Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nichelle in Everest Base Camp

Hey Seven Summiters! I just got back from an awesome trip to Nepal and the Mt Everest Base Camp! Another USAF officer and myself signed on with a Brittish expedition called Caudwell's Xtreme Everst. As part of their team we got to trek to the base camp and help out with the largest medical research expedition ever to visit Everest. If you'd like to read more about that expedition and the research, visit The expedition took more than 200 volunteers to the base camp and put 10 doctors on the summit to study the effects of altitude and low oxygen levels on the body and how that might relate to ICU patients dealing with their own hypoxia issues. The research was truly fascinating and should produce some excellent medical advances! While on the trek to base camp we also had some great opportunities to do research for a future USAF 7 Summits Climb. We made some good contacts and got a first hand look at what base camp and the Khumbu Valley are like during prime climbing season. As well as taking note of some good places to stay on the way to base camp and other logistical tidbits, we also did some reasearch on what it takes to put together an expedition to the summit of Everest. Things like obtaining permits and organizing help from the Sherpas are just small examples of the hurdles that need to be crossed early. Forefront on our minds after returning from Nepal is the need for AF sponsorship in order to make the USAF 7 Summits expedition a success. Our "short" trek to the base camp and back required us to take 26 days of leave. Everyone we talked to returning from the summit had been in Nepal for at least 60 days. Obviously, leave will be an issue. Money will also be a huge factor. This year, a Nepalese permit for 4 people to climb the South Col route to the summit cost nearly $70,000. That's just the permit. Food and supplies will undoubtedly send that figure through the roof. Despite these challenges, we still firmly believe that the USAF 7 Summits can find a way to make an expedition to Mt Everest a success. We returned from Nepal eager to go back and help put our coworkers (or ourselves) to the summit! -Nichelle Brokering

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer Update

Greetings USAF 7 Summits Challenge fans,

This is just a friendly hello from the team to all our supporters and to the general public!

As is the norm, life for all of us has been very busy, though sadly not from climbing more peaks. Currently the vast majority of the people involved in the 7 Summits Challenge are deployed around the world, actively engaged in the War on Terror, humanitarian operations, or other military related work. We're happy to say that everyone is doing very well and all remain happy and healthy. As the heat increases for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, our minds drift more and more towards the snow peaks of Mt. McKinley, the next peak we hope to tackle. The timeline still has us shooting for a Spring '08 ascent. Naturally we're all just hoping to find a break in our schedules to take on the fourth peak in our challenge! Keep your fingers crossed.

Also, some cool news: Nichelle Brokering (Kilimanjaro) and Jason Somers, both Air Force officers, headed up to Everest Base Camp, which sits on the rough and rocky Khumbu Glacier at 17,000ft in the Nepalese Himalaya. These two champs volunteered to take part in one of the largest high-altitude medical projects ever put together. The last time we heard from them they were leaving Namche Bazaar on their way up to base camp, though we expect to hear a full story from them any time now. Of course we'll post it here as soon as we find out!

Mark Uberuaga and Rob Marshall are considering a follow up attempt on Switzerland's Matterhorn after they had to abort their mid-winter attempt. There are no firm dates, but maybe in early September. As always, if you're interested in joining, let us know.

Finally, if you are in the Albuquerque area, Rob will be living there throughout the fall and winter and is looking to meet up with anyone that likes to tackle 14'ers, mountain bike, climb, or fly fish. Contact him at the e-mail below.

That's all we have going on for now. If you have any media/sponsorship contacts, fundraising ideas, or general comments, please don't hesitate to contact us at!

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Thanks to a 9 hour layover here in Santiago, Chile, I've been able to get a good chunk of photos online for all your viewing pleasure. CLICK HERE for the photos and a new window with a slideshow should appear. If it doesn't, the link is at the bottom of this blog entry. Please leave comments and let us know what you think of them! More pictures (from Heidi and Justin's cameras) will be added as we get them organized. It's 1730 over here and we still have 5 more hours until we board the red-eye flight back to Dallas. We sprung for the entrace fee to get into a VIP lounge... well worth it, as there is unlimited internet, quite seats to read in, and lots of food and drinks. We can't wait to get back to America. This has been a lot of fun, but we're worn out and ready to get back to friends, family, and yes, work!

For two videos from the summit, click here:

Photo address, incase link doesn't work above:

Friday, March 2, 2007

Hot Shower and Real Beds

Hello from Mendoza, Argentina! Wow, all we can really say is that it feels good to wash off the 2 weeks of dust and sweat, though that still doesn´t make the image in the mirror any better looking! haha... really though, we´re feeling great. The fact that we were the only three people in our group to summit, and that we did it as a team, is still filtering through our heads. How great is that?! This accomplishment keeps the USAF 7 Summits Challenge´s record at 100% success on all the mountains we´ve done so far. That in itself is a huge testament to the strength, determination, and pride the Air Force members bring to the climbs!! Yesterday we did over 20 miles of hiking to get out of basecamp and reach the highway. I´ll tell you what, that is a LONG hike after using much of your strength on the summit push. It was beautiful though, and we did it in less than 8 hours!

Right now Justin and Heidi are catching up on some Z´s, but I couldn´t pass up the free breakfast and a quick jaunt on the internet. Thanks to all of you that have writen us or made blog comments. All of us have over 100 unanswered e-mails, so please be patient as we try to catch up on all the letters!! Since we summited on our first day, we now have two days in Mendoza before our flight home. We´re going to use the time for some wine tasting (the annual wine festival is this week... all the grapes are being harvested and it´s quite a celebration!), sleep, a few hours to shave, and try to find some stuff to bring home to ya´ll.

As for the pictures, sorry they didn´t show up. The sat link from base camp was very touchy and it seems it didn´t like pictures too much. I´ll grab a camera and put some of the best photos online today or tomorrow. I´ll also add a link to a large online gallery that all our photos will be at (plus some videos!). That´s it for now. We´ve got to get ready for some romping around Mendoza. As you can imagine, we wish all of you were here with us, but we know you´re here in spirit! Thanks again for all your support. We are overjoyed at the amazing success of this expedition and that we were fortunate enough to be some of the few people on the summit of Aconcagua over the last 2 weeks.

Take care and have a great weekend everyone!

Rob, for the slumbering Heidi and Justin
Climb High, Fly Low

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Great news everyone, at approx 5pm Aconcagua time, on the 27th, the three of us reached the summit of South America's highest peak!!!

It was an extremely long day, but we pressed on through wind chills of -30F, very high winds, and almost 10 hour of ascending through snow and loose rock. Sadly, no one else from our group made the summit. I guess that is a testament of our group strength and determination!!! The views were awesome and the experience was, well, hard to sum up in words, but we say it was another life-time achievement for each of us.

We're back in Base Camp right now and will be making a long hike and then drive into Mendoza tomorrow. That's when we'll be able to reply to many of your comments and e-mails. We just wanted to get the word out about our success to all of you, and to thank ya'll for your support and wishes.

Oh yeah, and to the boys of the 71SOS, time to pay up, as Rob knocked out 50 pushups, so get that money ready for the SOWF!

Hopefully there is a picture attached to this one.

Take care all, and we'll be in touch soon!

Rob, Heidi, Justin,
Climb High, Fly Low

Friday, February 23, 2007

Base Camp Part II

Buenas Tardes everyone. This is our second, and most likely last blog from the mountain until after we return from our summit attempt. What has changed since the last blog: Weather! We no longer have snow every day. In fact, the sun has been shining like it's supposed to and people are starting to summit again. They are still calling this the worst summer in 30-40 years, but it looks like there is a chance we'll have weather safe enough to take a shot at the summit... not that we're jinxing ourselves right now. We plan to take our first attempt at the summit on the 27th, with two to three days of weather back up if we need it. Right now the winds are still quite high and some tents are still getting damaged. Anyway, our hopes are still high, as in 23,000ft high!

Twice over the past three days we've been over 16,500ft, once on a peak called Cerro Bonnete (sp) and one trip up to Camp 1 (Canada) and beyond. Heidi, Justin, and Rob are all feeling great, with O2 levels in our blood right as they should be and no signs of altitude related illness. In fact, check out the picture that is hopefully on here of the three of us on Cerro Bonnete.

That's it for us. once again the sat connection is expensive and we don't have long. I don't think we'll have a chance to write again until we come back down from the upper camps, so keep your fingers crossed, knock on lots of wood, and drink a cerveza or four for us.

Take care, be safe, and enjoy life-

Rob, Justin, Heidi
Climb High, Fly Low

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Base Camp Info!!

Grettings Friends and Family! We're reaching you via a sat uplink, so time is precious AND expensive!

All three of us are doing very well, especially with health and strength. No issues with the altitude and our spirits are high. It's been a great experience so far and we hope it continues to go well. The only issue we have right now deals with weather. We have been snowed on every day on the mountain, and greeted by quite high winds most the day as well. This is quite unusual, as in our last camp most people would normally wear shorts and t-shirts and sit outside talking, but we had on many of our clothes and had to battle the below freezing temps, not to mention the blowing snow.

We're now at base camp, which sits under the steep ascent to the high camps. Each day we see groups coming off the mountain with news of destroyed tents and right now one missing climber (but not part of a guided group). A group of 10 people literally had to all huddle in one small tent two nights ago since all their other tents had failed under the high winds. Anway, this is a very unusual weather to have on Aconcagua this time of year, but it doesn't seem to be something just passing by. It's been a problem for some time, preventing most groups, well, pretty much every group for summiting. We're hoping to catch a break in the weather or maybe just have it blow itself out. Until then, we will be taking on the winds, snow, and frozen conditions as we slowly work our way up the camp.

We want to make a shout out to Mark Uberuauga, wish you were here buddy (Vern Tejas passed through today... w/o his banjo!), to all the people that helped to get us here (esp our military commanders and supporters who made the time avaliable), and most of all, to our family that is out there thinking of us. So, keep us in mind when you see the sun and are warm throughout the day... all for now from 14,500ft!!

Vaya con dios!

Rob, Justin, and Heidi
"Climb High, Fly Low"

Friday, February 16, 2007

We´re Off!

This is the last post from Mendoza, as we're just about to hit the road.  All is well!  We've got a big, yet very upbeat and happy group of people to climb with.  Mostly made up of American's, we have one Brit, one Dane, and one guy from Holland (who is actually American now).  We have more people in the group than expected, but plenty of guides and our lead guide is a nice American named Tom Torkelson who has a very good background in mountaineering.
The winds were high last night and the temps came down (from the 98F high in the day!), which means we'll be a little bit colder than avg on the first few nights, but that's a blessing, as we all have warm sleeping bags and the warm nights would cook us!  So, hopefully we'll be able to send out a blog from base camp, which is about 5 days away (Plaza de Mulas).  Between now and then we'll be hiking up a valley, enjoying the views and a relaxed pace.  That will take us to the base of the mountain (base camp), which will be just around 14,000ft.  From there we will do a few cache-and-carry trips, where we just move our gear up to the next higher camp in stages, eventually sleeping at about 18-19000ft on our last night b/f summit. 
So, really nothing out of the ordinary!  Keep your fingers crossed we run into good weather and low winds.  If we don't, no worries, we'll press on and fly that flag anyway!
Take care everyone.
--Rob and the Gang
Climb High, Fly Low

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Buenas Dias!

Greetings from Mendoza, Argentina!! Everyone made it into this beautiful town without incident and we even have all of our bags (far better luck than we had w/ luggage on the Russia trip). The weather is nice, with temps in the 80s and slight breeze to keep it from getting too sticky. The flights down here were long, but the layovers were the hard part. We were lucky to all meet up in Santiago, Chile, where we spent 8 hours in the airport terminal eating and drinking while catching up on each others´ lives. Justin and Heidi had never met, though they got right to telling all the stories they had on me... gotta love when friends bring out some stories you had either forgotten or hoped would never come up again! After quite a few beers we ended up in Mendoza, but not after getting a view of Mt. Aconcagua from the airplane (looks big!). Here in Mendoza we are staying at El Portal Hotel ( If anyone needs to reach us, this will be the place for the next two nights.

So far we´ve been walking all over Mendoza, enjoying some delicious food and drinks. The people are all real friendly and we're enjoying the fresh warm air! Today was just a laid back day of sleeping in, getting food, and soon we´ll be meeting up with the folks on our climb and heading out to a gear store to pick up any last second items and rent any gear we might need. Our guide, Tom Torkelson, is a nice dude from Jackson, Wyoming. Seems like we have some good folks to climb with, so it should be quite enjoyable to get to know them all.

That´s about it from Mendoza! All is well, though we wish the rest of you were here with us, enjoying the local steak and great weather. I´m sure many of you wish you were here as well! Have a great day and stay tuned for more info as it comes!

Cheers- Rob
Climb High, Fly Low

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


So, this is the first blog of what will hopefully be a great collection of writings. Thanks for stopping by and supporting the USAF 7 Summits Challenge. Hopefully we'll get a serious website makeover this spring so everything will be contained on our mainpage. Until then, check into this blog for updates on our current and future climbs.

Tomorrow we'll be leaving for Mendoza, Argentina and our 18-day climb of Mt. Aconcagua. There won't be any chances to update the blog from on the mountain (unless we get really lucky and mooch off someone w/ a sat uplink), but you can bet we'll keep it up to date as much as possible.

Thanks again for stopping by and here's an e-toast to a safe and successful summit!!

Climb High, Fly Low-