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May 092013
 

Class 3 on the Geneva SpurThe Sherpas are reported to be fixing the line between the South Col and the Balcony today, Thursday May 9 Nepal time.

Apparently David Tait, with Himex, is going with the Sherpas and made this cryptic Tweet:

Im at c4 – going summit tonight. Hopstile as everg

This was his plan all along but had backed off due to an injury, weather and politics. He would summit early Friday, May 10. David Lianno is also on his summit push currently at C2 looking to summit on May 11, Nepal time.

Eric Simonson, IMG, provided this detailed update with:

IMG leaders Greg and Jangbu report that the rope fixing plan has been agreed upon with ten teams (IMG, AAI, JG, Global Adventure, Arun, Peak Freaks, Himex, Astrek, Miura, Seven Summits) working together to carry 13 loads to the Col (11 loads of rope with 2200 meters total and two loads of hardware).

Then we have 14 sherpas from 6 teams staying up on the Col to start fixing (IMG: Pasang Kami, Tseten Dorje, Damai Sarki; AAI: Thapke, Phura Kancha; Himex: Phurba Tashi, Nima Tenzing, Nawang Tenzing, Gyalzen Dorje; Astrek: Shera Gyalzen, Pemba Tshiri; Seven Summits: Lhakpa Thundu, Mingma Dorji; AC: Kami Rita).

Tomorrow we also have 19 IMG sherpas carrying more oxygen and supplies to the Col from Camp 2 to finish getting all our gear up there for summit bids, and we have another 22 IMG sherpas carrying up to Camp 2 from EBC to keep the logistics flowing up the hill to support these efforts up high. So… all the pieces are in place, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the weather for the next few days.

Russell Brice, Himex, added this:

We are right on schedule and the ropes on Mount Everest have been fixed all the way to the South Col at 7,900m while the ropes are only 150m short of the summit of Lhotse. The Himex Sherpas also used the low-wind-period and fixed the route on Nuptse all the way to 7,400m. The precise weather forecast from different sources, which the expedition leaders are sharing, enables us to make the work of the Sherpas as safe as possible.

On the north, there is also progress.  Climbing with Altitude Junkies, Edita Nichols‘ home team relayed this update for lines on that side:

Their Sherpas, that are carrying  loads to camp 3, spotted the Tibet team fixing ropes. It looks like there will be fixed rope all the way to the north summit by this evening or tomorrow.  This is very important because now they can plan to go up once the weather is cooperative. They are waiting for the “China winds” which are warm winds that  come from over the mainland.  If all goes well (again weather dependant), they could be standing on the summit of Mount Everest in one week from today!

Arnold Coster, guide of Summit Climb says he is looking at May 16-8 for their summit bid. Posted as general location updates you can follow climbers from Brazil and India. Spaniard Carlos Pauner is ready for his summit push. He is looking to complete climbing all 14 of the 8,000 meter mountains without using supplemental oxygen. He is on the South side.

This is an update on various climbers with Asian Trekking:

Carlos Canellas, Carlos Santallena, Anita and Ramlal went down for rest today. Rodrigo and Joel will leave tomorrow and join the Carlos. Horacio Cunati went to C2 today and will be back after tagging C3. Douglas is at C2 after sleeping at C3 and will be back tomorrow. Rest of us are in BC. Arunima and Susen are in good health resting in BC and short day hikes to near by places to stay fit. No intention of going down the valley for rest. They will try to attempt in the first window which may not seem likely before 15 May as of now.

Reflections

With climbers back from the high rotations, they are taking time to update blogs. While waiting for the weather window, climbers have a lot of time on their hands to think about what they have done and what is ahead of them. This perspective encourages very introspective posts.

Dave Mauro, with IMG, has written an excellent series of short updates tracing his climb to C3 and back. He shares the experience of seeing death on the mountain and his own struggles. It is the Blog of the Day. These are excerpts, please read his entire post.

Myself and another team member set out with our Sherpas for camp 2. I could see direct sunlight slowly working its way down the side of Nuptse, staging a soft landing on the gaining valley floor. At some point I left the other team member behind and it was just Mingma and I. I could see the tents of camp 2 an hour and a half up the valley, but now the over-exertion of the ice fall came to collect and I “bonked”. I stopped in the trail and breathed hard for twenty chest-fulls. Feeling marginally better, I motioned to Mingma that we should continue on. 100 steps later I had to stop and breath again. “I’m sorry, MIngma” I apologized. “I just can’t catch my breath.” “It’s OK,” he offered, “we go slow.” I continued to deteriorate, only able to go 80 steps, then 60, and so on before needing to rest and breath hard. We straggled into camp 2 six and a half hours after leaving EBC. I am unsure by what hidden strength I managed the last quarter mile.

and this excerpt:

We were only 20 minutes up the face when Mingma stopped to listen to his radio. “Sherpa sick,” he said to me with concern. He said one of the Sherpas above us at camp three had gotten up, dressed, eaten some breakfast, but then said he felt dizzy. The Sherpa vomited, then went to lay down in his tent.  A camp Physician was patched onto the line and I could hear her instructing the people at camp three to administer Niphedipine and place the Sherpa on bottled oxygen. We continued our climb upward. 

Mingma stopped again ten minutes later and turned to me. “Sherpa died,” he said pointing at his radio. He also told me this Sherpa was his brother in-law.  We would later learn that two team members had worked frantically to save the man’s life and would later descend, traumatized by what had happened. This Sherpa was a longtime veteran of IMG and had spent much time higher than camp 3 on Everest. Theories evolved, none of which could be conclusively proven, but the available symptoms suggested the victim had contracted High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) which then progressed quite quickly to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). I told Mingma how sorry I was for his loss and suggested we should turn around and go back to camp 2, but he insisted we continue up. I believe this was because he felt an obligation to get to the body as soon as possible so he could make certain proper Buddhist traditions were observed. Our climb to camp 3 was called off 1,000 vertical feet short of the camp. Mingma continued up. I was assigned another Sherpa to lead me back down. A team of Sherpas lowered the body down the Lohtse face, where a helicopter picked up Mingma and his deceased brother in-law, transporting them to their home village of Phortse. IMG  located the man’s parents in another village and had a helicopter take them to Phortse as well.

The doctors at EverestEr in Base Camp believe DaRita Sherpa died from sudden cardiac or cerebral event and was not altitude related.

Javi Clayton, with Altitude Junkies, has an extensive post on his plans for the North. He goes into details on those climbers attempting to summit without supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. This is very common on the north side. Sadly, often these attempts end up poorly.

The military style programs we are observing this year on the North Ridge Route include spending several nights at Camp 1 or even Camp 2, with a crazy number of rotations, 3 or 4. Long and extenuating treks to the neighborhood peaks at BC, or regular walks from ABC to Crampon Point (6500m) are also included to burn out all energy accumulated before starting this trip. Some teams are having poor diets both at BC and ABC, carbohydrates based (i.e. cheap rice and noodles), and at this point we can see many climbers abandoning the expedition with weak physical and mental conditions. We estimate a 15% or climbers have already left the expedition on the North Side due to these unfavorable conditions, two of them evacuated with severe illness.

Dan Branham with Berg Adventures, made this comment on weight loss:

The atrophy that takes place at higher altitude, with most climbers losing significant amounts of muscle, is at least temporarily halted by going lower.   While fat is the energy storage tissue at sea level, unfortunately muscle is selectively broken down by your body at high altitudes for energy.  This results in dramatic weight loss from loss of muscle.   I do not think this Everest diet and exercise plan is ever going to go main stream for this reason.  

It is common for almost everyone to loose weight while climbing these big mountains, women tend to lose less than men. A very loose rule of thumb is that if you loose more than 10% of your body weight, you probably will not be able to summit since it saps your strength.

On a lighter topic, Bob Kerr, climbing with Adventure Peaks, is studying how much cosmic radiation climbers are exposed to while climbing Everest. His blog posts is, um, different, today:

The Instadose v2.1 is electronic and in case the extreme altitude is too much for this device, which I hope it isn’t, I have got a Genesis Ultra TLD with me. This unit is completely passive with no electronics. The lithium fluoride chips inside the badge will allow an assessment of the photon and lower energy neutron total dose received to be made when the badge is sent off to California for processing (along with it’s associated background control badge which is in the UK at sea level).

Potporri

Russell Brice, Himex, has posted his view on the fight. An item of new information is that one of the rope fixing Sherpas had his radio keyed, meaning it was transmitting on the general frequency used by all teams. This enabled everyone on the mountain to hear every word that was said on the Lhotse Face. Most Base Camps have large antennas allowing them to hear radio transmissions from anywhere on the mountain.

If you are bored with Everest, early season climbs are now starting on Mt. McKinley, aka Denali. Also, there is still a lot of action going on the other Himalayan Peaks

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything


In Texas alone, there are 340,000 people who suffer from Alzheimer’s (source: UsAgainstAlzheimer's)
Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed

  35 Responses to “Everest 2013: Summits Tonight and Moments of Reflection”

  1. I have read all your blogs on radiation Bob and with ‘tongue in cheek ‘ I readily concur with your findings. Cheers Kate

  2. Bandar, I have been trying to contact a SPOT check and I am having trouble using it. I put it down to me and ‘old age’ but Im not sure anymore so given up trying. Cheers Kate

  3. Hi Alan,
    Thank you so much for the mention again. Indeed, there is a lot of action and I am just trying to update as often as possible.

  4. HI Alan thank you for posting the link to Russel Brice’s article via twitter. It was a very balanced and thoughtful article,as one would expect from a man of Russ’ stature. Hopefully lessons have been learned, and we can all work together for everyone’s enjoyment of the mountain :)

  5. I’ve been following your updates closely from Singapore where the highest point is 163m. It has been fantastic to read about the achievements of people like David Tait and the others who even attempted to climb Everest. I have only respect for people who push their boundaries to discover themselves. Thanks for your great reports.

  6. David just did it 3 hours ago !!

  7. Hi Alan,
    Are you aware that there’s a school (Lawrence School Sanawar) team from India, which is attempting to summit Everest via South Col? If so, are you following their progress?

    • I’m aware of the school but cannot not track them since they apparently do not have public website with frequent updates. If you know of one, please let me know the link. Thanks.

      • ya, they don’t have a website. however, they do have a facebook page – sanawar everest team -where they post scant updates but infrequently.if they succeed,they will hold the record of the youngest Indian to climb everest and the only school in the world to have sent a climbing team to the world’s highest mountain.

        thanks a lot for this absolutely wonderful website. for armchair adventurers like me, it’s a boon.

  8. Hey Alan,
    Thanks for all your coverage. When people ask me about my Everest experience, I rarely mention the summit. I really don’t even remember much of it. What I do remember and what I do talk about and cherish is all the friends I made. My friendships with you and jeff and stevie and karim and phu tashi and Suzanna and donna and danuru and everyone else is what is left from my expedition. I have found that nothing enriches my life or a climb, for that matter, more that the people around me….Along with the challenge, making new friends is what brings me to the mountains….. the “fight” was an unfortunate thing that I am sure all parties involved feel terrible about…..

  9. Having said I wouldn’t read or write anything more about the ‘fight’,when I saw it was a post by Russell Brice I decided to give it a go. As I suspected it was a fair and clear account that he delivered. He had been sensible and had read many other posts and opinions before putting ‘ pen to paper’ as the saying goes. It was a refreshing change to read some common sense after reading comments from guys named Chuck and Jim who wrote foolish words after reading one of Mark Horrell’s great posts.Guys like them are just typical of the way tempers can flare in an instant and are responsible for instigating trouble when men are working hard in dangerous and difficult situations. Thanks Russell for some sensible words and thoughts.Sitting here as an armchair follower I can sense the tense waiting game that must be going on as the climbers wait for the signal to ‘go’.I suspect some may have gone already and with the added excitement of some trying for triple ascents we can only watch and wait. Thank you for keeping us in the picture and for allowing us to go along beside you Good luck to you all and stay safe Cheers Kate

  10. Alan, wow your website is full of so much information. I am enjoying reading it all. :)

  11. When I sit on my couch, watching Everest shows, and shoving snack food into my mouth, I gain weight! :)

  12. Ha – I put on about 10 pounds. Must have been the fine cuisine coming out of the Adventure Consultants kitchen tent!

  13. As usual I enjoyed the blog and took time out to read individual blogs as well. I find it easy to pick up on the excitement at both base camps and can imagine that some of the decisions are being kept quite close to the chest at the moment. Although I told myself I would not give time to another ‘fight’ blog’ I decided to read Russell Brice’s contribution and was not disappointed.It was very much as I had expected , fair and sensible. Having waited until he had chance to gain more understanding of the circumstances he was able to have a clearer picture of the actual circumstances unlike two guys named Chuck and Jim who made totally unfair and rather racist comments on a piece written by Mark Horrell.with guys like them around you can see how tempers are soon aroused. Wishing all those who are waiting to make a rush for the summit, good luck and stay safe Cheers Kate Smith

  14. Alan, thanks for the daily updates. I enjoy reading your posts. I have a quick question. With “cheap rice and noodles” not being the proper diet on Everest, what should climbers be eating to replenish their reserves? I understand that appetite dwindles at high altitude but just wondered what climbers should be eating. Keep up the excellent work!

    • Good question Mike! Food has become a way for expeditions to differentiate from one another and it is an intense competition. Some actually bring along western chefs. I always get a laugh when some mentions they had sushi. Most try to provide a carbo high diet but with good lean protein along the way. There is a lot of eggs, potatoes, rice, spam, yak, beef and some incredible cakes made by the Sherpa cooks.

      Of course all this is at BC. At the high camps, most everyone eats freeze dried, MREs or cheap rice and noodles :)

      As an international comparison, this is what 80 year-old Japanese Yuichiro Miura is eating today per his blog:

      Breakfast: rice, natto, okra, fried egg
      Lunch: chapati, special pancake
      Dinner: curry, pork miso soup, steamed rice with red beans

      • Alan!! Thats why I sooo much wanna do Everest,for the cakes,yummy cakes and more cakes!!

  15. Thanks for the comment Kent and Brad). I lost 15-25 myself. I keep thinking I should call Jenny Craig with this plan :) Kent you gave it a hell of a go!

  16. Alan, do you know of anyone who is wearing a spot tracker this year? I remember following someone climbing last year with time and location updates. That was really fascinating to be able to watch in nearly real time and translate the position onto google earth or other pictures.

    • Yes, Dan Hughes and he is also wanting to do a live video broadcast. http://www.everestmillion.com/

    • David Tait. Click on “Map” symbol on his website.

      • Thanks Alan and Lauren! David is fun to follow for obvious reasons. It looks like he has been at Camp 4 for about 10 hours now. It is 2:30 AM in Nepal. I know that summitters start climbing really early, but what time would the sherpa line fixing team start?

        • According to various reports, they fixed the line to the Balcony (per plan) on Thursday and will go on to the summit on Friday leaving the South Col at 3AM Nepal time.

    • As I remember from last year on Everest, spot trackers do not work. I had tried mine in EBC and in Camp 2 on the south side with no luck. Others did too.

      If I’m not mistaken, the DeLorme Inreach works.

      Bandar

  17. 190 down to 160 myself

  18. Interesting item concerning weight loss. I started the climb this year at 159 (up 9 pounds from my normal weight) and when I decided to call it off, I was down to 132…the lightest I have been since 7th grade. Could not sustain energy level on successive days at that weight. Thanks for the updates Alan.

  19. Lucky you! Much hard work, but I can only follow you folks for a thrill of a life time. The first year I started to follow these groups was the year so many died, that Kraugher book is about.

  20. Climbed 4 times, 2002/3/8 and summit in 2011. For all the gory details see http://www.alanarnette.com/everest/everest.php

  21. Alan have you ever done Everest?

  22. Not really, actually a bit late. These are the Sherpas fixing line plus a couple of Westerners. The main push looks like it will happen starting May 16+

  23. That’s a little earlier than normal?