Sunday, May 14, 2017

Rubbing elbows

*** First I want to say Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Ramona Mcleland, and to my wife, Lauri McLeland, and to all the other wonderful mom's out there.  We owe you so much and love you tremendously! ***

Another day of waiting. One blogger who covers the Everest scene estimates that up to 30% of the climbers on the South side where I am have packed up and gone home. Some with sickness (the flu is rampant here), some out of frustration of waiting for the weather to cooperate and the fixed lines to be fixed, a variety of reasons. I heard that the lines in the North side were fixed in the past couple days and 18 climbers had summitted in a brief weather window. As for me, I'm continuing to wait patiently hoping I get a shot. 

Today Conan (guide) and John returned from the lower valley where they had been recovering in the thick, warmer air. I walked with a few others down to the helipad to greet them. By coincidence, I ran into a couple of notable individuals who are a part of Everest history. Russell Brice, the New Zealand mountaineer, was heading down valley for a couple days rest. Russell was made famous through Discovery Channel's series "Everest: Beyond the Limit". Prior to that he summitted Everest twice and Cho Oyu seven times among others.  His company, Himalayan Experience, leads expeditions around the world. Each year he plays a key role in Everest base camp as one of the most senior expedition leaders. We did not get to speak much but he was a pleasant enough fellow to me. 

Less of a household name but equally if not more of more impressive was meeting Phurba Tashi on the same heli pad. Who is he? Phurba is the Nepalese mountaineer tied (with Apa Sherpa) for the most summits of Everest at 21. Neither are climbing Everest again. Phurba told me that the bad years of 2014/2015 (avalanche/earthquake) convinced him he had summitted enough. He was very humble and a bit reserved like many Nepalese (compared to Americans) but was very easy to talk with casually. It was a great honor to chat with him for a bit. 

So for now, any thoughts, prayers, good weather dances would be much appreciated!