Vedavoo Ambassador Mike Chambers has spent the past few days in Katmhandu, and leaves in the morning for the Khumbu Valley – and his first steps toward the summit of the world’s tallest peak. He’s climbing Everest for Flying Kites Global – an amazing organization targeting support of orphaned children in Kenya through a Home and Leadership Academy they built. Check out their work – it’s worth believing in!
About six months ago – when his plans were starting to come together for the expedition – he reached out to me to build him a pack for his summit bid. I was ecstatic! By far the most difficult and challenging project I’d taken on to date, and dreams of my work at the top of the world drove me forward through my early trepidation. This was one pack that absolutely could not, and would not fail.
I spent hours designing and refining concepts on paper before I started work – it had to be clean – it had to be simple – and it had to be able to withstand the challenges that the Mountain would throw it’s way. Then, with literally dozens of concepts clouding my vision, I got a message from an old Boy Scout friend that included a link to a page chronicling the first American ascent of Everest in 1963. To say that I was inspired was a vast understatement.
In a few weeks, it will have been 50 years since Jim Whittaker took the last few steps to the summit, and at the time of his climb, only six others had accomplished the feat – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay included – and the trek to the peak took him almost 10 weeks. There were no airstrips then – so he hiked 187 miles to base camp from Kathmandu to start his effort. Whittaker’s pack – a classic external frame made of bright, gold fabric – became my inspiration.
Given the opportunity to build a pack for Everest – and one that WILL be carried to the summit within days of the golden anniversary, I vowed to pay tribute to the first American, with a pack that would represent him while supporting the bid of another great American climber today.
In the months that followed, I tried various shape studies – cut / trimmed / refined until the ideal layout emerged. I stayed as true as possible to the style and form of Whittaker’s pack – and from that model, I worked on critical improvements and features that would meet today’s requirements for Mike.
The pack I built just flowed – everything had a place and a purpose, and though the effort took almost two weeks of time in the workshop to bring to reality, the final pack more than met my expectations. Like Whittaker’s pack – Mike’s is Gold and Black – and both are products of craftsmen in the United States of America.
Everest is … well… Everest. Like no other test on the planet. So I’m proud to have had the opportunity to test my work like this; but, being able to also share in the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first American ascent by sending another American-built pack to the summit is something I will never forget and always cherish.
My heartiest good luck to Mike – we’ll all be rooting for you and sending prayers for your safe ascent and return. Looking forward to sharing in your celebration from the Summit!
PHOTOS FROM MIKE’S JOURNEY
FOLLOW MIKE’S JOURNEY THROUGH HIS EXPEDITION SITE
VIEW MIKE’S AMBASSADOR PAGE