Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Never Say Never...

"I will never step foot on this mountain again." 
I said that the minute I exited the icefall for the final time down from the summit of Everest in 2001. We had just spent two and a half months climbing that mountain. Along with an extraordinary team of amazing fellas we had just stood on top of the world with Erik (Superblind) Weihenmayer.
I felt like we were gifted a window to pass through the gauntlet of challenges that Everest provides. We got lucky.

This was well before Everest turned in to the shit show it currently is. Before it was so heavily commercialized. Before there were fights on the mountain. Before major motion pictures were made of it.
There were only 150 climbers that year... now, 15 years later, there will be close to 800 climbers slogging up this season. All of this in spite of, and perhaps because of, the massive tragedies that have taken place the past 2 years. In fact more want their shot at the summit than ever before.
A few of them will have the experience and qualifications to step foot on the mountain. Many will not. There will be folks that will get in trouble. Big trouble. And although I'm a huge proponent of self accountability in the mountains... some will deserve help. 
So... in spite of claiming to never do so... I'm headed back to Everest.
Not to climb it. But to do what I am better suited for. To help people in need.
I have agreed to be the chief medic for a helicopter based Search and Rescue team operating on the mountain. I will be working ever so closely with 2 bad ass pilots; conducting daily SAR missions on Everest as well as surrounding peaks.
It's a 2 month commitment which will take me away from my family for way too long. My heart hurts with the thought of being away from MB and Jace that long.
But I feel the pull. The pull of adventure. The draw of the Himal. The wish to be of service to humans in need. 
I'll depart the first of April... back on May 31. My intention is to provide field posts, anecdotal stories and photos on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.
So much for never stepping on this mountain again.