The 2012 climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to ramp up and by next week we’ll be getting a steady stream of updates from Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp, Tibet and beyond. As I’ve mentioned before, a number of teams are already in Nepal and are either on the trail to Base Camp or are putting the finishing touches on their plans before they set out. Those traveling to the North Side of Everest won’t be able to enter Tibet until Sunday, but we should start hearing about those expeditions soon as well.
One climber who is no stranger to Kathmandu or Everest is Brit Kenton Cool. He just arrived in KTM earlier today and will be heading out to the Big Hill soon enough. If successful this season, Kenton will notch his tenth summit of Everest and while each of them has been special in its own way, this year he has extra incentive to reach the top. When he heads to the summit in approximately two months time Cool will be carrying a gold medal from the 1924 Olympics with him, and in doing so he hopes to fulfill a promise made 88 years ago.
Back in 1922, one of the earliest expeditions to Everest made a summit bid that was ultimately denied. But in doing so, the team led by Lt. Colonel Edward Strutt, set a new altitude record of 8230 meters (27,000 ft). Attaining that height gave people hope that Everest would soon be conquered and that man could indeed go to amazing heights. The accomplishment was highly celebrated, even though it fell some 618 meters (2029 feet) short of the summit, and Strutt and his team were awarded 21 gold medals at the 1924 Olympic games in Paris. When he received his medal, Strutt vowed to Baron Pierre du Coubertin that he would carry it with him when he went to the summit.
We all know that Strutt was never able to make good on that promise and it would be another 29 years before Hillary and Norgay would stand on top of the world’s tallest mountain. So for 88 years Strutt’s promise to the Baron has gone unfulfilled, but in the year that the Olympics come to London, Kenton Cool hopes to take Strutt’s gold medal to the top of Everest at last. You’ll be able to follow his progress in the days and weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, climber Ian Ridley is on the trail to Everest Base Camp and has been posting some excellent articles to his blog along the way. He and his team are currently in Namche Bazaar where they are enjoying a rest day today before continuing up the Khumbu Valley. For those who haven’t visited Namche, it is the largest town in the region and one of the last places to pick-up any gear you may have lost or forgotten. The village actually has quite a few amenities, including a pool hall, multiple Internet cafes, several excellent bakeries, and a row of gear shops.
Reading Ian’s posts have made me wistful for my trek through the Khumbu from a couple of years back and they are a good read for anyone who is planning on going to Everest in the future. He’s just three days into the trek at this point, so there is plenty more to come.
I’m eager for the start of another season. Wish I were there in Nepal again, but I’ll have to settle for following along from afar. It is shaping up to be another great spring in the Himalaya.
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