Gabriel Filippi and Sean Egan's soul, together on the summit of Everest|
Jun 6, 2005 11: 39 EST
Canadian Gabriel Filippi summited Everest on Monday, May 30th at around 10am ( local time), part of the first wave of climbers to summit Everest from the south side this year. Gabriel was one of the independent climbers who followed Willie Benegas and Mountain Madness’ Sherpas, fixing ropes at the Hillary Step and breaking trail in deep snow on their way to the summit.
In that sense, Gabriel was alone. But not in spirit.
“The memory of his friend Sean Egan was always with him,” reported Gabriel’s home team. “On the summit, Gabriel placed a kata (a scarf blessed by the monk and worn by the climbers) on which he had written ‘1942-2005’, in memory of his friend Sean Egan. He had inserted Sean’s ashes in a small pocket. His friend is now where he always wanted to be.”
Canadian Sean Egan, an associate professor at Ottawa University, and Gabriel became friends on Everest in 2000 when Sean was studying the behavior of alpinists. They understood each other and seemed to be living parallel lives. When they met again in base camp this spring, Gabriel was “adopted” by Sean’s Kanatek expedition, spending most of his time with the team. Talking in base camp – with Egan the only member of his team due to attempt the summit - they planned to go for it together.
“At the age of 63, Sean was sharing the same passion for mountains as Gabriel and had chosen to pursue his biggest dream,” Gabriel’s team reported. “He was known for his sharp humor and the kindness of his soul. He was the one who organized the ‘highest hockey game in the world’ during the first week of the expedition.”
But Sean suffered from several health problems from the beginning of the expedition. During an acclimatization trip, Sean felt ill and was not capable of reaching Camp 2. He returned to BC and, along with his Sherpa, continued down the valley for some thicker air and medical treatment. During the trek to the hospital in Periche, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died before air rescue could reach him.
This is what Sean would want
Gabriel was acclimatizing in camp 2 when he heard the news. Devastated, he returned to base camp to reflect but, still feeling strong physically, believed Sean would not want him to abandon the expedition. Gabriel proceeded with his acclimatization trips, and joined the waiting game for a weather window that never seemed to come closer. Finally he saw the chance and went for it by the end of May. His will and patience paid off, and he reached the summit. Climbing along with Sean Egan ashes in a blessed scarf.
“This is what Sean would want,” he said.
Gabriel is now on his way home, without his friend. Sean rests forever on his dream mountain, literally on top of the world.
Dr. Sean Egan, associate professor at Ottawa University and member of the Kanatek expedition, died on April 29th, 2005 after suffering a heart attack on his way down to Periche. He was the only member of the Kanatek team attempting the summit, and the first casualty on Everest this year.
Canadian Gabriel Filippi’s summited Everest on May,30th through the South Col route.
Top Image of Gabriel, courtesy of his home team through Peak Freak’s website. Bottom image of Dr. Sean Egan, courtesy of Kanatek.