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May 2003:

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | June


May 9

Texas Flag at C2Greetings to all from Everest Base Camp (17,800ft)!

I just got off the radio with Expedition leader Gary Guller. He is proud and excited to let you know that he and Gary Scott are poised for a summit push on the morning of May 13th, which is the evening of Monday, May 12th your time.

Today, Gary G, Nima Dawa Sherpa and Pem Tenji Sherpa spent a productive day on the Lhotse Face between Camps 2 and 3 making sure all safety measures were in place for the summit push. Both Garys and all the Sherpa are feeling healthy, strong and positive about the plans for the upcoming days.

Vince remains at Camp 2, but plans for an additional acclimatization hike to the base of the Lhotse Face tomorrow. These day hikes will improve his strength and health, which is being monitored daily. Vince's presence, as always, is a tremendous inspiration to TE '03 members. [Vince sends his love across the miles to his wonderful and supportive wife Connie.]

C2 tentGary G. reports amazing cooperation among all teams to pitch in the extra gear needed to fix the necessary ropes from the South Col to the Summit. This harmony on the mountain truly represents the importance of the 50th anniversary of the first summit of Mt. Everest.

Further, the support, respect and goodwill that TE '03 has received from international expeditions and Sherpa climbers has been a blessing, showing how cross-cultural and far reaching our message is. It is a testament to the dedication of CTD, the sponsors, supporters, advocates and team members around the world who believe in this cause. You are about to see the message taken to the top of the world!

After hearing about the devastation of our camps by the windstorm of the previous days, it is hard to believe how positive and upbeat everyone is. However, when I think about the people up there - Gary Guller, Gary Scott, Vince, Nima Dawa, Pem Tenji, Karma, Daw Nima and Namgya - I am not surprised in the least that they are working together as a team, staying focused on the goal and the message and making the best of a truly difficult situation. From the rubble, they have emerged stronger! Even at the higher altitudes where cold and harsh conditions make things very difficult, the harmony and team work has been extraordinary.

C2 tentFor the next installment of our Sherpa language lessons, I chose some perfect words for our current situation, as all of us up here in the Himalaya have become like a family:

Mother:mama, Father:apa, older brother:achoo, younger brother:ang, older sister:azhi (what everyone calls me!), younger sister: nuni, son:pujung, daughter: pum, cousin: aku, aunt:umchung, uncle:au, grandfather:paga, grandmother:gaga.

From our family to yours - Ngel pep (Goodnight!)

Yours truly,
Christine Kane, Base Camp Manager
Support the team:

CTD's CURRENT INITIATIVES: Now is an especially critical time for Texans with disabilities. The current legislative budget not only does provide funding to decrease the existing waiting lists for community services, it will actually eliminate tens of thousands of Texans with disabilities from the community services they are currently receiving. Further, the senate version of the budget eliminates drug coverage for more than 208,000 aged or disabled Texans.

Tell your friends and family how important these issues are. Come to the Capitol (north side) for the Health and Human Services rally on Wednesday, May 14th at noon OR contact your state representatives. (Click here to find out who your representatives are) to let them know that Texans with disabilities matter!

Contact Dennis Borel at 512/478-3366 M-F (other times at 512/431-1656) or for further info about TE '03 or the advocacy work of CTD.


May 7

Hello from the Base Camp of the tallest mountain in the world!

HIgh Winds at BCA huge round of applause to our fearless leader Gary Guller and our skilled high altitude climbing Sherpa who braved the ferocious high winds at Camps 1 and 2 the past two nights. Upon arrival at Camp 1, Gary and Nima Dawa Sherpa assessed the situation and found that at least 70% of all expedition teams' tents were destroyed or missing from the mountain.

Our tents suffered the same fate, but luckily extra tent poles were brought and several yards of climbing rope was used to tie our one remaining (but collapsed and damaged) tent down securely. All this repair work done at an extremely high altitude and after a long ascent through the Khumbu Icefall. Needless to say, Gary and Nima Dawa were ready for a good night sleep after the day's ordeal.

But, as the mountain and Mother Nature would have it, the winds continued to rack the mountain and the two spent the night bracing themselves against the walls of the tent. Many times they needed to stand up to make sure that the tent did not become dislodged and tumble down the mountain - with them in it. Needless to say, they had little sleep during the night.

The Sherpa that continued on to Camp 2 found a similar scenario. However, they were also prepared and spent several hours repairing what they could after a long day's climb. They also had a sleepless night, spending most of the time preventing supplies and tents from being lost to the whipping winds.

Morning came and it was time to decide what course of action to take. Here at Base Camp, I had spent the day comparing weather forecasts with other teams in order to provide as much information as possible to Gary so he could make an informed decision. At 4am they called to see what I had to report. The weather reports were conflicting, but after 4 days, we figured the wind had to let up soon. They made the decision to stay on the mountain and make the push to Camp 2 despite continued wind. Gary also felt that if he wanted to keep the hope of an early summit push alive, it was best to stay on the mountain. Gary Scott, who had just returned from a week of re-oxygenating and acclimatization at lower altitudes conferred and agreed.

So, this morning, Gary Guller and Nima Dawa Sherpa made the push to Camp 2 through the wind and arrived safely before lunch. Vince left Base Camp and ascended to Camp 1 and will meet up with Gary G. and the climbing Sherpa at Camp 2 tomorrow. Gary Scott, after one more rest day at Base Camp, will head directly to Camp 2 tomorrow. All the team will be together and poised for a summit push as early as May 12th. To assure the best chances for success, our climbing Sherpa will be taking loads to Camp 4 tomorrow.

Nima Dawa Sherpa will be ascending to Camp 3 to assess the wind damage there. Although we have not seen Camp 3 since the high winds hit, we have heard reports from other teams, some who lost everything, that the damage is great. We all have our fingers crossed that our supplies such as tents, sleeping bags, high altitude down suits, high altitude food and fuel have not been blown off the mountain. For some expeditions, these losses will be catastrophic and mean their chance for the summit is over. For others, it will mean expensive replacement costs as well as the time and effort involved in re-supplying a camp at such a high altitude.

As always, we owe a great thanks to all our supporters and sponsors who have made this expedition possible. With each passing day, we are closer to bringing the message of the limitless potential of people with disabilities to the top of the world. We could not be where we are without all the personal emails from all of you out there following our progress. We especially thank the students following this expedition from Dripping Springs, Texas School for the Deaf, Easthampton Middle School, Sollars Elementary School in Japan, Dr. Janis's sister's class in Riga, Latvia, the 3rd and 4th graders in Westminster, CO and all other students who have contacted us.

Top Five Reasons to Climb Everest (in the humble opinions of those crazy people who have come this far to do it):

5. Because we are not all there (upstairs that is)!
4. Because it is too hot in Texas.
3. Because who doesn't love walking across ladders above bottomless crevasses?!
2. Because we love staying awake all night at altitude wondering if we will be blown away by the fierce winds.
1. Because we are sick and tired of indoor plumbing, hot showers and the conveniences of modern life.

Stay tuned for the next dispatch about the exciting developments over the next few days. We are counting on you to send lots of positive Karma our way (and to make arrangements for optimal weather and strong legs for our climbers!). Sherpa language lesson number gu (9) in the next dispatch!

Talk to you again soon,

Christine Kane
Base Camp Manager
Team Everest '03

Emails to the team:


May 6

Tashi Delek from another extremely windy day at Base Camp.

Avalanche near BCOur climbing Sherpa and Expedition Leader, Gary Guller arose at 4:00 this morning determined to make the ascent to higher camps. Having been forced to stay down due to strong winds (50 mph and higher), the team was getting restless here at Base Camp wondering how the high camps were faring in this harsh wind storm. Despite continued wind this morning, they packed up, lit the juniper to ask for safe passage from the mountain gods and were on their way as dawn crept across Base Camp. The Liaison Officer and I walked with them to the entrance of the Khumbu Ice Fall and bid them farewell. Their bright down jackets were the only ones visible on the Icefall.

Although the wind died down briefly early on, it picked up again with renewed force by lunch time. We wondered all morning how the climbers were doing traversing the Icefall with the added treachery of the forceful winds. To our relief, Gary just radioed and they are well and safe in Camp 1. Unfortunately, the Camp has taken a serious beating due to the winds of the past three days. Gary said that he has never seen as many broken tent poles in all his years climbing as he witnessed when he arrived to Camp 1.

The climbing Sherpa let us know that Camp 2 has also sustained a lot of damage from a wind storm that continues to rack the mountain. Gary and our wonderful team of high altitude Sherpa had the foresight to bring extra tent poles and mending materials so they will be able to fix the damaged tents. Gary and Nima Dawa Sherpa are making camp tonight in the one tent that is habitable in Camp 1. The other climbing Sherpa are making do in Camp 2 and will make most major tent repairs tomorrow. Such is Mother Nature in the mountains and especially Mount Everest! Vince B., Gary Scott (who is now back at BC, rested and re-oxygenated after time at lower altitude) and their climbing Sherpa will soon be making their way up the mountain to join Gary G. and head up the mountain.

Meanwhile at BC, we continue to see, hear and feel avalanches very near our camp on a daily basis. Sometimes they are incredibly loud, blowing snow into our faces even though we are few hundred feet away. Sometimes they last more than 3 minutes!

Christine Kane sends team dispatchFor the students around the world following the expedition, thanks for your wonderful messages. Here is Sherpa language lesson tuk (6), or is it lesson number din (7)? The topic is "animals". I have been surprised by the number of animals I have seen on the mountain. Of course there are yaks, but I have also seen lots of birds, spiders, flies, butterflies, and snow cocks. I also saw two mountain goats at lower altitudes.

To add to your Sherpa language dictionaries we have the following words:

animal: chuma, dog: gi, cat: bermung, bear: thom, elephant: lungbu, tiger: tak, horse: tah, cow: palang, snake: rool, monkey: khrick, chicken: cha, eagle: tha, rat: peh, spider: baljyang, and most importantly yeti: sokpa! I don't think I'll see many of these animals here at BC except maybe a tha, baljyang and maybe the sokpa!

A funny story: one of the Sherpa started calling me brown-headed khrick because I had to jump into a tree once to avoid getting hit by a yak! I am happy that I knew how to climb trees and didn't get hurt by the yak horns. That ends our Sherpa language lesson for today, but more soon to come!

We do appreciate all your well wishes and positive energy - just keep it coming. We need it now more than ever with our slight setbacks at Camps 1 and 2 in this horrible windstorm. With any luck it will let up tomorrow and we can get back on track with the ascent to higher camps and a hopeful summit attempt in the near future. Nothing will stand (or blow!) in the way of bringing our message of the limitless potential of people with disabilities to the top of the world!

We'll keep you posted on the team's progress ascending and tent mending!

Warmest Wishes,Christine Kane
Base Camp Manager


May 5

Namaste from a very windy Everest Base Camp!

Wind pounds BCOver the last couple of days, our plans to advance to higher camps have been thwarted by the strong, high winds that have been blasting the mountain. We decided to relax and refresh rather than fight Mother Nature on this one. Our plan of attack is now to depart to camp One as soon as possible and head on up to the higher camps 2, 3 and 4 over the next five days or so.

I plan to keep Christine at BC posted via walkie-talkies about the team's progress and she will relay these dispatches on. I'll send images from high on Everest via Sherpa descending to BC, which Christine will also send. We'll continue to video document the team's progress on the mountain.

As we are writing this dispatch (Sunday), the wind continues pounding the tents and throwing up snow in and around BC and in the Ice Fall. When we make plans to begin moving up the mountain and the weather prevents us from doing so, we have to invent things to keep ourselves busy. Securing toilet tent

We take care of business, so to speak, moving tents that have suffered wind damage or glacier shifting and reinforcing our "luxurious" blue toilet tent (safely hitting the target, the blue barrel, is a continuous test of one's balancing skills).

We also make delicious concoctions out of not so delicious dried food packets for our team. One of our better creations was a blueberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust shared among 14 team members, including the cooks, Sherpa and kitchen boys.

What a great time to give a special thanks to our Sherpa, especially young Nima Sherpa, our cook's tireless assistant who keeps the warm liquids flowing on these cold, windy days. Nima has mastered our personal drinks of choice, which we greatly appreciate.Nima Sherpa, assistant cook

Thanks also to TSD for use of the video camera and to the wonderful support team back in Austin - Dennis, Chris, Jodi, Joni, Dan, Brian, Andy Cockrum and Reid Nixon of Firelight Pictures. Without you, the message of TE '03 would not be where it is today.

I ask again for your continued support for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. They are good folks who have changed the way I view myself and others; their work has improved the quality of my life. By supporting such an organization, we are helping to ensure equal rights and freedoms for all people.

Talk to you again soon,
Gary Guller, TE '03

Send emails to the team:

Moving tentsA note from Chris Watkins who is currently in Australia:Even though I had had a life threatening HAPE and HACE, I elected to return to Everest and was able to climb on Everest's Khumbu Ice Fall during the 50th anniversary. This fulfilled a personal dream to at least climb on part of Everest this year. I had to leave BC because the HACE had stared to reappear after climbing on the Ice Fall, but I have no regrets in again climbing up through the Himalayas to rejoin the team and to actually climb a bit.

Now in Australia, I am proud to have carried the Team Everest '03 message "Freedom to Explore" to the top of the highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko, located in the Australian Alps of New South Wales and one of the seven summits (the highest mountain on each continent). I dedicate this climb to the effort of all TE '03 members.

May 4

Article By LEE HANCOCK / The Dallas Morning News

Emails to the team:

  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 M-F (other times at 512/431-1656) or for further info about TE '03 or the advocacy work of CTD.

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