Thursday, July 28, 2011

Video Montage - Epilogue

I pulled together the video and pictures from the trip and added some music. Hope you enjoy! I wonder what the next adventure will be?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Epilogue...sort of

There was a summit bid..but what happened? went down hard...thats what!! For almost 2 days the vehicle for sending the message out was unavailable. I hate when technology fails me...LOL

I share that not be in any way critical of those who tirelessly try to keep an application up, but as a metaphor for the reality of climbing. You never know how things are going to turn out until they do. When you plan, that is what is it is. The reality between dreams and how it turns out is what it is.

So, a day late and a dollar short, I just wanted to post that Peak Freaks had 4 successful climbers make it to the summit of the roof of the world, 7 others on the team make it to the summit and EVERY single expeditioner and support returned safely. That is a 20 year track record with bringing everyone home who went up. Bravo to all....Parties at Base Camp, pots banging and champagne corks popping around the world. There certainly was a certain special bottle of champagne that was enjoyed here celebrating what has been an odessey beyond what I realized there would be.

Now the rest of the teams trying to summit have their shot at the mountain, best of luck to all. To the Peak Freaks expeditioners, congrats to every one for their incredible personal sacrifice, I for one, applaud you each and every one. If you made it, my hat goes off to you for the success few in the world have achieved though many try. For those who did not quite make it...the mountain is still there and remains to tempt you back. With few exceptions, there is always tomorrow.

And for the Nepalize people...thank you so dearly for opening your arms, your world, your soul and your piece of heaven to those who dare to dream and seek their own personal xanadu.


Thursday, May 12, 2011



The Peak Freaks Team has left South Col (26,000 ft/8,000 meters) and is pushing for the summit ! This link will be the official information coming from the team:

It is not expected to hear from the team till 5:30pm ET for numerous technical and safety reasons, but you can follow the personal GPS of one of the climbers and see the progress to the summit.

Send good karma everyone....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It is nearly "GO" time!!

Houston, we have countdown!

The climbing team is sleeping at Camp 3, with the rarest of calm clear weather in the very near future!

One more of the climbers has had to retreat, the effects of altitude and harsh conditions taking its toll, but 11 climbers are sleeping at Camp 3 (24,000 feet).

While we sleep tonight in North America, they will wake and push to camp 4 at 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) where they will spend a horrid night in cold that is close to indescribable. They will use all means at their disposal, such as battery powered electric heaters for their feet, to give them the best chance to summit. They will have high altitude dreams in which they will endure hallucinations and the most vivid and bizarre dreams of their life including a repeating sense of suffocation, usually awaking with gasps, realizing their bodies have stopped breathing. It is an experience high altitude climbers know comes with the territory, foreign for all but a very few in this world. It is living on the edge of the death zone, the altitude where you cannot get enough oxygen and you are in fact not able to stay more than hours, and counting every minute until you can get back down where your body can begin to recover.

For the climbers though, Camp 4 marks but a short passage of partial rest before the long push for the summit. That starts often through the labors of night with the need to have reached the peak early in the morning to guarantee enough time to get back down before the sun drops down in the day and the wicked cold returns.

It is countdown time, with all the complexities of a Space Shuttle launch, everything comes down to preparation, planning, and quite frankly a little bit of karma and a whole lotta luck.

Godspeed. Read the up to the minute story and follow the GPS tracking up EVEREST !!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waiting for the window

Not going into great detail, but the gang is at Camp 2 sleeping, waiting for the clear air to start towards the summit push. Winds up high have been brutal but easing off now...leaving a window...a window that might permit dreams to happen.

In Mothers Day honor, we placed our prayer flags out on the catch the wind and to send our wishes upward....a long way away....

Go team...Go Peeps...Go Peak Freaks!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Everest Update for those not following the Peak Freaks Blog...

The Peak Freaks Team is back in Base Camp after a few days rest at lower (and richer) air. The weather pattern is looking hopeful for the next couple days and the Sherpas have managed to fixed ropes all the way to South Col (Camp 4) and oxygen, stoves and tents are awaiting the Peak Freaks team when they arrive. The plan is to have climbers ascend to either Camp 1 or 2 depending on individual comfort, then rest for a day or so and ascend upwards hoping to get to Camp 3 within a couple days.

Tim, the team leader gave his quest talk, the one about what is really important in a climb. He focused on remaining resolute in each climbers responsibility to the safety of the guides, their fellow climbers, themselves, the Sherpas and Peak Freaks and to remember that family and friends are on this climb as well every step of the way and they are trusting each of the climbers to come home alive and intact. He also used some visual aids, suffice it to say having seen them myself, they are effective in making sure you understand the consequences of risky behavior on the mountain.

Unfortunately, the news was not all good. One of the team's support had to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu for severe stomach ulcers which required a transfusion and intense re-hydration becuase he had not been eating or drinking. One of the challenges in this part of the world is that Sherpas hear about going to a western medical team or hospital and dying. They have only lead a simple sustanance farming life and do not yet understand how western medical care can save lives. The Sherpas in their world often have not seen a car, a city or bright lights unless via a movie or the internet.

The impact of not understanding is often a fear to admitting an ailment. True to the Sherpas incredible loyalties, even in being evacuated the Sherpa was most distressed not about himself but about not completing his committments and bringing home an income this year to his family and to letting down the Peak Freaks Team in his absence. Tim, the trip leader true to his nature assured him neither was happening. Great guy. The kind you want in your corner.

The other sad news is the loss of a non-Peak Freaks climber. An experienced mountaineer who had successfully summitted six of the seven continental summits as he was near Camp 3. The Peak Freaks Sherpas have been busy as they were also involved in the recovery mission. The unfortunate reality is that not everyone gets to summit and not everyone gets to come home and tell their story.

But with the weather improving, the route is in place and the climbers are getting excited. This is where dreams sometime come true.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Now onto the Expedition Team's Story


Now that I am back, I want to make sure that no one loses sight that the real story of Everest this year is just now unfolding. My trek to Basecamp was with a great group of trekkers at the beginning of the Everest climbing season to reach my goal and now the Peak Freak expeditioners who were our traveling companions are setting up their route to attempt to climb Everest. This will happen over the rest of this month and next.

My story is wrapping up and theirs is now fully underway! Please follow my peeps as they make their dreams come true. Here is a link to the expedition blog!

To give you a background on these fellow adrenaline junkies, here is a link to their bios. Fascinating group and great personalities, each one of them! On the bio page picture, you might even recognize lil 'ol me in the front. :)


Monday, April 18, 2011

Hi Res photos now available

Greetings All! I am back now and wanted to make sure I gave everyone access to the high-resolution photos of the trip. Click on the link below to view. Thanks so much for letting me take you along and I hope it was a fun ride for each of you. Namaste!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Escape from Lukla

The morning started off great. Breakfast at (ODT) o’dark thirty so we could be ready. We are the second flight out. The weather has been frightful the past few days from Katmandu to Lukla with Lukla being fogged/clouded/rained in more days since we started this trek than not.

Yesterday as we headed up and down the 7,000 stairs to get back to lukla (ed. Just because you are desending 1,000 feet doesn’t mean that you go down 1,000 feet. On the Everest trail you go up 2,000 feet, down 700, then up 500, down 2,000, then up 1,500 and so on and so on and……whew…you can get exhausted just thinking about it). Each day I amateurishly estimate we have 20,000 feet of elevation change. Given my training maxed out at 12,000 and I thought I was a badass for that much, it was WELL beyond my comfort zone. I was pooped). Coming into Lukla last eve it was near dusk and all we wanted was food and bed. All day long there was a constant train of people, porters and yaks all headed up the valley. Guess it was a good traffic day! So glad we are not part of that onslaught and that it was quiet for our trek.

In the morning my stomach as in knots. Not nervousness, just totally sour. Something in last nights meal did not agree with me and I barely can sip a coca-cola. No matter, the sky starts clear and we are hopeful that second plane out is golden. First plane leaves at 6am and hearing the roar of the twin otter sounded like freedom to us. Such a sweet sound. We are all packed, gear in bags and at the front gate with the porters ready to bring it to the airport entrance which you can see from the photo was right across the street. 8am, 9am, 10am and nothing. Not a good sign. Our Sherpa leader is pacing and tries to keep us all positive. I decide an extra nap is in order so read a bit on the kindle and fall asleep. Fast forward to 11am and I hear the roar of incoming planes. A troupe departs and heads up the trail but still no word of any outgoing traffic. We hear one plane roar down the runway and our Sherpa leader bolts into the airport and starts talking with key individuals. Politicking? Finding out what is going on? We don’t know. Now I am pacing. A lot! Those who know me know that is not a good sign. I have been kidding everyone about walking down the runway to the end and waving planes in. I am reminded that international incidents are to be avoided if at all possible. OK, OK…no fun this time…but tell me the visual isn’t hysterical!

So we are all in the restaurant room, when suddenly the leader bursts in and says…we gotta go…now, hurry..but first..there will be two flights…the first can only take 5, who wants to go first. Without hesitation or any consideration of ladies first, my hand goes up and I say…I’m IN!!!! I jump up, grab my backpack and head out the door, Ang says goodbye to me, shakes my hand and wraps my neck in a prayer scarf. I smile and thank him for everything. Now he tells me to hurry…and as quickly as the next 4 choose to be the guinea pigs, we go into the airport. This is where it gets hairy. Many people (perhaps 100) are all crowded in the terminal and we are now RUNNING past them and towards security. A booking agent hands us boarding passes as fast as we can get them and down to security we go past the long line of people staring in absolute shock and awe. Security asks if I smoke, No I answer and he says, no lighters, no knives? Nope…safe here. He goes into my backpack and sees my 2 inch scissors. NOT ALLOWED, NOT ALLOWED he says. I say ok…no problem, keep the scissors. I don’t think he was prepared for my pre-emptive surrender of my gear to make the flight. He looks bewildered…I repeat..”no problem, keep them” and he says, “really?”….by then I have grabbed my backpack, run past security and am now stampeding down the jetway (if you can call it that). I get outside and the nice man with the automatic weapon directs me where to go with the barrel of his killing machine. I comply with a smile. We are now standing on the tarmac and there is a plane 50 feet in front of us with engines roaring, cargo bay open with baggage handlers frantically trying to dump all the contents onto the tarmac (forget a pallet, right on the tarmac). At this point I look up and realize that it is pouring rain, I can barely see the end of the runway and can’t see the mountains that I saw from our window this morning (see photos). Oh, oh….this really is serious I am saying to myself.

Without warning and with the best image of the movie the “Killing fields” running across a war zone with full orchestra music in the background we are yelled at, quick, quick, run and follow me, hurry….hurry. We are now sprinting AROUND the airport. We run past the runway and down the hill (what…down the hill?) for probably a ¼ mile. On the right off the tarmac are two ITTY BITTY (highly technical term) single engine planes. The plane that was on the runway now hits full throttle and flies down the runway and into the sky with us 50 feet away…. Huh?

Oh, oh…hey I didn’t sign up for THIS!!?? But it was too late. They pull the tarp off one plane that had clearly not been in service, the pilot and co-pilot hop in, and the little single engine plane jump starts, while the bags get thrown in the back and we are poured into these tiny little seats (and mine pressing my body way forward past 90 degrees). I click my buckle, say a buddist prayer (because when in rome as it were :) and within seconds and I do mean SECONDS, the door closes, they give us our total flight instructions which consists of DO NOT TOUCH THIS HANDLE IN FLIGHT and BUT IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PULL HANDLE BACK TO EXIT PLANE. I laugh at the irony that this is completely accurate information and completely useless as well because if A, then B, then C= a small mush mark on a Himalayan hilltop somewhere.

He slams the engines into full throttle and uses the uphill slope to test the engine RPMs and oil pressure, spins the plane around at the top and before the plane has a chance to fully stop its turn, releases the wheel brake and we start down the launch pad with a roar. Now I have been on one more terrifying flight than this which is the stuff of legend, but OMFG, it was as if we were launching as the last plane out of Saigon and there was no second chances because the bombing was to begin. What on earth had been said between Katmandu and Lukla I do not know but the pilot/copilot were on a mission to deliver this cargo to Kathmandu NOW. I couldn’t figure out if we were running FROM something or TO something! We rocket down the airstrip, easily gain takeoff speed and leave the runway early. Steep climb and we were at least 2 miles from the airport before the outlines of the mountains came into view. Captain and copilot were on their radios the whole time, scanning the horizon for ground landmarks (remember, only visual flight rules for this flight) and climbing, climbing, climbing. Then the turbulence started.

The plane spend quite some time buffeting and I pick my head up from the seat rest in front of me long enough to see the POWERED BY GARMIN GPS. OMFG redux….they are flying via a car GPS? Oh no, this can’t be good. Well, it was and then he switched modes and the Doppler radar shows up. Now I am not a pilot or do I know much about flying but I did recognize on the Doppler that there were ranges of green which I interpreted as low turbulence, yellow which I interpreted as moderate turbulence and a blood red that I interpreted as bad mojo. We wove at 18,000 feet through the green and yellow zone occasionally threading the needle between two red zones in a little patch of yellow. I put my head down at those moments because I knew that I wasn’t going to want to watch how the plane responded to those spots. Ugh….where is the pepto when you really need it. Barf bags, LOL…seatback pocket empty. Guess they got used up on the last flight.

Over the first 30 mins of the 45 min flight, we see the snow covered peaks in the distance and for a brief second I wistfully realize this is probably the last time I will ever see the most grand mountains in the world. Right on cue, a hard jolt and bounce up and down with the pilot struggling to level the plane and that feeling was gone….nope…good bye roof….glad to have met you and even gladder to be homeward bound.

As we get closer to Katmandu, the air settles significantly and we make a typically steep decent into KTM airport landing softly and smoothly and get out onto the warm tarmac (30 degrees+ from less than an hour ago) and realizing that some of the bags from us were on the other plane and some of the second flight passengers bags we had.

We are transported by van back to our hotel, and the second group arriving only minutes behind but without 3 bags, mine being one of them. Two hours later, they arrive and all is well. This insane adventure is about to take a step into relax mode, with the finishing of this section of the blog and some shopping and bartering in Katmandu. Oh, yes. And I think I might have a beer. By some’s account I might even deserve one! Enjoy the last days photos….


After landing in Kathmandu, a quick view of our escape plane. 5 people and 9 bags = darn close to overloaded!

Powered by "GARMIN"??????

Excuse me pilot, but are there drinks on this flight? Xanax despensers perhaps?

Entrance to Lukla Airport. Yack poop optional.

A look down the runway view from our teahouse window at daybreak.

The view out our window at the teahouse at Lukla at 6am.

A field of Garlic on the way back. Garlic soup is very popular in Nepal and is said to help with acclimitizaton.

A mere 175lbs on the back!

A picture so you can see what porters carry. To give you perspective, the plywood the two porters are carrying is 4" think . Go to your local hardware store and try to get 4" of plywood on your back, let alone carry it up and down a trail in altitude for days! They are AMAZING!

Last days trek "up and down the 7,000 stairs" (Rush reference)

Our last view of Everest from the trail leading back to lukla

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back in Kathmandu

One step closer to home!

The Bravery - Believe (so what's next??)

(link not working today. Cut and paste for the final song!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Good day world, its Everest Base Camp calling. I made it!!!

Stardate April 8, 2011.

Sorry for the weak “good morning Vietnam and startrek “ references but somehow they fit. Base camp is EPIC, base camp is huge, it is inspiring, it is frightening, it is friggin cold and windy. It is NOT a honeymoon destination. The best views of Everest are actually not at base camp at all. At base camp you see the glacier you have to climb…and it goes over a ridge and disappears. To see Everest, go to Kalla Pattar 2hrs away and climb that.

Sleeping at Base camp is an honor to say the least and one to last a lifetime. Our site is carved out of the glacier and the sound at night is surreal as you hear the popping, squeak and clicks as the glacier moves ever so gently. When you put up your tent you are constantly adjusting it as it will move ever so slightly. Avalanche thunder can be heard throughout the day and night as mini avalanches happen all around the base camp bowl and you can hear them, but rarely see them as they echo often off the opposite of the bowl. The night….a balmy 15-20 degrees F. Brrrr…sleeping on 2 pads on ice…still brrrr…

First night at EBC:

Ugh, got AMS (altitude sickness). Acclimitized to 16,000 ft no problem but in the am after sleeping at our last stop before EBC I woke up with the famous migraine. Hard to explain, easy to empathsize anyone who has dealt with it. At base camp it was horrid and the team lead agreed I should get onto Diamox to blunt the symptoms. Next AM, headache muted but am wiped out…feel like a cardiac patient….being winded from just walking 3 steps. You know those movies of people climbing Everest and they are stepping so slow….gotta tell you…that is FLYING. I was doing it 10,000 lower!
Anyway, pills, no activity, had to choke down cauliflower and a couple forkfuls of spaghetti, cause appetite is gone in altitude. Restless sleep if you can call it that, more like passive resting and trying to sleep. Next morning is a puja ceremony for the buddists to bless the trekkers, climbers, staff and equipment. The Sherpas take these blessings amazingly seriously. They built a stumpa (buddist alter) and did the ceremony. Interesting enough chang (rice beer) Is a part of the ceremony so everyone is nice lubricated by the end of it! PS…altitude and alcohol and I do not mix…I will be nearly 3 weeks without a touch. I think that might be a record since high school! 

I skipped climbing kalla pattar to opt for rest. Good choice as those that went slogged through driving snow and 40+ mph winds to see absolutely nothing at the top except snow.

Now looking at 3- 10+ hour days trekking back what it took us 9 to get here. BRUTAL! My goal has been met and its time to get on down the valley and homeward bound. Cant wait for some rich air.

Interestingly, Tim, the trip guide said I have the physiology to summit. My resting pulse near base camp was under 60, and my O2 sats were hovering between 89-92 which at EBC levels are very rare and in fact better than many of the climbers. He suggested giving it some thought. Ok, thought over. Nope. Craig Law will not be attempting to summit Everest. Those climbers were FLYING up the valley at 5x my speed and just because I have good scores…there is so much I would have to consider. First is being brutally cold. Been there, done that, earned the T-shirt in Kayaking. Left that behind along with the propensity for cold hands and feet from now on….nope, not a good idea in my mind. Then there is being away for 2 months. Nope. Cant do it. This trip is 3 and I am climbing the walls to be home. Maybe Killamenjaro, Those who have climbed it says it is 10x easier than getting to base camp. Cool, I can dig that. For that though I don’t want to be alone. I want to share the experience with my wife who wants to go. That is..after visiting the polar bears.

Trip down the valley- heading down

It was a tearful goodbye and my message to each climber was….do the family proud, make it to the summit but more importantly, make it back.

According to our trip leader, this is the coldest and worst weather since he has been coming to base camp almost 30 years ago. I liken it to karma giving me a tast of what Ed Hillary dealt with on his summit bid and first successful summit. It only fits that we set off if snow. Like what we dealt with for days all the way back to Namche. Now in Feraschaie (sp) for a quick night sleep (again in heat less accomodations) Nepalese don’t heat much and none of the teahouses have had heat. Have I mentioned the primary toilet is an Asian (ie squatting) toilet. Have I mentioned no flush. In the nicer places, they had a barrel of water to help flush the toilet. Have I mentioned I have gone thru 3 hand santizers bottles yet?...LOL

Day 2. Ferachaise to Namche.

Long 8+hour day and up and down thousands of feet to reach Namche. Now here. Tomorrow is an equally brutal day to Lukla. From that point on the gods rule the trip. The flights out of Lukla are a real concern since with all the snow, and the requirement of visual flight rules for this flight, one cloud across the pass cancels flights. It was not until today that we have seen many trekkers heading up the valley and we are one of a few heading down again. That is if you do not count the guy on the horse who had an altitude stroke, eyes crossed barely able to hold on heading for a steep part of the trail. Or the doctor staggering while leading family members up the trail. Our trip leader tried to warn them “even doctors die. He is not well” or the Japanese family heading up the valley in oxygen masks. Pray they don’t run out before the flights back out or they are in for a world of hurt!
Here is the Expedition blog, so after my blog is finished (or if you want to be schizophrenic and follow both) you can see my peeps and their attempts at climbing the biggest mountain in the world. Myself, I am wistfully dreaming of getting a chance to eat sushi at Narita airport but is no longer on my current itinerary.

More to come..but internet is flaky so we'll see if this even posts!

pictures from last few days..sorry internet down in nepal

EBC glacier formations More glacier formations Ice shelf over basecamp Everst Base Camp weather every day!!

Look closely. Entrance to base camp at big round ball at bottom, where we were at upper right corner

everest glacier coming from right, turning left and heading down valley. EBC is at far left corner of glacier

mid glacier formations much below basecamp

further down the glacier

the 1,000 foot hill we needed to scale for memorial field

the valley we climbed up to get to base camp

entrance to the trail. See the two small bushes at bottom...its in there somewhere!

view from a town

how we knew our way home

trail down

pheasent I caught on film

flowering rhododendrum

two towns hours apart because the only way to get between them is down the valley

harvesting potatoes

town we stayed in

proof I made it...EBC baby

views from the trail

on a high trail


high on the trail

hiking up trail

ice falls everywhere

memorial for fallen climbers

down the valley we go

more valley shots

craig at base camp

base camp for peak freaks

high mountain shots

more high mountain shots

better base camp shot

peak freaks stupa

puja ceremony

team on puja day

kumbu icefall

ice formation