Park City Locals On Their Way To The Top Of Everest
Over the next week, 38 year old Rob Lea – a lifelong resident of Park City – is on his way to summit the world’s highest mountain – right alongside his fiancée Caroline Gleich. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
The two set off to Nepal last month and if all goes well, they hope to be on the summit of Mount Everest by Friday, May 24th… Rob’s father, Jim Lea, says for the last couple of weeks, the couple has been acclimatizing to the high altitude and yo-yo-ing between base camp at 17,000 feet above sea level – to just below what’s known as the North Col at about 23,000 feet.
Rob is documenting the climb – as he can - on his Facebook page. He described the climb to 23-thousand feet on May 8th as “exciting, interesting and brutal” as they dealt with what he called freight train strength wind gales where all they could do is “hang on for dear life.”
They returned to base camp on Tuesday and spent 3 nights waiting for the jet stream to move off the upper mountain.
Jim Lea, says with some decent weather on the horizon, the two, along with their crew from Alpenglow Expeditions, will make their way up the mountain, step by step over the next several days.
“They will hit four different camps where they'll spend one or 2 nights so my guess is that the summit approach or attempt would likely be on like the 24th,” said Lea.
They are climbing the north face of Everest which Jim says has some benefits, but also a big downfall.
“The south slope usually sees about 70% of the people, the climbers,” said Lea. “So north slope is about 30%. They are, I would say, equal difficulty - they just have different pros and cons on each side. One of the really nice features of being on the north side is that they don't have to go through that dreaded ice field above base camp all the time. The flip side is they don't have, where they are, any possibility of rescue by helicopter because they’re on the Chinese side. China won’t allow any of that.”
The two have already summited Cho Oyu together – the 6th highest mountain in the world - at 26,900 feet above sea level. He says Caroline who is a professional ski mountaineer, plans to ski down Everest too.
“Caroline took her skis and her intent is to ski down,” said Lea. “I don't know if that will happen - she has to play it by ear - just to see the conditions and if she's ready to do that or not.”
2019 is a big year for Rob Lea. When he returns from Everest – he has plans to swim the English Channel in July – the two will get married in August and then he will ride across the country on his bike in September.
Both Rob Lea and Caroline Gleich can be found on Facebook and Instagram where you can follow along on their adventures.
To contribute to their gofundme account CLICK HERE