Category Archives: 2012 Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp

All posts from the start of trek prep through the end of the trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal in March 2012 with Mountain Madness.

In Search of Ron Kirk

Darrel Kirk, Brother of missing hiker in from Seattle to search

Today my outing was not focused on the prep for the trek. It was far more important than my quest for personal accomplishment. Today I went out with Red Rock Search and Rescue to try to help find Ron Kirk. I don’t know him personally. But when you hike the Red Rocks and hear of someone who does not come out, you cannot help but want to do your part to help find him. Bring him to his family. So at 6 AM this morning, Jim Smyth picked me up and off we went to the command center outside Calico Hills to help.

One time, when I was 8, I helped look for two missing children at my grandfathers resort at Baker Lake, Washington. They sent us kids out on all our trails through the woods to see if we could find where they might have gone. Maybe they fell. Maybe they are just lost. Sadly, it was later the two youngsters were found in the lake. It was devastating to my grandfather to think that his rustic fishing resort had been the source of such pain for this family.  It was my first encounter with observing, and to a limited extent, being a part of the real time events surrounding such a loss.

It was a cold and breezy sunrise as Jim and I arrived. We were greeted by a motor home that had prepared a spread of food and hot beverages for all the volunteers. We were broken up into groups and I was in the day hiker group. There were Class 3 and Class 4 climbers that would be assigned more difficult terrain. So off we went to the flats between the road to Calico Hills and the model airplane strip. We were to scour the underbrush, look for any sign of Ron…in any condition.

The land I covered was flat with washes meandering circuitously through the extent of our section. We were led by an ol’ army guy named Pigeon. He had us fan out and just beat the brush. I was worried that I might miss something. What if I was looking to the left, and there was something on the right. What if I got distracted. I had not done this sort of grid thing ever before, though I had seen it a few times in rescue news reels.

It struck me how beautiful  Red Rock is. How quiet. How the sound of the voice of a bike rider out on the road carries in to where I was and sounded just as if that rider were talking directly to me. I also thought of Darrell Kirk, Ron’s brother. Darrell was in the position just next to me for most of the day. He had traveled here from Seattle. And though unspoken between us, the fear and pain and anxiety of not knowing where his brother is was palpable. My heart cried out for him and I so wanted that miracle to happen today.

These bikes were none the wiser as to the reason for our presence.

Red Rock Search and Rescue is new. It is all volunteer, and it was the result of Ron going missing. We need to have an organized group of volunteers who are ready, willing, and able to assist in these kinds of events. We owe it to each other to try to do what we can. We cannot leave it up to the limited resources of law enforcement. But we can assemble, train and dedicate ourselves to being there to assist law enforcement so that when something as tragic as this happens, families of missing people will know they can get help to find their loved one.  I was glad to be there and to give time to the Kirk family today. I will try to do this as often as I can until he is found.

If you have any idea what happened to Ron, please contact his Brother Darrell at the number listed in the second photograph in this post. If you can help look, find Red Rock Search and Rescue on Facebook.

Searchers in our grid.

Darrell Kirk was thanking a man who was leaving the search. He told the man how much his taking his time to be there and to help search made this whole ordeal more bearable. I cannot imagine being Darrell or any of the rest of his family right now.

The Red Rock Canyon



The home stretch to the trek is here. Two months from today I will board a plane and leave for what has been a two year plan. I find myself exhilarated and anxious at the same time. Since I made the decision to do this trek, so much has happened. I am so glad I told myself early on  to enjoy the journey. Along the way I have made great friends at Crossfit Max Effort. I have made great friends at the climbing gym and kayaking. I have enjoyed hiking and going to climbing walls in Red Rock and at Mt Charleston. I have learned and gained more friends at As a matter of fact, one of the great mountaineers there made it possible for me to get a free pair of yak trax to try out on the trek!

During this time my father’s health has been declining. We have been in the hospital with him twice in the last month. This raises obvious worries with regard to what may happen while I am gone. The rules have been placed: I will not receive any information regarding my father while on this trek. The family believes that there is nothing I could do if something happened but worry, so finish my trek and come home, hopefully to regale my father with adventurous stories of the Himalayas.

I have added biking into my fitness activities. It is something I used to do regularly all through college. I got a new road bike at Christmas and hope to continue to gain back my health and fitness and do some organized rides.

Another benefit of this two year preparation is that I am not done when the trek is over. In July or August I plan to climb Mount Shasta:

Then Mount Baker:

Then Machu Piccuu:

And maybe after that, Kilimanjaro:

So, as you can see, this has changed my life. This is going to be what I do with the time I have here on this orb and I cannot tell you how much more enriching it is to be out there amongst the greatest creation in history, THE PLANET!

5k San Francisco Style

Night before teh 5k....chillaxen on the street!

I recently attended a conference with the Nevada Justice Association in San Francisco.  One of the events you could choose to participate in was a 5k.  I signed up and one of my big motivators was was that any 5k in San Francisco would have to have some big dang hills. That would be a good progress test for me leading up to the Everest Base Camp Trek in March. The race was pretty informal and we got a turn by turn hand out to keep us on the trail. So off everyone went….except me. I was apparently the only walker. But that was ok. It was a good morning and the fog was with us making it a very different 5k than I usually do.

I felt good and quickly set up my GPS to track the route. I always like to do that. As I was moving along from Union Square to the Embarcadero, I enjoyed the sights

Artwork on the Mission

and sounds of a city waking up.  Traffic was light and there was no wind. So I snapped some pics as I went along and really was enjoying the air, moving quickly, feeling strong.  So, there couldn’t be a better day. Soon I was up on the water in front of the Ferry building and looking out into the fog that socked in the Bay Bridge. On up the road I trudged, iPod accompanying each of my steps. I knew that a turn was coming up so I was paying attention to the street signs. I didn’t want to be late for breakfast, after all. But after passing the cable car turn around on Powell, I thought for sure that something had gone awry. Rather than

Powell Street Cable Car Turn Around

cut up from there, though, I just kept on my path.  I began thinking about the fact that I had not yet had a single hill and was disappointed. That disappointment would not endure, however. A quick look at the GPS revealed that I, indeed, had gone astray and now I needed to map a rout back. Time was a wasting and not only was breakfast in peril, but being to the seminar on time was also iffy.  By now I was on Bay Street, having turned left off the Embarcadero. My destination was not really that far. But to get there would take a trip up Hyde. To the top of Lombard Street. That is the squiggly be-flowered street so steep and famous on the post cards. That was wha an only be described as a “butt buster”. And the real weird thing about it is that I LOVED the challenge and the push. UP, UP, UP. STEEP, STEEP, STEEP! I went on past Lombard and was at the top of Nob Hill at the “Mark”. I remembered having sung there while attending Simpson College back in the

Legendary Mark Hopkins on Nob Hiil, San Francisco

early 80’s. Itwas a warm feeling of deja vu…..until I saw that what goes up, must come down and now I had to go down the steepness of one of San Francisco’s most famous of its seven hills. No knee braces and time was a ticking!  I took another look at the GPS and flew down that hill into the fog below, arriving back at the Marriott, Union Square with 10 minutes to spare. I grabbed an orange juice and headed to my room to clean up and rush back down for the Nevada Supreme Court Justice’s panel. In the end, my deviation from the route aded 1.4 miles on to the 5k, logging in 4.6 instead of 3.2 miles. It also gave me the hill I so wanted to have in this 5k. An added bonus was that the knees withstood it with little residual pain, and even that dissipated pretty quickly.

Lookin a little puffy! Must be all the moisture re-hydrating my pores!

“Enjoy the Journey” …is What They Tell Me.

Get Fit. The Alternative sucks.

There are so many things that go into a trip of a lifetime. One thing that has occurred time and time again, however, is the unsolicited same advice: ENJOY THE JOURNEY! It almost seems trite and meaningless. But it really is not. For me, having allowed my fitness and health to spiral downward until I was so sedentary that the motorized grocery store cart left me begging myself to give in to it, I really have had a journey that can be measured along the way. Lately, I have had situations presented to me that MAKE me see what the journey has been and is becoming.  Here is the Latest:

I arrived home on a busy Saturday after being at the Honda dealer for three hours, followed by getting my father set for the week. (I do that every weekend.) I was looking forward to a friend’s 30th birthday party and two days of rock climbing camaraderie to round out my 2011 Labor Day weekend. (It started by a round of Golf on Friday).  But as I pulled up to my house, I saw that someone (who shall remain nameless) had come over in my absence, unannounced, and filled my driveway with boxes. My reaction was “what the HECK?” As I looked over the boxes I was perplexed as to why this stuff, after two years away from where they came, would be landed here. It was almost all stuff that was shared back in that time. So, I got mad. Real mad. The mean kind. Then I tried to figure out what to do. It all wreaked of cigar smoke, so I was not about to take it inside.  I looked for a haul away service. Nothing. I thought of hiring some people at the Nursery, but that creates other issues for me, not to mention that at three in the afternoon I am guessing nobody was hanging around waiting for work. Finally, I called a U-Haul company and reserved a truck for Sunday morning.

So here comes the part that actually redeems me a little for my initial mean thoughts and anger. But first a little table to show the reader from whence I came:

  • 2002 – started law school. Worked and school with no exercise. Very over weight.
  • 2006 – graduated law school at my heaviest weight ever; could not carry books to class; grocery shopping difficult. Short walk from car to store exhausting
  • 2007 – Decided with a friend to do 5k’s. First one nearly killed me. Was sore for days. Took over and hour and forty-five minutes to finish.
  • 2008 – now doing 5k every month and even added a 10k walk at Valley of Fire. Also added golf in as an activity. 18 holes very hard to complete even with a cart.
  • 2009 – Met some Kayakers and started Kayaking. They invited me to the rock climbing gym. I went. First outdoor hike with them to climb was Cut Your Teeth at Red Rock. Again, nearly dead by return. HARD approach for the big girl.
  • 2010 – decided I wanted to do the Everest Base Camp Trek for my 50th (2011). Family very opposed as too soon for me to physically be prepared. Suggested 2012 as a target. Still kayaking, golfing, hiking, bowling and going on climb hikes to take pics.
  • 2011 – Started CrossFit at Max Effort to accelerate fitness and be ready for the 2012 trek.

So, now that the map is there it is Sunday morning, September 4, 2011. I have a truck, a driveway full of boxes, and as long as I was at it, a garage that could use some cleaning. I looked at it like a workout. Lifting, throwing, walking, bending. It was all there.  I loaded the junk that was left here on the truck. then did a proper clean out of my own stuff in the garage. Off to the transfer station I went. The unloading was lots of tossing. Heavy stuff. I could feel my lower back getting fatigued and I had the epiphany. The one that inspired this entry into WhelanTrek. THIS is the journey. I don’t need to focus on why this stuff arrived on my driveway. What is REALLY important is that I could take care of it. Before the reformation of ME, as the chart reveals, I could not have thought of doing it. Instead, it was an annoying task that resulted in a good workout and proving to myself that all this hiking and CrossFit is making me far more able to live my everyday life. Sure, it is getting me ready for Everest Base Camp too. But along the way, my quality of life is far better. My future is bright for the last 1/3 of my life as well.

Everyone Loves a Cool Shirt

The most sought after shirt evah!

I am having some shirts made to commemorate the big trek. If you are interested in purchasing a shirt  just for the fun of it, I will add that to my order. The shirts are Hanes Beefy T’s and all you need to pay is the cost of the shirt plus tax. That comes out to about $12.25.  I will need to know what size you would like to have and we can arrange money changing hands. The graphics are pretty dang good and for that reason alone any serious t-shirt afficianado would need to add it to their collection. Great for climbing, hiking,  kayaking, polishing cars and drying off the dog.  You can wear it to work on casual Friday and give them as gifts to well deserving friends. President Bush and President Obama are in a bidding war over the first one off the press. Don’t be left out.  Once I have a good idea how many are needed the order will go in. I want to have it  by early October so I can have them before the holidays…OH yet another way to complete your holiday shopping! Now. Thre is also a graphic on the FRONT of the shirt making it ever so much cooler. (huh?) But I am still trying to figure out why it is not letting me post it in here. Maybe it is JUST THAT COOOOOL! Email me or leave a comment here and we will get the ball rolling!

Cottonwood Cove Kayakmania

Kayak Heaven

I was SO excited for yesterday’s paddle to Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave. Last year it was one of my best days playing outside. This year was great too. There were 24 people. New people, old people, kids. The weather was about 111 on the lake and the water was good and choppy outside the marina. Kate Sigworth organized it and Kim and Kate were there again. I met them all last year and they have become great friends. I was far more confident in my kayaking than I had been last year and really just enjoyed the day. We stopped at two or

Sean takes a dive!

three beaches to play in the water. That was refreshing and fun. I was glad to have my trusty build in ice chest on the kayak to store great snacks. I had insulated the lid with some of that spray foam used on pipes and think myself quite ingenious to say the least.

I did have one great big disappointment. I had just gotten my glacier goggles for the big trip and since they are also for glare on water in bright sun, I tried them out. They felt like a good fit but the lenses did NOT make my eyes feel good. As a matter of fact, my right eye felt down right sore. Luckily, I did have my trusty RayBan Wayfarers along as back up so was able to nip that in the bud.

All in all, it was a day of fun best told in pictures. So I will end this entry with a few for your enjoyment.

Ace Locked and Loaded for the trip home.


Safe Seas

The mean, glacier goggles


T-Shirt and Tattoo….(along the way to trekking).

I decided to design myself a T-Shirt to celebrate the path to Nepal and the trek itself. Well. That is not entirely accurate. I have an IDEA for a t-shirt that my friend Sonya Vasilieff (proprietor of Pink Bird Studio) is actually designing from my very limited artistic abilities. Therefore, I am sure it is going to rock.  I am going to use the front as a tattoo that will offically embed the trip to me externally as well. AND  the design will become the avatar of WhelanTrek.  

The front (and ultimatly the tattoo) will be an image of the mountain itself encircled by a border of celtic knots. The back will list all of the locations I will hit along the way and their elevations overlaying a map of Nepal. I am learning a bit about how to get parts together for use in the design. Vector graphics. Never heard of it before this. See how much fun this adventure is? Anyway. Sonya worked up a graphic of Mount Everest that will adorn the front of the shirt. Around it will be a very nice Celtic knot circle.

In the process of doing what has been done so far, Sonya attached a quote from Tom Whittaker. Whittaker was the first one legged man to climb mount everest. He overcame much to do such a task. But the quote is apt for anyone who seeks to reach a goal: “Everest for me, and I believe for the world, is a physical and symbolic manifestation of overcoming odds to achieve a dream.” — Tom Whittaker.

I used Everest symbolically to achieve my dream of becoming an attorney. I actually used the Seven Summits, but Everest was the top of them all, the last one after conquering each of the six achievements along the way that I needed to get to that ultimate goal. Now I am going to Base Camp to physically achieve my own Everest goal. No. It is not to the top of the mountain, but rather to the bottom of the mountain. I never yearned to climb it, only to see it, touch it and be there. That is MY Everest and I need to overcome the odds of age, decades of sedentary living, and weight to achieve it. I have seen the reaction in people’s faces when I tell them what I am doing. Many faces are skeptical and more are down right dismissive. As if, in my age and condition, it is a pipe dream. I have my own demons of doubt to battle. I am learning how to push harder when I think I have reached my physical limit. Because the truth is, we each have far more in us than we are willing to believe.

This is what a wall ball workout looks like

This is what a wall ball work out looks like.

Yesterday I was doing a wall ball workout at CrossFit Max Effort. I was required to throw a 10 pound medicine ball above the low target 150 times. I was given 15 minutes in which to do it. This was after what was a nice, big, warm up that included a 500 meter row. After a fast start, I was bogging down. Pretty soon I was resting between 2 to 3 throws. I kept having the same conversation with myself. “Stopping is not going to get you to base camp.” and “The trek will be at LEAST this hard with no O2 and steep terrain.” I had to remind myself “You are not crawling on your hands and knees on the floor so you must have more in you.”  I found that there is more there to access. I got 146 throws and know that the reason I did not get 150 total was because of my mind and not my body.  As I train my body, I will train my mind to overcome the odds to achieve my dream! overcome the odds to achieve my dream

Bumps in the Road

Cable Car in San Francisco - double-ended car ...

Image via Wikipedia

T minus 8 mo. 3 days to lift off to Everest Trek. Seems like quite a ways off, but truth is, it is right around the corner. Between now and then, I need to:

  • Complete my gear aquisition
  • Get all shots and meds
  • Save money to spend
  • Increase aerobic sterength
  • Increase leg strength
  • Lose big chunk of weight

That is what comes to the top of my head at any rate. And time passes quite quickley when you need it to slow down. That is a proven fact. I have great plans of consistant CrossFit and hiking. But I need to make those plans a reality and not just good intentions or I will find myself at 10,000 feet ready to go and developing a splitting headache, unable to ascend and my dream gone lickity split.

Saturday I go to San Francisco for Scrableganzapalousa. I am pretty dang sure I will not be getting any more fit than I am right now at that event. Likely not going to eat well either. So, here is the plan. I cannot afford to have too many more bumps in the road. Especially bumps I can avoid. August starts when I get back. Next big family event is October when Dad turns 80. That gives me 2 months to string together some consitant, hard effort. So I am publishing that here to let ya’ll know, the heat is ON, baby!



Distilling the Trek To Distance, Days, and O’s

After my epic blister hike of Saturday, I wanted to be more pragmatic about my preparation going forward. I decided I needed to know everything about this trek I was embarking on and in doing so, better plan the remaining 8 1/2 months of training to get there. By reading the Mountain Madness itinerary, and another base camp trek blog I searched out, I was able to analyze the trip and thus get a clearer picture of what I was in for.  I would actually be hiking about 80 miles with 12 days of actual hiking going on. There are two days of rest built-in, but from what I gather, rest means hiking. The only difference is, you are not making progress toward the destination, just going up and down to acclimatize.  I would be breathing at altitudes that ranged from 73% Oxygen, (known as O’s for the lingo savvy) down to about 50% O’s. See. I am savvy. Here is what I found:

  1. Day 1: Descend 650 feet, breath 73% O’s, travel 3 miles.
  2. Day 2: Ascend 2600 feet, breath 64% O’s, travel 6 miles
  4. Day 3: Ascend 1587, breath 60% O’s, travel 6 miles.
  5. Day 4: Ascend 1363 feet, breath 57% O’s, travel 5 miles.
  7. Day 5: Ascend 2200 feet, breath 53% O’s, travel 4.5 miles.
  8. Day 6: Ascend 850 feet, breath 52% O’s, travel 10 miles.
  9. Day 7: Ascend 1500 feet, descend 1500 feet, breath 50% O’s.
  10. Day 8: Ascend  575 feet, travel 3.2 miles.
  11. Day 9: Descend 575 feet travel 3.2 miles.
  12. Day 10: Descend 2400 feet.
  13. Day 11: Descend 3300 feet.
  14. Day 12: Descend 1950 feet, travel 9 miles.

I still have some research to find some info to fill in toward the end of the return, but clearly, this is going to be a knee crushing, leg whipping, lung busting adventure!


The Gear Gathers

Thanks to a climbing friend of mine, Eric Darr, I found Steep and Cheap. I wish I had found it sooner as in just a week I bought my Big Agnes Moon Hill 0 degree sleeping bag for $143.95. I scored an Obermeyer base layer shirt for $24.00. And I got a High Gear solar pod for @24.00.

These prices are great and if I had known about it earlier, I could be literally hundreds of dollars ahead of the game right now. On the other hand, I keep seeing things I want but don’t really need right now and it is difficult not to grab it. I have a lot of stuff yet to get, but my gear pile is getting higher and the big items are almost all in now. I am excited about all the stuff and its use in the Big Mountains!

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