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Everest Traverse departure: Zero hour, 5 am
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Mar 28, 2005 11: 32 EST

4-time Everest summiteer Luis Benitez and Australian Piers Buck will attempt to scale Everest from the South side and come down the North side this spring. In addition, the two climbers will pioneer the new Contact GEO positioning system on the mountain.

Just about to leave for Nepal, Luis wrote up a departure piece for ExWeb - familiar tunes to many Everest climbers...

Going off to war

Zero hour, 5am. I often wonder how it all happens, the emotions, the stress, and the eventual departure from everything and everyone you hold close. As the weeks have turned into days, and the days into hours, I am struck with how departing for an Everest expedition is a little like going off to war.

Sorting out a will

The preparations often include sorting out a will, saying “goodbye” as if you were not coming back, but also re affirming the love that you feel for those around you. Talking with friends just that five more minutes, and holding loved ones closer just that much longer.

Burning the bridges

Most say that when you depart on these types of trips you burn bridges, as the emotions are sometimes too much to handle. I for one think burning bridges sometimes is good for the soul. It teaches you to never take anything for granted, to always live each day as if it is your last, and to do what you believe is right and what you believe to be your best, no matter what the cost.

Meet again the Sherpas I trust and love

As you can see from some of the photos, a lot of getting ready to leave is about educating those around you as to exactly what the heck you are getting ready to do! Meeting with sponsors, talking to TV and radio, packing, and inevitably, saying good-bye to loved ones.

I am truly looking forward to arriving in Kathmandu and meeting Piers Buck, the brave and ambitious fella that is making this traverse attempt possible. Not to mention meeting the rest of the Adventure Consultants team and all the Sherpas I have come to know, trust and love like family over the years.

Down with the skeptics!

Join all of us on this journey of discovery and human endeavor. I usually am at a loss for words when it comes time to say goodbye to home and hearth, put foot to earth and start climbing again, so I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Teilhard de Chardin.

“A passionate love of growth, of being, THAT is what we need…” “Down with the cowards and the skeptics, the pessimists and the unhappy, the weary and the stagnant.”
“Do not mock for an instant anything that looks like faith in our future.”

Till then….

Summitting Everest for his fourth time last spring, (the only wester climber to have done that consecutively) the Adventure Consultants climbing Guide Luis Benitez has been a busy guy. Since Everest last May, he's been to Elbrus (5642m) in the old USSR, Ama Dablam, Antarctica (Mt Vinson with Annabelle Bond), and Aconcagua. On each of his expeditions, Luis has been dispatching pics and reports over Contact 3.0.

Piers is a 30-year-old climber based out of Melbourne. He began climbing 5 years ago, and has spent most of his vacation time climbing in New Zealand and the European Alps. In the Himalayas, Piers attempted the Kangshung to Rongbuk traverse via Lho La but had to turn back due to deep snow. He climbed Cho Oyu via the Northwest Face.

The difficulty of an Everest traverse is obvious: Climbers don't have the advantage of following a familiar route on their descent - they will have to negotiate new terrain when they are at their most tired. They also need special climbing permits, double visas, and logistics prepared for both sides of the mountain.

Adventure Consultants, founded by the legendary climber and pioneering Everest guide Rob Hall, and now directed by Guy Cotter, is one of the world's leading Everest climbing outfits.

Images top to bottom: Luis packing up, goodbye Elise, radio interview, New York office, courtesy of Luis Benitez.



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