Dr. Edie Marshall, one of our trekkers and sister of team leader Rob Marshall, reports that sheâ€™s back â€ťhomeâ€ť in Azerbaijan, and after nine loads of laundry sheâ€™s almost caught up. Fortunately, she was also able to send some pictures and an account of the teamâ€™s practice climb on 20,000â€™ Lobuche two weeks ago. Our climbers are rising soon to start up the ropes to Camp 3, but we probably won’t hear from them until they return. Meanwhile, here’s a look back to the team’s first climb together. Take it away, Edie….
â€śThis morning I was reading through the blog, since I didn’t get to keep up with most of the entries while I was in Nepal. I’m really glad to hear they had a successful trip to and from Camps 1 & 2; we have such an exceptionally strong team that I’m not surprised they are staying on track and doing very well
I find myself having mixed emotions about being back after having traveled so closely with the team while now finding myself limited to the information they are able to squeeze out. Overall, the trip was such an incredible array of scenery, challenges, and sensations that it will probably take me a few days to reorient myself back to life in Baku.
The trip up Lobuche was a challenging one for me. We went up to the “high base camp” on the side of a small lake, about an hour’s walk up from the Lobuche Base Camp (LBC), the evening before our summit push. There were tents to rest in but no meal tent, so we snacked and ate while standing around.
After a few hours of sleep, we were awoken by the Sherpas at 3am, with hot tea in hand. We started up in the dark and strapped on our crampons well before daylight. (And well before the Sherpas put theirs on!) There were several fixed ropes to use for guidance and assistance in the ascent.
After clearing much of the rocky part and starting into the snow, the crampons became more useful. As the sun came up, it became clear that we had gotten perfect climbing weather: no wind and mostly clear skies. There were some pretty steep bits where rope and ice skills were useful. In the end, we all made it to the top for photos and the amazing Himalayan views. Nick Gibson was able to get a fantastic panorama shot looking across the Khumbu Valley towards Mt. Everest, which I see now is the teamâ€™s Facebook cover photo. Back at LBC, we were rewarded with a summit success cake and Sherpa-made burgers for dinner.
The next day, it was time to part from the rest of the team, as they returned to EBC. Malcolm and I had an extra rest day in LBC before joining some other IMG folks back in Pheriche. Our descent to Lukla was colored by fresh snow on the slopes and, later, rain from Phakding on down. Back in Kathmandu, we pooled what few remaining goodies we thought the Everest climbers might appreciate – hand warmers, snacks and chocolate – and had them sent up to EBC with another IMG delivery. Hopefully, they got our gift when they returned from Camp 2.
The USAF 7 Summits team appears to be exceptionally strong and to have a positive outlook that draws others to them. Other climbers seemed to gel with our guys, with everyone helping each other. Other climbers and trekkers we spoke to on the trip seemed very impressed with the team and, especially, with the wounded warriors. The WWs brought a refreshingly relaxed and fun vibe to the trip while they were in Nepal, and we especially appreciated the live music they provided.â€ť
It was a pleasure and an honor for me to be a part of this historic adventure. Rob has put so much of himself into seeing it through; this was a great opportunity to get to support his efforts and spend time with him in the mountains while getting to know his climbing mates. The last time we stood on a summit together was in 2006 on Kilimanjaro! I am so impressed by and proud of the group of climbers that have come together to tackle Everest. I can’t help but believe they will surely meet with tremendous success.â€ť