Text and photograph by Dave Hahn, a guide for RMI Expeditions and First Ascent. In May 2010 Hahn reached the summit of Mount Everest for the 12th time, the most of any a non-Sherpa climber. This time, he is leading a Bill McGahan and his 16-year-old daughter, Sara, on a bid for the summit. Follow the team's Everest expedition in dispatches here.
We've strung together a number of important milestones over these past few days. The Puja ceremony was a symbolic starting point to the climbing portion of the expedition. It seemed to go off without a hitch as we sat in warm sunshine and calm air for the morning… staring up into the Khumbu Icefall as we listened to the chanting and drums of the monks.
We were lucky enough to have the docs from "Everest ER," the HRA clinic, as guests at the Puja and even a few of our good friends from the "Icefall Doctors" team. The Icefall Docs were taking a well-deserved day off from fixing the route up to Camp I. Ang Nima, who has been building climbing routes on Mount Everest since the 1970s, told me they were waiting for a new shipment of rope from down-valley anyway, so relaxing at our puja was the perfect way to pass a morning, getting a little more blessing from the gods for the dangerous and essential job they perform.
We were blessed at the end of the Puja to see Mark Tucker marching into camp. Tuck is our base camp manager and is well-known as the de-facto mayor of the little community that springs to life about this time each year. Tuck and I started guiding together on Mount Rainier in 1986 and have been together on many expeditions to weird parts of the world, so on a personal level I was quite happy to see my friend arrive on the scene. Tuck got to work quickly, hunkering down with Jeff Martin to coordinate logistics and inventory lists in advance of Jeff's departure. He also began immediately to scope out venues on the rough glacial moraine for golf, baseball, and horseshoes… all the normal mountain-climbing related diversions. Bill was plenty happy to have another worthy games and contests opponent around… so he could get busy walloping Tuck at everything.
- Nat Geo Expeditions