducked taped my two little toes together. It is healing, but its tight in my boots and when I am hiking, causes some discomfort .

Today I crawled into the house of pain on my hands and knees, to flip the switch. Once I put pain to one side in my mind, I focused on the job at hand and that was to hike to 13,970 ft to a place called Pheriche.

For the last couple of days, when eating or doing anything else I have been trying to stay away from the other team members. I do not want to pass on what ever I have.

Tonight we are staying in a tea house and my room is in the back on the second floor, away from everyone else. It has no heat and the windows are plastic and taped in place. The bed is a piece of plywood with a 1" mattress. The glass is half full, I am not outside :)

I can not send out any photos because I dropped my pda the other day and now its not working properly . The good news is that I have a new one on the way and the infrastructure in place to get it to me at base camp.

My spirits are high and I look forward to the challenges that lay ahead.

I miss my family and loved ones.  A big hello to everyone in my home town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

I am now deep in the Khumbu Valley.

Cheers


Little black dog
April 8/10 

I awoke this morning to the sounds of dogs barking, as I stepped outside the freshness of the early morning air caressed my face.

While walking to the outskirts of the village a little black dog decided to join me. In every direction, as the sun was climbing higher in the sky, it bathed the surrounding mountain peaks in beautiful light.

Coming back into town smoke was being carried away from fires in the fireplaces and slipping out of the chimneys, a yak herder was loading his animals for today's trek. A little girl was outside combing her hair, a man was washing his clothes on what looked to be an old fashion scrub board.

As I entered the tea house, it was alive with people and conversation. Our colorful group is taking shape and working great together. The bonds that forms and take shape now will give us strength as a team, as we progress up the valley and eventually on the mountain.

I feel much better today than yesterday and my strength is improving. Tomorrow we will move higher up the valley. Today was a rest day for the team.

Everyone is in high spirits
Cheers


Birthday Greetings
10 Apr, 10 - 11:24 

Today is a very special day, its someone's birthday.

She is beautiful and one of a kind. Depending on who you talk to, she is a wife, mother, friend, a savvy business women. She is nurturing and loving. She has a heart of gold, She is my compass when life throws me hard times. She is my Mom

Happy Birthday Mom
All my love xxoo

Yesterday we left Pheriche and hiked to Lobuche at an altitude of 16,280ft.
At times you had to cover your face as the yak train went by and kicked up so much dust..

As the team and I hiked higher we found ourselves upon a ridge, a place that I was familiar with, a ridge filled with memorial chortens. A sober reminder to walk softly and with respect in the land of the giants. To remember that getting to the top is the goal and objective, getting back down safely is success.

Today for a couple of hours we hiked to an altitude of 16,920ft to help with the acclimation process.
Tomorrow we will move further up the valley .

I still have my flu bug and feel congested but felt strong yesterday on the hike here and on the acclimation hike today. Everyone on the team is getting along great and ask me to send out their love, to their families and loved ones. J

Cheers


Mantra
13 Apr, 10 - 11:43 

April 13 / 2010

We arrived at Gorakshep the day before yesterday and that evening I hiked up to Kala Patthar at app 18,000ft. The panorama view of Everest was breath taking. I sat there with a sherpa until the sun went down, afterwards with our head lamps on we picked our way down through the darkness.

Yesterday April 12th we left Gorakshep and hiked to Everest base camp. As we hiked deeper into the Khumbu valley , I found myself repeating over and over the mantra of compassion, om mani padme hum,

We arrived early in the morning and around noon we had our puja ceremony. Nobody can go on the mountain, not even the sherpas until this ceremony takes place. A monk comes down from the monastery, we as well as all our climbing gear are blessed.

A Hugh pole is erected with prayer flags strung to the four corners of the would . On the flag pole I hung a Hugh Canadian flag. I am so proud to represent Canada and my home town of Fort McMurray , Alberta. It is quite the ceremony with Chang beer at the end, which is made from rice.

This morning at around 2:30am I unzipped my sleeping bag and the coolness of the night air came rushing in to greet me. As I slipped out into the darkness I was greeted with a fresh blanket of snow. The night sky was filled with stars as if a billion lights were turned on.

Tomorrow we will hike back down the valley to a place called Lobuche. Once there we will climb the mountain called Lobuche ,which is app 20,000ft. This will give the team a better chance at acclimation and to work out any bugs before stepping onto the slopes of Chomolungma, Mother goddess of the earth. We in the western world know her as Everest .

I would like to thank all my sponsors for their generous support in getting me here, without you support, I just would not be here and their would be no Climb for Kids 2010. All the public money raised from this Everest expedition will go to the Children's Wish Foundation. Together lets make children's wish come true.

Cheers Everyone


The hum of cities , torture
15 Apr, 10 - 09:40 

Hi everyone, just a quick update in regards to what's happening.

Yesterday the team and I hiked down from Everest base camp all the way to Lobuche base camp."long day

Today we hiked up to our advanced base camp, where at the moment its snowing ,my feet are cold and my chest feels tight . Tonight we will be up at three and climbing by 4 am. To get to the top we have to climb 4,000 vertical feet.

Everyone is getting their climbing gear ready and wrapping their head around on tonight's job.

I live not in myself, but I become portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum of human cities, torture.

-Lord Byron


All is well
17 Apr, 10 - 01:18 

I slipped from my sleeping bag a little after 2 am . I had to struggle with the zipper on my tent but once opened, I was greeted with a beautiful night. A sky that was crystal clear, filled with stars. What we climbers love to see . I new it was a good omen.

The team and I were gone by 4 am and climbing , first we had to climb through a rock band to get to the start of the snow field, which would eventually lead us to the summit. To get a better feel and placement on the rock, I had to remove my gloves. My hands got very cold but I loved the way the rock felt.

As we climbed higher the sun started to rise and we were greeted with a view of the Himalayas in every direction that was inspiring.

My tent mate Mike and I stood on the summit together at app 8:30. From our view point we could see the west rib of Everest and everything else that there was to see. As we slipped down the ropes other team members were still on their way up. We stopped at advanced base camp for some hot tang and a tuna sandwich and continued all the way to base camp.

Through out the day other team members trickle in to base camp until all were here. It was a very successful climb. Last night it was very cold and damp with wet snow falling .

Today we will all hike back to Everest base camp. This should take about 8 hrs and then the big game will start Lobuche was just a warm up for what's to come.

I hope everyone is well

Cheers
Al

Back at base camp
18 Apr, 10 - 22:35 

After the long hike yesterday from the base camp of Lobuche the team and I arrived back at Everest base camp a little tired but in great spirits . 

Climbing Lobuche did several things for all of us, it gave us a chance to work together as a team, find the strengths and weakness in each other and a chance to acclimatize to 20,000 ft. Remember the highest mountain in North America is 20,320 ft. So Lobuche was a good warm up for the big game: Everest

Small micro teams are forming inside our big team of 15. This is a non guided climb , so although we are a team we also move independently of each other on the mountain .

In Kathmandu a gentleman by the name of Mike who is on our team was assigned to the other bed in my room. Sense then we have been forming a friendship . On Lobuche we worked great together and were the first two on the team to stand on its summit. Myself , Mike and two Sherpas will move and work together as a micro team within the big team on the mountain.

For the next three days we will rest and then it will be time to start climbing Everest . The first objective will be one of the most deadliest places on earth, the khumbu icefall.


Game day
21 Apr, 10 - 08:15 

Yesterday was a rest day, so to stretch the legs and to help with the acclimatization process, myself John and Ryan decide to hike up to Pumo Ri to camp one at an altitude of 18,500ft. 

From there you could see Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam just to name a few of the
mountains.

Tomorrow: Game day, Everest

The drums have been beatings louder everyday and tomorrow, some of my teammates and I will answer its call. Between 2:30 and 3:00am the sound of sleeping bag zippers will be heard and the coolness of the early morning air will come rushing in, as people struggle with their clothes ,everyone lost in their own thoughts . With crampons filed sharp and strapped to our boots to bite into the cold blue ice. Harness wrapped around our waste filled with climbing gear and ice axe in hand we will set foot into one of earth's most beautiful but inhospitable places, Everest

Winston Churchill said it best

This is no time for ease and comfort.
IT is the time to dare and endure.

Cheers
Al


To grant a wish
21 Apr, 10 - 20:3 

The climb on Chomolungma, Sagarmatha, we in the western world know her as Everest is dedicated to children who are struggling with terminal ill or life threatening diseases and have a wish.

The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada does just that, they help grant those wishes . The climb for kids Everest expedition is raising funds for the Children's Wish Foundation and all the money raised from the public will go directly to granting those wishes. Everest is 8,850 meters . The goal is to raise 88,500 dollars . You or a friend can make a donation on this web site, just tap the donation button , its very secure and you will receive a tax receipt . On behalf of myself and the children who have their wishes granted from this expedition. Thank you

The climb for kids expedition could not have been made possible with out the generosity of sponsorship.

I would like to say thank you ,to Outdoor Essentials, Scotiabank, Iracore International , Goodyear Engineered Products , AirCon Technologies, Mountain Hard Wear and all the other business who gave a dollar amount or gift in kind.

To my employer Suncor Inc, all the people and business who made the road to Everest " Climb for kids that much easier to travel , I say thank you

Game on

"What ever you can do, or dream you can, begin it"

Cheers everyone


Camp one
23 Apr, 10 - 07:52 

I awoke at 2 am yesterday and did the final preparations for what I would be carrying in my back pack. Then as everyone on the team slept I slipped out into the darkness and went down to join the Sherpas for some sherpa tea. J

At 4 am the team and I started our climb up and into the khumbu ice fall. At one point it was just a Sherpa and myself together and then this Hugh bang. We both froze for a second but it seemed to go on for ever. I looked up and steering down at us was tons of cold steel blue ice. For a second I was scared , the hairs on my neck stood up like the quills on a porcupine. I new the Sherpa was scared as well, for he started to pray out loud.

Everyone arrived at camp one at different times of the morning, some more tired than others but all safe.

We will stay here for one more night to help with the acclimatization process. The altitude here is 19,540 ft. Tomorrow we will climb up the western cwn to camp two.

In the self portrait I am wearing a buff. What is a buff you ask. Well its tubular in shape and made of thin nylon . I put it over my mouth so when I breath through it I am actually warming the air before the air it enters my throat.

How is my health? OK. I still continue to have a very sore throat.

Last night was very cold and eventually I had to answer the call to mother nature, once outside and back into my sleeping bag, I just could not get warm. The wind also was pretty intense and as I lay there in the darkness I had hoped that the anchors holding the tent down would not get ripped out and the tent with me in it would not be blown away.

Hello to everyone in my home town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

The regional municipality of Wood Buffalo Big spirit is alive and well on Everest and I am so happy to play just a small part.

Cheers


Wounded Animal
25 Apr, 10 - 17:17 

For the last two nights the fabric on our small tent has been stretched in every direction. The sound outside could only be described as a wounded animal that has spent to many days in a leg trap. 

Some of the team and I arrived at camp two at an altitude of 21,080 ft.

Last night it was so cold here that most everyone slept in their down suits, then inside there sleeping bags.

The cold here is unlike anything else, it soaks any vestiges of heat from deep inside of the body, and I feel that I will never be warm again.

When I climb I exploit all my weaknesses , and by stripping myself bare to the mountain , tip toeing to the edge of the abyss, be willing to bow down to the art of suffering, do I find out who am I, what of my soul.

Tomorrow we will back track down the western cwn, bypass camp one altogether and sneak through the khumbu icefall to base camp for some much needed rest. Camps one and two are in place and stocked up with supplies. The next piece of the puzzle is the Lhotse face and to establish camp three at an altitude of 24,000ft . All the tents, food, ropes, hardware and oxygen bottles have to be brought up.

Cheers everyone :)


In the gray of the morning
27 Apr, 10 - 10:51 

I arrived at camp two feeling ok but within 20 min I felt very lightheaded to the point that I felt almost intoxicated and had to concentrate on what was going on around me and what people were saying in their conversations. Within an hour or less I felt fine, another climber had to descend to a lower altitude " camp one. 

That night I was awakened with headaches and took some Advil. The next night I was awakened again but this time Advil did not work. In the darkness of the night I suffered. The intensity of the headache was so severe that I sat there with both hands tightly pressed against my head rocking back and forth, wanting to cry out in pain , but unwilling to wake the others. It was my suffering not theirs. Trapped inside my head I felt like a caged animal. My body fighting to adjust to the altitude. In the gray of the morning between night and day the pain and the caged animal slipped away.

The team members and I left camp two at 6 am and descended all the way to base camp for much needed rest. Everyone arrived safely.

Last night at base camp , cocooned in my sleeping bag I had a dream, I dreamt that I was in a chicken house plucking chickens and features were flying everywhere . LOL In the morning , when I woke up I was spitting out feathers and they were all over my tent. Somehow in the night a seam had opened up in my sleeping bag. So today I had to do some sewing.

I had a bucket shower today and for the first time in weeks feel clean. I must say I was smelling foul. So even if it last for a day. Today is a great day. Tomorrow I will get a pot of hot water and do some much needed scrubbing on my clothes.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.

Have a great day everyone . Cheers from Everest base camp.

Namaste


Great surprise and babies

30 Apr, 10 - 10:26

I had a great surprise the other day. Tim and his son were on a hike up through the khumbu valley with the intent of staying at base camp for only one night. We were not sure if I would be still be on the mountain but as luck would have it I was in base camp. Tim as you might remember was climbing with me in 2007. He was successful in regards to coming home safely but did not reach his objectives . In 2008 he came back, put into practice what he had learned in 07 and the rest is history . He summated the big Everest. He will have a book out this year: Lessons learned on Everest and how you can apply them to your everyday life. That's Dr Tim Warren.
It was great to see your and your son, Tim.

Tomorrow morning myself and some team members will head back into the khumbu icefall and back on the big Everest.

I have some friends that are having babies soon and I would like to send them my heart felt wishes for a safe and healthy delivery. Alan and his beautiful wife, Tanja and her fiance. Good luck to all four of you.

Cheers


Todays dispatch is being brought to you by Outdooor Essentials
1 May, 10 - 08:56 

Avalanches were keeping me up all night last night . As I lay there in the darkness my ears, trying to pick up the direction from which they were coming from . I kept wondering if the gods were trying to tell us something, send us a message. To climb softly or go home. We have already lost 6 climbers for different reasons. One thing they all had in common, once the decision was made to leave, you could see that a weight had been lifted. Two told me that their suffering was over, one even sold his boots. Climbing for him will be in his past. 

At 4 am, we few ,we band of brothers of five plus Sherpas headed into the dragons mouth. The khumbu icefall . The rest of the team will follow in a day or two.

I was in pain as I climbed, with every foot gained brought a chrism of pain. I not sure if I pulled a mussel in my left side or if something in the kidney department is inflamed. O well !!

As I climbed I thought about the ones who are on their way home and how easy it would be to just turn around and be done with all this misery, but that's not me. I will play the cards that have been dealt to me, I can not change my destiny . I am where I supposed to be. J

We arrived at camp one at 8:50 am and settled in for the day. Everyone arrived safely but very tired . For breakfast I had a bowl of oriental style noodles. O so good at this altitude. The sun and the heat in the tents was so hot and suffocating that I felt the way an egg must feel in a frying pan.

Its 2:24 and the angle of the sun has shifted giving us a much needed break from the heat. Tomorrow we will be up early and climb up the western cwn to camp two. Our goal in the next few days ,the Lhotse face camp three at 24,000 ft. No oxygen.

Cheers everyone


Today's dispatch is being brought to you by Scotiabank.
2 May, 10 - 10:49 

The team and I awoke to bad weather today. Last night 5 inches of snow fell on our little tents and the visibility is very poor. If there is no break in the weather, we will stay put for today. We have enough fuel to last today if we use it with intelligence. We need fuel to melt snow for water to keep our bodies hydrated. In regards to food, we can always eat our camp three food and have the team members bring up more in a couple of days. Everyone is in great spirits.

The visibility cleared for a few minutes and to our disbelief we saw two climbers from another team descending the slopes from camp two trying to make it two camp one. The problem was that they were headed in the wrong direction. Once they realized their mistake one climber staggered, what seemed to take for ever to get into camp one while the other one collapsed in a heap onto the snow. We thought we might have to do a rescue but after a few insults were directed in his direction he finally got to his feet .

The insults were not meant t to be cruel, we were trying to tap into a part of the brain that hadn't shut down yet. Its easy to want to lay down from exhaustion and let go, eventually you go in a state were warmth takes over your body and you feel good, then you drift off to sleep never wake up again.

Two more people from another team were leaving camp one to descend to base camp but they were going in the wrong direction to find the root into the khumbu icefall . We shouted to the top of our lungs and finally got there attention. All we could do was point in the general direction with our ice axes. They did acknowledge us with a wave of their ice axes. I hope that they make it, there are so many hidden dangers out there even on a clear day.

11:26
I just poked my head outside and there is no visibility .

12:47
More snow falling , a lot more, Little visibility
Winds, low.
For lunch, Oriental style Noodles .

3:57
I feel that I am on a hill tobogganing the only problem is , I am inside my tent. Because of melt out under the tent and the angle that the tent is on, every time I go to sleep I wake up in a heap at the tents door. Thank god for the zipper on the door. Who knows what part of the mountain I would wake up on.

The snow continues to fall and the visibility comes and goes. We will stay at camp one for another night.


Today's dispatch is being brought to you by Iracore International
3 May, 10 - 09:20 

Last night it was very cold . I did everything I could do to stay warm but it wouldn't be. At 1:00 am I had to answer the call to mother nature. Snow was falling hard and as I found my way back to my tent he followed me. As I slipped into my sleeping bag , he was there before me with his cold steel grin. I tried to go deeper into my sleeping bag but before I could his arm wrapped around me and he would not release his grip until early morning.

When I was getting ready for today I felt like a sailor who was in a ship wreck and just got washed up to shore.

Once outside as I was putting on my crampons , the cold steel sucked all the heat from my hands. Its just to hard to put them on with bulky gloves.

We all left at the same time from camp one to camp two but for some reason I got into a grove and my sherpa and I arrived 1/2 hour before anyone else. Today was a good day, once moving I felt strong . Tomorrow I will see ?

Tomorrow the team and I will get up at 3:00 am and be climbing by 4:00 am . The goal , the Lhotse face. Its so steep that at its base , when looking up your neck will get sore. We have our work cut out for us.

Cheers


Today's dispatch is being brought to you by Goodyear Engineered Products .
8 May, 10 - 11:05 

On the 3rd of May some of the team members and I were at camp two packing our back packs and going over details for our climb on the Lhotse face . We would be getting up at 3 am and be on our way by 4 am. If I was going to make it I had to try and keep my back pack light, for the climb is steep " vertical " and a long way up. I would have to leave behind all my electronics and only bring essential gear. Gear that I would depend on for my life if the weather changed and here on this mountain it can change in a blink of an eye. If your moving from camp to camp and you get caught in a snowstorm there are only a few things that you can do. If the snow is soft you can build a snow cave, if its hard and icy you can try and chop out a small hollow with your ice axe and try lying down and praying. Bottom line, what you are carrying in your pack needs to be essential, everything else is optional . 

Climbing the Lhotse face took a lot of effort and trying to breath took even more. Once there at 24,000ft there is so little oxygen to breath it takes effort to think, your brain is starving. It would be like you going for a long jog with a small straw in your mouth. Eating supper that night "noodles took effort and in the morning putting on my boots. What would take you seconds took me great effort and as I struggled I fell backwards into the tent gasping for air.

After spending the night at camp three, we woke up with hoar frost covering the inside of our tent, soon with great speed and care we would be zipping down the ropes on the Lhotse face . We arrived safely back at camp two. There we would spend the night and the next morning down climb through the western cwn, bypassing camp one and all the way through the khumbu icefall to base camp.

At the present time May 8th, all team members are safely back at base camp. They would like to send out their love, to their loved ones family and friends. "J

Cheers

Today's dispatch is being brought to you by AirCon Technologies
10 May, 10 - 10:20 

Hi everyone

The entire team is here at base camp and everyone one is healthy and watching the weather forecast with great interest . All the camps up to the south col. are stocked with everything that we need for a summit bid. After weeks on the mountain everything is in place.

Now we are at the mercy of the weather gods.

Weather

At the present time the jet stream is over Everest with average summit winds as high as 70 mph , plus.
The monsoon, is not yet active but some early signs in the southern part of the Bay of Bengal.

Storms in the Bay of Bengal

There has not been any storms in the Bay nor are there any forecasted through at least Monday May 17 th.
Bottom line , the jet stream over Everest creates a vacuum and pulls the monsoon with it , thus our summit bid is small or its over in a single breath. The summit window can last a day or a week, one never knows .

Best summit window

Several forecast models are indicating that May 23 to the 25 might be a good window in terms of a summit bid with winds speeds of about 20 mph to 30 mph. There are also reports that May 15 to the 17 that the jet stream over Everest may shift a little to the left. That's the one that I will be following. I may take a chance and thread the needle.

Amelia Earhart once said,

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace .
The soul that knows it not , knows no release from little things. Knows not the livid loneliness of fear, nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.

Cheers to everyone in my home town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada and everyone in between.


Today's dispatch is being brought to you by Mountain HardWear
15 May, 10 - 09:40 

Today for the first time in a week I awoke to a calm day. The winds that have greeted us each morning were nonexistent . That's great news, it means that the weather is shifting in our favor. I hope ?

Everyone on the team is feeling healthy and looking forward to going back on the mountain . Most teams that are here at base camp" from all over the world have elected to go lower down the khumbu valley for better rest. We have decided to stay put. Remember even people who are sick for what ever reason have went down to stay at tea houses to get better . Since we are feeling good why go down and risk the chance of picking up a bug of some sort. Its all about strategy on our part. Staying healthy

As a mountaineer, two things are constant . Either your climbing or your in your tent waiting out bad weather. At the end of the day, its all about patience. I find myself at times counting the little squares in the tent fabric as I lay in my sleeping bag or the thread count in the tents seams. I hope madness does not set in before the job of climbing is complete .

I have lost x number of pounds and now two legs will fit into one leg on my trousers and I have some sort of beard growing and my hair is getting longer. I must say if madness does set in I will look the part.


Warmth of the sun
17 May, 10 - 07:55 

This morning I slipped from the warm comfort of my -40 sleeping bag and I was greeted with the sting of the early morning air. In seconds my poor hands were very cold to the point of being numb. 

At base camp on rotation days I have a early morning routine . Up at app 5:10, then I make my way down to the mess tent and make a cup of instant coffee. Usually there is only one or two Sherpas up at this time but they are happy to give me some hot water. I always put a chair outside in the same location so when the sun comes up it hits me dab square in the face. With the suns rays shining on me and my cold hands wrapped around hot coffee, wow it feels so good. Usually the team begins to appear one by one at around 7 am. All the Sherpas are up by 5:30 .

Tomorrow morning some members of the team and I will once again set foot on Everest, this time for our summit attempt.


Game on
17 May, 10 - 21:14 

Today is game day, Game on

I am not sure how much money has been raised for the Children's wish foundation because I do not have access to a computer . What I do know is this, I will climb with everything I have in me . All that I ask in return is that for every meter gained we raise 10 dollars . Everest is 8,850 meters. That's 88,500 dollars. It takes about 8 to 10 thousand dollars to grant a wish. If together we can raise that amount , that's 9 wishes granted . How cool would that be. Remember these are children with life threatening , terminal ill diseases and they have a wish.

100% of the public money raised will go directly to the childrens wish foundation . That's my promise to you .

Together we can make a difference

On Jan 9 /10 , I was thinking about Everest , Climbing and how we as climbers tip toe so often to the edge of the abyss and I wrote a pome that I would like to share with you.

O angle of death
I feel your breath
You sit there and mock me with your cold steel grin
Your boney finger lay upon your chin
Will you hold it against me if I don't come to your party
O kindly death.
I see you
Cold wings of despair, you leave havoc everywhere
Will you hold it against me if I don't come to your party
I see you, I see you


The demons of ambition
18 May, 10 - 11:06 

At 2 :30 am I slipped from the comfort of my sleeping bag to the smell of juniper burning . The Sherpas were up early getting ready for today's climb. 

My breakfast would consist of a cup of oatmeal and 1/2 a cup of coffee .

In the darkness with my climbing gear on I wound my way up to the puja alter and as I got closer the smell of juniper got stronger.  Juniper is burnt as an offering to Chomolungma, goddess of the universe, also some small grains of rice are thrown into the air as prayers are said. I tapped my head on the four corners of the puja alter to represent the four corners of the world and asked for safe passage and protection as I once again get ready to climb into the lap of Chomolungma, we know her as Everest.

For the first couple of hours in the khumbu icefall I struggled. I am not sure why, My legs felt like they were encased in cement and to top it off I would get dizzy and have to clip into the ropes until it passed. I think that to some degree my body was dehydrated. As I climbed higher into the icefall and closer to camp one my strength returned and I felt better. At the present time I am melting snow and rehydrating my body for tomorrow's climb to camp two. "J

Climbing cannot be casual.
I have learned the value of discipline and hard work, and that doing it right takes time.

Hello Canada, Alberta
How is everyone in my home town of Fort McMurray doing. I miss everyone. A big hello to my Dad and Mom.


Keys of a piano
19 May, 10 - 09:51 

Last night the poles of our tent cried out in pain as the wind pushed in every direction, it would be a long night. 

For breakfast I had a cup of oatmeal and a sip of black tea. I say a sip because I spilled the contents of the cup over myself. As I was putting on extra clothes to combat the cold , I looked at my rib cage under the glow of my head light and thought I that I was looking at the keys of a piano

By 5:45 my hands were numb from the cold as I strapped on my crampons and tilted my head into the wind and set out across the wcm to camp two. I felt good this morning and made good timing .

As I write this I am trying to rest, eat and rehydrate my body. I do feel tired at the moment and a little beat up. Just to breath here takes effort. I will be up at 3:00 am for the climb up the Lhotse face to camp three.

Words are things, and a small drop of ink falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.

-Sir Aubrey De Vere

You only fail when you stop trying

Cheers everyone
Al


Getting close
20 May, 10 - 09:55 

Hi everyone ,

All through out the day and last night at camp two the winds were relentless and then early in the morning calm but then it started to snow.

The team members and I were up at 2:30 am and climbing by 3:30. From the very beginning the winds were whipping at our faces. Many teams from around the world were attempting to climb the Lhotse face today. Our team made the earliest start and when I looked down the lhotse face and saw so many in the dawn of the morning I new that they made a mistake. Most would turn around. Up high we were caught in the worst weather I have ever seen. Thank god we had fixed ropes in place and I was clipped in. At times I had to hug the mountain for fear of being blown away other times I could not see 30ft in front of me. The worst was yet to come. I arrived at camp three at 8:32 which is at 24,000ft and is 1,000ft below the death zone. The intensity of the storm was overpowering, as soon as I opened the tent it was full of snow. Sitting up in my down suit I wondered how much this little tent could with stand and if we would be blown of this mountain as if we were match sticks .

Everyone arrived safely and the winds seem to have died down slightly. We are hoping that by early morning they will have blown themselves out and we can move up to the south col at 26,000 ft to camp 4 and then, Summit attempt. Although we climbed to 24,000 ft with out oxygen. Today and for the rest of the climb we will be breathing oxygen.

I felt strong and fast today and I am excited to be here. I love the weather. Some say I am crazy . I just love mother nature and all she has to offer.:J

Cheers from 24,000ft on the lhotse face.


The art of suffering
21 May, 10 - 06:40 

Soon after I sent out yesterday's dispatch all hell broke loose. Mother nature would let loose all her wrath on us. The tents shook so violently , it was as if a bull was trying to dislodge its rider. It lasted all night long, not the 8 seconds that a bull rider indures . 


Because we arrived at camp three in a storm, we used another teams tents. The weather was just to bad for us to put up ours. That team arrived early in the morning and we had to remove ourselves and erect our tents. For a period of time for some people emotions were very high. Yes the weather is bad, food is short and we are sharing the oxygen in the tents through a t joint and we are on very low volume . Yes climbing this mountain can wear on your nerves, for this long of a period of time.

I will always say he or she who is willing to bow down to the art of suffering the most will have the best chance of success . :J

We will stay one more night here at camp three and try and move up to the south col. , camp four early tomorrow morning .

I feel like a cat on a hot tin roof. I am very excited to be here .

Cheers


The Summit is ours

27 May, 10 - 14:29

To all my sponsors and everyone who made the road to Everest that much easier, we did it

Together, we stood on the Summit of Everest on May 23 at 8:50 am.

On May 22 the team and I left camp three. It was a cold and frosty morning with very little wind. You could feel the electricity in the air as everyone was getting ready. With back packs shouldered, crampons secured to our boots and harnesses around our waist carrying some of the tools of our trade.

We climbed up to and through the yellow band and crossed into the death zone which starts at 25,000 ft. They call it the death zone because nothing can survive very long at that altitude without supplemental oxygen. Next we tackled the Geneva Spur and soon found ourselves at the South Col at 26,000 ft which would be our camp four and the starting point for our Everest summit attempt. Everyone was excited to be here at this altitude; for most it was a new record at being so high. Snow would be melted to rehydrate our bodies, we would try to rest and eat, for tonight at 9 p.m. we would be climbing again.

9 p.m. came fast on May 22 like a runaway train. First we had to tackle the triangle face. When looking at the triangle face from our position on the South Col it can be as daunting as a bad dream, the face is very steep and long. Once you arrive at the top, your at a place called the balcony where you change your oxygen bottle for a full one. The one that you were carrying in your back pack at this point is half empty and you will need it for the safe return from the balcony to the South Col.

As soon as I changed my oxygen bottle for a full one I could hear the hiss, I had a Hugh problem, I am at the balcony and the bottle that I need for my safety and hopefully to get me to the summit was leaking. I took the regulator off the bottle two times and put it back on, each time it was the same. A Hugh hissing sound. My mind was scrambling, despair hung in the air like a rotting corpse.

That bottle was to be my life line

Tomorrow, part two...


Climbing higher
29 May, 10 - 15:09 

Story line continues from May 27th. 

As my mind was scrambling in regards to what to do because of the leaking oxygen bottle. I got on my two way radio to Greg our co- leader, after a pause a cracking sound came back. Al I have a second bottle in my pack for an emergency, its half full and its yours, I'll meet you on the South east ridge.

That's all I needed to hear, I would be threading the needle from this point on. As I climbed on, the hissing sound from the leaking bottle played on my mind, what if Greg and I do not meet, what if he himself runs into trouble. For some time now my toes on my left foot were getting colder and colder as I climbed to the top of the world. At first I could wiggle them and then they would not respond to my commands. The worst started to happen, they started to warm up. I was not sure if the damage of frost bite was on its way. I was sure that I would loose some toes. In desperation I clipped into the rope and removed my back pack containing my oxygen bottle and cranked up what little oxygen I had left. I needed more oxygen in my blood, parts of me were starting to freeze .

To get to the South summit I climbed and scratched my way through three rock bands and then it happened, I was out of oxygen. At over 28,000 ft I was into thin air, I kept climbing up and over the South summit and down the other side gasping for air and just before the Hillary step I started to feel dizzy, I remember looking up and there was Greg. He was starting to climb the Hillary step , I gave him the thumbs down, he new what that meant. I was toast. He and a Sherpa unclipped and came over to my side and changed out my oxygen bottle for the half Greg had in his pack.

As soon as the oxygen valve was turned on I could feel life and clarity returning to my body. The fog in my oxygen starved brain started to lift and soon I was on the move again.:J

Part three tomorrow.


I can see the summit
31 May, 10 - 16:28 

Story line continues from May 29th.

Before me lay the Hillary step , the key to the summit. I have been here only once before but its etched in my brain. I can close my eyes and just feel the rock and do the Ray Charles " I mean no disrespect by saying that"

After the Hillary step I climb higher and higher, I feel I am too far to the right of the ridge, I need to come back more to the left. The ridge is very sharp with cornices hanging out over the edge into space. One miss step and its over. From the South summit to the summit, your are on your own. You are not roped up to anyone. Its just you and your climbing skills. I would not want to take the big ride and end up in another county with out a entrance visa. I can see the summit, my thoughts and heart start too race ahead of me. Soon, soon and then I am there. Its cold, so cold, I am cold but every fiber, every pore in my body is in tune to this place. I am so grateful to be back.

I am also very aware that the job is only half done, I need to stay focused. Half of the deaths in climbing happen on the way down, no mistakes.

After some photographs and a chance to absorbed the beautiful views its time for the long descent to the South Col. After I descended down from the summit, through the Hillary step, up and over the South summit down to the first rock band on the south east ridge it happens . I hit a bottle jam of other climbers and things grind to a snails pace. Down climbing on rock can be trying for some and at this altitude even more daunting.

By the time I get past the three rock bands the bottle neck starts again, this time a rescue is in full swing. A climber from another team is all wrapped up in a sleeping bag. He has High altitude sickness and can not walk or function for himself . He will have to be lowered down to the South Col, rope length by rope length. I ask if they could use an extra hand and they assured me that everything was under control.

I unclipped from the rope and down climb past everyone and soon arrived back at the balcony at the top of the triangle face.

When the stars are out, I go to work.
When the sun is at its highest , I take my rest.
I melt snow from which I drink
I climb to the edge of the abyss.
I share creation , Kings can do no more "J"

Al H
May 28 /09
1:33 am

Part four tomorrow.


Leaking oxygen bottles
2 Jun, 10 - 12:23 

Everest " continued from May 31 

I felt relieved to be at the top of the triangle face, the place called the balcony. Not for the obvious reasons that one would expect but because I was just about out of oxygen again. I needed to get down to the South Col and the safety of our tents. The half bottle of oxygen that Greg had given me was leaking just like the last bottle that ran out as I was arriving at the south summit. I new that I had a half bottle here at the balcony and that there was no problems with it, the seal between the bottle and regulator was good. I located the bottle and swapped it out and soon I was on my way, down climbing to the South Col.

As the tents came into view , I felt a surge of adrenaline course through my body. Soon I said to myself , soon, and then feeling very tired I unzipped the fly of the tent and lay on my back. I was safe for now and there were more people here. I let my guard down for the first time in over 17 hrs of continuous climbing and drifted off into a deep sleep.

Late into the night I awoke to the sound of the wind and snow. I could not have more happy in that house of fabric with a fresh bottle of oxygen as my tent mate. I had long run out of food. Looking through my back pack I found 1/3 rd of a chocolate bar and I had a little bit of hot water. I put the chocolate in water until it melted and that was my supper. The last time I had anything to eat was over 24 hrs ago and that was a cup of noodles.

Morning came early and for breakfast I had 14 ounces off warm water. My Sherpa and I were the first to leave the South Col, because of this early departure it was left to us to break trail and find and pull out our decent ropes. The job was very laborious and taxing on an over taxed body. As we down climbed through the Geneva spur , through the yellow band a group of Sherpas were climbing in our direction which meant that the ropes were clear from that point on.

We rappelled past camp three and down climbed when we could and soon were at the bottom of the Lhotse face. One and a half hrs from here on stable snow would lead us into the safety of camp two where we would spend the night.

At five the next morning we were up and and getting ready. For the first hour plus we climbed through the western Col which is fairly easy other than the crevasses and by passing camp one all together.

One obstacle lay before us and blocked our safety for a safe decent, one of the most dangerous places on earth, the khumbu icefall.

Tomorrow the wrap up,

Everest,

One obstacle lay before us and blocked our safety for a safe decent, one of the most dangerous places on earth, the khumbu icefall.

At any second, in a blink of a eye sections of the icefall can implode or topple down on you, then you have the threat of avalanches coming in your direction from the mountains on either side.
The day before without warning a section collapsed and one climbers back was broken and a Sherpa was hurt. Lives are often lost here, this is not a place to let your guard down. After being on the mountain so long and so close to safety its easy to do so.

As my Sherpa and I got to a place we call crampon point. A place at the bottom of the Khumbu icefall, I sat on a rock and took of my crampons for the last time and then I felt the weight of the mountain slip from my shoulders. I had made it.

Getting to the summit of Everest was our goal and objective, going home safely was our success.

Not everyone on the team reached the summit. Some climbers went home at different times during the expedition for different personal reasons, others achieved new personal best. Everyone including myself at times had to deal with our own personal demons and bow down to the art of suffering. I am proud to have climbed with everyone on this team. On any mountain it takes dedicated team members to put people on the summit. We as a team were very successful , all the climbers, Sherpas and support staff went home to their family's safely.

I would like to say thank you to all my team mates, Sherpas and support staff .

I could not do what I do with out the support of Sponsors. I would like to say thank you to all of them for believing in the project , Climb for Kids / 2010 Everest Expedition and myself .

Outdoor Essentials
Goodyear, Engineered Products
Iracore International
Scotiabank
AirCon Technologies
Mountain HardWear

Please visit the sponsorship page and look to the right hand column.
There are a lot of organizations that gave money or gift in kind in support of the Everest Expedition. There are people as well who went out of there way to make the road to Everest that much easier for me to travel.

To my employer, Suncor Inc

Thank you to everyone who supported me and this great project and your willingness to grant me the time off.

I would like to say to everyone who shared in this project; that when I stood on the summit, I stood there with each and everyone of you.

The government of Nepal had an awards ceremony the other day for everyone who summited Everest and when they called out my name and said I was from Canada and put the Everest medal around my neck, I felt so proud to be from Canada and represent everyone from coast to coast. I look forward to going home to my home town of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

To each and everyone of you

Namaste :)


Become the best that you can become
6 Jun, 10 - 13:00 

As I sign off on the chronicles of the Climb for kids, 2010 Everest Expedition. I would like to say thank you to each and everyone of you for following along. 

To the younger folks who have been following along, I have this to say.

I am not sure which path or road you have to take that will lead you to success. What I do know is that it starts with one word and that word is Education. Education is knowledge and knowledge is power ,it gives you the power to choose your path.

For me; mountains are made of rock, ice and snow but for you it can be anything. I encourage you to go out and find your mountain, what ever it may be. Remember this ,the next time you say I can't make a simple word substitution and say " Why can't I

Success is willing to try something new, you may not be very good at, it may not be for you but you succeeded because you tried

Harold Taylor once said

The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become .

Cheers


Returning home
20 Jul, 10 - 02:33

Hi everyone,

Just a little update on what I have been doing the last couple of weeks since returning home from Nepal .

First and foremost I would like to say thank you to all the sponsors, businesses who gave gift in kind and all the people who have volunteered in support of the Climb for Kids Everest Expedition. I look forward to the coming weeks and making contact personally with all my sponsors who have made this journey to Everest a huge success.

I arrived back in Canada on the 29th of June and for the first six days found myself sleeping a lot and eating more than usual. Climbing Everest and losing twenty five pounds in the process will do that to a person.

There have been some things that have happened since I have returned, and yes to some degree, there has been an adjustment in the day to day living but for the most part it's been pretty normal. I was very honoured to have been asked to participate in the Canada day parade. The Canadian flag that I draped over the back of the Viper that I was a passenger in, is the same flag that represented each and everyone of us as Canadians and flown proudly while I was at base camp. I have already been back to work and reconnecting with fellow employees and establishing my commitment to my employer Suncor. I have had the opportunity to sit in front of the mike with different radio stations that have supported me while I climbed Mt. Everest and I must say it was fun and gave me a chance to share some of the stories with there audience.

....Everest rises, not so much a peak as a prodigious mountain mass. There is no complication for eye. The highest of the worlds great mountains, it seems, has to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be lord of all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy. To the discerning eye other mountains are visible, giants between twenty-three and twenty-six thousand feet high. Not one of their slenderer heads even reaches their chiefs shoulder; beside Everest they escape notice; such is the pre-eminence of the greatest

-George Leigh Mallory

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