Everest climber heading back to the summit

Brian Smith, a 1988 South Medford High School graduate, is sending periodic e-mail dispatches to the Mail Tribune from Mount Everest, where he hopes to fulfill a dream of reaching the "roof of the world."

The son of Larry and Linda Smith of Jacksonville, Brian Smith began his treacherous adventure when he arrived in Kathmandu March 28.

In his last dispatch, Smith described how he nearly died after contracting high-altitude pulmonary edema at 23,200 feet and had to hike back down to Namche to recover.

May 10

The time is finally here to head back to the summit. I am leaving Namche in the morning as I hike the 35 miles back to base camp, which will take me three days.

I plan to arrive back in base on the 13th, rest on the 14th and then leave again the 15th, climbing back up to Camp III at around 24,000 feet on the 17th. I will climb alone to Camp III, and Mila Sherpa will be at Camp II to cook a few meals for me and help out if high-altitude pulmonary edema nails me again. My team is planning on the 16th to summit, so we should cross paths at some point on the upper mountain.

There are many factors between here and the summit. First I must stay healthy enough to go straight up the mountain. I am very motivated, strong and full of energy once again, but if my cough returns, I am finished as I am much more susceptible to HAPE on this second trip now.

The other factor is Willie's strength. Our team leader and a Sherpa need the strength to return to the summit with me only a few days after his first summit. This has only happened a few times in history, so Willie will truly be the greatest if he can pull it off. My gratitude to him is beyond words for giving up his Lhotse attempt and making a second climb with me.

At this point we don't know if I will continue on to the summit from Camp III or if I will return to base for a few recovery days and then climb once again to the summit. A lot will be decided a day at a time.

This is my last day on this e-mail until June. I will have a day on the 14th and who knows after that to check the Mountain Madness e-mail account at base at mountainmadness@earthlink.net.

Please pray for my safe climb, no cough and no HAPE this time.


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