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  April 15, 2001
From: Maurice Peret

Easter in the Khumbu

The National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest expedition team made camp at camp 2, spending the night there before returning to base camp on Good Friday, April 13.  By all accounts the climbing team is way ahead of schedule. 

This morning, at the initiation of climbers, Eric Alexander and Brad Bull, and base camp staff Reba Bull and Maurice Peret, Easter Sunday was recognized with an opening prayer at 7:30 a.m.  On this day of Christ's resurrection all hearts were full of fellowship and gratitude for the mission and cohesiveness of the entire expedition team itself.  The entire weekend exemplified this spirit throughout.  Four to six inches of snow fell on Mt. Everest base camp on Friday night.  We all woke up to find our communications tent, a large Mountain Hardware facility worth $8,000 and containing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of technical communications equipment, had collapsed under the weight of the snow.  Thanks to some jubilant labor, plenty of Duck Tape, and a snowball battle, our Com tent was restored and became known as the "Duck Tape Dome."

On Saturday evening after dinner much of the team piled into the com tent for a movie shown on one of the laptop computers.  That was one activity in which the blind members of the group had the advantage since we weren't dependent on watching that tiny screen. The entire weekend was filled with visits from a host of trekking teams and others curious to meet members of the National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest Expedition. Several veteran climbers have noted that this team, more than many, embodies the essential team spirit necessary to achieve success on the highest mountain peak in the world.

The purpose of this expedition is not to place a blind guy on the top of Mt. Everest at any cost.  Rather it is to place an incredibly talented and experienced team of climbers,  one of whom is blind, at the top of the world.  It demonstrates, above all, that blind people can fulfill their dreams if they possess the skills and alternative techniques to achieve them and if they are given a chance to demonstrate what they can do.  Sometimes, as is the case with Erik Weihenmayer, the blind person must blaze new trails, not only figuratively but also literally.  This expedition, moreover, is not just a group of climbers, including Erik, who is blind; it involves no fewer than three blind people who made the long trek to Everest base camp:  Erik Weihenmayer, who is attempting to reach the summit; Dan Rossi, a computer software engineer and trekker from Pittsburgh; and Maurice Peret, a Rehabilitation Instructor at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland in Baltimore and representative of the National Federation of the Blind working on communications and whatever else he can find to do to be helpful. 

On Tuesday, April 17, the climbing team will again make the ascent to camp 2, where they will remain for several days, and carry gear to camp 3, in order to increase acclimatization.  Everyone is healthy, strong, and eager to continue making progress.  Together every member of the expedition is contributing to the goal of changing what it means to be blind. 

Don't forget to follow the dispatches from other team members as
well as this one. All of us offer the Easter Holiday spirit of fellowship and human striving for excellence. Happy Easter.

Maurice Peret

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