(Please scroll down to find earlier Everest blog posts by Shawn)
Shawn’s Everest Blog, May 2nd: "The World's Highest Poker Tournament"
As you all know by now, one of our team is an executive of ESPN South America and has been sponsored partially by PokerStars.net. The irony is that Leo doesn't know how to play poker and neither does anyone else on our team, so guess who was nominated to teach them?
During our trek into Basecamp, it became my responsibility to teach the team "Texas Hold 'em "and in return I was taught the Argentine card game TRUCO (special cards needed)
So what happens when you introduce a group of Argentines to poker? ... Well maybe you talk with PokerStars.net and organize the World's Highest Poker Tournament, and invite everyone in Basecamp, with one condition...
All participants must have climbed a minimum of 6500m or 22000' in order to qualify ... The winner of the tourney will be invited to a tournament in the hot, sunny Caribbean, and the fine folks at Poker Stars will be making a donation to a Nepalese charity. The actual date of this unique tournament is based on the climber's acclimatization schedule and the weather predictions for summit push, but I'll keep you all posted on the results.
One question ... anyone interested in joining me in the sunny south?
Hope you all enjoyed this fun fact from Basecamp, there are a lot of serious and life threatening stuff going on up here, and this is certainly something that brought some relief to all of us.
Cheers from 17,500'
Shawn’s Everest Blog, April 30 -- The Dream Team
So who would you want to share an adventure of a lifetime with?
How about 8 guys from Argentina and a girl from Guatemala...
Willie, Damien, Leo, Alvar, Ramone, Cunny, Charlie, Topo and Andrea are my constant companions for our two month exploration of the world's highest mountain.
Willie & Damien are both world famous climbers and our guides (Willie has summited Everest nine times) Leo is an executive with ESPN South America and as a result there is a 5 min special every Friday on ESPN SA about our expedition (I'll try to get a tape of it in the future, so practice your Spanish).
Andrea is hoping to be the first Guatemalan woman to climb Mount Everest (and so is her sponsor, the Guatemala government) and possibly the first Latin woman to complete the famous 7 Summits...
Then there are the boys from Bariloche! Five mountain guides from Argentina that are on a sponsored expedition, planning to make their country proud.
And, of course, the one token, tough, and handsome Canadian to round out the group, and there you have it ... The 2010 Everest Dream Team!
Resting and recovering in Debouche, about two days lower than Basecamp, so I hope to get a few more blogs to you all before I have to return to get ready for our summit push - Thanks to Karen for keeping the group up to date
Shawn’s Everest Blog, April 24- The World’s Greatest Trek
Amongst the trekkers of the world, the trek to Everest Base Camp is considered the Superbowl, the ultimate adventure of endurance and acclimatizing combined with the some of the world’s most incredible views.
Started with a crazy flight from Katmandu to Lukla … an organized chaos in a small regional airport with every trekking/climbing expedition fighting for the early flights. Certainly experience is an asset in this situation and our fearless leader had us on a Twin Otter and off to the gateway of the Khumbu in record time.
Not a long flight but considering you may get your first glimpse of Everest, see the history of crashes from past flights and a maximum 300m landing strip that ends in a solid wall, certainly an experience, however in my case, I slept the whole time including the near miss of a tree by only a few feet …
In Lukla we meet our camp staff and porters as well as our head Sherpa “ Lapa “ and set off straight away for our first night’s stop at Phakding. Word to the wise, never decide to enjoy the Yak & Yeti’s famous “Butter Chicken” prior to a trip like this, I was sick for the whole day and night and made it a little hard to enjoy the adventure. However I did get to enjoy some Lemon Tea at our lodge with my friend and tent mate from Alaska, STINA “ the first Danish women attempting the 7 summits and Everest.”
The following day we continued up the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing it twice by small suspension bridges before reaching the village of Monjo where we enter the Sagarmatha National Park ( Home to Everest). This is my first introduction to a “Prayer Wheel House” a huge prayer wheel enclosed by a little house and when you enter you spin clockwise with your right hand for good luck … We then decide to stop to enjoy lunch while we wait for the proper paper work to enter the Sagarmatha National Park. Our lunch companion was the cutest little mountain puppy. The picture will be in my slide show J
After lunch we continue and cross the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi on a high suspension bridge and climb steeply for about two hours to reach Namche. This is a prosperous trading town and the capital of the Khumbu Region.
It is here that we spend 2 nights to allow our bodies to become acclimatised to the altitude of 3,450m (11,300ft).
It is amazing how commercialized and developed this little town is by the region’s standards. Plus considering the altitude, everything has to be brought up here by foot or Yak.
This was also our first hot shower in the last few days. Gas operated, and not really that hot, it was still a small blessing! The only thing here is that once the sun goes down, everyone filters into the common room where there is the only heater in the whole building and believe me it is chilly otherwise.
From Namche we move along the well-worn Everest trail that contours around the side of the valley high above the Dudh Kosi. As we follow the path, we get our first really good views of the great peaks of the Khumbu: Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam.
Passing by several villages and numerous tea shops, we cross the Dudh Kosi river and make a steep climb to Thyangboche, home of an impressive and recently rebuilt monastery as well as an amazing little bakery that we enjoy some great pastries. After our little snack and a look around Thyangboche we continue down to the river and the village of Deboche (3,700m/12,135ft) to our little lodge for the evening.
This night I share a room with Ramone, the Argentine doctor that is part of our expedition. The total size of the room is about 7x8 and made of plywood, making even the slightest movement from the next room seem like they were sleeping beside you. Bonus … you’ll love the Khumbu’s version of flushing bathroom pictures when you come see the slide show.J
Met some really cool young Welsh students in the common room and played some cards until lights out … Later on in the trip I will run into them again at the summit of Kala Patthar near Gorak Shep … Reminds me of my good friends Dom and Michelle from Wales that I climbed with in Bolivia … Wales seems like a very friendly place, something like Canada!
Off to Periche for a few more nights and a seminar on high altitude sickness from the last clinic before Basecamp … amazing common room in our lodge, bright, warm and spacious!
As our day begins we eventually reach Dugla situated below the snout of the Khumbu Glacier, which turns out to be a convenient place for lunch. After lunch, the trail starts steeply to climb up beside the glacier moraine. Another couple of hours the track eventually leads to a small cluster of tea houses pleasantly situated at Lobuje, and about three hours beyond Lobuje we reach Gorak Shep (5,220m/17,126ft), the site of the 1953 expedition's base camp.
Finally our last day and the prize in sight ….Contouring along the valley side, the trail leads on to the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier and becomes quite vague, weaving between mounds of rubble. After about 3 hours we eventually reach Base camp near the foot of the Khumbu Icefall. This will be our home for the next six weeks.
So here is where we say goodbye to the trekkers and the completion of they’re life long dream, and the beginning of ours!
Imagine spending 6 weeks at 5350m/17,500’, sleeping, eating and day to day chores become 100% harder, and the average temperature is 10 degrees/day -5 degress/evening
Hope your all doing well back home, and I’ll try to get a few more fun little blogs out to you soon …
Cheers from the highest bathroom in the world! Shawn
Shawn’s Everest Journal April 18th, 2010
“What do you think before you head off to climb to highest mountain in the world?”
My good friend Megan McGrath (the first Canadian woman to climb the highest mountain on each continent) once gave me the advice that, “To have the strength to climb any mountain, you need to know why you’re there.” Sort of good advice in any life challenge wouldn’t you think?
So here I am becoming a world class mountaineer, climbing mountains in Africa, Alaska, Bolivia, Argentina, Antarctica, and now Everest in Asia. The problem is that what drives me comes from somewhere deep inside, and not necessary for the pure love of the mountains like most people in my shoes, or should I say boots.
However, with that said, I believe that the mountains are an excellent metaphor for life challenges and this could be my attraction to them. In life we all need a path, a direction, or maybe just a purpose. I am fond of the philosophy … conceive, believe and achieve!
I have always felt that if someone wanted to change their lives or alter their direction, it is within their power, but decisions, sacrifices and hard work are required if they really want to achieve the desired outcome.
Back to our question “What do you think before you head off to climb to highest mountain in the world?”
The first answer that comes to mind is--“What the hell am I doing?!”
This is probably the simplest and most obvious answer …
Those of you that have known me for years have seen my commitment to the people and projects in my life, and my commitment to bringing awareness to the DREAM MOUTAINS FOUNDATION and all the good we can do as a collective is certainly part of the equation, but it maybe deeper than that.
I lost my father in my twenties, at an age when most guys are really just becoming men. All sons, regardless of age, are most likely trying to live up to their fathers expectations, but since I didn’t have the opportunity to get that feedback, maybe I push beyond what is considered normal, searching for some kind of closure that ultimately only I can find within myself?
I have a wonderful family and network of friends that care about me and there is certainly a part of me that doesn’t want to let them down, even though I know that they only want the best for me and would never want me to put myself in harm’s way.
I guess to answer the question, “What do you think before you head off to climb the highest mountain in the world?” I have to say, I am grateful for the life I have and the people I share it with, and those feelings of gratitude and love will accompany me every step of the journey to the top of the world.
Success on Everest will be what it will be, and only time will tell the outcome.
Until I can write you all again I hope you all are enjoying your WARM and COZY spring!