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Arnot and Morton Team With Breashears to Document Everest
Posted on April 29, 2010

By David Morton

I emerged from my tent at BC this morning at about 4:30 a.m. The sun was still well below the west shoulder of Everest, where it rises each morning. But the ambient light created by the rising sun reflecting off the snow-plastered peaks we’re surrounded by bathes BC in an eerie glow at that hour. It made me second-guess the decision to leave my camera behind.

Today was to be a day of labor without the camera. I carried a load from BC to Camp 2 in order to help move a bit more of our equipment up the mountain. But, being a photographer, it was hard to follow through. A part of me believes that people drawn to photography are missing the bigger picture. I always want to capture a moment, to freeze time in space. The world doesn’t work that way. It keeps moving. It’s like wanting to be able to hold water from a pristine stream in your hands just so you can keep a part of that moment. It’s impossible.

So, we go on knowing that we can’t really hold that moment as it was. We can though, hopefully, create an interesting expression of that particular moment or experience. I love experiences, whether it is climbing Mt. Everest, spending my grandmother’s last moments with her, or watching a flock of birds. That is why I love photography. Photography is a way of capturing or honoring life’s beautiful, difficult or crazy experiences.

As for photography on Mt. Everest, it can be a wild ride logistically. Power issues are major. We have two solar systems, each with their own battery bank and panels, in order to ensure we’ll be able to power up all batteries while in BC, as well as the multiple computers for development, communication, and uploading media to First Ascent back in the US. Cloudy days are a bummer. Seriously. There is also the weight. We are climbing a mountain, so our gear goes on our back. That includes the multiple lenses, tripods, speedlights, batteries, etc. It definitely adds another layer to throw on top of your primary focus of actually climbing the mountain safely and successfully.

On the topic of photography, Melissa and I had a great time on our rotation to Camp 1 with David Breashears, a wonderfully talented climber, filmmaker and photographer. His current project is replicating historical photographs of various Himalayan ranges in order to examine the glacial changes. David had a stack of photos from the 1952 Swiss Everest expedition. He and I spent the evening running around trying to position ourselves exactly where the images would have been taken from and then capturing our own. We nailed a couple. In the morning before heading to Camp 2, Melissa helped David capture a couple more. It was a great distraction from the discomfort of a first night at nearly 20,000 ft. David has since gone back to the US and left me with a bunch more to play around with. I just have to now convince Melissa that diverging from the most direct climbing line in the Western Cwm will be “fun.”


Author: - Thursday, April 29th, 2010

  1. Marian Hawley

    Hi Dave!
    Jiban gave me the link to follow your expedition and it looks great!
    This site is fantastic…I’m going to now explore it a bit myself.
    Amazing and fun to picture you up there now. I feel so fortunate to have been to BC with you…so recently! I am back in Denver now
    packing up my little house while Dave is going it alone in our new
    pre-war apt in NY.
    Cheers to you and I am sure your photos are stunning!!
    Take care of yourself,

  2. Harriett

    Hello out there, Dave and Melissa,

    What a pleasure to hear your voices through this blog and to share the sites that you are seeing! It must be an extra trip to look at those 1952 photos and imagine sharing the same spot with those climbers/photographers. Keep talking, keep showing, keep telling…we just want more. We are vicariously traveling with you.


  3. Katie Adam

    Wow Guys! Keep up the great work. I am loving following your climb, and SO COOL that you had the chance to work with David Breashears. Best wishes on your upcoming summit attempt!

  4. Rob Rowley

    Dave: I met you at “An Everest Evening” at Snowbird in ’07. You signed my ice ax, and I think you were one of three people who rode back to SLC with me. Is that correct? I know that Lhakpa Gelu was there that night, but was Lhakpa Rita there also?

    I hope you and Melissa are feeling strong and staying safe in your summit bid.

    Rob Rowley
    (The ice ax man)

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