UPDATE: Videos of Scott’s arrival and descent now available here.
Astronaut Scott Parazynski is now back at Camp 4 – “hurting” and resting – after successfully making it to the summit of Mount Everest at 4 am local time on Wednesday (6:15 pm EDT Tuesday ) – one year after a back injury forced him to turn around as he neared the top of the world’s tallest peak. Carrying moon rocks, a hi-tech satellite tracking device and the dreams of a lifetime, he is the first astronaut to summit Everest.
Scott and his Sherpa Danuru remained on the summit for about thirty minutes and then began the more perilous journey down the mountain. Scott told me in his last Skype chat before making the final push that he was worried about an “Into Thin Air” style conga line at the top of the world, and so apparently got up early to beat “rush hour” on Everest.
Although I have not had a chance to confirm this, his plan was to speak to the crew of the International Space Station as he stood on Everest.
Scott is carrying some tiny moon rock fragments gathered by Neil Armstrong on Jul 20, 1969 in the Sea of Tranquility. You can see my post – with some video and images of the rocks here. They are on loan from NASA.
He is carrying a SPOT satellite messenger device which allows users to leave a trail of electronic breadcrumbs on the web. You can see Scott’s trail to the top of the world at http://www.SPOTAdventures.com
As Scott pointed out in his last Skype chat with me, the trip down the mountain is considered the most perilous. First, climbers are pretty well spent by the time they make it to the summit (Scott had been climbing non-stop for 10 hours to get there) and second, tripping on crampons going down the steep, icy precipice has potentially fatal consequences.
Scott is being assisted by Keith Cowing who hosts the website http://onborbit.com/everest – where you can find a blog that details their advenutres. I just got off the Skype with Keith Cowing at Everest Base Camp. He got a little misty when I asked him to put the whole adventure into perspective:
[kaltura-widget wid=”zerr3m95j4″ width=”410″ height=”364″ addpermission=”0″ editpermission=”0″ align=”center” /]
The five-time shuttle shuttle flier has conducted seven spacewalks (including a perilous trip into the void in 2007 to repair a snarled solar array on the International Space Station) and he flew in 1998 with Senator John Glenn. So what does a guy like that (oh, he is also an M.D.) do after the space thing is over? One word: Everest.
Last year, only a few thousand feet from the summit, he awakened to stabbing pains in his back. He had a ruptured disc and was forced to hobble down the mountain. His only saving grace: on Everest, there is an endless supply of ice to deaden the pain. Since then he has had surgery and stuck to a strict exercise regimen. The back was not a problem this time around.
Scott and I had lunch in New York around the holidays. He was wondering if there was a way that he could get back for a second stab at the summit. I was newly out of a job and agreed to help him find sponsorship – under the assumption that I would join him at Everest Base Camp to help him get the story out. Everything worked except I turned out to be a pretty busy unemployed guy – and my obligation to the PBS documentary Blueprint America: The Road to the Future extended into my Everest window. And so I spent the trip talking to Scott in my laundry room. Alas, they also serve who wait and wash…
Here is a photo album from Scott’s two-month trek toward this moment:
Tags: Achille Compagnoni, Everest Base Camp, International Space Station, John Glenn, Lino Lacedelli, Mount Everest, Mountaineering, NASA, Neil Armstrong, Nepal, Scott E. Parazynski, Scott Parazynski, Skype, Tenzing Norgay