While you slept, two climbers – along with their team of sherpas – made their final push for the summit of Mount Everest, a task they were trying to complete for their second year in a row without the use of supplemental oxygen. Last year, Cory Richards completed this feat, while Adrian Ballinger fell short. So they returned again to conquer the world’s tallest peak, all while documenting their ascent and the day to day life above the clouds on Snapchat, with the handle #EverestNoFilter.
Yesterday, at 11pm Nepali time, Adrian left camp 3 at nearly 27,000 feet elevation to make the last 1.2 mile trek to the summit, with Cory leaving shortly after since he’d been climbing faster the last few days. Adrian and his team were expecting it to take around 14 hours to climb the last 2,000 feet of elevation… 14 hours. To climb 1.2 miles. Without an oxygen tank. Whoof.
Without service, Adrian’s girlfriend Emily Harrington, an Everest summit alum and professional rock climber, was providing updates based on her contact with the guy’s team at Advanced Base Camp. This is how they documented their climb last year as well, with Emily providing the updates during the critical last push.
Overnight, I woke periodically to check for updates, feeling extremely anxious. I’ve put a lot of time and emotion into following these two’s story. There have been a number of deaths on the mountain this climbing season, and no matter how talented, fit, and experienced these guys are, Mount Everest is mother nature on her biggest stage. Anything can happen.
This is a little bit of how the updates went: both climbers are moving slow but doing great. Cory catches up with Adrian. Cory is starting to feel really bad and decides to turn around. PLOT TWIST – Cory’s going to strap on some oxygen and continue with the rest of the team to the summit. Adrian is moving very slow and is extremely tired. Emily admits that this is the first time she’s been scared (Adrian has spent eight of the last ten years trying to summit Everest, with six successful attempts). She sends periodic updates about where the team is. She lets us know they’re 30 minutes away from the summit. THEY MAKE IT! At 10:58 am Nepali time, the team reaches the summit of Mount Everest at 29,029 feet elevation.
Now, they have to come down. They’re not out of the woods yet. A big danger of hiking/mountain climbing of any kind is expending all of one’s energy on the ascent and not having anything left to get down and out of the danger. The last update Emily sent over Snapchat was that Cory was moving ahead with one of the Sherpas to Advanced Base Camp while Adrian made his way down – slowly – with another section of the team. Keep them in your thoughts today.
Adrian, in particular, has been very critical of inexperienced and untrained guides leading teams of climbers up the mountain this season. In one segment of Snapchat videos, he shows a group of climbers learning how to use crampons for the first time… while they attempt to summit the tallest mountain in the world. Four people died last week when their guide lead them towards the summit in what Adrian explained as dangerous weather conditions. While their primary goal while climbing the mountain is to climb the mountain, they have also spent the last two years on Everest advocating for stricter safety measures and certifications for guides. You can see a little bit more about Adrian’s thoughts here.
I am obsessed with all things Everest, and getting the chance to watch these two guys work tirelessly to make their way to the summit over the past two years has been terrifying, emotional, and, ultimately, exciting. Their project is named EverestNoFilter for a reason – they truly want to show the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of climbing, in an area and sport that has become highly commercialized over the past decade. It’s been over two hours since there have been any updates, so, again please keep them in your thoughts.
For Snapchat users, you can follow the last twenty-four hours of their journey at EverestNoFilter. If you want to follow along with the entire trip, you can also find all of their videos uploaded on YouTube.