Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

Jump to helpful navigation →

Expedition Archives: Everest 2015


“Why are you doing this?”

March 17, 2015

I am about to leave on an expedition to climb Mt. Everest.  This post should answer some of the questions people have asked me time and again.   Q: Why are you doing this? A: Lots of reasons.  It is the ambition of my lifetime.  A chance to test myself in tough conditions, with wonderful … Continue reading “Why are you doing this?”


Getting Closer…

March 20, 2015

Still lots to do, both organizing for my absence from work, and prepping for the trip itself. Frankly, climbing E seems simple (if painful) compared with the frenzy of getting ready to leave home & work for such a long time. But, there’s always room for fun with the kids. LOVING my new Feathered Friends … Continue reading Getting Closer…


All packed up…

March 23, 2015

Up until 1:30 AM getting all the gear laid out… Phew, that is a lot of stuff to take!  Fitting this into two duffels was painful, but it worked… trick is, I’m over-weight by about 10kg for the flight to Lukla later this week… I may need to get into a third duffel when I … Continue reading All packed up…


Two Nights in a Day

March 24, 2015

Greetings from Dubai. All is well… Very tough to leave my precious family in Seattle! But, their love fuels me, and I am so grateful for their support. Funny to watch two sunsets in 13 hours. The flight path from Seattle always looks odd on the map (“why the heck are we going to UAE … Continue reading Two Nights in a Day



March 26, 2015

Lots of fun here in Kathmandu, getting to know my awesome teammates and guides, and nailing down a few last logistics.  Our kit is set, and we are planning to fly to Lukla tomorrow AM… if the weather allows.  Biblical rainstorms today in the city, and reports of mixed snow and rain up high.  This … Continue reading Kathmandu!


Boudhanath Temple

March 26, 2015

Short video of our waiting day in Kathmandu, when we were delayed by weather and took the opportunity to visit the Boudhanath Temple, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites in Nepal. Best in 4K.


Still in Kathmandu…

March 27, 2015

Well, the weather in the mountains is notoriously fickle, and today was no exception.  Rainstorms over Kathmandu last night were of biblical proportions, and this morning at 4:30 AM when we left things were still not looking great, but clouds can lift any time, so we headed to the airport in hopes of flying to … Continue reading Still in Kathmandu…


An Auspicious Start

March 28, 2015

We got up early and headed back up to the Kathmandu airport for another shot at heading to Lukla.  Weather was better, but there was still a big backlog of flights due to and from the mountains, so we opted to hire a helicopter to get us to there… so many people were eager to … Continue reading An Auspicious Start



March 29, 2015

Great day today.  I am writing this from the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar, which has lots of creature comforts, including WiFi (and killer lattes). We got up and moving by 8 AM, right on schedule.  The route took us higher up the Khumbu valley, from Phakding to Namche Bazaar.   In summary, a great … Continue reading Namche


Snow in Namche

March 30, 2015

Today has been a bit different from yesterday. We started breakfast at a leisurely 7:30 AM, and then took a walk. Weather was cool and cloudy, so our views were very limited as we hiked into the clouds.  Namche is carved into a steep horseshoe-shaped valley, and the trail out of town is a series … Continue reading Snow in Namche


Chillin’ in Namche

March 31, 2015

All is well here in Namche Bazaar.  Today was a rest day, rather than a move day up to our next stop, because weather was not particularly favorable in the morning, and we wanted to ensure that everyone is in tip-top shape for the next hike, including me.  My sore throat has improved during the day, but … Continue reading Chillin’ in Namche


Breathtaking Trail to Tengboche

April 1, 2015

Tough night for me last night, just could not get comfortable due to the damp, cold climate in our room. However, my sore throat is much better! We got up early, moved our trekking duffels to the staging area at the hotel entrance, grabbed breakfast, and started walking to Tengboche. SUNSHINE! Yes! Blue skies everywhere … Continue reading Breathtaking Trail to Tengboche


Monastery in the Clouds

April 2, 2015

I slept VERY soundly last night! The sleeping chambers are separated by truly thin plywood walls, so thin that they probably should not be there at all. This leads to all sorts of humorous exchanges with our neighbors, who thank goodness are our teammates as well. Apparently there were many dogs howling and fighting into … Continue reading Monastery in the Clouds


Road to Pheriche

April 3, 2015

Well, I had a fine night… Apparently some others did not, because of one ornery dog that barked for about seven hours. Nonstop. No kidding. Thank you, earplugs! Up for breakfast at 7, then walking by 8 AM. We were very pleased to have fine conditions for our start, including blue skies and minimal breezes. … Continue reading Road to Pheriche


All’s Fair in Pheriche

April 4, 2015

Nice rest day in Pheriche today.  Spanish omelette for breakfast, then an acclimatization hike up a small hill behind the hotel. We went up 1,100 feet in about an hour, revealing wonderful views of the surrounding peaks.  Ama Dablam from the south side looks very different, still quite austere.  Baruntse, Island Peak, Makalu, and Lhotse are … Continue reading All’s Fair in Pheriche


Up to Lobuche Base Camp

April 5, 2015

In my efforts to keep the blog updated, I am assisted greatly by the wifi here in the airport waiting area!  First good connection in many weeks…. I will resume where the blog left off, exactly a month ago, with a post from 4-5-15. Lots has happened since then… But I will not edit these … Continue reading Up to Lobuche Base Camp


Laundry at Lobuche

April 6, 2015

Today we took in more of the amazing scenery at Lobuche BC.  Part of the acclimatization process involves hiking to higher elevations each day, even if just 1,000 feet higher, then descending to camp again to rest.  Today we went up from LBC (15,800 feet) to Lobuche High Camp (about 1,100 feet higher).  The going … Continue reading Laundry at Lobuche


Cinema in Lobuche

April 7, 2015

Another fun rest day in Lobuche Base Camp.  Our acclimatization hike was a bit shorter today, just 500 vertical up a ridge that runs from LBC up towards High Camp, but less direct than the way we went yesterday.  Great views from up there! We watched a movie in the dining tent, World Police.  I … Continue reading Cinema in Lobuche


Hump to EBC

April 8, 2015

Big move today to Everest Base Camp (EBC).  This took us about 5 hours and gained 1,800 vertical feet.  This was the toughest day so far, even though the amount of gain was typical, because the ending point was higher than we’d camped before.  I felt it today for sure. The trek took us away … Continue reading Hump to EBC


Ice Capades

April 9, 2015

Tough sleeping at our new elevation of 17,200 feet.  Even walking to the latrine or shower makes me breathless!  This is standard, and should be expected… For whatever reason, I did not have this issue when at the same elevation on Aconcagua, but who knows what other factors may be at play here. I certainly … Continue reading Ice Capades



April 10, 2015

Today was very important for our expedition.  We held a blessing ceremony, or puja.  This 3 hour extravaganza seeks permission from the mountain deities to allow safe passage for all climbers on the mountain.  The elaborate ceremony was presided over by a lama from far down the valley… he was an adorable elderly man who … Continue reading Puja!


Back to Lobuche

April 11, 2015

We got up, ate breakfast, and trekked down to Lobuche basecamp today.  The idea is to climb Lobuche in the coming few days, putting ourselves to the test and getting up to about 20,000 feet on fixed lines. Coming up this exact same trail a few days earlier was tough for me… going down was … Continue reading Back to Lobuche


No-Go on Lobuche

April 12, 2015

Well, this happens to the best of us.  Believe me. We moved up to Lobuche High Camp, about 1,100 feet above base camp, as planned after lunch.  Fun hike, way easier than the first time we made this same trip for acclimatization.  Camp was already set up by our amazing Sherpa team, and we settled … Continue reading No-Go on Lobuche


Lobuche the Right Way

April 14, 2015

The weather looked good the following day for another summit attempt, so once again we gorged ourselves on a super lunch and then humped back up to Lobuche high camp—for the third time.  We were loaded for bear, eager to knock this one off and turn our attention to Everest herself. Favorable conditions marked our … Continue reading Lobuche the Right Way


Back to EBC

April 16, 2015

Typically there is a rest day at LBC after summiting Lobuche, but because we had lost a day due to bad weather, we all decided to move to EBC the following day.  Besides, the lure of hot showers and internet connectivity and laundry was too much to refuse. What a difference a few days can … Continue reading Back to EBC


Ladders in the Snow

April 18, 2015

Today marks a somber occasion: The one-year anniversary of the loss of 16 sherpas in an instant during an ice avalanche in the Khumbu icefall.  The Sherpa people have already marked this occasion on another day, according to their own calendar, and no special ceremonies are planned or anticipated, but there is agreement among everyone … Continue reading Ladders in the Snow


Hotter than Satan’s Pants

April 19, 2015

Yowza, it was very windy last night!  I was up at least every hour, awakened by the buffeting of the tent in very strong gusts.  The tents are built to take it, and are erected with solid technique, so no one got blown away.  In fact, only the toilet tent got blown over, and this … Continue reading Hotter than Satan’s Pants


Half an Icefall

April 20, 2015

What an amazing day!  Up at 2:30 AM for breakfast, than we got geared up and went out the door into the crisp, cold, clear night.  We walked a short distance with our sherpa team to the puja stupa, where the juniper fire was lit again.  A brief prayer was said and sung by the … Continue reading Half an Icefall


Waiting for the Next Step

April 21, 2015

After our first foray into the icefall, we have two days in EBC to rest, recouperate, and relax.  Camps 1 and 2 are being built by teams of sherpa, who have done an incredible job of ferrying loads up through the icefall, night after night, for the last few days, now that the weather has … Continue reading Waiting for the Next Step


Climb to Camp 1

April 23, 2015

News was good: Camp 1 was built and ready for us.  Or, if not totally built, at least built enough for us to get up there.  Because weather was favorable, we were eager to make the next step and get the rotation done.  The plan: Climb to C1 and stay two nights, then move to … Continue reading Climb to Camp 1


Testing the Route

April 24, 2015

Our planned day of rest dawned clear and cold.  Well, “active rest,” as we call it up here.  After breakfast at a reasonable hour, we roped up and took an acclimatization hike halfway to Camp 2. C2 sits at the far end of the cwm, perhaps 1.5 miles horizontally, and about 1,800 feet higher.  From C1 … Continue reading Testing the Route


The Quake

April 25, 2015

I was awakened in the middle of the night by the thunder of a huge avalanche. These are common on Everest, happening every night, but this one sounded bigger than usual. Although it was bitterly cold, and I was still half asleep, I decided to open the rear tent flap and take a look. To … Continue reading The Quake



April 26, 2015

The day after the quake was filled with uncertainty.  Information from EBC and C1 came our way via radio, and we listened intently.  It was still impossible to grasp what had happened below, but clearly things were bad.  Injured climbers in EBC who had survived the night needed helivac to Pheriche or Kathmandu, and lots … Continue reading Aftershock



April 27, 2015

I slept poorly that night, thinking about the next morning’s move to C1.  How would conditions be on the glacier?  Would we find the crevasses impassable?  Would the weather hold and allow us to fly to EBC? It was bitterly cold when we woke up.  Hasty last minute packing, a very quick breakfast, and we … Continue reading Helivac



April 28, 2015

This day was like a strange dream. There was nothing for us to do except to prepare for the journey out the following day, which took very little time. The surge in demand for porters and yaks heading down valley simply could not be filled; one of our duffels would need to come down later—potentially … Continue reading Numb


Doing fine in EBC

April 28, 2015

Hi Everyone, Just got a flicker of net access, and wanted to assure you that I am fine, as are all of my teammates. I was at Camp 2 (21,300 feet) when the quake struck, and we were just fine up there. It was a kind of torture being so high up, thus unable to … Continue reading Doing fine in EBC