More photos, deciding to attempt Everest again
Fiona, Paul, Tim and Andy on top of Mt Washington. Photo Paul Adler
Fiona receives some intructions on how to use a Segway in Seville. Photo Paul Adler
Bud runs through some last minute checks before taking Paul up in his plane. Photo Fiona Adler
Canoeing down the Mondego river in Portugal. Photo Paul Adler
Hello, it’s Paul here.
Fiona and I are back home in Melbourne after nearly two months traveling through France, Spain, Portugal and the US. We’ve had a great time, but in hindsight we should have spent more time in the US as we didn't get to see everyone we had hoped.
When we last wrote we were in Spain, with the next stop being Portugal. By the time we got to Portugal we were starting to get a bit sick of cathedrals and castles, so we opted for a day’s canoeing trip down a nearby river. It was really good fun, although the owners of the canoeing company had very laid back approach. They just put the group of us in the river and told us that we’ll see you in town at the end of the day, some 26 km down the river. “Oh, and by the way make sure you watch the waterfalls, low bridges, and stay to the left hand side of most rapids.”!
Whilst in Portugal we stayed with some lovely people who provided us with some really great accommodation in the countryside. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food available, especially at the bakeries, which we availed ourselves of at every opportunity!
Off to the US
After a week in Portugal it was back to Madrid where we took in the Picasso exhibition and then onto Boston where we climbed Mt Washington with my brother, Tim, and Andy, a friend of his. The temperature was just below freezing on the top, but the cafeteria was a welcome refuge. There is quite a bit of information about the weather station up there, as it holds the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded on earth (231MPH).
We then visited Bud Allen in Georgia, who was a climber with us on Everest. Bud and his wife Terri, showed us a sights of the area, including taking us up in his acrobatic plane. Doing barrel rolls and stalls was quite an experience for Fiona and I, but one that we thoroughly enjoyed.
After Georgia it was off to visit Dennis and Tamara in the Florida Keys (Dennis also climbed with Fiona and I). We were lucky enough to be able to borrow some scuba diving gear from their friends Larry and Marriane, and we enjoyed two really nice dives nearby. Colorful coral, plenty of fish and pretty good visibility. Warm water too: 32C/87F!
After that it was time to head home.
Whilst we were away I have had some time to think about whether to go back to Everest this coming Spring or not. It’s not an easy decision – a lot of hard work, discomfort and money needs to be expended to get you to the South Col in May, where you hope the weather and your health will hold up so that you can have a chance at standing on the top of the world. Fortunately I don't mind the training too much, and I am still very motivated to experience what it feels like climb Everest. I also think that its still a good time in our lives to attempt Everest as we don’t have too many commitments. So I have decided to go back again for another attempt.
There is a lot of things to organize between now and March 07 if I am to go back to Everest again:
Which company to climb with?
What oxygen system to use?
The most pressing items on this list are choosing the company and training. Fortunately I have been keeping reasonably fit whilst we have been away, and will ramp up the training over the next few months. I plan to change our training program slightly from last time, as I think that there are a few improvements that we can make. I will write more about these things in the coming months.
As far as choosing a company for logistics, I want to look at the range of options out there and in particular talk to other people who have made several attempts on Everest using different companies.
Fiona is keen to come to Everest too, although she is not at all keen to go through the icefall again. She plans to trek into base camp in early May so that she can be there during the summit attempts. She will welcome anyone that wants to trek in with her; again more on this later.
I am keen to hear from other people thinking of climbing Everest in 07. The best way to contact me is posting a message on this site.
Posted by: Robert Brownell on September 26, 2006 05:17 PM AEST
Hello Paul and Fiona!
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with all of us. I have always had a dream of sumiting Everest, and you guys actually did it and took all of us along with you!
I have some questions about the oxygen mask the 2 of you chose to use. From what I have read the TopOut mask seem to be the mask of the future. Did you find these mask impaired your ability to look down at the ground? I know some of the older stylr mask make it difficult to see rocks and bumps that your about to step on. Was this mask comfortable for long term use? I know you had to sleep with the mask on and hike/climb, did you find any areas that became sensitive or sore (like the bridge of your nose)? Do you by chance have any more pitures of the mask? Maybe a picture of the inside where it makes contact with your face? Was it easy to communicate through the mask or were your words muffled and difficult to understand (did you have to take the mask off to use the radio/phone)? Did you purchase the mask or rent them? If rented were they clean and in good condition? If purchased, do you mind telling me how much they cost and where I can purchase one (I can't find them for sale on the web). Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my strange questions.
Posted by: Paul Adler on September 26, 2006 05:56 PM AEST
Hi Robert, I agree that these masks are the masks of the future and I would highly recommend them to anyone climbing with oxygen. I can’t personally compare these masks to the POISK masks, because IMG have their own oxygen system (they use different tanks, regulators and up until this year, different masks to everyone else on the mountain). Certainly compared with the older masks that IMG had, the TopOut mask is a great improvement.
Fiona and I found that the TopOut mask didn’t impede our view at all. The mask was extremely comfortable even at cold temperatures and I don’t recall having any sensitive areas on our face, even after wearing the mask for several days. There wasn’t any leaks coming out of the mask, however I did find that my ski goggles fogged up when wearing the mask. I only tried the goggles once on summit night, and I think that my balaclava, beanie and down-suit hood blocked the airflow around the goggles. (I never tried the goggles without the mask.) My sunglasses and prescription glasses that I wear all the time didn’t fog up at all. Fiona wore goggles without any problems.
Yes, your words are muffled when you talk through the mask, because it does make an air-tight seal with your face. This airtight seal is required for the valves to operate properly. I definitely took my mask off to talk on the radio, but this is a very easy thing to do and you pretty quickly find it becomes second nature. It is easy to pull the mask down and rest it under your chin while you talk or eat.
IMG supplied us with the mask, however if the company I choose next year doesn’t use these masks, then I will definitely buy my own. They can be purchased from Ted Atkins through his website: http://www.topout.co.uk and I think they are about US$400. To use a TopOut mask on a Posk oxygen bottle and regulator simply requires a Poisk adapter at the end of the mask’s oxygen hose. This connector is supplied by TopOut, enabling you to just plug into the POSIK system.
I will look and see if we have more photos.
Hope this helps,
Posted by: Phil M - Sydney on September 26, 2006 09:04 PM AEST
A courageous decision! I hope that you will be providing a similar coverage in 2007. I would love to be able to do the trek into base camp but fear our business is not quite mature enough. Will love to follow thought processes into companies equipment etc.
Good luck and follow your dream!
Phil M - Sydney
Posted by: Mark Horgan on September 26, 2006 09:35 PM AEST
Myself and a friend are contemplating doing the Khumbu icefall trip with IMG next year. You have said that you are trying to decide which guide service to use. Is there a reason why you might not use IMG?
Posted by: Jill Upton on September 27, 2006 12:14 AM AEST
The pictures are outstanding! I almost feel like I have been there myself. I would support your decision either way regarding trying Everest again, Paul. I would think it would have to be a VERY PERSONAL decision. The GOOD thing for US is that we get to go along for the adventure again! (I hope) I would love to accompany Fiona and go to basecamp again, but I may be getting a little "over the hill" at 66. Who knows, however. I will look forward to more information about the whole experience. Thanks again for letting us be a part of your rich experience!
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington - USA on September 27, 2006 07:11 AM AEST
Excellent news that you will be climbing Everest again (secretly I knew you would, Paul.) There are quite a few choices regarding outfitters on the south side and it is not like comparing apples to apples. Good luck in choosing the best one for you. I am planning on climbing Kili next June or I would definitely consider trekking to BC with you, Fiona (something I would like to do someday soon.)
The canoeing company you went with in Portugal had an extremely "laid back" policy! My family has gone on many week long canoe trips (up to class 3+) and my Dad taught us all the basic canoe strokes in San Diego Bay and then took us on a stretch of the Colorado River (class 1 to 2) to learn to read the rivers. "Watch for the waterfalls?" That is a great story! Sounds like you had a fantastic time during your travels. Thanks for your post and the pix. MC
Posted by: Dr Tim Warren on September 27, 2006 08:40 AM AEST
Hello Paul and Fiona, Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question. I was wondering why you are not going back with IMG next year, is it just for the sake of change or did you have a problem?
Posted by: salmed on September 28, 2006 12:19 AM AEST
I'm so glad you're going for it again and I look forward to following the daily posts.
By the way, are you guys retired from work?
Posted by: Paul Adler on September 28, 2006 11:17 AM AEST
Hi Mark and Tim,
No, I won't be going back with IMG next year. There were a number of events that occurred on the expedition which caused me and other members of our team concern. Some of these relate to events that occurred on my first summit attempt, and others that relate to the manner in which several team members were treated, particularly those perceived to be weaker team members.
Unfortunately I can’t detail them here, however I do hope to be able to outline my concerns about my oxygen issue on my first summit attempt. There are some safety suggestions that I have that I wish to share.
Posted by: Paul Adler on September 28, 2006 11:23 AM AEST
Thanks for your message of support.
Fiona and I had an IT business for nearly 10 years (providing computer consulting and maintenance services to small businesses in Australia) and then sold it in 2005. We are busy trying to think of a new idea for a business - we have a couple of ideas which we are working on at the moment. Fiona is also studying, finishing off her MBA.
Posted by: Roger on September 28, 2006 12:48 PM AEST
Hey Fiona and Paul
Just a quick question that is on my mind having seen your pictures of the multitude of ladders over crevasse. I am 110kg, should my weight and additional clothing/pack be a concern when crossing the ladders. I am concerned about the rating of these ladders that are laid across the crevasse. I just returned from Muztagata and that was a first for me crossing crevasse roped, all the other climbers were ok as they only weighed 60 or so kilos but for me every snow bridge was cause for concern and walking around and over covered crevasse certainly put the wind up me.
Posted by: Paul Adler on September 28, 2006 01:21 PM AEST
You are not alone in finding snow bridges somewhat scary! As a Civil Engineer I was particularly interested in the strength of the ladders through the icefall. I wouldn’t be too worried about them. They are made out of aluminum, were usually anchored on four separate points and where multiple ladders were joined together, they were lashed with several ropes. Occasionaly we saw two sherpas crossing a ladder at the same time!
That said, we did notice that towards the end of the season, lots of ice screws were melting out and could be seen dangling from the ropes. In most cases the ropes were backed up, so it didn’t matter too much.
On a personal note, I deliberately dropped about 10 Kg in 2005 in preparation for Everest. I am 6 foot tall and I weighed 75Kg immediately prior to leaving for Everest. I felt that this would help me climb better and in hindsight I think it was a good idea.
Posted by: Cas on September 29, 2006 01:55 AM AEST
Hi Paul, Hi Fiona and Hi MC and Hi Nick -:)
Paul good to hear you going back...I think I would do the same in your circumstance.I have just climbed Mont Blanc to rekindle my climbing bug. Im planning to do Cho Oyu next autumn with a poss Everst in 2008 , so am looking for a few things to do till then.If poss I would like to hike to Everest basecamp with Fiona &Co and while there climb a few smaller peaks. Would be great to meet MC as well ( we all feel we already know her ) ...maybe she will change her mind about Kili and do this instead
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington on September 29, 2006 07:19 AM AEST
Thanks for the kind words. I have been planning to climb Kili for some time but I haven't put money down yet. I will give some serious thought to Everest BC this spring. I would have to make sure that I could budget for Kili and a safari on the Serengeti in the near future. Maybe you would want to climb Kili???
Cheers to all. MC
Posted by: Steve & Paula Dansker-VA USA on September 30, 2006 09:44 PM AEST
Dear Paul & Fiona,
We are so glad you are going back. Please review my emailed suggestions previously to you for financial help. This time you may want to see if you could be fully funded by having a commercial company or magazine sponsor your climb. Nike, National Geo, North Face, whatever. Even do the climb for a charity cause & solicit donations. It's worth a query.
A final question: why not start your climb from the North side? That way Fi could climb it with you & be the first Aussie female to climb it from both sides. This way she wouldn't have to worry about the icefall, and you could almost drive to basecamp, I'm told.
Steve & Paula Dansker
Posted by: Paul Adler on October 2, 2006 01:16 AM AEST
Hi Steve and Paula,
Thanks for your suggestions about raising some money for our second attempt. It's something that we are giving some thought to as it certainly costs a lot of money. We have a couple ideas in this department that we are pursuing, but we are not going to hold our breath! Anyway, one way or another we will be back on the mountain in 2007.
But which side?
You are correct that the North side has no icefall and its tempting to try something different. However I am very concerned about the accidents that happened this year. I have always believed that the summit day is more dangerous on the North compared to the South. This is due to it being more exposed to the prevailing winds, and that its much more difficult to decend fast in the event of an emergency. Then there is the issue of crowding, which is more significant on the North side. This is due in the most part to the fact that an expedition from the North costs almost half the amount as the South. It is of course entirely possible that the experience of 2006 will translate to more people climbing on the South this year, but judging by what I have read so far, I don't think this is so. For the record, we didn't experience any crowding issues whatsoever during our climb this year. The last reason to stick with the South, is the knowlege that we have gained about the route on the South side and the companies that operate there, should make for fewer surprises and a much safer climb in 2007.
Posted by: Jo in WI on October 2, 2006 11:38 AM AEST
WOOOHOOO on your awesome update and your decision to climb Everest again. I am so excited to follow this second jounrney of you both; will Fiona be your base camp manager, (per say?) How wonderful - I think it's great that you are giving it another go!
Posted by: Fiona Adler on October 3, 2006 10:47 AM AEST
I'm very excited to hear that I might have some company going into basecamp (Cas, MC, Jill?)! I'm intending to go in after Paul and then stay there until he finishes climbing. I imagine I'll leave from Kathmandu sometime in the second half of April and will be spending most of May at basecamp. However, others wouldn't necessarily need to spend nearly this long at basecamp. As you've probably seen from our photos, the trek in is absolutely beautiful.
Depending on which outfit Paul ends up going with, he'll probably leave late March / early April - so if anyone's going to be trekking in then, let us know.
Well, I should get back to the books now - I missed the first couple of weeks of classes for this semester so I'm now busy catching up.
Posted by: Attila Jelinko on October 6, 2006 12:02 PM AEST
I am also planning to climb Everest next spring, and have done quite a bit of research, spoke with dozens of pple, read through blogs and dispatches, conducted interviews with clients from different groups, etc, etc.... quite a task !
For some time I have been considering IMGs Sherpa-guided option, but then I dropped it. Now I am weighting AC and AAI, and - lately - Mountain-Link.
If you like, we could chat about these outfitters via email. I also have made a comparison database that I can send over for your info, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org To email me remove the 88.
Hope you are doing well
PS: Guy told me about a client willing to traverse to the North-side, who was with IMG last year....
Posted by: Paul Adler on October 6, 2006 12:06 PM AEST
I am very happy to help you and would love to chat about your research and share with you my progress so far. Will drop you an email.
Posted by: Elizabeth on October 7, 2006 05:46 AM AEST
Sounds like you had a great time on holiday. I think it's great that you're planning to climb Everest again, good luck! I guess you have plenty of time to prepare though. I'll be following along in March/April when the expeditions start arriving. Thanks again for updating so much here and saying what's happening. The pictures are amazing!
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington on October 7, 2006 11:47 AM AEST
I can imagine how busy you are with "the books". If you get some time on your next break, could you post a very basic list of what would be needed for just a trek to BC? Also, what would be needed for a few climbs on some smaller/easier peaks of the Himalayans in that area such as Kala Patar. (For those of us who are just beginning to consider trekking to BC next spring!)
Thanks so much...good luck with your studies. MC
Posted by: Fiona Adler on October 7, 2006 03:12 PM AEST
I'm just back from more classes now. That's a good idea about doing a post on the gear needed for a trek into basecamp. I'll put a list together in the next couple of days and post it up soon. Hope everything's well with you (and that the book is progressing nicely!).
Posted by: Cas, London on October 7, 2006 09:17 PM AEST
Here , Here !!!!
What i mean is that thats an excellent idea. Fiona you have both mine and MC's email addresses i assume. Maybe you could send it to one of us and copy the other one in. At a later stage in planning things it might make it easier to communicate direct , rather than post it here every time. ( just and idea )
Posted by: Paul Adler on October 8, 2006 08:19 PM AEST
Thanks for your message. It will be really great to have all you guys along again this time. Fiona's sister just ran a Marathon today (3hours, 36mins) and we ran with her part of the way. It was really inspiring to be able to be a part of that, and now I want to go and do a marathon next year too!
Posted by: Paul Adler on October 8, 2006 08:34 PM AEST
I just read your post and saw that you have climbed Mt Blanc - well done. Which route did you do? We did it in 05 and I had just climbed the Matterhorn and was acclimatised, but Fiona had only just come over from Australia, so she found the going pretty tough. We climbed the Tres Monts route from the hut near Aguille du Midi.
It's only a thought, but you might want to consider coming up to C2 if you come to Everest BC in 07. The views from C2 up the Western Cwm towards the Lhotse face and back to BC are truly amazing, second only to the views from C3.
I reckon you could organise it reasonably easily. To do this, all you need is to get on a Lhotse permit, and arrange logistics, including a Sherpa/guide to accompany you. This wouldn't be very expensive and would give you a really good insight into the mountain. You wouldn't need much fancy gear either, probably nothing more than you used on Mont Blanc.
Anyway, it's something to consider.
Posted by: paula stout - palo alto, ca on October 9, 2006 01:38 PM AEST
glad to hear you're headed back to everest. some members of our 2005 expedition were considering doing a lhotse climb in 2007...but looks like it will push to a 2008 everest and lhotse expedition.
re: outfitters and such. having been base camp manager, there are lots of things to consider. if you have already ruled out IMG, then i would highly suggest looking at AAI (love Lhakpa Rita, vern and dave) and, if they are going, Mountain Madness. While Willie Benegas was not on the mountain this year, he is consdiered by all Sherpas i know to be the best all around western climber/guide on the mountain. He is strong, diligent and a maniac on making sure the mountain is safe for all. he and christine boskoff put together an awesome team on the mountain. i think the trip runs around $55K. hope it helps. p.
Posted by: Paul Adler on October 11, 2006 12:18 PM AEST
Thanks for the suggestions. I have contacted Mountain Madness and am waiting to hear back from them with full details. Apparently they have quite a few trips on at the moment. I would like to be able to support a company that will offer a good program at a reasonable price, but allow climbers to move somewhat independantly on the mountain. This doesn't meen a free for all, but I really want the flexibility to be able to time the acclimatisations according to my schedule. This year I was sick for 2 weeks with a reasonably serious chest infection, and I am not sure what would have happened if I was under pressure to conform to someone else's schedule. As it was, Fiona and I just sat and waited patiently at base camp until I got better and then we carried on. We knew we had plenty of time.
Also for summit bids, we wanted to wait until the majority of other climbers have made an attempt. We definately didn't want to be leading the way.
I don't envy the job of being a base camp manager - you have my utter admiration!