Everest descent wraps up with one last drama
A few hours after her life passed before her eyes on Mount Everest, Frisco resident Jody Thompson called home to announce that everything was OK.
Thompson is part of Team No Boundaries, the all-women group that was poised to become the first to summit the world’s tallest peak. Their bid failed Saturday when bad weather compelled the team to make a U-turn at 28,750 feet after nearly two months on the mountain.
“When I talked to Jody at about 5 a.m., she said the decision to turn around was almost entirely weather-based,” said Jody’s husband, Mark Thompson, Monday. “She didn’t like what she was seeing and was ready to call it quits. The weather was moving in. It sounds like it was torturous wind and a snowstorm brewing. They were descending in a total whiteout. With bad weather that high, you’re basically caught out in the storm. You don’t have the reserves you need and it’s hard to move fast. The weather moves a lot faster than you can.”
The team had a final lesson in fast-moving elements of nature on its way down.
Monday morning, as the team was descending, one last drama unfolded that came close to ending more than just the adventure. While the group was crossing a series of crevasses on the Khumbu icefall, the glacier began to rumble underfoot and thousands of tons of ice collapsed instantaneously, according to a report on http://www.discovery.com, which has been chronicling the climb.
“It was a miracle that no one died,” said team guide Ben Marshall in the report. “It was like a trapdoor that just fell away. All of a sudden I was just falling in space.”
Marshall was the one in the group caught on the portion of the glacier that collapsed. He grabbed onto a rope and was able to climb to safety, and Sherpas with ropes and anchors worked quickly to create a new route through the icefall that enabled the team to keep moving downward.
“It was a final reminder that it’s a scary place to be,” Mark Thompson said. “It’s amazing how quickly things can happen. (Jody) called me from the base camp, and was pretty excited to come home.”
Thompson and best friend Kim Clark, who is also on the team, will return to Colorado next week. Thompson’s 15-month-old son, Hans, will be a sight for sore eyes, according to his father. The boy has gained 2 1/2 pounds since his mother left at the beginning of April, has learned to crawl, and can say, “Mama.’
“Every time I’ve talked to (Jody), she’s been way more excited to hear about Hans and everything that’s happening around here than talking about her climb,” Mark Thompson said. “(Hans) has changed a ton. She’s absolutely going to flip. They sprout a real personality in two months. He was a little baby in a bucket when she left.”
Thompson is also excited to see his wife. Although he has filled the past two months playing Mr. Mom, working and winning regional bike races, he’s also been living on the edge of his seat at times.
“We were watching the Web really closely this weekend,” he said. “There were a couple friends over, and a News channel. It was great, they seemed so close to the summit. Then, knowing there were little things going wrong, it’s this awful sinking feeling. Having this play-by-play almost makes it worse. Because you know that (the news) is already two or three hours old once it gets to you. They played it smart by turning around. I’m really proud of them.”
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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