I must admit to following every Everest season closely since my first trek in Nepal in 2008, and subsequent visits since then.
For the past few seasons I have been fortunate enough to know quite a number of the Everest climbers, having met them on my various treks & little climbs. This of course has my heart in my mouth, anxious to hear they are safe and well, and proud of their judgement on the mountain, irrespective of whether they summit or not. I will always remember Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks say – you are only half way there when you bag the summit. Sage advice for sure.
This year two friends were on Everest.
I first met TA Loeffler from St John’s in Newfondland in 2008 in Nepal. She and I (being the only females in the group) shared a tent. I had never camped in my life. Why I chose to camp for the first time at Pumori base camp (some 18,000ft) is beyond me. TA was patient and taught me the tricks of camping in -15C degrees and at high altitude. In 2008, TA was climbing Pumori in training for climbing Everest. 2016 was TA’s 3rd attempt on Everest but unfortunately she got very sick, contracting HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) and a bit of HACE high altitude cerebral edema) and was airlifted to Kathmandu, having no choice but to abandon her bid for the summit. TA is home safely in St John’s now, having had a short stay in hospital to allow her to recover before the long flight home from Kathmandu. TA has a great blog that incorporates educational components for schoolkids and does amazing work in encouraging fitness and the outdoors. Her blog is worth checking for sure.
I met Kuntal Joisher from Mumbai, India in 2011 also in Nepal. He was doing some real climbing with Peak Freaks in training for Everest, the year I summited the littlest of the Himalayan peaks – Island Peak (6,189m / 20,300ft). Kuntal is a software engineer, a kind generous spiritual soul, very soft spoken and a beautiful photographer. And a vegan. Much is always made of the macho-ness of the meat-eating Everest climbers and vegans tend to be looked down upon. And if they fail, their veganism is blamed.
On May 19 of this year, Kuntal stood on top of the world, a proud vegan and advocate for Alzheimers in honour of his father. This was Kuntal’s third attempt on Everest. His first attempt was ended in 2014 after the devastating avalanche on Everest leaving 16 Sherpa dead. His second attempt was last year, as the April 25th earthquake rocked Nepal. Kuntal was in Everest Base Camp at the time and barely escaped with his life.
He is a determined young man and returned this year to try and fulfill his lifelong dream. He did.
Did I mention Kuntal is a beautiful photographer, check out his work here. He has a stunning eye.
I started this post just planning on linking you to the great blog of Alan Arnette – experienced climber and teller of truths. He calls a spade a spade and I follow his daily account of the goings on on Everest during climbing season. The media tend to go crazy during Everest season and it is hard to tell the truth from the fibs, so I find Alan’s blog gives me some insights into what it is like on the mountain – something you cannot get from the media reports. I hope you enjoy.
The Everest climbing season is now closed for 2016. But no doubt, there will be many more hopefuls next year, and the year after that …..