Joel Reichenberger: Making the best of canceled plans

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— Eric Meyer has been through a lot in the past year, so he may have a more stringent litmus test than most when it comes to what qualifies as "bad news" and what does not.

Whatever the Steamboat Springs-based climber called it, a phone call last month that said the funding from his latest Himalayan endeavor had been withdrawn wasn't what he had been hoping to hear.

The trip to Mount Everest, to be Meyer's second after he summited the world's tallest mountain in 2004, was put on ice after two major European sponsors withdrew their funding in the tight economy.

"They didn't think it'd look very good to be sponsoring an Everest expedition when they're having to lay people off," Meyer said.

The news came just six weeks before Meyer and his team planned to head for Nepal. Meyer, a Steamboat Springs doctor, already had planned to take a few months off work. Faced with a completely blank schedule, he didn't hesitate to make the most of it.

Now on the itinerary is a lengthy summer climbing trip to peaks in Montana and Canada.

He plans to head to Europe for a ski mountaineering trek and has his eyes on a "pretty ambitious" canyoneering trip to Utah's Zion National Park.

"I'm just trying to make the best of it," Meyer said.

Europe, Montana and Utah may be what most of us consider more than consolation prizes, but Meyer said the trip to Everest still is his main focus.

The trip to Everest originally included many of the same climbers who traveled last summer to Pakistan with Meyer in an attempt to summit K2, the world's second-tallest mountain.

Although one of Meyer's team did accomplish that goal, the trip ended in disaster when 11 climbers were killed after a series of falls and avalanches ravaged the upper reaches of the mountain. None from Meyer's climbing team were among the killed or injured, but they spent the next several days helping survivors reach safety.

Meyer said he's banking on the fact the year's Everest disappointment will be just that - one year's disappointment.

The team's plans have been pushed back one year.

Meyer and his climbing partners will be venturing to the upper reaches of Mount Everest in hopes of solving an 85-year-old mystery.

Sir Edmund Hillary is widely recognized as the first person to conquer Everest, reaching the top in 1953. British climber George Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine died on Everest's upper slopes in 1924, however. They were seen within a few hundred meters of the summit, but no one knows whether they actually made it there or not.

Mallory's body wasn't found until 1999, but it didn't end the mystery. Working with new research, Meyer and his team hope to find evidence to finally answer that question.

Now, that sounds like an adventure worth waiting for.

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