The Ever-Changing Khumbu Icefalls

Ever-changing and full of uncertainty and risk, the path we pursue for our most aspired for aims means we must constantly assess and adapt each step, while always continually pursuing progress. Acknowledging that at times progress means pausing or going in a direction seemingly distancing one from where you are trying to arrive.

Embracing the obstacles, new perspectives the path provides, and also remembering to savor the steps and surroundings as you go all will create from the challenges of the course a sense of present value and empowerment – both which can fuel you further through the unforeseen difficulties you surely will encounter.

Our first rotation through the Khumbu Icefalls began by headlamp and several days later we descended in the reflective late morning sunshine and heat down a path seemingly completely different.

From the dark solitary shadows of ice we first met to glacial pools and weeping wet seracs overhead full of uncertainty as to their stability on our way down – we carefully weaved over, up, and down ladders, straddle stepping large crevasses while ever so softly navigating questionable snow bridges. Our gloved and mitted hands continually clipping our carabiner provided protection into the fixed lines should the ice beneath give way. This is the dance between climber and Khumbu.

Our second rotation approaches in the days ahead. Once again we will enter the Icefalls and again the path will be different, but we will carry the lessons and approach already learned to progress onward, as no summit of Everest can be reached absent respectfully entering the Khumbu Icefalls.

*featured image thanks to Rob Smith

The First Rotation Up Everest

The dominion we have over the world and nature are narratives often written by us to make us feel empowered and in control, where in truth our scale and stature in this world and time is small. This doesn’t make us weak or insignificant, as the way we connect with the world and all that and those in it with the time we have eternally leaves the touch of our existence within and upon it.

At times, by acting or simply standing in awe we can advance ourselves with the humility needed to near our passion driven dreams and also further connect us to the universal and tie us to everything we witness and even that which we believe we are unattached from in this life.

Our first rotation up Everest took us through Camp 1 and 2 reaching nearly 23,000 feet. We beheld the massive mountain making a snow covered tent seem miniscule and stopped to soak in Everest’s summit serenely standing still thousands of feet above us with clouds caressing it. We ascended and descended vertical ice and snow walls, digging crampons in and using ropes to navigate our way through a maze of natural obstacles, literally tying us to the glacier and mountain and symbolically tethering us ever more to this place and one another through this shared experience.

Safely back in Everest Base Camp now for some needed rest, I do not look at the mountain nor those around me the same. We exposed ourselves to Everest with humbleness and made ourselves vulnerable to its dangers – and will many times more before the end of May – but because we put ourselves in the position we did we eternally now are a part of this place and all those who have known or know of this sacred and special site.

Into the Khumbu

Practice can only go so far, in the end you must put yourself on to the stage to discover the reality of where you stand in the endeavor you have worked so long and hard to realize.

This was our dress rehearsal. Waking early, we moved in the early morning light into the theater of ice known as the Khumbu Falls. Two heavy days of snow deterred others from entering and so we laid first tracks in the snow which blanketed the ground and buffered our movements in a heightened silence.

Through a foggy mist, we slowly worked through the initial ladders and fixed lines. Crampons kicking into ice and hands gripping ascenders and rope – patiently we progressed. The ice falls embodied the full spectrum of glacial blues and seemed formed in abstraction.

The awe inspiring design of the ice though can lull you momentarily into forgetting the formidable nature and danger of it. Two of us stood as we began to descend only to heard a boom and feel a drop beneath us – driving home that the Khumbu Falls are alive and we are but guests within it. A Venus flytrap, it opens to us and yet at its discretion can also end us.

With gratitude we one by one exited safely the Falls, as a rainbow ringed the ridge line overhead. Confidence increased for our return, but also great reverence and respect for our next time entering upon this stage.

Training for the Khumbu Icefalls

Proximity to a dream can also be deceiving as to the realization of that dream. A dream within reach still requires the requisite commitment to fully become one with one’s heart’s desires.

You have come so far, but like any love driven dream – proximity is simply a humbling and thankful point at which the most meaningful work and acknowledged risks must be undertaken to realize the full depth of the love – be it a mountain summit or someone who you would move mountains for.

Waking each morning the Khumbu Falls greet me with their brutal and dangerous beauty through which I must pass in order to reach the summit of Everest. Acknowledging them I do not remain frozen and fixated upon them. Instead I train on how best to hone my skills to soon humbly enter them.

Simulating what will be asked of me to pursue this beloved dream, I climb higher to acclimate, I clarify my skills to mirror what will be presented before me, and I ceremoniously open myself to the traditions and spirit that are interwoven into the tapestry of this dream.

In the end, I choose to let the hope and risks fortify one another and give me courage to reach each day ever closer to my heart’s truth, which holds this summit and so much more.

Humble Blessings Before The Everest Ascent

Every moment we arrive in a new place in time with an opportunity to embrace, alter, or just sit bearing witness to the world and where we now find ourselves within it. We can aspire to open ourselves to newness and release that which has anchored our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits in places that undermine who we are and who we dream ourselves to be.

Sitting in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal receiving a blessing from a local Lama for the journey ahead I relinquish the need to know the words being chanted, nor the complete tenets of his beliefs – I instead respect the shared moment and honor the connection to this person, this ceremony, and our coexistence in it.

I also acknowledge the dance between the difficult times and those in which we delight are part of the rhythmic movement of life and the universal. I aspire with you to find the worth of what tries to harden us and to spin happily with you in the joys which grace our lives and make us feel free to be our most truest selves.

Thank you for sharing with me your love and support through all my moments on this grand adventure. You frame each new day with light and levity to lead me ever toward my dreams.

Finding the Spirit of Nepal

In striving for new heights the celebrations we share on mountain tops do not eclipse the imbedded and deep spirit of Nepal, nor the spirits that have come to rest here in the pursuit of the same dream – the summit of Mount Everest.

From the prayers flags beaten by the elements, but ever unfaltering in their essence – to the local Nepalese toiling with and tilling the land while the Himalayas hang humbling overhead – this is a place where peace and spirituality are heightened by the the elemental and existing struggle this place also provides. It is a beauty fortified through hardship, not an avoidance of hardship.

As we continue our journey, I acknowledge and embrace ever more the deep connection of this country and its communities to the meaningfulness of my dream to summit Everest.

Namaste and thank you for joining and sharing with me this path.