Dispatch 10: So it is done, my ankle is broken

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”My ankle is broken after my fall yesterday. We iced 8 times, we went through 5 rounds of Ibuprofen and Tylenol and we kept it elevated almost 14 hours before I slept in a compression wrap and elevated for the night. Currently, I believe it wants to ski or hike downhill…because that’s the only way it will point! Then I try to move it…ooooh, it looks like a baseball that has soaked in water staining the lower part of my foot with a purple and green base. Yuck.p /So…I guess that this Spring, even after our initial and really charged foray onto the hill, we will not be going higher. Jon says so and I just nod, he’s a great partner who despite ambition can see the facts. We have gone over every boot cutting slpinting option you can imagine…none will get me back across basecamp even. Ha…ohh we are climbers.p /The wave of shock that washed over me yesterday was amazing as I faced down this fact of not being able to move under my own power. I’m kind of restless as is and a bit of a wiggler as my wife would say. Choppering out from basecamp is now my only option…Wow, this is my first imobilizing injury in 30 years. I can’t walk, I simply can’t. Hmmmph.p /But I can grin, and I can breathe and I can appreciate my climbing partner, videographer Chris Dalton and all the exquisite meals and care that were given to us by our amazing friends and staff at Mountain Tribes. This was the strongest I have ever been in the mountains, each year I return fitter and happier. Only such great company can make spending this time away from my wife and home so worthwhile.p /But still I broke my ankle, or tore it or whatever, it will heal and I will walk just fine as soon as it is ready. Then I will run, I will climb, I will ski. I’m an underdog, a guy from Tennessee that comes to the Himalayas every year and pioneers something to no fanfare or avail. Finally, after all I have learned and taken from these mountains…they have given me something that I can’t ever forget; real pain, real suffering and real luck. The depth of true loss that comes with that is irreplaceable, (massive monetary investment, time and health) a new low that can only go up from here! That’s exciting to me. I know where I am starting from to rebuild and believe that I can, because it is what I do. It is in my DNA to swallow that fear and spit out success. p /Already The rally cries from my other partners at home are coming in and we will return in the fall for yet another season of Ski the Himalayas podcasts. This next time, we will ski lower peaks with more of the same crew and some new faces. Look for this season’s podcast episodes to begin in June and learn why all aspects of the mountain keep drawing me and my friends here. We’ve glossed over the obvious objectives for years and hope to continue to authenticate adventure to you and from here for many years to come.p /Live the dream, and please don’t worry about me. I’ll be ok and send out an update when I can. I’m the luckiest one of all that this happenned when and where it did. The climb back up to fitness will be more rewarding than any summit and there will be many in there along the way. An old mentor once told me that the difference between a good alpinist and a great alpinist was downclimbing, He’s dead like so many other Alpinists I knew trying things a hair crazier than me. I believe the difference is in stopping before you go too far, picking yourself back up and having fun doing it. We have this life to try so many things in, and so I do and so I will Count on it.p /Thank you all for your support,p /Ben Clark/span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-10-so-it-is-done-my-ankle-is-broken”skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 9: well…hmmmm

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Jon and I feel stronger than ever. Our spirits are up, our sense of adventure is high and today we departed for basecamp to begin the summit climb. I love moving in the mountains. The first moment was incredibly invigorating. p /The sun highlighted the Southeast ridge. I waved goodbye to our cook staff, I turned.p /Then I rolled my ankle in the sand. With a 60 pound pack on. I wasn’t 120 paces out of camp. I hit the ground and knew immediately that everything would be ok. Well, almost everything. Well, maybe not the ankle right then. Oh man. Shit, it feels like it snapped in half.p /I rolled my pack off and the first wave of nausea hit me. I stood up and collapsed. Ahhh hell. I walked 10 feet and when the shock wore off and I felt the heat of the sun all over my body again I sat down. I knew then; Tomorrow will be a better day for climbing this mountain. Maybe the next day…p /Does it hurt, yea. Will it go away, yea. Am I upset, no. It’s my body. I can deal with this thing. Jon has me on a constant rotation of ice and tylenol, elevation and stepping around. He and I both come with the prerequisite skills and experience to deal with all things short of breaks. But in between icing sessions the swelling comes back…it’s big. I want to cry, it’s not the pain. I can not stand an end like this, I will fight. I will have to.p /If there is one thing I know, it’s that I want it to get better and it will because of that. As my manual therapist Katie Choate has told me with each near miss over the last four years, wanting to be healthy is the best treatment for anything. She should know, I’ve pinched a sciatic nerve and done a whole expedition with a misaligned knee. I want to be healthy. Now is when my super stiff plastic ski boots can shore that bad boy up too. If I can just get up the morraine.p /I’m a little scared, as I think anyone would be. Jon and I did everything right this year, except I blew that one step. It’s up to the powers that be and my body now. Time is a factor but too early to call. Our weather window should hold. I’ll be giving it a go. Extra days down low will only aid our acclimitization.p /It’s only noon…the day is beautiful.p /Live the dream, this nightmare will pass.p /Ben Clark/span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-9-wellhmmmm”skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 8: 20′600′ and man it’s awesome up here!

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”You have to be crazy to explore high altitude. Not conventionally crazy, like constantly repeating the same thing and expecting a different result. You have to be comfortable with getting a result that is punishing and optimistically believing the opposite will happen next time. Crazy thing is…it does, every time. That’s why flatlanders label it extreme. I guess it defines risk as well.p /Jon and I travelled light and high to 20,600′ yesterday on our objective, 23,390′ Baruntse, it was hard on us. We climbed half our expected 5 day route in a little over 24 hours, just three days after arriving in basecamp. As much as we enjoyed the scenery and the awkwurd sensation of oxygenless stupor, we also descended fully to basecamp in time for supper. FAST. Today we rest in anticipation of a summit strike in a couple of days. Weather is moving in as the sky is swarming moisture in from the Northwest, a testy condition I have sat through before in a less comfortable position testing my patience. p /Climbing in the high himalaya is demanding and offers a rite of passage for ones mind. No, I’m not about to launch into a self agrandizing piece here, I mean to define the statement above in an authentic sense to portray why all aspects of these adventures are important. The rite of passage is very spiritual, very intrinsic and personal. For me, it is maintaining focus while the distraction of enormous scale and mountain upon mountain flutter through clouds and reveal a rare and sanctimonious environment. For Jon, it is putting one foot in front of the other until you push through and feel good (yes, it happens when the blood gets going). For videographer Chris Dalton who is stationed in basecamp it is the overwhelming sense of isolation and beauty, a priceless vision of mother earth. There are hints of life that when the curtains of the esoteric are lifted from this message, fill us with a joy that is unique to this environment. That is why we are here.p /And Jon and I get to go back up and experience it again! On skis! The initial burn of acclimitization is over, we have respectfully and responsibly approached this peak. We climbed high, understand our route and have marked the crevasses (holes in the glacier) for a safe and fun ski descent. A first for this mountain and this route filled with fun slopes for the ice climber and skier alike.p /For more on why this years ascent and Jon’s breakthrough hold so much weight on our experience, please visit a href=”http://www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts/”www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts//a and view episode 12. It is long, it is raw and it offers insight into the perseverance and will that drives my respect for Jon as a person and a climbing partner. You’ll also witness why failing so big can sometimes lead to such rewarding knowledge unavailable through constant success in the comforts of our ability. p /Live the dream,p /Ben Clark p /p /p //span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-8-20600-and-man-its-awesome-up-here-0″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 8: 20′600′ and man it’s awesome up here!

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”You have to be crazy to explore high altitude. Not conventionally crazy, like constantly repeating the same thing and expecting a different result. You have to be comfortable with getting a result that is punishing and optimistically believing the opposite will happen next time. Crazy thing is…it does, every time. That’s why flatlanders label it extreme. I guess it defines risk as well.p /Jon and I travelled light and high to 20,600′ yesterday on our objective, 23,390′ Baruntse, it was hard on us. We climbed half our expected 5 day route in a little over 24 hours, just three days after arriving in basecamp. As much as we enjoyed the scenery and the awkwurd sensation of oxygenless stupor, we also descended fully to basecamp in time for supper. FAST. Today we rest in anticipation of a summit strike in a couple of days. Weather is moving in as the sky is swarming moisture in from the Northwest, a testy condition I have sat through before in a less comfortable position testing my patience. p /Climbing in the high himalaya is demanding and offers a rite of passage for ones mind. No, I’m not about to launch into a self agrandizing piece here, I mean to define the statement above in an authentic sense to portray why all aspects of these adventures are important. The rite of passage is very spiritual, very intrinsic and personal. For me, it is maintaining focus while the distraction of enormous scale and mountain upon mountain flutter through clouds and reveal a rare and sanctimonious environment. For Jon, it is putting one foot in front of the other until you push through and feel good (yes, it happens when the blood gets going). For videographer Chris Dalton who is stationed in basecamp it is the overwhelming sense of isolation and beauty, a priceless vision of mother earth. There are hints of life that when the curtains of the esoteric are lifted from this message, fill us with a joy that is unique to this environment. That is why we are here.p /And Jon and I get to go back up and experience it again! On skis! The initial burn of acclimitization is over, we have respectfully and responsibly approached this peak. We climbed high, understand our route and have marked the crevasses (holes in the glacier) for a safe and fun ski descent. A first for this mountain and this route filled with fun slopes for the ice climber and skier alike.p /For more on why this years ascent and Jon’s breakthrough hold so much weight on our experience, please visit a href=”http://www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts/”www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts//a and view episode 12. It is long, it is raw and it offers insight into the perseverance and will that drives my respect for Jon as a person and a climbing partner. You’ll also witness why failing so big can sometimes lead to such rewarding knowledge unavailable through constant success in the comforts of our ability. p /Live the dream,p /Ben Clark p /p /p //span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-8-20600-and-man-its-awesome-up-here”skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 5: 17,600′ Basecamp/Day 9

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Six thousand feet overhead sits a wave of windswept snow breaking over an eastern aspect. High in the sky, this tiny corniced perch has captivated my attention for nearly 700 days. It’s the summit of 23,390′ Baruntse. We will stand on it in the next two weeks. p /We are in basecamp today, we trekked for 9 days to arrive here. The scene is in a massive bowl surrounded by a 360° cirque of 6000m peaks. For those unfamiliar with the rest of the worlds fascination with metrics, that’s a toothy and continuous ridgeline that renders no real estate in sight lower than 16,000′ and as high as 27,000′. Dramatic, holy, humbling…Himalayan.p /Today we actively rest our well worn heels in our midnight colored dining tent. Intermittent sounds of filing our sharp ice tools and cramp-ons pierce the air where Talking Heads, Paul Simon and Pink Floyd set the mood. Sure, we are in the middle of nowhere and perhaps bringing pop culture agents like sat phones, pocket pc’s and ipods blunt the Emersonian impression of us in the wilderness but we’ll have plenty of sensory deprivation up highp /The next four days will be spent exploring on skis and developing our route to the summit. There are several options to gain a broad shoulder, ice, chossy granite or a standard line through a snow choked and protected gully. We’ll likely take the latter. p /We have a solid preview of the route from basecamp, but snuck in some time last night with a Chilean couple to fill in the holes. They summited three days ago and agreed that despite the technical difficulties present on the knife edge ridge that straddles two 6000′ faces, the sticky soft snow would reward us for bringing our skis. p /More to come on that as we enjoy our time at altitude and savor the days here engaged by the possibilities of all the terrain that will show us the way to the top.p /Live the dream,p /Ben Clark/span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-5-17600-basecampday-9″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Let the games begin!

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Dreams don’t come easy. Our dream of climbing and skiing Baruntse has taken Ben and I two years and something like 40 days of travel by plane, foot, and automobile (26 last year, 14 so far this year). All this just to arrive back at the foot of the mountain. What an incredible rush. Is it worth it? To Ben and I, the answer is an emphatic yes!p /The porters have done their work, we are here with all the goodies. The cook staff have done their’s, we are healthy and well fed. It is now up to us to make our dream of climbing and skiing Baruntse come alive.p /Ladies and gentlemen, without further adeu, I give you Baruntse 2010!p /Hang on for the ride, it should be a lot of fun!br /Jonbr //span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/let-the-games-begin-49″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 5: 16,450′/day 7

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Buffalo Soldier, Bryan Adams and Mera La pass…what do they have in common? The cell phone of one of our porters, Nema. He swears that the Bryan Adams song (one I regrettfully learned with all other 7th graders when the Kevin Costner Robin Hood film came out) was loaded on his cell phone when he got it. Priceless and yea…busted, in the dizzying heights of 17,600′ Mera La pass we sung it with him while his phone rang That was after Buffalo soldier, the world loves Marley.p /We are now settled on a beach, sands blowing against our tent and sun shining overhead. The backdrop is not exactly coconuts and grass skirts but 5 star nonetheless…Everest, Lhotse and Baruntse stand vigil over our site erupting early season plumes like an unbridled mare. This was definitely the most enchanting and rewarding day of this years trek into the mountains for our climbing and skiing expedition. We have 2 and a half hours left before we will build a semi permanent sight at the base of 23,390′ Baruntse and begin our ascent and become the first climbers to ski Baruntse’s white frigid flanksp /This is our second attempt at this mountain. Episode 11 of our podcast series covers the context of why we have returned with one less team member and half a goal in hand. This Sunday, the most compelling data we can offer about our experience posts on the podcast page as well. If you fear and loath technology and online video then: Well, for the meantime, the present day emotions and sentiment in the tent is overwhelming joy. Seeing Baruntse and our ski descent this year, watching the weather creep up valley as we expected and having Jon Miller healthy and prepared has fulfilled my wildest expectations. Watch those podcasts and find out why or keep reading our dispatches…this mountain is not well known but holds adventure for those who look into it.p /Live the Dream,p /Ben Clarkbr /a href=”http://www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts/”www.skithehimalayas.com/podcasts//a/span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-5-16450day-7″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 4: Khare/16,000′/Day 5

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Sweeping buttresses of untouched granite glimmer overhead as our team moves through the alpine zone again en route to Baruntse basecamp. The temperatures are mild, the weather is predictable and the trail winding and spectacular. This is a trek worth doing for those who wish to experience the Himalayas from the valley floor and only sample the hieghts.p /The last two days have brought us out of the lower juniper forests and the many sherpa dance parties that drive late through the evening. Yea, that’s right, for all the buddhist oh mani padme hum soundtracks that fill our ears, there is an equal amount of chang quot; a special nepali beveragequot; and pop tunes flowing through each misty night. It’s cool, I’ve traveled these regions for eight years with several of the cooks and porters we have on this trip and every morning they are bright eyed and bushy tailed…but we exchange smiles.p /Our time for celebration will come later. We are here to climb and ski first.p /The approach to the climb is easing us into the high country one jerky taste at a time. So far, it’s like a high altitude timeshare, we pop up over 15,000′ for a day, then we descend a couple thousand paces back down to farm country and vegetable re-stocks. Not bad, Jon, Chris and I are loving the food and variety that comes with access to lady fingers, rice and carrots. In fact, we had a whole roast chicken last night…between the three of us, it was delicious.p /Tomorrow we begin our last descent into the misty junipers and begin our ascent upward to basecamp at 17,600′. I’m quite thrilled about that. As much as I love engaging with adventure and culture, there is no mistaking I come here for the mountains.p /Live the dream,p /Ben Clarkp /PS: Episode 11 of the podcasts should be out today, go to a href=”http://www.skithehimalayas.com”www.skithehimalayas.com/a Click on the podcasts button and see what all the excitement is about this year. Jon’s return is really special./span p style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-4-khare16000day-5″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p /div

Dispatch 1: Lukla, Nepal

div class=’posterous_autopost’Deep in the Himalayan foothills lies a tiny strip of asphalt carved into a steep hillside. This airstrip is the shortest I’ve ever seen and the longest possible for landing in the most popular valley in Nepal, the Khumbu. Abruptly it drops into a valley on it’s downhill side immediately commanding the respect for a margin of error that makes travelling in the world’s highest mountains exhilarating from start to finish. I expect nothing less! This is day one of Ski the Himalayas Baruntse 2010. Jon Miller and I are here to complete our project on 23,390′ Baruntse, an undertaking we began last year. This year we will climb and ski the Southeast Ridge. No one has ever skied this rare and majestic terrain. It is the second part of a route we explored last year as a three man team with our partner Josh Butson. p / This year, our approach will lead us through the Khumbu valley, home of Mount Everest, and into the reaches of the Hunku valley. We will traverse sections of Nepal that hold decades of mountaineering history and promising opportunies for future generations within the canyon walls and alpine summits. As we wind our way through jagged granite sweeps, engage with the local culture and learn about this valley we will share text dispatches and photos of the experience we are documenting in video. This is for our upcoming film and podcast series, please feel free to subscribe to our dispatches and communicate with us as we open up this experience and spend another season grateful for our time in the high Himalaya. p / Live the dream, p / Ben Clarkp style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/dispatch-1-lukla-nepal”skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p/div

Musings of a himalayan rookie

div class=’posterous_autopost’span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-WEIGHT: Normal;”Well, the first thing that I have to say is that Nepal is someplace that can not be explained. I’d read the literature, seen the films, and had the conversations with people who have been here. None of it truly prepares you for the real thing. The sights and smells of Nepal overwhelm you from every side. You have to be here to understand.p /I consider myself very lucky to be a part of this expedition. I’m here with my good friends Ben and Josh, and have been able to share the approach with my girlfriend M’Lin. And what an experience it has been!p /When you think of Nepal, the first thing that usually comes to mind is MOUNTAINS. So even though I had been warned, it came as a shock when we landed our little Twin Otter on the grass strip of Tumlingtar in the middle of the jungle, with out a peak in sight.p /One of the most striking features of Nepal are the people. It is almost like the people are genetically predisposed to be friendly. From the greeting of Namaste, to the rarely said yet deeply felt thank you of Dhanyabhad, the people I have met are kind and helpful. p /This adventure has been a lot about perspective for me. It is difficult to get used to having people carry my gear, set up camp, and cook our meals. Yet as the trek went on, I realized that you can’t do a trip like this on your own, the scale is to large. In addition, this is their job, and it is a continuation of the daily reality here. There are few roads and few pack animals. If goods are to travel from place to place, it will be on the back of a porter. By using porters we add to the local economy, and more importantly have the opportunity to interact with some pretty cool people.p /Now that we are at base camp, I can think about the climb we are going to undertake. If I break it down, it all makes sense. Base camp is just under 17,000ft. The summit of Baruntse is at 23,390, so a gain of 6,390ft or so. I’ve done that before. The ski will be something under that, conditions allowing. Big, but not too big. So intellectually, big but doable. That doesn’t stop me from looking out the tent door at Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, and saying Holy Sh–!p /This was a bit of a ramble, but so much to say! Hi mom amp; dad!/spanp style=”font-size: 10px;” a href=”http://posterous.com”Posted via email/a from a href=”http://skithehimalayas.posterous.com/musings-of-a-himalayan-rookie-0″skithehimalayas’s posterous/a /p/div

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