Use the timeline to view daily logs and photos.
Namaste from Gary Guller in Kathmandu, Nepal (4,264ft)!
April 6, history was made when the Team Everest '03 Challenge
Trek Team ascended to an altitude higher than any point in
the Rockies, becoming the largest cross disability group to
ever reach Everest Base Camp. To fill you in on the last few
days, we woke on our last day at Base Camp to an absolutely
beautiful morning at over 17,000ft, still in awe of having
finally made this dream a reality! Our spirits were in true
TE '03 form - upbeat and energetic. All of your well-wishes
have been an extremely important part of the team's success
and we have felt each and everyone of you there with us.
The high altitude climbing Sherpa had suggested that all
Challenge Trek members have the opportunity to do some ice
climbing on a safe area of the glacier below the Khumbu Ice
Fall. Of course, I totally agreed. So the Sherpa showed up
at 7:30am that day with all the necessary climbing gear -
crampons, ropes, extra glasses, etc. We climbed and strolled
into the glacier where the Sherpa had fixed the safety ropes
onto short ice falls. Each face was approximately 20 meters
high, giving everyone great insight into what climbing
in the Nepal Himalaya is all about.
Everyone - both those using and not using wheelchairs - used
the harness, ascenders and figure eight to climb and rappel
up the ice faces, while their fellow team members cheered
them on, pushing the boundaries yet again, and giving us all
an enormous sense of accomplishment.
Climbing at these altitudes is hard for anyone, but imagine
the sheer strength and determination required when a person
is paralyzed from the waist down. Strength comes from within
at this point, and every member of this expedition has shown
that special burning desire to succeed. This is something
we can all draw energy from in every aspect of our lives,
whether it's walking to the store instead of driving the car,
being nicer to your neighbor, volunteering, or just stepping
out of your normal life for a moment to do something different,
physically or mentally.
special note: We are lucky to have Christine Kane staying
on as Base Camp manager for the duration of our climb - she'll
be keeping things at Base Camp in good order and our dispatches
going out so we can focus completely on the enormous task
ahead of us - climbing Everest. We'll be leaving Kathmandu
and heading back up to Base Camp early tomorrow morning, and
begin our climb soon after. Camps 1 and 2 have already been
A quick hello to all the students around the world who have
been following the Challenge Trek team's progress to Base
Camp. And to two schools in particular - one in Texas and
one in Latvia: My good friend Chris Godwin and all of our
supporters in Dripping Springs - Thank you and we'll be in
touch soon; and Mrs. Tupesis and the 2nd grade class in Riga,
Latvia - We thank you for your support and we will be
contacting you again from Base Camp.
And to our sponsors: Special thanks to Paul Carrozza and
the entire RunTex team; to my good friends Marv and Mary Weidner
and all the folks at Weidner Consulting; to GSD&M, a company
that rocks the marketing world; to our supporter and good
friend Dan Steinborn and his team at PrintGlobe; and for the
entire Presco team, your flags are at Camps 1 and 2, high
on Mt. Everest, and all of the equipment and gear you supplied
are already being put to use.
See a slide
show by Dallas Morning News photographer Erich Schlegel.
- One of the greatest parts of any expedition in Nepal is
the final evening's celebration with our field staff and Sherpa.
After our successful journey to Mt. Everest Base Camp, everyone
was in fantastic spirits. However, as we descended into the
thicker air from Base Camp across the glacier moraine to Gorak
Shep, then down to Tuglar and into the yak settlement village
of Pheriche, everybody's spirits (and health!) improved dramatically.
Going down is always so much more pleasurable an experience
than going up!
After 28 days of hard work, determination and emotional highs
and lows, we were like a family, especially when we were rejoined
with Kim and Steve in Pheriche. Our celebration was in true
Nepali fashion with meal of dal bhat - rice (bhat)
with a soup made of lentils (dal) poured over it -
and chocolate cake prepared by our chef, Sonam Sherpa. Following
dinner, we spread the tables to allow room for our porters
and Sherpa staff to be acknowledged for their hard work and
great patience. Rounds of applause filled the tent as each
came forward to be recognized for their special talents and
contributions to the team. Then the party began! Dancing,
singing and testing the local concoctions that made everyone
smile a little bit more! TE '03 ROCKED the Khumbu that night!
As expedition leader, I was honored to announced the special
team awards. Ms. Christine White received the "Snow White"
award for her uncanny ability to not get a drop of dust, dirt
or yak dung for the entire journey. Her clothes were always
the cleanest and her hair the healthiest looking. Jose Reyes
received the "Yak Whisperer" award for the special
relationship he had formed talking with the yaks. Our photographer
Erich Schlegel of the Dallas Morning News was honored with
the "Action Hero" award for his untiring work capturing
the spirit of the expedition to base camp. Everyone was recognized
to the great delight and laughter of all team members. The
party went late into the night as all enjoyed our last evening
in the mountains together.
helicopter arrived on schedule early the following morning
for our flight to Lukla (where planes were waiting to transport
us to Kathmandu). The Russian pilots were as patient as they
normally are as we struggled to fit all members and gear into
one huge MI-8 helicopter.
We were overweight and decided that a few of us would wait
for the next chopper. Mysteriously, by the time it arrived,
practically the entire village of Pheriche had miraculously
disappeared. We were baffled by this exodus of people from
the village. Soon, we discovered that the majority of these
folks had boarded the helicopter through the back entrance
and were ready for a flight to Lukla!
arrival into Kathmandu, we were met by the local media and
many well-wishers. We celebrated Saturday evening with representatives
from the American Embassy in Nepal, and had the opportunity
to discuss how America is all about having freedom and Team
Everest '03 is about expanding the freedoms of individuals
with disabilities to live, work and succeed in the community
of their choice, regardless of ability and disability. Thanks
to the staff at the Hyatt Regency Hotel - you guys are great!
Monday morning, as the Challenge Team departed for home,
we said our tearful good-byes at the airport. We'll have a
day to rest here in Kathmandu before Janis, Nima Dawa Sherpa,
Christine and I fly back to the hills. We'll be taking the
Team Everest '03 expedition into phase II of it's mission:
to raise awareness of the potential of people with disabilities
to new heights, to the top of
the world! The Challenge Trek team's determination and inner
strength will be the fuel we need as we ascend the world's
highest mountain over the next 6 weeks.
Please continue to support CTD and the TE '03 expedition.
Your financial contributions
will insure the success of this expedition, what it stands
for and what it will accomplish. The summit team will greatly
appreciate your emails
of support over the next few weeks as we will be experiencing
both the highs and unfortunately the lows all mountaineers
endure at the higher altitudes.
WELCOME HOME TO ALL CHALLENGE TREK TEAM MEMBERS!
See a slide
show by Dallas Morning News photographer Erich Schlegel.
- We departed Kathmandu at 6:00am this morning to rejoin the
expedition Summit Team at Everest Base Camp. Janis Tupesis,
a physician from the Emergency Medicine section of the University
of Chicago, is now famous in the Khumbu for his miraculous
medical skills and his warmth toward the Sherpa people. Christine
Kane, who is staying on as Base Camp manager, continues to
share her experiences with her students at Texas School for
the Deaf in Austin. Expedition leader Gary Guller is mentally
preparing for his attempt on the world's highest mountain
Mt. Everest at 29,035 feet.
Our plan was to fly to Lukla, and begin our trek to
Base Camp from there, but thanks to the great juggling and
negotiating skills of your one-armed leader, a "helicopter"
was secured to fly us higher on the trail to the lovely mountaintop
village of Tengboche. Unfortunately, what was actually secured
was a tin can with three out of four working rotors.
We waited patiently as the pilot used a crescent wrench
and screw driver to hot wire our "chariot of the sky".
Luckily his skills proved able and we made it safely to Tengboche,
a round of applause from lamas and monks at the monastery
welcoming us. From here, we made the short hour's walk further
up the valley to Pengboche, arriving right
before the clouds fell and the temperatures dropped.
A quick thank you to some of our very generous sponsors:
The folks at Nike ACG - the great shoes are now on the way
to Everest Base Camp for the second time and our friends at
BITE Footwear - the Sherpas are still loving the sandals that
you so generously supplied - we'll be taking a pair to Camp
2 at over 23,000ft. And on behalf of the expedition and the
Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, a big Himalayan thank
you to the private donors who have supported us. We will continue
to work hard on the mountain to get the message to the top.
We'll write again from Base Camp. Namaskar from Gary Guller!
From "Base Camp Austin": On Thursday, April
17, we invite you to attend...
- A Press
Conference & Panel Discussion for Challenge Trek
team members in the Sturgeon Room of the TSTA Bldg. 10am
Homecoming Bash at Mother Egan's Irish Pub 6 - 10pm
to honor returning Challenge Trek members. Austin musicians
Leann Atherton, Matt Powell and the Blue Mist Band will
play, and original artwork by La Jean Curtis will be auctioned.
Call 512/478-3366 or Email
for details about both events.
Contact Dennis Borel at 512/478-3366 M-F (other times
at 512/431-1656 or 512/443-6038) or firstname.lastname@example.org
for a info about interviews, sponsorship opportunities, TE
'03 and the advocacy work of CTD.
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