Everest / Alpine Expeditions

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: My Personal “Launch Count” Has Started

By Keith Cowing
Scott Parazynski
May 6, 2009
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Scott Parazynski Everest Update: My Personal “Launch Count” Has Started
Everest Base Camp
Keith Cowing

Day 46/May 6, 2009 (Tuesday)
Dressing for Launch

Time is flying at hypersonic speeds, it seems. We had a full IMG team meeting this morning, along with the full climbing Sherpa staff, to discuss the impending summit window. Sherpas Mingma Tenzing and Panuru, who boldly set the fixed lines to the summit yesterday, were already down in EBC to share their recollections of the route! Notes about oxygen flow rates, radio check-in points and other safety protocols were reviewed, with all climbers listening with a mixture of excitement and — quite honestly — anxiety. Tomorrow morning, half of us will be leaving on our summit bids, with other members likely leaving the next day…

Taking a shower and shaving is a simple thing, of course, but I’ve just taken my last shower and shave for perhaps a week… a very eventful week. The now-clean long johns that I put on afterwards will be against my skin for quite some time: the ascent through the Khumbu Icefall, the trudge up the Western Cwm to Camp II, the steep Jumaring up the Lhotse Face to Camp III, the oxygen-assisted climb and traverse to the South Col and Camp IV, the most strenuous day of my life en route to the summit of Everest, and (of course) the descent back home. I’ll add additional layers, of course, including a down suit above Camp II, but for all intents and purposes, donning these long johns has begun my personal “launch count” for the summit.

As a Shuttle crewmember, there’s a much shorter template getting ready for launch, but putting on your modified Patagonia long johns (with cooling loops built-in) the morning of launch is a major milestone on the way to orbit. My friends on the upcoming Hubble Space Telescope mission, STS-125, are due to launch on May 11, the very same day I may top out on Everest. We will have much in common that day, although I suspect they will be much warmer and more comfortable than I.

Thanks so much for following along with our blog, and I look forward to sharing photos, videos and stories once I get back to the lowlands of EBC in a few days. In the meantime, my able cohorts Keith Cowing and Miles Obrien will be in touch with me by radio, and they’ll keep you up to date on our progress.

Climb on,


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻