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Summit to Basecamp ... Getting Down is A Major Challenge

Getting down from the top of Mt. Everest was probably the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life! I thought that getting to the summit would be hard (and it was extremely difficult), but getting off the top was harder!

When I started my descent off the top I was blind in my right eye, had blurred vision in my left eye, and was concerned that I could not get my sherpa, Dhorjee, to understand what was happening to me ... not that I knew myself! Just minutes off the summit I caught up with Dhorjee who had retreated of the summit due to the extreme cold. I continued to try and tell him that I had problems with my vision, but he still did not seem to understand and again walked away from me as he seemed intent on getting down the mountain! I too wanted to get down the mountain, but knew that I would need help!

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Camp 4 - Summit ... the adventure continues!

Camp 4 to the Summit was not looking real good as an option as I was exhausted from my the climb that got me to Camp 4!

From somewhere outside our tent a voice yelled out to get ready for a 9pm departure, which gave us 1 hour to prepare for a night that we had been expecting, but never wanted! Clothes needed to be layered, fluids and nutrition gathered, hand warmers activated, and skin protective lotions applied! As we went about our actions my mind wandered to the task at hand. Was I ready to do this? Had I recovered adequately from the exhaustion of the trip from Camp 3 to Camp 4? Did I have the strength to move onwards and upwards all night long? What if I backed out now ... would I have another chance to go for the summit?

It was time to go and we slowly extracted ourselves from the warmth of our tent into a violent windstorm which had dropped the temperature quite significantly! Faceless voices were barking commands, headlamps were beaming lights everywhere, and the howling winds just added to the confusion! Someone grabbed me and pointed me in the direction of where the other headlamps were aimed and off I walked! Just minutes prior to departure I met my sherpa, Dhorjee, and was told that he would be with me to the summit, and back! Sure enough within minutes "my shadow" fell in behind me on the trail. Dhorjee would maintain that position to the summit of the world and I came to feel comfortable that he was there for me ... should I ever need help!

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Camp 3 - Camp 4: Challenge of the Elements

Mt. Everest was a challenge! I just want to make sure that all following my adventure know that this was no easy hill to climb! It was definitely the hardest thing that I have ever done and was made more difficult by both factors outside my control (weather, altitude, degree of difficulty) as well as some of those within my control (clothing, nutrition, hydration, and sleep).

My first climb from Camp 2 - Camp 3 was very challenging as it was my first time to ascend the Lhotse Face, and unfortunately was done at midday when I was exposed to the harsh sun as I approached the base of the climb, and then again the sun as I climbed the wall to camp. This climb exhausted me and it took me awhile to fully recover from the dehydration associated with the exposure to the intense sun! My second climb from Camp 2 - Camp 3 was much better as we left Camp 2 earlier in the morning to avoid the intense sun and were actually in Camp 3 by noon! However, the intense sun still prevaled at Camp 3 and tried to bake us as we lay in our tents! To cool ourselves as best possible we draped our sleeping bags over the top of the tents ... but still the sun prevailed! In the meantime we kept the high altitude stove burning in the foyer of our tent as we constantly melted snow and boiled the subsequent water to provide fluids to drink and to cook our meal packets. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate was the plan ... but it took quite along time to make a measurable quantity of fluids to drink, and my tentmate and I were both tired and needed sleep!

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Summit Day Stories - Setting the Stage

Summit Day: May 24, 2007 at 9:30am

Pat Hickey proudly displaying an American flag ... despite not wearing mitts in -40 degree temperatures!

Summit day is usually the culmination of a heck of alot of training, sheer determination, major willpower, ... and lots of luck! In my case, it almost never happened due to a myriad of reasons, uncontrollable circumstances, and challenges that presented themselves at various points along the way! Most obstacles I was able to overcome, while some continued to plague me as I strived to reach the top of the world ...

Summit day actually starts a few days earlier as the whole round trip process usually takes a week as follows:

Day 1-Basecamp to Camp 2, Day 2-Rest Day, Day 3-Camp 2 to Camp 3, Day 4-Camp 3 to Camp 4, Day 5-Camp 4 to Summit to Camp 4, Day 6-Camp 4 to Camp 2, Day 7-Camp 2 to Basecamp.

Day 1 is exhausting as you go from basecamp to Camp 1 in about 5 hours, and then it is at least 3 more hours to Camp 2. The stretch from basecamp to Camp 1 is through the Khumbu Icefall and the path is ladened with crevasses, overhanging ice pillars, and some major ascents and descents! The stretch from Camp 1 to Camp 2 has some crevasses, a gradual ascent, but is well known for the exposure to the stifling heat of the western cwm.

Day 2 is a rest day at Camp 2 and well deserved as Day 1 does take a toll as the exposure to the heat in the western cwm. can really dehydrate.

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