What do Dan Akerman and Ben Stiller have in common? Akerman is a special risk insurance underwriter; Stiller played one in Along Came Polly. Jennifer Aniston’s Polly enticed Stiller to throw out his actuarial tables and take risks. Akerman’s siren calls to him from 29,029 feet above sea level. Akerman will answer that call sometime in May when he summits Mount Everest. This journey will exact every gram of mind, body and spirit that Akerman has fortified during his climbs of the past seven years.
byteclay.com recently spoke with Dan Akerman via Skype from Nepal. Akerman’s climbing team has trekked through Dingboche, a village which is at an altitude of 4,200 meters and stood at the base of a mountain called Ama Dablam which is “Mother’s Necklace.”
Mark Davis: How is the expedition fairing?
Dan Akerman: Everyone in the Ascent Himalayas Everest Expedition (AHEE) team is doing fine. We’re slowly but surely moving our way up in altitude. We’re doing acclimation hikes and preparing to climb the first mountain which is Pokalde. After that we take one or two days off and then we move on to Island Peak. This is to limit the number of rotations we do on Everest. These mountains are safer than going up and acclimating on Everest.
MD: By not stomping around on Everest you are limiting the danger of avalanche?
DA: Yeah, the Khumbu Icefall on Everest is very treacherous. If you’re going to do an acclimation hike on Everest, you have to go through the Khumbu Icefall because it’s between base camp and camp one so you don’t have a choice. You want to limit the number of times you move through that. Instead of doing four rotations on Everest, we only plan on going up and down twice, one to acclimate up to camp three and one to summit.
That’s why we are climbing Island Peak and Polkade Peak first so when we get to Everest Base Camp we don’t have to go to Camp 1 and then back down and then Camp 2 and back down. We can go straight up to Camp 3 and back down to Base Camp and then we’re ready and then we wait for a summit window. Then we move up Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3, Camp 4, summit and down.
MD: Who had this idea?
DA: This was the plan from the beginning when we got here. They had issues getting a permit to Island Peak at first but we sorted it out. Now I feel a lot better about that.
MD: Outside magazine just mentioned the Khumbu Icefall…
DA: That’s because in 2014 eleven Sherpas were killed there and last year a bunch of people died in the Icefall. It’s the scariest part of Everest.
MD: Have you been able to sleep well?
DA: So far, so good. I’ve only had mild symptoms of the altitude. I’m very happy about that.
MD: What kind of things do the locals eat?
DA: A lot of noodles, a lot of fried rice, a lot of dumplings.
Late breaking bulletin… AHEE has summited Island Peak (6,189m) and made their way to Everest Base Camp (5,345m). The summit window is early next month.
byteclay.com will post Dan Akerman’s dispatches from Nepal as he climbs to the top of Earth. Whether the air is thinner or the airtime is pricier, we will let you know what is going on. Stay tuned…