It’s now been 6-plus weeks on Everest. Obviously, this is not a typical season but, then again, I would never know since this is the only time I have ever been here. The extreme weather, the pandemic, and the significant escalation of COVID-19 throughout India and Nepal has complicated everything related to Everest, Nepal, climbing, and the priorities that we all need to take into consideration.
The news that Nepal is now on lockdown for the next two weeks with no transportation in and out of the country has really put everything into perspective for me. The overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients sick and dying around Kathmandu, alongside my fellow colleagues (whom I’ve known for several years) who continue to struggle to manage these patients, I feel, requires all of us to take a broader look at what decisions need to be made and how we all move forward.
Specifically, I have to realize that each time through the icefalls (for me) is becoming an increasing challenge that’s getting more difficult to manage. Although the privilege of having the opportunity to climb Everest is truly amazing and rewarding, the task is relentless and difficult. I have had a few near-miss experiences, but still continue to climb on. It is clear that it is becoming harder and harder for me to continue climbing, especially in the extreme altitudes. My lungs have made it nearly impossible for me to continue past 23,000 feet. In the overall realm of mountaineering, I’m a little more than a rookie in this effort compared to my climbing group and I can’t help but feel as if I am holding them back. Since I arrived back to EBC, I have been taking time to reflect on and reassess my continued goals for this trip. I have come to terms (which definitely has not been easy) with the fact that reaching the summit of Everest is now an extreme remote possibility due to my problems acclimatizing to these higher altitudes. At this time, it is in the best interest of my health to end my pursuit for the summit. Acknowledging this realization and taking the time needed to reflect on this decision, I have set new goals and priorities for this journey.
As this pandemic escalates and problems mount with COVID-19, both throughout the country and on Everest, I have to wonder what would be the most effective and productive use of the rest of my time here? In communication with my colleagues in Kathmandu (and areas throughout Nepal), they have informed me that they are facing difficult odds to successfully manage this escalating crisis due to their continued lack of equipment and supplies. In addition, they are rapidly running out of beds within the facilities and (in speaking with them) I know they are feeling helpless right now in trying to manage this crisis with so little support to assist them. I have decided that it is now my priority to do whatever I can to help my colleagues and surrounding clinicians in managing this crisis. Therefore, I have decided to meet up with my colleagues in Kathmandu and discuss ways that I can help assist with their COVID-19 response and facilitate attaining equipment and supplies that are so desperately needed to manage patients. Overall, I think this is the most valuable contribution that I can make, considering the circumstances we are all in at this time.
Continued support and prayers for India, Nepal, and many other countries that are having difficulty managing this crisis are much needed. Please keep my climbing group in your thoughts and prayers as well.
Finally, please keep in mind that donations to Hope Rises at this time will be immediately used to help these countries attain the supplies they need during this crisis to treat their patients.
Thank you to all who have followed along and continue to do so!
You won, this time. But you are as big as you are ever going to get, and I’m still growing. -Sir Edmund Hillary