Eight days in America

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It’s amazing how much you can do in eight days as proved by my recent trip to the States!

The purpose of the trip was to do a lecture tour with Summit Climb’s Dan Mazur to promote awareness and raise funds for the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal (MEFSD)’s latest project, a new Sherpa Training School.  You can read more about it here in this article Katy Dartford wrote up for Trek & Mountain Magazine’s website.

Sherpa Training School

The lectures went brilliantly.  They were all very different and all thoroughly enjoyable.

We began north of San Francisco, in Santa Rosa at the Rock, Ice and Mountain Climber’s Club.  The venue couldn’t have been better – it was in a room that was part of a pizza restaurant and a delicious pizza was good preparation for the evening!  With no planned place to stay it was thanks to Maria Anna that we had beds for the night and an impromptu venue for the after talk party!

It’s always fun to meet the people you are talking to and hear their stories.  There was a great guy called Nathan Heald who we had the pleasure of meeting.  He was just visiting the US as he now lives in Cusco, where he is a climbing guide.  If you fancy some Latin America climbing, Nathan is your man www.skyhighandes.com.  We also met an inspirational couple in their 70’s who still run marathons and who will shortly be heading to Nepal to join a service trek.  I’d like to think I’ll be doing that kind of thing in my 70’s!

We had an early start as the next day we had some serious miles to cover to our next stop, Visalia; one of the largest agricultural regions in California.  I felt quite at home amongst all the farms, cattle and crops!  The Fox Theatre was the venue and what a venue!  It was huge and splendid.  Quite an intimidating stage to step out onto but I soon found my groove and really enjoyed that I was speaking with Dan and was able to listen to his full Everest story.  If you ever get the chance to hear Dan speak it’s a unique and great experience.

The Fox Theatre - view from the stage
The Fox Theatre – view from the stage

Our kind host at The Fox, Paul Fry, stayed up late with us and still got up early the next day to take us to see the giant Sequoia trees – an hours drive away in Sequoia National Park.  It was snowing in the park and the trees made me feel microscopic, they are so big and tall that your eyes can’t work out the perspective.

The giant Sequoia tress
The giant Sequoia tress

Our final stop and lecture was later that evening – another few hour’s drive South to CalTech Alpine Club at the University campus.  We were joined by a group of deaf climbers who have been achieving great things and who brought along sign language interpreters for the talk.  This was a new and enjoyable experience for me and I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Sonya and the interpreters.

Lecture at CalTech with an interpreter upfront with me
Lecture at CalTech with an interpreter upfront with me

Each lecture was a wonderful opportunity to tell people about the MEFSD and the Sherpa Training School.  We are very grateful to everybody who came and who donated generously to support the cause.  Thank you for being a part of our lecture tour.

It was also very useful to spread awareness and ask for people’s input and help on how to collect second hand climbing gear and transport it to Nepal from around the world (from the States is no problem as we have sponsored shipping from the US to Nepal) for the Sherpa’s Training School.  However, one of the most important messages we want to get across is to let people know that we want/need their old climbing gear (that is still safe and functional) to use at the School.  If anyone outside the States has any of the items in the list at the bottom of this blog post please send me a message ([email protected]) and I can let you know where to send it.  Also, if you have any ideas about how to centrally collect kit and ship it to the States we’d appreciate your ideas and thoughts on that too – thank you!

Before the lectures began, I had a few days in California, which were all jam packed!

Highlights included –

* A visit to Pelican’s headquarters where Sharon Ward, the Marketing Director, set up the first part of our meeting along the ocean front!  She said, “Men have meetings on the golf course and I think I’d like to start a movement that women have an equivalent ‘outside office’!”  It certainly has my vote.

Ocean front meeting with Sharon from Pelican
Ocean front meeting with Sharon from Pelican

After our ocean view meeting we heading to Pelican HQ where it literally all happens!  They make everything in their factory in CA.  I have been working with Peli for a few months and have been using their kit a lot.  It’s incredible to know and use kit and then see it being made.

With Keith inside the Pelican Factory
With Keith inside the Pelican Factory

Probably one of the most mind blowing processes I experienced was one of the Pelican protection cases being made with the help of a robot!  Impressive stuff..

As always, it’s a pleasure to meet the team behind the products I use, especially when they give you chocolate…thanks Jason, it was delicious!

* Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge; from the land, from the sky, from the water below and from on it!

Golden Gate Bridge from the sky
Golden Gate Bridge from the sky
On Golden Gate Bridge
On Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge from the water!
Golden Gate Bridge from the water!

* Eating Clam Chowder and following up with a hot chocolate at Ghirardelli’s. (Thank you Stacy!)

Clam Chowder
Clam Chowder
Ghirardelli's hot chocolate
Ghirardelli’s hot chocolate

* Meeting the GoPro team at their headquarters in Half Moon Bay.

At GoPro HQ with Pilar
At GoPro HQ with Pilar


I love the people that I work with and the people that I get to meet along the way. Putting the US trip together wasn’t an easy task and I wondered at the time if I was doing the right thing and if my focus was in the right place. I’m happy to conclude that it was a wonderful trip and recognise (yet again) that when you get out there and do stuff, stuff happens!


Below is a list of items we need for the Sherpa Training school (used equipment is fine and sherpas come in all sizes, from very small to very large):

▪    Plastic climbing boots
▪    One-sport-everest or other boots with built in gaiter
▪    Crampons
▪    Ice axes
▪    Helmets
▪    Harnesses
▪    Carabiners
▪    Descending/rapelling/abseiling/belaying devices
▪    Ascenders such as petzl/jumar/bd, etc
▪    Slings
▪    Ropes
▪    Jackets made of fleece/pile or goretex or down
▪    Trousers made of fleece/pile or goretex or down
▪    Rucksacks and backpacks
▪    Sleeping bags
▪    Warm hats
▪    Mittens and gloves made of wool/poly/fleece/pile/polar or goretex or down
▪    Sunglasses
▪    Baselayers made of  made of wool/poly/fleece/pile/polar
▪    Socks made of  made of wool/poly/fleece/pile/polar
▪    Trekking shoes
▪    Headlamps