Monday, April 21, 2014

Time to sit patiently and see what life brings us

Left to right:
1) Marcus Bridle of Melbourne, Australia who also climbed Vinson in Antarctica with me
2) Mingma Sherpa who is the climbing guide for Marcus
3) Me (Jon Reiter of Kenwood, California)

Just a note to summarize the last few days. Our Sherpa friends have decided to use this tragedy to further their cause with the Nepal government. All of the climbing Sherpa (as opposed to the Sherpa that help us establish and maintain base camp) have left the mountain and have stated that they will not return until their requests are met by the Nepalese government. What they're asking for is certainly deserved and we support their cause 100%. They simply want the families of the deceased to be taken care of as well as assurances that they themselves and their families will be taken care of should they be hurt or killed while climbing Everest. There are other requests on their list (15 in all) but this is the general idea.

As I mentioned we feel that most of what they're asking for is valid and overdue. From what we understand 10% of Nepal's GDP is based on Everest revenue. It may be true that we climbers have substantially increased the quality of life here in the Khumbu Valley with all the money that's spent here climbing this mountain and trekking about but we hope that the government remembers that the climbing Sherpa are the ones putting their lives on the line, right along side us, on a daily basis. We cannot climb this mountain without them by our sides just as they were not able to climb it without our logistics and resources; we make a perfect and inseparable team. From the very beginning (1953) until today, Everest is climbed not by individuals but by partnerships.

There have been some horribly misinformed comments made lately about the relationship between the Sherpa people and western climbers. As I mentioned, both parties consider the other as equal partners in this quest. We take care of each other 24 hours a day. When the avalanche hit, it was actually western climbers (many of which were actually from our party) who spent the day, on the scene, treating the wounded and extracting the dead. We did not run from the scene. As a matter of fact, our western guides from camp one and from the Football field rushed towards the debris into the danger and were some of the first on the scene. We have several MD's as clients on our climbing team and some these docs spent their entire day volunteering their time down at BC medical treating the wounded and pronouncing the unfortunate dead. I write all of this to clear the air of the misinformed nonsense about our relationship with our Sherpa partners. We and the Sherpa people are a team of equals and there were many tears spilled and stomachs turned as we brought our friends down one by one.

We don't know how long it'll take this government to respond to the Sherpas' requests and we have limited time to move up this mountain. Several teams have already thrown in the towel and are headed downhill out of BC now. As for Marcus and me, we've decided to give it our all. We came here to climb E and we'll wait here patiently until our expedition leader tells us we can go up or we must go down. I think we're ready to climb this one. I think the weather is looking better by the day. The mountain conditions are certainly acceptable and we have the absolute best team (IMG) behind us.

Avalanches happen in the mountains. As we lay in our tents we hear them crash down around us several times everyday. Unfortunately, this is part of the risk; part of the adventure that we all signed up for. If the government and the Sherpa come to an agreement soon, Marcus and I will continue trudging uphill until we can go no further. If they decide to not give us that opportunity this year, we'll go home early, hug and kiss our loved ones and know that we've been lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time in these mountains and share many wonderful times in the Khumbu Valley with our mountain loving Sherpa brothers..



  1. Hope you get some clarity on this soon! How long can you wait before you have to head down? Dave

  2. Jon and Marcus, I hope your waiting is short. What a disaster!

  3. Jon,
    Your insight is fantastic. A measure of your intellect and your caring, thoughtful nature. I am with you in heart, mind and soul and support you every step of the way! I love you explanation of the 'why'. Very eloquent and we can all learn from your spirit my friend.

    I hope the Sherpa situation resolves quickly and you can carry on to the top of your dreams!

  4. Hey brother, I hope you all are holding in there. Thanks for the updates, and positive attitude. I know that's hard to keep up in times like this.

    Climb on!

  5. Hi Jon - My wife Maritza & I have been praying for you daily before you started your journey to Everest. I want to thank you for doing this blog, sharing meaningful experiences with us. I have really enjoyed your posts from the treadmill "altitude" training, the wild airport ride in, and all of the beautiful photographs as you have journeyed further up into the mountains. I phoned Denis on the 18th when I heard of the "Avalanche", and was so relieved when he simply sent me a text "Jon is okay". We will continue praying for Marcus & you and all of the Sherpa for joy and pray that it is Gods will that you have the opportunity to reach the summit.
    David H

  6. Our positive thoughts are with all of you.

  7. not certain who "anonymous" is, but...........
    How do you know Jon is not already doing much for these sherpas and their families? I know he and is wife and I can assure you they are loving, kind hearted, generous people, they do not need you to assume they are not doing every thing in their power to help.
    PLEASE inform yourself with truth, before slamming someone who has just suffered serious trauma.
    You go do something, then judge others.

    Keep going Jon, we are all praying, you are awesome.

  8. Jon - thank you for your updates. I can't imagine what you and those with the proximal connection to such a terrible loss must be experiencing. Wishing you and your climbing partners peace, wisdom and fortitude on your vision quest. Noli nothis permittere te terere (aka illegitimi non carborundum). my very best, edward.

  9. Jon, I started following your blog after seeing a link on a news posting after the avalanche. Thank you for sharing your experience there. It's so interesting to hear your first-hand account of what is happening on the mountain. I'm thankful that you are safe and pray for wisdom as you and Marcus decide on your next course of action in the coming days.

  10. Jon, I have been keeping up with you via Ginny reading me your blog. I signed on today. You have done an exceptional job capturing the spirit of your trip and the Sherpa's that drive it. Know we are keeping you, Marcus and Mingma in our thoughts.
    We pray for good weather, a clean trip to the summit and your safe return home. David

  11. What a beautiful entry. I feel like I am right there with you. Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly and honestly and for sharing your feelings with us as you are sorting them. What a precious gift you are giving us. I am hoping and praying as you start your day today, that you can feel the support of so many people. I hope you have a beautiful day. Love you, miss you, and am cheering for you. Love, V~

  12. Jon Jon, when the heck did you learn to write? Beautifully done. Well spoken. Your phone call with KZST was on the air as I drove to work this morning. It was so good to hear your voice. Big hugs from the Sumpters. If it is appropriate, hug a Sherpa for us and tell them we are thinking of all of you up there.


  13. Wow Jon. My heart is in my throat as I follow your adventure. I cannot imagine the experiences you are having-a lifetime full of them I'm sure. We are all here wishing for your successful journey and a safe return home.

  14. I have been saying prayers for you since I knew you were climbing and have followed your adventure and this tragedy, I am so happy for you and your family that you are ok and are heading home. My prayer continue with you and the sherpa and their families and their cause. Praying that all is resolved and that their families are taken care of, as well as future Sherpa. Best Wishes to you. Effie Ehrhart

  15. Jon, I read about you in the New York Times. What a beautiful post this is. Your solidarity and empathy are a model.