Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Manaslu Part 8

The Team

For the past decade I’ve only ventured into the mountains with a very tight and close group of extremely competent and extraordinarily fit friends. Mountaineering is a game of trust, and when two climbers share a rope they literally, as well as figuratively, entwine their lives. After returning from my first trip to Denali in 1993, an expedition that consisted of Brian and two other close friends, Bill Hartlieb and Scott Saufferer, I suffered serious withdrawals from my teammates. For twenty seven days we had remained within one hundred feet of one another, and saying goodbye at the airport was accompanied with unexpected sadness and a very real sense of loneliness. It was a strange emotion that I believe was indicative of how close and interdependent we had become. This is how it should be. I was not going to go on the greatest climbing trip of my life with strangers, and I told Tom that before I committed anything to this trip I would have to meet and climb with every team member. Tom agreed.

I first met Scott Boettcher in the lounge of the airport hotel where we began holding bi-weekly team meetings. Six months my junior, Scott was both the youngest member of the group and the most physically fit. He didn’t just “participate in” or a “finish” ultra marathons he instead was a “competitor” a person who actually won those wild crazy races. By Scott’s own admission he was more of an athlete than a mountaineer, but he threw himself into a crash course on all aspects of mountaineering technique. When I first met Scott my main concern was that he had never been on a mountaineering expedition, and would he have the resolve to continue day after day. In the end Scott’s resolve proved equal, if not greater than any other member of the team, and I suspect that this was so due to his experiences as a long-distance runner. Training for and completing an ultra-marathon will certainly test your dedication and mettle as much as any mountain.

The final member of the committed team was Jerome Delvin, a police officer in the Eastern Washington town of Richland and a Representative in the State Legislature. Jerome is a small town conservative I am a big city liberal, but despite our political dichotomy we quickly found common ground and got along quite well. Mentally Jerome was the toughest of the group, and was able to push himself very hard physically without becoming disheartened or temperamental. All in all I felt very much as ease with Jerome and enjoyed his company greatly.

We now had five climbers committed to the notion of climbing Manaslu.

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