Mainers nearing top of the world


Bill Yeo and John Bagnulo are pulling their own weight – literally.

The two local men have hauled more than 600 pounds of their own gear up to the 25,000-foot mark on the world’s tallest rock pile, the fabled Mount Everest.

And, like the real Mainers they are, they have made necessity the mother of invention: They simply didn’t have the sponsors and money to pay a crew of local Sherpas to do the work for them. So, they did it themselves.

That’s earned them the admiration of fellow climbers and Tibetans. They are the only climbers to have humped their own gear up the mountain.

Bagnulo, of New Vineyard, and Yeo, of Durham, will make their attempt to the summit on May 11.

Already this season, several people have died, although on a different approach. The list of possible dangers is long – bitter cold, high winds, snowstorms, oxygen deprivation and, of course, falls.

And making it to the summit is by no means certain. Hundreds of climbing parties over the years have spent millions of dollars getting within striking distance, only to fail within a day’s climb of the top.

But, climbing equipment and technique have improved a hundredfold over the years since Nepalese guide Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary first reached the summit in 1953.

Wool, leather and steel have given way to lightweight equipment made of lightweight metal alloys, graphite and miracle fibers invented in laboratories. Now, satellite phones and accurate weather forecasts connect the mountain to the world.

Nonetheless, it takes grit and determination to reach the top. Sun Journal readers will be pulling for Yeo and Bagnulo as they make their final assault.

We know they have what it takes to stand on the top of the world.