Everest Expedition Video 4: Ice Fall

Hi and welcome to the fourth video in my Everest adventure series. After acclimatizing for a few days at base camp we begin to make our way up the Khumbu Ice Fall. This river of ice is constantly shifting and is one of the more dangerous elements to climb as you make your way up Everest. Our first trip to camp 1 may take us 8-10 hours, but we will get faster as our bodies acclimatize. Due to the broken nature of the ice in the icefall, we work with a group of Sherpas called the Ice Fall Doctors who put ladders across the cracks establishing the route from base camp to camp 1.

 

 

Achieve The Outrageous Keynote

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Achieve the Outrageous is a new keynote by Scott Kress. This keynote is a new offering to add to his extremely popular Learning in Thin Air Keynote. The discussion below will give you insight into Scott’s latest adventure and the resulting keynote.

Q: What is Achieve the Outrageous?

A: Achieve the Outrageous is my new keynote based on my 2016 expedition to cross Antarctica on foot from the coast to the South Pole.

Q: Tell us about this expedition?

A: In November of 2016 I headed to Antarctica with three friends to travel on foot to the South Pole. Our plan was to follow in the footsteps of the early Antarctic explorers. We would start at the coast and travel by cross-country ski for close to 1000km to reach the South Pole. To make it as true as possible to the original explorers we would travel in what is called an unsupported and unassisted fashion. In other words, we would do it the hard way.

Q: What does unsupported and unassisted mean and why is this special.

A: Unassisted means that we would travel under our own power only. We would have no assistance from snowmobile, kite, sled dogs or any other advantage. Unsupported means we would have no support from the outside world to drop re-supplies to lighten our load. This means that all we would need for 50 days of travel we would start with and drag in sleds the entire distance. A supported expedition sled may weigh 30 kilos, ours would weigh closer to 130 kilos. An assisted trip would move fast because of the light weight. Unassisted we would need closer to 45-50 days. Why is this special? Because very few people have ever done it this way.

Q: What was the expedition like? Tell us about it?

A: The expedition was one of the greatest things I have ever done, but it was also one of the most difficult things I have ever done physically and mentally. Every day for 44 days we would pull our sleds across the extremely difficult terrain in sub-zero temperatures. Our bodies took a beating from the physical exertion and the repetitious nature of the journey. Our minds took a beating from the discomfort, the pain, the loneliness and the isolation.

Every day, regardless of the weather or how you were feeling, we would get up, make breakfast, break camp, put on our skis, hook up to our sled and pull. The days were long and hard, but we had no choice if we wanted to achieve our goal.

Q: How did you work together as a team?

A: We were a great team. I knew two of the members prior to the trip and knew we would work together well. The fourth member of the team was well known one of the other members so we all knew we were a solid team. We had to start with a team of people we felt could take it physically and mentally. If one person had to be extracted for any reason we would lose our unassisted and unsupported status so we had to work together and support one another physically and emotionally.

We spent time up front discussing our vision of teamwork and clarifying our roles and the style in which we wanted to complete the trip. We were all committed to this and it made decision making easy.

Q: What was the hardest part of the expedition?

A: At first it was difficult mentally. The isolation and monotony would tear at your mind all day every day. We all tried strategies from music to meditation to combat this and all found our personal coping strategies after about a week. As the trip went on it was the physical punishment that became most difficult and this contributed to the mental and emotional challenge. Blisters, muscle aches, pulled tendons, frost bite, sun burn, wind burn, polar thigh, sore backs, hips and shoulders were the norm. Every one of us suffered physically from the day-after-day non-stop physical beating. When the snow conditions were bad, the wind was raging, and the visibility was zero this made it even more difficult.

Q: How did you come up with the content for the Achieve the Outrageous keynote?

A: As I was skiing 8-10 hours a day I had a lot of time inside my own head. We could not easily talk to one another as we skied and at breaks, we were often too tired and too focused on fixing gear or self-care to talk. As I was skiing, I marvelled at how difficult what we were doing was. I began to wonder what allowed this to happen and I asked myself “how do you achieve the outrageous?”. In an almost meditative state, the ideas came to me. Those that did not fit, kept on going, and those that did fit stuck and I boiled it down to seven points that I felt allowed me to achieve the outrageous. Everyone will have their own, but I think my seven will connect with most people and when applied can help those people achieve the outrageous in their lives.

Q: Who would benefit from this keynote?

A: I believe anyone looking to achieve something big. This could be personal or in business, but if you want to achieve something big, something outrageous, I believe my story and my insights will help to inspire and motivate you and to give you focus in some specific areas to help you achieve your goal.

Q: How is this keynote different from your Learning in Thin Air keynote based on your climb of Mount Everest?

A: My Everest keynote is very much focused on high-performance team development, leadership and teamwork. In Achieve the Outrageous I focus more on the personal elements that one needs to achieve their goals. Yes, we were a team, but so much of the South Pole expedition was about personal determination, focus and perseverance. Yes, we did it as a team, but every person had to do it individually. We had to get up, fulfil our role, and persevere every day and nobody could do that for us. This is a much more personal story in many ways.

 

Everest Expedition Video 3: View From Kala Pathar

Hi and welcome to the third video in my Everest adventure series. Gorek Shep is the last village on the trek to Everest Base Camp. From here we climbed Kala Pathar for acclimatization and to get a great view of Everest and the surrounding mountains. Kala Pathar is relly just a big pile of dirt and rock, but rises to an elevation of 5643m. From the top you have an amazing view of Nuptse, Lhotse, and Everest as well as the Khumbu Ice Fall, base camp, Pumori, Ama Dablam and many other mountains.

 

Everest Expedition Video 2: Yak Transport

Hi and welcome to the second video in my Everest adventure series. After a short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla we begin our 10 day trek to Everest base camp. These trails through the Khumbu valley have been walked for hundreds of years and the transport trucks of the Himalayas are Yaks; a king of high altitude cow. The majority of our expedition gear is transported to Everest base camp by yak trains. You can see the beautiful countryside we pass through as we make our way towards the mountain.

 

Everest Expedition Video 1: Intro and trek to BC

Hi and welcome to my new expedition video series. Over the next while I will share with you some video I shot while climbing Everest and during other adventures. I did not shoot these a vlogs as vlogs did not exist at that time. I recorded them as a part of documenting my adventure.

This first series will showcase a few videos from my climb of Everest in 2008. This was a highlight in my climbing career and Everest will always hold a special place in my heart. Everest and Nepal have become a big part of who I am and I find myself back in Nepal every few years for various adventures. The videos are short, not planned and not professionally shot. They will just give you a glimpse into my world and some of my adventures. I hope you enjoy them.

This first video simply showcases the awesome beauty of the Khumbu Valley as we trekker to Base Camp. As we near Namche Bazar we catch our first view of Everest. As we peer to our right there are deep valleys filled with trees, rivers and waterfalls. As you look up the green turns to white and we catch sight of Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest.

 

Everest 2017 By Scott Kress

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Well another spring Everest season has come and gone. And an exciting season it was as always. I have always keenly followed each Everest climbing season and even more so since I summited on May 21, 2008.

Today’s internet environment makes it much easier to keep tabs on what is happening on the mountain. Every team and every climber is updating their social media sites and sometimes multiple sites at once.

Although this provides a flood of information, it is not always accurate. I try and avoid anything posted for sensationalizing or personal bragging. I try and separate the wheat from the chaff. The following will provide a very minor overview of what transpired in April and May this year on Everest. This is by no means a complete overview. If you are looking for additional details the internet is full of them.

Everest is climbed by two main/standard routes. The Southeast Ridge in Nepal and the North Col in Tibet/China. Nepal issued 371 climbing permits to foreign climbers (Sherpas are not included in this number and usually account for a similar number). China issued approximately 136 permits, but the numbers are not as available from China so this is somewhat of an educated guess based on gathered information.

These numbers represent a big year for Everest. The number of climbers is up for several reasons including the re-use (therefore no payment required) of climbing permits from the 2014 and 2015 seasons which saw the climbing season cut short due to avalanches and earthquakes. The Nepal government said they would honour these permits at no extra fee until the end of 2017. We are also seeing a large influx of climbers from India and China as the middle class expands in those countries. Along with this comes budget price guiding companies based in Nepal and India to support this new emerging market.

Overall, the large number of climbers did not seem to create any real issues of crowding and traffic jams on the mountain. Everest is a huge mountain and can accommodate a lot of people. Patience is required however, if you happen to get stuck behind a slower moving team of climbers.

As the numbers indicate, Nepal is much more popular than Tibet/China for climbing. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is the unpredictability of the Chinese Government and the changing policies, permit dates, and restrictions. Many established guiding companies are not comfortable with this uncertainty and choose to go to Nepal where, although not perfect, the system seems to be a little more predictable.

The climbing routes, mountain conditions and weather are often very different (as was the case this season), but this is not a huge factor in deciding which route to climb.

Early in April the route through the Ice Fall in Nepal was established making climbers optimistic for an early summit window. This was quickly shut down as high winds moved in and stuck around for much of the season greatly hampering the ability of climbers to move on the mountain. One strong positive in Nepal was the allowance of helicopters to ferry loads of climbing gear up the Western Cwm to Camp 2. This reduced the number of Sherpa loads that had to be carried through the very dangerous Ice Fall.

As the Nepal side dealt with high winds and difficult climbing conditions, over in Tibet things were moving quite well. The weather was uncharacteristically good and the ropes moved further and further up the mountain. For some reason, the team fixing the ropes to the summit decided to stop about 700m short, but the other climbing teams stepped up to the task and the first summits of Everest from Tibet came on May 11 (quite an early date statistically speaking).

With her 8th summit Lhapka Sherpa set a new record for the most summits by a woman. Several other interesting ‘events of note’ also occurred this season. We saw the second blind climber to summit. A Sherpa guide from Nepal set a new record for the most summits at 21. An Indian woman summited 2 times within 5 days. There were 5 summits without oxygen (a very difficult and dangerous task). And a speed climber set a new record for climbing from below base camp in Tibet to the summit and back again in 29:30 (and this was his second summit of the season – crazy).

As with any sport the ability of the participants grows every year as we push athletic and technological boundaries. More and more records will be broken in future years, and what we once thought was impossible will become commonplace.

The wind finally let up a bit in Nepal allowing for climbers to squeak in summit attempts. With summits in Nepal came the staggering news that the famous Hillary Step was gone. Climbers speculated that the earthquake in 2015 had dislodged the rock formation forever changing the face of Everest. This news hit the media and the internet like a raging fire. It turned out, however, to be fake news. It seems that perhaps a few boulders had shifted changing the wind patterns and how the snow collected on the Hillary Step making it look different. It is still there, it just looks different now with a new coating of snow.

There was a high attrition rate on both sides of the mountain from illness (the flu hit the Nepal base camp especially hard this season), injury and just plain frustration. Some climbers smartly left because they realized they were in over their heads. Other pressed forward regardless of their level of preparedness. Some threaded the needle and were successful and some paid the ultimate price.

Overall, the number of fatalities on Everest was normal with 7. Some of these deaths were from falls, but the majority seems to be from heart attack as older climbers struggle with the immense pressures placed upon their bodies at high altitude.

There were also two interesting stories of rebels on the mountain who felt they did not need to pay the permit fees as all the other climbers had. Interesting enough, both these climbers were telling the world about their exploits through social media and that made it pretty easy for the authorities to capture and arrest them. There is much more to these stories if you are interested in digging through the internet to find them.

Overall, it was another great and interesting climbing season on Everest. Many people realized their goal of standing on the highest point on our planet.

So that is my summary of the 2017 Spring Everest climbing season. Yes there is a fall season, but due to many factors very few if any people attempt to climb Everest at this time. I hope you have enjoyed this review and as I have stated, this is just a brief overview as seen through my eyes. Much more detail is available for those who wish to seek it out.