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Himalayan Cataract Project: Complete success even before reaching Base Camp
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Apr 26, 2005 13: 31 EST
After restoring sight to 250 people, the North Face Cataract Project team completed their healing campaign today. The patients came to the eye camps blind, and walked away 24 hours later soaking up the sights. Now the climbing team will head for Cholatse, but whatever happens on the mountain, they are one of the very few teams in climbing history that can justly claim success even before reaching Base Camp.

“There is a great sense of accomplishment and euphoria among this Sight to Summit team as we all feel strongly that our greatest objective of the expedition - curing blindness - has been met with tremendous success,” reported Jordan today.

Friends without borders

”We've assisted Dr. Tabin and Dr. Ruit with over 250 cataract surgeries between the two eye camps. It is difficult to put into words how it feels to take part in restoring eyesight and in so many ways giving people back their lives!”

“Last night after dinner, a shared camaraderie and profound sense of cross-cultural stewardship resonated in our hearts as we raised a glass with the doctors of Phaplu and the medical staff from the Tilganga Eye Center. Here in Phaplu, we have made new friends and shared something unique and special.”

Hearts of gold

“This expedition to cure preventable blindness in Asia is the realization of a personal five-year long dream and yet I've found the work can be tiring and emotionally draining at times. Through my own experience I've seen the other team members working hard as well. Without exception, I've been impressed by each and everyone from The North Face, Outside and Serac Adventure Films. Considering how many expeditions fail just through bad planning, group-dynamics and basic trip jerks, I feel extremely lucky to be with so many easy-going and experienced people, all of whom have hearts of gold and who have chosen to be here to make some contribution to the HCP cause.”

Now, off to Cholatse!

“Tomorrow the helicopter comes early and we plan to lift off for the Khumbu. This will be my first time to this part of the Himalaya, realizing another lifetime dream.”

”While the past few weeks have been stellar, we have an enormous task to climb Cholatse in what will amount to a slender ten days on the mountain. I'm already feeling the big mountain angst, from climbing style decisions to a fairly challenging acclimatization schedule. In the end, what matters most is that we ascend Cholatse in the same great style we have worked together here in Phaplu and Jiri as a team. I have high expectations.”

"Its not often in the world of mountaineering that an expedition can say they are going over to Nepal not only to climb a beautiful 6000m mountain (Cholatse), but also to help contribute to eradicating curable and preventable blindness. Well, this is exactly what a small crew of doctors, climbers, filmmakers, and photographers are about to embark on for the next month and a half," reported the team in their first dispatch. That was the introduction to the Cataract Project, currently at work in rural areas of Nepal.

The expedition leader is well-known seven-time Everest summiteer, Peter Athans. Other team members include Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, also an Everest summiteer, Conrad Anker, Kevin Thaw, Abby Watkins and John Griber. Rounding out the team are Michael Brown and David D’Angelo of Serac Films, and two additional photographers, Jordan Campbell and Kristoffer Erikson.

Live image over Contact 3.0 of Conrad Anker sharing photos with Dr. Mingma, courtesy of Cataract Project team/The North Face.

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