CHO OYU 2006 ~ EVEREST 2004

Friendship Beyond Borders Expeditions

A Team of International Friends Helping Amputees Change the World

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Our Story: Friendship Beyond Borders

By Tom McMillan, Expedition Leader

In May of 2003, in the midst of celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's first ascent of Everest, a top executive in San Francisco made an extraordinary offer to me that I simply could not refuse: if I would climb Mount Everest, he would offer a personal funding pledge that would serve as a challenge for others.

Given this chance of a lifetime, I immediately thought of my friend Nawang Sherpa, and how great it would be to stand on the summit of Mount Everest together—just as Hillary and Norgay did fifty years ago.

So began our Everest expedition. It was not just about the enduring love of mountains and the formative challenges of climbing them. It was also friendship—beyond the borders of nations and cultures and capabilities. The Everest: Friendship Beyond Borders expedition proved how people working together can tackle the toughest problems in the world. And it will help not only Nawang Sherpa, but other people throughout the world who are committed to rebuilding their lives and careers.

Mountains like Everest, situated in a World Heritage Site, rightly belong to all the people of this Earth, regardless of economic status or physical impairment. We wanted our expedition to exemplify this. And people struggling to succeed despite disabilities climb a "mountain" every day of their lives. We wanted our expedition to honor them.

From that genesis, our expeditions to Mount Everest and Cho Oyu are intended to honor Nawang and, by example, other courageous amputees around the world who are committed to rebuilding their lives and careers.

I invite you to learn more about our unique expeditions, their vision, their goals, and how you can share in their benefits beyond borders…

If you have questions about our expedition, or would like us to speak to your group about it, please contact us.

EVEREST: Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition
tel  +1 415 309.7961
fax +1 415 479.0526

Tom McMillan, Expedition Leader

Californian Tom McMillan leads the team that will help Nawang achieve his dream ~ climbing two of the highest peaks in the world to prove what can be achieved by disabled people around the world. You can help too...more

Leading the way...The late American mountaineer Ed Hommer was the first bilateral amputee to reach the summit of Mt. McKinley on June 3, 1999. He later founded the High Exposure Foundation, which has helped Nawang carry out Ed's vision of helping amputees around the world. Ed met Nawang Sherpa in Kathmandu in 2002, then brought him to Minnesota in 2003 and planned to climb Mt. Everest with him later that year. Learn more about this remarkable mountaineer in an interview with his prosthetist, Tom Halvorson of Northern Orthotic and Prosthetic Center in Minnesota.



Back in 1998, Nawang Sherpa served as Sirdar (Sherpa Leader) of our Annapurna South Face Expedition. Two years later he suffered grave injuries riding a motorcycle and almost lost his life. Four years later however, he was able achieved his lifelong dream of climbing Mount Everest, thanks to a prosthetic leg and support from the Friendship Beyond Borders team and sponsors.See how this network of remarkable and enduring friendships came together to make the dreams come true.

Chapter 1: Nawang's Role in the American Annapurna South Face Expedition ~ 1998

In 1998 I led an attempt on the South Face of Annapurna. During that expedition, about fifteen friends trekked into base camp at various times. A handsome young guide, Nawang Sherpa, was assigned to accompany these trekkers to and from our base camp. I was particularly struck by Nawang's high degree of professionalism, cheerfulness, physical strength, attention to detail, and deep concern for his staff and clients. We all developed great respect and fondness for him.

Chapter 2: Terrible tragedy strikes, and friends beyond borders band together to help ~ 2000—2001

Tragically, less than two years after our expedition ended Nawang was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in Kathmandu, and his left leg was amputated below the knee. In May of 2001, Steve Sheridan of Vail, Colorado and the Annapurna trekkers pooled their resources to bring Nawang to the US to get advanced medical attention and a high quality prosthetic leg. During that month, he stayed in our home in San Rafael and joined us for trips to Yosemite and other areas. His prosthetist, Walter Racette mentioned that he had never seen anyone adapt to this kind of prosthesis so quickly and so naturally. During Nawang's stay in the US, he gained the courage to set a bold goal for himself—return to Nepal, begin working again as a high altitude mountain guide, and some day climb Mt. Everest. Several of the Annapurna expedition members and trekkers have generously contributed their time and money to help make this possible. Nawang is again able to lead trekkers in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. In addition, Nawang had the opportunity to climb to some of the high camps on Mt. Everest with various mountaineering expeditions.

Chapter 3: Hope and help from a mountaineering legend; the chance for a dream gained...then tragically lost again ~ 2002

For a long time it has been the dream of the Annapurna expedition team and trekkers to find a way to help Nawang get his own chance to climb Mt. Everest, but it seemed like a financial impossibility. However, when we heard via Jim Wickwire of bi-lateral amputee Ed Hommer's 2001 attempt to climb Everest, we worked to make sure that Nawang could meet him while Ed passed through Kathmandu on his return to the US. They met and became fast friends. Last year Ed arranged for Nawang to fly to Duluth, Minnesota to receive a truly state-of-the-art prosthetic leg so he could join Ed's next planned attempt on Everest. These plans came to a tragic end when Ed died on Mt. Rainier in September of 2002.

Chapter 4: A visionary executive provides the genesis, and friends beyond borders come together again to shape a new chance. The dream is "reloaded" ~ 2003—2004

In May of 2003, in the midst of celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of Hillary and Norgay's first ascent of Everest, a leading San Francisco corporate executive made an incredibly generous and completely unsolicited offer: financial support for an attempt on Mt. Everest. Having lived in the Swiss Alps during his high school years, this gentleman understands and appreciates the beauty and spirit of adventure found in the high mountains. When he made this offer, I immediately thought of Nawang and how great it would feel to stand on the top of Mt. Everest with him.

Chapter 5: Amazing success on Mount Everest leads to friends' next steps ~ Cho Oyu Spring 2006 Expedition

In the spring of 2006, our team will help Nawang Sherpa DOUBLE his unique success in 2004, by climbing another 8,000 meter peak only 12 miles (20 km) from Mount Everest: Cho Oyu, the "Turquoise Goddess" ~ 8,201 metres (26,906 feet) (satellite image of region shown below)

In doing so, Nawang will be the first trans-tibial amputee, and first Asian disabled person to ever climb two 8,000 meter peaks. We invite you to join in our journey to Cho Oyu!

Higher resolution image of this area (259k)
Higher resolution image of this area with more annotations (417k)

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