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April 2003:

1 | 3 - 4 | 4- 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 11-16 | 17-19 | 21 | 22-25 | 27-30

Apr. 1

Magnificent mountain   Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsWe arrive yesterday into Tuglha (15,000ft), passing through some amazing villages and mountain scenery. Visiting one of these villages, Pangboche, was an uplifting experience for all team members. It was one of the most incredible and fascinating mornings of the entire expedition so far.

The highest Lama of the village was kind enough to visit the expedition at the local monastery. As expedition team members usually go into the monastery to pay their respects and monasteries are not that accessible, the Lama thought it was a good idea to come outside and sit in the courtyard in the sun. Amazingly enough, the sun shone directly on the Lama. Everyone was truly touched during the ceremony and the Lama gave our expedition an extra boost of higher power in order for us to accomplish our mission and our goals of the whole Team Everest '03 campaign.

The weather thus far is improving on a daily basis in typical pre-monsoon fashion. Beautiful clear blue, high Himalayan mornings with the sun melting the frost on our tents from the previous night. I think all of the team gets energized by the early morning warmth.

Support thus far from trekkers, climbers and the press as we continue to Mount Everest Base camp has been overwhelmingly positive. A Korean expedition and all its members took the time at the end of a long day for their team to come by our camp and wish us all good success. Disability awareness is continuing to thrive throughout the world.

Camp at Pheriche     Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsWe ascended very slowly from Pangboche at 3,800 meters (12,500ft) to one of the oldest yak settlement villages in Nepal - Pheriche at over 4,200 meters (13,800ft). This is the village that we will be chartering a helicopter from at the end of the expedition to fly back to Kathmandu. Pheriche was a welcome sight as we all found the leap of around 1300ft a bit of a hard push. We are functioning, living, camping as a team at a height higher than any point in the continental United States.

Of all the villages in Nepal, Pheriche is possibly one of the most accessible and everyone is enjoying the flat bottom of this valley. We will spend another day here in Pheriche to acclimatize, build team spirit, and enjoy the progress we have made thus far.

All the local villagers are in awe of our expedition and how far we have come. It is an amazing contrast sometimes, because on one side, we have the media bringing us international coverage, and on the other, we have basic grass roots awareness building in the villagers of Nepal. If we can change the mind of one villager in Nepal regarding the potential of people with disabilities, why is changing the minds of so many in the Western world so difficult?

Child checks out Dinesh    Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsAll members are feeling positive, although the cumulative effects of the altitude can break even the most determined individuals and hardened athletes. After our first night in Pheriche, all members were anxious to day hike/stroll during our acclimatization day. However, not everyone was up to the challenge due to the altitude increase and opted to take a rest day. Gary S. and Vince B. led the team members that were ready for an acclimatization hike up the Chukkung Valley and ascended Chukkung Ri at approximately 18,000ft. Another group of team members ascended a different ridge to approximately 17,500ft in order to acclimatize further.

After these acclimatization hikes and a day and a half at this altitude, team spirits were for the first time at an all-time low. You have to remember folks, we are a team of 29 individuals from all backgrounds - different abilities and disabilities - living, operating and working as a team in the most extreme of conditions. To revitalize the team spirit, we read aloud all the numerous emails of encouragement we have received from you, our supporters. The effect this had on the team was awesome. Good positive thinking, support and inspiration breeds very quickly.

Kim rejoins team    Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsAs mentioned in the last dispatch, Kim Smith has stayed behind due to stomach problems and we had received word that she was ten minutes from Pheriche, on her way to rejoining the expedition. We immediately sent two Sherpa with hot chocolate to accompany her. As it was later in the afternoon and the fog was rolling in and the temperatures were dropping, I went with the Sherpas to assure her safe arrival into the awaiting arms of rest of the team. Huge clapping, laughing, crying and a feeling of true renewed encouragement filled the spirits of the team. We're whole again!

It even gets better. Nima Dawa Sherpa along with our other high altitude climbing Sherpa sent word that they have established our place at base camp and are awaiting our arrival. Next it's Lobuche, Gorak Shep, then Base Camp! Team Everest '03 continues to move upward and onward. As Dennis Borel, the executive director at the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, says: "Team Everest '03 will crush the stereotypes and perceptions that are still held by so many toward the disability community."

Please continue to support our expedition, CTD and the improvement of the quality of life for all people. You can do this through emails, good wishes and much needed financial support.

Himalayan Peaks    Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsA few words from team members to folks back home:
Barry Muth of San Antonio says hello to all of his family and supporters.

Chris Watkins says hello to all of Canada and his family, especially his kids.

Matt Standridge and Riley Woods, our Team Everest '03 mischief makers, send many high fives to all their friends!

Erich and Lee from the Dallas Morning News appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to promote the Team Everest '03 Expedition.

Ted Holmes, the Rogers family and Steve Bernstein all send their hellos.

Janis Tupesis sends a HUGE thank you to all of his friends and colleagues at the University of Chicago Hospitals for their help in making this possible. His appreciation for all the sacrifices you have made to let him be here is felt on a daily basis!

Thank you again. You'll be hearing from us at our next stop!

Gary Guller
Expedition Leader, Team Everest '03

Slide show by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning News

The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities is dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy equal opportunities to live, work, play, and participate fully in the community of their choice. CTD has consistently delivered important results for persons with disabilities for the past 24 years, and needs your support to fight the discrimination that faces individuals with disabilities in almost every aspect of their lives.

Contact Dennis Borel at (512) 478-3366 or dborel@cotwd.org for a media kit, sponsorship opportunities and to learn more about TE '03 and the advocacy work of CTD.

   

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