Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Extortion and the upstream consequences

May 29, 21:00hrs (NPT)       Everest, from Bad to Worse  

Highlights of fighting and a portrayal of an overcrowded tourist attraction may do the Sherpa community a big favor in the end.  

Extortion and the upstream consequences 

The ministry of Nepal demands every expedition pay a $4,000.00US garbage DEPOSIT.  Once you've gone through all the steps, paying several thousands in Sherpa wages to clean the mountain off of all oxygen bottles, bringing all the nylon in the form of tents and any food garbage off the mountain and human waste. You also pay thousands to have it carried down the valley on yaks and then the costs associated with disposal. We paid $2200.00 alone just on human waste disposal not counting everything else. Probably close to $10k per permit by the time you're done on top of the $4K. You do your bit to prove it with the procedures in place and when you're done, you get your documentation to show it and  you get your deposit back. Just the way it should be, and it worked once they got it all figured out that is. 

The problem in the past was the SPCC (Sagamartha Pollution Conservation Control) in Namche Bazaar didn't really do much to have an expedition prove anything, they'd just sign everyone off without having to prove taking anything off the mountains- or - something much worse and this is what we are concerned with.  Expeditions would come here and just build the $4k into their budget and assume it as a write-off and walk away from their garbage and call it a wrap at the end of the season without removing one darn thing. Nice and easy, this was done more often than not but it did stop once we started to make some noise about it.

We pushed hard here for better control in all our years. We even resorted to collect garbage from mountains like Pumori and was able to identify the team by the writing on their garbage, Tim caught up with SPCC and demanded they not signoff this expedition and brought it to the attention of the Ministry. They were listening then. We led by example about taking human waste off the upper mountains routes, and we can tell you before that none of them were on Everest. They were all throwing it into the crevasses in black garbage bags, thankfully that's now stopped - or at least we hope so.

For years we've fielded media request for headlines of things that to us just didn't make sense to be worthy of such attention. For quite a spell there was so much written about photos of old garbage on Everest but it was never really made clear that it was years past garbage that is melting out of the ice due global warming It was left behind in the day by old time expeditions like the Hillary one (not to let him off easy), even though these expeditions thought no one would ever follow in their footsteps. Today the medias lights are on crowds, records, death and now fighting putting a negative light on the beauty of climbing mountains and those who make it possible to maintain groups in a controlled fashion and that have a great interest in keeping their place of work clean and to be able to share it with rest of the world to those who aspire to do something healthy and appreciate our planets beauty, all while experiencing a new culture and not to disrupt it with debris.

The Himalayas is a mountaineering paradise and for this country it has brought much good to the people and economies, not only here, but other mountainous regions on all continents who are lucky enough to have them and the ability to create green employment. True renewable spin-off to local green economies instead of clear cutting forests and mining that outdoor enthusiasts are always in a tug-o-war with. The green industries always seem to lose in the end. Tree huggers always get pushed aside when there's things like financial drama and war in world, or similar press for Everest antics, gimmicks, and claims of heroism. 

Sherpa land and its people are going to be in a situation that will be out of their control. It's in the hands of the Ministry of Nepal in Kathmandu to do the right thing here. 

Sherpa land is going to get trashed and the villagers won't be able to keep up with what's coming. The ministers in the tourism office in Kathmandu are not giving back garbage deposits, they are getting lost in the pockets of corruption in their tourism office. They kept ours and other expeditions from last year with no explanation, once again this year we are being told it's in the mail kind of thing which means: don't expect it, which also means extortion. 

Corruption needs to be cleaned at the foothills of the Himalayas before the mountains will ever stay clean. When we used to climb Ama Dablam located nearby Everest in the early nineties, we made a fuss to the ministry that the base area of Ama Dablam couldn't sustain the human waste being covered over with dirt each season. The practice then was to make a hole and each expedition was to bring a toilet tent and erect it over the hole, when that hole was full, they'd just move and make a new one. Hundreds of expeditions were starting to come here and in no time at all they were digging into old toilet pits. Our first experience on Ama Dablam was in 1996, we explained loudly to the ministry that the base area is just too small and nothing breaks down at that altitude. We put pressure on the ministry to use some of the peak fee money and get some toilets constructed there to collect it and move it out and they did and it works. It's solid ground at Ama Dablam base camp as it is at CBC (Chinese Everest base camp) on the Tibetan north side of Everest so it's possible to do so. On the south it's a moving glacier and not possible. It's "suppose" to be collected, weighed and the team is responsible to pay porters to carry it in buckets down the valley where it's burned. 

Fortunately on Ama Dablam "in the day" the ministry was curious to learn on how to do things better and that worked out, but then the waste up above on the route started to be a more serious health concern. Our complaints and suggestions started to fall on deaf ears and that's why we don't climb there anymore. Nothing worse than digging into some snow to melt the much needed water, say no more. 

After waiting four days and talking to various individuals at the Hillary breakfast celebration I learned that a couple of expeditions did get their garbage deposit back but not until some bribes were paid to certain folks in office. Very disappointing.  

At the end of the day all we can do is simply ask expeditions to continue to do above and beyond to keep the mountain clean with or without broken rules in a broken system.

That's the end of our rant. 

Tim and Becky Rippel  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Last crux of Everest + Logging of a different kind.

May 25, 22:00hrs (NPT) Last crux of Everest + logging of a different kind.
Lukla- limited weather windows are here now with onset of the monsoon. Kaji Sherpa tells me just a couple flights got out this morning and then this window closed for the day and now it's raining. Sean, Patrick, Kevin and myself will wait it out for our reservation "first flight" tomorrow morning, give it the day to try and get in. If that fails we are on to Plan B. A new option not used yet, no it's not a helicopter! I'll let you in on it if we have to resort to it.

I loved the walk today from Namche to Lukla, I get to stop in and visit all our Sherpa friends along the way and get caught up on local gossip, develop and such. When walking today the trail was super quiet with tourist as was Namche, however there are quite a few now in Lukla now positioning themselves to get out to Kathmandu, but otherwise it was quiet, except for the train of porters working carrying trees up and down the trail. Big big trees, it takes 8 porters to a tree.

Two season ago a huge wind storm came through here knocking down some very large trees in the park. Though this is Sherpa land the ministry does have say what happens with the trees because it is a park. It took a while to decide but they've come up with a plan entitling the Sherpas to the timber but it has to be shared among them. So each tree is labeled with the owners name and are now being transported to their rightful owners.  With the dam project and the timber salvage there will be a lot of employment for porters and Sherpas in the off season this year in the Khumbu Valley. Progress being a good thing in these two scenarios. 

Fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow but if not, it's not. Life in the mountains! 

 Over and out... Tim

Friday, May 24, 2013

Light go out in Namche- plus- Summit Photos

May 24, 22:00hrs (NPT) Myself, Sean, Patrick and Kevin are still in Namche Bazaar tonight enjoying the ambience here. Interesting how quiet it is here, it's the end of the trekking season and typically the valley would be filled with hundreds of climbers this time of year all filtering through on their way home. It seems like many climbers put the "helicopter out" in their budget these days. We wonder if it will hurt the local economy of the lodge owners and porters in the future?.

I had a good talk with Tsedam tonight, owner and good friend of our favorite lodge in Namche. He tells me that the power is being shut off in Namche for 6 months or more on May 30th. The water project that was developed here in the mid nineties needs a new damn and system. The current one is allowing too much silt in it choking it off. It's going to be a huge project and if it's not completed by the beginning of autumn trekking and climbing season here will resort back to the old one during that time. Tsedam is busy stocking a water supply to carry his business over for the limited summer trek season as  this is his full-time home and he also runs a home for homeless children up here.. All the other lodges are boarding up and heading out elsewhere.

I also met with Simone today, he got the contract to work his helicopter during the project so he's pretty happy to be getting some bucks to help pay for his expensive machine. 

We've seen so many changes here and all over Nepal the past 23 years. It's interesting to have had this opportunity in a country where there are no roads allowing the appeal of this beautiful land be preserved for tourist to see and experience.  There aren't many places on the planet where a culture has been so nicely preserved in our life-time to watch it change ten fold

The people and the scenery are still the most rewarding experience that people take home from here. No matter what peaks you climb or aspire to, it's the intense sense of team that you get in Nepal. Everyone is in it together from the beginning to the end of each expedition, from the moment you step out of the airplane, to reaching your personal goal, or not, it's the journey and the people that you meet along the way that's infectious and stays with a person forever. It's not by any means just the tourist that take away great memories, the Sherpa people also carry their new friends and relations with them for a life-time and we should not forget that when returning to hectic lives abroad. They gave you their all and wait for the next season do it all over again for someone else. Pretty special.

Lukla tomorrow.. Over and out... Tim & Becky

Summit photos now on my Facebook...  New rules.... no face no summit credit by the Ministry of Tourism Nepal.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NICE ENDING - and to all a good-night

May 22, 21:00hrs (NPT) Nice ending
....with our Sherpa crew and special guest and wine master, James Cluer who arrived just in time
to meet Sean, Patrick and Kevin before they hit the trail a day early. Kevin climbs down from Camp 2 and heads off down the valley below right away, good on him, go get some air.

So this leaves James and I and our crew. What a perfect ending. We moved into our Sherpas dinning tent and got into that case of wine. James managed to successfully do his high altitude wine tasting at the foot of the glacier and will do some more again tomorrow. It takes this very serious. It's not a lark like so many things are today here.

Meanwhile at the Sherpa party I made them aware of just how expensive this wine is. The bottles were worth between $500 and $700US. Now if that didn't get some big eyes and laughs from them. They'd take a sip, laugh and say "200 rupees" take another sip and say it again and again. Good party...knocked everyone out pretty good tonight. LOL 

It was great fun for James to be part of our Sherpa party, the stories, the laughs of the going on's here each season. It's all just one big comic relief at the end when you start to look back at some of the well.... I must say, "entertaining" reason's people climb Everest. Met a Canadian- Nepalese today that came to introduce himself. He had no arms and summited Everest, apparently from Calgary, good for him I guess. This is the part had me shaking by head,  he was taken off the mountain at C2 by long-line. Makes me wonder if this is going to be a new thing. Climb up, fly down. Oh man... Never say never.

Speaking of flying- Murad, Lee and Marty did not make it to Kathmandu by helicopter. Instead they had to do a weather stop in a field between Lukla and Kathmandu and are there for the night. Hopefully the weather will improve to pop them out tomorrow morning. 

That's it.... for base camp as of tomorrow morning but the adventure still continues to get everyone out of the Khumbu. This can be a huge and epic challenge this time of year. 

Becky and I want to give a big thank you out to all the families of climbers at home for trusting us with your loved ones. We always say we ever lose a client in the mountains we won't do this anymore, 23 years later, we're still here. 

Over and out.. TIm

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We did it! Everest 2013'

May 21, 23:10hrs (NPT)  EBC Celebrations minus Kevin & Tashi
Late check-in today as the Chinese satellite was kicking the Thuraya Satellite off this evening. Everyone is down minus Kevin and Tashi who are at Camp 2. The glacier is super hot in the heat of the day and it's not necessary since we have Camp 2 and Kami Sherpa there waiting to accommodate them. They're going to come down first light when it's cooler. 

The ice-fall doesn't have any obvious hazards near the route but it is certainly getting quite slushy during the day and the heat is unbearable. 

Tomorrow morning at around 09:00hrs Lee, Murad and Marty are flying out to Kathmandu by helicopter (weather pending of course). The rest of us will have one more night waiting for Kevin, then we'll be out of here at 08:00hrs May 23rd for the great walk back to Lukla, and then (fingers crossed) pending weather we would like to be in Kathmandu on May 26th if all works out.

Our Sherpa crew will make one last trip up the ice-fall tomorrow to bring down camp supplies from there and then they go home to their families and celebrations will get underway there. We stop in and see many of them along the way and catch up on their lives and all things new while they were away. 

There were quite a few summits this morning but complaints of how cold it was, it's even colder here at base camp tonight. It will be nice to back to the land of living after 2 months on this glacier. Personally I'm looking forward to playing with grandkids on the sailboat before it's back to the Himalayas in the autumn for more mountain adventures. 

Everyone else has similar wishes on their list of things they learned to appreciate more back home. Funny how that happens after being here on a major expedition in such a hostile environment for such a long duration. We miss everyone we meet after a climb and we miss everyone at home while on a climb. 

Thank you everyone for your social internet interactions on the tools we are given today. It's really great to get so many people involved on so many levels. 

Over and out.. Tim
Photo: Sean Mooney on the summit. First to summit-first to get a photo out holding his soccer ball. 
Top-Tim and Marty.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lhotse update

May 21, 09:00hrs (NPT) Lhose update
Kevin Farebrother has turned back due to route conditions that he was not comfortable with. Tashi agrees.  They are now just above Camp 3, planning to make it to Camp 2 where they will decide to stay a night or climb down to EBC.

Childem Sherpa one of our two Camp 2 cooks just arrived back at EBC after 2 full months living up there. He's sooooo happy to be at EBC where it's warmer. Kami Sherpa is still up there and will wait for Kevin's decisions before packing up to come down.  Now you know why we love these guys so much. What would be do without them?

Tim says the Sherpas just pulled into camp with all our empty oxygen cylinders so he ended the call to help them pack them up.

All the teams human waste and other garbage is weighed, we pay to have it taken down the valley sorted and burned. After it's all accounted for we get our hefty garbage deposit back. Our food supplies are fresh and local so scraps are saved and given to the yaks.  Nice and clean when we get through. 

Over  ... Becky

Camp 2 update- Kevin C4 Lhotse

May 20, 21:30hrs (NPT) Camp 2 update
Sorry for the late reply, since Tim's check- in I've been frantically answering to families and media requests. 

THEY ARE SAFE at Camp 2..Tim says the team is hysterical at this point with their achievement. They are all feeling wonderful, tired and had a smooth down climb from the South Col. 
Sean is at base camp already and Kevin is now sleeping at Camp 4 on Lhotse. Everything going to plan. 

Marty, Lee, Murad, Patrick will be at base camp just in time for lunch tomorrow.  Base camp is 80% packed up and everyone will begin their trek back to Lukla on the 23rd. 

How cool is that?  

Over... Becky

Photo: Team Peak Freaks on the summit in 2008- taken by Dominque Gilbert from Quebec.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Post Summit Update - down climb

May 19,21:00hrs NPT - SUMMIT UPDATE.... KEVIN & LHOTSE NEXT......
Team arrived back at the South Col at 16:00hrs, they are resting, tired but in good shape. Sean arrived at the Col at 12:00n so he headed down and is already at Camp 2. 

Tomorrow at 08:00hrs (May 20) the team is planning on climbing all the way down to Camp 2, they should be there around 14:00hrs, stay the night and (May21) morning early, they will be back at base camp, debrief, wrap and wine tasting. 

Kevin Farebrother will depart from the South Col tomorrow to Camp 4 on Lhotse, summit bid the next day (May 21), climb down to Camp 2 and be at base camp on the 22nd. Kevin will be accompanied by Tashi Sherpa and SPOT. 

Peak Freaks will be pulling out of EBC on May 23rd.   Thank you everyone for all of your support this far, we still have some mountain left. 

What's next?  Everest Training- Triple Crown 2013 is now full and bookings for Everest 2014  are next.

Right after Everest Marty Schmidt is off to Broad Peak (12th highest in the world), if all goes well and it feels right, he will head over for the Abruzzie Ridge on K2, along with good friend from Australia, Chris Warner.

Over and out.. Tim Rippel

Saturday, May 18, 2013


  1. Sean Mooney- Canada/Ireland  05:39hrs 
  2. Pho Temba Sherpa- Nepal 05:30hrs
  3. Marty Schmidt-New Zealand 09:10hrs
  4. Kevin Farebrother- Australia 09:10hrs with oxygen in the end, amazing effort with smart choice!!! 
  5. Patrick McKibben- Canada/Ireland - possibly the youngest Irish to summit at 24 years old.
  6. Palden Namge Sherpa- Phortse 09:10hrs  (8 x summits)
  7. Sange Phuru Sherpa- Khotang 09:10hrs (2 x summits)
  8. Lee Den Hond- South Africa "Third" South African woman to summit
  9. Chhiring Namgal Sherpa- Khumjung 09:10hrs - (3 x summits)
  10. Dr. Murad Lala - Mombia, India - 09:10hrs
  11. Mingmar Shepa Salka - Okhal Dunga - 09:10hrs - (6 x summits)
  12. Chhong Karma Sherpa- Tingla - 09:10hrs- (4 x summits)
  13. Fur Tempba Sherpa- Phortse - 09:10hrs - (2 x summits)
  14. Tashi Tundu Sherpa- Khumjung - 09:10hrs - (9 x summits)
Mountain Conditions:  Busy but fantastic weather. Tim says it's breezy at base camp but calm on the summit with beautiful warm sunshine. Cameras are clicking away and then the home stretch begins shortly. 

It could take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours to reach the South Col depending on how busy the route is. Marty says the team is all super super strong. 
They have the option to stop and sleep at C4 or C3 if they want to. Peak Freaks keeps these camps stocked with oxygen and food till everyone is off the mountain. 

We have a rescue team of Sherpas sitting at Camp 3 keeping Camp 4 open for our team and to be available in the event of a rescue. After our team climbs down from Camp 4 to 3 our Sherpas move up and tear down Camp 4, following our members all the way down the mountain till everyone reaches base camp.

It's been a nice and easy climb this year with good climbers. We are very proud of everyone, their eagerness to learn, stay motivate and be a solid team and....... Marty Schmidt ROCKS!!!   

Marty will call in again at the balcony to let us know how everyone is doing. 

Tim, Becky & Marty and our entire Sherpa community and crew.

SPOT Tracking, Hillary Step, Weather update

Kevin Farebrother and Tashi Sherpa are tracking to the summit live now:

07:30hrs NPT:  Marty, Lee and Murad are currently climbing at the Hillary Step, there is about a 15 minute line-up, no big deal, everyone is working through it just fine. 

There are a lot of people about to top out right now. The weather is beautiful, cloudy on the north side, bluebird on the south and next to no wind. 

Lee, Murad, Marty should be on the summit in about 1 hour and Patrick and Kevin in about 2 hours. They are just below the south summit. 
Looking good!

Peak Freaks Summits 05:39hrs NPT

05:39hrs Sean Mooney and Pho Temba Sherpa were the first to summit. The others are following close behind.  Happy !!!!!     Remember to help his charity he supports if you can:    Congratulations Sean and Pho Temba- you guys were fast.

Team has reached the balcony 8500m

May 19, 01:50hrs NPT  Team has reached the balcony 8500m
Marty, Murad and Lee at the balcony 8500m, Kevin, Sean and Patrick are one hour behind them due their opted later start. If all works to plan they should meet on the summit together which is a great joy for such a tight team.

Next check in will be in about 3 hours from the South Summit.  Everything is going really well, no problems on the route whatsoever, everyone is moving at a good pace.

Surprise for the team when they return
Tim checks in with me "hey Becky, a case of wine arrived at camp today- do you know anything about it?"

I ask him to not say anything to the team but you are expecting a special visit from one of only 300 Wine Masters of the world- James Cluer.  James will be doing a tasting of wine at base camp to see how altitude effects the tasting of wines, as he consults on buying to Qatar, the best airline in the world.

James is now in the valley and expected to be in camp the same night the team arrives back in EBC. He has timed his arrival perfectly. 

Tim in his youth used to pick grapes at a vineyard at his hometown in the Okanagan Valley in Canada to be able to afford gas for his dirt bike and buy climbing equipment so they'll for sure enjoy some good conversations on the topic of grapes.


Final summit push is on!

May 18, 20:00hrs (NPT)  FINAL SUMMIT PUSH IS ON
The team reported having a very good rest during their C4 stay, are in good shape and on their way to the summit. Murad and Lee pulled out of camp with their personal Sherpas at 19:00hrs NPT, Sean, Patrick and Kevin pulled out at around 20:00hrs NPT.  Marty will call when they reach the balcony at around 02:00hrs. 

SPOT is on for both waves, Lee and Kevin are both being tracked. 

Yesterday's summit went well, no big lines, no incidents, two ropes in place one up and one down have been placed at the Hillary Step as planned to help with passing climbers that can often create congestion. 

Low to no wind at all on the mountain as predicted. Blue skies today with fog at base camp.
The team is doing really well and we'll report back here again throughout this journey to top and back. 

Over and out... Tim

Friday, May 17, 2013

South Col (7986m-26,201ft) doing great!

May 17, 21:00hrs (NPT) South Col (7986m -26,201ft) 
That's where the team is resting peacefully tonight and did fantastic today, I'm proud of them. It was breezy earlier in the evening as we knew it would be and now it's calm. Tomorrow will probably be the longest day of their lives, though the summit push physically will be the longest day for them the mental part of climbing Everest begins here. They slumber and twiddle with anything that's twiddleable while waiting for the passing of the next set of pages of Warpworld. The book is now broken into 6 pieces and is being passed from tent to tent. 

Meet climber Lee Den Hond:

Lee's climb is being followed by thousands in South Africa (her home) thanks to the support of the television company Carte Blanche "Making a Difference" Everest campaign. For Lee her climb has two purposes: to summit the highest mountain in the world, becoming the third South African woman to do so, and to raise awareness for the mountains that so many children must climb daily South Africa, in looking after their siblings as the guardians of child-headed households. 

Most of us have seen the outcry for help on our TV's at home and sometimes become immune to these ads for help. Lee is hoping to bring awareness from a higher level. These child-headed households are entirely dependent on social grants, charities and the kindness of communities. While no-one can replace the love and guidance of a parent or caregiver, these households (over 150,000 of them) desperately need food, clothes, money, shelter and education. 

To learn more on how you can help and make a difference we encourage you to go to this page, have a read and we invite you to help if you can.

Photo: Tim, Lee, her support network and Carte Blanche production crew in the Khumbu.

Everyone is taking this time out to reflect, lay low and save our energy for the nights to come. 
Over and out... Tim

Carte Blanche production team was also responsible for the creation of our "Base Camp Harlem Shake" that was apparently received well in South Africa. 

Here's a good look at the glacier... 16 minutes of it!!!!  that's a lot of fuel.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

High Altitude Dreams Begin Here

May 16, 21:00hrs (NT) Camp 3 - High Altitude Dreams begin here
It's for real now to our climbers. As they lay in their tents at Camp 3 tonight trying to maximize on sleep they will start to drift in and out of confused dream patterns caused by the thin air.

Their minds will meander home thinking of the years or months they've invested in this climb, the consideration of their families, sponsors and followers. Please know that they all hold you close at heart and they are incredibly proud and happy that it's all unfolding now and that they've made it to the final stage of this expedition.

 Our team is quite excited because they are doing so well, no real doubts in their abilities, they're strong and just want to get the job done now.

There were teams who had positioned themselves at the col for a summit push this morning in the high winds who decided to lay low for another night. If they have the resources available to them and don't get too ran down they will try again tomorrow, but no summits are reported this morning.

Our window is looking fantastic as we predicted. Warming temperatures for this time of year combined with low winds, we couldn't ask for a better scenario considering it's open for quite a spell. 

Kevin who is now sleeping at C2 will join the team on the way to the Col tomorrow afternoon. He may meet them C3 for a good part of the day and allow for just enough time to pull into C4 have some food and try to rest.

The next day they will slumber in their tents, hydrate, eat and be ready to go by 21:00hrs (NPT) the night of the 18th. That's the plan and so far we are sticking to it. 

The team gives a big shout out to all the EBC trekkers they've met this spring, we are getting your words of support and it really helps. 

Over and out... Tim
Photo: Marty Schmidt- team pushing to Camp 3

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Perhaps the youngest Irish climber shoots for the summit

May 15, 22:00hrs (NPT).. Perhaps the youngest Irish climber to attempt Everest- Patrick McKibben? though he's living in Canada he is from Northern Ireland and has a Irish passport, having said that he has potential to become the youngest Irish to summit Everest and climbing with another Irish climber- Sean Mooney- same team, hadn't known each other before now and have become the best of friends throughout this journey. 

The best part of this business is the people we've met through mountains, whether they climb, trek or even just join us on social media, it's one big happy planet for people of the hills.

Saying good-bye to a Russian Mountaineering Legend

May 15, 21:00hrs (NPT) Saying good-by to a Russian Mountaineering legend
Our prayers go out to Alexi Bolotov's family today, Alexi died at the base of a potential new route. He had apparently taken a helicopter over to an area as a reconnaissance. When the pilot went back to get him he was found dead on the glacier.  He wasn't actually climbing so they don't know if it was rock fall or what happened. Other reports said something about a severed rope but facts are all unclear at this time. 

Both Denis and Alexi had been visiting Peak Freaks camp, known to both Tim and Marty quiet well. Marty had enjoyed several climbs with Alexi over the years so it's a sad sad day for many climbers and friends of Alexi Bolotov. Tim reiterates that he died doing what he loves. Rest in peace Alexi.  

For more information on the Alexi and Denis's plans this year ExploresWeb some good information from them.     Photo: Alexi Bolotov

PEAK FREAKS- We are still on plan, we've got information that there are quite a few heading up to the summit tonight May (15) and another wave at Camp 3 positioning themselves to do a summit push the next night (May 16).  We are in a very good position with the lightest of winds coming for our days of choice (May 18) summit (May 19).

We've been watching this cyclonic ball doing it's thing in the Bay of Bengal. With the right mix when it moves up agaisnt India it bounces north and east away from the Himalayas, this sends high winds and then the calm before the real storm happens on Everest, (the window of opportunity) and then the monsoon. We can see it coming now pretty clear so all in all it's a very normal season, a little earlier like the Sherpas said. 

Our team moves to Camp 3 tomorrow and all report feeling very strong. 

Note- to all the Everest Training-Triple Crown/Autumn trek group members from last year. Murad is getting all your cheers and is overwhelmed with your support. 

Lee Den Hond's SPOT Tracker is up now so you can follow her. Click the SPOT link above.

Kevin Farebrother... the Wolverine plan. Kevin as many of you may know will be attempting Everest without oxygen, this being his second time on Everest after his successful summit in record time in 2011 he may be able to pull it off. He said on his way down in 2011 he immediately thought to himself that he'd like to try it without oxygen. It seemed like a something he could do easy enough. 

His approach to do Lhotse first changed as he wanted to time his Everest summit with his teammates and now good friends so he'll be doing Lhotse after Everest. The first plan to do Lhotse first couldn't have happened due high winds at the time he would have had to start. 
Because our team is spending 2 nights at the South Col, this would be too much for Kevin, he would lose too much energy hanging out there for two nights without oxygen so he's spending 1 extra night at Camp 2 and will catch up to the team on the night of the 18th, starting his push from Camp 3, the traditional approach but without o's. 

After Everest it's in his plan to attempt Lhotse without oxygen but on both climbs he will have oxygen available to him if it becomes a life-threatening situation. Our star Sherpa climber and Sardar Tashi Tunde Sherpa will be with him as he has not yet climbed Lhotse himself and would like to give it a go. They are both stoked... Double summit, no oxygen for Kevin but Tashi will using oxygen for safety and the fact he'll be carrying backup for Kevin as well. 

Photo: Kevin Farebrother

Over.... Becky


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Peak Freaks.. SUMMIT PUSH IS ON!

May 14, 21:00hrs (NPT) Our members are now sleeping at the Camp 2, the team made it up in
good speed yesterday arriving just in time for lunch. The weather window is nicely spaced this year but a few cut it a bit short if they were looking at this window. To catch up they've been flying in to base camp today, I counted 21 helicopters bringing climbers back up to camp. Gee whiz, things sure have changed how this mountain is climbed.

Marty says Camp 2 is pretty quiet, later in the day a few more were starting to arrive. 
Here's our plan:
  • May 14: Camp 2
  • May 15: Camp 2
  • May 16: Camp 3 - sleep on oxygen
  • May 17: South Col- Camp 4 - sleep on oxygen- rest one full day sipping oxygen. We've been going with the approach the past couple of years and we feel climbers really do themselves justice having this opportunity that we provide.
  • May 18: night, usually around 9pm, earlier if there appears to be a lot climbers in the same wave. 
  • May 19: sunrise on the summit... We've put rocks in Patrick McKibben's pants to slow him down. I've warned him to slow it down or he'll be on top at 02:00hrs in the dark. If successful Patrick may be the youngest Canadian male to summit Everest. I'll have to check this of course with Elizabeth Hawley.  The youngest female and record for youngest Canadian still today is Laura Mallory. The youngest Canadian male to date was Deryl Kelly at age 25. 
Patrick has more than physical strength going for him. Very sadly his brother and climbing partner passed away on Mt. Hector in Alberta, Canada when Patrick was doing his first rotation to Camp 2.  Patrick was very close to his brother and feels his spirit is with him throughout this journey to the top of the world

So this is it, we have a very nice window for favorable winds and not to cold. Just the way we like it. 
Over and out... Tim

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oxygen drill and spacing

May 12, 21:00hrs (NPT) Oxygen drill... today the team went through a second round of oxygen drills, things like being careful when adjusting your partners flow rate, cumbersome gloves and foggy thinking can put your partner at risk if you aren't precise with the settings. 

Another important thing is how to clear the ice that builds up on the mask.  We've had people go through this drill over and over yet when they are starting to feel the effects of low oxygen level intake they will forget what is going on and to check it.  A good indicator is cold extremities. Our Sherpa guides and Marty have a lot of experience in observing behaviors that show adjustments are needed. 

We use the 4ltr Poisk oxygen from Russia with Top Out masks, this systems has worked very well for us over the years. It takes 3 bottles of oxygen from the South Col (Camp 4) to the summit and back to the Col. Plus we have oxygen for them to sleep on at Camp 3 and enough to sleep two nights if needed at t
he South Col plus back-up for emergencies.

Masks - Old top (Finjo Sherpa on the summit)  New (Tm at EBC)

Teams are starting to find their spot in the big picture for a summit bid. A Minister from the tourism office came around today trying to get an idea of who is going when. Everyone seems to spacing out pretty good but we had this conversation last year season as well as we do every year. You will never really know till you go. 

Stay tuned.... Tim

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rope fixed and Sherpas summit! .. Hooray! Good work team!

May 10, 21:00hrs (NPT) 11:49hrs- Phurba Tashi (20 times) now, Nawang Thenjing, Nima Tenjing, Gelgen Dorjee summitted following were; 
  • 12:14 hrs - Lhakpa Nurua, David Tait (UK) 
  • 13:00 ish... Tashi Thsering, Rita Dorjee, Nigma Tsheri and Sonam Phinjo.  

                                                           It's time to climb!

There are several teams looking at the promising weather report and will be making their summit pushes in the next few days. Kevin and I have been talking and Kevin is looking at climbing Lhotse first then Everest without oxygen, this will allow him to acclimatize even higher to 8516m before taking on Everest at 8848 with hopefully less people around. 

The problem with going without oxygen supplements is the climbers extremities get cold due to less oxygen flowing through the blood that provides good circulation. Hanging around too long in lines is not a good thing so this is a brilliant approach. There are several teams preparing for a summit bid now so this will buy some him some time. 

Peak Freaks are off for a high altitude walk to Pumori Camp 1 tomorrow and will get a look at the Everest scene while up there and begin to calculate all the variables before announcing our summit push. We've got a tentative plan but we want to make it count the most. The monsoon is coming, we can now see it now so this time our  Sherpas nailed it. 

Trekkers arrived!  
Big congratulations out to Jasper Merserau, Lynn Anderson, Shannon Elton, Bret Elton and Tanner Elton.  Lynn and had a complete emotional breakdown, my shoulder is wet and our Sherpa team with their big hearts came running over thinking something was wrong. This was her dream and yes it was hard and they all did it together with our amazing Ang Nima and his tender ways. 

Our team is hot!... I'm super pleased with how everyone is doing. We have a VERY strong team. We lost 3 of 8 earlier in the climb, it happens with unforeseen things and we were sad to see them go. From what I hear  compared some of the other teams we've held the drop ratio together very well. Today we have 6 solid climbers and new life long friends. Team building at it's best pre-summit is what Peak Freaks is all about. 
  1. Marty Schmidt (leading)  Kiwi/American
  2. Kevin Farebrother (non-guided) Australian
  3. Patrick McKibben (youngest- turned 24 in March- and apparently faster than Marty!!! ) Irish living in Canada
  4. Dr. Murad Lala (participant from our Triple Crown last autumn) Indian
  5. Sean Mooney (thought he was going to be the youngest) Irish, Canadian living in the UK
  6. Lee Den Hond- an amazing woman from South Africa with a huge following back home and for an excellent cause that we will be featuring in the days to come. 

Stay tuned!   Over and out.... Tim

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy to be back in base camp.

May 9, 21:00hrs (NPT) Happy Campers... all the way around. I've got my friends back and they're telling me how happy they are to be back. The enjoyed being down where things were green and living but it got old quick. They said they missed the food and comforts here.

Speaking of food, Desh Kumar is now our head cook, Ang Karsung has been sending him to chef school in Kathmandu the past couple of years. He even went to a school for baking. He's getting -really- good. Desh started out as an assistant trekking guide and over the years of working with us he's now a full blown chef, not a cook, a chef of high standing and could work anywhere in the world if he has the desire to. 

We still get our Peak Freak traditional sushi treats now and then but we also get an abundance of fresh baking, things like loaves of bread, buns, cakes, pies, muffins, pigs in the blanket, croissants and home made preserves. Not made with the heavy potato flour they used to use but some new light variety.

Tonight's dinner was an assortment of appetizers, soup starter and salad followed by beef (yummy water buffalo) stroganoff, mixed coconut vegetables, fresh baked rolls and delicious fresh pineapple from the low lands. Our vegan and vegetarian climbers get some fancy looking dishes like stuffed peppers, falafel kabobs, lentil burgers, humus and other creations I don't know what you'd call them but they sure look beautiful and apparently taste good. 

Marty tried to send out some pictures but there's some difficulties in the Himalayan cyberspace right now. He'll try again in a couple days and apologizes to everyone following. 

ROUTE: The rope to the summit is so close but yet so far if the wind keeps up. I'm not sure as it's screaming over head right now up there, it may get postponed once again as we suggested it might a few days ago. Have to keep trying, we have a lot of people here now ready to climb and good spacing is mandatory. 

Over and out... Tim

Photos: I've grabbed some shots from Sean Mooney's and Kevin Farebrother's social sites that show some pretty good mug shots of some of the cast of character this year. 

1. Lee and Sean   2. Tim and Sean   3. Kevin's ventilated tent  4. The one of Murad- our team doctor and climber was too fuzzy to use so I've added one from the Triple Crown/Everest Boot camp he was on with us this past autumn.  5. Marty and Sean. 6. Patrick & Sean   7. Tashi the trend setter (left)- Sean likes it (right). 
To thank Sean for the his dedication to uploading photos a reminder to help him out with surpassing his goals to raise funds for "The Right to Play" campaign

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Whipping with Rope

May 8, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT)  Strange header I know but that's what came to mind when I sat down to begin today's blog. 

The rope part is news that the Sherpas are going for it again tomorrow to fix the upper route towards the summit. They intend to get up to the balcony, retreat and then finish the next day (10th of May) then get the heck out of there. If the reports are correct the big hit of wind is expected to begin the eve of the 10th. Or will it?  

There are a lot of ups and downs and hit and misses in the reports this season. The only thing that seems normal at the moment is the Sherpas saying "it's going to be an early monsoon", Tim chuckled on the sat phone as they say this every year - but never say never. 

The whipping part comes from some research I've doing as a result of recent conversation with a meteorologists regarding the patterns of the jet-stream and how it's changing. It's not 100% supported by thoughts that it's related to global warming due carbon emissions, but that's what the majority believe. 

It's thought that the jet-stream is weakening and not holding a continuous smooth path but instead it dips and whips in a different pattern causing all kinds of weather phenomena's like drought, floods, extreme tornados and so on. 

By looking at the reports these past few days I see similarities of these irregularities from my experience in watching weather for our teams. This is really interesting stuff. 

The normal part of all this is that we expected the mountain would be dry and it is, snow did come which was perfect and it leaves just as quick as it came, we climbed to our high Camp 3 rotation on schedule and predicted we would be held back  by wind - which we are. The next part of a "normal season" will be the break between the two seasons (winter and monsoon, or summer) that typically happen causing the "window of opportunity" for Everest summits, a calming transition moving the jet-stream away from the Himalayas. I can tell you I see it coming and all in all it's looking good. 

Peak Freaks Pumped up Kicks:  Our team is having a blast in the low lands. They took advantage of their time off to the fullest. They decided to kick it all the way down to Namche Bazaar. If you recall this is Day 2 on the trek coming in to base camp so they are really doing this trip all over again. They are a very energetic and healthy bunch and the very best of friends now. Meanwhile back at camp Tim is LONELY!!!!... he's not the happiest camper when he doesn't have peeps around him. 

The team is back in Pheriche as of tonight and have reported that they are planning on making their way back to base camp tomorrow. 

Our second trek group is in Dingboche tonight and will be in Lobuje tomorrow, then base camp the day after. They are said to be doing really well. It's perfect timing, they'll be at camp when the team is there and they can all share stories of this amazing adventure.

Our climbing Sardar Tashi Tunde Sherpa has been carrying the SPOT Tracker, if you've looked in recently he tracked up to the South Col with it. 

Photo: Lonely in base camp...       
Over...... Becky

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rope fixing stopped due high winds.

May 7, 2013: 21:00hrs NPT.. High winds set back rope fixing....Good effort put forth by the fixing team but it's a no go.

 High winds were encountered up high on the mountain today putting a stop to ropes being fixed to the summit. It looks like by the weather reports it may be put off now till later next week due to extreme wind forecasts on the horizon. Just like we said in an earlier report; We get through the rotations, high winds come and we wait.... a typical Everest season. 

Over and out.. Tim

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Summit ropes going up

Both Everest and Lhotse are being fixed to the summit right now. Cheer these boys on !

Camp 4 - proud Sherpa team

May 5, 2013: 21:00hrs (NPT) Peak Freaks Sherpa climbers are now resting at Camp 2 after a full day of hauling loads. All of our equipment like tents, fuel, food and oxygen is in place at Camp 3 and part of it at Camp 4. 

Tomorrow the last of the loads to C4 including camp equipment and oxygen placement will be complete at Camp 4 for Peak Freaks. This is the last camp where the summit pushes are staged from. 

After this completion our Sherpa climbers will retreat for their big rest. Because our staff are all from Khumbu they can run home and catch up with their families. Check on the gardens and yaks, get caught up on house chores and visit with their families they've not seen for six weeks. This is an exciting time for them, this marks the half way point of the season.  

The second part will be to do it all over again. Not all our staff have the privilege to summit Everest and not all of them have the desire to either. We have three levels that our staff aspire to. We have some that are happy to be carriers and rope fixers who will carry everything up and then carry it down again behind the summit team post summit.

We have some that are summit Sherpas for our 1:1 Sherpa Guide/Climber ratio and we also have Personal Sherpas that work closely with our climbers throughout the entire climb, a climber is never alone on the mountain when with Peak Freaks. On summit day the guide ratio is boosted up to 2:1 Sherpa guide/Climber and all categories have further guidance with our Western Guide- Marty Schmidt.

Joshua Jarrin, earned the elite position as a private Western guide this season. Unfortunately his client had to return to the US for treatment of an old injury. Joshua left with him so you won't see him up there in the summit push. He'll  back again next season. 

Tashi Tunde Sherpa is our climbing sardar who is all over the mountain. He's up and down and all around throughout this expedition keeping things glued together up there. He's an exceptional mentor and friend to our team of Sherpa staff.

We also offer a non-guided expeditions for climbers with a very strong bio such as Kevin Farebrother who has proven to be successful and strong at altitude. This means he will have with him a climbing Sherpa in the event of an emergency. Though Kevin is attempting to climb without oxygen will have oxygen as a backup. 

Check out his recent photo "view from C3 looking at the summit of Everest he took on his solo night up there". 

As mentioned previously our climbing team is in the low lands of Pheriche taking in the rich air while I stay here keeping in touch with our Sherpa family hard at work on the mountain. 
Over and out.... Tim

Friday, May 3, 2013

Vacation in Phericje

The team just pulled out of EBC for a few days to the village of Pheriche. A chance to power up, surf the Internet, disco dance with each other and breathe the rich air.

Ang Nima met our May trek group this morning in Lukla. The team is looking forward to some new faces and conversation when they get here.

SUMMIT RIDGE ROPE: I just got off the radio with our Sherpa climbers. They're just about at Camp 4 dropping of rope for the summit fixing team. Things are moving along good up there.

WEATHER: We've got some big wind moving in for a stretch. Happy we've worked our magic again getting up and out and now our team can enjoy some quiet time in Pheriche now that pretty much everyone else is up on the mountain.

Back to my guitar.

Over and out. .... Tim

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ropes in to C4 and Lhotse update

Fantastic! The Sherpas pushed through working hard in high winds to complete the rope fixing to the South Col (C4) today.

Our Sherpas were whistling around camp today gearing up to begin the big carry. They are now on their way stocking camps with supplies, tents and oxygen. They will also be carrying rope up to the South Col to pass off to the fixing team to take to the summit.

There will be a lot of western climbers and Sherpa climbers on the route this week while our members will be resting down the valley instead because they are ready.

The rope to the summit is expected to be in place the 5th or 6th of May.

Other news is the rope has also been fixed to Camp 4 on Lhotse. Kevin Farebrother will be taking on Lhotse right after his Everest no oxygen summit push so this is all good stuff today.

Back at base camp it's been all good fun. Sharing stories, pictures and lots of laughs. We haven't seen our Harlem Shake yet on YouTube but we've been hearing it was received well and broadcasted on TV in South Africa. For anyone who missed it try the link.

Everyone had a chance to connect with home and are looking forward to the final push. Date TBA.

They all send a big shout out to family and friends at home. Lots of I love you's and miss you's.

Over and out... Tim

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fixing on hold to the South Col

High winds up high have put the rope fixing to the South Col on hold. We expect it will settle down in a couple days for the Sherpa fixing team to continue with their work.

Peak Freaks crew was on cloud 9 when they arrived back at base camp. It's like the first day of vacation at the beach for them after a few days (1 too long) up on the mountain.

Kevin had a good night up at C3 last night and passed Murad and Lee on their way down from C2. Rocket man!

Tim is happy that our annual plan played out as before - "to get out of the way". We carefully analyzed our weather reports to get the right mix and now that our members have completed their high camp acclimatization in good form they will rest at EBC. do some laundry and then head down the valley for a good rest and oxygenation. This is a time to eat and energize and to allow their cells to repair. Heath wise the team is doing fantastic.

Big thanks to the Carte Blanche TV crew from South Africa who are following Lee Den Hond's climb this year for the "Harlem Shake" YouTube production - it came about at the time it was most needed.