A quick update on the progress of Jordan’ Romero’s climb of Mount Everest. Jordan, 13, is trying to become the youngest person to ever climb the mountain. He’s climbing with his parents and a team of other climbers. Here’s the text of the team’s latest post, courtesy of jordanromero.com:
It’s the night before a big climb. We will go up for some 3 days, to again build onto our Camp 1, then Camp 2 (7,900 meters). There are 3 ‘high camps’ in all. It may seem a little confusing on our map as we go back and forth between camps, but hang in there and we will explain it all to you. These ‘up and down’ trips are completely standard, as we have to train our bodies to be up at these very, very thin air camps. And, of course….we must carry everything up, sleeping bags, tents, food, gas, you name it. The route to the summit of Everest takes time and effort. Furthermore, every move between camps requires a rest day. We try to replenish as many calories as we can and catch up on sleep. Sleeping up here is a major challenge.
We’ll again return to the warm comfort of 21,000-foot ABC (Advanced Base Camp), before making another work trip to the upper camps.
Once that is done, we’ll of course return all the way to the beach like weather of 17,000-foot base camp where we wait for the right weather window.
Thus far, the team is probably ahead of what was expected in terms of acclimatization. Whilst at 21,000, our appetite has not even dipped, sleep has been a tiny challenge, but now we all sleep 9-10 hours minimum. Resting heart rates are low, saturation high, headaches gone. . . . everything is just clicking!
It’s a yo-yo game, just hang in there and be patient, and we’ll try to communicate our strategy the best we can, all things considered.
Jordan, Karen, Paul
Sounds like things are going well. Unlike most climbs, tackling the Himalayan peaks takes a lot of advance work to establish camps, acclimate and, of course, wait for the right weather conditions. There are those elite climbers who go “fast and light” and forgo the seige tactics most teams employ. But those guys are rare.
Here’s hoping for the best for the team, as well as all the other climbers on the mountain. As more news pops up, I’ll update here.
News and notes from the outdoors…
Got a couple of weekend activities that might interest folks. First, some information from Norman’s Discovery Cove:
NORMAN — Oklahoma wildflower expert Pat Folley will lead a walk at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lake Thunderbird near the Discovery Cove Nature Center, off State Highway 9 on Clear Bay Drive. The walk is for all ages.
At 1 p.m., children age 3 and up may decorate bookmarks in a Flower Bookmark session at the nature center. Cost is 50 cents.
Next, a different opportunity at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area:
SULPHUR – Join a park ranger from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area for a wildflower walk along the trail at Veterans Lake. Learn to identify various wildflowers and a bit about these heralds of the season while enjoying a great walking trail.
The walk will start at 2 p.m. Sunday from the northeast trailhead of Veterans Lake Trail. This trailhead is located past the pavilion area, all the way to the road end (not the trailhead on the dam). Bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and wear comfortable shoes. The walk will last about an hour and everyone is encouraged to continue hiking the trail and/or to enjoy a picnic on the tables by the lake.
For more information, contact the Travertine Nature Center at (580) 622-7234.
Both sound like they could be good days. Enjoy.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been posting regular updates on 13-year-old Jordan Romero’s bid to become the youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest. It’s a compelling – and controversial – story for certain. But I recently saw another story, courtesy of the Outposts blog on the Los Angeles Times website, that illustrates a much more remarkable feat. The blog referred me to this story from The Associated Press:
Korean becomes first woman to climb world’s 14 highest peaks
KATMANDU, Nepal — A South Korean mountaineer made history in the Himalayas on Tuesday by becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains, beating a Spanish rival for the record.
Oh Eun-sun, 44, crawled on all fours for the final, steep stretch to the peak of Annapurna, her feat broadcast live in South Korea by KBS television.
At the top, she pulled out a South Korean flag, waved, and then wept before throwing up her arms and shouting: “Victory!”
Annapurna, at 26,545 feet above sea level, was the last of the 14 Himalayan peaks above the 8,000-meter level she had wanted to conquer.
She narrowly beat Edurne Pasaban of Spain to the 14th peak. Pasaban also was seeking to become the first woman to scale all 14 peaks, and had only the 26,330-foot-high Mount Shisha Pangma left on her list.
Oh also tried to reach the peak of Annapurna last year but turned away just hundreds of meters from the summit because of bad weather. Snow and wind also stopped her from making the trek last weekend.
“I gave it up because of a sudden ominous feeling that something bad would happen to either me or my peers including the sherpas on my way back to base camp,” she told The Korea Times newspaper last month.
She said this trip would be different, and said she would be carrying a photograph of Ko Mi-young, a lifelong rival who fell to her death last year while descending from Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest peak in the Himalayas.
On Tuesday, it took Oh 13 hours to climb Annapurna. KBS footage showed her breathing heavily after each step. Cheers broke out as she reached the summit.
Now some thoughts. Climbing Mount Everest is an impressive feat for anyone, regardless of age or skill. It’s a big deal.
But in the world of mountaineering, finishing off the list of the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks is sort of like winning the Super Bowl. So few people have done it. And there’s plenty of reasons for that.
For starters, the climbing skill needed to do it is substantial. So are the financial resources required. There are also a limited number of climbing windows for each peak. On any given day, the weather or other conditions on the mountain can ruin your ascent, or even kill you.
And that brings up the next point. Everest is the highest, but by most accounts – particularly from those who have done the 14 highest – it is not the hardest. Ed Viesturs, the American who has also accomplished the feat, talked about how K2 (the world’s second-highest mountain) is “the Holy Grail” of mountaineering and described its challenges and dangers.
In his book “No Shortcuts to the Top,” Viesturs also chronicles his many thwarted attempts to climb Annapurna. Annapurna is the first 8,000-meter peak ever climbed. But according to Viesturs and other sources, it’s also one of the most difficult and has the highest fatality rate of any of the 8,000-meter mountains. Like Oh, Viesturs finished the 8,000ers with a successful ascent of Annapurna.
So that leads me to believe that this story is one of those “firsts” that is actually worth applauding solely on its merits. Oh climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world, period. That’s huge. And she’s the first woman to ever do it. This feat is so rare, so distinguished, it puts other “firsts” in perspective.
To Oh Eun-sun: Well done.
Team Jordan posted some photographs of Jordan Romero’s ascent to Mount Everest’s Camp 1. I must say, I’m a bit jealous. Still another 6,000 feet to go, but it looks like the climb is going well so far.
Jordan Romero, if you don’t know, is attempting to become the youngest person to ever climb the world’s highest peak. He’s 13. The current record-holder, a Nepali climber, was 16 when he achieved the feat. Have a look at the photos…
In their last post, the team says it is back at Advanced Base Camp, resting. This goes with the strategy of “climb high, sleep low” in terms of getting acclimated to the altitude. You’ll climb to a high spot, then go back down to rest. This happens several times throughout the climb to help the body adjust to the altitude higher up.
Saw this some down from the folks at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. As a teen, I worked several jobs — mowing lawns, construction labor, even shelving cookies and crackers — that weren’t anything nearly as cool as this. Looks like a heck of an opportunity. Have a read:
SULPHUR — The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is looking for people between 15 and 18 years old who like to work outside to join the Youth Conservation Corps.
Periods of employment may be up to eight weeks beginning on June 14 through Aug. 6 with a wage of $7.25 per hour. Applications are available beginning Monday and are due May 21. The recreation area’s headquarters are at 1008 W 2nd Street in Sulphur. Applications can be picked up at the headquarters office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applications will also be available at Sulphur, Davis, Wynnewood, Roff and Springer high schools.
For more information, call (580) 622-7220.
A little bit of info on the progress of Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old trying to climb Mount Everest.
From his team, the group went up to the North Col of Mount Everest. Via its Facebook page, the team says it has made it safely up to Camp 1, 7,100 meters/23,000 feet. The team reports this as a new personal altitude record for the teen. You can keep track of his ascent here: http://www.jordanromero.com/
There’s also other news from the North Col, this being not so good. Apparently an avalanche on the North Col that has left a couple other climbers missing and maybe one dead. Early reports indicate that a large cornice may have collapsed. For more on that, here’s a couple of other links:
Needless to say, bad weather and avalanches are all part of the deal here. Hopefully Romero’s team takes this into consideration before pushing on. And also, here’s hoping they as well as the rest of the climbers on the mountain stay safe.
Picked up this video interview with Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old California boy vying to be the youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest. For all my misgivings about this idea, he sounds like a pretty grounded kid.
Have a look:
A good story from Outside magazine profiling Bear Grylls, star of “Man vs. Wild,” who will be doing a new program for the Discovery Channel. The show will be called “Worst Case Scenario.” It will feature scenarios dealing with urban survival.
Here’s a link to the story, which also includes a lot of good information not just about the show, but also about Grylls himself: http://outside.away.com/outside/culture/201005/bear-grylls-1.html
Bear Grylls is wildly popular, but also has his critics. His programs feature him doing stunts, eating some pretty vile stuff and showing viewers how to survive dangerous situations on the wilderness. His critics note that many times, he’s not in any real danger, isn’t far from civilization and that some of his tips are actually quite dangerous and dubious.
In any case, he seems like a pretty genuine guy and the programs are entertaining.
Awhile back, I stirred a little debate with this post, pitting Grylls against Les Stroud, star of the program “Survivorman.” You can read that post and some reader comments here: http://blog.newsok.com/outthere/2009/01/22/steel-cage-survivorman-vs-man-v-wild/
So for the past couple of days, I’ve been reliving the trails a group of friends and I did in the Wichita Mountains. I also hinted at the rainy weather.
You all experienced it, most likely from inside your home, car, or on the way from one dry locale to the other.
Not us. We had no choice but to endure rains that started Friday evening and didn’t quit
until we were almost home Sunday night. A lot of people suffer when camping in these conditions. Most just bail and go home.
Now, a little disclaimer: The Doris Campgrounds in the Wichitas are like a lot of campsites in Oklahoma. There were restrooms, shelters and even a shower room. Some campsites had electrical hookups for people with RVs and such. So it’s not like we were out in the bush. Pretty cush by camping standards.
But I’ve had some experience in backcountry environments where rain became rather ever-present, just like it was last weekend. We humans are unlike most creatures in that we really don’t do well in wet environments, mostly because we’ve been conditioned to keep ourselves dry and warm, mostly through the conveniences of modern life.
If you’re camping, a lot of those niceties are absent.
In our group, most people slept in tents. Temperatures stayed in the upper 40s at night and the high 50s during the day. And the rain didn’t stop.
So there’s two different things that come into play when dealing with moisture: what you wear and where you sleep.
What to wear
What you wear is easy. Stay away from cotton. Synthetic fabrics shed moisture better, be it from sweat or rain. Breathable water-resistant jackets and pants are also very helpful. Wool socks or synthetic fiber socks will help keep your feet dry and, in the unfortunate scenario where you immerse your shoes in water, the socks dry out quicker than cotton. Finally, a water-proof boot. Leave the sneakers at home. And if you’re tempted to wear waterproof sandals, don’t bother. Your feet will stay wet, leaving your skin more prone to cuts.
Don’t get me wrong, cotton is a great fiber. It’s versatile, cool and comfortable. Except when it’s wet. It takes forever to dry out and leaves you clammy and cold. In colder temps, wet clothes become not just uncomfortable, but leave you at risk of hypothermia.
My wool cap kept my head surprisingly dry and warm, and the fact my jacket had a hood helped. Dressed right, I didn’t have any problems with cold or wetness. Others in our group weren’t as fortunate, having arrived in jeans, hoodies, T-shirts, athletic socks and running shoes. Fine for dry conditions, but all that cotton just made them soggy.
Where to sleep
This is a little more difficult, mostly because you can find good rain clothes for cheap. Not so much with shelter. When it comes to tents, you get what you pay for.
I brought three tents to help house the group. Two were used, one stayed in the car.
One tent was what you might find in the aisles at Walmart. It was large, roomy, easy to set up. When it bought it many years ago, it was inexpensive, like maybe $60. It can sleep as many as six. It had a rainfly that came down about a quarter way to the ground. This was a fine tent for easy, dry conditions many moons ago. But it would be severely tested by the rains that hit us last weekend.
My other tent was a relatively economical three-man backpacking tent made by Eureka. It cost me about $170 when I bought it four years ago. It’s light, close to the ground and comfortably sleeps two, three a little tighter. It has a rainfly that went down within 18 inches of the ground.
The rains came, the winds blew. The bigger, cheaper tent leaked on the side where the wind blew the rain into the tent wall. Two campers slept dry, but the other two closest to the leaking wall did not.
Two guys slept in my Eureka tent. When we broke camp on Sunday, I went to the tent to take it down. Peeking inside, I saw that it was bone dry.
Three other tents were used on this trip. Two were cheaper (one was an off-brand tent, the other a Bass Pro labeled tent), much like the big one I brought. They both leaked. The third, a four-season Sierra Designs model (retails at more than $500) was rock steady and dry.
You don’t have to spend $500 to stay dry. My two-man Kelty has kept my dry on numerous rainy camping trips, and it only set me back $110. But if you buy a cheap tent, it will have limitations. Especially in bad weather. It will wear out faster. Poles will fail earlier. Tears will occur quicker. If you’re serious about tent camping, don’t skimp here. I’m not knocking Walmart of Bass Pro, but the cheaper tents they sell simply aren’t made for inclement weather.
A couple other things: Be careful where you set up your shelter. A nice flat spot in an area where rainwater drains will assure you a damp evening and little sleep. If you’re worried about runoff, dig a small, U-shaped trench around your tent, with the closed end of the U on the uphill side. This will channel water around your tent, then let it drain downhill without getting underneath it.
Keeping warm outside
Despite the rain, we kept a fire going. We kept it dry by doing a couple of things. First, we kept it small. That allowed us to built a tarp covering that kept the rain out and sheltered those who gathered by the fire pit. We used dead wood gathered around the campsite for fuel, but it was all pretty wet. But with a fire going, we simply built a ring of wood around the fire (not in the flames, but close enough for the heat to dry the wet pieces out). Credit two campers in our group from Washington state, a place where wet conditions are common.
Having a camp fire does wonders for morale. It gives people a warm place to hang out and talk while warding off the damp chill of the night. Add some hot coffee or cocoa – it does wonders for the soul.
Some of these examples don’t translate too well into backpacking, but most do. In any case, it’s not impossible to camp in rainy conditions and still have a good time. In fact, it’s very possible. Heck, if you plan for it, the weather nature throws at you might actually add to the ambiance of being outdoors.
A few stories that I saw posted on Outdoorsfile…
Here’s one about a man who free climbed the Eiger in Switzerland (a fear in itself), then BASE jumped off for a short parachute ride down. The link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/active/7611481/Adventurer-climbs-Eiger-and-leaps-off.html
Heck of a feat, especially since the guy was using a chute he made himself. As for me? No thanks. I’d rather use ropes and gear and scale back down.
Another story, this time tragic: A backcountry snowboarder in Montana apparently triggered an avalanche, survived that, but later died from his injuries while trying to hike out. A hard lesson of the dangers of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Here’s a link: http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_7c68eb8c-4cb6-11df-8fed-001cc4c002e0.html
I picked these stories up from a website called Outdoorsfile. Good site the check out for news about skiing/boarding, hiking, climbing, biking , kayaking and all other things outdoors. The site: http://www.outdoorsfile.com/