As part of my 2nd attempt to climb Mt. Everest in the Spring of 2014, I will be attempting to climb 3 of the 6 tallest peaks in the world with a strong, experienced team in an unprecedented, single push. My team will start by climbing the world’s 6th tallest peak, Cho Oyu (translates to Turquoise Goddess), which stands at 26,906′. We will spend the month of April acclimating on Cho Oyu with a summit attempt to occur at some point in early May. This strategy, although atypical, will allow us to acclimate to the extreme altitudes of the highest Himalayan peaks by climbing one of the tallest peaks in the world (to see acclimatization schedule click here). Additionally, this strategy will eliminate the boredom that often ensues in Everest base camp between acclimatization rotations as well as minimize the number of trips we take through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall and, therefore, mitigate this objective hazard as much as possible.
Once we complete our climb of Cho Oyu, we will return to Nepal from Tibet and turn our attention to Mt. Everest (29,035′). After a brief recovery in the Khumbu Valley (likely in the villages of Namche or Pheriche), we will arrive in Everest base camp by mid-May. Already acclimatized, after our climb of Cho Oyu, we will await a promising weather window in Everest base camp and plan our summit attempt relative to other teams on the mountain to mitigate climbing with the crowds as much as possible. A typical climb to the summit of Everest takes 5 days after leaving base camp, so if things fall into place for us, we could stand atop the world around the 20th of May.
Lhotse, the 4th tallest peak in the world at 27,940′, is adjacent to Mt. Everest. The low point between the two peaks is the infamous South Col from the Into Thin Air book and is the high camp for climbing the SE Ridge of Mt. Everest. Therefore, upon completing our climb of Mt. Everest, we will return to Camp IV at the South Col (26,200′) to spend another night. We will depart from here in another alpine start (i.e. departing in the middle of the night to climb when conditions are frozen solid to mitigate ice/rockfall and avalanche risks as much as possible) to summit early the next day. Upon summitting Lhotse, the team will descend to the relative safety and thicker air of Camp II (21,500′) of Everest in the Western Cwm. The following day, we will descend through the Khumbu Icefall to Everest base camp and start the journey home.
If successful, this expedition will require us to climb well over 45,000 vertical feet (up and then down), all at altitudes over 15,000′, during our two months in the Himalaya. 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, skill, and decision making, so hopefully we will experience some good fortune along the way to help us on our journey to the top of the world.