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  First Ascent of Mt. Everest Planned by Sherpa Climber-Amputee and his American Friend 


March 1
Nawang leaves the US and flies back to Kathmandu while the rest of the team prepares the clothing and equipment that will be needed for the expedition. Some the Annapurna Trekkers and other friends and supporters of the expedition are making plans to trek into Everest Base Camp to visit the team in April and May.

March 17
US team arrives in Kathmandu. US team meets with Nima Tashi, 7 time Everest summiter, and Nima Gombu, who has reached the summit of Everest 9 times. Nima Tashi and Nima Gombu will be the team's Sherpas (climbing guides). Nima Tashi will serve as the "Sirdar", the chief climbing sherpa. The team meets for dinner at the Rum Doodle restaurant in Kathmandu. The Rum Doodle restaurant is the traditional meeting place for Himalayan mountaineers.

March 18
Over 2300 kg of expedition equipment and supplies is transported by helicopter from Kathmandu to Syangboche. Located above Namche bazaar, Syangboche is home to the world's highest airport.

March 21
Team flies to Lukla from which the trek to Everest will begin.

March 22
Team arrives in Namche Bazaar (elev. 11,287 ft). Sherpas and cook staff proceed on towards Everest to set up the expedition's base camp. The remainder of the team is to spend the next 3 days acclimatizing.

March 29
Team arrives in Dingboche en route to Everest to spend several days acclimatizing above 5000 meters elevation (about 16,400 feet). Tom McMillan to do a training climb while Nawang Sherpa to proceed to Everest base camp.

April 4
Team assembles at Everest base camp at 17,700 feet elevation.

April 11
Camp 1 established. The team will spend the next 2 days resting before progressing further up the mountain.

 

Thanks to a visionary executive, a legendary mountaineer-amputee, and a dedicated team of climbing friends from across the US, a Sherpa’s dream to climb Mt. Everest in a special way will be “reloaded” next month.

Nawang Sherpa, gravely injured in a traffic accident four years ago, now sports a high tech prosthetic leg and dreams of climbing Mt. Everest. He lives in the high mountains of the Khumbu region of Nepal and makes his living as a Sirdar (trekking guide). Thomas McMillan is his mountaineering friend and former client from the San Francisco Bay area. Tom has an extraordinary chance to climb Mt. Everest, and wants to share that with Nawang. As devoted friends—beyond the borders of nationalities, cultures, and physical abilities—they expect to reach the summit via the South Col route some time in May 2004.

This will be the first time that Mt. Everest (29,035 feet; 8,850 meters), or any of the 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters (26, 247 feet), will be climbed by a person with a prosthetic leg. It will be a monumental success not only for Nawang, but for millions of other people around the world who struggle to resume their lives and careers after severe injuries. 

Nawang had planned to climb Mt. Everest last year with Ed Hommer, the renowned American mountaineer who in 1999 was the first person to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska with two prosthetic legs. The plans were dashed in September 2002 when Mr. Hommer was hit by spontaneous rockfall and died while training on Mt. Rainier.

But a new chance to climb Mt. Everest emerged in 2003, as the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first ascent by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (May 29, 1953). Tom McMillan, an experienced rock climber, mountaineer, and database developer for San Francisco-based AMB Property Corporation, received a surprising challenge one day from AMB’s Chairman and CEO, Hamid Moghadam.

“He made me an offer I simply could not refuse—if I would carry the AMB flag to the summit of Mt. Everest, he would be the lead sponsor for the expedition, offering a personal pledge that would serve as a challenge for others.” Tom describes how that offer connected with Nawang’s dream.  “I immediately thought of my friend Nawang Sherpa, who wants so much to climb that mountain, and how great it would be to stand on the summit with him—as Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had fifty years ago. So I accepted Hamid’s generous challenge. This was the genesis of the Everest: Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition.”

Hamid Moghadam gained his appreciation for the beauty and challenges of high mountains while attending high school in Switzerland. He sees this expedition as an innovative way to motivate and challenge AMB and its worldwide workforce. Moghadam said, "The Friendship Beyond Borders expedition embodies the spirit of AMB and our people to achieve great challenges in our personal and professional lives. It is a privilege to be a part of Tom and Nawang's support team."

The expedition will also motivate and challenge disabled people around the world who are committed to rebuilding their lives and careers. And it will certainly challenge all of us to reconsider what might be preventing success in our own lives.  The team is expected to arrive at Everest Base Camp (17,300 feet; 5,273 meters) at the beginning of April and begin its acclimatization regime—climbing up a few thousand feet, climbing back down, climbing up again and sleeping one night, climbing back down, etc.. Only in this way will their bodies be able to successfully and safely adjust to the increasingly thin air as they move up the mountain. The team is expected to return to Kathmandu in early June 2004. Tom McMillan and his wife, Linda, have climbed together around the world and are long-time residents of Marin County north of San Francisco.

Dispatches

 

 
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