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SUMMIT! TEAM EVEREST '03 MAKES HISTORY

American Mountaineer Gary Guller is first person with one arm to reach summit of Mt. Everest


For Immediate Release

Contact:
Dennis Borel, Project Director
(512) 478-3366 M-F days
(512) 431-1656 or (512) 443-6038 other times
E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org

KATHMANDU, NEPAL May 23, 2003

At 12:15 PM Nepal Time, May 23 (1:00 AM, May 22, CST in the US), mountaineer Gary Guller made history when he became the first person with one arm to stand upon the world's highest peak.

At 7 PM the night before, Guller along with Team Everest Summit Team members Gary Scott, Nima Dawa Sherpa, Namgya Sherpa, Da Nima Sherpa, Pem Tenji Sherpa began their climb from Camp Four at 26,000ft to the 29,035ft summit of Mt. Everest. Seventeen grueling hours after they began, the team lead by Guller, who lost an arm in a climbing accident 14 years ago, reached the peak.

Co-Expedition Leader Gary Scott of Colorado Springs, Co., was forced to turn back before reaching the peak because he was climbing without using supplemental oxygen and felt too weak to continue safely without it.

The team made this incredible journey to prove to the world that the potential of people with disabilities is unlimited. On April 6, Guller and Team Everest made history as its Challenge Trek Team became the largest cross-disability group to reach Everest Base Camp at 17,500 feet. Whereas only one in ten able bodied trekkers reach Base Camp, eight of the 14 trekkers with disabilities made it, including four using wheelchairs. International and national media reported on this phenomenal achievement.

The team has been on the mountain over 60 days now. Harsh conditions marked the climb, and risks faced them at almost every turn: the yawning crevasses of the Khumbu Icefall, which the climbers crossed upon ladders strung together with rope, below freezing temperatures and high winds which racked the mountain nonstop, all while potentially deadly avalanches rocked the mountain.

During this, the 50th anniversary of the first successful Everest summit, some climbing teams were forced to give up their attempts to summit due to weather and health related issues. Last week, Guller and the team found Camps Three and Four completely devastated by severe windstorms. This, combined with another dose of severe weather, forced them to turn back, aborting their initial summit push. Despite numerous setbacks on the mountain, Team Everest '03 remained positive and upbeat, working together as a team, and stayed focused on the goal of making history and changing misconceptions regarding the capabilities of people with disabilities.

Says Guller, "This expedition is proud to support the dreams of all people, regardless of their ability or their disability. The freedom to explore and to fulfill goals should be enjoyed by every single person in the world."

Back in the states, Guller's partner organization, the nonprofit Coalition of Texans with Disabilities CTD, is still working hard to make Team Everest '03 a success. CTD kicked off this dramatic history making campaign in January 2002, in an effort to raise public awareness and funds for disability related advocacy.

According to project director Dennis Borel, Team Everest '03 continues to seek funds, about $800,000, to achieve the advocacy and public awareness goals set by the team. "Between a crashed economy, terrorism and war, fundraising was extremely difficult. We were able to raise the minimum amount of money it would take to get our message to Everest. We are now counting on the generosity of those who have been inspired by our purpose and efforts to help us tell the story of this remarkable achievement and change attitudes and policies towards people with disabilities."

CTD and Team Everest '03 will host a Welcome Home party for Guller on Thursday, June 5 from 7:00 - 10:00pm at Mother Egan's Irish Pub, 715 W. 6th St. in Austin, TX. The public is welcome to attend. Children get in for free; all others please make your tax deductible donation of fifteen dollars at the door.

For more information about Team Everest '03, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, or Gary Guller, please contact Dennis Borel, M-F days at (512) 478-3366, other times at 512/431-1656 or 512/443-6038. E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org

Team Everest '03 is a benefit for The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas.


Team Everest '03 Contact:
Dennis Borel, Project Director
(512) 478-3366 M-F days
(512) 431-1656 or (512) 443-6038 other times
E-mail: dborel@cotwd.org