Onwards to Everest?

Not sure where to start…Right now I am in Namche Bazaar which is around 11,200ft and is basically the last stop for ‘modern’ conveniences – before trekkers and climbers head deeper into the Khumbu. I was here last September when my friends Alex and Tandra and I did some trekking and climbing. That trip planted a couple ideas that are now coming to fruition. One idea was to do a simple research study with porters about their knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding acute mountain sickness (AMS). Many are recruited from low altitude villages and get sick or die when they get to higher elevations.  Some basic pilot data would be really helpful for designing interventions and for applying for funding. The other idea was a little more selfish – to try to climb the South Col route up Everest. I figured, why not try to do both?

The last ~four months have been a blur. Trying to get research proposals in at work, winding down other grants, researching gear, and a million logistics in between. Tons of thanks to Kelly Fox and James Oliphant for their help and for pro-deals and other help from Mountain Hardwear and Feathered Friends. Awesome companies. And work has been very flexible – my research funding is basically non-existent for the first time in 6 years as a number of larger grants have either ended or are in the process of winding down. I still have a position at UW but basically have an informal leave of absence (given that I am 100% soft money funded) with hopes that some proposals under review will provide funding when I return in the summer.

I left  Seattle a week ago today and things have been a blur again. A few frantic days in Kathmandu getting gear and permits squared away. A flight into the Tenzing-Hillary airport at close to 10,000ft, a couple days at Dorjee’s lodge in Phakding and then a climb up to Namche yesterday, with today being an acclimatization day.

I have a bunch of communication options (there is 3g service up to basecamp but it is new and relatively untested) as well as a sat phone and a lap-top with a 3g usb stick. But things are slow and flaky so we’ll have to see how this goes. Please feel free to email me at my last name and gmail.com  It is only 10 cents a minute for me to call the states so please include your phone number if I don’t have it and I’d love to call and chat.

We’re heading to Island Peak tomorrow and will climb it to get better acclimated and to test out some gear. Hope to be at Everest Base Camp around April 3rd. Some members of the team are already there.
I’m climbing with Himalayan Windhorse Adventures which is owned by my friend Dorjee Sherpa. Dorjee managed all the logistics for the UW class that I brought to Nepal last fall and he did a flawless job. He has other experience managing Everest expeditions. I considered a large western company but there were too many unknowns and the level of detail that Dorjee provides is really amazing. I’m planning on climbing with Dome Sherpa who has summited 5 times as well as climbed a bunch of other huge peaks. A super nice guy to boot. Kami Sherpa will also go up with us, he went to the South Col last year with a client but had to descend when the client got altitude sickness. Dorjee’s younger brother Passang is doing base camp logistics. The hope is to summit sometime in May. My return plane ticket is June 7th.

I uploaded a bunch of photos to a picasa album today but probably won’t have the bandwidth to do big uploads for a long time. So maybe an occasional facebook pic or a blog post here sent in by email. Below are a handful of pics. I hope everyone has a great spring! -Seth

170lbs of gear in Seattle
After the Puja blessing
Testing Oxygen system with Dome Sherpa
Namche Bazaar

7 Responses to “Onwards to Everest?

  • I love being able to see the pics and imagine better where you are! Thanks for posting…

  • Seth,

    Enjoy the climb! – it’s Stan from Korea – just came across your blog – wish I was climbing Everest too

  • Got your email. You are doing what all my life has been a fantasy, climbing Everest. Be safe and careful, so we can fully debrief you when you return to Seattle.

  • Seth! Thanks for posting the details! Been thinking about you. This sounds amazing. Cool pics–really nice to see Namche! Suggest you buy a full box of Snickers. Stay safe and I sure hope we’re lucky enough to get more posts. (:

  • Very innovative research Dr. Wolpin!
    Hope to hear more soon!

  • Seth,

    Glad to discover you are pursuing your dream! Best of luck to you on your trek.
    Kathleen

  • Sounds great, Seth – stay safe!

Feedback welcome