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Matt Fioretti- Guide/Owner- has led 20 expeditions and has 35 seasons of experience at altitude.

Matt Fioretti- Guide/Owner- has led 20 expeditions and has 35 seasons of experience at altitude.
Matt Fioretti - Guide/Owner has led 22 expeditions and has 36 seasons of experience at altitude.




About Four Winds


HISTORY

Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service has been guiding trips in the Himalaya since 1994. We have more than 22 years and 38 seasons of experience at altitude, including 19 successful climbing expeditions. With an emphasis on uncrowded treks and remote climbs, clients leave Nepal/Tibet having experienced the rich culture, ancient trails, and the intense climbing available in the Himalaya. Founder Matt Fioretti has been Alpine climbing since 1984 and brings 26 years of experience to the high altitude arena. Gambia Sherpa and Singa Lama joined Matt early on and bring with them more than 30 years combined experience on the trails and steep faces of the high peaks. The accumulation of years and passion for the mountains between the 3 individuals insures a safe, rare adventure.


GROUP SIZE

Our trips are intimate. We allow only 6 to 9 trekkers and 2 to 6 climbers on a journey. You can call the owner Matt Fioretti at home or office anytime prior to the trek or climb. Weather your on a climb or trek, individual attention is one of our top priorities. You can expect prompt, courteous responses to your questions. Pre-trip orientations allow for everyone to receive a comfortable knowledge about the journey. While on the trek our adherence to small group size helps members become brother and sister, a camaraderie that often lasts for years afterwards. The intimacy is extended to our Sherpa and Nepali friends. We have created lasting relationships with the locals. Our group is greeted with a warmth that suggests we are part of the family. You feel at home and get a “backstage” view into the culture.


ABILITY

Almost anyone can do a trek in the Himalaya. You can be a beginner and feel comfortable with our experienced staff. Our age group has spanned 11 to 79 years old. The pace is slow and comfortable, each day hiking village to village and traversing the highest mountain range in the world. Everyone has acclimatized on our treks because of the calm pace and expertise of the guides. For the more advanced we offer guided and commercial climbs. Climbers with experience but daunted by the idea of high altitude, are taught expedition skills and the logistics of climbing a big mountain in a safe environment. For those who don’t need a guide we offer commercial trips. This means we handle all the logistics and red tape that are inherent in the Nepal Permit system, but you go as a climbing team member proficient at climbing.


SAFETY

Safety is our number one priority. Each group is registered with the American Embassy in Kathmandu and is equipped with a satalite phone. In 22 years of leading trips on the trails and mountains of Nepal our safety record is flawless.


Join us. We are personable, professional, fun, and have years of experience at altitude.

We specialize in the Himalaya of Nepal so you will have a transformational, adventure. One cannot walk through the Himalaya with out being changed or experiencing some shift in the soul.




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Trekking and Climbing Shedule

Please call for possible openings for 2017. Now taking deposits for April, 2017, and 2017 trips

2017 March Expedition- Mt Everest, Tibet side $28,000

April 2017 Trek- Trek the 5 holy lakes in the Gokyo area. Hike to the summit of a 17700 foot peak. Cross a 17660 foot pass, visit 2 monasteries while trekking village to village. 20 days door to door. All abilities. 3 spaces left

September 2017 - Pilgrimage Mt. Kailash - Tibet's holy mountain. A true extreme hike and adventure. Hiking over the crest of the Himalaya in Nepal to Tibet. Then circumambulating Tibet's holy mountain on pilgrimage with Tibetans. Must be in excellent physical condition. 7 to 9 hour hiking days at altitude. 4 spaces left.

Sept. 2017 - Ama Dablam Expedition. Four Winds has led 3 expeditions to Ama Dablam and we will return in 2017. A classic climb to test your climbing ability. 5.8 rock, AI 2 Ice, all mixed with altitude make this a challenging climb. spaces available


October 2017 Trek- Trek the 5 holy lakes in the Gokyo area. Hike to the summit of a 17700 foot peak. Cross a 17660 foot pass and visit 2 monasteries while trekking village to village. All abilities. 6 Spaces Left

For more information and pricing please email or call.

Phone: 206-282-0472

Email: fourwindsexpedtions@gmail.com


Website: fourwindsexpeditions.com


Greg Valentine and Matt Fioretti did the first ascent of Nireka in a 2 day alpine style push.

Greg Valentine and Matt Fioretti did the first ascent of Nireka in a 2 day alpine style push.
Nearing the summit on the first ascent of Nireka. Four Winds strives to do peaks that are uncrowded, remote, and rarely done. On many of our expeditions we are the only team on the mountain.

Matt Fioretti eyeing the South Ridge of Cholatse

Matt Fioretti eyeing the South Ridge of Cholatse



What clients have to say....


True to his word, Matt was committed to safety on our trek to Nepal.He is knowledgeable, organized and has a positive attitude which is infectious. Matt is well loved in the communities we visited. The respect and admiration he has developed with the Nepali people created a unique, enhanced and truly exceptional experience for our group. Thanks, Matt! October 2013 Trek.

K. Baker


Going to Nepal was like stepping into the pages of National Geographic with the color, chaos and crowds of Kathmandu to the breathtakingly beautiful snow capped Himalayas. Matt had said we would stay with friends (I read business associates; I was wrong). These people were Matt's second family and they treated us as family. I didn't have as much vacation time as the rest of my group, so I returned early. It snowed one night and the inn keeper, Urken wouldn't let me leave until the trail was broken. A little while later I looked out the window and Urken was up on the mountain checking the trail for me. He came back in and said it was safe to go now. Later as I was crossing one of many suspension bridges, my porter, Prem, ran ahead of me to stop the yak train from starting across the bridge until I had finished crossing. With Matt's group you're not a tourist, you're part of Nepal, you're family.


Namaste,

Kathy


“It has been years since I went with Matt and his crew to Ama Dablam and crazy as it sounds, it still feels like yesterday. The experience was one that is hard to put into words, when you are there amongst the people and grandeur of the Himalayas you feel all at once small and insignificant, yet more real and present than ever. I carry the essence and spirit of that journey with me everyday. Just go… more than that, go with Matt.”


I was just shy of 60 when I did the Everest Trail Trek with Matt. It was one of the most memorable events in my life! I loved it! And I learned some trekking lessons that apply to the rest of life, as well---like "Pace yourself." Those of us who did pace ourselves made it to the magnificent Everest Base Camp area at 17,000'. Throughout the entire trek we always felt secure with wonderfully kind Sherpas always there to lend a hand and encourage us onward. It was a grand initial experience into trekking that held so very many gifts from beginning to end.

Port Townsend



"My trips to Nepal with Four Winds were life-changing experiences, in the best possible way. Being halfway around the world, in an unfamiliar place, thousands of miles away from everything you know, can be a scary situation, but when you're with Matt, there's a comfort level. It feels like all of Nepal is your family."

M. Mahoney



Yes, the trek stands out as one of my life's most amazing experiences, certainly because of the Himalayas magnificence, but also due to our group's lighthearted, playful camaraderie, the welcoming arms of the locals at the teahouses where you had been before, evening card games, and the way you kept us always under your protective eye ... checking every day for our oxygen saturation levels, making sure we drank enough water, stopping for rest when needed, and also encouraging us along, like on Gokyo Ri, for those last panting steps, so that I might not miss the view of one of the world's most spectacular, breath-taking sights ... and yet, I never felt pampered or stifled, as you simultaneously offered ample space for us to move in our own rhythms, moods and pace.

If I never properly said thanks to you before for all that Matt ... Thanks!!! ... the experience will continue to resonate within me for my lifetime!


Some things that are extraordinary about Nepal and going with Four Winds. Kids smiling faces, fluffy clouds, the aroma of incense, village life, and the journey in the mountains. I especially liked the pace of the trek. I could go at my own pace and felt comfortable. Tim S.


With Matt I have successfully climbed a 6000 meter peak and a 8000 meter peak in the Himalaya even though I suffer from a liver disease. The first was Naya Kanga, 6000M, post -monsoon , in the Langtang region near Ganga La. The friends I made have become lifelong best friends, not only the fellow trekkers but the sherpas as well, like Singi and Sangi who brought me milk tea (Dudh Chai)and cheese on the descent. The Four Winds staff, assistants and Sherpas, make the journey possible. When climbing Cho Oyu from Tibet we spent 7 weeks in the Dingri Region and 4 weeks above 20K feet, climbing to 27,500 feet without oxygen. Matt, being the consummate guide escorted a sick teammate back to BC. Two of the five members made the summit. When I go back it will be with Four Winds and fortunately with Matt who also had a serious illness sidetrack him, but who has already made his recovery and found his way back to the Himalayas. This is the true meaning of meeting life's challenges, and this is what you can achieve with Four Winds. Hope to see you on the high mountains. Namaste!

Glen Anders


Matt and Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service kindled in me a deep love of alpine climbing on my first trip to Nepal in 1999. This first trip taught me a lot and I have returned to Nepal with Matt four times since. Matt has a deep love and respect for the indigenous culture of the Sherpa people of the Khumbu, and in his 20 year dealings with the people in that region, he has established many deep friendships; it is especially remarkable to share in these connections with him. I have always felt safe when climbing with Matt. He has developed good mountain sense over the years, and his motto "may the four winds blow you safely home" is a propos of his climbing philosophy which holds safety in high regard. Matt is also a fountainhead of ideas, and has always provided a source of inspiration for those seekers who take to the mountains. I have learned a lot from Matt's personal struggles with aplastic anemia, and his return to active climbing continues to inspire many people to see mountains as metaphors for the challenges we all face in life. I have Matt to thank for what has developed into a life-long passion for me. It all started with one trip to the Himalaya.




My journey to Nepal with Matt and Four Winds was inspirational and life-transforming. Matt's expertise in guiding allowed us to safely explore the exquisite beauty of the Himalayas and experience Nepal's fascinating culture. We always felt welcome wherever we went, as Matt has formed incredible connections with the people of Kathmandu, the sherpas who gently encouraged us, and the families who brought us into their homes and fed us delicious meals. Nepal is a hiker and climber's paradise and an adventurer's dream. It's beauty is truly divine. The journey has made a permanent impact on the way I live my life, appreciate nature and take risks. I highly recommend traveling with Four Winds! Aileen P.



The smell was of burning lantern oils and incense. The colors were the bluest of blues for the sky and the whitest of whites for the clouds. The sounds were of another language, and the ringing of yak bells were soothing to my ears late into the night. The touch of the air was bitter cold in a soothing way. The taste of the food was bland, yet sweet and interesting to my taste buds. When I close my eyes and think back on this journey , it was the most romantic thing I have aver experienced on my own. I have returned with Four Winds 3 times. David Frisk



“Thank you Matt for my wonderful trip to Nepal. It really changed my life forever” Jeanne


Matt, I wanted to officially thank you for a seamless trip to Nepal which you made fun and easy. The trip and all its details were extremely well thought out. With all your planning, I never had to worry about any of the details one would normally have to deal with when traveling half way around the world. I also felt priviledged and protected to be under the many watchful eyes of all the friends you have made over the years (Gombu, Qayoom, Dawafuti & family, Tsedem, etc). Even when I branched off on my own your friends were there to make sure I was safe and happy (Hira, Ramesh, etc). If it wasnt for you and your flexible, can-do attitude, I would never have made this trip to the wonderful and amazing Nepal. D. Oxford


My trip to Nepal was life alterning and I owe so much of that to Matt and his team. He has such a passion for the country and the people that my trip was anything but ordinary. While we were taken to many of the main tourist attraction sites, we were also shown sites of Nepal that few tourists rarely see. My trek back to the 5th holy lake at Goyko will forever be in my heart as one of the greatest experiences of my life. Matt was in constant communication about changes to the intinerary (a common fact when traveling in the third world) and always worked diligently to ensure that things went as smoothly as possible, and that we were getting the best experiences everyday. His easy going personality allows for lots of laughs with quick and lasting bonds being formed. I am grateful to have found Matt and his team. I didn't have one bad expereince on this trip and I look forward to when I will be able to go again!


Everest at sunset from 20,000 ft.Everest Sunset from Pumori.

Everest at sunset from 20,000 ft.Everest Sunset from Pumori.

Nuptse

Nuptse
Taken from Camp I -Pumori

Pumori

Pumori
S. W. Ridge. Pumori

We are insignificant

We are insignificant
Trekkers at 16,000 feet dwarfed by some of the smaller peaks in Nepal. Have trouble acclimatizing? Our treks are designed so everyone acclimatizes.

Nirekha- 5th pitch

Nirekha- 5th pitch
Join us in October 2015 on this beautiful climb

Monday, December 23, 2013

If an Avalanche does't Kill you......

We were at Camp I on Ama Dablam.  A 22,500 foot peak, Camp I is at 18,700 feet.  The summit seems so close from this perspective but 2 solid long days on vertical rock and steep ice quickly reminds you that the 3800 feet between is no easy matter.  Imagine, at home in the Cascades a climber can do 3800 feet on technical terrain in 7 to 8 hours, the same footage on Ama takes about 2 days.  Every day on the route one cannot help but think about the hanging glacier above camp 3.  There are many dangers on this climb, rock fall, avalanches, steep ground, but the big hanging glacier above camp 3 keeps a climber awake at night especially if you are at camp 3 with the thousands of tons of ice hanging precariously above.

But on this day Fabrizio Zangrilli, his client, and I, were at Camp One.  I had my own tent and Fabrizio shared his with his clients. Not much to worry about here right?

It is evening time and alpine-glow illuminates the South Face.  I am tucked into my cozy -20 degree sleeping bag.  Fabrizio had just arrived from a hard day of fixing rope up to camp 2.  He is tired and I hear his client ask "Can I cook you up some water".   I hear Fabrizio rustle into the tent and client clanking stove, fuel, and cook pot to get water going.  At altitude we use a Butane Propane premixed pressurized canister.  My tent is set up so my head is near the entry of their vestibule and I can hear the drama unfolding.

Fabrizio:  " You got that Ok Chris"    Chris:  "Im good".  I hear chris fumbling with canister and stove.  In order for the gas to flow you have to screw the stove onto the threads at the top of the canister.  When it is threaded correct a ball valve is depressed and the gas only flows when you turn on the valve on the stove.  Fabrizio:  "You sure you got that OK Chris?"   Chris:  Yes I almost have i now".   I could hear a hissing from the stove and I could hear the stress in Fabrizio's voice has he questioned Chris.  What happened next was scary at the time but holds a high comical value now.

I hear bob striking the lighter,  one, two, three times.  On the fourth strike my tent lights up like there was an explosion.  I hear excited screams and Chaos from the tent next door.  I clamber out of my tent in a hurry to find in fact there was an explosion.  I hear Fabrizio scream to Chris "Fucking hell I thought you had it Chris?"  By the time I got out of my tent the tent next door had burned to the ground.  I am now looking at Chris who is in the fetal position and still holding the lighter.  His hair is smoking and is singed around the bangs and ears.  I see Fabrizio sitting up in his bag, a nylon inferno burns around him.  Little hanging piece of flame drip from the now bare tent poles, he has smoke coming from his hat like a cartoon character who has just exploded.  He frantically pats out the flames on his bag.  Chris continues to sit in the fetal position, I think he is in shock.

Before we had a chance to put the flames out a climber from another expedition rushes over.  He has a bottle of water and tosses it to put out flames.  He must have been blind or altitude sick because almost every drop of that water went right into one of Fabrizio's climbing boots. It is 19 degrees out and the water instantly freezes.

We finally put the flames out.  In Fabrizio's words "I just saw a huge fire ball coming at me and thought this is it".






Saturday, December 7, 2013

Manasulu Expedition 2014

There are only 14 peaks in the world that are over 8000 meters.  The 8th highest is a peak called Manasulu.  Its name means mountain of the spirit or Manas which means "intellect".  The approach alone is an outstanding endeavor as it follows an ancient salt trade route for 8 days to a remote Base Camp.  It stands at 26,780 feet or 8156 meters and takes 32 days to climb from base camp.  The duration of the expedition will be 46 days.  This will be an adventure with many unknowns.  Only flexible, adaptable, proficient climbers should apply.  Join our expedition in September of 2014 to this remote peak.  We have 3 spaces left and will allow only 6 climbers.  Feel free to email with questions.

Matt Fioretti has led 20 expeditions in the Himalaya of Nepal

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Diamox in the Himalaya

I was baffled when I heard that a large popular travel company and outdoor retailer had all their clients on Diamox from day one on a trek into the Khumbu, Nepal.  I was over run with disbelief when I heard their support for using a drug that does not need to be used.  "Well we have a doctor on our trip and he said it is needed."

I have been guiding the Himalaya for going on 20 years now.  In 20 years we have prescribed Diamox twice and we have had only 1 person not acclimatize mainly because she had food poisoning from chicken and could not keep her strength up.

If you are going to altitude the key to acclimatization is in the rate of ascent.  If you join a company for a trek or expedition in the Himalaya and they prescribe Diamox for the duration of the trip you need to question there rate of ascent, itinerary of that company, and experience at altitude.  I want to be clear here. I am speaking about trips in Nepal where you can control your rate of ascent and starting points are below 9000 feet.  In this environment you do not need Diamox.

A few things to keep in mind.

1.  Everyone will acclimatize if all the rules of altitude are followed.  If you would like information on these rules feel free to email me.

2.  Your rate of ascent per day should be less than 1,400 vertical feet.  On days where you move higher than this follow it with a rest day.  On rest days do not lay around, do a day hike gaining 1000 feet or more and at your high point try to hang out for an hour or more.

3.  Sleeping propped up helps with circulation of fluids and oxygen exchange.

4.  When you arrive at your new altitude the first inclination is to lay down.  This is fine for 10 to 20 minutes to get settled but then you want to walk around, move, and be upright for most of the day.

5.  Drink at least 2 quarts of water per day.  This is the most important rule.  Tea, coffee, and soda drinks do not count in your water intake.

6.  Keep your caloric intake up even if you are not hungry.  We take a brake on the trail every hour to nibble on an energy bar or what have you, and sip water.



These are just a few rules but these are the main ones that will get you acclimatized.  Diamox should only be used if someone is not acclimatizing which is rarely if the rules are followed.  I keep Diamox in our high altitude kit for back up.  Think about it this way.  If you are on Diamox and you still are not acclimatizing you have nothing to fall back on, trip over.  If for some rare reason you are not acclimatizing you can take a rest day, get on Diamox and possibly proceed within the next day or so.   It is a good drug to have for back up but it is not needed if you follow the rules.

I nor any of my colleagues, friends who guide Everest, K2, and are high altitude pros never prescribe Diamox from day one on any trip in the Nepal Himalaya.  If a doctor or company suggest such a regimen you may want to question their itinerary, rate of ascent, and years of experience at altitude.  Often in the Doctors case they have read books and studies but have not actually been to altitude many times.  Prescribing Diamox from day one is like prescribing a bandage for a cut that has not happened.  If the cut does happen then you have no bandage to use because it has already been worn.

Keep the Diamox in your altitude kit as back up.  Remember you will acclimatize without it if all the rules are followed.








Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kathmandu- the 4th world

It is 2:30 a.m..  I am in the Tibet Guest house in Kathmandu, jet lag.  I am down in the reception area.  It is a modest reception space but has beautiful Thanka paintings an art form dating back to the 6th century.  I sit on a Tibetan carpet covering a sofa with gaudy patterns. The ceilings have beautiful alcoves with recessed lighting casting a calm mood, a dim single light bulb lights the reception desk.  The workers sleep on the sofas at night.  They are in deep sleep and the bbc news flickers on a TV with poor reception.   When I was writing the last blog entry I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  A big dog, black with a curled tail, trots in through the entry doors to the hotel.  He acts as if this is everyday affair for him.  He roams around sniffing corners comes looks at me then turns with a confidence.  Imagine a ferrel dog just trotting into the front doors of a nice hotel in downtown New York and just trotting around...........

The dog trots to the stair case just behind me with a confidence of ownership.  He squats and relieves himself at the base of the stairs, stands, looks over at me as he trots out the doors as if to say "what are you doing in my hotel at this time of morning?"  and disappears into the Kathmandu night.


Why we climb

  
At 17,300 after returning from a summit attempt on Kangchung.  All the elements did not come together for us to reach the summit.



It is often thought we climb mountains because of an adrenaline rush.  I have had someone that knew very little about me say "your an adrenaline junky."  I cannot speak for all climbers, climbing is a very personal experience.  Yes I am sure there are those that love the rush but I  believe there is a more universal reason as to why we put ourselves in a dangerous situation every time we step into the Alpine Arena.  Yes there is the physical movement of pushing the body to its limits, the journey, the intense beauty that stirs the soul, the purity of adventure which gives flight to the spirit. These are given in such an untamed environment.  There is something else I believe most climbers experience.  There is the elusive "living in the moment" that often escapes us in our daily lives but is an integral all important part of every climb.  The environment in the climbing arena demands that we be "in the moment".

Last year before leading a trip around Mt Kailash I was driving home from a training session on Mt Rainier.  The road from Paradise lodge to the valley floor is winding with sharp hair pin turns.  I remember straitening my vehicle and seeing a little squirrel in the center of my lane.  I thought he was going to move but as I approached he froze 10 feet in front of my bumper.  I continued thinking that if he stays put he will be fine.  I centered him between my wheels and thought I was driving over him.  When I looked in my rearview mirror he was smashed.  At some point he had darted under my tire.  I slowed the car, pulled to the side, and ran back to the dead animal.  I cried and cried and gave him a burial at the side of the road.  It reiterated how life is so tenuous.  I knew life was tenuous because I almost died at the age of 40 with a rare disease (read surviving a bone marrow transplant in this blog).  Running over the squirrel had me thinking about the seconds that  possibly separate us from death.  While I was in the parking lot at Paradise a thousand elements had to happen in just the right order for that little squirrel to be under my tire.   The time it took to Load the car, the seconds it took to roll down the window before starting the car, talking with friends in the back seat, the few extra second I took sipping on my water at Camp Muir, saying hello to someone in the parking lot, dropping my keys before opening the car door, and thousands more.  If one of these actions was 2 seconds later or earlier would the squirrel be alive?  It is a question I ponder and have no answers but I believe if I was 2 seconds earlier or later the squirrel would be alive.  

Climbing for me is being aware of the thousands of elements that culminate for us as climbers to reach a summit and the intense focus needed to move through these elements.   Snow conditions, humidity, cloud patterns, where you pitch your tent, condition of the mind, wind, what you ate before summit day, how you adjusted your pack, where you placed your anchor, and even when you left your car or home, and thousands more.  Also understanding that these elements are the same ones that can culminate in our being at the right or wrong place at the right time.  When your in an arena where you understand that if you had left 2 minutes earlier on a day where a huge avalance sliced across your climbing route, and that you would have been dead if you left 2 minutes earlier, makes me very alive in the moments on climbs.  Depending on the grade of the climb there is also the extreme focus it takes to hang on to a ripple in the rock the thickness of a dime with room for 2 fingers while trying to move to another dime size ripple.  I am definitely not thinking about my bills at home or dinner tonight and those moments from hold to hold are all that exist.  Climbing forces you to be in the moments and it seems in these wonderfully fun, scary, physically demanding, mentally draining, really really scary, exciting moments, a lifetime takes place.  Yes a life in just a moment forced upon us by the alpine arena.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

surviving a bone marrow transplant

There is no guarantee that you will be alive tomorrow or even in the next 10 minutes.  I have a bit of experience with this.  If you have not read my profile I am a bone marrow transplant survivor.  You can read my profile in the right column of this blog.

In April of 2004 I had just returned from an expedition where  Greg Valentine and I had climbed a peak that had never been climbed.  Going were none had gone before.  When I returned from that expedition I was in my dream, climbing the high mountains in the Himalaya, exploring new ground both physically and spiritually.  The peaks name was Nireka and it stood at over 20,300 feet.  It was my  16th expedition.  I was healthy, strong, and planning my future expeditions.  I had a resting heart rate of 38 beats per minute, similar to Lance Armstrong.

By August, just 2 months later I was struggling to survive.  I was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disorder.  I had Aplastic Anemia.  My body quit producing blood.  Daily I was working with 40 percent of normal oxygen levels.  A walk to my mail box just 30 yards away was my new expedition, at the end of which I was left totaled.  My chances of survival were slim.  I had severe Aplastic Anemia.  Not only was I not producing oxygen rich red blood cells but platelets that keep us from bleeding to death were at a dangerously low output.  A low normal platelet count is 150,000.  My count was 14,000 and at one point would dip to 1000 platelets.  I also had no immune system.  My white blood cell production was so low that catching the common cold could have killed me.  At one point I ended up in emergency because of a sliver in my thumb.  My body could not stave off the minute amount of bacteria.  My only chance of survival was to have a bone marrow transplant.

On October 5th 2005 I received the cells of a non related donor from Italy.  Today October 5 2013 I am 8 years from transplant.  I live with the understanding that there is no guarantee that you will be alive tomorrow or even within the next 10 minutes.  Some may think this is a morbid view on life.  It is neither morbid nor a view.  It is truth.  Once I accepted this truth the energy I used running and fearing death, scratching for security, and putting my dreams on hold, gets put to use in a more positive way.  Think about this.  There is a possibility that you may not be alive tomorrow.  How are you going to live in this moment and the next minutes?  Pursue your dreams now as if there is no tomorrow.  The length of life means nothing if it is empty.  I would rather live a short life being in my dream, following my path, doing what I love, then live 200 years as an empty vessel.

There is no guarantee that you will be alive tomorrow or even in the next 10 minutes.  Security is an illusion and is a marketed idea with a high price, usually driven by fear.  Get out there and follow what you love,  mold your life into what you want it to be.  Follow your path.

There is no guarantee that you will be alive tomorrow or even in the next ten minutes.  Be alive now.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trekking the Himalaya 2014 Season

Hello Everyone,
Another season is upon us and we have a full group of trekkers for October of 2013.  We will not be doing an expedition this fall because I wanted to rest and have an easy season.  The group is amazingly eclectic and enthusiastic.  We have an orientation on Sunday September 8th and you are welcome to come and audit the orientation and then stay after the trekkers leave for a question and answer session.
Please call if you would like to sit in.

I am excited to announce we will be going back to the Kangchung Peak.  This is an outstanding expedition on a peak that makes you think and focus.  We attempted it last season and learned tons and will be tweaking logistics for another summit bid.  I will only allow three on this expedition as it is such a remote pristine peak.  The last time it was climbed was in 1973.  Trip will depart in early March of 2014.  The photo below is I and Paul Cho at 17800 feet below the first crux of Kangchung.  It is an 800 foot ice fall with vertical steps throughout.  Our Base Camp will be situated just near where we are sitting.


We run an outstanding trip! Our 2014 season is pretty much booked full.  See the schedule below.  We are now taking registrations for April of 2015.

Stay tuned for more adventure stories starting mid October

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FOUR WINDS CREW


Meet part of the Four Winds Crew.  From Left Arjun, Gombu, Matt, Pramesh.  A big Thank You to these guys and also Hira and the crew at Karnali.

A few reasons to pick "Four Winds" for a trek or expedition.

We are one of the few companies that limit the weight our porters carry.  We try to limit there loads to 45 pounds or less.  99% of the companies out there, including Western companies, over load their porters with loads in access of 130 pounds.

We pay our porters 40% more than the going rate.

Four Winds directly supports 6 Nepali, Sherpa, Tibetan, and Rai, families.

We do not allow more than 8 people on our treks.  Most companies have 12 to 18 trekkers in a group.   These large groups are very disruptive.

Because of our operating ethics we book our trips quickly.   Join us for our April 2014 trek.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Hard Start

Woke at 2am bumped the tent wall and crystals of ice showered me.  We had decided the day before to get a 3am start.  We were at 17,800 feet.  The sky was star filled and the climb was a go.  I believe the crux of every climb is to get out of the warm sleeping bag at 2am on a 15 degree morning when you are breathing 30% less oxygen.  I yelled out to Gombu and Paul.  They must have been in a deep sleep or dreading getting out of the warm bag because there was no response.  I yelled 3 times before Paul answered, Gombu woke a few moments later.

By 3:15am we were on our way.  Its an intense feeling to be in a remote area at almost 18,000 feet heading to climb a peak.  We had decided to save as much energy as possible and try the climb from our Base Camp with no intermediate camp.  We knew it would be a 16 hour day or longer but doing it like this saved a lot of mileage and energy by not making carries and establishing a higher camp.  We also knew that we would have one shot as time was running out.  The weather in the Khumbu this season was unstable with clouds rolling in as early as 10am.

Headlamps bobbing and piercing the night we made good time to the base of the ice fall.  We changed into our climbing boots and donned our harnesses and hardware.  We started up the West side of the ice fall. We were traveling light but even the minimal added wait had us huffing and puffing.  We worked our way to the first rock band.  Big ice fall features loomed above and to our right.  The rock band and a short gully to our left.  To get to it there was a sloping polished slab with ice.  It was just 20 feet to the gully but the rock was rotten.  We searched and talked for 15 minutes on our options.  I down climbed and walked horizontally along the rock band.  There was another gully that would be easy to climb.  Paul jumped into the lead.  I had a bad feeling about the rock.  Not necessarily climbing the pitch and pitches above but wondered about getting down on such crud.  Paul started up and the hand hold in his right hand broke off.  He composed himself and moved his weight onto his left hand and foot.  The left hand hold broke off and he threw it aside.  At that point I said to Paul  "  We would have no problem climbing this, but I would worry about wrapping off gear with such shitty rock".  We both agreed.

I looked for another weakness in the rock band further left.  Nothing.  It was like a fortress.  By this time it was coming on 7 am.  We had spent from 4 to 7am trying to break the puzzle.  It was already late and we decided to call it.  We definitely are going back and realize that there was a good solid route up the ice fall.  I am hoping to make it back in April.  Email if you would like to join this climb.







Monday, May 6, 2013

base camp and advance base camp

We have made it to Base Camp.  It is the highest base camp I have ever had.  17,800 feet almost 500 feet higher than Everest Base Camp.  We are working toward getting the climbing gear to the base of the ice fall about 1 hour away.  The route looks good to the left of the ice fall.  A line that threads between the ice fall and a huge rock wall.  We will see and know more in a few days.  For now base camp is remote.  There is no one here but the yeti.  My friend Urkin Sherpa who keeps track of Snow Leopard in the area told me that this is the area where they raise their young cubs.   Paul Cho has been an outstanding climbing partner.

We are all fine but it is hard to recover at 17,800 feet.  We will try to finish this in the next day or 3. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Base Camp and Sherpa crew

We are a day away from Base camp.  The trekking group just departed down into thicker air.  What an outstanding group and trip.  We were able to be flexible with sicknesses and schedule and had a fun time together.  I will miss them.  As I watched them head down there was a part of me that wanted to go down also.  The greenery, thick air, and warmer temperatures always pull on the mind. 

Tomorrow we head up to 17,600 feet to a base camp at a lake.  The area is remote there is no trail.  This trip would not be possible without the support of our Sherpa crew and porters.  Gombu Sherpa is the son of Chapa Sherpa who died in 2007.  Chapa was my head Sherpa for 13 years and now Gombu is following in his footsteps.  He is becoming an outstanding guide at age 23 and I could not run these trips without him.  There are hundreds of logistics and hundreds of pounds of gear to deal with and he takes them all in stride.

How does the gear get to Base Camp.  Thank you to our porter crew, noting would happen without them.  In fact no expedition would get off the ground if it were not for the porters.  We have been using some of the same porters for the past 5 years now.  Four Winds limits the amount of weight that is carried.  A practice that is absent amongst most other companies.

I will not be writing to you until after the climb.  Look for new blog entries on the climb in about 8 days.  Peace to all.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

first view

We have arrived at Gokyo 15600 feet.  Everyone is doing well after a bout of sicknesses.  The weather is very unsettled in the Khumbu with wind and clouds rolling in by 10 to 11am.  The climbers had their first view of the West peak and the route looks straight forward except for one small detail.  The summit ridge looks to be a mile and a half long.  This means that we will be traveling at or around 20,000 feet for several hours.  Well it will be  a beautiful view.  The East peak has a beautiful ice ramp that goes from col to summit.  Looks to be AI 2 or 3 with 70 degree ice.  The trekking group and I are very excited to hike to the summit of Gokyo Ri at 17,600 feet the pinnacle and half way point of the trek journey.  Peace to all. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Light and fast Alpine Climbing

Our climbing hardware gear list for our Kangchung expedition:

6 Black Diamond Express ice screws
3 pitons
1 set nuts
1 50 meter 8 mm rope
1 50 meter 6 mm rope
2 link cams by Omega Pacific
12 slings by Camp
18 Camp carabiner ( Nano) the lightest on the market
2 Black Diamond Locking carabiner


old school

"I ski in these gloves" was his first response when I crinkled my brow. He held out his gloved covered hands.  These are not just any glove.  I have a client on the trekking portion of our trip who swears by his pig skin gloves, also known as gardening gloves.  He has taken the glove and sprayed them with some kind of waterproofing but other than that they are the everyday garden glove.  In fact I was using a pair in my garden before I left for the expedition.

What it comes down to is that the older generation is a hell of a lot tougher then I.  He probably has a tweed jacket for his high altitude coat.  I have secretly added an extra pair of gloves to my travel kit in case he does get cold. 

All is well

We have just reached Namche and finalized our climbing permit.  Everyone is doing well just the usual khumbu valley sicknesses, soar throat, cramped stomachs, emotional breakdowns, khumbu cough, sinus infections, and of coarse the runs.  We are all happy and excited to head north toward Tibet.  Love to all.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Uncanny Elizabeth Holly

There has been one person who as kept track of every expedition since 1963 in the Nepal Himalaya.  Now in her 80s Elizabeth Holly has interviewed every expedition leader from Reinhold Messner to Jerzy Kukuchka.  She really is the gate keeper to the land of the high mountains and if you are on expedition you want to meet with her.  She is the encyclopedia of climbing routes and peaks.  I met with her yesterday to go over the details of the Kangchung Expedition.  I was delighted to find that the West Peak or Kangchung Nup has not seen an ascent since 1959 and has only seen 3 ascents.  The East Peak may be a first ascent but research is still being done.

 I am always excited to meet with Elizabeth as she has become a friend over the years. She has so many stories and she keeps us climbers in line.  After each expedition we have to meet with Elizabeth and she grills us as to what we saw from the summit.  She wants to know if we actually stood atop. She can tell you what you will see from the top of any peak.  She can tell you rock features, snow depressions, descriptions of gully's and probably what way the wind will be blowing.  I am exaggerating only a bit here.  One thing I am not exaggerating is Elizabeth's sixth sense. Other expedition leaders will tell you and we have talked about it amongst ourselves,  Elizabeth can tell when any leader has entered Nepal with out any information given as to arrival date or flight itineraries.  For our Kangchung expedition I had emailed her 3 weeks ago and told her of our plans.  I even told her I would be arriving on the 18th even though I was arriving on the 15th.  When I walk into the hotel lobby on the 15th two minutes later the lobby Manager called me over to the phone.  Two minutes after I entered the hotel!  On the other end of the line was Elizabeth wondering if we could meet.  This is not coincidence.  She has located me within 2 hours of arriving in Nepal for every expedition I have done for the last 18 years.  I never have given her any flight details or arrival times.

Thank You Elizabeth for all you do.  Keeping track of us dirt bag climbers.  Thank you for being the gate keeper for the high realm and knowing where I am going to be at before I even know.





Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lighten your load


I am always astonished to see climbers on a 2 day climb of Mt Rainier carrying 50 pound packs. It is uncalled for and outdated.  For a 3 day climb on Rainier my pack weighs 29 pounds.  I have friends go much lighter than this.  It starts with your choice of gear.  Following are a few companies that have supported my expeditions who make high quality gear.  Quality that I trust at altitude in the Himalaya.

The Nalgene Canteen.  It is the lightest water bottle on the market.  It shaves at least 2 ounces off your load when using two 1 quart canteens.  It could shave as much as 5 ounces off your load if you are using other brands.  The canteen is durable and light, it is compressible when not in use.

I just received a 48 Litre pack.  Most packs on the market that are 48 liters are 3 pounds and up.  They have bells and whistles which only get confusing at altitude or are useless on steep technical terrain. Eliminate useless weight and stream line your pack with Figure Four Packs.  Take a look at the Tau 48 by Figure Four Packs.  48 liters expandable to 55 plus liters weighs in at just 2 pounds 2 ounces and can be stripped down to 1 pound 7 ounces in the field in one minute.  It is stream lined, it moves with you as you move, it feels like part of your body on vertical ground.  It has everything you need for serious alpine climbs without all the extra weight.

I have been using a Feathered Friends sleeping bag since 2001.  I just ordered a new bag from them and was very pleased to receive a custom bag that is a minus 10 degree bag and weighs only 2 pounds 14 ounces.  For that warmth factor it is the lightest on the market.  The quality is outstanding.  Compare other bags with the same warmth factor and your looking at 3 pounds 4 ounces and up.  I have never been cold in my Feathered Friends bag.

If you go through each piece of your gear you can find something that meets the demands of what you will be doing in the mountains but does not hold unneeded weight.  Over the years I have shaved 15 pounds off of my back for a 3 day alpine climb.

Thank You Nalgen, Figure Four, and Feathered Friends.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kangchung East Expedition



Packing for an expedition is a bitter sweet action.  On Friday I depart for my 20th expedition. Our journey is to Kangchung East.  A peak that rarely gets climbed. We will be attempting both the West Kangchung and East Peak in one expedition.  We will first acclimatize on West.  Return to Base camp for a day or two of rest and then attempt the East peak in a one day alpine style push from Base Camp.  The route of the East peak follows the left hand skyline. 

 The sweet? Being in the himalaya, unplugged, and feeling the peace that settles into the bones, the peace that nature gifts us.  I believe the mountains always teach us to be in the moment, humble, and reverent toward all life, human, ant, elephant, tree, we are all connected.  This is easy to see when in the mountains.  The mountain arena strips us down, forces us to look deep, vision becomes unclouded and the soul untainted.  I live in the city so it takes days to get rid of the dirt, noise, and constant chatter that comes with over stimulation. This cleansing always is a sort of homecoming for me.  

The Bitter:  When I have to leave part of this connection behind. Loved ones, Friends, Family, and animals at home.  I take you all with me every season.

Have fun following our upcoming expedition to the Kangchung Peaks.





Thursday, March 14, 2013

Friendly Chinese Soldier

We were driven from the main paved road to a dirt road strewn with garbage.  At the next turn we entered a gravel parking lot surrounded by a high wall.  We were in the back of a run down administrative building.  I was nervous.  We were at the last village of Toklakot before crossing the border back into Western Nepal.  We had driven South from Mt Kailash and now were on the verge of entering remote Western Nepal and the more remote Limi Valley.  The high walls that now surrounded us reminded me of the kind that an execution squad lines prisoners against.  Not a soul in the parking lot or building.  Just our 3 land rovers parked side by side.  I cannot remember if we were told to stay in our vehicles but for some reason all 12 of us remained inside.   Minutes passed I became nervous.  Why  were we driven to this remote location?

 I was nervous of the Chinese military.  Early in the trip a Jeep had pulled up to our base camp with a rush of dust and urgency.  Four men exited the vehicle, 3 with military camouflage and one in civilian dress.  Two of them had cameras with huge zoom lenses and even though they stopped 15 feet from our tent they were right in our face.  I approached friendly with an open hand as the 2 with the cameras fired away a flurry of 20 to 30 shots.  One shook hands while the others were searching our surroundings with wondering eyes and lenses, looking in our tents and cameras clicking.  I asked there names and asked if I could take there photo.  I really did not want there photo but was curious how they would react.  They all said a strict "NO" to my offer of a photograph, smiled jumped in the jeep and quickly drove off.

Now in the back of a seemingly abandoned administrative building surrounded by high walls thoughts of the four curious military men flowed through my mind.  What would be my last request as they lined us up?  Before anyone arrived I searched for possible exit strategies.  Then minutes later a Chinese soldier arrived with an attache case cupped in hands clad in white gloves.  He rushed toward the glass doors of the empty building and with a friendly nervous smile waved us in.  His movements were stiff and nervous like.  Within seconds 3 other soldiers appeared from within the building entering from a dark hallway.  They inspected our baggage in an x-ray machine and we were on our way.  Obviously I have been watching to many hollywood movies.

The nervous soldier with the white gloves sat in the front seat of one of our land rovers and escorted us to the border.  When the vehicles came to a stop we were at the end of a gravel road.  Nothing but dust, stone, and a raging river.  We started to unpack the vehicles and I stood next to the soldier who cupped the attache case and nervously rubbed his white gloves together.  I asked his name and began a conversation.  During the course of which I realized that this Chinese soldier was as nervous as I.  It is funny how Media from both my American media and his Chinese Media had us both nervous about each other.  As I spoke with this gentleman I wondered where or how my thoughts had been formed and now, how those thoughts were so untrue as far as the individual standing in front of me.

I introduced him to my wife and he smiled and said "I am sorry but I am little nervous".  We all laughed and said it is all OK.  Apparently he had not been around many Americans and he was nervous about speaking English well.  Just as I was nervous about him because of Media influence he must have been nervous about us because of his media influence.  After introducing my wife I asked if he was married or had a girl friend.  He said no and in a poetic Rumi deliverance said "Love brakes the heart, painful, very painful.  The conversation went on for a few minutes and just as I would remember the old Tibetan pilgrim on the Kailash Kora I would remember this Chinese soldier with his friendly open heart.  At the end of the conversation he told the group that it was his pleasure to meet us all.  He opened the attache which he had been carrying diligently since leaving the administration building.  The contents were all of our passports.  He went through the names and handed us each our passport with a gentle bow.


































Monday, February 11, 2013

Shisha Pangma Expediton 2014

Hello Climbers,
If you ever have wanted to climb an 8000 meter peak here is your chance.  We will be leading a trip to Shishapangma the 14th highest peak in the world.  Email us today.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

book excerpt


 I went through 5 years of fighting for my life.  You can read my profile for a brief description of the ordeal by scrolling down.  As some of you know i am writing an inspirational book.  Following is an unedited excerpt from Chapter 4 of my book titled "Between the Summit and Grave".  I hope to finish the book within the year and have started a book list.  If you would like to purchase the book when finished please email me at fourwindsexpeditions@gmail.com  

I will return to the Tibet trip in a week or so.  Stay tuned and enjoy.  Matt





My trip to Thailand rejuvenated my body slightly but elevated my mind to a new level.  

I was slated to start a regimen of ATG.  It is an antibody grown in a horse.  With this 10 round regimen over 10 days 6 hours a day I took the Japanese zen saying to heart.  “Have a cup of Tea”  The idea is that  you sit down and take a moment with yourself in hopes that in those moment you come to know your mind.  It is an invitation to discover the universal truth within ourselves, a moment of awareness,  it is like the act of sitting and experiencing enlightenment.  

It was a new year 2005, January, 5 months from diagnosis.  I would be entering the (hospital name) for 10 days to start my therapy.  The idea is that the antibody grown in a horse would attack the bad cells that were attacking my bone marrow.  A kind of suppression of bad cells to give breathing room for my marrow to begin production.  Side effects of the 10 day regimen are described as follows:

Possible kidney damage or failure
Damage to vision and possible loss of sight
Severe fever
Mouth thrush
Vomiting
Dizziness

The list goes on but I am emotional to go back there and put it down on this page.  I can remember Doctor white and many nurses trying to make joke of the experience.  In Dr. Whites words “ Matt this therapy has shown results.  At the end you are going to feel like a dump truck has run over you, but we have a good chance of spontaneous regeneration”  I had a good rapport with Dr.  White and I am sure he could not have explained the experience to other patience using quite the same words.  I laughed and told him that I used to love dump trucks as a kid and maybe I can re-spark that love.  We laughed hard and the nurse, in the middle of the laughter, asked if I was ready.  A quiet filled the room.  I thought for a few moments, of my life,  where I was at.  Chapa’s words “Life takes you” filtered through my wavering mind.  I looked over at the IV pump machine that would administer the ATG.  Five to 6 other bags of various medications hung. Cyclosporin to suppress my old immune system,  prednizone to encourage red blood cell production, and several others.  I already felt like a dump truck ran over me from being on these meds for the past 4 months........ “I’m ready."  

The nurse began with taking my vitals.  The therapy was so intense on the body that my vitals would be taken every 2 hours 24 hours a day for the entire course of therapy.  After taking my vitals another nurse entered the room and they both began dressing in protective clothing and gloves.  At this point I had not had any Chemotherapy but soon would find out that this protective clothing is donned each time a regimen would be administered.  It is ominous to watch.  Imagine  two nurses dressed in a kind of HASMAT (hazardous material) suit handling a plastic bag of medicine like it would kill them if they came into contact.  Now imagine them, masked, rubber gloved, smocked,  hooking it up to a pump which is connected by tube directly to your blood supply, starting the pump, and flooding your blood with such a concoction.  It would be an occurrence that I would grow accustomed to in the following years but today it was new and startling.  My mind pattern:  “This stuff must be horrible,  why do they need to dress like that,  this stuff is going inside of me, death,  bring it on, cute nurses, I must look like shit,  I will look like shit, can I make this,  medicine looks like vodka, no color, pure,  ah it will be ok, pure clean, is this the right medication, cute nurses?  All this in a thought that lasted a second.  

The nurses approached.  They began a protocol that would be common place throughout my ordeal.  One nurse read off my name, age, birth date, dosage and the other nurse would concur.  I would answer yes or no if I was indeed Matt Fioretti and I was indeed 38 years old.  At the time of writing this I am overwhelmed with emotion.  I was 38 years old when diagnosed with an illness that could kill me, I pause to ponder.  

When all is checked the nurses sign off.  One nurse hangs a final bag on the IV pole.  Punches some numbers in and the red digital numbers bounce on the screen.  She mumbles to remind herself of the flow rate.  The pump jumps to life, a sound and rythym that I would be comforted by in the years to come.  The clear fluid resembling Vodka flowed down the clear tube and neared my vain.  My last thought pattern:  Shit, I wish that was vodka.  


Friday, January 25, 2013

Karma Sonam and the Kora

"Karmaaaaa Sonaaaaam."........ A deep voice yelled out, the sound dissipated amongst ancient mountain walls.  The old man approaching me had on a red traditional Tibetan coat, red hat, and braided greying hair.  He walked with a cane and legs that were bowed from thousands of mountain miles in high Tibet.  He yelled out again  "Karmaaa Sonaaam" stretching the words as if introducing a rock star to stage.    His smile and eyes pierced me and any stone near by.

As he yelled the words Karma Sonam he would raise his cane to he chest and beat it proudly, deep thuds.  He walked directly toward me and stood a foot away, not a blink as he looked me in the eye.  Now in a calm, soft voice, "Karma Sonam".

His name was Karma Sonam.  A pilgrim on the Kora around holy Mt Kailash at age 72.  He carried nothing but a huge smile and cane.  He rubbed his knees indicating that they were hurting.  My wife and I sat him down next to the trail on a boulder,  to him a comfy lounge chair.  I could just imagine his life where the stars are his roof,  leaf and stone his bed.

  We communicated through our Tibetan Guide who had now arrived on the scene.  He smiled and repeated Tutse Che (not sure of spelling) thank you in Tibetan.  Before I departed he grabbed my elbow and placed his forehead against mine, the highest honor a Tibetan can share.  It means "I know your heart.  We walked on and left Karma Sonam. Looking back every so often I would smile and waive.  He would return with a "Karmaa Sonaaam".  I felt as if I was leaving my best friend. We had only known each other 10 maybe 15 minutes.  The power of open hearts and a people without fear.   One hour later we arrived at camp and kept looking to the trail to see if Karma Sonam would pass.  With a slow limping gait, I was sure he was down trail.

After getting on the trail early in the morning I looked back to see if my friend was coming.  No sign.  I turned with a big smile at the thought of his booming voice, smile, and bowed legs, inching up the trail.

Two hours into the walk I see a familiar shape, color, and movement. " No way! " I quickened my pace.  As I approached I yelled out to the figure 40 yards ahead......"Karmaaaa Sonaaam".  The old man turned and it was him.  I could not believe that he had somehow passed us.  He could only do so if he had been traveling all night.  With the stars as your roof,  I am sure he was right at home in the cold night.  Prayers on his breath.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

September 28th continued

After shouldering the pack I had one more trick up my sleeve to help get this pilgrim over the pass.  I was going to save it for the last 1000 feet for a second psychological boost.  My friend was amazing.  She was hurting physically and emotionally but her attitude was upbeat.  She was getting the spiritual experience we all had come for.  I believe one of the greatest spiritual teachers is suffering, especially for those coming from the industrialize world with all our comforts and flip of the switch electricity.  Here there was no switches, no taxis, no heated shelter to turn to for a warm shower.  This pilgrim was having to deal with herself with nothing to fall back on but herself and she was doing an outstanding job.  Physically she was fading fast.  There were 4 of us now helping to cheer her on and physically push her on.  She would take 5 steps and then rest for 1 minute.  Just 5 minutes after taking her pack I stepped in front of her to offer my second and last trick to help her psych.  I told her to grab on to my ice tool loops on the back of my pack so  I could tow her up.  Three other pilgrims steadied her from the back and gently pushed.  In this fashion we soon found ourselves at one of the holiest sites in the world at 18600 feet.  She had made the pass, a happy calm beamed on her face.  I was anxious.  I knew we only had a certain amount of time to get out of this altitude.  Others in the group seemed happy and I was happy for them but every minute now for my friend was urgent and I wanted to start the descent and get her into thicker air.  After placing a photo of my deceased father at the pass and saying a few words through gasping sobs, tear blurred eyes, and quick photos, I let the others know we had to get this pilgrim out ..........down.  I think the others had no idea of her condition and seemed taken back at my impatience. I could understand their position, they were in Tibet at one of the holiest sites in the world.  I did not have time to explain my hurry.   Every second counts this high when someone is in the ataxia stage.   I just started hustling her down.  At a lower point after the pass the team assembled.  I sent them all ahead to set up camp.  It would be helpful for my friend and I to be able to get into camp and crawl into a tent.  Within minutes we were alone and dropping out of altitude.  This day we would be walking moving for 10 hours.  My friend was truly amazing, never complaining, never a grimace on her face, she just kept moving.



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