It is official. I am heading back to the Himalayas in April of 2014. If at first you don’t succeed, dream-up an even more ambitious adventure and try, try again.
I knew that I would return to the Himalayas at some point with visions of climbing Ama Dablam and possibly attempting Everest again. I just hadn’t contemplated returning so soon. However, when opportunity knocks, you have to be prepared to answer.
I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been invited to join a very strong, small team with an ambitious agenda for the spring of 2014. We will be attempting to climb 3 of the 6 highest peaks in the world in one push. We will start with an attempt of Cho Oyu, which at 26,906′ stands as the 6th highest mountain in the world. We hope to summit in early May and then head back to Nepal from our camps in Tibet. Since we will be acclimatized after our time on Cho Oyu, we will await a good weather window and then attempt Everest (29,035′) and Lhotse, the world’s 4th highest peak at 27,940′, in back-to-back days. If fortune really smiles upon us and the conditions are right, the plan is to ski, the as-of-yet unskied, Lhotse couloir on the descent.
The team is comprised of Mike Moniz, with whom I climbed on Everest last year. Mike successfully summited Everest on 5/26/2012 and then turned around and summited Lhotse 24 hours later, so this is not uncharted waters for him. Mike wanted to return to the Himalayas to climb with his son, Matt, who is an extremely gifted young climber and skier who has been named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and is Mountain Hardwear’s only youth athlete. In fact, this trip is really Matt’s dream-child (click to see his article in National Geographic). Rounding out the team and leading our efforts is climber extraordinaire, Willie Benegas, who has summited Everest 11 times, put up first ascents in the Himalayas and Andes, and holds speed records on Aconcagua, Fitzroy and others.
This is an ambitious agenda that has never been done, so we go into this fully understanding the challenges that await us and the amount of fortitude it will take to succeed. I am very confident in the team’s strength and skill, so hopefully we will experience some good fortune to go along with that to help us on our journey.
So, to that end, my training is starting to ramp-up. I haven’t been in the hills as much as I would have liked lately, but that will change as the departure date draws nearer. The extreme rain and subsequent floods in early-mid September kept me out of the hills and then I was home for my mom’s birthday celebration and to deliver a well-received Seven Summits presentation to Gibbes, etc. and Kiawah’s One World speaker series (my first paid gig as a speaker).
This past weekend, I ran a 1/2 marathon and then had a great climb up Boulder’s 3rd Flatiron with the 2014 Himalayan Trilogy team. It was great to get us all together and start dialing-in our communication, technical systems, gear, etc. I’m sure we’ll do more outings as we prepare for our early April departure to Nepal. This weekend, Craig, who is recovered from our epic on Mt. Jefferson earlier this year, is coming to CO to climb with Ben, Bob, Mike Moniz and me, so it will be great to get back into the hills and to climb with this group. More on the upcoming expedition and some of the training outings over the next few months to follow.