Today, May 16, I find myself thinking about Mt. Everest all day. It is the climbing season right now and my good friend and business partner, Pemba Dorjee Sherpa, is on the mountain at this minute. I have learned he reached the summit THIS morning, May 16, 2004 at 7:55AM — one of the FIRST climbers to the top today.
Also, it was exactly two years ago TODAY that Sean Swarner stood on top of Mt. Everest. Sean hired my company, Of Global Interest Adventure Travel, to make the arrangements for his Everest expedition — just two short years ago. And on this day, I remember it well, we were cheering, yelling and celebrating at base camp after hearing Sean’s voice over the radio. “I’m on top of the world!” were his words. I can picture that glacier rumbling with enthusiasm right now — today. All morning on May 16, 2002, and this morning too, the teams took turns sharing an unbelievable feeling: He or she has done it. They are ON the summit!
Today I have this feeling again. Pemba made it! And Sean’s guide, Nima Gombu Sherpa also summited TODAY — AGAIN for his TENTH time. I am hooked and caught up in the Everest story. I know these people well. I remember meeting my first Everest climber years ago. I shook his hand. Now it seems I am surrounded by them. They are friends. They are amazing.
Pemba and Gombu still need to make the 2-3 day journey back to base camp, then back to Kathmandu. Reaching the top is only half the challenge.
Below are some notes I found on the www.everestnews.com website. Check it out. It is an exciting time to logon — today. Maybe next spring you will be at Everest Base Camp listening to the climbers over the radio on ‘summit day’. We will sit near the radio tent, hopefully in the sun, and wait for the words: I’m on top of the world! No technical climbing experience required to get yourself to base camp at 17,600 feet! All you really need is a good attitude. Of Global Interest will make all the arrangements. Your job is to get off work for three (how about four?) weeks.
This is a hand written letter I received in my snail-mailbox two weeks ago from Pemba. He has written on the envelope, “Everest Base Camp, Nepal” as the return address. It’s dated April 8, 04:
“Hi Heather, How are you! I am fine here and we just got base camp four days before. We summited Island Peak (20,300 feet) on the way up to base camp and we got here April 4th and 6th we did a puja (the Buddhist ceremony all teams perform before climbing). Then 7th we went to camp 1. We drop tent and some foods at camp 1. I took nine hours to get Camp 1 with loads and I feel so sad why people climb Everest or other mountain. Climbing mountain is so hard. When I came back from camp one I’ve fallen ill and I am bound to inform you that I will not be able to climb it again. But today I feel so-so, and after a few day rest I will going to camp 2. This time I am really want to go on top and I am trying hard. Bye for now. If I can I will keep writing you mail. Say “Namaste” for all our friends and your family too. Hope to see you soon. Pemba. ”
These are the words of a climbing Sherpa, one who is carrying the “loads”. I hate to imagine the “loads” he is dealing with. Pemba is hired this year as part of a filming crew that will document Nawang Sherpa’s climb. Four years ago, Nawang was injured in a motorcycle accident, and his left leg was amputated below the knee.
(Nepali times are listed below meaning the evening hours of May 15 here in Michigan. Pemba is referred to as “Pem” Dorjee Sherpa, but goes by Pemba.)
On the summit, May 16, 2004
Name of Summiteers
06.00 A.M. Swiss Expedition
1. Mr. Kilian Volken (53 yrs), Mountain Guide, Fiesch IM Birchi, Switzerland.
2. Mr. Peter Gschwender (42 yrs), Mountain Guide, Austria Swiss Expedition 6.00 A.M. Greek Everest Expedition
1. Mr. Georgios Voutiropoulos (35 Yrs), Public Servant, Athens, Greece.
2. Mr. Pema Tshiring Sherpa (30 Yrs), Makalu – 9, Sankhuwasaba, Nepal.
7.30 A.M. WT Everest Expedition 1. Mr. Thomas Ian McMillan (48 Yrs), Database Developer, San Rafael CA, U.S.A
2. Mr. Nima Tashi Sherpa (44 Yrs), Khumjung-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
3. Mr. Pem Dorjee Sherpa, (22 Yrs), Tapting-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
7.40 A.M. Mexican-Canadian Mt Everest Expedition 2004 1. Mr. Martin Boileau (38 yrs), Eye Surgion, Esterel, QC, Jot Ico, Canada.
2. Mr. Namgya Sherpa (32 yrs), Lelep – 8, Taplejung, Nepal.
8.05 A.M. Himalayan Guides 2004 Everest Expedition
1. Mrs. Susan R.T Todd (44 yrs), Guide, Kingusie, Scotland.
2. Ms. Victoria Jack (51 yrs), Kelmacalm, U.K
3. Mr. Robert Vincent Jen (51 yrs), Real State Developers, New York, U.S.A.
4. Mr. Ian Edward Aitkins (45 yrs), Engineer, Kings Lynn, U.K.
5. Mr. Pasang Dawa Sherpa (28 yrs), Khumjung-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
6. Mr. Pasang Nuru Sherpa (28 yrs), Khumjung-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
7. Mr. Pasang Chhiri Sherpa (27 yrs), Khumjung-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal
8.15 A.M. WT Everest Expedition 1. Mr. Nawang Sherpa, (32 Yrs), Tapting-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
2. Mr. Nima Gombu Sherpa, (35 Yrs), Gaurishankar-1, Dolakha, Nepal
NEWSFLASH: Amputee Sherpa Summits Everest
Posted by: Linda McMillan in California
Mt Everest 2004: Amputee Sherpa Summits Mt Everest! I am thrilled to report that the EVEREST: Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition has arrived at the summit of Mount Everest as of 7:55 AM Nepal time Sunday May 16th (7:10 PM Pacific time 5/15)!
I received a phone call from Team Leader Tom McMillan that he was standing on the summit with Climbing Sirdar Nima Tashi Sherpa and Climbing Sherpa Pem Dorjee Sherpa. Just a few steps away were Climbing Team member Nawang Sherpa and Climbing Sherpa Nima Gombu Sherpa (his tenth Summit of Everest !!!!)
This represents a first ascent of Mount Everest by a trans-tibial amputee and a first ascent by a disabled Nepali citizen. All team members are well and the weather on the summit is good. Tom will call in later with more details of their summit push.
Update: 5/14/2004 Tom called in by satellite phone (quickly, to conserve the batteries for further updates in the coming days) to let us know they are currently at Camp 3. They wisely decided to remain at Camp 2 an extra day to allow the high winds to subside. Tom says he and Nawang are feeling “incredibly strong at this altitude”. They are now planning to stand on the summit on Sunday the 16th. The weather forecasts indicate even more good weather in the coming days.
Update 5/12/2004: Team members Nawang Sherpa, Tom McMillan, Nima Tashi, Nima Gombu, and Pem Dorjee are on their way to the summit!
Tom called from Camp 2 about 12:15 am Pacific Daylight Time (about 1pm in Nepal) Wednesday to let us know that they have begun their summit bid. They are pacing themselves to arrive on the summit on May 15th or 16th to take advantage of a favorable “weather window” with only light winds on the upper part of the mountain those days.
He reported that all team members were feeling strong and are eager to get to the top. A couple of very strong expeditions are ahead of them, which will make the snow conditions easier for our team (if there is new snow, the first teams will break trail for the others).
Editorial Note: You might recall Nima Gombu Sherpa, who is a 9 time Everest summiter. He was there in 1996, bringing Gau Ming-Ho down. He has summited Everest in 93, 94, 96, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02 (with Sean) and 03.
I also found the following on www.everestnews.com:
Question (to Sean Swarner) from EverestNews.com: Why did you decide on Of Global Interest LLC rather than some of the commercial operators that return to Everest just about every year?
Answer Sean Swarner: Well to be honest, Heather seemed like a very nice person who had her act together. She showed genuine interest in what I wanted to do and has helped me a LOT in getting everything together. I sent out a letter to a lot of people and she was one who wrote back saying she supported my idea as well as my thoughts on inspiration. I really think there were a lot of reasons. That’s like asking someone, “why did you go to ‘so-and-so’ school?” There are a lot of different reasons that come to mind, but the overall feeling of that school, or company in this case, is just the right one.
Don’t forget the following ‘Events Of Global Interest’ for June (listed below). I hope to see you. Happy Trekking.
Of Global Interest LLC Adventure Travel
The Eighth Street Trekkers’ Lodge Bed and Breakfast
Ann Arbor, Michigan