Unclimbed -Our story

Dear students and teachers,

I’m sitting here in a yellow North Face tent at Hillary and Tenzing basecamp at 5200m in the Himalayas typing this blog up on my Macbook Pro. We just had egg fried rice for lunch and deep fried spring rolls. In the distance, we can hear avalanches which are a common occurrence here in the Himalayas. We know they’re too far away to affect us, nonetheless, I never quite get used to them. After getting hit by last year’s avalanche on Mt. Everest, I’m always prepared to run when I hear one, even in the middle of the night. Water can be heard flowing beneath us as we are camped out on the largest glacier in Nepal and it’s constantly melting and shifting. It’s relatively warm at the moment, approx 12 degrees celsius, but by 4pm, we’ll need to bundle up in our down jackets and pants as the temperature dips drastically as the day turns to night. This is a slice of our lives on a rest day in the high mountains of Nepal.

I decided to start this blog for one reason: because of you. I learned that a group of students have been passionately following our adventure. Not only have they been following, they’ve been actively helping us reach our goal. How you ask? They’re using our GPS positions and the latest satellite data and imagery to track our progress, map the route ahead and make suggestions on which direction to climb. You see, very few people have ever been up here and according to the Nepal Government, no one has ever climbed these two mountains. So it’s unchartered territory, which means it’s unmapped and there is very little information for us to build a plan upon. We don’t know which way to go and so each time we try to climb, it’s trial and error. Sometimes we go the wrong way and spend an enormous amount of energy only to reach a dead-end. Other times, we are successful and make great progress in what we call “opening up the route’, which means we create a path where there isn’t one, usually in deep snow, and put in safety lines incase we fall.

If you’re learning about our expedition for the time, then let me give you a summary of where we are at.Our dream began as three friends: myself, Elia Saikaly, my closest friend Gabriel Filippi and my dear Sherpa friend, Pasang Kaji Sherpa. We left our families behind in August and embarked on this grand adventure. Our goal? To attempt to summit two mountains in Nepal named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay – the first two men to successfully climb Mt. Everest. Everything was going according to plan and then on our first-day climbing, Gabriel had a terrible accident and almost lost his life. Passing Kaji and I rescued him and he was evacuated to Kathmandu. After knowing he was going to be okay, after suffering minor injuries, Pasang Kaji and I (or PK as he likes to be called) decided to keep the dream alive and we returned to the mountain and refused to give up.

So here we are, almost 8 weeks later, at the base of Hillary and Tenzing basecamp and we’re waiting for better weather to climb. The Monsoon season in Nepal (the rainy season) has been very unkind to us. It’s been raining and snowing for weeks. This makes our job incredibly difficult as rain down low means snow up high where it’s much colder. Our current goal is to finish opening the route to camp 1 around 6100m above sea level. If we can achieve this, we will have accomplished a huge goal. While still far from the summit, it would be one giant step closer to accomplishing our dream. After all, you can’t climb a mountain in a single day, it’s all about taking one step at a time and slowly and safely reaching your goal.I hope you will join us on this adventure. It’s ben tremendously difficult so far and it’s certainly not going to get any easier, but we are resilient, we are determined and we keep the purpose of our dream alive and that gives us strength. Also, knowing there are so many of you joining us on the journey fuels us and gives us extra motivation to work even harder and forge a path upwards towards our goal.<

We look forward to sharing our adventure with all of you!

Elia and Pasang

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