Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Strange Witness

Everest 2016  •  May 19

From Julie:

Paul and I have text conversations almost every day, and he sent me this from Camp 3:

“Great climb, feeling good, nice conditions, oxygen working well. Could not have gone better.”

I think he might be a little drunk on bottled O2, because he went on to say that I was married to a mountain stallion/goat. “Take your pick,” he said. I think he is strong like ox, nimble like mountain goat.

He is feeling MUCH better than last time and asked me to pass along the following:

“Great climb to C3. 5:20 door to door, way better than 10:45 last time. Guess I’m not sick anymore! Enjoying the company, the view, and 0.5 LPM O2.”

And then, while we were texting, someone died. Someone (not an IMG climber, not anyone Paul knows) fell off the Lhotse Face and slid right past everyone at Camp 3. Paul did not see it–he was in his tent texting me–but I think others did. The climber was not using proper safety techniques.

People often ask how I can let Paul go climbing. I reply it’s not up to me to “let” him do anything. And that if he’s going to have a midlife crisis, this is far safer than a motorcycle. But the big reason I am not paralyzed with fear is that I know him. He is not a danger junkie. I don’t fully understand why he climbs, but I know he is not in this for the adrenaline. He knows that coming back down is always more important than going up.

And he always clips twice.

14 thoughts on “Strange Witness

  1. Whoa. I think as a spouse of someone who does a life threatening activity there has to be a certain level of denial as well as acceptance. If you don’t think about or focus on the dangers and instead think about the pure joy that he gets from doing this, that must be something that lets you keep going. Michael scuba dives (certainly not close to the same level of danger)and I trust he will be fine because he is so careful and methodical. Thinking of both of you.
    Tamar

  2. Thank you for the post. This has been in Paul’s blood since he was a small boy. His family comes first and he will always take every level of precaution to make sure he completes his dream. You and the kids are foremost in his mind. Love and prayers continue from the Rawlinson family.

  3. Stay strong and carry on! Good luck to the Hybrid team and all the other climbers! Thank you so much for posting!

  4. I’ve been sharing your posts with Bob. He and my son are going up Baker this weekend and Ranier in July. I appreciate your insights.

  5. You two are an amazing team, in so very many ways. This is just one of them. Go, Paul! Go, Julie!! Sending fist bumps from NYC.

  6. Hi Julie and Paul- this is Lauri Hitchcock. I am a UW physician and I first met Paul at the inaugural! first ever! Trop Med course in East Africa. Only this week did I learn of Paul’s Everest adventure. Following every step of the way now!!! Julie- please pass on my cheers to Paul. Paul- thinking of you every day and sending all my positive thoughts and energy to you on the mountain. Go mountain stallion/goat! See you at the Travel Med conference in July- looking forward to your talk- Dengue, Zika, and Chik, Oh My!

    1. Hey, Lauri! I’m Susi Johnston, Emily’s older and slightly more decrepit sister. I’ve had dengue twice and chik at least once, so do I get a VIP Access All Areas pass for the conference? I mean, like a backstage pass and everything so I can finally meet Paul in person? That would rock. In exchange you can do blood draws and recite my dengue/chik chronos! 😉

  7. Paul,
    Congratulations, so glad you made it and equally happy you are safe. I have been following your adventures from Morocco and Portugal. (The expert handlers you left in charge of me cleared me to leave town for a 3 week holiday.) Looking forward to your return to UWMC.
    Patricia

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