Read about our 2015 Everest Expedition and the April 25ht Earthquake which effected our climb and countless lives in Nepal. Help support our Nepalese friends during the period of reconstruction.
The Himalayan Outreach Project
The Himalayan Outreach Project funds will go directly to those effected by the 7.8 earthquake who live in the mountainous regions of Nepal. We seek to help our Nepali friends and the communities which they live… we will rebuild schools, villages and provide educational opportunities to school age children. We are not a professional charity. We’ve been connected to many of these communities for nearly twenty years since we’ve been providing local jobs and opportunities through trekking and climbing in the Himalaya. I first visited Laprak in 1994 on my first trip to Nepal in my early twenties. I worked as a volunteer aid worker for a Christian NGO. Many funds to large charities will mostly go to Kathmandu or urban areas. Small rural mountain communities need our help. Sincerely Dennis Broadwell
Everest survivor – Klahanie climber shares tale of living through deadly avalanche
May 20, 2015
By Neil Pierson
Dennis Broadwell has been traveling to Nepal for more than 20 years, not only leading climbers up some of the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains, but giving back to one of the world’s poorest countries through humanitarian missions.
Now, Broadwell is starting his own fundraising effort in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people, and the resulting avalanche on Mount Everest, where he was stationed, which killed at least 19 climbers.
His project, The Himalayan Outreach Project, is attempting to raise money for Nepalese citizens whose homes, businesses and schools were destroyed in the 7.8-magnitude quake.
Dennis Broadwell stands at a climbing camp decorated with Tibetan prayer flags and a U.S. flag at a Tibetan rock cairn on a lower slope of Mount Everest on April 10, before the April 25 earthquake.
The 43-year-old Broadwell and his clients, Brad Paskewitz and Ben Breckheimer, were at Everest Base Camp when the quake struck, sending tons of snow and ice down the Pumori Face and Khumbu Icefall before destroying much of the south-side base camp.
Here is Broadwell’s story of what happened before, during and after the disaster:
Preparing for the summit
Everything was good early in the expedition. When we first got to base camp, there was a disproportionate amount of snow than normal, so that kind of set back all of the teams. There was also a memorial event for the climbers that had died last year in an avalanche on the Khumbu Icefall.
That was April 18. We didn’t start going up toward Camp 2 (21,000 feet elevation) until a few days later. We’d done a lot of training in the lower part of the icefall area. We spent 10 to 12 days there training before starting the actual climb.
Eventually, we went up to Camp 1 (at 20,000 feet), going through the icefall with other groups. Everybody did really well, and we made pretty good time. Then we took a rest day and went up to Camp 2, and everyone was feeling good about the team at that point. But it was still a long road ahead of us. You have to do multiple rotations up and down the mountain to get acclimatized to the altitude.
The next day was April 25. We got up in the morning to find mist and snow in the air. We descended back through the icefall, and everything was going smooth.
‘The earth started shaking’
I got back to base camp, went into my tent, took off my crampons and got a drink. Brad was just a few minutes behind me, and Ben was about 15 minutes back. But I’d seen him come down from the icefall with his Sherpa guide, so we knew he was safe.
I was in the dining tent with Brad and all of sudden the earth started shaking. I had been in the Nisqually quake (a 6.8-magnitude temblor that struck Western Washington in February 2001). I kind of knew what was going on right away. I told Brad, “Get up and get out of the tent.”
We went outside, and we heard rocks and mini-avalanches falling all around. I wanted to get to higher ground, so I walked up a rocky hill on the glacier. A few seconds later, Brad yelled at me — “Look!”
I turned around and looked over my shoulder, and that’s when I saw this huge cloud of debris, probably 200 or 300 feet high, coming down. It was kind of rainy and misty, so I didn’t really have an idea of how much debris was actually falling.
Immediately, I told Brad, “Run! Get up on the hill!” He ran to a different hill, and I ran to the back side of the hill that I was on. I’m not sure, but I think he yelled out, “We’re going to die.” And that was definitely the thought that was going through my head. It was kind of this moment where you kind of realize, “This is the end. This is how I’m going to die.”
This thing was massive. I got on the leeward slope of the hill, and all this ice and snow went over my head. It took a little while for it to clear. It was a lot less than I thought it would be, and I knew I was safe at one point.
I got up, and there was so much debris floating around in the air that it almost looked like an ash cloud that you would’ve seen on 9/11.
It took a while to understand the gravity of the situation. And luckily, we were on the northern side of base camp, on the edge of this thing, so our tents didn’t get knocked down. We were in a good position, and we didn’t comprehend that other people’s tents would’ve gotten knocked down right away.
My clients were pretty tired from descending the icefall, so we settled in and I turned on the radio. I heard that some of the lower camps really needed help. So on and off for the rest of the day, we were involved in rescuing others and going down to a triage station.
My Sherpa went down the mountain and told me, “There’s a lot of people down there, but there’s nothing you can do.” I don’t think he was trying to escape the situation, but emotionally, he was so overwhelmed by the experience that he was in shock. I was like, “We’ve got to go down there.”
One of the big guide services, IMG, bore the brunt of the triage situation. They brought down a lot of the victims and put them into their big dining tent. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but they had 50-something injured and 20-something critically injured.
At that point, I had seen six or seven dead bodies, and the number steadily grew. Somewhere in the neighborhood of six foreign climbers died, and I think two or three were Americans.
It was just a hard day. The next day, luckily, the weather had cleared enough that they were able to evacuate folks out of there, which was a huge relief. They also started helicopter rescues to Camp 1 and 2, people that had altitude illnesses. They were stuck up there, and the icefall wouldn’t have been safe to climb down.
Leaving the mountain
The next day around noon, there was a major aftershock, and I think that convinced most people that it wasn’t going to be safe to try to find a route down through the icefall, especially with their clients. They decided to evacuate everybody off the mountain. We left the day after that, on the 28th, and we wound up taking a helicopter the next day to a town, Lukla, where we spent a couple days. From there, we made our way back to Kathmandu.
The hard thing for me is so many of my Sherpa friends have been affected by this thing. And not to trivialize it, but what happened at Everest Base Camp was really a small event compared to what happened in the country — 8,000 people dead.
I launched The Himalayan Outreach Project, which was something I was thinking about doing before. Every year, I do charity climbs on Mount Rainier and other places, so I was thinking about raising funds to help my friends in Nepal, maybe send their kids to school. A lot of it will just come down to how much money we can actually raise.
Nepal has been a big part of my life, and I know a lot of people there. Out of this tragedy, hopefully, people will want to go trek and climb there in the future because, really, the only path forward for Nepal is if they can get tourists back. It’s their only real ability to earn money.
I’d probably go back next year. This is a big shock. I mean, nobody expects something like this to happen. You expect some deaths on the mountain, and that can happen for various reasons. It could be people who take too much risk and push it way too hard. Those types of events are more explainable.
I had no aspirations of staying on the mountain. I kind of knew within a few hours that our expedition would be over. I kind of saw the gravity, but it took my clients a day or two to realize that. They had their hopes and dreams pinned to summiting, and they thought that somehow maybe this incident wasn’t that big and they’d be able to keep climbing.
There was a little glimpse of hope I had, but I wasn’t pushing for it. I knew that a lot of my Sherpas would want to get back home and make sure their families were OK. So even if it wasn’t for all the aftershocks, I just thought it would be really hard to push forward with an expedition. I thought it would be too self-serving at that point. I was content to go home.
Video from Everest Base Camp Earthquake and Avalanche
Everest Base Camp video from the April 25th, 2015 – Nepal 7.8 magnitude Earthquake & Pumori Avalanche filmed by Benjamin Breckheimer – Mountain Gurus Mount Everest Expedition member and wounded warrior. (This video was shot by Ben walking from the base of the Khumbu Icefall through the icefield towards Everest Base Camp)
BBC Interview of Dennis Broadwell by Ian Pannell
Click for interview. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32555449
Reuters FRANK JACK DANIEL, May 2, 2015
(Reuters) – As rescuers lose hope of finding more survivors in Nepal’s earthquake disaster zone, a separate drama has unfolded high above them on Mount Everest where the hopes of a few rich climbers and some of their sherpas have also vanished.
After six days of high emotion and harsh words at Everest Base Camp, climbing firm Himalayan Experience finally decided on Friday to abandon its ascent of the world’s highest peak, becoming the last big team to do so.
For one of its clients, millionaire Texas realtor David McGrain, it should never have taken that long to call off the climb, given thousands of people had been killed in the valleys below as well as 18 in an avalanche at base camp itself.
“The narcissism among some of my team mates made me want to vomit,” McGrain said after leaving the camp by helicopter for the town of Lukla on Wednesday.
“All they could think about was their goddamn climb, when hours before we were holding crushed skulls in our hands.”
McGrain, a former weightlifter and self-styled “adrenaline philanthropist” who has a tattooed chest and wears a gold nose-ring, was in a minority of one when he quit his party of at least 10 climbers, all clients of Himalayan Experience.
Another climber, Nick Cienski, speaking from the ruins of base camp where he helped recover bodies and gather the broken remains of victims, initially agonized over whether to give up.
“We are still sorting through a lot of emotions; 24 hours ago we were wrapping people’s body parts in bags,” said Cienski, who later vowed to help in the quake relief effort.
“So on the one hand (there is) the reality of that … and on the second hand, we are climbers and this is sort of what we do. And so, does it make sense to continue?”
It is a question that also haunted Everest veteran Russell Brice, who runs Himalayan Experience. He made the decision to quit and bring the rest of his group off the mountain.
“My (team) members are very angry with me,” Brice said in Kathmandu, the impoverished country’s crowded capital where a quarter of the quake’s 6,200 victims were killed by the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit on Saturday.
“But I’ve made the decision to cancel and they’re going to have to live with that.”
Brice, 63, a stocky, weather-beaten New Zealander, changed his mind after being stung by suggestions that he was putting the interests of his business, some of his climbers and the vanity of summiteering above all else.
“Today all I had was hate mail,” Brice said on Thursday, before he called off the climb.
“‘You don’t care for the people. You have no heart for the Nepalese people.’ That hurts me a lot,” he added. “Because I’ve been working with Nepalese for years and years … I’ve injected millions of dollars into the Nepalese community.”
Nepal’s tourism department said on Thursday that climbers faced “no additional risk” after the quake and could resume their expeditions.
Brice agreed that had his decision been based on climber safety alone, an ascent would have been possible.
“Physically, our team could still continue and get there,” he said on Friday.
Dennis Broadwell, who owns the U.S. company Mountain Gurus, also canceled his firm’s Everest climb.
“If this happened in America, they would not be playing a ball game the next day,” he said. “I told my clients, this is a national disaster, these sherpas just want to go back to their families.”
“I HAVE TO WORK”
Around 350 foreign climbers, and double the number of local guides, were on the mountain when its worst ever disaster struck. The avalanche blasted snow, ice and rocks through base camp’s tents, splitting skulls, breaking limbs and hurling people up to 200 meters.
Afterwards, the Himalayan Experience and other team camps served as makeshift medical centers to treat about 60 injured people. The dead were shrouded in sleeping bags.
McGrain remembers “two Westerners complaining that they wanted more pain meds, while the sherpas sat there humbly, waiting to be treated.”
Last year Phurba Namgyal Sherpa helped dig out the bodies of 16 sherpas buried by an avalanche. That disaster caused the cancellation of the Everest season.
He said he survived this year’s one, and helped save his American client, Afghan war veteran Benjamin Breckheimer, by covering their mouths and noses to stop them filling with snow. Breckheimer, injured by a bomb blast in 2009, wanted to become the first wounded U.S. army veteran to climb Everest.
Now heading home to see his family, Phurba said the government’s decision to reopen Everest was irresponsible. It was “too dangerous” to climb, he said.
But for many other sherpas, economics will compel them back to the mountain.
In Lukla, Rinjen Sherpa, 49, lay on a stretcher in a room by the town’s helipad alongside four corpses. He arrived there on Tuesday with a serious back injury and gashes on his head and arm.
He had been standing outside a kitchen at base camp when the avalanche lifted him off his feet. His face scrunched against the pain, Rinjen said he would return to work if he can.
“What else will I do? There is no other work,” he whispered. “I have to work.” Rinjen, who was also at base camp during last year’s avalanche, earns $7.50 a day.
Jon Reiter, a Californian building contractor, has climbed six of the seven highest summitson all the world’s continents, with only Everest left to conquer. He was at base camp when the quake hit, having been there for last year’s avalanche as well.
“This is not the year to climb Everest,” he said in Kathmandu after leaving the mountain. “It’s the year to hope to God these people get through this.”
Local Mount Everest climber is safe after earthquake, avalanche
Issaquah Press, April 28, 2015
Klahanie resident Dennis Broadwell and his team of climbers from Issaquah-based Mountain Gurus are safe after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal and the Mount Everest area on April 25.
A post on the group’s Facebook page later in the day confirmed that Broadwell, 43, and the rest of the team were OK. News reports on April 27 said the earthquake killed more than an estimated 4,000 people in and around the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, and the death toll was expected to rise as search efforts continued.
On Mount Everest, where Mountain Gurus climbers were in the midst of a two-month expedition, 18 people, including four Americans, were reported dead after an avalanche swept over the Base Camp at about 17,600 feet in elevation.
Sam Tyler, of Mountain Gurus, said April 27 that he spoke to Broadwell shortly after the disaster. The team was at Base Camp when the avalanche occurred, although other teams were higher on the mountain at Camps 1 and 2, and were being lifted off the mountain via helicopter, Tyler said.
It’s likely that all teams stationed on the south side of Everest, where Broadwell and his team are, will call off their expeditions, Tyler said, although he didn’t know for sure. Mountain Gurus’ climbers were expecting to reach the summit in mid-May.
Nepal Earthquake and EBC Avalanche update!
April 27, 2015
I ask you to Pray for Nepal. I thank everyone for their prayers and support. Our team walked out of Everest Base Camp today. It will be a long journey home. Our team and Sherpa staff are all safe. We descended out of the Khumbu Icefall 15 minutes before the earthquake hit. We barely survived a massive avalanche coming off the Pumori face. All teams and Sherpa’s have been working together in unity to save lifes and rescue climbers at Base Camp, Camp 1 and 2. We are disappointed that our dream of climbing Everest will be delayed to another year. But most of all… Please Pray for Nepal. This country needs your help. I will set up a fund to help the people of Nepal and the Khumbu Valley when I return to America. Many of my Sherpa friends have lost their homes. Thanks for your support. Dennis Broadwell
Mountain Gurus – Everest 2015 – Expedition Dispatches
Our Everest Expedition is set to arrive in Nepal on March 27th. Dennis Broadwell owner and guide of Mountain Gurus, along side Lam Babu Sherpa will be leading our team up the Southside of Mount Everest this coming spring. We plan to post dispatches every few days during our two month expedition to the worlds highest peak with hopes to summit around mid-May.
Check out Mountain Gurus Facebook for more Expedition photos.
Pumori Camp 1
April 17, 2015
April 16th, Base Camp was hit with another 6 inches of fresh snow. Winter is still holding on here in the Khumbu. Although we’ve been busy, keeping our solar power running and playing endless Monopoly. Rest days can feel long without keeping ourselves busy. Today we decided to take an acclimatization hike up to Pumori Camp 1 at 19’000 feet. Pumori is a nearby 7000 meter peak overlooking Gorak Shep. Since the Icefall Doctors are still repairing the route up Everest we need to keep moving and prepare ourselves for higher altitudes by doing alternate hikes. Tomorrow April 18th will be a memorial rest day to the 16 Sherpa who lost their lives in last year’s ice avalanche. If the weather improves we hope to climb to Everest Camp 1 on April 20th, our Sherpa’s still need time to stock Camp 1 with tents and food.
Arrived at Everest Base Camp and upward
April 15, 2015
After ten days of walking we arrived at Everest Base Camp on April 9th. It was a beautiful sunny day with spectacular mountain views all around. The top of Everest was shining above it all. As I walked the final steps over rock and glacial ice I spotted our camp and familiar faces. Our camp staff have been preparing our arrival for weeks, working hard to shape this rugged landscaped into a livable camp that we’ll call base camp for the next 5 to 6 weeks. Everything is difficult here, the thin dry air makes the simplest tasks seem hard. Yet our camp is pleasant, furnished with comfortable chairs, a space heater and solar power. It’s a far cry from what the early pioneers of Hillary and Whittaker needed to endure.
The following morning we celebrated our Puja ceremony, a ritual that we must complete before entering the Khumbu Icefall and the upper mountain. Although not a Buddhist, I respect our Sherpa staff and their traditions and overall it’s great fun. The ceremony ends with the raising of prayer flags, Sherpa dancing, as well as a round of cokes, Everest beer and local alcohol. After lunch we say farewell to our Mountain Gurus trekkers. It was a real pleasure to have them with us on our walk to EBC.
Three of us now remain. Ben, Brad and myself as well as our Sherpa climbing staff. I’ve gotten to know Brad and Ben very well over the past years, guiding and climbing with them all over the world. As a successful businessman Brad has taken up climbing in hopes to accomplish the Seven Summits. Ben an Army soldier was severely wounded in Afghanistan by an IED and after years of rehabilitation hopes to be one of the first wounded warriors to summit Everest. For myself, I’ve been mountain guiding for the past 18 years and climbing long beyond that, I’ve dreamed about summiting Everest since I first read books about Reinhold Messner (Crystal Horizon), Herzog and the Whittaker brothers at age fourteen. In 2011, I came close to summiting Everest, but due to events beyond my control I decided to make a conservative decision and turn around at 27,000 feet. This year we hope to reach the summit of Everest together. We also have a team of five climbing Sherpa’s. Lam Babu is our head climbing Sidar. Lam is also a good friend and I respect his leadership, clam nature and experience on the mountain. Together we will do our best to keep our climbers and Sherpa’s staff safe on the mountain.
The route up the Khumbu Icefall is significantly different this year. The Icefall Doctors, the team of Sherpa’s which maintain the route have shifted the route towards the right side of the Icefall away from the left side West Shoulder and ice avalanche zone which killed sixteen Sherpa’s last season. There is still avalanche danger from the right side Nupste shoulder but I’m told the route veers towards the middle as it climbs higher avoiding most avalanche risk. On the upper part of the Icefall we will still encounter huge towering seracs (ice towers) which present substantial danger if they collapse.
The next two days we’ve been training on a safe area of the Khumbu glacier outside of Base Camp. Reviewing skills and practicing crossing ladders and tying off on fixed lines. Climbing on Everest is very different than most places I guide. Normally climbers are roped together and ascend at the same pace providing safety for one another on steep terrain or while crossing crevasses. On Everest we climb using fixed lines tied to the mountain with ice screws and snow anchors. This allows climbers to move independently at their own pace, also allowing climbers to rest at safer zones independent from one another.
The morning of April 13th we planned to climb halfway up the Icefall as an acclimatization test run. Yet that evening Base Camp was pounded with a few feet of snow holding us back from climbing. By late morning we had a few more Mountain Gurus trekkers visit us at Base Camp as well as my good friend and trekking guide Naga Dorgee Sherpa. It’s nice to have company on these long rest days at EBC.
On April 15th we decided to climb towards the Icefall as a training and acclimatization run, with the climbing path still covered with deep snow we ascended to 18,200 feet on the lower Khumbu Icefall. Ben and Brad did great climbing the steeper ice sections of the route using crampons and ascender. It felt good to be heading up despite our oxygen deprived lungs sensing every step. All and all it was a good training day despite only climbing a quarter of the way to Camp 1.
Since then we’ve been trying to melt out. The weather forecast appears more stable the next few days and we hope the Icefall Doctors will clear the route so we can climb higher later in the week. Stay tuned, we’ve had mixed success with internet.
April 8, 2015
We arrived at 16900 feet in Gorak Shep today to beautiful weather. Amazing views all around with a great view of Everest. We’ll rest this afternoon and head to EBC tomorrow.
One Step closer to EBC
April 7, 2015
This morning we left Pheriche and the Himalayan Hotel owned by my good friend Ang Nuru Sherpa, the nicest lodge in the upper Khumbu valley. I often forget that I’m in this harsh landscape while being served hot towels and candle light dinner. An oasis from the elements. We slowly walk to Dugla situated at the base of the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier. It’s our first sign that we’re approaching Everest. This glacier is fed from the Lhotse face, Western CWM and the Khumbu Icefall. We’re still two days walk from EBC and the start of our journey up Everest. We now gain memorial hill, the stone Stupa’s which pay tribute to fallen climbers. They serve as a stark reminder to the dangers that lay ahead. Nupste, Pumori and the Chinese Tibetan boarder lay a few miles to the North. We arrive in Lobuche for lunch and todays destination at 16000 feet. Another night of acclimatization. I’m greeted by a familiar painting, the Elephant, the Monkey, the Bunny and the Bird. A reminder of past journeys and good friends Craig, Bonnie and Tom. I’ll let you decide the meaning of the painting and who’s who, ha.
Rest day and three 8000′ meter peaks
April 6, 2015
Rest day at 14,000′. Views of three 8000 meter peaks. Cho Oyu, Lhotse and Makalu. Ama Dablam, Island Peak, Lobuche.
Gaining the upper Khumbu valley
April 5, 2015
Here’s more photos from the trail. We arrived in Pheriche today at 14,000ft. We’re now in the upper Khumbu valley, above the villages traditionally inhabited by the Sherpa. These upper areas are grazing lands for Yak herders and some farming. Tomorrow well take a rest and acclimatization day before heading up to Lobuche. Earlier today we paid a visit to Lama Geshe in Pangbouche. He wished our team well and gave us a blessing for safety and success on the mountain. It’s also an interesting cultural experience and important tradition for our Sherpa staff. We climb the mountain as a team. The weather is still mixed, both sun and snow, winter is still holding on here in the Khumbu.
April 3, 2015
We walked a short day to Khumjung today with a brief stop at the Everest View Hotel. We’re taking a few extra days trekking to EBC to better acclimatize before we sleep at higher altitudes. For those who know Naga he stopped by our lodge in Namche last night to say hello, he’s been leading another trek and a few more Mountain Gurus treks in April and May. It’s always great to see Naga, one of my best friends. We’ll see him again at EBC. We also got our first view of Everest today not counting the view from our Lukla flight.
The road to Everest
April 2, 2015
The trail to Everest. I thank everyone for their prayers and support. This is a long journey, 9 days to basecamp and 5 weeks climbing above basecamp. We plan to summit Everest mid to late May. I’ll try to post photos and updates along the way. We arrived in Lukla and trekked to my friend Nima’s lodge. He owns The Beyul Farmhouse, the nicest lodge in all the Khumbu and probably all of Nepal. It’s a wonderful place to stay and relax (great for meditation or yoga retreats), I wish I had a few more days here to enjoy this place. Nima is originally from the Khumbu Nepal but lived in Seattle many years and returned to Nepal to retire. The food is all organically grown with a blend of Western and Nepali cuisine. From there we hike a portion of the original trail to Everest where Hillary trekked. We regained the main trail and arrive in Namche for a cappuccino at the Namche Bakery before heading up to our lodge. This morning we hiked to sunrise point but Everest remained hidden in the thick clouds. The weather has been good yet cloudy with a touch of winter remaining.
Helicopter to Lukla
April 1, 2015
We arrived safely in Lukla today by helicopter. Yesterday all flights were cancelled due to heavy rain and clouds across Nepal. It feels great to be in the mountains again with our Everest climbing permit in hand. We will stop for lunch at Naga’s home, his wife is an excellent cook. Then down to the Beyul lodge.
Heading to Kathmandu
March 29, 2015
It’s been an exciting but busy week since I left Seattle for my journey up Everest. After spending a few days in Bangkok visiting the Grand Palace and dinner on the Chao Parya river (overlooking the Temple of Dawn) our flight was delayed arriving into Kathmandu. Since then we’ve been re-packing gear and buying last minute items before heading to the mountains. Once again it’s great to see our Sherpa staff and my good friend Kili Sherpa in Kathmandu. Our Mountain Gurus team flew into Lukla but unfortunately I needed to remain behind. As expedition leader I need to obtain our Everest climbing permit with the Nepal ministry, things have been delayed due to last year’s icefall tragedy and I hope to fly into Namche tomorrow and catch the group.
Gear is packed and ready to roll!
March 19, 2015
After months of preparing the Journey to the top begins. Flying out tomorrow.
Last Training Day
March 17, 2015
I finished my last training day on Tiger Mountain in Issaquah today. I’ve probably climbed Tiger over 300 times in the past 12 years of living at the foothills of the Cascades Range. After a few months of training, climbing 2000 vertical feet nearly everyday with a 40lbs pack I’m ready to guide Everest. I also prepared using a spin bike riding over an hour per session.
March 2, 2015
T-minus 17 days before I board a plane to Kathmandu to begin my two month journey up the slopes of Mount Everest. It’s serious crunch time up Tiger mountain everyday.
Top of the world – Klahanie man prepares to climb Mount Everest
Four years ago, Dennis Broadwell came within about 2,000 vertical feet of the top of the world before making the difficult decision to turn around. This spring, the Klahanie resident is planning to make a second attempt at summiting Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 29,029 feet.
It’s a task that has proven difficult at best, and deadly at worst — more than 200 climbers have lost their lives on Everest over the past century, including 16 Sherpas buried in an avalanche at the base camp last spring.
Broadwell doesn’t express much worry, and said he climbs to attain a “shared experience” in which his team bonds through adversity.
“It’s not only us doing these adventures and doing these things that, for most people, seem dangerous, but we’re sharing experiences with people, pushing ourselves on the mountain, kind of a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
‘Not the right day’
A professional mountain guide since 1997, Broadwell nearly ascended Everest in 2011. One of his climbing partners reached the top, but due to a minor illness, Broadwell stayed behind, a few thousand feet below. When he tried to summit a day later, another partner was having trouble breathing, and Broadwell would’ve had to finish the climb on his own.
Broadwell thought of his two young children, as well the partner who’d suffered snow blindness on the summit. He turned his back and began descending.
“As a mountain guide, I make a lot of conservative choices,” Broadwell said, “and I just said, ‘It’s not the right day, the right time to go to the top, especially by myself.’”
Broadwell, 43, a native of Long Island, New York, came to the Northwest about 20 years ago after cutting his teeth on the slopes of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
He was turned away in his initial attempt to become a guide on Mount Rainier, but perseverance paid off. He got a chance to prove himself during a rescue mission there, and he’s been making a living at climbing ever since.
Broadwell owns two mountaineering companies: Northwest Alpine Guides, which leads local climbs; and Mountain Gurus, which has an international focus. He has led trips to many well-known peaks, including a few of the famous Seven Summits such as Aconcagua (Argentina) and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania).
‘Like a family reunion’
The team that will attempt the two-month Everest climb, starting in late March, is small but closely knit. One of Broadwell’s clients, Brad Paskewitz, accompanied him on a previous Himalayan climb in Nepal.
Another client, Ben Breckheimer, is a U.S. Army veteran who’s involved with the Wounded Warrior program. He sustained a serious leg injury in Afghanistan, and although he doesn’t have a prosthetic limb, he climbs with a significant disability.
Along with the physical dangers, an Everest expedition can be cost-prohibitive to many people. This year, Broadwell said, an individual permit is $11,000. He works with someone in Nepal to coordinate Sherpa guides, and the process is becoming old hat.
“I’ve been over there so much these guys are like friends to me now,” he said. “It’s like a family reunion every time.”
While his Northwest training grounds — including Tiger Mountain, Mount Si and Snoqualmie Pass — are more modest than the Himalayas, Broadwell said they’re more than adequate for keeping him in shape.
Muscle strength is a key in mountain climbing, and it’s actually OK to go into the Everest climb a bit overweight. He’ll spend four or five weeks at the base camp, acclimatizing to the altitude.
“By the time I’m getting into my summit window, which is around May 15, I’ll probably have lost that 10-15 extra pounds, no problem, and I’ll be in really prime climbing shape,” he said.