VIEW WEBSITE ABOUT RALPH’S CHILDREN’S BOOK at www.gillyandthesnowcats.com

––People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.––Edmund Hillary


“Our team was one of six that attempted to climb Mount Everest in the spring of 1989. Our team included Pete Hillary, the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, who first climbed Everest with Sherpa guide Tenzeng Norkay in 1953."

  Ralph Bovard, MD – Mount Everest Expedition Physician

DR. RALPH S. BOVARD Is A Medical Doctor and Writer with A Passion for Outdoor Adventure


Greetings from Dr. Bovard,

Several years after I received my medical degree at the University of Minnesota in 1984, I had the opportunity to serve as the physician for the 1989 Mount Everest expedition to the Nepalese Himalayas.  

Our American-sponsored international team included Pete Athans, Karen Fellerhoff, Andy Lapkass, Jeff and Kelly Rhodes, the Burgess twins (Aidrian & Alan), Roddie McKenzie, Mickey Reutersward, Johann Lager, Oskar Kilborg, and New Zealander Pete Hillary, son of Sir Edmund Hillary, who first climbed Everest with Sherpa guide Tenzeng Norkay in 1953. 

I was not on the actual climbing team; my role was medical support at base camp, which was at 18,000 feet. The team’s goal was to summit at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters). For our team, the expedition was a success with two climbers, Adrian Burgess and Roddy McKenzie, summiting. 

Unfortunately, this was not the case with the several other teams trying to summit at the same time. Seven members of those teams plus a Sherpa guide died while we were there. The sadness of the final week made me eager to return home and not reluctant to leave that barren place where so many bodies lay entombed in ice. 

During the expedition, I read some 20 books, wrote 200 pages of journal notes, and shot over 30 rolls of E-6 slide film. I became an astronomer again. The night skies were beautifully clear. The constellations leaped out even more clearly than when I was a boy.  

We used to sit on the dock at the lake on quiet summer nights, and my father would trace the outlines of the pliades, Orion, Cygnus, Corona, Pegasus, Polaris, and of course, the great bear, Ursa Major, from the wood plank dock with a red-beamed flashlight, while reciting the Greek legends that accompanied each sign of each mythic figure. 

Now, swinging between the west shoulder of Everest and Nuptse, my birth sign, Scorpio rose over the fabled and treacherous Khumbu icefall. I would later climb through that graveyard of building sized glacial debris tumbling down from the high reaches of the Himalayas and, in truth, from the Heavens themselves. 

My children’s novel Gilly & the Snowcats reflects a love of adventure in the outdoors. This is meant to help young people appreciate the interdependence of all creatures, the great joy and inevitable sorrow of living fully, and the power of quietly savoring the pursuit and fulfillment of your dreams, even when others cannot or will not see.


Ralph S. Bovard, MD, MPH, FACSM

© Ralph S. Bovard 2018  –www.rsbovard.com - website by Joan Holman Productions: www.holman.com