April 17, 2019
My first quiet morning. The boys, with the exception of Rob, went on a wild goose chase back down to Gorak Shep — mainly for WiFi. It’s quite comical watching everyone stress over the internet, but maybe its because I am bored. I am slowly learning to take my time and be patient with my days. We aren’t going any where fast any way. After breakfast, I watched a bit of After Life. If you like dark, dry humor, then I highly suggest checking it out. By 10, I had finished “cleaning” my tent out and decided to listen to, “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis.
Most days, I am an idea factory. I have always been a dreamer conjuring up what next great thing may be around my corner. Rachel’s words motivated me, as they usually do. My Everest expedition evolved from the desire to do the Seven Summits for charity into a platform to be able to inspire people and improve the world. I don’t want to simply change it after all, I want to leave it far better than when I found it. My intention on filming this expedition is to circulate some good in our media crazed society that circulates everything, but that. Even if we don’t summit, there is so much history, passion, and purpose that has been sprinkled through this climb that there will always be a powerful story.
I have stressed about how I would go about it all, especially since I am self funding it. I have no experience in making movies, selling content, or putting a movie in theaters. Luckily, I do have a couple of mentors that will be my sounding board once I am home. But what I will promise all of you reading, is that we will have a feature film or docuseries coming your way that will paint the picture from A to Z, feature the highs and lows, and cover all of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into something like this. We will share the stories of those who have become apart of my village along the way, have the most mind blowing shots of what the Himalayas really are, and make you feel like you were here with me. Whatever profit comes from this endeavor will go directly to The Kirstie Ennis Foundation so that we can continue our mission of supporting deserving nonprofits and improving the quality of life for others. I don’t want to make a dime off of this project, I just want a snowball effect of all good things.
The main gang wasn’t back before lunch so Rob and I ate in peace and discussed a tentative plan for our rotations. I definitely got excited and started to nerd out. This is the first time any one has really discussed a timeline and it’s given me something to look forward to. It’s looking like April 24th will be the beginning of our acclimatization rotation and we will aim to spend ten to fourteen days up high between camps one and three. From there, we will come down, spend a handful of days, and wait for the best weather window. Bets are being made on the weather window starting May 11th. Having a goal makes my stoke all sorts of high. Obviously, we will let roughly 100 people go ahead of us in order to get a solid boot pack/trail set in – especially for the Lhotse face which is all blue ice right now.
For a while it was looking like there wasn’t going to be as many climbers as previous years, but all of those rumors couldn’t have been more wrong. The final numbers were sent out yesterday. There will be a total of 360 climbers on the mountain, 70 of which are women. Of the 67 American climbers, four are women. And out of all of them, it looks like there are two amputees – myself and a British guy who is missing his leg below the knee.
It’s absolutely puking out – the snow has been ruthless. I’m ready for some sun.
April 18, 2019
The original plan for the day was to work our way to the ice fall to start getting a feel for things. However, after realizing it is the anniversary of the 2014 avalanche that took the lives of so many, the mountain stayed quiet. No climbers would be going up or down as a means of paying respects. One of the gents that is apart of our team was actually here at camp one at the time of the earthquake. My heart has hurt for him as he shared stories of the Sherpa team he lost. I admire his strength in returning.
Throughout the day, I had found myself thinking about the memorials we passed after Lobuche. Eve’s memorial has sat heavy on my mind and heart again — she was my age and there were pictures of children scattered amongst the prayer flags that wrapped around her site. We all know the risks we take by being in the mountains; I will forever question what exactly draws us to them even after acknowledging we may never return.
Sophie, who I met on the trail earlier on the trek in stopped by our camp to hang out for a bit. I think everyone enjoys a fresh face and new conversation — helps to pass the time. She really is lovely and I look forward to staying friends after the climb. Later, Rob, Christopher, and I all went up to see Greg (what a legend) from IMG. He has been working on Everest for the last decade and couldn’t help but brainstorm the different scenarios I will encounter on the climb. I appreciate his thoughts, and ultimately advice. Before I left, he explained, “If you are nervous, its because you know you haven’t done all you can to prepare. If you are excited, its because you know you have done all you can to prepare.”
While my prosthetic will forever throw me curves balls and frost bite on my leg remains my biggest fear, I’m excited.
April 19, 2019
It really doesn’t feel like it’s been seventeen days until I try to recall what exactly I have done with the last week. The plan was for Christopher, Rob, and I to head into the ice fall to start doing a little trial and error. We intended to have breakfast around 230 AM so I set my alarm for 145 AM. Naturally, I was wide awake come 11 PM — and I had on replay what we may encounter on our route.
After warming up my leg, I meandered in to the dining tent where the boys and I forced ourselves to eat our porridge. No one was really in a rush. I think we finally made it out the door by 345 AM. Considering we had talked a ton about keeping my leg warm enough to actually start warm, we did a terrible job with our follow through. In other words, I started with an already freezing socket. After a thirty minute hike through the river rocks, we hit the edge of the ice fall route.
Christopher and I immediately started putting on my crampon foot and my other crampon. It was cold and it was piercing through to my residual limb. For another thirty minutes through ice, snow, and random rocky sections, we maneuvered rolling hills until we hit the “Sherpa” crampon point under the first set of prayer flags. Though I was concerned for my residual limb, I was happy.
It had been far too long since I had my crampons on and traveling on glaciers. It gives me a bizarre feeling, almost like I am invincible — that even the worst situations have yet to hold me back. I’ve shaken my injuries off, and now I make them work for me, not control me. I don’t know what it is about my crampon foot, but every time I put it on, I go in to overdrive. Everything seems smoother and more stable. I am faster on the snow and ice; often times making me forget I’m missing my leg.
On some stretches of the route, I would shorten my sticks or attempt to use a trekking pole or ice axe, others I would jumar, some crawl up, and eventually arm wrap and walk just like your average bi-ped. The plan was to make it to the first ladder, and we ended up going to the second just to get a feel for things. It was maybe another 45 minutes in. Rob turned the camera on me and asked how I was feeling. I was choking back tears. I really do feel my best when I am out here pushing my limits and learning new things about myself, mentally and physically. Sure, I look out of place and my techniques are anything but normal, but I am out here doing it. I am gritting my teeth and making the unimaginable happen. I am out here just like everyone else — moving on fixed lines, passing anchors, climbing up ladders (and figuring out how to get back down), and getting stuck in climber traffic.
After our short interview, it was time to head back down to warm my leg. It wasn’t brutally painful, but it was starting to feel like pins and needles while giving me a shooting pain. Then, we hit two large groups trying to come up as we were trying to go down. We waited roughly 15 minutes to pass the oncoming traffic. I started to kick myself in the ass as we didn’t bring ANY of the things we had talked about testing in this scenario.
Now, it was just a matter of making our way down to get warm. I kept my sticks short and didn’t talk much. I just wanted to get my leg off and get my residual limb inside of my shirt and warmed up. Even a Nalgene full of hot water was too painful initially to put straight on it. After 10 minutes of controlled chaos at the edge of the ice fall, I was finally able to put my leg on and make the hike back to camp.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to give it Hell. Actually, mountaineering sucks on one leg. But damn, do I feel alive.