Scott returns from first acclimation to camp 2

Scott called this morning.  After about fifty tries from both sides, we got to talk.  It is worth noting that we are talking via the Nepal cell phone network, ncell at a cost of 6 rupees/minute to the US (about 1.5 cents a minute).  The closest tower is at Gorak Shep less than 2 hours walk down valley.  It’s pretty amazing. 

Scott, Karina, Pemba and Mingma have returned from two nights at Camp 2.  The first couple of loops up high are always brutal and Scott suffered from bad headaches, vomiting and the “Khumbu cough”. Fun. But as always, he kept working and carried the same loads everywhere as the Sherpas.  However, he is back in the relatively thick air of base camp.  They will rest a few days before heading up again and will journey up the Lhotse face to Camp 3. 

The Khumbu icefall is perhaps the most notorious part of the route.  Apparently this season there is a “squeeze chimney” where climbers have to turn sideways to move between the towering blocks of ice.  Those who know Scott well will remember issues with towering blocks of ice! 

You can text Scott at Basecamp on his US phone.  I am sure he’d love to get word.  Although spectacular – especially with the incredible full moon of the past few days – the whole experience is pretty grovelly (as we would say in NZ).  It’s life in a tent, it’s rocky, it’s icy, it’s cold and there are no showers.  It’s also high and altitude hurts at first.  You can send word of meals you are enjoying because all he is eating is dal bhat, the Nepalese staple of vegetables and lentils.  Best not to repeat his comments on dal bhat!

I hope to post pictures soon.


Base camp and beyond

Scott and team have been waiting in base camp during a lurking storm over the past 5 days. Although the storm has not been particularly vigorous,the team has chosen to wait for better conditions before heading higher. There have been some forays and shooting in the Khumbu icefall on the meantime. The waxing moon has provided sublime lighting over the past couple of nights and Scott has found a running circuit near base camp (bizarre yes, 17600 feet jogging loop).
He also met up with Chad Kellogg whom he met in 2010. Chad seeks the elusive and challenging speed ascent – Sherpa-less and oxygen less. He got close in 2010 and 2011. Looking at his blog, it seems the dream lives on and he is once again happy or be back on mt Everest.
Scott also spent a day filming the Icefall Doctors. This band of Sherpas are responsible for fixing the convoluted route through the icefall. The route involves crossing ladders with crampons on, climbing aluminum ladders and is both frightening and impressive. The Icefall Doctors are administered by the SPCC (Sagamatha Pollution Control Committee). Scott also joined SPCC’s Kami Tsering and Gala Sherpa and was impressed with both men’s swift footwork and efficient anchor placement. He enjoyed the opportunity to move quickly through the terrain. Maintenance of the Icefall is an ongoing project through the season as the ice just keeps shifting.

Weather permitting, Scott, karina, Pemba and Mingma will head for camp 1 tomorrow.

Arrival in base camp


The team, including Obie, arrived in base camp on April 12. This was the end of the line for Scott’s family and Anna and Obie headed back to Gorak Shep the same day. Tough.

Karina, Scott, Pemba and Mingma stayed to settle in. Scott finally got his camera tent and solar panel up and some power into the system. Life in BC had begun.

Unfortunate news came from Anna two days later – the death of our good friend Craig Patterson in an avalanche back in Utah. The puja day at base camp where a Lama arrives to bless the expedition for health and luck and safety, provided the chance to also pray for the soul of Craig. It’s supremely difficult to receive bad news from home when so far away but we feel fortunate to have the means to support Craig’s memory in such a powerful and magical place.

On the 16th, Scott and the team headed into the icefall for the first time. Scott reported good, though crowded conditions and excellent light though conditions were cloudy. Despite the emotion of the past few days, the business of Everest goes on.

Gear advantages….

Scott loves shooting with the “dougmon” hand-held shooting system. It takes significant strain off his shoulder and back as well as stabilizing the shot for hand-held shooting.

The crew has made it to Pheriche at 4200m/14000 feet. We are taking a day to acclimate here. Tomorrow the plan is to head 700m/approx 2400ft to Lobuche. That will be a big hike so it is important to have the rest day today. Everyone is in good spirits and going well. The images are looking good and Scott is managing to hit the shot list! He’s also trying a new supplement and is feeling as good as he has ever felt in his 3 trips up here. Charging!


Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar April 7

Scott has been shooting constantly since arriving at Lukla by plane. The fact that he is shooting for two projects – Glacier Works and Karina’s series, means that he is kept busy. Fortunately support is excellent from the Sherpas – Pemba, Mingma and Phula.
We have arrived at the surprising hillside village of Namche Bazaar. At 3400 meters/11200 feet, it’s customary to spend two days here acclimating before heading up the valley. It’s a colorful place situated high on the ridge on a series of terraces.
Locals arrive from all around for Saturday’s market. Scott captured some shots of this as well as hiking up above the town to get a view of Ama Dablam and a distant view of Everest with it’s cloud plume streaming. By mid May we hope that this jet stream will back off allowing the crowds to ascend Mt Everest in the brief weather window.
Photos – Scott and Karina with mountaineering historian Elizabeth Hawley. Ms Hawley is the recognized expert on Nepal Himalayan mountain history over the past 50 years.
Obie and Scott braving the traffic outside the Boudhanath Stupa.
Scott at the Lukla runway


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Arrival in Nepal

Within 18 hours of arrival, Scott flew to Lukla to help with aerial mapping of glaciers for David Breshears’ Glacier Works project. project David Breshears is a notable US film maker who specializes in mountain filming. Scott worked on this ongoing project last October in the Langtang Valley. Shooting from a B3 helicopter piloted by an Australian, they used a Tyler Bib Mount with an 8 camera Canon 5d array. Day one, they shot at 22000 feet around the stunning AMA Dablam with it’s etched buttresses and sharply defined snow runnels on the upper flanks. With limited time, the guys then flew toward Everest and into the Western Cwm on the mountain’s south side. This deep valley currently lies silent and empty awaiting the hordes of Everest climbers who will arrive in a couple of weeks. Stopping to shoot at Gorak Shep at 18000 feet, the view of the Khumbu icefall dominates the scene. The machine was having some vibration problems so Scott and David returned to Kathmandu by helo. Scott’s description of viewing Kathmandu from the air is fascinating – the clustered mass of dusty humanity squeezed into the otherwise lush Kathmandu valley.

Packing in Scott’s “Man-otorium”.

IMG_3214It doesn’t look like much stuff cos this is where the camera magic happens. The down suits and sleeping bags and packs and general climbing gear are in piles downstairs. Most of the time Scott works on his camera equipment – affixing various types of heaters to ensure maximum battery life, constructing mounts using gear that he is already carrying and stashing bags for easy access on-the-go. The climbing gear takes less focus and at least Anna can help with that.