EVEREST HIP HOP 2010 will, with some luck and determination, bring the first total hip replacement to the summit of Mt. Everest and demonstrate that age and physical set-backs need not be barriers to achieving one’s goals. It’s about the ability to REPLACE LIMITS.


In 1955, at the age of ten, I read The Conquest of Everest. It was my first adult book and I was mesmerized by it. Although it seemed an impossibility at the time, I knew that I wanted to climb Mount Everest. 51 years later, I started regular exercise for the first time in my life and by early 2007, felt fit enough to finally take up mountaineering. In March 2007, I took a three-day winter mountaineering course on Mt. Washington, NH where I learned some of the basics – including the fact I needed more aerobic training! This was followed by a more intense six-day course on Mt. Baker in the Cascades. With these two training sessions under my belt, I arranged to climb Mt. Rainier on August 8th, but on August 3rd, I broke my hip in a serious bicycle accident in the White Mountains. I thought it was the end of my very brief mountaineering career, all the more so when after nine weeks on crutches, I learned the “repair” that had been done the day of the accident failed and I would need a total hip replacement. On October 17, 2007, I underwent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Thomas Sculco, my surgeon assured me that I would, indeed, be able to climb again. Three months later, after extensive physical therapy, I made a small climb. A few weeks after that, I climbed Mt. Adams in New Hampshire and, finally, Mount Rainier that June. My mountaineering career was back on track! In November 2008, I climbed three peaks in Ecuador at or over 19,000 feet, followed by Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340) in February of 2009. Four months later, I made the summit of Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley), the highest peak in North America and considered, with Everest, to be one of the two hardest of the “seven summits.” My broken hip made me more determined than ever to meet the goal of being on Everest on my 65th birthday – May 18, 2010. Following my summit of Denali, I immediately signed up for an expedition to Everest, which I’m calling the “Everest Hip Hop.” My goal is to demonstrate that neither age nor physical set-backs need limit ones goals. I’m also dedicating my climb to helping Nepalese children with physical disabilities and asking all of you who follow my exploits to join me in making a contribution to the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children in Nepal. Please see the “DONATE” section of my web site for more information on this outstanding organization and how you can make a tax deductible contribution.


Thanks to starbucks via for providing great coffee for my climb.



Ice Axe (Different Types)
Rope (Note “Dynamic” Ropes)
Belay Devices and Ascenders
Trekking Poles

Down Parkas
Hard Shell
Soft Shell
Under Layers
Heavy SocksMISC
Sleeping Bags–to–40 degrees
Air Mattress
Water Bottles


With a peak elevation of 29,035 feet (8850 meters), the top of Mount Everest is the world's highest point above sea level. As such, it has been the Holy Grail of mountaineers since 1920 when the Dalai Lama opened Tibet to outsiders. Nepal remained closed to foreigners until 1950 but just three years later, on May 29, 1953, New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay ascended from the south and conquered the peak. Subsequently, over 12,700 climbers have attempted the summit and some 4,500 have actually made it, most in the past decade.

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler are credited as being the first to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. In 1980 Messner made the first solo ascent, which was via a new route on the mountain's north side.

Unfortunately, due to the hazards and rigors of climbing such a dangerous mountain, over 200 have perished in the attempt. Prior to 2000 the death rate was almost 1 in 10, with 1996 alone setting a record of 15 victims (see “into Thin Air” in the Suggested Reading section). With the advent of fixed ropes and more experienced guides Everest has become much safer, reducing the death rate to less than 1 in 50 for the past decade. [K-2 and Annapurna are far more dangerous mountains, with death rates of approximately 1 in 4.] Unfortunately the extreme altitude makes recovery virtually impossible and, consequently, some 150 bodies of dead climbers remain strewn about (morbid, we know).

In 1999, climbers using GPS (Global Positioning System) equipment determined a new height for Mount Everest– 29,035 feet above sea level, seven feet (2.1 meters) above the previously accepted height of 29,028 feet.


Mount Everest is located on the border of Nepal and Tibet, China. Mount Everest is located in the Himalaya, the 1500 mile (2414 kilometer) long mountain system that was formed when the Indo-Australian plate crashed into the Eurasian plate. The Himalaya rose in response to the subduction of the Indo-Australian plate under the Eurasian plate. The Himalaya continue to rise a few centimeters each
year as the Indo-Australian plate continues moving northward into and under the Eurasian plate.

Indian surveyor Radhanath Sikdar, part of the the British-led Survey of India, determined in 1852 that Mount Everest was the tallest mountain in the world and established an initial elevation of 29,000 feet. Mount Everest was known as Peak XV by the British until it was given its current English name of Mount Everest in 1865. The mountain was named after Sir George Everest, who served as the Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843.

Local names for Mount Everest include Chomolungma in Tibetan (which means "Goddess mother of the world") and Sagarmatha in Sanskrit (which means "Ocean mother.")

The peak of Mount Everest has three somewhat flat sides; it is said to be shaped like a three-sided pyramid. Glaciers and ice cover the sides of the mountain. In July, temperatures can get as high as nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit (about -18 Celsius). In January, temperatures drop to as low as -76°F (-60°C).



Use this link for daily updates on the weather at the base camp:

Use these links for daily updates on the weather at the summit:

There are far more armchair mountaineers than real ones. I continue to be amazed at the number and variety of people I run into that have no interest in climbing, or even serious hiking, yet read mountaineering books with relish. I was one of these armchair mountaineers before I took up the sport in early 2007. Since then, I’ve accelerated my reading on the subject. Below is a list of the books I’ve read or am planning to read before heading to Everest.

Books about Everest
Cover Title / Author DBH Comments

The Conquest of Everest
John Hunt and Sir Edmund Hillary This is the book that got me hooked on Everest. I read it at the age of ten (the first adult hardback book I ever read), two years after Hillary and Tenzing conquered Everest. It truly inspired me, although it took another 50 years to start my mountaineering career!

Into Thin Air
Jon Krakauer Probably the most widely read book about Everest, Krackaer provides a gripping account of the disastrous 1996 season on Mt. Everest, wherein 15 people, including several seasoned mountaineers, perished – 8 in a single day. What amazes me is the number of mountaineers I’ve met on my expeditions that have said it was this book that inspired them to start climbing. Go figure!

High Crimes:
The Fate of Everest in the Age of Greed
Michael Kodas
In 2004, Kodas, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, joined an expedition led by a couple who had summited the mountain more than a dozen times between them. He finds his own expedition group full of lies, thefts and violence. He also tracks a sociopathic guide that was leading a 69-year-old doctor to his death high on Everest; an “entrepreneur” who is refilling old oxygen tanks and reselling them as new – with many faulty valves; and more horror stories. Not a pretty picture but a gripping read. At the very least I learned that I’ll have to keep my guard up at all times around Everest base camp and above.

Dead Lucky: Life After Death on
Mount Everest
Lincoln Hall Lincoln Hall suffered severe altitude sickness just after making the summit of Everest. He collapsed at 28,000 feet and despite the best efforts of the Sherpa that accompanied him, he appeared to have died and was left where he collapsed. The next morning, a group of climbers heading for the summit stumbled upon him and he said: “I bet your surprised to find me here!” He is presumed to have gone into a state of hibernation that allowed him to survive the night at such an extreme altitude and without supplemental oxygen. It’s a fascinating story.
Dark Summit:
The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season
Nick Heil The story of the 2006 season on Everest wherein Lincoln Hall (see Dead Lucky above) was left for dead as and 40 other climbers walked past David Sharpe as he lay dying high on the mountain. Chilling as these incidents are on the surface, one gets a much better perspective on the risks involved in climbing and the significant, if not impossible, effort required to assist anyone incapacitated at extreme altitude. This book also discusses the ten other deaths on Everest in 2006 and the increasingly risky expeditions and unscrupulous outfitters that are fostering a “circus” atmosphere on the mountain.

Life and Death on Mount Everest:
Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering
Sherry B. Ortner The title of this book is rather misleading. It is basically a detailed, sociological analysis of Sherpas and their relations with mountaineers from other parts of the worlds. It’s by no means a “gripper”, but does provide useful background for anyone climbing or trekking in Nepal.
Everest: The West Ridge
Thomas B. Hornbein This is on my current reading list. Personal comments to follow.
Hornbein was with the first American expedition to summit Everest in 1963. While Jim Whittaker was the first to summit on May 1st via the South Col route, Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld made the summit on May 22nd but via the West Ridge – the first to do so. To top this, they returned via the South Col route, hence making theirs the first traverse of an 8,000-meter peak.

Everest: Mountain Without Mercy
Broughton Coburn, Tim Cahill and
David Brashears This stunning cocktail table book from National Geographic was a Christmas gift from my daughter in 2001, following our trip to Nepal and Bhutan that summer. We saw Everest both from the air and from the balcony of a hotel overlooking the Himalaya. It was then that I told Mary of my lifelong dream to climb Mount Everest. Her inscription inside the book reads: “Some day Dad!”.
High Exposure:
An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places
David Breashears David Breashears is probably best know for filming the Everest Imax movie, which took place in the infamous 2006 climbing season (see Into Thin Air). Originally a fanatical rock climber, Breashears turned to mountaineering at the same time he was become a filmmaker – he started as an assistant cameraman hanging off El Capitan in Yosemite and went on from there. He brings an interesting perspective on various mountains and expeditions and, in particular, the 2006 Everest disaster.
Everest: The Mountaineering History
Walt Unsworth This is on my current reading list. Comments to follow.

Everest: Mountaineers Anthology Series
Foreward by: Tom Hornbein
& Peter Potterfield This is on my current reading list. Comments to follow.

Other Mountaineering Stories and Histories
Cover Title / Author DBH Comments

Fallen Giants:
A History of Himalayan Mountaineering
Maurice Isserman & Stuart Weaver Without doubt, this is the most definitive history of Himalayan Mountaineering to date. It is full of fascinating stories of early expeditions, beginning in the late 1800’s, that paved the way for the conquest of Everest and other high peaks in the Himalaya. It also includes more recent expeditions that set new milestones of one sort or another.

Maurice Herzog This is the story of the French expedition to the Himalaya in 1950, written by the expedition leader and the first person to summit an 8,000-meter peak (of which there are only 14 in the world). Among the tons of provisions carried in by hundreds of porters were, mais bien sûr, Champagne and Gauloises. It’s a fascinating account and a must read for anyone interested in mountaineering.

No Shortcuts to the Top
Ed Visteurs Visteurs is the first American to summit all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks. (Only 16 people in total have done so to date.) In this book he recounts the trials and tribulations involved in each of the summits, several of which he had to try multiple times.

K2 – Life and Death on the World’s
Most Dangerous Mountain
Ed Visteurs Reading this book convinced me all the more that K2 is one mountain I will never climb! It provides an excellent history of the various attempts on the second highest peak in the world – many of which have proved disastrous and a few with exhilarating success.

The Eiger Obsession
John Harlin III John Harlin III was nine years old when his father, a noted mountaineer, attempted the north face of the Eiger - the directtissima, a massive vertical face. 2,000 feet below the summit, his rope broke and he plunged 4,000 feet to his death. The son , who moved to the U.S. from Europe, became an avid skier and rock-climber. Eventually, he decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and heads up the directtissima, with IMAX film crew following.

Touching the Void:
The Harrowing First Person Account of One Man’s Miraculous Survival
Joe Simpson Simpson suffered a badly broken leg near the summit of a remote Andean peak. He gave himself up for dead, but his climbing partner insisted on getting him down the mountain one rope length at a time. On one pitch, however, the rope wasn’t long enough. Simpson was left dangling in mid-air and his partner couldn’t see him and eventually had to cut the rope to save his own life – and hopefully his partner’s. Things only got worse, but miraculously, Simpson survived. I haven’t read this book but I have watched the DVD, which is absolutely gripping.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron Ralston This is a harrowing account of an experienced mountaineer and rock climber who was trapped in a cavern when a boulder fell and pinned his right arm. Ralston provides an almost hourly and very clinical account of the decisions he had to make to survive six days without food or water, culminating in his decision to amputate his own arm. It’s an amazing story of survival.

I'll Call You in Kathmandu:
The Elizabeth Hawley Story
Bernadette McDonald & Edmund Hillary Hawley, now in her 80s, is an American who’s Time Inc. writing assignments took her to Kathmandu in 1960, and she never left. From the 60’s on, she has maintained a detailed list of Himalayan expeditions and anyone who wants to be certified as having made a summit must pass muster with her (and now her staff) that maintain the “Himalayan Database” (see below) . It makes interesting reading for anyone heading to Kathmandu.

The Himalayan Database:
The Expedition Archives
of Elizabeth Hawley
Elizabeth Hawley & Richard Salisbury
Not a book, this is a CD with an extensive database of the records kept by Elizabeth Hawley. For those who want to know esoteric details, the database is searchable by peak, climber, expedition, nationality, conditions, seasons, causes of death and many other details, such as success and failure rates. Online updates are provided annually. I have a copy of this CD, so if you are looking for a specific statistic, let me know and I’ll look it up for you.

Other Books of Interest
Cover Title / Author DBH Comments
Three Cups of Tea
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Lost and near death in the Karakorum after a failed summit attempt on the infamous K2, Mortensen stumbles into a remote village and is nursed back to health by the local chieftain. Asked what he can do to repay his kindness, the chieftain says “…build me a school.” Since then, Mortensen has dedicated his life to building schools in the remotest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s a very uplifting story, indeed!

Piers Paul Read In 1972, a Uruguayan school rugby team, together with friends and family, flew to Argentina for a match. A storm over the Andes caused the plane to veer dramatically off course and crash in a remote and very mountainous area. The story of how 16 of the 45 on board survived 72 days on a snow covered mountain at 12,000 is hair-raising and a testament to man’s survival instincts. This book is a very detailed account of the ordeal, which ended when two of the survivors climbed 12 days through steep, snow covered peaks to seek help.

Miracle in the Andes
Nando Parrado & Vince Rause This is a more recent book on the same tragedy as “Alive.” The author, Nando Parrado, with very makeshift gear and clothing climbed through the snow covered Andes to save his teammates. His story is extraordinary as is the effect it has had on his life. It is a beautifully written and very moving account.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing This is not a mountaineering book, but it is one of the greatest survival stories of all time. It is about an ill-fated expedition to Antarctica, led by Ernest Shackleton, who heroically kept his crew alive for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas and finally sought help by navigating a 22 ft. boat 800 miles to South Georgia, where he learned the world had given them all up for dead. In the end, the entire crew was rescued. I read the original version in its year of publication – 1959. It was reprinted in 1999 and is still available.

Mountaineering and Strength Training Guides
Cover Title / Author DBH Comments

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills
The Mountaineers (Author), Steven M. Cox (Editor), Kris Fulsaas (Editor)
This book is considered the bible of mountaineering. It includes the basic techniques for rock, snow, and ice climbing. It also covers safety procedures, rope use and knots, camping, clothing layers, and much more. Highly recommended as a primer for anyone taking up the sport.

Climbing: Training for Peak Performance
Clyde Soles A good overview and list of exercises specific to climbing. It also contains useful information on altitude sickness and nutrition.

Glacier Mountaineering:
An Illustrated Guide to Glacier Travel
and Crevasse Rescue
Andy Tyson & Mike Clelland (Illustrator) A very simple but clear guide that explains both the basics of glaciers and crevasses and how to safely travel on them. It has cartoon like illustrations that are both entertaining and easy to understand.

Strength Training Anatomy
Frederick Delavier This is the best book on strength training I’ve found to date. It describes and perfectly illustrates over 140 exercises, organized by arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, buttocks and abdomen. In addition to illustrating the exercises, there are striking illustrations of the muscles affected by each one. I highly recommend this for anyone serious about building his/her strength.


In an accident while on a bicycle tour in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, my bike flipped over at very high speed (40-50 mph) going downhill. I landed on my left thigh, which resulted in a displaced fracture of the ball on my left femur.

The day of the accident I was offered three options:
1) A total hip replacement
2) Repairing the displaced fracture by “pinning”
3) Return to NYC for treatment

I was advised that returning to NYC would eliminate the possibility of a “repair” since such repairs have to take place within six hours of the accident or the odds of success are nil. On the other hand, opting for a repair the same day left the door open for a total hip replacement a later date – after I was in a better state of mind and could research the subject in more detail. Hence, I chose the repair route, even though I was advised that some 40% of repairs fail over time because it is difficult to achieve proper circulation of blood in the bone once broken.

After nine weeks on crutches, I learned the repair had failed and I would require a THR. I underwent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The day following the implant, I was walking with a cane and released two days later.

The following is an x-ray showing my normal right hip (flipped in the photo to make an easier comparison) next to an x-ray showing the hip implant. The THR procedure involves cutting off the end of the femur and tapping this bone to receive a titanium stem. At the same time, the remaining portion of the ball in the pelvis is removed and the area is carved out to receive a titanium socket that has a polyethylene lining. A ceramic “ball” is connected to the stem and inserted in the socket. In some cases the stem and/or components are screwed or cemented into place. In my case, these components were covered with a bonelike substance that allows the natural bone to grow in and around the prothesis, securely locking the elements into place.

Quite amazingly, this mechanical device seems to work as well as a normal hip joint. A THR is currently the most successful and reliable orthopaedic operation with 97% of patients reporting improved outcome. (Wikipedia)

What’s more amazing is the strength and durability of the THR. The human body is mechanically complex and subjects the hip joint to great forces. Many studies have demonstrated that the resultant loads on the femoral head during activity are several times higher than body weight. Just walking can create a force of 2.5 times body weight. Another interesting fact is that the hip joint typical cycles at least 1 million times a year and as much as 10 million with very active people.

There are a number of variations on the components and methods used in a THR. More detailed information is available from:

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:




Many people have asked me how they can support my climb. In lieu of subsidizing the cost of my expedition, I’m asking family, friends and business associates to make a contribution in my name to the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC). Because of my hip replacement, I wanted to sponsor an organization that could provide orthopedic care to those in need. I selected the HRDC after consulting with Bruce Moore, Field Director in Kathmandu for the American Himalayan Foundation, which also supports the hospital. He could not speak more highly about this organization and its founder, Dr. Ashok Banskota. It’s mission is to: “…provide comprehensive quality medical care, rehabilitation and integration to children with participation restriction due to physical challenges.” Please help me “Replace Limits” for these children.

More information on the HRDC is provided below and at the following links:
Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children


Online Donations can be made via the American Himalayan Foundation and are fully tax deductible. To make a donation, please follow these steps:

1. Go to:
2. Click on “Make a Donation Today” in the left sidebar or top right box
3. Scroll down the page to “Sign Me Up”, enter the amount you’d like to donate and click “Donate Now”
4. Click “Continue” and “Yes” to be re-directed to a secure site to provide credit card details
5. In the “For Gift Donations, Add Name of Recipient” box, type “HRDC”
6. In the “How did you hear about AHF”, type “Everest Hip Hop.”

Please be sure to designate HRDC and mention Everest Hip Hop so that we can properly track donations. I’m sorry that this is a bit cumbersome, but please remember it is for a very good cause.

Mail & Phone Donations: Checks or credit card information can be mailed to the AHF using this PDF form. You can also make a donation by phone by calling the AHF at 415.288.7245. Please be sure to designate HRDC and mention Everest Hip Hop so that we can properly track donations.









On the Piers – Chelsea Piers Newsletter
Fall 2009

The Villager
December 23-29, 2009

Expedition News
January 2010


Visual Graphic Systems Inc.:
Chelsea Piers:
Starbucks Via Coffee:

Mount Everest News & History

Mount Everest Weather

Seven Summits and 8,000 Meter Peaks

Expedition Company
Alpine Ascents International:

Donate Link
Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children
To make Donations:
HRDC Web Site:


Don Healy