Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We made it but need a change of underwear!

May 30, 2012
"We made it... but need to change our underwear."

We made the decision to summon a helicopter from Namche to Kathmandu yesterday, the monsoon has arrived and who knows how long we would be held up here in Namche waiting for a twin-otter flight out of Lukla. As well there are reports of bandits on the trail from Lukla to Jiri robbing trekkers and climbers on the three to four day walk out to a bus stop where one can catch a bus to Kathmandu.

So, all sounds good, its coming in this morning to pluck us out at which it did but it dropped just a day's walk down to Lukla. The idea is from here we will get on another helicopter to Kathmandu. We are told 20 minutes, well from 05:30am to 15:00hrs is a very long 20 minutes but it happened.

This time we get only a 1/2 a day walk distance below Lukla and we are in trouble. We end up getting slammed into by very intimidating black cloud that smashed us around pretty good. Our pilot circles around and around trying to spot a location to put it down as we hold on for our lives, the windshield wipers now break which doesn't help the situation but he finds a spot that will have to do and makes a commitment, we are down - phew!... Now what? we end up sitting here for 2 hours inside the chopper being protected from an intense thunder and lightening storm. None of us know where are not even the pilot. Kids come out of the forest checking us out they are intrigued by us and this machine they had not before actually seen up close, they are now laughing and playing in the rain and swimming in a pond that was created by this storm, they provided us good entertainment. Ang Karsung asked the kids if they knew where we were, we kind of get an idea that we are about 6 hours walk from Lamindad airstrip and about 3 hours from Lukla.

So now it's time to get serious again to see if the pilot can get this machine to Kathmandu before it gets dark. The pilot spirals up and up we punch trough more cloud and fog, to only be sent back towards earth again, I really did get the feeling this was it for us, first time in my life I had that gut feeling, it didn't feel good and I'm so glad I was wrong. We head towards a ridge and it doesn't look good so we drop down the other side and get into a tight river valley and follow it for what seems like forever and I ask the pilot if we have enough fuel, he didn't reply "yikes" finally things start to flatten out with exits but we are now way south of Kathmandu and have to get back. As we start flying back towards Kathmandu we are confronted with more visibility problems, the haze from pollution and forest fires. Finally it's now 18:30 hrs, dark and we can see Kathmandu airport and land safely.
I've never been a war zone, but today this felt like if I had it might have been much like this, all my years working in helicopters heli ski guiding and getting around here in the Himalayas, this tops it for close encounters.

Awesome pilot, the first question I asked him before we got in the machine was "are you married and do you have children?" If I didn't get the answer I wanted I wouldn't have been on this adventure today. Going home......

Photo: Peak Freak Guides: Marty Schmidt, Joshua Jarrin and Tim Ripp

Peak Freaks

Saturday, May 26, 2012


May 26: 22:00hrs (NPT) - 19- SAFE SUCCESSFUL SUMMITS-

Once again maintaining our 21 year flawless client safety record. SUMMIT LIST

Mountain Guide - Marty Schmidt - Expedition Debrief on the summit push May 18/19, 2012' read

Our team all made it through the ice fall today in good form and time pulling in to EBC around 2pm. The stability in the ice fall is said to be quite good considering this time of the season. It is starting to do it's spring meltdown and base camp now looks like a ghost town with just a few camps left from the last expeditions. All we see now is stone walls where base facilities once were. I made my rounds to say good bye to the last expeditions just finishing up here before the our team came back from C2. When our team arrived back we had a nice time together with some good laughs and glasses of cheer. Tomorrow we are up at 05:30 hours to say good-bye to the team while Joshua, Marty, Ben and myself take care of some packing up before heading down to Namche. We are told the flights are already backing up in Lukla. .... Tim

It was was again an epic season with many obstacles to overcome but each season will have them and they're always different. We work with what we are given to make it happen and never give up. The crowds this year were bad but not much different than what we've been experiencing the past few years. Had everyone up there climbed responsibly which was our hope as noted earlier in the blog, each one these tragedies could have been avoided. I encourage you to have a read through Marty's dispatch above and you'll get a feel for what it was like up there for him.

Marty and Joshua are highly regarded mountain guides, Marty goes way back and Joshua is new but is on a very impressive path and we are incredibly honored to have both of these professionals in our family and you will see both of them back again next year.

A huge heart felt congratulations to the team, we are incredibly proud of everyone giving it all they had and then some. They were a dynamic team of team players, they depended on each other and encouraged each other to get the job done as one unit. Our Sherpas are our family, we love them and their families. The family history here in the mountaineering industry is tightly woven, the boys are of men that used to climb with us in the 90's and are following their fathers footsteps now working with us. We have a strong sense of responsibilities to these families and I think that shows to go both ways and why our support is so solid.

We thank all the family friends of these mountaineers for trusting us with your loved ones.

Over and out....... Tim and Becky Rippel Photos, videos and expedition celebrations can be followed on Facebook from here on out...

NELSON DELLIS -video: The Trek Home.... Enjoy


Friday, May 25, 2012

Team at Camp 2- Sherpas approaching exhausted

May 25: 18:00hrs (NP) All members are safe and sound at Camp 2 - Sherpas coming in now: Our Sherpa team has been working through the night. They are super tired so the staff at Camp 2 are heading up right now to bring them in with drink and food, they are about an hour away from Camp 2.

Message from team mate Andreas Breitfuss who is home now in Australia:
“Boys… I am so excited and very proud to know such a dynamic group of mountaineers, tears were streaming when I found out you summited. Well done, love you all”

One team mate that really stands out this year is fisherman Chris Cameron aka Captain Crunch who actively studies Buddhism. The day before the team was heading up to the summit Tim sent him to EverestER to get a pain checked out, they were concerned about the fall he had taken when leaving his brothers home in the US with his duffel bag on his way to catch his flight ot Nepal. The EverestER docs wanted to rule out a broken rib and sent him all the way back down back down the trail to Khunde to get an x-ray - results were negative. Keep in mind this is the location of day 2 on the trek into base camp, that's how far he went down. The determined he had a developed a type of ulcer that is apparently common with the Sherpas during expeditions. He said they gave him a pill, he let out a big belch and was perfectly fine afterwards.

So now the team is climbing so he bolts back to base camp same day with a quick nap at Pheriche and catches up to the team at Camp 2 and proceeds with the rest of the climb to the summit. I thought how could this be? then it comes to me, he's a fisherman, one of those "Deadly Catch" reality TV kind of fisherman. He's used to exposure, he works well in cold, wind, tugging on ropes, sleep deprived and all while on uneven ground. A big round of applause all of them who gave it their all to this climb but Crunchy's story will be one of those that will be told for many a year.

Peak Freaks

Thursday, May 24, 2012


First summit at 05:15 names and details to be advised.

Stay tuned:

Peak Freaks at the Hillary Step

May 25: 04:30 (NP) Some of our members have reached the Hillary Step others close behind, exciting!

May 25: 04:08hrs (NP) Joshua calls in: Everyone on the South Summit (8690m- 28,500 ft) and moving in good form expecting to be on the summit in about 1.5 hours with the weather and condition of the team being optimal. Nima called in earlier and and his mic stuck on so Tim has been able to listen in and he says there was no sound of wind which is what we were counting on, exciting!

Check out Scott Mortensen's video above that I hope can help people who may not understand this passion get a feel for what we do here.

While we wait

While we wait..

There dark cloud that has been cast on Everest the past few days with regards to the deaths and numbers on Everest should not overshadow the good that has been brought to the people of this country from mountaineering. During the course of the 21 years we've been coming here we've watched families prosper, wear shoes, educate their children, build lodges, own their own businesses, become professionals in medicine and education to treat and care for their own. It was all made possible by adventure seekers and explores who come here to see and climb the almighty Sagamartha - Mount Everest.

A good example is Vanessa Higgot. Her husband Guy Higgot an RCMP from Ontario came here and climbed with us in 2007 and Vanessa since has led a couple Peak Freak treks with us. Vanessa knew immediately what she had to do and she's done it very well. She fell in love with the Nepalese people, you can't help wanting to give or do something for them. She thought about it long and hard to make sure what she did was the best avenue. She is the founder of "Learn For life" scholarship fund actively raising money anyway she can. She is in Kathmandu right now visiting her scholars and teaching other helpful skills to children at the Hopeful Home, a Kathmandu orphanage, and sharing the love. I encourage you to take a look through the "Learn For Life" website and get a feel for what's being done here. She is only one of thousands of people who have come here to climb and end up leaving their hearts.

Photo: Vanessa with five of her six students. The sixth student lives in Pokhara 8 hours away

Team at the Balcony (8400m) all is good!

Team reached the Balcony 8400m (27,600ft) - Next check in will be when they reach the South Summit at 8690m (28,500ft) in about five hours from now. Keep in mind this is the quiet time of an expedition. They are keeping their nose going the same direction as their toes to get the job done.

We have 19 Sherpas up on the upper mountain right now. Below is the roster is our Team #2 members and personal Sherpas currently pushing for the summit.


Joshua Jarrin (Mountain Guide)- Ecuador

John Stephen- Canada

Mark Hughes - South Africa

Ben Darlington - Australia

Chris Cameron- USA

Stephen Neil - Australia

Personal Sherpas

Ngima Tshering

Ngima Sherpa

Mingmar Sherpa

Zangmu Shepa

Ang Namgya

Palden Namgya

The other Sherpas are working communications, carrying extra oxygen supplements, holding position in the event of an emergency and will clean off the mountain when we are all finished up here. This group won't get their name in lights for summit success but they are 100% key players in the success of any expedition.

Over and out.... Becky

Peak Freak Expeditions Inc.
Photo collection: Friend Tim Rippel on Facebook to view the 2012 collection.