Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

“The most challenging thing I have ever done…"

May 21, 2009


Scott Parazynski says it is the hardest thing he has ever done. This comes from a guy who has strapped himself five times to a rocket with the explosive force of a small nuclear bomb – and who has ventured into the void as a spacewalker seven times. In his last spacewalk, he was lashed to the end of an extended robot arm on the space station – and performed an improvised fix to some bunched arrays – which were still alive with electrical current. But summiting Everest still tops all of it.

Listen to my last Skype chat with him and his Sherpa Danuru from Everest Base Camp. It sure was a fun ride for me – even though I seldom left my laundry room. Hope you enjoyed it as well.

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As you know by now, Scott was carrying some small moon rocks with him gathered by Neil Armstrong in July 1969. Here are some great shots of him at the top including one holding the rocks in a container with a sliver of a moon in the distance.




Astronaut 'Hurting,' Resting after 'Topping Off' at Everest

May 19, 2009


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.everest_route_map

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

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 – 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:

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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:

Astronaut on His Way to the Top of Everest

May 19, 2009

img_3964Astronaut Scott Parazynski woke up and shoved off from the last stop before the Summit of Everest – the High Camp – at about 10:45am ET – 8:30pm on Everest. He and his IMG teammates will climb through the night toward the summit, and assuming all goes well, will be there for a dawn that can only be topped…from space I suppose. If he makes it, Scott will be the first and only human to see a sunrise from orbit and from the highest point on Earth.

I spoke with Keith Cowing, who is helping Scott get his story out, back at Everest base Camp at about 10:30am ET. He says there is a medical emergency on the mountain now, which might – or might not – delay Scott  (who is a physician in addition to being an astronaut).

As it stands right now, Scott should be on the summit at about 7pm ET tonight- or everest_route_map4:45am/May 20 on Everest. Stay with me here…and follow the adventure as well on the following twitter feeds: @milesobrien @keithcowing @SPOTScott.

Scott’s blog is at

And perhaps the coolest thing: Scott is carrying a SPOT Satellite Messenger Device – which will provide real-time tracking data on his location. Follow him there at

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Astronaut Summit Push #2 begins Saturday

May 15, 2009

Astronaut Scott Parazynski is now back at Everest Base Camp after a few days in lower, thicker air. After some bad weather – and bad luck on the mountain – in general, things are looking up. But on Everest, that can change in an instant. Right now, if all goes well, Scott will be on top of the world early on May 20th (which is evening May 19 in the US). But he is worried there will be an “Into Thin Air” traffic jam at the top. If that happens, he will wait another day. “It is not a race…it is a marathon,” said Scott. You can read his blog at and track his every move in real time at

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Astronaut at Everest Base Camp – Looking Up!

May 14, 2009


Just heard from Astronaut Scott Parazynski. After a few days in thicker air – sleeping on a bed in a a hotel, he is back at Everest base Camp. I will have a Skype chat with him tonight at 11pm EDT. Below is a portion of the blog entry I just posted for him at You can follow Scott’s tracks at

The weather appears to be cooperating, as we had a beautiful, cloud-free morning — and a typical EBC afternoon with clouds and light snow. Some teams have elected to head back up to Camp II early tomorrow, but our plan is to take tomorrow off, and head back up on May 16th. We’ll then take a rest day at Camp II, and target a summit on or about May 20th (when weather is also expected to be calm and hopefully clear).

The latest from Everest Base Camp

May 8, 2009

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Astronaut Scott Parazynski still making his way to the summit. It was a tragic day at Base Camp however – as a Sherpa guide died in a huge avalanche. I spoke with Keith Cowing this morning EDT – evening on Everest.

Man versus Mountain

May 6, 2009

Astronaut Scott Parazynski is learning his bid to summit Everest can be a lot like a shuttle launch – heavily dependent on the whims of weather. The window for “topping off” – as they say in the mountaineering biz – is now “moving to the right” – as they say in the rocket biz. For Scott, this means more time to (literally) cool his heels at Everest Base Camp. In my latest Skype vidchat with him, he allowed how it can be at times tedious – and lonely for a dad and husband.
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Meet the Sherpas!

May 1, 2009
Tenzing Norgay in May 1953.

Tenzing Norgay in May 1953.

COLUMBUS,  Ohio – Astronaut Scott Parazynski checked in from Everest Base Camp at 11:15pm EDT – 9am Saturday morning at Everest. This was a surprise as he told me 24 hours ago that he was going to hike down into thicker air to do some blood doping for the big push to the top. But on further reflection, he decided not to go. Word is some climbers got the trots while there – and it is overrun with lowly trekkers  – who are not aiming for the summit. A real mountaineer cannot be seen with such a crowd, can he /she? This gave us a serendipitous chance to meet Scott’s Sherpa Deanuru – who has summited Everest no less than ten times. Scott’s video Sherpa Keith Cowing also had a few words to say about these amazing, resilient guides (his has topped off 11 times). So what’s the secret to being a good Sherpa you wonder? I asked (of course)…

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