Saturday, April 19, 2014

We're all going to need a few days to figure things out

This picture was taken today as my friend Dawa Sherpa was leaving base camp. Dawa is the man who was by my side when the avalanche struck. He's the guy who spent all day yesterday digging his friends and neighbors out of the snow and sending their limp bodies hanging on a cable from a helicopter down to base camp. After a long 16 agonizing hours he showed up at my tent, before going to his own, to make sure I was ok. He's an amazing man and I have great respect for him. He's a perfect example of the selfless Sherpa people that we entrust with our lives while on the mountain and who we quickly learn to call our friends.
The Sherpa community here in Base Camp is naturally quite shaken by this event and most of them have decided to step back from this expedition for a few days, trek home to their villages and reassess the situation with their families.

Unfortunately the death toll is still climbing. We have recovered 16 lost souls as of an hour ago. We're hoping to locate two more of the missing today and get them back down here to BC, one way or another. This scene is a lot for us western climbers to take in so I can't imagine what our Sherpa partners are really feeling and thinking as we all witness the worst disaster in Everest history happening in front of our eyes. 
We've been getting a few questions and hearing a few comments that I'd like to try to address:

- This accident was just that - an accident; an act of nature where we humans happen to be in the way. It was not caused by "overcrowding". Matter of fact, there were only about 40 of us in the entire icefall and we were spread out. There was no one waiting for others in order to move up and no congestion anywhere in the icefall. It appeared to be perfect climbing conditions right up until the moment the thunder struck. 
- The avalanche took place just below camp 1 at about 19,000 ft and the time was approximately 6:45 am. 
- The Sherpa that were lost were carrying loads to support the upper camps. The fixed lines and ladders through the icefall were already in place. There were very few western climbers in the area and all of us had our climbing Sherpa by our sides and they all survived. 
- The trash scene on Mt Everest is not what it used to be. Through the great efforts of many organizations and individuals this mountain has been cleaned up and looks wonderful. All too often we hear stories about the abuse of nature but we rarely hear when people have gone to great lengths to reverse the damage. Everest is one of those stories.  Excessive trash did not cause this to happen. There is absolutely no garbage that I saw anywhere in the icefall. Actually we should all be proud of how good this place really looks. This was a random act of nature. 
This is a tough time for everyone here on the mountain but accidents, and even death, are part of the deal. If climbing Everest were easy and risk free, I suspect we'd all take a hike to the top of the world. The price that has been paid over the last 24 hours is a large price indeed. I guess the climbing Sherpa as well as all of us western climbers need a few moments or days to re-evaluate what's worth what in this life.

Early this morning I read a comment written about me where the author said, "I hope he finds what he's looking for up there." I appreciated that notion because it got me to thinking about what am I looking for, and I think I have found it whether I see the summit of Everest or not. I'm looking for an adventurous life. I want to see the whole world and all of its people. I want to lay in my death bed and know that I did and saw all that I wanted to in the time I spent spinning through space on this ball of mud. I want to know that I lived fully! So far in this life the things that I regret the most are the things I didn't do; the things I didn't have time for; the situations that scared me to much. I want to push myself to do and see until I can't anymore. I want to inspire my two boys to aim high, to take from this world and give to mankind more than they can imagine now. I hope I have a lot of life left to live and I hope I keep finding what I'm looking for. I'm glad my friend brought this topic up because I needed to remember today just why I'm here.

I'm so flattered that so many of you are following this adventure. It's awesome that I get to follow my dreams and I remember everyday that all of this would be hollow and meaningless without all of you being part of my life. 
Please send positive thoughts or prayers to the families of our fallen Sherpa brothers.

Peace - Jon


  1. Jon, does the avalanche make the affected area of the icefall more, or less, stable for climbing in the following weeks? Glad to hear you and your sherpa are okay.

  2. Thanks for the update. Take care.

  3. Thanks for the update Jon. Following from home. Appreciate and respect the thoughts on what you are looking for. Best to all involved. How long until the climbing route is restored?

  4. Jon - It has been a pleasure reading your posts and following the blog over the past month (btw I'm matt from anytime fitness, now in Newark Ca). I had been reading the posts and woke up to see an article on CNN and immediately checked your blog and was relieved to see that you were safe (devastating for those that lost their lives). Best wishes and safe travels on whatever path you choose going forward. Thank you for posting on this journey...
    -Matt M

  5. Jon, I climbed a lot of Big Walls and have only climbed Mt. Shasta so I can only imagine the quest in front of you. Finish your quest to climb all seven and dedicate this final summit to the lost Sherpa's. It would be the right thing to do.


  6. Dawa Sherpa is amazing, we are so happy you are ok. I check this blog every day, and wish you the best of luck on this journey!

  7. Thank you for updating us. I appreciate all you are experiencing and send heartfelt thoughts to all! Continue to respect the mountain and enjoy your journey!

  8. So glad you are safe. Not sure if it is appropriate to offer advice from this distance. You are there and you need to follow your own heart. But I would like to second "Calistoga Dan's" remarks, I know you have worked very hard for this. If you are able to the top in the next few weeks, go for it. No way does that dishonor the men who died in the service of that quest. Others will climb in the future for their own reasons with no disrespect for those who have died trying.
    But if you don't make it, for whatever reason, we want to have you back here alive and well.
    Wishing good luck and good weather

  9. "I would rather be ashes than dust.
    I would rather that my spark should burn out
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
    The function of man is to LIVE, not to exist.
    I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them."

    I love you Uncle Jon.

  10. Jon it was so wonderful to hear your voice today and see your face. I have looked at the picture of Dawa and you several times now. What an incredible man he is. Even though I will never meet him in person, I will hold him in my heart forever. Stay warm and feel all the love and support we are sending your way. We miss you! Put one foot in front of the other. Love & Gratitude, V.~

  11. As I read the story, I'm reminded of a paper I keep in my wallet, a quote from uncle Teddy
    " It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat".
    Teddy Roosevelt , Sorbonne, 1910.

    I wrote your name on the back of the paper today, I think there is a link between the writing on the front and the writing on the back.
    Hope you make it save,


  12. You bring your journey to life for us wbo try to travel witb you through your words and our imaginations. Your dad must be so proud of you as you seek adventure through living life as fully as possible trying to see and do everything you can before our short visit is over on this planet! Sending our prayers and hopes for your safety and satisfaction with wherever your life's journey takes you next! Thank you for taking us along on your journeys with you! Love, Aunt Tina

  13. I am so glad you are safe. I have a very specific request for help please, and hoping you can help. I am trying to find out if the deceased Dorji Sherpa who trekked for Shangri La (Expeditions) is my dear friend, Dorjee Lama Sherpa. I have tried his email without success, but he has not replied. I have tried all the news media available to me incl. National Geographic and Kathmandu newspapers. DLS is an elite climber, summited Everest 8 times, was on the Mallory retrieval climb, aged about 41, has own company Peak Himalaya, speaks about 8 or 9 languages, is very skilled and credentialed in mountain climbing, rescues etc. and serves on many of those organizations' boards. He has taught by invitation in France, Italy, China, Austria etc. He of course comes from SoloKhumbu, and resides in KTM off-season w/his wife and 3 children. His company is on Facebook. ANY HELP is appreciated. I am his "Didi" -- "big sister," living in Hawaii. I think the world of Sherpas --and am grief stricken by this accident. Take care and aloha, Thank you for any help, Sandy Hall

  14. Thinking about you and the Everest community everyday - wishing you a successful completion of this adventure - however you decide to complete it - and safe travels home to all of us here among the rolling hills and vines - JB

  15. you were in the Steubenville paper today:) thought that would make you smile:) also, Seamus informed me that he has studied up and you are very safe to keep climbing. I now know the whole science behind avalanches:)
    You are inspiring your nieces and nephews, too.

  16. Thinking of you from Santa Rosa, Jon. I saw your family at service on Sunday and loved 'em up. I'm posting a link on our Center Facebook page to your blog so we can follow your updates. Edward Viljoen

  17. Hi Jon You and your message's continue to amaze me. It was fabulous seeing you at Bob's party. Your voice for the Sherpa is hopefully touching many in their community. This adventure you're on has many unseen factions yet to be revealed. One of my favorite quotes from The Magnificent Hotel Marigold: It all works out in the end, if it hasn't worked out yet, it isn't the end!
    Love you more and more

  18. Here's an alternate point of view from another Everest hiker. Please read!

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