Let’s show our support for Chad!!

Hi everyone! This is Tracy, Lindsey wanted me to add this to chads blog…

Hey Hey To Everyone Following Along on My Brother’s Journey to The Top of the World:

We are wanting to show Chad we are all with him during this final push to the summit of Mt. Everest!

We are asking anyone and everyone that is following along to take a photo in this pose from the highest point near you and post it on his Facebook Page or Blog (if possible before 5pm on the 22nd.)

It could be a high look out point near you, a beautiful view spot, on top of a slide at a playground or even be on top of your desk if you can’t make it out!

With a sign and/or you can just tag it online

“We are with You” #frostyoneverest2019

(Please add what part of the world you are posting from)

Camp 3 (dug in on the Lhotse Face)

We made it to camp 3, despite cyclone Fani, and waiting on a weather window. We finally got our shot and cruised up the Lhotse face. It’s a beautiful camp dug into the side of Lhotse at 7,200 meters or 23,730 ft. The views of The Valley and surrounding peaks are spectacular!

I for one, am grateful for the extra rest day we spent at camp two. I was able to recover from my stomach bug, and get some much needed rest. Starting out today I felt great, my backpack was definitely over 30 lbs, and we climbed about 2,500 vertical feet in 4.5 hrs. But, before I claim Superman status, we started the oxygen today and I think that played a big role as well.

That being said, the mask freaked us all out. The first half of the day if felt like it was actually strangling you. But once you calm down and learn to breathe slowly, and controlled it really does help. Its a lot like your first time snorkeling, where you don’t fully trust you can breath under water so you keep popping up gasping for air. Now, I just have to survive sleeping with it on, in a cramped tent, and a coffin style sleeping bag. Yay!! Anyone who suffers from claustrophobia, Just stop reading and run!

One thing I want to point out about high altitude breathing is…..it’s freaking hard. How I would describe it to a non climber. Imagine if you will ( your at sea level) breathing is like standing on your tread mill in your living room, pretty easy I think. Now let’s jump up to 12,000 ft, you put a hefty garbage bag over your head and start your treadmill on level 4. Ok now 20,000 ft, crank up the tilt of the treadmill and put it on speed ten, oh and tie the garbage bag tightly around you! But don’t worry here comes oxygen to save the day! Oxygen is like taking a pencil and poking 2 small holes in front of your mouth! Helpful? Yes but……That’s about the best way I can explain high altitude breathing, and the relief from using oxygen! I know what your thinking…. fun right?!?! Good. Me too! Oh and this was just an analogy so don’t try this at home!!

In all seriousness, oxygen does help with altitude, strength, body warmth, and brain function, like clarity and focus.

I could not imagine doing any 8,000 meter peak without oxygen. The mountaineers that do it with out O’s are super human!

Ok off to bed. We plan to move to camp 4 at dawn. I will need plenty of sleep and yes a new tank of O’s. 😜 – Chad Gaston

Patience is Key!

Soon, things get real and most of us are laying in our tents, focused on the task ahead. All the training, mental prep, and combined experience, will be needed moving up into the Death Zone. We break out the oxygen and will be on it until we return to camp 2. I am not a fan of things covering my face when I sleep, so I think it will be tough sleeping with the mask on. But what the hell, most of this trip has not been rainbows and unicorns!

We have not left camp 2 and are waiting on our guides to let us know when the next move is, Like I said, our plans are always a loose set of guidelines. Weather and other strategic factors come into play and we just need to role with it. Until I know anything I will be rolled up like a burrito trying to stay warm. Current temp at camp 2 is between -25 and -30 I think. – Chad Gaston

Day 2, Camp 2, Summit Push

Slept 11 hours last night, as did most of the team. I feel much better, stomach is still a bit touch and go, but at 21,300 ft, everything with our bodies is operating on battery back-up. Let’s just say, everyones check engine light is on!

Not only, did the climb back up through the icefall ( for the third time) and across the great white Sahara, wipe us out, we are now approaching 7 weeks (46 days) of climbing, living at altitude, heavy pack carrying, modified diet, wag bag using, tent living, sleeping bag crashing, and all around living outside of our comfort zones. These are some of the things weighing on our fitness, mental health, and overall enjoyment. That being said, its been an incredible adventure and the payoff is just 8,000 vertical feet away!

Obviously we all choose this and we do love the adventure and experience, but it’s no trip to the spa! I think what brings us (mountaineers) enjoyment from all the discomfort and pain is the sense of accomplishment, from surviving all the hardships and coming out tougher, stronger, and more focused. Some other benefits are, the 80-90% disconnect from the fast paced world, 24 hour news cycles (which is always negative), and the never ending texts/emails. Finally, we experience nature at its finest, beauty that’s impossible to describe to someone who has not experienced it first hand. – Chad Gaston

Groundhogs Day

Update from Chad via sat phone this morning….

Y’all remember that movie with Bill Murray, where he relives the same day over and over. Well, if you remember the last time we pushed from basecamp to camp two, I got sick and said it was the toughest day I had had in my life. Well today was not to be out done. Again 10 hours, 20lb pack, 4,000 ft of elevation, stomach bug on steroids, (lots of wag bags), and let’s add some sunburn and dry heaving. Let’s just say I’m exhausted and so is the team! They all worked very hard and did a great job.

Luckily they did not have my issues. But one of the girls,( Nelly) fell asleep at the dinner table sitting up. We got a great pic. Haha. All of us were in our tents, ready for bed by 7:30. The whole team made it, and out side of exhaustion we are in good spirits. Tomorrow is a much needed rest day. I will blog in more detail then. As of right now I can barely hold my phone up to blog! – Chad Gaston

The Push!!

Kick the tires and light the fires!

Ladies, bust out the pearls and heels! Gentlemen, polish those shoes and iron your suits! Someone pop the champagne, because the main event is about to begin!!

We just got the news, we are making the final Summit push for Mt Everest 29,035 ft! The weather window opens May 21st to the 24th! Looks like the best weather of the season.

Tonight we will climb through the icefall again to camp 2, luckily I only have a 20 lb pack this time. We will sleep the nights of 17th & 18th at camp two, while resting and waiting on the weather to clear. When we are ready to move up, I will receive a bottle of O’s, hook up my mask and regulator. Pack up my tent (sleeping bag and pads, put on the full body down suit ( thanks again randy!!) then push up the Lhotse face to camp three. This is where it gets tough. Without Sherpa help my pack will weigh up to 30-35 lbs,( including the oxygen tank).

Once we arrive at camp 3 ( night of the 19th) I will have to set up my sleeping gear, eat a dehy meal and sleep with my mask on to remain on oxygen.

The next morning we will pack up get some breakfast and climb to the South Col (camp 4, 26,000 ft). We are now in the Death Zone. The area above 25,000 ft where the human body is literally dying if you are not on oxygen.

We will spend a total of three nights at or above this elevation. We sleep (or try too, they say it’s almost impossible to sleep) the night of the 20th. Then at 10 pm on the evening of the 21st we will gear up and go for the summit. We hope to arrive at The Top Of The World at dawn on the 22 nd. (Or about 6 pm May 21st in Chicago.)

We then climb back down to camp 4 to sleep and then return to camp 2 for a night and walk into basecamp mid morning on the 25th of May. This is the game plan and anyone who has climbed in high altitude knows, things always change. If that is the case I will be keeping you updated the same way. By sending my blog to Tracy.

I’m so excited, it will be hard to sleep! I want to thank EVERYONE for all the love and support you have given me on this journey! I will continue to blog through Tracy. Hope to make you all proud and send a shout out from the Top Of The World!

Last but not least. The Private client Michael and his guide Kenton Cool summited very early this morning and are already back at camp two. They were on a very accelerated program! Congrats Michael and Kenton!! Well Done!Michael and I below.

Team Dynamics!

The summit team is set, after losing three great guys to altitude sickness and injury (all Americans by the way,) we are left with 8 climbers. Four of those climbers are women of middle eastern descent. (Saudí, Omán, and Lebanon.) All 4 are pioneers and have amazing stories of overcoming adversity in their culture and society. Summit or no summit they will all be hero’s to all the young ladies in the Middle East. ( from left to right Joyce, Nelly, Chad, Mona, Nadhira)

These 4 ladies have impressed me with their strength, courage, tenacity, and friendship. It has been a pleasure getting to know them let alone climb with them! One cool thing is they are apart of a documentary that is being filmed by Elia Saikaly, ( one of the 8 remaining climbers on the team). Elia is from Canada and is of Lebanese decent as well. He has been on Everest 8 times and summited 3 of them. His documentary is called “The Dream of Everest” and I will be posting clips or small trailers as they become available.

The remaining two members are Sherif from Egypt and Wojciech of Poland. All team members are feeling great, rested, and strong. The Team has come together very well and the diversity of the whole group has made the experience even better.

Earlier today our Sherpa team that summited yesterday and fixed all the ropes, returned to basecamp. We congratulated them all and I was able to get a picture with 5 of them. All of these guys have summited Everest several times and I truly am in awe of them. They are masters of their craft and just plain super humans! (Picture of Sherpa Studs)

As for the summit, our departure date is not fixed, but looking like leaving at 2am on the 17th and summiting the 21-22nd. This can easily change but that’s what we are shooting for.

The Waiting Game

So good news and not so good news. Our Elite Sherpa team of 8 finished fixing the lines and all 8 summited! The bad news is the weather only looks good for one more day then doesn’t get better till the 21st-22nd. So as of now, we have pushed our starting day back to the 17th. This is the part that kills you! We have been here now almost 7 weeks, away from our families, loved ones, and work. I was told the waiting would be one of the hardest things, and it’s proving to be true.

Now that the ropes are in all teams will be jockeying for position to summit. One thing I like about Garrett and his company is he doesn’t rush to summit (they call it summit fever). Instead he waits a day or two, to allows the other teams to get out of our way.

Either way, I allowed for the time and I am enjoying the down time. It’s just the anticipation of 8 months of training, 7 weeks of climbing, and just knowing how close I am to a life long goal! Well, like we say on the mountains “ hurry up and wait!” Tomorrows a new day with a new weather forecast.

Costa Rica Shout Out!

When I was 21 and a Senior at Arizona State University, I took a trip to Costa Rica over Christmas break and it changed my life. I met a guy selling his surf shop/tour shop/gift shop, and restaurant. He pitched it to me and I laughed, I explained I was 21 years old, still in university, and maybe had 10 grand to my name. My mother who was on the same trip gave him my info after I had returned to university, and after a generous offer to owner finance me, I purchased it in March 2002, three months before my graduation. I turned in my last final, got very hammered, skipped the graduation ceremony and arrived in Costa Rica July 11th 2002 at the age of 22. Oh did I mention I knew no one and didn’t speak Spanish either! But I never looked back.

Since that day, I have been living and working in my adopted country and couldn’t be happier. I have met so many great Costa Rican’s (Ticos and Ticas as they prefer to be called.) It is my honor to wear their colors on my chest and I have the summit flag ready as well. I will also be representing the USA as I will never forget the opportunity she gave me as well. Merica!!!

Yesterday I sewed the patches on my jacket and no longer than an hour into my acclimatization hike today a couple from Heredia, a suburb of San Jose (the Capitol of Costa Rica) stopped me. Their names are Paul and Melissa, (he is originally from the US and she is Tica) they are on the trek to Everest basecamp and accomplished that today, congrats to the both of you! It’s a small world and it just made me proud to represent the little piece of paradise I call home! Pura Vida Costa Rica!!🇨🇷🇨🇷🇨🇷

People of the Khumbu Valley

I have now been in the Khumbu for 6 weeks and I felt I should share some of my experiences and admiration for the people who live here in this remote, rugged, high altitude, region of the world.

This is no easy life! It’s cold, damp, dirty, thin aired, void of most modern amenities, while being beautiful, amazing, and breathe taking (pun intended.) The locals live hard, physical lives and they do it with a smile on their face and generosity in their hearts.

Our western society, has become so pampered and entitled, I believe most could not or would not survive in any of the villages up here. Most homes do not have indoor plumbing (running water or toilets), full time electricity (lights, furnace, outlets.) The homes are heated by a cast iron stove that burns yak dung and that’s only in the center of the kitchen. The bathrooms are out houses, with out toilets, just a hole to squat over. These are not for the faint of heart!

Being in such a remote area, all goods are carried up from Lukla or The Valley floor. The locals use yaks and mules to move a lot of the good, but the rest they carry on their backs. (Helicopters are used but mostly just for the tourist trade.) They are a very strong group of people and I have seen them carry as much as 100 lbs on their backs. This with out the altitude is impressive, but at heights of 11,000 to 17,000 feet it’s mind blowing. They really are super human.

Outside of tourism, the remaining labor I see is in small gardens tending crops of potato’s and a few other veggies that grow in these conditions. The rest seem to work construction, where they mostly work with the granite boulders all around them. They chip away at the rocks, cutting them it to workable shapes for roads (more like paths actually,) stairs, and buildings. I witnessed workers using small mallets to crush rock the size of a grapefruit in to pebbles in order to make gravel for concrete.

I am blow away, how efficient they are with just small hand tools. Since I own a construction company, I can appreciate the amount of labor it takes for them to just create one wheelbarrow of cement. And yet they go about there day with grace, dignity, and pride. Not one has put their hand out as we pass by, nor uttered a negative remark. They merely greeted us with a smile and the word Namaste!

I feel very grateful to be able to experience this adventure and even more so to be in the presence of these amazing people. I was fortunate to be raised by two parents that loved to travel and who saw the value in the education you receive on these trips. I urge everyone to travel outside your comfort zones, open your eyes, hearts, and minds, as every culture has something new to teach you!