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One Armed Climber Set to make Final Push up Everest, History

After successfully leading largest-ever group of climbers with disabilities to Mt. Everest Base Camp, American mountaineer Gary Guller drives on in attempt to become first person with one arm to summit.


For Immediate Release

Contact:
Dennis Borel, Project Director
(512) 478-3366 M-F days
(512) 431-1656 or (512) 443-6038 other times
E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org

AUSTIN, TEXAS May 1, 2003

One armed climber, Gary Guller and the members of the Team Everest '03 (TE '03) Challenge Trek have achieved a goal many considered unthinkable, reaching the base of Mount Everest. Now, after years of training and one previous unsuccessful summit attempt, Guller is poised to make history again as he ascends the final steps to stand on the top of the world.

Guller and his summit team hope to stand atop the mountain, weather and conditions permitting, in mid - late May, making Guller the first person with one arm to climb to the 29,035-foot peak.

The team has climbed as high as Camp 3 (24,000ft), and has made numerous trips across, up and down the treacherous ladders of the Khumbu Ice Fall. The team's high altitude climbing Sherpa with the support of the entire expedition team have successfully established Camp 1, Camp 2, and Camp 3 high on the Lhotse Face, and are beginning to establish Camp 4 on the South Col, approximately 950 meters (3,116ft) from the top of the world. Gary Scott, Co-Expedition Leader, the climbing Sherpa and Guller are all at Base Camp having a few days of much needed rest and continued acclimatization.

Owner of Austin-based adventure outfitter Arun Expeditions, the 36-year-old climber lost his arm after a 1986 mountaineering accident in Mexico. He returned to climbing after recovering and fell in love with Nepal, leading treks through the Himalaya. To prepare for his latest summit attempt, Guller has made several training climbs on major peaks across the world, including Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mt. Aconcagua (Argentina) and Makalu and Baruntse in the Nepal Himalaya.

Phase 1 complete - April 6, 2003: The Team Everest '03 Challenge Trek

Originally conceived almost 2 years at a convention for the Texas disability advocacy organization Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, TE '03 has certainly fulfilled its promise to shatter the perceptions of those with disabilities.

After a year and half of training, planning and fundraising, most of a determined group of 14 people with disabilities made the final steps of an often grueling 16-day journey, reaching Mt. Everest Base Camp at 17,500ft on the other side of the world.

While an occasional individual with a disability has reached Base Camp, there has never been a cross disability group of this size on the world's highest mountain. Even more remarkably, five of the team members used wheelchairs.

Said Guller, "I've never seen such a determined team, fully focused on achieving this goal and understanding the historic event that has taken place. Most folks are not aware that only 1 in 10 people ever reach the base camp of Mount Everest."

"In climbing Mt. Everest, I hope to raise awareness and support for the potential of people with disabilities and to show that life and dreams continue," says Guller. "Team Everest '03 members embody responsibility, leadership, physical determination and strength. This expedition has a powerful message. It models how society can open the door of opportunity to all people, regardless of their ability or disability."

Before even leaving for Nepal, the team's voyage generated a tremendous wellspring of interest and support, including seeing Guller and team featured on the cover of the Austin 2003 phone book, Time Magazine and multiple radio, TV and print news stories. In addition, they received the Barbara Jordan Media Award from the Texas Governor's Office, and the Texas House of Representatives proclaimed March 4, 2003 as Team Everest '03 Day. In a congratulatory letter from the President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, Chairman Lynn Swann encourages all of America to follow the progress of the expedition. Recently, TE '03 has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Outside Magazine MSNBC and the Dallas Morning News.

Team Everest '03 is a benefit for The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas.

For more information about Team Everest '03, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, or Gary Guller, please contact Dennis Borel, M-F days at (512) 478-3366, other times at 512/431-1656 or 512/443-6038. Additionally, current photos, daily logs, key sponsor logos, and much more can be found on www.teameverest03.org.

For more information about Team Everest '03, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, or Gary Guller, contact Dennis Borel, M-F days at (512) 478-3366, other times at 512/431-1656 or 512/443-6038. E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org


Team Everest '03 Contact:
Dennis Borel, Project Director
(512) 478-3366 M-F days
(512) 431-1656 or (512) 443-6038 other times
E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org