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 next month 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 Everest Base Camp.
Mark Davis: How are you doing?
Dan Akerman: We had our Puja ceremony yesterday; no Sherpa will climb without it. A Lama prays for several hours, reciting ancient scripture and asking our forefathers and ancestors for safe passage on the mountain. An altar is erected and decorated with gift offerings. Once the Puja ceremony concludes, the banners are spread out from the alter around our camp.
Now that the Puja ceremony is completed, we’re going to start climbing. Right now the Sherpas have fixed ropes from Base Camp up to Camp 2. We plan on doing only two rotations on Everest. The first will be up to Camp 3, we still can’t do anything yet. The plan now is to send up a team of Sherpas, composed of Sherpas from each of the expedition teams. On April 24th they will go up and attempt to fix ropes between Camp 2 and Camp 3. Up until the end of the month we will be doing shorter treks and hikes but no climbing on Everest before the end of the month.
Technically the summit takes place between the 15th and the 25th of May, that’s when you have your weather window. At this stage, it doesn’t matter whether the weather is good or not because there aren’t fixed ropes at the summit. Even if we wanted to go now it would be extremely dangerous because there are no fixed ropes and no established camps. No one has yet brought up oxygen, I mean the whole logistical thing… You can’t move everything up at once, it takes time. After they set the fixed ropes to Camp 3, the next job will be to establish camp at Camp 3. Once that’s done, then we can start going up.
MD: When you say establish a camp, does that mean they would pitch the tents?
DA: Yeah, they’d pitch the tents. Actually we will be bringing a chef with us to Camp 2, so we will have a kitchen at Camp 2. They are pretty big camps. When I look at Base Camp, it probably takes 45 minutes to one hour to walk from one end of the camp to the other.
MD: Is it because it is so huge or because you’re moving slower at altitude?
DA: Yes, you’re moving slower at altitude but also because you’re not walking a flat surface. But yes it is big. There are 25 expeditions here, there’s probably 300 to 400 people here.
Next up: Dan Akerman answers Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar speech plea for action on climate change “we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” Stay tuned…