Sam Elias and other SCARPA athletes are at Everest base camp gearing up for an expedition that has many parts including a scientific medical study, a historical Everest story, a geologic survey and an art project. Not to mention actually climbing Mt. Everest. Elias wrote in to tell us what it’s been like getting ready for the expedition, the challenges he has faced as a sport climber, as well as the gear he is using.
I’ve been in Nepal since March 20, and I am at Everest base camp currently. I am a climber, but have never climbed in this style, nor have I ever been on a proper expedition. However, I am here as part of an expedition that extends far beyond just climbing. Thus, as I’ve been encountering difficulty, as one always does while learning, I’ve found motivation beyond thoughts of success as a climber (i.e. summiting the mountain).
I am here on behalf of The North Face with other SCARPA athletes Kris Erickson, Hilaree O’Neill and Cory Richards. Along with several other expedition members, we are helping to tell the historical Everest story, as well as our own unique story via National Geographic Magazine. We are also taking part in conducting geologic research on the mountain that has never been done before under the supervision of Montana State University. In addition, we are study subjects for the Mayo Clinic in order to learn more about the effects of altitude on the human body, which they have found to be similar to the cardiovascular stresses of patients with heart problems. Finally, I am aiding conceptual artist Fabian Knecht in a project to connect the lowest and highest places on Earth – The Dead Sea and the Summit of Mt. Everest.
I have tried to keep each of these individual projects in the front of my mind when my lungs are searing, or my skinny, sport climber legs are shaking and feel like lead, or my shoulders and back are in pain under heavy load. Conrad (Anker), our expedition leader says, “Hold Fast,” and it has become our expedition motto. He wrote it on a piece of wood that hangs over the entrance to our mess tent. So, that’s all I’m trying to do – one step at a time.
These steps have been made in my SCARPA Phantom 8000’s, Phantom Guide’s and even Instinct slippers. I used the Instinct’s both bouldering and sport climbing in multiple locations on long the approach to base camp. I have used the Phantom Guide’s to ice climb in the Khumbu glacier, as well as to shuttle loads as high as Camp 2 at about 6400 meters. Above that, I need the warmth of the Phantom 8000’s. We have done 2 acclimatization rotations up on the mountain, and now we are resting at base camp. The weather will dictate when and where we make our next move. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance at the summit soon.
A few more photos from Sam Elias: