Monday, June 17, 2013

This is how it ends.

Our flight landed in Seattle at 1:35 in the afternoon. Ty and I claimed our duffels in the International Baggage Terminal and accompanied them through Customs. As he was connecting to another flight and I was not, we would part company at this point. It caught me by surprise that this was Goodbye. I felt like I should have had something memorable to say, but my sleep-induced stupor left me as groggy and confused as Ty had looked when we met below the Hilary Step. 
"Let's get together again some time and not do this," he quipped. 
"Yeah," I agreed. 
We hugged and turned separate ways. 

I was riding the escalator up from the satellite tram when it occurred to me Lin would almost certainly be waiting at the top.  I felt my senses lurch to life.  I had spent so many hours imagining this moment, hoping it would not be diminished by the baggage of failure on the climb, and now I was seconds away from seeing her sweet smile. I tried to improve the horrific state of my hair, but my hand trembled too much to accomplish anything. She would be in costume, as has been her custom meeting me upon my return from each prior climb.  What would it be? A Yak? That would be fair after my dressing as a Penguin the last time I picked her up at an airport.  The stairs began curling over the top and I could see the faces of the first few people.  Then straight ahead, a few feet back, she stood draped in pink veils and exotic shawls. It was Lin's interpretation of a Sherpa woman, and though it looked more "Genie in a bottle" I could not have been more taken. Lin held a sign announcing my accomplishment, OUR accomplishment. I gathered her up in my arms while the people next to us speculated aloud as to  what "7 Summits" stood for, and in that instant all we had risked and any rewards that may follow did not matter.  We were together and safe and done. 

I have some links I would like to share with you. 
Here are three short videos from the incredibly talented Elia Saikaly. 
The Trek to Everest Base Camp.  This was filmed last year. 
Everest Base Camp.  Also filmed in 2012, this is footage of Base Camp only. 
Time Lapse of climbing Everest. This was filmed throughout the 2013 Everest Season. It is AWESOME! The second frame is of our Camp 2 site. The American flag is the same one raised by our Air Force Team Members at the summit. 

Three of our Air Force Team members appearing on Fox.  I feel so much pride when I watch these guys. 
Myself, doing an interview on The Zone sports radio show. Sorry about the sound quality, we did this over the phone. 
Ty appearing on Anchorage TV  Who would have thought he owns a suit?!
Myself crossing a ladder in the Everest Icefall The Dave-cam returns!
POV shot while I crossed a crevasse.
Above the Icefall. Me. Note the reassuring self-talk. 

So many thank you's; 
My family; Lin, Trevor, Chase, Mom, my Step-Dad, Dad, and sisters Michelle, Noelle and my climbing partner Ty. You believed in me. You believed in my journey. You sweated the moments. You celebrated the summit. I can never thank you enough. 

My Friends; Sonia Alexis, who led the cheer and kept the practice in order while I was away. Chuck Blair, who added much needed levity. John Hanrahan and Rick Kaiser, who convinced me to keep writing.  Carol Masheter, who helped me believe I could do it. Pastor Mike Unverzagt, who provided spiritual counsel.  Phil Drowley, who coached my mental preparation. Mike Locke, who designed my physical training. Dr. David Netboy, who consulted on various physiological aspects of the climb.  Acupuncturist Timothy Lamb, who stuck needles in my person to remedy the various self-inflicted wounds I suffered throughout training and the climb. 

My Readers; Sharing this experience was central to what I hoped to do.  As I left for Everest this blog had almost 500 page views. It is now approaching 30,000. You view this blog from the United States to China, Russia to South Africa, Australia to Finland, and many other countries around the globe. You have been generous with your comments. loyal with your visits, and watchful into all hours of the night. We climbed Everest together. You and I. And I am grateful to have had you on my Team.  


  1. Craig from Brisbane (now holding 2 empty beer bottles)June 18, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    Dave, you didn't seem to keep posting the SpO2 info, how did all that work out? I'd be interested in your thoughts on it all. Cheers, C.

    1. Great question, Craig. I lost my Oximeter somewhere along the way, and probably could have borrowed someone else's for the sake of these entries, but things were getting serious with the climb by then and my attention was elsewhere. I wish I had those readings for camps 3 & 4 in particular.

  2. I touched on this subject earlier, but do or did you feel somewhat removed from society by the experience? It just seems that being that far removed in someplace few have touched......welcome back.

    1. The short answer is "Yes." Being far from home and everything you know for two months is part of this. But the nature of any major climb is such that it tears a person down to his most basic form, transforming him into whatever particular animal he must be to climb that hill. These two things, I found, took me far far away from society and it has taken some time to feel right in it since returning. I had heard about this effect from friends who climbed Everest before me. One of them told me he was at a party a few weeks after returning and found himself sitting in the corner asking "what the hell am I doing here?" It's a long way "home", and it takes a bit of time.

    2. Thanks for sharing that. Congratulations on the accomplishment and take care.

  3. My stomach actually dropped to my toes while watching you cross the ladder over the icefalls.
    Thank you for sharing all of these great links.
    Auntie Alice

  4. Dave, It is a bit late to comment, but I wanted to do so anyway. Your blog was one of those I followed religiously while you were on Mt. Everest, along with my husband, Doug Ingram, one of the other IMG Classic Climbers. Your writing was informative, humorous, and full of the heart and soul known only to Everest climbers, and their support groups. There are only a few who know the training, sacrifice, and determination it takes to "find and follow your path." I just want to say THANK YOU for helping ease the hunger for news I felt while waiting here at home. Also, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to YOU for your accomplishments. Thanks again -- Susie Ingram

  5. What a FANTASTIC blog! Thank you so much for bringing me to Everest. While I would love to attempt it, I've lived in FL my entire life and probably waaaaay to used to sea-level. Thank you for sharing your experiences!