Mt. Everest 2007 Season Coverage
Himalaya - Nepal
29,035 feet 8,850 m
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I summited Everest on May 21, 2011 and have climbed it three other times- 2002, 2003 and 2008 each time reaching just below the Balcony at about 27,500' (8400 meters) before health, weather or my own judgment caused me to turn back. When not climbing, I cover the Everest season from my home in Colorado as I did for the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Everest seasons. 2015 coverage will start in March 2015. This page is my 2007 climb coverage.

South Col Route
241+ Summits

See more of the south route description with pictures
Clickhere to see the route in motion
South Col Route on Everest, click for details North Col Route, click for details

South Team or Climber
BC
C1
C2
C3
C4
SUMMIT
North Team or Climber
BC
ABC
C1/NC
C2
C3
C4
SUMMIT
* Alpine Ascents Int.
e
-
-
-
-
22
e
-
-
-
-
-
11
* Paul Adler (AT)
e
-
-
-
-
2
e
-
-
-
-
-
3
* Adventure Consultants
e
-
-
-
-
20
e
-
-
-
-
-
2
* Bill Burke (SummitClimb)
e
-
-
-
H+
 
e
-
-
-
-
-
7
* Coleman- Mike & Casey (IMG)
e
-
-
-
-
2
e
-
-
-
-
-
2
* ICE 8000
e
-
-
-
-
9
e
 
-
-
-
-
25
* Exploradus
e
-
-
-
-
4
e
-
-
-
-
-
2
* Xtreme Everest
e
-
-
-
-
25
e
-
-
-
-
-
3
* IMG
e
-
-
-
-
33
e
-
-
-
-
-
26
* Jeanne Stawiecki (AAI)
e
-
-
-
-
1
e
-
-
-
-
-
2
* Jagged Globe
e
-
-
-
-
16
* Mark Sheen (DCXP)
e
-
-
-
-
-
1
London Biz school
e
-
 
-
-
3
e
-
-
-
-
-
3
* Mountain Madness
e
-
-
-
-
15
e
-
-
-
-
-
17
* Pat Hickey (ICE8000)
e
-
-
-
-
2
e
-
-
H
     
* SuperSherpas
e
-
-
-
-
7
e
-
-
-
-
-
4
* TA Loeffler (IMG)
e
-
H
     
e
-
-
-
H
   
* UK Scouts on Everest
e
-
-
-
-
8
e
-
-
-
-
-
6
* Findinglife
e
   
-
H+
 
* Kazakhs: Maxut & Vassily
e
         
2
* Dave Hahn (IMG)
e
-
-
-
-
2
* Chinese
e
         
17
* Meagan McGrath (AT)
e
-
-
-
-
1
* Indian Army
e
         
12
* Summit Climb
e
-
-
-
-
5?
* Cato Zahl Pedersen(no. only)
e
-
-
-
-
H+
 
* David Tait Double Traverse
e
-
-
-
-
H
               
others not listed above
66
others not listed above
84
Total South Summits
241
Total North Summits
229+
 
5/31/07 6pm Summit Conditions: clear, -24C/-1F, SW winds at 50 knots
courtesy of EverestWeather.com, Michael Fagin
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Everest 2007, A "Normal" Year
- final

With a record season now finally ended, let's take a look back at this season. All in all it was a "normal" year on Everest, whatever that means!

The season started early - late March - with the arrival of the huge IMG team closely followed by the Xtreme Everest Medical expedition into Nepal. Over on the north it seemed that Hollywood had moved to Tibet for April and May.

Dispatch after dispatch spoke of their "film crew" and some climbers were worried about their bad hair days. But one climber stood out - David Tait. The British climber was on a mission to raise money for his charity by attempting the never before accomplished double traverse. He began posting his thoughts, fears and observation in a rarely seen candid manner.

Another climber also gathered quite a following - TA Loeffler from Newfoundland. TA's dispatches spoke of excitement, traditions, religion, hormones, diarrhea and vomiting. Sadly her early dispatches proved prescient and she had to retire early after illness stole her strength.

As more teams settled into the two base camps, the Chinese took center stage on the north. There to practice taking the Olympic torch to the summit, they amassed a huge team of climbers, staff and Army. They even established a cell phone repeater that many on the north enjoyed ... until they took to back home with them!

The South side appeared to take an early lead in making progress up the Hill by getting the Icefall route in a little earlier than usual and C1 and C2 established by the hard working Sherpas. But as has become the norm recently, The HimEx Sherpas stormed the north while fixing lines and stood on top of Everest on April 30 for the second year in a row.

Close behind this team of 5 were two very brave Kazakhs climbers, Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov. They had pushed their acclimatizion process and were now ready to go for the summit. On a cold push, they spent almost 48 hours with little food and water and made it but many wondered if they would make it back down. Well they did with a little help from friends (and strangers). They pushed their envelope and won, but it was huge risk that could have cost them their lives.

The season progressed and the weather cooperated as much as it ever does on Everest. In fact it was hot, so hot that one climber on the north compared it to Hell ... how does he know? Greg Child, on assignment for the Discovery Channel noted the dramatic change in the North Col from his last visit 12 years ago - a potential recipient of climate change. Anyway, the Icefall began to creak and moan as did the powerful expedition company owners who complained about the poor condition of the route. It was fixed.

Sadly, the first death of the season occurred on April 26 when Dawa Sherpa of Thame died while working on the Lhotse Face. Similar to 2006 when three Sherpas died in the Icefall, these hard working souls were taking the full brunt of Chomolungma.

By early May, teams on the south had establish C3 on the Lhotse face and many had performed their duty by spending the "required" night there. Now all they had to do was return to BC, relax and wait for a four day weather window. During the Pujas, several Lamas had set May 21-23 as auspicious days suitable for a summit.

So some climbers were all dressed up with no where to go. Well, not exactly. Down valley is the way! And so it was. Off they went back down to the tea houses for a hard roof over their head, a bed off the ground, different food and, most importantly, oxygen rich air. It seemed like almost every team this year took this approach on both sides thus establishing a permanent change in the Everest acclimatizion formula.

The Chinese took the lead on May 9th with 17 climbers on the summit ... and the torch. Supposedly they actually lit it - well, it was cold up there.

May 16th became the most spoken date on both sides as to the mysterious weather window. Speculation grew as to who would go up and would there be crowding, especially on the difficult Second Step and the Hillary Step. But the major operators put their heads together and some said go and some said wait.

Sensing a good day on May 15th, David Tait and Phurba Sherpa stood on top of the world and immediately departed for the other side. The traverse was underway. On the same day, the Philippine Women summited and headed down making the first traverse by a female climber. Adventure Peaks enjoyed the conditions with their team on the summit. It was crowded and more were to arrive.

Once again Mountain Madness lead the way on the South. Identical to 2006, Willie Benegas and his Sherpa team lead the way with 11 climbers on the roof. The Super Sherpas were next with Apa Sherpa making his incredible 17th summit (17!) plus his team.

However Everest summits seem to always bring Everest deaths. This year it struck on the north when a 62 year-old Japanese climber died just after summiting. Next was the report of two South Koreans who died after a fall on the southwest wall. The rumor of a Czech climber was sadly confirmed. There were now five confirmed deaths this season.

Perhaps as part of this bad karma, David Tait said enough was enough and he was not Superman thus ending his double traverse ambitions. In a rare moment of candid humility shown by climbers, David went on to say that Pherba deserved to stand on the summit if they returned.

After a short break of one day, the action picked up with IMG stealing the night with over 30 climbers on the summit. Adventure Consultants and Alpine Ascents' large teams followed over the next couple of days. The summits continued to mount on the north with the Indian Army, and the impressive 100% success rate by 7 Summits Club and 26 climbers. HimEx did their usual end of the season summit push and put many climbers on top, including a Rock Star for the Discovery Channel TV series.

Not to be left out, many smaller teams and independents enjoyed success this season. The Hampshire Scouts, Lungetivity, DCXP, Pat Hickey, Project Himalaya, Dr. Tim, ICE8000, Paul Adler and more. Yes, it was crowded this year! Probably close to 500 total summits but it became impossible to track each one accurately on both sides.

Still Everest cannot leave drama and tragedy alone for long. Upon their descent, IMG's leaders found a Nepalese climber in trouble and saved her life by getting her to the Xtreme Everest Doctors at C3 on the south. During the rescue they witnessed the fall on Lhotse by Nepalese climber, Pemba Doma - the first Nepalese woman to summit on the north and the first woman to summit from both sides. Now the death toll was six.

Just when it was time to catch our breath, Gavin Bate began his traverse attempt. But something went wrong and he wisely pulled up to return to ABC. Altitude was the culprit and he was strong, experience and smart enough to do the right thing.

So the summits continue into this late May and Everest remains ... well Everest.

Another year of summits and another year of deaths. Plus another year of rescues. Happily, we have not had the ugly David Sharp style incident but still there were too many reports of climbers being stranded, abandoned and in trouble. The safety net of so many climbers and increased awareness that there is a moral side to climbing prevented more deaths.

A popular debate today is how to make Everest safer. I think this misses the point. Everest is not safe, never has been, never will be. It is like saying how to making smoking safer. Climbers make their own choice to climb. No one forces them. Are there people who climb who shouldn't? Absolutely. Should other climbers try to help when there is a problem? Absolutely - that is the unwritten code.

This year there were many examples of climbers pulling the plug on their own climb. They showed excellent judgment and maturity. There were also some reports of operators who pulled the plug on their own climbers. Finally there were several examples of climbers helping climbers. In my mind this is how it should be.

The danger in all this is that operators accept climbers who lack the basic skills to climb an Everest. Also, climbers who put themselves in this deadly environment betting that "someone" will bail them out if they get in trouble. Sadly, these are the chain smokers of the climbing world.

It is way too easy to let the misguided actions of a few take away from the achievements of the many. Everest 2007 was a great season. A record number of summits and an environment the way it should be. We had new climbers achieve their dream. We had veterans add another notch in their harness. And Everest was Everest ...

Congratulations to all, regardless of your result. You did your best, you took the risk.


Discovery Channel: Everest Beyond the Limit

In a follow-on from 2006, the Discovery Channel is currently showing the 8 part series plus another 4 called "After the Climb". Judging by the hits to this page, it is creating a lot of interest from readers. The most controversial person is Betsy Huelskamp. Her side of the story told in first person can be found at this site.


July 3, 2007

The Final Summits of 2007
The Altitude Everest put three climbers and three Sherpas on the summit on June 14th about 83 years after the Mallory-Irvin expedition. Conrad Ankor and Leo Houlding did free climb the second step without aid so it was purely a "free climb" unlike his 1999 climb. There was some controversy when their press release machine claimed he was the first to free climb it when in fact there have been several before him. But that is how it goes in this world: claims and counter-claims. He acknowledged he was the first in a follow-on posting on their site. After all this, I am a bit perplexed exactly what they proved since they did not use original clothing at high altitude and they showed free climbing could have taken place but that was never a huge, pressing question for many Mallory researchers. All in all their summit felt like a huge movie tailor to promote the documentary.

Random Notes
The Chinese are paving the final 61 miles from the Tingri area to base camp (north) in preparation for next year's Olympic torch summit team. Environmentalists are up in arms but the Chinese have been paving roads in the area for a while now using them for airstrips. They area also upset about the lack of respect for the locals and the fragile eco-system. Speculation is for a nearby hotel to be built soon.



June 9, 2007

A mid Summer's Summit?

The Mallory re-creation team, Altitude Everest, ran into some health issues the last few days so now their summit is set for June 14th. They had wanted to do the climb on June 8, the same date Mallory went up in 1924. But at this rate they will be there when the Fall season starts! Seriously, some kind of stomach bug, probably our old friend Guardia, kept the team in tents and on toilets. They need to get stabilized with more fluids and electrolytes before going up again.

The current plan is for five climbers to go for the summit on June 14th with 15 Sherpa in support carrying cameras, oxygen, food and water.

Unarmed on Everest
There was a lot of interest in Cato who's no arm attempt of Everest was closely followed. Here is a first hand report of what happened:

I am a Norwegian climber living in London, I got to the summit of Everest 5th June 2005 with Himex.

I know a little bit of the story why the Norwegian didn`t make it this year.  They tried for the summit on the 16th May but got turned around below the 2nd. Step they waited there for a long time but after one hour their sidar Dawa turned them around.  He was worried about the weather report for later in the day, the winds were going to pick up and they did not want to have to wait at the top of 2nd step coming down again.  They were very disappointed since they were all feeling good and especially Cato. They left Everest soon thereafter. 


Random Notes
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June 7, 2007
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June 6, 2007

Not Over Yet!
And then there was one - team that is. Altitude Everest is looking for a summit bid in the next few days, June 8th, after completing their acclimatizion climbs. This will be especially interesting to watch given they will climb the lower part of the mountain using clothing and equipment similar to what George Mallory and Sandy Irvine used in 1924. There is no doubt that Mallory and Irvin almost made it to the summit, the question is did they actually summit? Think about it, these guys used leather boots with nails in the soles, wool clothes and woven ropes. They had to spend months just getting to BC. Now climbers used the latest technology to reduce weight and jeeps and helicopters to get in and out fast. What they did was remarkable to say the least.

Bad Water
With climbers now home, I am getting a few emails with details on various events. For example, Bill Burke notes that some of the stomach problems on the south side this year were tied back to bad water (giardia) at Camp 2 by Basecamp MD. Apparently C2 was not a great place this year. In general teams do not bring up the human waste barrels so teams try to go in the same place and it becomes quite a cess pool - literally. So getting clean ice for water can be a gamble if you are not careful.

Random Notes
I leave for Denali this weekend and dispatches will start next week. Sign up now to receive notification of the postings. Denali has had a tough time this year with extreme snow so there have not been as many summits as usual. Should be interesting!


June 4, 2007 - updated

Successful Summits - updated
Duncan Chessell of DCXP reports a successful night:

They are on the roof of the world right now. Not a breath of wind now after mild winds in the night. That WXforecast has paid of big time. No clouds no winds on summit. Make that Seven summits of planet earth for Jacko. Hoooooray!
Seven out of nine of the DCXP team summit in 2007, with the other two all making their highest point possible at over 8450m .

At 12:05am 5th June Mark Sheen set out from High Camp closely followed by Rob Jackson and David Chiew at 12:20am.
Mark summited at 4:56am in time for dawn on the summit and set a blistering pace of only 4hrs 51minutes, wow! Must be that high flow oxygen at 4L/min combined with awesome fitness, top job Mark.
David Chiew and Jacko called in from the summit at 5:46am, making it 100% for team two. Well done to the last two who both earlier in the trip fought pneumonia to make a spectacular recovery and summit Mt Everest.

Congratulations to all for their incredible patience. Personal congrats to Mark Sheen whom I was with last year in Pakistan - well done mate! Now get down!

Project Himalaya Summits - updated
And more tonight with 3 more on top in perfect conditions but with the winds picking up.

Summit Push Now!
Teams from Duncan Chessell of DCXP and Jamie McGuinness of Project Himalaya are high on the north side at C3, 8200 meters. Climb safe guys!


June 3, 2007

Everest 2007 Weekly Update - June 3
As expected both base camps emptied out and climber after climber reported the joys of being back home. But it was not without incident as Dr. Tim Warren noted when he was back in Kathmandu trying to get home:

... the Maoists declared a Kathmandu strike the day we were supposed to vamanos. The streets were barricaded with tree trunks, rocks, and bonfires as our 20 person bus with at least 50 people on it gradually picked it's way thru the chaos. We suddenly came upon a mob of hundreds but our busdriver was able to quickly take a back road. Fear started to well up and I reminded Dave next to me to identify our nearest exit which was difficult in the totally overloaded bus. Our fears were realized minutes later when a second mob stopped the bus and ripped the busdriver out and he began pleading for his life. Others began letting the air out of the tires and demanding that all Nepalis leave the bus. I realized that if one provacative event occurred now the whole place would erupt in violence.It was a scene right from CNN! Suddenly the bus began to move and minutes later we were at the airport....but our flight had left and our luggage had not gotten delivered. Three days later we managed to get a flight to Bankok then to Hong Kong, then to LA ...

To recap some of the inevitable firsts from this year we start with the oldest man to summit, 71 year-old Yanagasawa from Japan and then the youngest American to finish the 7 Summits, 18 year-old Samantha Larson. The record 17th summit by Apa Sherpa. I am sure there were more with 500 plus summits!

Duncan Chessell of DCXP and Jamie McGuinness of Project are still looking at a June 5th summit and the Altitude Everest - Mallory expedition - is looking at June 11th. Altitude reports that stable weather, clam winds and warm temps are forecasted for the rest of this week.

South Statistics
Courtesy of Mariann Csikesz of Hungary tracked and analyzed the summits on the south. As many know, the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism keeps good numbers of who summits. There is no similar tracking for the north. Mariann noted that there were 241 summits: 115 climbers and 126 Sherpas. The nationalities break down as follows (well done to my British friends!)

Nationality
American 30
Australian 1
Belgian 1
British 38
Canadian 4
Czech 1
Egyptian 1
German 1
Hungarian 1
Irish 3
Italian 1
Korean 3
Malaysian 6
Mexican 2
Nepalese 131
New Zealander 3
Norwegian 2
Philippine 3
Singaporean 1
South African 3
South Korean 3
Swedish 1
Turkish 1
Sum (climbers) 241

June 1, 2007

A Small Crowd on the North
Duncan Chessell of DCXP provides a nice run down of who is left on the north. They are still looking at a summit bid for Monday, June 4th when the wind finally calms down ... but only for a single day! So they have to get up and down very fast - no room for error at this point. The next window is another week at JUne 11th but people are wasting away up there - literally.

Here is who is left according to Duncan: his team with 4 climbers and 4 Sherpas, Project HImalaya: 3 climbers plus 3 Sherpas, A Brazilian couple and a lone Indian with a Sherpa - an interesting couple according to Duncan:

He calls himself Babu, is 26, from Hydrabad, initially required a sherpa to escape from his sleeping bag... But after 3-4 lessons seems to have that sussed out, now he just has to master putting on crampons and climb Everest, simple really. On his side he does have one sherpa, 4 bottles of oxygen, tents on the mountain at each camp, so he may get high yet. This place attracts all sorts. He is a really nice guy and we hope he looks after himeself. We will try to keep an eye out for him.

So we have 10 climbers and at least 12 Sherpas - a long way from the thousand just a month ago!


May 30, 2007

Tick, Tick, Tick
It seems like every year, there is one team that shows extraordinary patience on Everest. This year it has to be Duncan Chessell with his Project Himalaya team of four climbers. Their overriding concern is the ever shorting weather window. They are now looking at a short window on June 3rd for a summit. Duncan is playing safe however:

Duncan (me) will be stationed at the north col with 2-3 Sherpa as a rescue team for the second summit push. My role will be monitoring everyone's location on the mntn, carefully recording oxygen usage and everyone's progress along the summit ridge to allow for safety. We have a strict summit times plan with specific milestones along the ridge for everyone to achieve in set times. We also will have support/rescue sherpa positioned at 8200m High Camp and north col, 7050m. While I felt very strong and comfortable on the last summit push my role as leader is best served from a more support/advise/overseeing role for team#2.

His team is down by one more climber. Understandably, being the last team on the Hill is incredibly difficult. Also, going for a second try to the top requires amazing diligence. So all this conspired on Rob North:

"Just don't feel strong in the body and the mind to go through it all again to get the last 300m in"

Well done mate, well done. Let's not forget these guys.

Climbing in 1924 Clothes
Meanwhile the Altitude Everest team are continuing their acclimatizion climbs. They are at ABC today and have set a summit date of June 11th. Remember they will be in 1924 clothes, simulating the reality of Mallory's attempt. They will remove the ladder at the second step as well. Let's hope they replace it if I am there next year!



May 28, 2007

More Summits to Come
While almost all the teams are now gone from base camps, two team are still on the north side: Project Himalaya and Altitude Everest. Both are looking at the weather window around June 4th. Very high winds are still reported on the summit. The big problem is that the annual monsoon season starts around June 1st so they are cutting it close. But both teams have access to great weather forecasts.

Final Summit Numbers
It is very difficult to accurately say how many climbers summited from both sides but a member of the Hungary support team has done a great job. I will post her results in a few days including a breakdown by team, climber and Sherpa.

Media Frenzy
Tim Medvez, aka Biker Dude, with the HimEx team broke his hand near the summit when he tripped but he didn't tell Big Boss Russell Brice until he got down. He was afraid Brice would call him back and lose his summit for the second time in two years. Look for this to be the big story on the Discovery Channel TV series when it airs.

Climber rescued from Everest's "death zone" - screams the headline on many news pages these days. This refers to the Nepalese climber rescued by the IMG team on the south side. While this was a bad news, great news story, the press is trying to make it into the David Sharp story of 2007. It isn't.

Random Notes
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May 25, 2007

Who You Are and What you Think
Not only were there a record number of summits, there were a record number of visitors to this site over the Everest season, a record number of you voted in the various polls. Here is what you said.

First, who are you? Well about half of you are passionate observers of Everest. You became interested in it through books, films or friends. About a quarter of you climb on a regular basis and some of you were on Everest this year! This site was a regular stop for some expeditions during the season as well.

What is success on Everest? Well this was almost unanimous - doing your best and getting back home with all your fingers and toes. But twenty percent said a climber could only claim success on Everest if they summited. Many commented that success also meant not to endanger other climbers.

So what is a reasonable price to pay to climb Everest? It seems that most people felt anywhere between $20K and $50K with the lower amounts getting more votes. But a few said more than $50K and some said price was no object! I bet some guides would like your names (I don't collect names, sorry.) Then 17% said they would never pay to climb a mountain. That will be tough with the permit fees involved.

A more controversial subject in the climbing world is if using supplemental oxygen was acceptable. Here is what you said: yes. Over 85% said it was OK or it didn't matter. 20% said it was cheating or in poor st lye. I have not done a complete analysis but I estimate no more than 20 out of 600 climbers (not Sherpas) attempted Everest his season without supplemental O's.

Now for the stunts - you know the climbers who are climbing in shorts, climb the fastest, the first from ... or to ... Well it was pretty much split down the middle. Half felt it was just fine if that is what the climber wanted to do and half said it was disrespectful and Everest was not the place to do it.

The polls are still open if you want to weigh in.

I was asked many times how I got my information so here is an overview. First, the majority came from the on-mountain dispatches posted by individual climbers. They were the most transparent, honest and candid in what they wrote. I also had direct contact with some climbers. and finally, friends and family of some climbers kept me informed on their progress. I sincerely appreciate everyone's help. Thank you.

Random Notes
At least five more summits last night on the north side in gusty conditions. The base camps are almost empty. Most teams will actually leave BC within 3 days of their summit - amazingly fast. There may be more up there but I think Project Himalaya and Altitude Everest, both on the north, are looking at early June summits. I will keep this page updated as news develops.

My Plans
I am off for some training this weekend. I leave for Denali soon. I am planning on live dispatches during the climb. Check the home page for links. Thanks to all of you for the emails of support for The Road Back to Everest - Memories are Everything®. I have found a couple of outstanding opportunities for the donations and will be updating this site with the latest next week. By the way, 100% of all donations go to Alzheimer’s research.

Climb On!
Alan


May 24, 2007 - updated

Everest 2007, A "Normal" Year
With a few climbers still looking to make the summit from both sides in early June, let's take a look back at this season. All in all it was a "normal" year on Everest, whatever that means!

The season started early - late March - with the arrival of the huge IMG team closely followed by the Xtreme Everest Medical expedition into Nepal. Over on the north it seemed that Hollywood had moved to Tibet for April and May.

Dispatch after dispatch spoke of their "film crew" and some climbers were worried about their bad hair days. But one climber stood out - David Tait. The British climber was on a mission to raise money for his charity by attempting the never before accomplished double traverse. He began posting his thoughts, fears and observation in a rarely seen candid manner.

Another climber also gathered quite a following - TA Loeffler from Newfoundland. TA's dispatches spoke of excitement, traditions, religion, hormones, diarrhea and vomiting. Sadly her early dispatches proved prescient and she had to retire early after illness stole her strength.

As more teams settled into the two base camps, the Chinese took center stage on the north. There to practice taking the Olympic torch to the summit, they amassed a huge team of climbers, staff and Army. They even established a cell phone repeater that many on the north enjoyed ... until they took to back home with them!

The South side appeared to take an early lead in making progress up the Hill by getting the Icefall route in a little earlier than usual and C1 and C2 established by the hard working Sherpas. But as has become the norm recently, The HimEx Sherpas stormed the north while fixing lines and stood on top of Everest on April 30 for the second year in a row.

Close behind this team of 5 were two very brave Kazakhs climbers, Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov. They had pushed their acclimatizion process and were now ready to go for the summit. On a cold push, they spent almost 48 hours with little food and water and made it but many wondered if they would make it back down. Well they did with a little help from friends (and strangers). They pushed their envelope and won, but it was huge risk that could have cost them their lives.

The season progressed and the weather cooperated as much as it ever does on Everest. In fact it was hot, so hot that one climber on the north compared it to Hell ... how does he know? Greg Child, on assignment for the Discovery Channel noted the dramatic change in the North Col from his last visit 12 years ago - a potential recipient of climate change. Anyway, the Icefall began to creak and moan as did the powerful expedition company owners who complained about the poor condition of the route. It was fixed.

Sadly, the first death of the season occurred on April 26 when Dawa Sherpa of Thame died while working on the Lhotse Face. Similar to 2006 when three Sherpas died in the Icefall, these hard working souls were taking the full brunt of Chomolungma.

By early May, teams on the south had establish C3 on the Lhotse face and many had performed their duty by spending the "required" night there. Now all they had to do was return to BC, relax and wait for a four day weather window. During the Pujas, several Lamas had set May 21-23 as auspicious days suitable for a summit.

So some climbers were all dressed up with no where to go. Well, not exactly. Down valley is the way! And so it was. Off they went back down to the tea houses for a hard roof over their head, a bed off the ground, different food and, most importantly, oxygen rich air. It seemed like almost every team this year took this approach on both sides thus establishing a permanent change in the Everest acclimatizion formula.

The Chinese took the lead on May 9th with 17 climbers on the summit ... and the torch. Supposedly they actually lit it - well, it was cold up there.

May 16th became the most spoken date on both sides as to the mysterious weather window. Speculation grew as to who would go up and would there be crowding, especially on the difficult Second Step and the Hillary Step. But the major operators put their heads together and some said go and some said wait.

Sensing a good day on May 15th, David Tait and Phurba Sherpa stood on top of the world and immediately departed for the other side. The traverse was underway. On the same day, the Philippine Women summited and headed down making the first traverse by a female climber. Adventure Peaks enjoyed the conditions with their team on the summit. It was crowded and more were to arrive.

Once again Mountain Madness lead the way on the South. Identical to 2006, Willie Benegas and his Sherpa team lead the way with 11 climbers on the roof. The Super Sherpas were next with Apa Sherpa making his incredible 17th summit (17!) plus his team.

However Everest summits seem to always bring Everest deaths. This year it struck on the north when a 62 year-old Japanese climber died just after summiting. Next was the report of two South Koreans who died after a fall on the southwest wall. The rumor of a Czech climber was sadly confirmed. There were now five confirmed deaths this season.

Perhaps as part of this bad karma, David Tait said enough was enough and he was not Superman thus ending his double traverse ambitions. In a rare moment of candid humility shown by climbers, David went on to say that Pherba deserved to stand on the summit if they returned.

After a short break of one day, the action picked up with IMG stealing the night with over 30 climbers on the summit. Adventure Consultants and Alpine Ascents' large teams followed over the next couple of days. The summits continued to mount on the north with the Indian Army, and the impressive 100% success rate by 7 Summits Club and 26 climbers. HimEx did their usual end of the season summit push and put many climbers on top, including a Rock Star for the Discovery Channel TV series.

Not to be left out, many smaller teams and independents enjoyed success this season. The Hampshire Scouts, Lungetivity, DCXP, Pat Hickey, Project Himalaya, Dr. Tim, ICE8000, Paul Adler and more. Yes, it was crowded this year! Probably close to 500 total summits but it became impossible to track each one accurately on both sides.

Still Everest cannot leave drama and tragedy alone for long. Upon their descent, IMG's leaders found a Nepalese climber in trouble and saved her life by getting her to the Xtreme Everest Doctors at C3 on the south. During the rescue they witnessed the fall on Lhotse by Nepalese climber, Pemba Doma - the first Nepalese woman to summit on the north and the first woman to summit from both sides. Now the death toll was six.

Just when it was time to catch our breath, Gavin Bate began his traverse attempt. But something went wrong and he wisely pulled up to return to ABC. Altitude was the culprit and he was strong, experience and smart enough to do the right thing.

So the summits continue into this late May and Everest remains ... well Everest.

Another year of summits and another year of deaths. Plus another year of rescues. Happily, we have not had the ugly David Sharp style incident but still there were too many reports of climbers being stranded, abandoned and in trouble. The safety net of so many climbers and increased awareness that there is a moral side to climbing prevented more deaths.

A popular debate today is how to make Everest safer. I think this misses the point. Everest is not safe, never has been, never will be. It is like saying how to making smoking safer. Climbers make their own choice to climb. No one forces them. Are there people who climb who shouldn't? Absolutely. Should other climbers try to help when there is a problem? Absolutely - that is the unwritten code.

This year there were many examples of climbers pulling the plug on their own climb. They showed excellent judgment and maturity. There were also some reports of operators who pulled the plug on their own climbers. Finally there were several examples of climbers helping climbers. In my mind this is how it should be.

The danger in all this is that operators accept climbers who lack the basic skills to climb an Everest. Also, climbers who put themselves in this deadly environment betting that "someone" will bail them out if they get in trouble. Sadly, these are the chain smokers of the climbing world.

It is way too easy to let the misguided actions of a few take away from the achievements of the many. Everest 2007 was a great season. A record number of summits and an environment the way it should be. We had new climbers achieve their dream. We had veterans add another notch in their harness. And Everest was Everest ...

Congratulations to all, regardless of your result. You did your best, you took the risk.

Sneaking in Before the Window Closes - update
The summits continued last night. Pat HIckey made it the top - well done mate! The Xtreme Everest continued to put Doc on the roof - that makes 10 climbers and 15 Sherpas in total. The London Business School (my vote for best expedition name this season) finished up with 4 more. Mountain Madness' Willie Benegas not content with the first summit of the year, took another climber and Sherpa to the summit again last night! Over on the windy north, the South Africans completed their mission by summiting 2 more climbers plus Sherpas. So perhaps as many as 20 more summits last night alone!

When will the madness end? :-) My sincere congratulations to all.

It looks like the winds will now pick up as the jet moves closer to Everest. The next window is around June 2nd so we may see some more attempts then .. or before. Also, the Mallory re-creation expedition, Altitude Everest, is still up there and will recreate Mallory's attempt in early June, complete with original clothing and removal of the ladder at the second step.

Random Notes
Who are you? - tomorrow. More Summits. I will keep posting until all the climbers are off the Hill or mid June when I leave for Denali.


May 23, 2007

The Final Summits?
There were at least 30 more summits last night from both sides. The nice weather stated to collapse on the north side and summit resulting in high winds and snow. Xtreme Everest has six climbers and ten sherpas on the summit this morning. Well done to these Doctors and climbers plus for their help a few days ago with a climber in need. Duncan Chessell puts four climbers on top on the north in the snowy conditions. Looks like Cato Zahl Pedersen, the Norwegian "unarmed" turned back due to a crowded second step plus the weather looking poor on the north.

Random Notes
There are a few more teams still on the mountain, some going for their second attempt. I will keep posting until the season has come to an end. I will do a season summary tomorrow including a look at this year's visitor's poll results. Congratulations to all the climbers, Sherpas, base camp staff and home teams this year. Nice job!


May 22, 2007 - updated

The Other Side of the Mountain - update
Gavin with Project Himalayan just reported an his aborted summit bid on the north. Amazing the differences on the north and south side of Everest:

Gavin has just phoned to say that the weather window has closed and they are turning around with the plan to try again for a June 2nd summit. The wind has picked up considerably and frostbite is a real possibility. A storm is coming in and due to hit on the 25th. If for some reason they were to go slower than planned, or the weather were to come in quicker than forecasted on summit day, there is the real potential of getting stuck on the mountain.


It is an Adler Summit! - update
Paul's team reports he is on the top. Looks like he made good time. More later. Well done Paul.

Is That Call for Me?
Have you ever expected call and not received it? That is how it is for Paul Adler's team. He took off from the South Col around 10:00PM local time .. and they waited for the call to come in. And .. well this is happening in real time so check their website for the latest.

On the other side of the Hill is the Lungevity team, without Sherpas and supplemental O's, who's team reports:

The boys just passed the steps that we saw in their presentations!! It is currently 5:58 AM in Tibet and they are still feeling strong and confident. Justin said three hours to go with Brian adding possibly 5 in the background on a radio dispatch. They are moving well and have lots of energy. They were a bit nervous of the wind this morning and got a bit of a late start.

DCXP and Project Himalaya are also headed up tonight on the north. Climb Safe climbers.

Climbers Still on Everest
If you have been enjoying the Everest season thus far and sending positive energy to the climbers, please don't stop now. As the table above shows many expeditions are now finished and are back at base camp or even home. But there are still climbers up there: Paul Adler, Project Himalaya and more. Also, don't forget the Altitude Everest team trying to recreate George Mallory's 1924 effort. They will not go for the summit until early June.

I will be reviewing this season in a few days with my annual wrap-up article.

Confirmed Death of Nepali Climber
Pemba Doma died in a fall on Lhotse. This is a great loss to the climbing community and especially the Sherpa of Nepal. She was the first Nepalese woman to summit from the north side and first woman to summit from both sides. Pemba was well known and served as a role model to all Nepalese women. My sincere condolences to her family, friends and teammates.

More Summits Today - update
Himalayan Experience (Russell Brice aka HimEx) put the second team on the summit. This was partly a Japanese team and also included a familiar name to many by now - Mogens. Greg Childs notes that one of the Japanese was 71 year-old Yanagsawa:

Frankly, Yanagasawa had seemed an unlikely candidate for the big climb. Throughout the trip he moved at a slow, shuffling pace whenever he hiked along the glacier. But the former farmer, who had set himself the goal of climbing Everest a few years ago, moved up the mountain these past few days with determination, and proved his doubters totally wrong. He said, through translation, that he knew this was his only chance, and so he gave it his all. Apparently his wife in Japan thinks he's on a hiking trip.

Also noted was that Swiss Guide, Joesette Valloton who tuned back a C3. I was with her last year on our Broad Peak/K2 climb. She is an incredibly strong climber and great person. I am sorry to see her turn back but it goes to her excellent judgment.

The SummitClimb - south team also put some climbers on the top but Bill Burke, the 65 year-old American - turned back just under the summit not feeling that he could summit and return safely. As Ed Viesturs is famous for saying: "The Summit is option. Getting down is mandatory."

Congratulations to all these climbers for their judgment and personal success.

Another Rescue and a Potential Death on Lhotse
Various sites are reporting the two Nepalese climbers have fallen on Lhotse and one woman climber has died. This is a separate report from the rescue of a different Nepalese woman who was rescued by IMG at the Balcony.

And over on the north an amazing report by Alexander Abramov of 7 Summits Club that

Italian mountaineer Marco, spent 2 days unconscious in the snow next to camp 8300. He was found by the guide of 7 Summits Club expedition Sergey Kofanov. Sergey quickly organized the rescue operation and got Marco down to North Col. That saved Marco`s life.

Two days above 8,000m unconscious may seem impossible but remember Lincoln Hall last year who was thought dead but then found alive.

Summits, yes they are still up there!
AAI has summited 22 climbers. Let that sink in - 22 climbs on one night from one team. Including Jeanne Stawiecki, the only person to run a marathon on all 7 continents and compete the 7 Summits. It looks like the great weather has deteriorated a little with high winds reported on the descent and now by climbers at the very High Camps on both sides. Well done to all!

Random Notes
DCXP and Project Himalaya are going for their summit tonight on the north and Paul Adler on the South. Both are reporting high winds.


May 21, 2007 - updated

Drama on the South - update
Paul Alder noted in an interview with Australian TV this morning that a Nepalese woman climber (not Sherpani) was in trouble above the South Col. Now we hear from Eric Simonson that the IMG team came to the rescue after she as "abandoned" by her team:

It sounds like Dave, Casey and Mike had their hands full today with a climber from another expedition that had been abandoned at the Balcony and was in very bad shape. From what I understand the three of them with the help of a couple of other people managed to get this individual all the way down to camp III where they were able to turn them over to the Extreme Everest team who is taking care of them now. So Dave, Casey and Mike did a stellar job not only going up today, but also coming down helping another climber in distress. Again it sounds like they all made it down to camp II and all is well on Mount Everest.

Nice job by the IMG team and the Xtreme Team! Perhaps this is why the death toll is down this year ... more people helping people. It has not been disclosed what "team" she was on.

By the way, Mike and Casey of the Coleman team made the summit in style. Nice job guys.

Summit Updates
Megan McGrath of Canada has just summited with her Asian Trekking Sherpa. Summit Climb reports 5 more summits from the north. Well done to all!

HimEx just reported 14 people on top: 8 climbers and 6 Sherpas. And yes, Tim, the Biker and Discovery Channel Rock Star made it. Now get down safe! Congrats again to all.

The weather continues to be great with reasonable winds (for the summit of Everest) and mild temperatures (for the summit of Everest). They should have some incredible views and nice photographs! Look for more reports of summits over the next few hours. I will give a full update later today.

Massive Summit Success
There have been at least 70 summits over the weekend including more from IMG, Adventure Consultants and 7 Summits club. For these three teams it looks like almost all their members got on top. While the numbers are impressive, remember that a lot of these summits are by the Sherpas. Not to take anything away from the "clients" it is just good to keep the overall summit success on Everest in perspective. It is appropriate to acknowledge that it is the "Sherpa Machine" that makes Everest doable for 99% of those who summit. In any event, congratulations to all those who have summited this season.

Direct from Gavin Bates
A new posting on Gavin's site gives first hand details of what happened to him on his summit bid. I want to be sure to acknowledge his tremendous success and past summits and I post this only to serve as education and a lesson for all potential climbers. The headline in my mind is that altitude illnesses can hit anyone, anytime and without warning There is noting you can do to prevent it other than acclimatizion. Even for a super-fit climber like Gavin, this came out of nowhere. From his site:

Hello Everyone, I have just spoken to Gavin and he has safely reached base camp. He says that he feels lucky to be alive and owes everything to the efforts of Pasang Tendi Sherpa who assisted him on the way down. Gavin has a lot of experience on Everest and has never felt or suffered from altitude however this time it was very different. Gavin, as reported, decided to use oxygen for his summit attempt and was going strong however a problem with his mask meant he was not getting the oxygen into his system. If not using oxygen then your pace is slower, more gradual and Gavin would have climbed higher prior to his summit attempt in terms of acclimatisation. Once using oxygen you are dependent on it and if there is a problem then you are stuck with the situation of having to suddenly go without, which is a massive trauma to the body. Gavin was at 8700m when he felt like he was hit by a speeding truck. He quickly realised that he was not in a good position and was suffering with pulmonary oedema. His lungs were full of fluid and he felt that he could go not go up or down. He quickly became hypothermic and felt that his time was up. His organs and brain did not have the oxygen to function nor could they get it from his fluid filled lungs. With the fantastic support of Pasang and other Sherpas on the mountain they managed to make it to ABC. Gavin, usually the person helping others off the mountain, found himself needing the help. He did have a fall as he came down but thankfully sustained no serious injuries. Once at ABC the doctor could not believe that he had made it down considering the level of fluid in his lungs and said that he was lucky to be alive. His lungs were working on about 10% efficiency which would be horrific at sea level never mind on Everest! He had a rough night last night and is on medication to rid his lungs of the fluid. He hopes to get transport in the next few days to Kathmandu where he will undergo more medical checks and we'll hopefully hear from the man himself at that point. Gavin sends everyone his utmost thanks for the kind donations to Moving Mountains and all the phone calls, emails and interest in his climb. As ever with Gavin he is upbeat though in a lot of pain at present but looking forward to getting home.

Random Notes
The Xtreme Everest team is now at C4 on the south as is Megan McGrath and headed up. Paul Adler is at C3. Expect to hear from AAI's big south team anytime today, they are at the South Col. HimEx continues to make progress upward - look for their summits soon. Looks like Elia Saikaly (FInding Life) stopped his summit bid due to foot problems. Bill Burke, 65 and Jeanne Sawiecki, 56 are headed up tonight. 18 year-old Samantha Larson now completed the 7 Summits. This was Dave Hahn's 9th summit - tied the record for a non-Sherpa.

The Adventurists posted the first in-depth interview with David Tait. An excellent read.


May 20, 2007 - updated

The Road Back to Mt. Everest - Memories Are Everything®
If I may take a personal moment on this Everest 2007 News page. I have set a tough goal for myself called The Road Back to Mt. Everest. This will be a year long journey to attempt to summit Everest in 2008 plus raise $100,000 for Alzheimer’s research. Please read all the details and come along!

Summit Update
Dave Hahn and Punjo Dorje report their summit at 6:25AM. They put it in turbo mode and passed climbers who left hours earlier. Among others, they passed 9 IMG climbers who also made it the top. They report perfect weather - no wind. The AC team also summited their team.

Another Busy Night on Everest - update 1
As they say, "Don't change that channel!" We have a ton of climbers all headed to the top of world right now. A summary of the south: IMG (3rd wave), Adventure Consultants (2nd wave), AAI (1st wave), Coleman, Xtreme Everest. And on the north the two big teams from HimEx. Best of luck to all!

Michael Fagin has just noted that the summit weather is ideal: low winds and clear. Dave Hahn just left the South Col and phoned in this report:

I heard people starting to go for the summit from about 8. I think me and Phinjo will be the last ones out of here, that's ok, I'm trying to drag my feet I don't want to run into all these other folks on the steep part up to the Balcony and have them going real slow and that makes us end up being cold, I'd much rather give them a good head start, let us walk our speed up that face and maybe pass them all when the sun comes up, we'll see how that works out. It's still a beautiful night, not a puff of wind, excellent conditions for a climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

Everest 2007 Weekly Update - May 20
What a week! We had almost 100 summits from both sides and are now well over 200 summits for the season if not substantially more. I am not sure where to start!

I think the biggest news was of David Tait and Phurba Sherpa summiting and then continuing to the south base camp. They were to return via the summit to the north base camp but David said enough and was satisfied with his accomplishment. A day later he was joined by the three Philippine Women: Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino as they competed their traverse - the first women to do this. On the final traverse of the season, Gavin Bates stopped short of the north summit for reasons not yet disclosed. Congratulation to all these climbers and Sherpas!

Meanwhile, streams of expeditions took advantage of fantastic weather to summit day after day. Of note, Willie Benegas and 3 climbers plus 7 Sherpas: Chongba, Undi, Tendi, Lakpa, Tsering Wangchu, Ang Pemba, and their camp II cook Mila, all reached the summit for the first south summits this year. The SuperSherpas Apa Sherpa and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa and the support team of Pemba Rinjin, A Rita Sherpa,  Ang Passang Sherpa, Passang Gyaljen Sherpa, Ang Chhiring Sherpa were right behind. This made a record setting 17th summit for Apa! Well done!

SummitClimb put six on the summit from the north and the flood gates were open on both sides.

As long as the weather holds, another huge wave of summits will occur in the next few days. HimEx is headed up today, as Himalayan Experience, DCXP, AAI and others. Climb Safe to all.

Update on Gavin Bates
Gavin turned back during his summit bid on the north due to altitude problems. His site has reported that they were unsure of the details and we will want hear directly from Gavin himself but here is what Greg Childs at ABC with the Discovery Team posted just now. This is frightening for all climbers and especially for those climbing to the extremes without oxygen:

... had been well over 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) that morning on May 19, up near the Second Step, heading toward the summit on an intended traverse of Everest (as David Tait had done earlier on this trip). Then "everything went wrong" and he quickly "lost his marbles." He couldn't think straight, his breathing became tortuous and he began to lose consciousness. "I knew it right then," he said. "This was it."

He was being attacked by just about everything high altitude can toss at you without actually killing you. His lungs were building with fluid, his brain was probably also being hit with a buildup of fluid between the cranium and the soft matter, and all of these symptoms were leading to a shutdown of his body. He still had enough of a survival instinct to pick himself up and spin around, though, and several Sherpas on the mountain who saw his plight helped him down with "a shoulder here and a push there."

Well done Gavin for making the right decision under incredible circumstances. Glad you are OK.

Summit report
7 Summits Club reports their second wave has made it - 7 climbers and an unknown number of Sherpas (why don't they give us their names?).


May 19, 2007 - updated

South Summits - update 1
Adventure Consultants reports 5 climbers on the summit at 5:00AM. The team left the South Col around 9:45. This was an excellent time! A second AC team is leaving tonight for their summit bid. They noted about 25 total climbers on or near the summit from both sides. Think of it, 25 people standing on a space the size of a small flat room on top of the world! Amazing ...

IMG reports another 6 summits plus yet another 6 still on the way!

Czech Death now Confirmed - update
Sadly, the death of a Czech climber rumored until now has been confirmed and his family notified according to this posting on Czech Climbing:

On discussion under this news on the Czech version, the friends of Libor Kozak confirmed that his relatives got the official news that Libor Kozak died there

With respect, this bring the lost climbers to 5: Dawa Sherpa, the two Koreans: Oh Hee-joon, 37, and Lee Hyun-jo, 34, The 62 year-old Japanese climber: Mr. Ishi San and now Libor Kozak. My condolences to all their family, friends and teammates.

The Mayor Stands on top - update
The Mayor of Prauge, Pavel Bem, has Summited from the south with two Sherpas (names not reported, sadly). You may recall he was turned back at the Chinese boarder so he had to quickly make plans to climb from the south. Talk about flexibility!

North Summits and more to come
7 Summits Club put 12 on top tonight with their second team on the way

Now in Tibet is 10 a.m... The First team has gone down from the summit to the Second step. Now they have already passed descent from the Second step, as a key place. Now the team sits on … breakage of connection …. 12 person reached the top and now sit on "mushroom", it is a rock as a mushroom which is at the basis of the Second step. This place where usually rest and leave spare cylinders. On the spot …. breakage of connection …. The weather favours. The second team will begins an ascent on camp of 8300 m in one hour, on road we should meet the first team.

South Summits on a Great Night
IMG made the summit with their first team of 10 around sunrise. It looks like two of their climbers turned back before the summit. It is interesting that IMG was one of the earliest arrivals on the south but is near the end of the summits. This did mean that their climbers spent more time at higher altitudes than most of the other teams. Not that this is bad but it shows that schedules are more of an art than a science on Everest. The Coleman team, on the IMG permit, have left BC for their summit bid.It looks like Gavin Bates attempting a full traverse has turned back below the summit from the north. No word on what the problem was yet.

Illness and Confusion on the North
Greg Childs tells a good story about four Italians climbing together loosely as a "team" They got into serious trouble and the worse was feared. This is another one of those great reads for anyone considering Everest. It brings home the risks and the need for preparation and backup plans. I won't steal the punch line but there were no deaths.

Project Himalaya and DCXP played a pivotal role in helping an ailing Korean climber. He was stopping at the Interim camp on his way down. He was vomiting and had diarrhea. Then:

... he had been sick for 3-4 days. This morning the Tibetans couldn't get him to come out of the tent, so I went to see him three or four times. He did not want any medicine and just wanted to stay, but I told him he must go down. I radioed up to the Koreans and suggested they send a few people to help look after him. Soon after I left Duncan walked past and he made the noise of a helicopter, and so Duncan had a look in, with one climber who was a doctor. Turns out he had appendicitis and was rapidly getting worse, so the two Tibetans there started carrying him down. He was is great pain. Apparently his appendix burst on the way down, meaning you have around 24 hours to live. Of course we had arranged for a jeep and helicopter and by early 19 May he was in hospital in Kathmandu, being operated on.

There was a report of a Japanese women that had problems on her north ascent and perhaps had died. This was about the same time as the confirmed death of 62 year-old Ishi San. Now an update on the Cracking Days Out site plus a solid report has come through from the HimEx team:

Yesterday I'd reported base camp hearsay that a Japanese woman was in a critical condition in a High Camp on Everest. Russell assures me that despite grave predictions, she pulled through, was helped down the mountain and is OK at ABC.

Once again, all these incidents show how communication can be confusing and sometime incorrect up there.

Random Notes
The Adventurists website will have the first in-depth interview with David Tait in a few days. Samantha Larson of Long Beach California summited with Henry Todd's ICE9000 team. She is 18 years-old!


May 18, 2007 - updated

Progress Reports - update 2
IMG has left the South Col. 7-Summits Team 1 has left for the summit. Gavin Bates has left C2 on the north. Elia and Gabriel have left the South Col. Paul Adler has decided to wait an extra day due to a concerning weather forecast. Now he will target May 23. HimEx's first team is at C2 on the north.

Exploradus is back at the South Col after summiting last night. London Bus school put 2 climbers on the top, two more tonight. They report the best summit weather in years! Coleman Team notes extreme heat in the Cwm. Adventure Consultants' large team is now at C3 and will move to the South Col tomorrow. They may take a rare rest day at the Col or go straight up tomorrow night. To be decided then. Gavin Bates is making his fast summit bid tonight.

The Emotions of Climbing
Dr. Tim Warren has called it quits during his summit bid.The emotions are on the surface for all the climbers (and family and friends!) and sometimes they just burst out:

Safe but NO summit! Felled by a throat infection related to the weeks of violent coughing.It started 3 days ago and seemed to improve but this morning when in sub-freezing air at 5am as Phinjo and I climbed the Khumbu icefall,we both knew it was over.The dry,freezing air combined with heavy panting constricted my trachea, throat and lungs like a vice. I sat down between crevasses, radioed Tuck at BC and had a good cry. Poor Phinjo was crying too.

Summit Wave - Part Dux
This weekend promises to be busy. With a May 21 target date, teams on both sides are moving higher. Let's review: On the South: Paul Adler and the AT team, IMG, Adventure Consultants and AAI are already at C2 or moving there today. On the North, we have Lungevity, HimEx, DXCP, 7 Summits and Project Himalaya. The weather window looks good so expect a lot of activity on Sunday and Monday.

Stomach Problems this year
Yet another climber has aborted their summit bid due to stomach problems. Summit Climb - South reports a climber who departed. TA Loeffler left a week go due to Giardia. Even the super strong SuperSherpas had an incident. Is there something in the water source or is the water not being treated properly? The "normal" process for cooks is to boil all the water to eliminate problems and almost all the teams get their water from the nearby glacier ice and melt it. I find it interesting that this has only been reported on the south side this year.

Random Notes
The SuperSherpas, Apa and Lhakpa helped bring down the bodies of the two Koreans killed by rock fall. Speaking of Apa, this was his 17th summit - a record!!! Nima Tashi with Exploradus made his 10th summit. Xtreme Everest Medical research expedition is headed to the summit over the next two days. Their findings will be very interesting.


May 17, 2007 - updated

Quiet Day! - update 2
After all the excitement this week, today is downright boring! Well except for Exploradus who left the South Col at 8:00PM. They Summited!

So here are some more random notes: It is reported that Jamling Tenzing Norgay and Araceli Segarra of Everest IMAX are at BC filming the next move: Everest 3D. (Thanks Chris). Correction on the 15 year-old who summited, she was actually 18. Lots of teams going for the summit tonight and tomorrow, check out the chart and click on the name to go to their site.

Summits and Attempts
ICE8000 summited 9 climbers, Jagged Globe put 6 on the summit and Exploradus aborted their attempt due to extremely cold feet. Rather than risk frostbite, they returned to the South Col and will give it another go tomorrow. Smart move. The largest teams still to go include Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents International (AAI), International Mountain Guides (IMG), 7-Summits Club, Himalayan Experience, DCXP, Project Himalayan, Summit Climb-south and others that I cannot track. All in all maybe 300 more climbers including Sherpas. It looks like they are all targeting May 21st for their summit so we are now in a quiet period so to speak.

David Tait Cancels his Return Traverse
In another example of high integrity and good judgment, David has called off his return to the north thus accomplishing a single traverse. His reasons were straightforward: fatigue and respect for Phurba. Please read his entire dispatch but here are a few of his words:

However, during the later part of the endless painful descent I realised two things. Firstly, I was not going to be able, in all seriousness to motivate both mind and body to turn around and do it all again, at least not in the time-scale allowed. There might be some supermen in this world, but I discovered that I am frankly not one of them. The men who are however, are people like Phurba Tashi, and his band of awesome cohorts, who day-in day-out climb, stock, rope and carry loads up and down Everest without the slightest hint of complaint - in fact they appear to accept it as a priviledge. The have an almost alien mindset, and a work-ethic, no-one in Britain can even imagine.

Congratulations David on all counts.

High Altitude Theft
Once again there are reports of oxygen, fuel, stoves being stolen from tents on the north side. Rare on the south side, this is fairly common on the north and teams try to plan for it but when you are independent, it can stop you cold. DCXP reports this happened to Manny

Manni the Canadian, on base services from Arun treks - with his own Sherpa - summited today (17th May) with borrowed crampons (from DCXP) after his first pair were stolen and while he ran out of oxygen at the second step on the way down and his Sherpa adandoned him, worse was to come -in fact when he got back to 8300m High Camp his tent, stove, extra oxygen was all cleaned out and his faithless Sherpa no where to been seen….. cavet emptor - buyer beware…..


Saying "see you later"
I must admit that we often hear during the season of climbers leaving BC for their summit bid, but reading Fiona Adler's description of saying goodbye to her husband Paul at Crampon Point was touching. A snippet:

I walked over to the crampon point with them and we were a bit surprised to find it crowded with around 50 people. It turned out that a Malaysian team of 7 climbers is heading up today as well and they have an army of supporters here with them. Paul, Attila and Mingma (Attila's Sherpa) attached their crampons and then it was time to say goodbye and good luck. Paul and I hugged and kissed goodbye but we had talked a lot of the night as neither of us could sleep so we didn't have too much more to say.

Climb safe Paul.

Random Notes - Thank You!
I want to thank all the visitors to the site and to those who have sent me emails. I am not in this to make big bucks or even cover my costs. All I want to accomplish is to bring the world of alpine mountaineering to anyone interested. You probably know that mountaineering is my personal passion. I have several climbs coming up: Denali, Shishapangma and Orizaba plus another big one in the works for 2008. I will do real time dispatches for most of these like I have always done. So I am "vested" in all this stuff. The Everest season still has a long way to go, so thanks again for your visits and feedback. If you are enjoying my coverage, then I am accomplishing my goal.


May 16, 2007 - updated

Two Korean Deaths Now Reported - update
An independent Korean news source has reported two Korean climbers have been killed by rockfall on the southwest ridge. Again, my sincere condolences to their family and friends. Here is the report:

Two South Korean mountaineers hit by falling rock died on Mount Everest while trying to find a new route to the peak via the southwest wall, the local branch of the Korean Alpinist Federation said Wednesday. Oh Hee-joon, 37, and Lee Hyun-jo, 35, were both members of a team led by Park Young-seok, who has conquered 14 peaks of 8,000 meters or higher in the Himalayas, according to the branch. Oh, the expedition team's vice captain, had climbed 10 such peaks.

Updates on Death reports - update
As expected there is confusion around the previously reported deaths. The Cracking Days website is now questioning their report of a Japanese woman thinking there made have been a miscommunication over the radio. A real likely hood given the environment. Also, no further word on Greg Child's report of a Czech climber who died. My suspicion is that all these reports are for the same climber, the 62 year-old Japanese who died near the summit. At this point there are two confirmed death, the Japanese Gentleman and Dawa Sherpa who died on the Lhotse Face in late April.

South Summit Bids Underway
Exploradus and ICE8000 have started their summit bids from the south. Climb safe.

18 year-old Summits
Alexander Abramov of the 7-Summits Club reports that Nima Dolma, the 18 year-old younger sister of their sirdar Mingma Gelu, summited. Talk about pressure on her friends!

Official Summit List
The Nepal Ministry of Tourism is the official owner of the summit list (along with Elizabeth Hawley :-). They publish updates daily during the season as reported to them from each Liaison Officer with the expedition. In general this is the final word on who summited . However it can be confusing. For example they show 5 summits from the Sky High Scouts on Everest team but the names are the three Koreans and two Sherpas who were on their permit.

Details on Japanese Death(s)
This report from asahi.com says the Japanese climber was a 62 year-old man who collapsed a few steps from the summit as he was descending. Another report comes from Steve Berry of Cracking Days of a Japanese woman during their climb on the north side:

We left 8/3 later than planned as there were so many people on the move we thought it better to wait a while. It was a hard long struggle and on the way we stopped to pay our respects at the body of Francys Arsentiev. We pushed on to 8700 and the weather was OK when there was an incident involving a Japanese girl in front of us. At that point we did not think it proper or respectful to carry on so after some discussion we decided to return to 8/3 and call it a day we returned to 8/3 in a whiteout so obviously it may have been dangerous to carry on anyway. I am calling Dave from 8/3 were we will have some food and a rest then pack up and make our way down.
North Side Deaths
I am always hesitant to post this sort of news without absolute confirmation. However, I am now seeing several reports that line up. The best summary is from Greg Childs of the Discovery Channel:

a Japanese climber was said to have died high on the mountain; today, word filtered through the camps that a Czech climber who'd made it up without oxygen had died on descent. No other details are yet available here. In a situation like this in which there are hundreds of people and dozens of camps at ABC, as well as a couple of hundred on the mountain climbing, any news like this should be treated as unconfirmed — but that is the scuttlebutt running through ABC.


In my experience rumors of death and rescues take on a wildfire pace. Information is often incorrect, especially the details. However, my sincere condolences to these climber's family and friends.

Manny Summits
Manny Pizarro, Learning Without Limits, summited at 9:30 and posted a audio dispatch. Take a listen to one happy guy! This puts a smile on your face.

More Summits and More to Come
Yes, a busy night with summits on both sides as detailed below.It looks like we had over 100 climbers and Sherpas on the summit in the past 24 hours! There have been some comments about crowds on the second step on the north side, which was to be expected with teams taking advantage of the weather window. More bids are happening right now so expect to see a lot of activity especially on the south with a couple of large teams in position.

Updates throughout the day.

South African, Andy van der Velde Summits
Along with Nima Sherpa. Direct from an email via Alex:

I wanted to let you know that South African Andy van der Velde summated from the North side this morning. He reached the top at 5am Nepalese time. When I last heard he was on his decent and had reached Camp 4. His three other team mates are going going to leave BC tomorrow for their summit bid and plan to summit next week Wednesday, 23 May 2007.

The Pinays Do It!
The 3 Philippine women have made the summit and are continuing down to BC on the south. They are the first women to complete a traverse on Everest. Congratulations Ladies! Here is the report just posted:

Noelle Wenceslao was first to reach the summit at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time followed by Carina Dayondon at 6:20 a.m. The two stayed on the summit for 20 minutes, taking photos and admiring the view. "The Filipina has reached the top of the world," Wenceslao was quoted as saying upon reaching the peak. The third Filipina, Janet Belarmino, reached the summit at 11 a.m. Manila time. Belarmino was delayed as she had to fall in line because a lot of people wanted to reach the summit.


Random Notes
AAI on the south heads up tomorrow as does HimEx on the north. Gavin Bates is looking at a summit on the 19th then down to south ABC for his traverse. Xtreme Everest left BC this morning for their bid.


May 15, 2007

A Personal Comment by Alan
Wow, what a day! We have seen some courageous efforts by climbers from all over the world. It is easy to sit in our homes, reading the computer screens and call out "Hey, another summit on Everest"

I know from your emails and poll comments that you know better. It doesn't matter if the climber is the first, fastest or last or stopped at BC, they all are doing something unique and incredible.

It is popular to diss Everest climbers since so many people have summited . The professional climbers like to say that Everest is no longer hard with the Sherpas, fixed ropes and supplemental oxygen. One recent interview had this amazing quote:

I don’t like to criticize or judge what others do, usually. I firmly believe in individual freedom. Having said that, I think that there are at least 20 or 30 guys out there who are motivated, committed, strong and honest enough to climb on the Higher Peaks decently, with imagination and passion. This group, which is not a sect or a Nietzschean ubermensch elite, would never use bottled oxygen or Sherpas, and they would try to minimize the use of fixed ropes. The best climbers still have a lot to do, and they will, for sure. And I want to be a part of it, if I can.

As for the rest of the people – what do they do? It is simple: As Messner rightly puts it, they just practice ‘Resort Alpinism,’ on prepared tracks, with safety lines attaching them back to life, letting somebody carry their loads and risk their lives for money, and sucking more oxygen than Jacques Cousteau.

I respectfully disagree. I have utmost respect for all mountaineers. The ones who push the envelope and win. The one who push and lose. The ones who take their first step in crampons. And the ones who turn around early.

What matters is that they are taking the chance to live their lives to the fullest. They are alive.

Climbing Everest is hard. Full stop. High altitude climbing is hard, regardless of the mountain. If you are lucky enough to know someone who is climbing this year or has in the past, buy them a glass of fine red and ask them "So, tell me. How hard was it?"

In a world with so much negativity, the Everest season is the time to celebrate the success of humans, not their failures. Yes, there are deaths. There always are. That is part of life and living.

For all those who attempted or summited today and will soon, congratulations. You are living your vison of your life. Bravo. Well Done.

Words to Live by....
From the summit by the strongest Sherpas on the planet:

"If there is anything good that comes from our summit on Mt. Everest our goal would be to create a more peaceful world," Apa and Lhakpa said from the top. "Our second goal would be to continue in Sir Edmund Hillary's footsteps and contribute to education and improving health care in the Khumbu region and for all Nepal people in the remote regions."

Weather Update
Michael Fagin of Everestweather.com says tonight is a good night to summit with weather data show average summit winds estimated now at 30 to 40 knots. With just a few high clouds

SuperSherpas Summit...
Just posted they made the summit around 8:30AM, a little later due to the tedious job of fixing ropes. Apa and Lhakpa plus 5 other Sherpas: Pemba Rinjin, A Rita Sherpa,  Ang Passang Sherpa, Passang Gyaljen Sherpa, AngChhiring Sherpa made the top. Well Done guys!!

Mountain Madness Summts 11 - First of the year on the South
With Willie and his Sherpas fixing rope all the way to the top, they became the first this year to summit from the south at 7:45AM. In the words of their BC team:

The enormity of this accomplishment cannot be overestimated, not that it often is. Climbing Mt. Everest is an oft-used metaphor for accomplishing whatever ones biggest goals are in life. For some of our team, that goal is, indeed, climbing Mt. Everest. Climbing is rarely just climbing, anyway. In one day a climber can experience the whole range of human emotions, or at least a good chunk of them. The amount of resilience necessary to continue throughout a long, cold, dark night, high above the rest of the world, up at cruising altitude for an airplane, twice as high as anything in the U.S., with the safety and comfort of base camp almost in view from up there, but worlds away in terms of the work to get there, is something only a mountaineer can know. So, this morning there is a lot of cheering in base camp, and a lot of full hearts on the summit.


A Merger of Summit Teams
The Super Sherpas and Mountain Madness have joined efforts. This is a good thing and goes to shows the difficulty of the south side tonight:

 The team has joined with Mountain Madness on the South Summit at the Hillary Step.
   The team is in excellent shape with the exception of Dawa Sherpa, who is returning to Camp 4.

Adventure Peaks on the North
Here is the news:

Dave has just received a radio call from the summit. Carrie, Dan & Lhadpa Sherpa have arrived at the summit at 6:23am Nepali time. The rest of the team are still on there way and are within an hour of the summit.

Second Wave of Summits Now On - 37 from the South? - update 8
With the summit well in hand, for now, teams are on their way on both sides. Mountain Madness has left the South Col as have the Super Sherpas: Apa Sherpa and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa. Mountain Madness noted:

.. a few other small teams were on their heels, so that in total, about 17 team members and 20 Sherpas will be leaving tonight for the summit. The boys all relaxed for the afternoon in preparation of the night's departure.

Two reports of poor weather tonight during Mountain Madness and SuperSherpas summit climbs.

Apa and his team are braving winds that are gusting to 40 knots or more with temperatures at – 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind chill of nearly –50 degrees.

The weather got pretty rough at the south col, so it is a possibility that it is also rough up high, toward the summit. We hope they are maintaining decent visibility, and that not too much snow is falling. Yesterday evening at south col a little bit of snow fell, but at that time the winds were still low. We hope the winds are low on the way to the summit, too.

Mountain Madness' WIllie Benegas and 4 Sherpas are fixing rope a they climb to the summit. Even though David Tait and Phurba descended from the summit last night, it is unclear how much rope was fixed. It was probably only on the HIllary Step since they had to carry rope and oxygen with them from the north side.

But over on the north, Adventure Peaks just reported in:

Dave has just received a radio call from one of the sherpas. The team have reached the Second Step, some above and some below, there is virtually no wind and no cloud. The team are going well, and we expect the first members to reach the summit within the next 1 - 2 hours.

David Tait Summits - update 5
David Tait and Phurba Sherpa made the summit from the north side at 1:30 am. More details as they are disclosed. CONGRATs Mr. Tait and Phurba. Thye are now headed down to the South Col. Well done, well done.

David and Phurba Tashi Sherpa are now at the Adventure Consultants Camp 2 on the south side per a dispatch from AC who is providing logistics (tents, food, etc.) for David and Phurba as they descend to base camp and then start back up for the summit in about 10 days or May 25th.

More details have been posted on David site by his wife Vanessa:

David is safely at Camp 2 on the south side of the mountain which is the equivalent to ABC on the north. Having left Camp 4 on the 14th at 11pm and summited at 6.15am on the 15th, he and Phurba Tashi endured the enormous task of laying their own ropes and breaking their own trail as they descended on the south side. It took them approximately 6 hours to reach Camp 4 and then about another 6 hours to Camp 2 which would have been about 7pm Nepal time. He is completely exhausted but ecstatic! So with being awake for nearly 24 hours and moving, rest assured he will be sleeping like a baby until he has to be cruelly awakened in the middle of the night, to make his descent to Camp 1 and then past the notorious Khumbu Icefall and into a welcoming BC late tomorrow.

Phillipine Women Near the Summit - update 4
The Pinays are at 8300m on the north according to their site. They should be on the top in a few hours! They will then descend to the south making the second traverse of the day!!

More Summits on the North - update 2
SummitClimb reports in an audio dispatch that 6 of their team has summited on the north and are headed back to the north ABC. 3 of the 6 were the Belgian climbers. The summit winds were a fairly high 30 to 50 knots. Congratulations to all!

More Bids to come - updated 1
Manny from Learning without Limits is at 25,000' and on his way to the summit! The SuperSherpas are on their way as well. Several teams are now at the South Col and will go for the summit tonight. Note the local times next to the maps above since they are starting their summit bids in a few hours. Climb Safe!

Random Notes - update 2
Confused by the summits and all the talk of delays? Get in line! This goes to show that high altitude mountaineers are individualists at the best (or worse). I personally find it incredibly motivating that not everyone follows the same path. Good on ya' for doing it first .. and good on ya' for going next.

Looks like the winds will be tolerable for the next 24 hours at least so expect a big push on both sides. What worries me is that they are forecasted to increase again on the 18th (48 hours from right now - 7:00AM GMT -7 or MDT) and a lot of teams are still low on the mountain. If they push to catch the tail end of this window, they could get caught. But they are there and I am in Colorado so they know best!


May 14, 2007 - updated

Watching, Waiting and ... Climbing
Teams are quite literally all over the place today. Just take a look at the chart. It appears the south teams are making more aggressive moves than the north. All eyes were focused on May 16th or 17 for a possible summit day but bad weather and a fickle weather forecast caused many teams to stay put. Some are still down valley on the south, some are are in the local villages on the north. We have a lot of teams at South BC and North ABC. And we have some climbers going up!

First the situation on the south. IMG was reported to be heading up but now:

... report from base camp that the weather has taken a turn for the worse and the first summit bid has been postponed for a few days. Yesterday there was a big windstorm that came through that caused a lot of damage to some groups.

But to the point that there is no single opinion on Everest, Mike and Casey of Coleman just reported:

Finally, there is movement in camp. Today’s forecast was slightly better than yesterday’s and someone lit a fire under a lot of folks. It looks like there is going to be a mass exodus from base camp. Everyone will be headed up the mountain with the hopes that the weather will hold or maybe even improve. After a short but thorough discussion we have decided to drag our feet, so to speak. The amount of people headed up the mountain and the fact that the forecast is just not as great have led us to the decision to remain in base camp just a few more days

And from Adventure Consultants:

On the basis of an optimistic weather outlook we have decided to head to C2 tomorrow. Members have packed and are now resting as afternoon snow falls. Tomorrow morning will be an early start and hopefully our last trip up the icefall. Our plan is to take at least one rest day at C2 before climbing higher. At C2 we will monitor the weather forecasts and it is only when we tune into a stable weather trend that we will head up to C3 and higher.

And over on the north it is a mixed bag. From Project Himalaya's Duncan Chessell:

A small weather window appeared and we considered going for a summit bid on the 15-16th but as the day wore on at ABC, hundreds of people all thought the same thing and headed up the mountain. With winds predicted (at the time), to increase dramatically on the afternoon of the 16th and huge numbers of people going for it, we opted to descend to base camp (BC) for a well earned rest and to get rid any coughs and colds.

It was like watching people heading off to the front line in a conflict, heavly laden lines of people marching up through camp with a look of excitment,foreboding, expectation and anticpation on their faces. The shear numbers of people was enough to make us glad our plans are for a late summit after the large numbers go up, with expected bottle necks - delays and dramas.

And Adventure Peaks is going for their summit bid:

The summit bid is on. The team are now aiming to summit on the 16th May. Yesterday the team stayed at the North Col and today they are heading up to camp V at 7800m. Unfortunately whilst progressing up the North Ridge Andrew Wilkinson became ill and decided to turn around. He is now back down at ABC and feeling Ok.

after spending the night at 7800m the team will then start to use oxygen to move to camp VI at 8200m. At camp VI they will rest on Oxygen and prepare to leave for the summit that night.

Finally, from the 7 Summits club:

They are all waiting at ABC now watching the weather and the clouds waiting for the ok to go for the Summit. Unfortunately it looks like there is some bad weather coming in so they may have to wait about a week until they can go for it.

Icefall Movement
The Exploradus team has moved to C2 and have an interesting comment:

This morning Jim and I were in CI on a clear and calm morning awaiting the expected 8am arrival of our Sherpa from base camp. Rarely are the Sherpa late and when they did not arrive and we were unable to reach them or base camp on the radio, we became concerned that there had been a problem either in the Icefall or at BC. At 8:30am, I climbed a small hill just outside CI and was able to see the Sherpa making there way towards camp. It turned out that in the night 2 ladders in the Icefall had become badly twisted and were need of repair before our Sherpa could make it up to CI.

The warm weather this year continues to play havoc at the lower altitudes. More reports of a melting south BC and more major movement with the Icefall.

Random Notes - updated
Gavin Bates estimates 200 summit climbers at the north and 150 on the south. I think these numbers are low. C1 on the south is further up the Western CWM than last year due to the avalanche in 2006 that destroyed the first camp. Looks like the weather in the Bay of Bengal will no be hiting Everest. Mountain Madness is at C3 on the South. David Tait may summit tomorrow.


May 13, 2007 - updated

Everest 2007 Weekly Update - May 12
The big news this week was the Chinese summits on the north. They put 17 climbers and a model of the Olympic torch on top on May 9th. By Saturday, they had completely cleared out of their large base camp!

As the annual migration back to base camp began for the teams down valley, we heard of a rumored south side attempt on Thursday night. Their identity stayed a mystery for several days but it turned out to be the small US team of Philip Plouffe and Paul Giorgio. They had moved to the South Col and went for the summit on a somewhat windy night. The winds plus fatigue caused them to turn around at the Balcony. But their effort to fix rope to the balcony moved the bar higher on the south side.

The talk all week was of "the window" - that time when the jet stream moves north, the winds calm, the temps rise and climbers go for the summit. May 16th was the most popular date but soon the 15th and the 17th emerged before others said the conditions were worsening so they were staying put for now. In the midst of all this David Tait set off to the top from the north and IMG's monster team headed up from the south.

With the highest summit winds this season occurring this weekend, it looks like any summit will have to wait a few days. So it will be a quiet first part of the week and, if that window opens, a huge, mad rush towards the end. Let's hope for safe summits and safe descents.

Climber Updates
We have come to know several familiar names this season: Paul Adler, David Tait, TA. Several of these climbers were kind enough to answer a few questions just before they left for Nepal in late March. As they all go for the top soon, let's see how our climbers are doing six weeks later:

Gavin Bates is doing the traverse north to south. He had planned on summiting Cho Oyu as an acclimatizion but ran into severe conditions on the Ice Fall. Now he has made some climbs to ABC and slightly above showing his incredible strength and speed. He is waiting for the window.

David Tait has had the most prolific dispatches this season. He has shared his observations, his fears, his dreams, his demons. He truly has done an outstanding job of bringing each of us along on his north side climb. But there is a lot more from David as he will go to the top and then down to the south BC and back up again - a full round trip that has never been done before. Thanks David for everything and Climb On!

TA Loeffler revealed every part of herself in a phenomenal series of dispatches. She made it to Camp 2 on the south but finally made the tough decision to cancel her bid and return home. Giardia was the culprit that kept her from eating and assisted her in losing 25 pounds. A bad break for such a determined person. I bet she will return one day ...

Paul Adler is taking a slow, methodical approach this year after coming up just short last year. He seems pleased with his Asian Trekking team and his health is holding unlike last year when he had some respiratory problems early on. He sounds strong and confident in all his dispatches. Paul's new website myeverest.com serves as a host for several Everest climbers this year. No word on when he goes for the top but he will probably wait to avoid the rush. Great job Paul!

Ben Stuckey was with Summit Climb on the north. From the audio and written dispatches it looked like a smooth season for Ben and team. His early dispatches during the trek in sounded like he was having a blast. I contacted him yesterday and in his own words:

... then I got the news.....my wife is pregnant with our first child. This is huge news for us and quite frankly I had a hard time staying focused on my climb of Everest. As you know Everest demands 100% attention at all times. I did not have that. All I could think of was Rob Hall and his mishap on May 10, 1996. After summiting he got caught in a huge storm up high on Everest. Through the brilliance of technology he was patched through on the sat phone to his wife who was pregnant with their first child. As you know Rob never met his baby daughter born a few months later and the young girl will never know her real father. Several weeks ago I decided to call off the climb knowing that Mount Everest will always be there for another attempt in a few years, who knows?

Bill Burke is trying to be one of the oldest Americans to summit Everest. The 65 year-old has posted some great dispatches and shared how hard it is to climb the south side of Everest. With SummitClimb he has made it C3 (the hardest thing he ever did according to his posting) and is now raring to go for the summit. His last posting noted how much he ate while down valley after the acclimatizion cycles. That is a great sign! Climb safe Bill!!

Pat Hickey with ICE8000 seems to be breezing through his south side climb. His dispatches have been optimistic and full of positive energy. He has used some of his time for guest bloggers. As a Professor in a College of Nursing, he is increasing awareness for male nurses and raising money via his website. This guy is having fun!

Jeanne Stawiecki is nearing the end of an incredible unique goal - run a marathon and summit the highest mountain on each continent. Everest is the remaining item in her list. She is doing well after having spent a night at C3 on the south with AAI''s team. Her dispatches are informative and shares the inner secrets of climbing with a big team such as base camp movies and massages! I am looking forward to hearing of the 56 year-old's successful summit and descent.

Elia Saikaly is climbing in the memory of Sean Egan who died on Everest in 2005. His last dispatch revealed a tough but successful climb to C3 on the south. He sounded like he had now become focused on the climb after struggling with both the mountain and his personal journey earlier. Good luck Sean as you go for it next week.

I encourage you to click on their names to read the interviews. Often it is easy to think of climbers on Everest as "climbers". That they are. Plus they are sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and ... future fathers. They are all individuals with great ambition and great courage.

My personal best to each one and to their families and friends as they start the next phase of this adventure. Climb safe each of you!

Summit Thoughts
Several teams are holding in the base camps since the weather has turned bad. Adventure Peaks for example is hunkering down on the north and may even regroup in BC. Dave Hahn reports the IMG team is still at BC on the south and not moving for now. Even the SuperSherpas are holding for another day. But Mountain Madness is headed up! Their perspective:

Mountain Madness seems to be among the first to start the push. So, many teams are supporting each other in decision making, and trying to spread out the work for summit day. For the most part, a plan has to be flexible, and the team's safety is top priority. The nice part of starting a summit attempt so early in the season is that it leaves extra time if this one can't happen. But all our energies are focused on bringing some calm weather and keeping the team healthy and strong up there, and hoping this trip is the ticket.

Random Notes - update
The India Metrological Department has issued a warning due to low pressure in the Bay of Bengal. According to Michael Fagin of everestweater.com, this could generate precipitation in the Everest region over the next few days. Look for some delays in the summit plans. A lot of teams are now looking at May 21-25. The wreckage of the helicopter that crashed last year was removed today by a Nepalese helicopter. It took three trips to get the big parts out. South Col pictures Monday.


May 12, 2007 - update

Mystery Climbers Solved! - update
The climbers who went for the summit on Thursday night were Philip Plouffe of Mystic, CT and Paul Giorgio of Millbury, MA. Philip is an experienced Everest summitter with summits in 2001, 2001 and 2003. Paul was on Everest in 2001 making it to Camp 1. They are both with TrekEverest. Thanks Morgan!

According to an article in Phil's hometown newspaper, TheDay.com, his fiancée, Debby Dutton, said:

... he called by satellite phone from 27,000 feet up on the mountain, halfway around the world, to say he couldn’t go any further and had to turn around.

“He sounded awful,” Debby said, adjusting her voice to mimic the labored breathing that made Phil’s phone call almost incomprehensible.

“He didn’t fail,” she agreed. “He was pursuing his dream.”

This was a brave early attempt. Well done guys.

It is all a Matter of Interpretation
Another interesting part of the summit bids is trying to interpret the weather forecast. Here is an interesting example. Comments from Duncan Chessel of Project Himalaya on the north:

I don't like the beginning of the upcoming window. It just looks too much like it is stormy conditions; the howling SW wind might stop, but then it should snow, and by some counts quite heavily. Snowfall, on this geographic and weather boundary, is notoriously difficult to predict - but the weather system coming in is not a normal pattern. That is why I am wary and a little nervous.

David Tait, also on the north, is posting:

The weather has played yet more tricks. We now plan to leave ABC for Nth Col this afternoon [12th]. Tomorrow we climb from Nth Col 7000m to C3 7900m, skipping C2 and saving a day. The forecast winds drop now on the 15th - our attempted summit day. So much for gently does it!

And Paul Adler, on the south, posted today:

The forecast was resounding in it's message - don't go for the summit. So we decided to stay put. It looks like unfavorable conditions will be here for a while, so we had better get comfortable in base camp.

By the way, Paul and David are reading the same weather forecast! This is harder than it seems and is why it is good to get the best forecast you can afford and depend on experienced people to interpret it. The window around the 16th has been popular for a week now and it looks good but as I mentioned before, climbers must be in position at a High Camp to take advantage of it. In this case, it looks like David will make a huge, fast push while Paul has preferred to take it more slowly. Both approaches are valid depending on the condition of the climber. It just goes to the point that there is more than one way to climb a mountain!

The Double Traverse
With David Tait on his way, let's look at exactly what he is doing. First he will try to summit from the North Col. It looks like he will target May 15th, Tuesday. From the summit he will descend all the way to Everest Base Camp on the south. He had written that he will take some rest time and then re climb to the summit about 10 days later thus again standing on top of the world on May 25 - weather willing. Then back to where he started on the north side.

This is a bold goal he has set for himself and all in the name of his charity, NSPCC which is the UK's leading charity specializing in child protection and the prevention of cruelty to children. It is the only children's charity with statutory powers, enabling it to act to safeguard children. A victim of child abuse himself, this cause is deeply personal to David and why he is putting everything on the line to raise money. Here is the link to the cause. Climb safe, David.

Random Notes
The Chinese are all gone from BC. They have pulled their tents and gone home after a successful summit. High winds reportedly did some damage at C2 on the south. Eploradus is headed up Sunday. It looks like they will sandwich beteen the large groups of IMG (already headed up) and AAI and AC (still in BC). They are trying to avoid the logjam that happens every year. Note we have the highest winds of the season today on the summit!


May 11, 2007

High Winds Stop Summit Bid
Well it looks like our mystery team made it to Balcony which is about 1000' above the South Col last night, according to Adventure Consultants plus another independent source. But extremely high winds forced them to turn back. They took a risk by pushing it last night with summit winds at 45 knots so they were wise to to turn back. They probably moved slower than they wanted since they were the first team to climb above the Col thus had to fix ropes as they went. In any event, line is fixed to the Balcony!

No solid word on who the team is, only more speculation so time to move on. Word will come out in time. It was fun to guess however!

Summit Schedules
Get prepared for a lot of information, speculation and changes over the next week. IMG reported having their Sherpas already on the South Col and their summit team departing tomorrow, 12th, for a May 16 summit bid. David Tait is still looking at a May 17th summit then down to the south in his double traverse quest. Seven Summits is reported to be headed up on the north. Several teams are still reporting a small window around the 16/17th but the wind picking back up on the 18th. This could be a drawn out summit period with teams scrambling to make this window but others waiting for the next one.

Random Notes - updated
This is not climbing, but this stunt involves flying over the summit in a parajet which is a rectangular parachute with a seat/harness and an attached motor. More at www.parajet.com. Ugh. Note the high summit winds today - 56 knots! The Adventure Blog noted this article on Conrad Anker's effort to recreate George Mallory's 1924 Everest climb using the same gear and clothing. Very interesting.


May 10, 2007 - update

South Summits Tonight? - update 2
Rumors are that we may have a summit tonight from the south! Dave Hahn just reported:

Tonight it is almost 10 o'clock in the evening here in Nepal and already there are two small teams up on the South Col that are trying for the summit tonight, making their way up, and we're rooting for them and hoping they will be able to fix the remaining rope to the top and break trail if necessary through the deep snow, and keeping our fingers crossed, they are not part of the IMG team but of course anybody making the top on this side right now helps us all. Good to be down here at base camp. Bye now.

Just for fun, let's do some guessing on these mystery climbers. We can eliminate IMG, Summit Climb, ICE 8000, Mountain Madness, Summit Climb, Coleman and Adventure Consultants if we believe their dispatches :-) AAI is not a "small team" but they have been very quiet for the past 5 days. I would guess it may be one of the smaller teams such as Exploradus, London Business School or perhaps some independents. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the SuperSherpas. Could be an European or Asian team as well. Obviously I have no idea!! In any event, let's all send some positive energy their way since they are right in the midst of it. Climb Safe whoever you are!

Update 2
Word has it we can eliminate Exploradus and SuperSherpas as going for the summit tonight.

Back to BC
Kind of quiet today since most teams are now trekking back to BC or ABC from lower villages. I must admit that I am sorry I did not do this for my Everest climbs since it makes so much sense. Reading the climbers comments about regaining their appetite, strength and sleeping better all goes to giving them such a better experience on the summit bid. Oh well ...

Tricky Weather
The weather continues to play games. High winds abound and are even forecasted during the anticipated weather window of May 16-19. But this can and will change! Here is a good first hand report from Gavin Bates on the north:

... started off heading from the North Col aiming to gain height to assist with his acclimatisation however a few hundred metres above the Col the wind picked up and the weather took a turn for the worse. Having been at over 23’000ft for a few days now he decided to drop altitude and not risk being caught out in a storm increasing his days at altitude, which in turn would zap his energy and potentially a summit attempt. He reports feeling very healthy and fit however would have liked to gain height to about 8000m in terms of acclimatising. He is now making it from ABC to the North Col in less than three hours, which is very fast indeed and a good indication of how his body is adapting to the environment. Heading up from the North Col Gavin reported that it was unusually warm and caused the snow to become very wet and with the amount that has fallen, very deep. He thinks there is a strong likelihood of avalanche. There is now more snow on it’s way with 35cm predicted for Sunday and again on Monday at 6500m – The North Col.

There have been multiple reports of how hot it is this year. On the south at base camp, there are small streams running through BC and melting of tent platforms. This is normal for late May but a little unusual for this time.

More Press!
I am absolutely amazed at the amount of press, film crews and publicity on Everest this year. However, it was kind of expected after the 13 deaths last year. There is always a boost in the number of climbers on these Hills after a year of tragedy, amazingly enough. Outside Magazine has a reporter on the north doing daily dispatches. He is not climbing, just reporting. Not bad thus far. As I noted yesterday, a new film crew arrived and is documenting the recreation of George Mallory's 1924 summit attempt. To no surprise, both of these efforts are supported by Russell Brice's Himalayan Experience (HimEx) large team.

The Benefit of Supplemental Oxygen
Sometimes this debate can take on rabid proportions in the serious climbing world. You know: it is cheating, it is not good style, if you are good enough, you don't need it, etc. Well how about this comment posted on SuperSherpas from one of the best Sherpas in the world, Ang Rita - 10 times on the summit:

Question: Why did you climb without oxygen?
Answer: Because my pack was lighter. I had to carry the clients' oxygen and all their gear so I decided to do it this way and save energy.
Question: Would you recommend to the young climbers to use oxygen?
Answer: Yes, because I have lost my memory over the years and feel they should always use oxygen.

Random Notes
Tim Medvez, continues to get Rock Star treatment on the Hill and will go for it.


May 9, 2007 - updated

Chinese Summit
David Tait reports today that the Chinese Olympic torch team puts 17 people on the summit from the north. This had been expected for several days now. Expect to hear that the Indian Army team summits any time now.

Looking for the Weather Window
Many teams on both sides are looking at May 16 as a potential summit day. I count at least 5 on the north which could be more than 100 climbers including Sherpas. There are least that many on the south. One scenario has over 300 climbers heading to the summit from both sides on the same day! Not likely but the possibility exists. Usually a team's summit date is closely guarded but with so many dispatches out there, there are no secrets this year.

Selecting a date is more complicated than it may appear. The climbers must be in "position" to go for the summit. That means they must be at the highest camps - C3 or C4 on the north or the South Col on the south. And they must spend several days climbing there. By now, they have oxygen, food, stoves, fuel and tents at these camps. And there is increasing anxiety. From David Tait:

Suddenly my stomach feels light and full of butterflies. All of a sudden I feel nervous, not so much because of the climbs themselves, but more for fear of letting myself and of course others down. My mind is now a swirling mass of questions.

The most critical factor is 100% out of their control - the weather. For the past several weeks they could somewhat adjust their schedules around good and bad weather but now they become committed. If they guess wrong on the weather window and end up at a High Camp in deadly high winds or a storm, they have few options. Obviously they also need good weather to get to the High Camps. All this means they need at least three if not four days of good weather to reach the summit and return safely.

What is "good weather" on Everest? Well the primary factor is wind. In general anything under 20 mph or 17 knots is viewed as acceptable but summits have been made in higher winds. If you have been noting the summit weather I post from Michael Fagin at Everestweather.com, the winds have ranged from 30 to 60 knots.

The jet stream controls everything up there. It sits on top of Everest most every day of every year. This means winds of 100 mph are common on the summit. Humans are knocked off their feet at 60 mph on level ground. It is virtually impossible to climb in these conditions. Every Spring in Asia the heavy rains or monsoons start around the end of May or early June. Low pressure builds in India and the Bay of Bengal and "pushes" the jet stream North and away from Everest thus creating a climbing window since the jet soon moves back. Expeditions are now looking at weather reports for this low pressure area. Pray for rain in India!

The Best Everest 2007 Expedition Website - updated
I know that many people are reading a lot of websites these days especially as the summit time draws near. Well a new one just came on-line. Conrad Anker is leading a film crew to retrace the final steps of George Mallory who died close to the summit in 1924. Anker found his body in 1999. The mystery reamins as to whether Mallory and his partner, Sandy Irvine, made the summit or not. Anker's team will use specially adapted hobnail boots, knickerbockers, Burberry suits and fur-lined motorcycle helmets.

The website has the best multimedia out there with fast, decent quality film clips showing the daily details of the expedition. Each climber has their own set of clips each day. They have just arrived at BC on the north. This one will definitely be on my daily list. The expedition is named Altitude Everest 2007 .

More Summits?
Greg Childs reports that 2 Sherpas with the large Indian team summited . Not sure what this means and why the Indian Army team was not there. No other mention of this anywhere so I will hold off updating the total for now. Ah, such mystery when there are no direct dispatches!

Random Notes
Gavin Bates is now at ABC on the north. He is one of three climbers attempting to traverse Everest this year. The others are the Philippine Women and David Tait with his double traverse. I have made this comment before but, there are a lot of video up there this year. One climber joked his dismay when he was filmed during a bad hair day!


May 8, 2007

Just the Basics for this Team
The Lungetivity team of Brian and Justin are working hard this week. They are at the North Col, will climb to C2 for a night then back to the NC then back to C3 for their final acclimatizion night before heading back to ABC before their final push. These young climbers have no Sherpas and are not using Os. They are raising money for cancer research after it took Brian's Mother last year.

Predicting How You Will Do
High altitude climbing is so unpredictable. You train hard, push your body at home and believe deep in your heart you will do fine and there will be no surprises. But then it hits. You have that infamous "bad day" on the mountain. Why did it happen, what can be done? There are no good answers to any of this and it is part of the deal. Here is a snippet of what happened to Mogens:

"My asthma went haywire. I think it was the fumes in the cook tent. I vomited near camp Two, and that's a first.” On previous attempts on Everest, the triathlete had covered the same ground in three hours; this time it took him six.

North Summit on the 16th?
The Adventure peaks team has completed their acclimatizion and are looking to the top:

The acclimatisation process is nearly complete and thoughts are now turning to the summit. There is a weather window forecast for the 14th - 16th May so potentially we could see an attempt on the 16th. The full compliment of 12 climbers and 5 Sherpas would climb to the North Col (7000m) on the 13th, up to Camp 2 (7800m) on the 14th and Camp 3 (8200m) on the 15th. Everyone will usually be on oxygen above Camp 2 to conserve their strength for he task ahead. After a few hours of rest and rehydration at the High Camp it is usual to begin the final climb around 11pm. This is the most technical part of the route with the infamous First, Second & Third Steps. If everything goes according to plan they should summit around 8.00am or 3.00am BST on the 16th. We're closely monitoring the weather and the final decision will be made in the next few days

Up or Down?
With a lot of climbers now acclimatized, they are down valley for a little rest. I never did this in 2002 and 2003 for fear of catching something from the trekkers passing through or poor sanitation in the teahouses. But times have changed. Why and how is the decision made? David Tait, pondered this question and then went down to BC on the north. On the south, Dr. Tim does a nice job explaining his thoughts:

The Dilemma is, and has been,whether to go down to a lower altitude after the last acclimatization rotation and before the summit rotation. I have been incredibly wishy-washy on making a decision. The 'pros' are you can oxygenate your 70 trillion cells more fully at 14k' rather than 17.5k' and this would theoretically give you more 'juice' or power on your summit attempt. Another thing is we continuously lose muscle mass the longer we stay up high no matter how much you eat. Lower down you get more nutrition out of your chow and maintain muscle more. Sounds like a no-brainer to go down right? Here are the cons:It is a 6 hr hike down to 14k' and 8 hr up from the village of Pheriche.You risk twisting ann ankle on the rough terrain as well as the very real spectre of illness due to poorly prepared food or improperly sanitized water. Our cook Pemba and his staff do it right! Here is what happened to tip my decision to go down: I got a case of Khumbu Cough.This is an inflammation of the throat, trachea, and lungs from the inordinately dry and cold air [normally our nose warms and hydrates the air we breathe but when you are climbing you are gasping for air thru your mouth] So,I have spent the last couple of days laying in my tent trying to heal up, and I am better, but the volunteer doc said 'down' and I said 'OK'. So today, after breakfast, I started walking down

Random Notes
Janet Belarmino of the Women Philippine team is doing well on her Everest work - she gave birth just five months ago! BasecampMD reports their top customers: Midway through our clinic season we've seen over 120 patients and the top 3 diagnoses: Khumbu cough (no surprise there!) respiratory infection and AMS.


May 7, 2007

Rest on the South, Work on the North
The last few years we have seen the north teams make faster progress than the south teams. This was due to two primary reasons: 1) the ropes were fixed faster on the north and 2) better weather on the north (I know it is just the other side of the Hill!).

Well this year it is the reverse but for different reasons. It seems the south teams arrived earlier this year and got to work faster. The lines are now fixed to the South Col as well as hundreds of supplemental oxygen bottles are already cached there. And there are probably close to 100 climbers who have spent a night at C3 and are back down valley resting. So we can expect to see a huge rush to summit on the south at some point.

Meanwhile over on the north teams are making great progress and most have spent several nights at the North Col or C1 as well as climbing higher to C2. But they are only half way through their acclimatizion cycles. Look for them to take another week to finish up. Then we will see their summit rush.

All in all we may see summit attempts for a couple of weeks in late May this year ... weather permitting.

TA Update
We have all been following TA Loeffler and her trials. Well she made the decision to end her attempt over the weekend after going down valley and still not feeling 100%. She put up a hell of an effort and should be quite proud of her dedication and achievement of reaching C2. But it may take some time for that to sink in. Well done TA. We are proud of you!

Random Notes
Some teams are reporting weather forecasts of high winds the next few days. If this materializes, look for a very quiet week!


May 6, 2007

Everest 2007 Weekly Summary - May 6
Not a bad week on the Hill! Our first summits and lots of progress on both sides. To start the Kazakhs team of Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov made the summit in a daring show of courage, strength and guts. Then the Sherpas from HimEx did there normal celebration of standing on the summit after they did their jobs of getting all the lines set on the north.

Meanwhile, other teams on both sides spent valuable nights above 23,000' to kick start their bodies into making more red blood cells. IMG says they have 94 oxygen bottles on the South Col. Other teams have similar numbers. By my count half of the south BC is now down valley for a little R&R before attempting the summit in a week or so.

I am a little surprised we did not see major summits by the Chinese or Indian teams but that is how it goes. We will probably get surprised any day now.

As I said, there are a lot of teams now down valley on the south or back at ABC on the north after their time up high. For a lot of the climbers it is now a matter of waiting for a weather window and tHen they are off to the summit. The next few days will be focused on rest at lower elevations.

The Everest Formula
Is climbing Everest an art or a science? This past week we saw some examples of both.

Since 1994, the "climb high. sleep low" acclimatizion routine has become standard for large commercial teams on Everest. This approach allows for the creation of red blood cells needed to carry oxygen rich blood to starving muscles on summit night. The common method is to climb to ever higher camps, sleep and return to lower camps over a two week period. Once "acclimatized", the climbers drive to the summit spending a night in each camp, most using the oxygen cached there by the ever present Sherpas. It is all well planned, all worked out and hopefully without surprises.

If you go too fast, you risk altitude sickness. If you go too slow, you risk expending all your energy or getting trapped by weather. So balance is the key, as it is in most things in life.

This year we are seeing the formula working perfectly - at least for now. But there is another way.

Our famous Kazakhs friends did their accumulation cycles but then made an "alpine" push to the top. This technique simply means no pre-established camps, travel light, climb fast. Get up, get down. And that is what they did. Was it risky? You bet. But that is what climbing is all about sometimes. Push the edge, your edge, and take what the mountain gives you.

I find inspiration from these extreme climbers. I find inspiration from the first time climber surrounded by veteran Sherpas.

For those of us sitting in warm room in comfortable chairs it is wrong to judge any climber. We are not there, we are not knowledgeable. We are along for the ride.

What we do is to watch and read and listen carefully. We can learn. We can enjoy. We can provide support.

Alpine mountaineering takes on a lot of personalities, especially on Everest. This Hill takes on larger than life proportions. With today's technology and the bottomless pits of money available from publicity hungry companies, we see every step, every move and every opinion out there. And of course the television shows in a few months!

At the end of the day, both the climbers on the formula or the climbers making it up as they go along, are all climbers. Each climber on Everest or the much harder Hills, are just doing their thing. Each and every one deserves our respect, admiration and positive energy. After all, each of us have our Everest.


May 5, 2007

Hell on the North
There are few dispatches coming from the north teams. SImply put, there is only so much energy, human that is. Greg Childs does a nice job of describing the challenge above the North Col:

This is a painful part of climbing Everest's North Ridge, and I recall it well from my time here in 1995. From the North Col the route looks easy; you can see the entire path, which on the morning of May 3 was lined with scores of Sherpas and climbers following the arrow-straight line of ropes up the moderately angled spur to a series of terraces where tents are crammed.

But as one team member put it:

"You want to know what is hell? Up there is hell. It was hot, very hot."

So progress continues on the north, all be it hard. Sometimes you hear that the north is "easier" since you do not have to deal with the Icefall. But be clear, both side have their challenges. All climbers have a tough time. Everest is Everest.


May 4, 2007

Resting for the Auspicious Summit Days
The Khumbu Icefall was quite busy today with many climbers from the large commercial teams heading back down to BC after their successful night at C3. Also, C2 will be much quieter for those heading up for their night at C3. I always find it interesting that teams try to out maneuver one another to be the first or last to summit but end up targeting the same date!

We hear from Bill Burke that May 15 through May 21 have been selected by the Sherpas as auspicious days for a summit this year. Back on April 9th, Lama Geshi told Jeanne Stawiecki at her Puja that May 20-23 were "auspicious days" for a summit. Many Sherpa believe in these predications and for the most part they are right, year after year. Usually the Lama at a Puja will make this prediction.

Of course the weather usually has the last word and the Sherpas will always say this with a twinkle in their eyes! Historically, south side summits have been between May 15 and 20th. A little earlier on the north and sometimes a lot later due to not having to navigate an Icefall that uses a dedicated team to maintain. They stop maintaining it at the end of May forcing most teams to leave the south side.

Technology and Altitude

There seems to be a lot of problems with sending dispatches this year. Usually the problem is hard drive failure in the computers. Basically the head in a hard drive floats above the disc in a space smaller than a human hair. At altitude, the air pressure is lower and the drives were never designed for that pressure. The result is the head crashes into the disc ruining the disc. Here is how Duncan Chessell describes it and uses his experience to recover:

The vital computers for downloading the weather forecasts were booted into gear and we trashed 4 of 5 computers on boot, hard drive failure. Only the old trusty Mac would boot on its spare hard drive…. Tenuous to say the least. We had left in base camp three computers behind for spare – only one still working though as the other two had crashed, this trip was getting expensive in hardware already! Luckily we had redundant systems and multiple backups but I never thought we would be down to the last of 8 computers on the first day in ABC

And amazingly, he says there is a crowd on the satellite!

... with so many expeditions vying for satellite bandwidth it is hard to send out images. The only sure fire way in to get up at 2am when it is -20 C heat up the computers and risk breaking them in the cold.


Random Notes
Some snow earlier this week on the Lhotse face but nothing as serious as some teams expected. Look for things to be quiet the next few days with the south teams resting and the north teams up high. I will have some comments this weekend on the formula of climbing Everest - the good and the bad.


May 3, 2007

The Hard Work of Everest
This week we are seeing the hard work of Everest - the acclimatizion cycles. Teams on both sides are climbing to the High Camps to spend a night or two then return to the lower camps for rest. This is called "climb high, sleep low". The sole purpose is to trick the body into creating more red blood cells to carry oxygen to the muscles. For the vast majority of the climbers, this is the only true way. A few experiment with hyperbaric chambers to simulate higher altitudes before they leave home but this is awkward, expensive and hurts the love life while they sleep in a tent in the bedroom! Seriously, the time honored climb high, sleep low is favorite technique.

Several of the large south commercial teams spent last night at C3 and are headed down today then back to ABC for several days of rest. This completes their full acclimatizion cycles so the summit is next for them. If the team has an "H" by their name for C3 on the south, they are now thinking weather windows!

Over on the north many climbers have made it to the top of the snow ridge above the North Col. This is about 7300m or 24,000'. Also they have spent a few nights at the Col. So some of them may be in position after a rest break.

Finally, look for two serious summits attempts anytime now on the north from the Indian Army and Chinese Olympic Torch teams.

Random Notes
Lots of talk about the Kazakhs' summit. Greg Childs has a nice interview with them on the Discovery site. Basically, these two extremely competent climbers pushed the envelope, took severe risks, gambled and won. While I am awed at their achievement, this is not how to climb big mountains for 99% of the other climbers. They went without food and water for almost two days, they suffered frostbite and were very lucky that the weather did not turn against them. But then again, this is what makes climbing such a seductive sport - Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose ... but when you lose sometimes it is your life.


May 2, 2007

Ropes Fixed to the South Col
ICE8000 and IMG have worked together to fix ropes to the South Col. This enables the Sherpas to begin to ferry oxygen bottles, fuel, tents and other supplies to the South Col or Camp 4 on the south. From past years this is slightly ahead of schedule due to some good weather.

The Lhotse Face
With so many climbers heading to C3, I thought a brief overview of the Lhotse Face would be good. To start here is how Dr. Tim Warren described his climb yesterday:

Really, for the first time I felt like I was indeed climbing Everest! I felt great initially [first 4 hours] then yucky as we crept up higher than I have ever been.I pulled into Camp 3 at 24000' after7hrs. I was really hurting

The Face itself is the 3000' west face of Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on Earth. It is usually hard packed ice with a thin layer of snow. But the winds are horrendous so that snow falls blows away quickly. The angle varies from a gentle slope to nearly 60 degrees - stand straight up and stick your arm out straight and you almost touch the Face. But those steep sections are few.

What is difficult about the Face is that it is long and constant. You are clipped into the fixed line the entire climb - even when resting or sitting down. It can be horribly hot when the sun is out and then equally cold if it is snowy or windy.

The high traffic of climbers and Sherpas create a well worn and marked trail so route finding is not an issue. But with the hard blue ice, it still takes work to kick your crampons to gain "purchase" or traction. Here is how Patrick Hickey described it yesterday:

Yesterday was grueling as we pushed and pulled ourselves (by jumar) straight up the Lhotse Face. The face was mostly exposed ice so we really had to dig in with our crampons on every step that we took. Additionally, due to the extreme angle, we had to contort our feet into sideways motions as it was impossible to place one foot directly in front of the other as in a normal walking routine. Most of the time we were "duck walking" and were using all crampon points to dig into the ice.

All in all a long and exhausting day of true alpine mountaineering.

And climbing to the North Col
For many climbers on the north, their first climb to the North Col is a similar challenge to reaching C3 on the south. Here is how Bill Tyler of the 7-Summtis Club described it:

The north col is quite steep. Talking with the sherpas and other who have been there last year indicate that it is much steeper than previous years. Nice thing is that is makes it a short distance to go. But it is steep! up to 95degrees in several places. I got on the lines and it took me about 5.5 hours. It was a struggle. Basically you pull yourself up a step, then rest, the do it again, all the while dealing with the wind, snow, and other climbers. There are a lot this year. It just seemed to go on forever.

Random Notes
SuperSherpas report 8 inches of snow at BC last night and 45 teams at the south BC. There is a steady stream of Sherpas now stocking the South Col. Paul Adler's climbing Sherpa has gone down valley to recover from some altitude issues. TA Loeffler has decided to go down as well to try to recover from her illness.


May 1, 2007 - update 2

Weather Update - update
Michael Fagin over at EverestWeather.com just sent me a forecast for the next few days. I had noticed that there were different strategies for teams climbing to and leaving from C3 based on weather forecasts. Here is what Michael sent to his clients on Everest this morning:

“The 6 major forecast models continue the disagreement on snowfall amounts through Friday May 4 as some go on the light side (just trace) and others up to 8 inches of snow (20 cm) for one day at 20,000 foot level. With this situation my confidence again is low on the forecast, 4.0 confidence level with 10 being the highest level of confidence and 0 the lowest. The interesting part of this forecast is the forecast models will and can change so please stay abreast of the updates. Issued Tuesday May 1, 11 am PT”

To Camp 3 on the South
The ticket to the South Col is through Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face on Everest. While the Khumbu Icefall gets a lot of deserved attention, the Lhotse Face has it's own set of unique challenges and in some ways is significantly more dangerous.

The Xtreme Everest team and Jagged Globe made it there last night and are hurrying back down to BC to rest and wait out a predicted period of bad weather. As JG reports:

We got back from Camp 3 yesterday (30th). JD reached Camp 3
on the 29th. We were all settled to spend the night when "Team Extreme" (camped next door) announced that they had just had a weather update which promised heavy snow for the next 6 days..... and they were going down ASAP!
By this time I had been in Camp 3 for about 4hrs and poor old JD for less than an hour. However, if we were to descend the Lhotse Face before darkness fell we had to make haste...

And Mike from Xtreme noted:

Mike, Chris, Nigel and Sundeep all had a climb up the Lhotse face to get to Camp 3. The Lhotse face is another fairly dangerous place. Asked what he thought of it, Mike commented, that it was just another day that was longer than expected, harder than expected, with a constant barrage of little objects being thrown from above. This was a 500m slog up a hill at 45-50 degrees, with an arterial oxygen concentration 1/3 of normal. Fun! I think we are all a little surprised that Everest is a bit harder than expected. Armchair pundits, who say it is an easy mountain, should come and join us.

The reason C3 is so tough is that it is at 23,000' and is on a very steep section of the Face. The actual area for pitching tents is about the size of a small house and each tent platform must be chopped out of the ice to make it level. It is common for all the tents to be tied together- even from different expeditions - to keep them from blowing away in a storm. However all these lines make for a spider web that must be carefully crossed when moving around.

The famous story told to all climbers is of a climber a few years ago who stepped out of his tent for a bio-break wearing only his inner boot liners which have zero traction. He slipped and fell to his death on the face. Thus climbers rarely leave their tent once they arrive.

Decisions
TA Loeffler is in the midst of a very difficult time. She has been constantly sick since arriving at south base camp. She went down valley for a few days to try to kick whatever was hurting her but has experienced severe nausea ever since. She is getting medical treatment from the base camp MD team and has made a heroic climb to C2. She has lost 15% of her body weight already. But as she so unselfishly shares with the world:

I vacillate between thinking there is lots of time to recover and do a pre-summit rotation and noticing that May has struck and the mountain was summited yesterday by five sherpas from the North side.

I need about a week for my second rotation, a week to rest, and then a week to try for the top. Of course, that schedule is subject to keeping three meals a day in my belly, gaining some weight, and cooperative weather.

This morning in my optimistic state, I wondered about aiming for experiences that might support a second attempt if the summit dream stays alive when I am back in the low country: experiences such as the Lhotse Face, setting a new elevation record, or using oxygen. This afternoon I recognize I may not recover enough to allow even these.

I feel for TA since I have been in her exact situation before. You get in a viscous cycle where you cannot eat - full stop - and when you do you throw it back up. Generally this is partly due to dehydration and your body simply refuses to take solid food since there is little water to help digest it. But when you try to drink more, you fail as well. In time you get weaker, loose weight and simply do not have the energy needed to climb.

Sometimes the underlying cause is a bacterial infection or perhaps a viral one. Sometimes, it is simply the impact of altitude and your body not adjusting. Altitude sickness can occur above 9000' and base camp is at 17,500'! Altitude sickness can be a slowly creeping illness or can be debilitating. It cannot be predicted and the only true treatment is to go lower.

TA is not only suffering from the symptoms but also from an unclear diagnosis in spite of some great support. Take the time to read her last two postings since she does a great job of bringing us in. I wish her only the best and to get better and climb safe. She has a wonderful attitude in a difficult time.

Random Notes
There are a lot of teams at C2 wanting to spend the required night at C3 but as reported by the Xtreme Team, they have a forecast of bad weather. Other teams are not mentioning significant weather. This is also not unusual since teams receive weather reports from different sources and some are more right than others - just like home! Predicting weather is hard on Everest. See my interview a few weeks ago with Michael Fagin on this very topic.

Summit Update
There are some reports questioning the Kazakh's summit yesterday. According to this from Katie Sarah and Duncan Chessell of the DCXP Everest Expedition 2007, they summited and are down just fine:

Latest news from the mountain - our sherpas have been up to 7900m. The Kazak pair who were mentioned in the previous dispatch had a small amount of trouble on their descent, however our Sirdir Namgia Sherpa, Arun sirdir lhakpa and one of 7 summits assisted, they only required a small puff from 1 bottle of oxygen and hot drinks from the sherpas and they walked down under their own power, so well down. They are safely snoring in the tent 2m from mine…. They have made it back in ABC just on dark. Will be good to hear more about their adventures first hand in the morning so far all the info has been from our Sherpa team from our expedition who were with them.


April 30, 2007

First 2007 Summits - updated
No surprise on who this is. The Kazakhs team of Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov made the summit today, April 30th according to www.RussianClimb.com at 6PM. They did not use supplemental oxygen or Sherpas nor fixed ropes on the summit ridge. Congratulations to these strong climbers!

They had strong winds at 40 knots and it was cold at -28C/-18F and cloudy.

Update: Greg Childs of Discovery is reporting that 5 HimEx Sherpas summited first by half an hour at 1:00PM local time. The ropes are fixed to the summit on the north. This is the exact same day as last year. If the weather holds, look for the Chinese to take the practice torch to the top this week.

A Night at the North Col with HimEx
Once again, David Tait brings us into his world on the north side. Another excellent read. A few items stood out to me and illustrated the difference climbers with large, established teams like HimEx experience versus being independent or on smaller teams. David discusses the "comforts" of camp at the North Col in addition to sleeping in his down suit in HimEx provided sleeping bags that, I assume, the Sherpas carry for the climbers. All in all this means the climbers are hauling very little up the mountain thus making it slightly (and I emphasize slightly) easier and simpler. Camp 1 aka the North Col on the north is similar in schedule to Camp 2 on the south but 2,000' higher so it is brutal on the climbers.

The addition of a "mess-tent" to Nth Col over the last two years has proven to be a stroke of genius. The Nth-Face Dome tent allows a circular seating around two cooking-rings, fuelled from sherpa-carried propane gas cylinders. Compared to 05, when two people huddled for the duration within their freezing tent, fumbling over their camping-gas burner to generate water, the communal approach is a delight.

And on the South with Asian Trekking
Paul Adler is with the local outfitter, Asian Trekking, after his climb last year with IMG. AT charges one of the lower prices and provides basic logistics but climbers are independent with no "Western" guides. Here is what he told me about his experience thus far

Its interesting to see the different approach to coordination taken by AT. I expected less, but in fact AT want to be involved more. I am free to climb whenever I want, but AT always wants to have a Sherpa at each camp when a member is there. As I have a personal Sherpa it doesn't impact me, but other people without, they ideally need to make sure that their movements are coordinated with other members. I am really impressed so far with the service and organization provided by AT. The food is the best I have ever had in Nepal, the Sherpas are extremely helpful and nothing seems to be too much trouble. It's nice being a smaller team too - 8 members is a good size. Atilla and I are going to climb together, but this is our own wish and we are free to set our own timing of all movement above bc. This is the main reason that I chose Asian Trekking, plus tons of good feedback from climbers on the South Side.


Random Notes
I have not mentioned a lot about the large (14 climbers) Indian Army team but there are reports now that they are aggressively heading for an early summit. They are not posting any dispatches. The Xtreme Everest team is at C2 and headed to C3 for an overnighter according to an email I received from Chris, brother of leader Mike Grocott - thanks Chris!

April 29, 2007

Weekly Review - April 29
Another productive week on Everest. A lot of action on the north with teams now at the North Col and higher on their acclimatizion climbs. An early summit bid was thwarted by high winds at the end of the week. Those same winds played havoc on the south along with a ladder collapse in the Icefall thus delaying teams from heading back up for one day. A few tents were destroyed at C2. None of this was too unusual or overly serious but distracting to say the least.

Sadly a Sherpa, Dawa Sherpa of Thame, died in the Icefall after a fall. He was ferrying loads between C2 and C3 and was working for an Austrian team under a permit arranged by Thamserku Trekking of Kathmandu. He had a wife and four children. His body was recovered and taken down by his fellow Sherpas. This recovery is a little unusual in my experience but a wonderful sign of respect.

Look for a lot of action on both sides this week with teams doing acclimatizion climbs in earnest. They must get the red blood cells going if they want to be ready for a summit window in a few weeks. Time will soon run out for climbers who have not spent a few high altitude nights as of this week. Also look for the south col and highest camps on the north to be established with tents, O's and fixed line. This will be a busy week!

Random Notes
I will be curious how the huge commercial teams will manage the climbs to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face this week. C3 has a limited area and is on very steep terrain. There could be over 30 people trying to spend an acclimatizion night this week. Strong coordination will be required. The TopOut oxygen masks seems to be the "in" thing this year with several large teams trying it out. Click here for an overview of the oxygen systems.


April 28, 2007

Legend to the Location Table
I have received a few emails asking what the letters mean in the table above. There has always been a legend at the bottom of the table but it is is small font. Basically an "H" indicates the highest camp a team or individual has reached. An "X" is their last reported position according to their own dispatch or another reliable source. A "-" simply means they have been to that camp. Finally an "e" indicates their climb has ended and they are off the mountain or no longer climbing. I do update the information if I do not have a solid source. I do not guarantee the accuracy of this table since it is only as good as the information posted on public sites. For convenience, each team's name is linked to their website for their dispatches.

The Middle Game
Many climbers are commenting that they have been away from home for 30 or even 45 days now. Some even comment that they have switched to their second pair of underwear by now (TMI, I think). Anyway, this phase is always difficult for the climbers. Many on the south have spent several nights at C2 and some at C3 but they are not quite acclimatized for a summit bid just yet. Same goes for those on the north and many have not even spent a night at C1 or the North Col yet.

But they feel like they have been working hard and have little to show for it. Their bodies ache, that persistent cough is wearing them down, the altitude fatigue is real - you can hear it in their voices on audio dispatches. The food has lost it's novelty. The packs are heavier. The conversation is stale and ...

They are energized that they are half way through. They can feel their bodies getting stronger and weaker at the same time. The climbs between camps are shorter now. They understand the daily routine. They have new life long friends. They are internalizing just how good it is at home. They have a new appreciation for friends and family. Their emotions are on edge.

They are climbers, regardless of their experience. Some need more help than others but each one has passed a unique test and are still there. Some will quit early, others will give it their all and not reach their goal. At this point, it is all in the air. Huge hopes, optimism. The security of not knowing what they don't know.

Climb On and Climb Safe you climbers!

Random Notes
The Chinese expelled the demonstrators from China yesterday. The Kazakhs north summit attempt was stopped due to high winds.


April 27, 2007

To the North Col
Another well written dispatch from David Tait today on his climb to the North Col. David has a unique view of the climb since he has been there before, summitting in 2005, and he has set a huge goal of summitting from the north, descending to the south col and retuning back to the north side - a double traverse. You can almost feel the weight of his ambition in his words.

Greg Childs with Discovery reports 60 people at the North Col today as they took a day trip for acclimatizion purposes. He noted the impact of climate change:

It's been 12 years since I've been to the North Col and it's much different than I remember. The glacier has sunk into itself, causing the ice wall we scaled to collapse into a more jumbled face. It's still pretty easily climbed, with an average angle of 25 degrees and lined every inch with ropes, one rope for up and one for down, but global warming has clearly taken a toll.

He also commented on the tent space at the Col, as expected:

The campsite on the North Col (Camp 1) is now so crowded that there are two levels separated by a few vertical feet and a crevasse spanned by a standard, hardware store-bought, household ladder. In total, about 50 tents are dug in up there and more are soon to sprout.

Manny of Learning without Limits has a nice audio dispatch. You can hear the altitude effects on his voice.

Icefall Closed, Stuck at C2
Adventure Consultants reports an avalanche took out a ladder and closed the Icefall route for today. They will delay their climb to the Western Cwm until tomorrow. This is not unusual at all. The Icefall is constantly moving and is subject to avalanches. The Icefall Doctors try to put their ladders and route in "safer" areas but this is an inexact science at best. The Docs will put a new ladder in, fix lines today.

Jim Williams reports extreme wind at C2 that prevented them from going to C3. They want to return to BC if the wind stays high but now will have to wait an additional day for the route to be repaired.

Random Notes
Teams will move to C1/North Col for an overnight over the weekend. On the South, teams will go to C2 for an overnight at C3 so don't expect a lot of dispatches this weekend given the movements. Strongest winds of the season on the summt at 66knots.


April 26, 2007

Sherpa Death on Lhotse Face - updated
Paul Adler's home team contacted me early this morning with the news of the death of a Sherpa on the Lhotse Face. I wanted to hold the info until the team who the Sherpa worked for released the news but now I see that other sites are jumping to report this.

Sherpas are like family to the teams. Many have worked together for years and any death hits the team hard. I understand he was with the Thamserku team. They are one of the local companies based in Kathmandu. We will hear more details about the death in time but needless to say today, Friday April 26, is a sad day on the south side.

My condolences to his family, friends and teammates.

Update:
His name is reported to be Dawa Sherpa, a very common name in Nepal No info on his village. Various reports say he was not clipped into the fixed lines and fell near the base of the Lhotse Face and hit his head. There is a fairly steep section at the very beginning of the Face, maybe 200' at 60 degree angle but nothing too difficult. It can be hard blue ice but usually is a softer snow track carved out by the previous climbers.

Icefall Doctors need help
IMG's recent dispatch make the case for more Icefall Doctors to maintain the route. They comment on the amount of money they have paid and the condition of the route:

Today at BC there is a meeting with the SPCC representative and the leaders from many of the teams, with the goal to try to get SPCC (the organization responsible for the icefall route) to commit to hiring more Icefall Doctors, to improve the route. SPCC has collected a LOT of money form the various expeditions teams (IMG alone paid $8400 in icefall fees), and the teams want to see the money spent on the route maintenance!!

The magazine Men's Journal recently had a expose' on the very same Doctors. It was an unflattering article that minimized the critical importance of these Sherpas and the dangerous work they do.

The Taxonomy of Climbers
On Pat Hickey's posting, a guest writer, Ward, has a nice article on the different kind of climbers he is seeing. A nice read on a sad day. It is actually not a bad characterization. I really like how he summarizes himself:

Where do I fit? Like most, I believe that I am "The Amalgam". While I am no "Pro", I have an irrepresable passion for the mountains, and have often envied those who have found a way to earn living in them. I very sheepishly confess my status as a "Trophy Hunter". I have, over the years, climbed 5 of the 7 summits (i.e. highest point on each continent). If I reach the top of Everest (my 6th high point), it seems inevitable that I will "have to" pursue the seventh (Elbrus in Europe). As for the "Aesthetic", I had tears in the corners of my eyes when I witnessed the described scene at Camp 2. I am humbled daily by the majesty of what I see, and as corney as it sounds, the vastness and the wonder of it all. And yet, I am definitely a "Peak Bagger". I can rattle off lists of summits "bagged", and I hang my head with (some) shame to name those attempted but not "conquered". An "Athlete": I have climbed Half Dome (in Yosemite) twice in a day. I can tell you how long it took to summit my last 8,000 M peak. I can site mile and marathon personal best times. I say this with equal parts sheepishness and boyish pride. As for "Publicist", well, if you've made it this far, you've read my self-promoting prose in this blog.

Introducing the Sherpas
Jim Williams over at Exploradus takes some time to introduce his Sherpa team. I find this nice, not only because of the death today, but also to put some more information behind these unsung heroes. For example

All of this would not be possible without the support of our Sherpa team. We have working for us this season a total of four Sherpa who will be climbing above base camp. Nima Tashi – you have already been introduced to along the way; he is our Sirdar and Robie’s summit guide, more on him later. The other three climbing Sherpa are Mingma, Dawa and Nima Thamang.

Please include these hard working fellows and their families when you stop and think about the undertaking Robie is involved in for the next few weeks. They are the ones that make it happen.

Protests at North BC
Four Americans protested the Chinese Torch ambitions and were "detained" by the Chinese yesterday. The San Francisco Chronicle list their names. Sounds like not a huge incident since they were allowed to use their cell phones. However, this will probably add fuel to the argument to over control Everest next year. By shutting down the north side, the Tibetans will be hurt the most due to lack of business.

Random Notes
Sherpas are working to get the South Col (Camp 4) in. AAI's team is getting massages but no big screen movies! Several teams are headed back up on the south with the intent to overnight at C3. Once they do this, they will return to BC for a good rest and wait for a weather window and then go for the top! Some interesting gymnastics pictures on the Philippine site. Himalayan Experience, Jamie McGuiness, notes that BC is full but not crowded. The concern is over the North Col or C1 so it will be interesting as the teams move there to hear their impressions.


April 25, 2007 - updated

Business As Usual
All continues to go well as reported in multiple dispatches this morning. A few climbers are at C2 on the South. Paul Adler has a nice dispatch of going through the Western Cwm with all the hot and cold. TA Loeffler notes her descent back to BC and meeting Paul along he way. Small world!

David Tait describes his first trip to the Icefall on the north. He comments that five of the film team had to retreat to BC due to AMS.

Kazakhs team of Maxut & Vassily have reported to www.mount.kz that they are heading to the summit from ABC yesterday. We might see the season's first summit later this week.

Climbers?
Greg Childs offers a very unusual look at his fellow "climbers"in his dispatch today. The words speak themselves. It is a must read for all those following or considering an Everest climb. My take-away is not so much about the clients but the process that allows clients to be accepted to share a rope with others.

Everest can be intoxicating for people and sometimes they underestimate what it takes. This can be a deadly mistake not only for themselves but also for their teammates and Sherpas. Back in 1996, Jon Krakauer documented clients who had never used their mountaineering boots or technical equipment. I think the world sighed a collective shutter that these clients could have gotten on a permit. But now, eleven years later, we read of similar experience.

I do not think it is unique to Child's team. I remember seeing a teammate on a Himalayan climb a few years ago who needed extensive hand-holding to the summit and down. The worse part was his bragging to strangers on the trek out of his "accomplishment".

Lat year, there was a lot of criticism of the "independents" who died on Everest's north side. The critics noted the commercial expeditions rarely had deaths and provided a safety net for those in over their head. My biggest fear from 2006 was that this safety net perception would seduce inexperienced climbers into joining an expedition. However I never thought the most experienced operators would put their reputation at risk by accepting them.

Climbing can be a bright light to a bug. It attacks them without concern for danger. Now that the light is on, let's hope the experince overrides the attraction.

Random Notes
Lots of new dispatches came in late today. In-depth coverage tomorrow. Topics include Icefall maintenance, ropes above C3, North Col conditions, weather and more.


April 24, 2007

First on the Summit?
Yesterday, I reported that the Chinese Olympic Torch team is looking at a May 5th summit date. Today, Greg Childs speculates that the HimEx Sherpas will summit before the end of April - just like they did last year. As part of fixing rope on the North, they have an advantage of being acclimatized so when they get close, they might as well claim the bragging rights by being first to summit. But both teams may not be first. As reported by RussianClimb on the Kazakhs team of Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov:

".. Maxut and Vassily in their kitchen tent in ABC on the picture. All's OK. The guys are in excellent shape. I'm fine too". Maxut Zhumayev and Vassily Pivtsov are resting in ABC before the summit bid. They want to start April, 25. Lithuanian climber Aldas is preparing for the bid too."

Fixed Ropes
The term "fixed ropes" is used a lot during Everest climbs. Basically they are thin nylon ropes that climbers "clip" into using carabineers that are attached to a short piece of webbing attached to their harness. The fixed lines are their for several purposes. The most obvious and important role is to give the climber some protection in case of a fall. But they also provide a clue to the route.

The lines are attached to ice screws or metal angle irons that are buried into the snow or ice. But they are not strong enough for climbers to pull themselves up a steep section - especially if hundreds of climbers put all their weight on an anchor. The ropes are rarely removed at the end of a season so in some sections climbers will find literally five to 15 old lines still in place. It is often difficult to determine the newest line and the wrong choice can be deadly if you need it.

South Side Summary
It looks like the three major commercial teams are all back in base camp for a few days rest. The Sherpas have line fixed to at least Camp 3 if not already to the Yellow Band. Look for a quiet few days with only a few teams above Camp 1.

North Side Summary
The North Col or Camp 1 continues to be touched but no major movements quite yet, probably today or tomorrow. Line is fixed to 8300m or near Camp 4. The teams will get to ABC as soon as they can and work on their acclimatizion by going to the higher camps for a day trip and then back to ABC or some to BC for a rest period.

Random Notes
Bad weather on the north the last two days have slowed things down. Huge winds today off the summit!


April 23, 2007 - updated

A Quiet Start to the Week
The dispatches are very quiet this morning. Nothing unusual, no cause for concern. This will happen from time to time as the climbers are either climbing and too tired to write much, resting in a camp or, most probably, not doing a lot of general interest!

Alpine mountaineering is often a lot of hurry up and wait. You have to be prepared to take advantage of a weather window but at the same time patient when it closes and conditions worsen. Climbers already sleep more than they are used to with bedtimes before 9:00PM. After a few weeks you already know more about your mates than you do about your partner so conversation can wane.

There are books at BC but not at the High Camps due to weight concerns. TA has set the record I think with her reading. She keeps reporting she read 2,3 or 4 books "yesterday"! She is now at C2 without her books and thus left us a nice audio dispatch today. Well worth a listen. Paul Adler narrates a trip through the Icefall on his audio dispatch. And David Tait posts another in depth report on his time at ABC on the north.

As the season progresses, the large teams will spread out. Already on the South, the largest teams have climbers all over the mountain. It is rare that one of these large teams climb as a single unit since individual climbers will need to go slower, take rest days or go faster than the others. This is usually not an issue since tents are set up for the season at all but the highest camps on both sides. Also Sherpas are almost always in the camps.

Snow overnight caused some teams to delay another day climbing from BC to C2 on the south, but you can bet some Sherpas are ferrying loads up and down the Icefall. There were many teams going to ABC on the north so they will take a few days early this week to organize and rest before heading to the North Col.

That's all for now, check back later today for any updates.

May 5th Summit? - update
Duncan Chessell of Himalayan Experience has arrived at the north BC and reports that the Chinese Olympic torch team has rope fixed to 8300 meters and is looking at a May 5th summit!


April 22, 2007

Everest 2007 Weekly Review
It was a busy and productive period on both sides of Everest this week. I would estimate that over 100 people made it to Camp 2 on the south side plus 20 to 30 more to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face including a few that spent overnight at C3. Of course many of these were Sherpas fixing lines, carrying gear and establishing the High Camps. Over on the north an equally impressive number made to ABC and some to the north col. There were reports of four teams already above the north col and one at 7200m or above C1.

The weather was not bad, for Everest that is, with hot days in the Western Cwm and snowy late afternoons, however it did turn a little nasty on the weekend with high winds and snow. Several teams delayed for a day. The Icefall was reported to be "softer" than in past years with some running water and the constant shifting seracs.

We can expect to see more progress to higher altitudes on the north this week with teams spending time at the north col and returning to ABC for their acclimatizion cycles. Over on the south look for the majority of the climbers to spend several nights at C2 and perhaps one at C3. They are all in the middle of their acclimatizion rotations at the point. Remember that south summit bids usually start in mid May - three weeks away.

Jon MIller sent me some photos he took about seven days ago while visiting ABC on the north side. It shows a very snowy north face! Click on these pictures for a larger view. Thanks Jon!


Everest in the Morning Light
Everest in the Morning Light
©Jon Miller, The Rest of Everest


Everest from the Pass
Everest from the Pass
©Jon Miller, The Rest of Everest Base Camp looking South
©Jon Miller, The Rest of Everest

Basecamp
Chinese base camp on right
©Jon Miller, The Rest of Everest

Changtse and Everest
Changtse and Everest
©Jon Miller, The Rest of Everest


April 21, 2007

A "Fluid" Icefall?
Climbers try to make it up or down the Icefall early in the morning to not only avoid the heat from the morning sun but also to take advantage of a frozen crust. However, 2007 is starting to sound a little different. Mike Haugen notes:

"The sun caught up with us around 8:00 am and we roasted all the way back down through the ice fall. It was interesting to see how much the icefall had changed since we climbed through it a week ago. In a couple of areas, massive chunks of ice had shifted and collapsed causing the route to change a bit."

And Paul Adler said:

"I am not sure if it's my mind playing tricks on me, but I don't remember this much water running through the icefall at this time last year. There are streams of water flowing through the ice, and whilst it's not as much as the end of May last year, it seems more than I remember earlier on. Maybe it's just that I was going slower this time and noticing it more."

Random Notes
TA Loeffler made it to C1 after almost a week delay due to illness and a trip down valley to recover. More reports of torrid heat in the Western Cwm.


April 20, 2007

Working the Route on the South
It is kind of quiet today on Everest-south. With teams getting ready to go to C2 and C3 and some teams already there. The common theme to the postings are how hot it is in the Cwm, adjusting to the altitude and ferrying gear to the higher camps. Jeanne Stawiecki notes

"I will be carrying about thirty pounds. I am not going to take the phone and the pda because I don't want to risk this first ten hour trip to camp one. I am already carrying a lot with two liters of water and gear."

There were several teams that made the day climb to C3, 23,000', on the Lhotse Face. This is the next big test beyond the Khumbu Icefall. The Lhotse Face is steep and icy so you must stay 100% focused on each step plus be clipped into the fixed lines at all times - even when sitting down for a rest. There have been several incidents where climbers have slipped or fallen on the Face to their deaths. However, as one of my guides once told me "It is the price of admission to the South Col."

Just one more Step!
Do you ever ask for directions and get the answer "It is just over there" with a wag of a finger? On Everest the adjective "just" is sometimes understated as shown by Tom with Jagged Globe:

"... I began to relax as I knew I was near Camp 1. How wrong could I have been? Do not always listen to your Fearless Leader when climbing a big mountain, they can mislead you. I continued up and down ice falls and across crevasses for over and hour in the scorching heat of the morning sun with no view of Camp 1. I asked other climbers how far to Camp 1 and they just looked at me as though I was on the wrong mountain. I eventually fell upon an abandoned rucsack and I thought some other poor soul like me had passed this way and wondered at his fortune. I rested there and drank some water like a desert nomad as there was no sign of my oasis, Camp 1. I then ustered all my willpower and continued my trek and within five minutes there it was cunningly concealed, but of course our site was at the far end of the camp and I had to climb down and up two more valleys to get at it."


Progress on the North
Similar to the south, teams on the north are making steady progress to ABC and some to the North Col. Some of the largest teams: Chinese, HimEx (new dispatch now posted on their site) and 7 summits are already there on their way now.

Random Notes
I have added extensive narratives to the South Col Route page. I wrote these descriptions to give readers a better feeling of what it actually feels like to climb the various sections on the South Col Route. I hope you enjoy. They can be found here.


April 19, 2007 - Special

A Chinese Takeover on the North?
The Sherpas are talking on the north that the Chinese have taken 80% of the tent space at the North Col for themselves. This according to my conversation with Jon MIller of Rest of Everest. Jon returned to the US earlier this week and called me to chat about the north side.

The climbers are quite upset that in spite of paying the Chinese permit fees, they could be locked out of available space. There is also rampant speculation that the Chinese will close the north ridge route in 2008. As part of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese have made it a national pride campaign to take the actual torch to the summit before the games start later next year. Thus by closing the entire mountain, they will not be hampered in their quest. If this is true, the Sherpas and local Tibetans will be hurt the most since they depend on the climbers for much needed currency.

Finally he confirmed that the climber's BC is at the same spot as in previous years but the Shantytown of Tibetans selling food and booze is a few miles down road this year - a decision apparently made by the Chinese. Also, trekkers can no longer take a jeep to the climber's BC.

Jon said he has new video footage that he will be posting soon on his Podcasts plus he is working with Brian Oestrike and Justin Hewitt of the Lungevity team for new Podcasts. This young team is climbing for cancer research. Brian lost his mother to lung cancer last year. They are climbing without Sherpa support above ABC and without supplemental oxygen. Hearing from them live will be exciting!


April 19, 2007

Break-Away on the North
Most of the north teams are just arriving to ABC but the Kazakhs team of Maxut Zhumayev & Vassily Pivtsov are already to 7,200m. There are reports of 3 other teams well above ABC already.

A Special Dinner Guest
The Super Sherpas, Apa Sherpa, 16 time summitter, and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, the record holder for the fastest south side summit - 10 hours and 56 minutes, had dinner with Elizabeth Hawley in Kathmandu and who was the special guest? None other than Sir Edmund Hillary. He mentioned this may be the last trip to Nepal for the 87 year-old summitter.

A hot Western Cwm
A lot of dispatches are discussing the heat of the Western Cwm. The Cwm (Welsh word for valley) is a U-shaped valley with 5,000' walls three sides. The sun reflects off those side to intensify the heat. Mike Haugen writes from C2:

"I am sitting in the blazing heat while it snows. The sun is so strong up here and the rays reflect off the white snow so it creates an oven effect. There is no shade, but if there were the air temperature would feel much colder. Casey measured the temperature in the tent last night at 12° F and this afternoon in the tent at 126° F. Freeze or fry in the mountains. If this dispatch is a little off, it is because our brains are cooked!"

The South Acclimatizion Process
IMG is ahead on their acclimatizion schedule than the other teams this year. They have already made a day trip to the top of the Icefall, rested back at BC, climbed to C1 with a day trip up the Western Cwm, rested back at BC. Now they are climbing to C2 (bypass C1) and make a day trip up the Lhotse Face. They will spend 3 nights at C2. This schedule has shown to provide proper acclimatizion but it also has the climbers going through the Icefall 4 times. AAI is doing a slightly different variation as is AC with 2 nights at C1, two nights at C2. This means more time at altitude but less trips through the Icefall.

Random Notes
The Coleman team is headed back up is trying to reach C3 for an overnight stay.

What would a party balloon look like on Everest? Dr. Tim has the answer. HimEx client, Tim Medvez were able to raise the money and are on this years team. Looks like David Tait will post the first HimEx dispatch on their site tomorrow - nothing new has says from what he has already posted no his site.

April 18, 2007

A Northern Movement
Teams on the north side are starting to make some moves. Greg Childs, part of the Discovery Channel film crew and Everest/K2 veteran climber is doing daily dispatches. They are quite good at describing the daily activities and provide additional insight into the Himalayan Experience (Russell Brice) team. Thanks to Karen for the link! Greg reports that the team is starting their move to ABC:

"Tomorrow, some of the guides are heading to Advance base camp (higher than the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska), with a caravan of yaks to start organizing camp for the next wave of climbers and film crew. In a few more days everyone will move up, and then the real action will begin."

The Lungevity team has already made it to ABC and is reported tired but well.

Comfy on the South
The Mountain Madness team is back at BC after a climb to C1 and a day trip to C2. Sounds like they have a nice setup as reported by Teddy:

"What a delightful return to find the camp all dialed in and comfortable for daily life. Most of the group's time is spent in the main tent, where we have an electronics table at the far end, a long table down the middle where we eat and play games, and plenty of open space to organize gear and food. So we are all comfortable in camp life- welcoming occasional visitors, watching movies, and spreading out in our personal tents."

Random Notes
The Icefall is reported to be "active" as reported previously by Pat Hickey and now by Mountain Madness"The icefall is particularly active, and the "Ice Doctor" Sherpas have been staying busy moving ladders and lines to accommodate the moving glacier."


April 17, 2007 - updated

A mid Season Review - update
It is mid April so I thought a quick review of the season thus far would be interesting. The other day I made the observation that is feels like a "normal" Everest season. The pluses thus far are great weather, no big surprises like Maoist issues or travel problems. The setting of the fixed lines seems to be going well, but it usually does unless the weather is horrible like in 2005. So in many respects the season is normal.

We are enjoying more personal dispatches than ever. Just on my list, I am following 10 individuals. As usual they report on a personal level and provide a deep insight into what it takes to climb Everest. The large commercial teams have dispatches written by the guides and sometimes not at all as in the case of HimEx. Perhaps Russell has taken his radio silence to a new level this year after the controversy of 2006?

So what is different? Well, I am having a hard time putting my finger on it. One factor is the very early arrival of some large south side teams coupled with a much later arrival by the north side teams. The result is that the season is "stretched" this year. I expect we will see summits in mid May through early June.

The other factor is almost a casual attitude I am seeing in the dispatches. Can it be that climbing Everest has become "routine"? Perhaps. After all, the large commercial teams have been using the same Sherpas, support staff and logistics for almost 10 years now so there are few surprises anymore. Also, we would never read it if something went wrong anyway :)

There are three major parts to an Everest expedition: 1)getting to BC, 2)the multiple acclimatizion climbs and 3)the summit attempt. We are early in the second part. Thankfully, we have not had any accidents.

There is a lot of time to go - almost six weeks. So enjoy the season as it develops and let's send some positive energy the climber's way as they start to embark on some of the harder parts of their experience.

The Bakery is now Open!
Enterprising Sherpa Dawa Steven Sherpa has opened a bakery at BC. This is a first to my knowledge. There have been Internet cafes and Medical Clinics but not a bakery. The proprietors must get a permit from the Nepal Ministry of Tourism and share some revenue - Capitalism at it's "best"? No word on health inspections ... According to Basecamp MD:

"it goes beyond mouth watering apple pie and banana bread and coffee. Dawa wanted to create a place - a neutral place -- that could serve as a pleasant meeting spot for all. On a previous trip to Cho Oyu he noticed that many climbing camps were closed to non members and there was no place for folks to congregate to discuss everything from the best crampons to world politics. Well, Dawa's got a great thing going. The pastries rival shops at sea level, and word is that he'll be opening a cinema too."

Random Notes
Paul Adler (AT), AAI leaves for C1 on Thursday, 19th. On the North, teams have established ABC and most have gone to Intermediate camp. Yet another documentary filming on the north this year: Conrad Anker on the George Mallory search in 1999. Teams report snow and wind at the BCs yesterday and today.

More news later today


April 16, 2007

South Side on the Move
With IMG's big team down for a few days rest after a successful cycle to Camp 1 and a day hike to C2, Exploradus, ICE 8000 and AAI look like they will repeat the cycle tomorrow. AC went up yesterday. Mike and Casey report crowds in the Icefall however

"It took us awhile to get up here from base camp because there was a bunch of traffic in the icefall. It was a nice day so we did not mind waiting to cross some of the ladders, but there are some places that we really did not want to hang around for very long. We saw a huge chunk of ice fall off the cliffs above us, but it was just far away to get our heart rate up without actually putting us in any danger. "

Pat Hickey notes his experience in the Icefall. This is highly unusual in my experience since the Icefall hugs the shoulder of Everest yet is separated by large crevasse that "absorb" the avalanches.

"... we heard a loud roar to our right and looked up to see a massive avalanche of snow above us on a high ridge. Avalanches are not unusual here, in fact, I probably hear and or see at least 6-8 daily. However, this scenario was different as the huge avalanche of snow was directly over us and gaining speed in our direction. My first reaction to the avalanche was one of deja vu as I had seen this before on television when they film an avalanche coming down the side of a mountain. Of course I had never experienced this in real life so took time to appreciate the majesty, the power ... the danger!

All of a sudden it donned on me, this avalanche was heading directly for Mike and I. At the time that this happened, we were standing in the middle of an exposed area similar to a football field which was laced with tiny crevasses. Without saying a word, or checking for confirmation, we both unclipped from the fixed safety lines and started sprinting across this wide space. In front of us were tiny crevasses which normally you would take caution in stepping over, however in our frantic state we were able to hurdle them with ease. As I ran I kept looking over my right shoulder to check the progress of the mountain of snow and was greatly relieved to see that a ledge between us and the avalanche took the brunt of the sliding snow and caused a large white plume of snow spray to lift into the air. We stopped for a few seconds, took a picture of the plume, clipped back in to the fixed safety lines and increased the speed of our descent."

Too much Technology?
I know that sometimes I feel this way on an expedition that the technology takes over from the climb. Here is a a perspective from ICE 8000 on this very issue:

"... the importance power seems to play in some people’s lives these days one does start to wonder – charging camera batteries, DVD machines, video machines, telephone batteries, computer batteries, ipods etc takes up so much of the day it’s crazy! Well it drives us crazy anyway when all we’re here to do is climb. But if all the above appliances serve to enhance our climbers’ expedition experience then I guess it’s not too bad a thing…."


Random Notes
Lot's of reports of the Khumbu cough this year. IMG has fixed lines almost to C3 on the South. DCXP has arrived in Kathmandu as part of their strategy to avoid the crowds.


April 15, 2007

Everest 2007 Weekly Review
This past week saw both sides get established and now there are at least 20 teams at each base camp. This means a lot of people are surrounding Mt. Everest! One large south team has 75 people including climbers, Sherpas, cooks and support staff. One north side team with a 20 person film crew is probably at least 50 strong and so it goes. The Chinese have 200 people including climbers and army at the north BC! I speculate perhaps as many as 500 people on both sides.

So with all this power, it is no surprise that the High Camps are getting established and the fixed rope set. Camp 2 is set on the south side and the north col camp on the north. Sherpas are doing the heavy lifting of getting tents, fuel and oxygen up the mountain. Climbers are doing acclimatizion cycles to the lower camps to build red blood cells needed for the higher altitude. In other words, a "normal" Everest season is underway.

Climbing Everest is quite different even from when I was there in 2003. Note this comment from the Scottish Scout team on the north about their puja ceremony:

" ...The ceremony was very relaxed with beer and other drinks being handed out. During the ceremony we were free to walk about and take pictures. The monk even answered a call on his mobile during the ceremony!"

The Philippine Women's team posted an urgent request for pre-paid phone cards since they realized they get reception at the north BC:

Our cellphone signals have full bars in base camp! But we're not sure about advanced base camp. You can call but it will be cheaper if we call you now. Just give us back a prepaid card ok?

The weather turned a little mean in mid week with cold temps and snow at the base camps. First trips to C1 were delayed one day but nothing serious at this point.

We can expect to see all the south side teams spend time at C1 and some at C2 next week. C3 will probably get established if the condition allow. Over on the north a similar pattern with climbers going to the north col and the higher camps to set them up. I looked back at my coverage of the previous seasons and it seems that we are on schedule. The 3rd week in April has teams on both sides on the lower camps and the Sherpas establishing the higher camps.

Climb safe everyone.

April 14, 2007

South Camp 2 reached
Several climbers from IMG did a "touch" of Camp 2 at 21,360'. They had spent one night at C1 and took a day climb to C2 then back down C1 then to BC today. This was a great acclimatizion cycle taking advantage of some decent weather. It is important to be opportunistic up there since you never know when health or weather will change all your carefully made plans. IMG seems to be pushing extremely hard this year. They arrived early, made a focused trek to BC, had their puja and then started right up the Icefall. I wonder if this is part of a strategy to avoid the crowds? By the way, they had 75 names on their team list!

Chinese at Camp 1 on North
Phil Crampton reports from the SummitClimb north team that they had a hard time establishing tents due to winds and snow. He also notes that the Chinese are already there with tents. Finally is an observation of the Chinese team by Michael Hsu

"... The Chinese, camped to our East, have quite a large contingent of 200 plus people, both from their army and from their official climbing organization.  They will practice carrying a torch in front of them in anticipation of next year’s Olympic Games. "


Entertainment at BC
It may be a small surprise but there is a lot of entertainment these days at the base camps. It is almost standard to have laptops to show DVDs, the AC team watched Borak last night. HimEx watched"Mitch", The 7 Summit Club have a ping-pong table. But food always takes the center stage. Read any of the dispatches and they speak of what they had for breakfast and how great the cooks are doing.

Insight into David Tait
Another outstanding detailed update from David Tait where he covers the departure of David Sharp's parents from BC, David's own story of childhood abuse and his charity. Finally some additional details on his plans for making the traverse - compete with helicopter film coverage provided by the Discovery channel.

Random Notes
Looks like there is more film than duct tape on Everest this year. The Discovery Channel's massive crew on the north, Freestyle with the BBC, The Philippines have a film crew, xTreme Everest has their own film and now we hear that the IMAX sequel to the 1998 Everest is being filmed this year for showing in a couple years in 3D!


April 13, 2007

Tough Time In the Icefall
Sometimes climbing Everest seems "easy" but nothing is father from the truth. Even for those who have multiple summits, they will tell it it is hard, very hard. Don't let those few elites who are genetically gifted lead you on. In that spirit I appreciate this posting from Mountain Madness as they make their first foray up the Icefall:

"...a few folks were still feeling tired and sick so they needed to turn around part way up. The effects of the "khumbu cough" are starting to take affect on a few people too. The very dry air and the hard breathing you do while performing even the most meaningless tasks create an irritation that starts in your throat and eventually moves to your chest. If it continues to get worse it can become quite debilitating. The worry of contracting "the cough" has people wearing bandanas and balaclavas while sleeping (not fun when you already cannot breathe) and walking. There are "Banditos" everywhere in this high-altitude wild west scene! Another preventative measure is to always be sucking on a hard candy or chewing gum. Let's hope we keep working hard at fighting the cough."

Luanne of the EBC Medical Clinic is going for the top this year in addition to running the clinic. She made her first trip through the Icefall with these results:

I’ve always dreamed of walking through the western cwm, seeing the route to Everest open up. I was lucky enough to be placed on a permit, and after helping Drs Suzanne and Ola get the clinic set up, my sights turned up – toward Camp 2. After several training forays into the icefall, I felt ready for the challenge, and yesterday I took off with my able Sherpa guide. The trip to Camp 1 was gorgeous – ice arches, bridges, cerulean blue ice sculptures almost made me linger longer than safely allowed. The trip was also physically exhausting, but I began to suspect AMS problems with my new 6150m altitude when a cracking headache and nausea set in. Symptoms worsened overnight and a pulse oximeter reading of 58% this morning made me elect to say goodbye to the cwm and descend as soon as possible ... Although the trip back through the icefall was uncomfortable, it was the right thing to do for me.

TA Loeffler also made a right decision when she felt bad in the Icefall. After fighting several illnesses the past two weeks, she will go down valley to enjoy more oxygen, warmer temps and sleeping indoors for a few days. Hang in there guys!

However progress is being made and these climbers will make it as well once they acclimatize further. IMG reports 20 climbers at camp1.

Random Notes
It looks like almost all the largest teams have now arrived at BC on both sides. I would estimate there are 500 people on the south and that many or more on the north with the Chinese there this year. There will be a mixture of activity for the next several days with some teams making their way to ABC on the north and to C1 and C2 on the south. All in all the fixed lines will get very crowded with the climbers and the Sherpas ferrying loads to the higher camps. This is one of the busiest times of the season.

April 12, 2007

A Ceremony for David Sharp
The parents of David Sharp, lost on Everest last year in the widely reported event, visited the north base camp and the memorials to all the fallen on Everest. David Tait posted:

This morning, the Sharps, who now famously lost their son David on Everest last year, held a small ceremony around a memorial which has been built in his memory amongst the many others built to honour other lost climbers. They cut a very sad picture, huddled against the cold and silhouetted against such a barren landscape. They are a stoic family, and I have been impressed with their calm and dignity. My condolences.

My condolences to his family and friends as well.

Changes on the North?
Perhaps David Sharp's death will lead to changes especially on how expeditions are run on the north side. Once again quoting David Tait:

There is talk that we might be leaving for ABC [advanced base camp] earlier than assumed - the dates mentioned are the 17th/18th. This would mean only 5-6 days at BC, when I at least was expecting 10-12. Quite why this is being contemplated is currently a mystery, but I suspect Russ, the expedition leader is trying to separate "men from boys" etc. After the 2006 fiasco, and the record number of death, I think its possible that he is trying to raise the bar - climbers will have to prove themselves to a greater degree than previously, in order to be offered a summit attempt.

Please visit David Tait's post for more insight into the north side activiites. This is an excellent report and the best thus far from the north side.

View of Everest from North BC
Views of Everest are very different from the north and south sides. Unlike on the south side, you can see the summit from the north. Bill Tyler notes: "I remember last year that Everest did not seem so large, but the mountain is huge and dominates the sky. Strange that last year it did not seem like that." David Tait commented on his recent dispatch "The mountain has been revealed today, shedding its white blanket of cloud, but also allowing us to see a twenty kilometer plume of ice crystals off the summit - the winds are obviously ferocious."

Bill clarifies the north base camp situation. There are several camps in the area, one for trekkers, one for "others" and one for climbers. He goes on to say "They also moved tent city down between the monastery and the holy man ( a holy man who lives in some ruins and will bless you if you go see him, etc). Which is nice since it moves the people that much farther away. Last year they were right up to the gate. Also Trekkers are not allowed onto the base camp plain."

Random Notes
The large commercial team of AAI should arrive in the south BC today or tomorrow, have their puja on the 13th and start climbing on the 14th. The other large south commercial team, Adventure Consultants had their puja today (12th) and should begin going up the Icefall soon - weather permitting.

April 11, 2007

Discovery Channel at a Crowded North BC

David Tait has a great summary of what the north BC looks like with the 20 person(!!!) Discovery Channel film team. They are filming Russell Brice's HImalayan Experience team again this year. David notes the extensive requirement for power, all the tents and luxuries as compared to last year. Plus he comments on their behavior at BC

The "Discovery" film-crew are an interesting bunch. There are about 20 of them, and to be frank they are acting like a bunch of kids on a school outing - and so they should because they are about to get a rude shock. Tomorrow most, if not all will feel like death as the altitude bites. So far they have been classic tourists, buying up any old junk and trinket offered by the bemused Tibetans. Its going to be interesting to see how they cope with the harsh conditions, especially as they don't have a "goal" to aspire to. In fact one of their number is destined to stay at BC for the entire duration, one month totally alone - good luck!

He also says there are 12 climbers on the team: 4 Japanese, 1 Lithuanian, 3 Americans, 1 Swiss, 1 Dane, 1 Chinese and 2 Brits. Finally he notes the HimEx Sherpas have established ABC and are working their way up the north ridge.

Weather Delay on the South
Dr. Tim got a few extra winks this morning. They were all set to make their first trip to C1 on the south. They got up early and:

The wind and snow last night buffeted the tent with no letup allowing for very little sleep. I and my mates got out of the tents and pulled on our boots, parkas, climbing harnesses, and were just about to shoulder our packs when our Sherpas headlamps became visible and they said no one was going up because of the deteriorating weather.Oh well,after some hot drinks it was back to bed! At breakfast 2 hrs later others confided the same experience I had....we couldn't warm up.It has actually been miserable all day.

Random Notes
There are 32 ladders in the Icefall this year - a bit more than usual. The Lungevity team notes that the north BC is very crowded.


April 10, 2007

Teams - on your mark ...

Today is a little quiet for the teams. Some are having their Pujas, others are getting ready for their fist climb through Icefall to C1 and still others have not arrived at BC on either side quite yet. You can feel the anticipation in some of the dispatches to get going. But is not quiet for everyone. The Heros of Everest continue to work hard. The Sherpas are carrying loads to the High Camps on both sides as they fix the ropes. While we have had no reports of rope fixing on the North, I would bet my lunch money that the HimEx Sherpas have lines to the north col or higher at this point.

Early Struggles
One of the most discouraging and disappointing facts of climbing big mountains is personal illness. I know, I have had my share over the years! TA Loeffler shares her feeling about her constant cough and underlying bronchitis. She will take some more time at BC to recover as her team heads to C1.

"... The stretch of obstacles and illness has been quite humbling. In my sea-level life, I am not often sick so this experience has filled me with compassion for me and for all who suffer from sickness or hurdles. Each obstruction has provided a decision-point location from which to continue to chose the climb. I can look back and appreciate how I have hung in despite the lassitude that both illness and altitude bring."

The key for her and others is to stay positive, take care of their bodies through eating, drinking and resting. There is a huge amount of time. We are at least 5 weeks away from the end of the summit window and probably longer.

Observations on Lhasa
I am enjoying the updates from Bruce Matthews on the 7 Summits team. Today he reflects on what he saw in Lhasa, Tibet as they leave for BC.

Yesterday we visited the Potala Palace, also known as the White Palace or Snow Palace...it is white washed each year.The palace was built in the 1600's and numerous Delia-Lama are entombed there. It is a remarkable building that survived the takeover of Tibet when many monasteries were destroyed; it it the most prominent structure in Lhasa.The Chinese Influence is very apparent and the population of Lhasa has increased from
100 000, 15 years ago, to today's 270 000! There are still parts of the city that can be identified as Tibetan but there is change.The fears of the Tibetans is that they will lose their culture and traditions!

Random Notes
Mountain Madness is heading up to C1. Adventure Peaks reports cold and windy on the north BC with clouds hiding Everest.


April 9, 2007 - updated

The North Side Begins to take Shape

The 7 Summits team is now at the north BC. They report 17 teams at the north BC. I mentioned yesterday that surprises seem to be the norm on the north. Well I had no idea that only 24 hours later we would have a good example. According to Jon MIller of Rest of Everest fame, his Tibetan guide reports the Chinese have claimed the traditional base camp location for themselves and directed "foreign" teams to a new site. This makes the trek to ABC about 2.5 miles longer. Not a big deal but this could be a precursor to what climbers can expect in 2008 as the Chinese take the Olympic torch to the summit. This year is a dry run with Chinese climbers attempting a south to north traverse.

May 20-23 Summit days?
Jeanne Stawiecki had her Puja with Lama Geshi and he told her that May 20-23 were "auspicious days" for a summit. Many Sherpa believe in these predications and for the most part they are right, year after year. Usually the Lama at a Puja will make this prediction.

Random Notes
Paul Alder reports that the Himalayan Rescue Association clinic at Periche is recommending Viagra for altitude sickness. IMG has sent Sherpas to establish Camp 2 on the south side. Adventure Consultants' large team has made it to the south BC. The helipad is now in for the south BC. There have been two crashes there in the past four years.


April 8, 2007

Everest 2007 Weekly Review

And we're off! As usual most of the activity was on the south side with more than 20 (my estimate) teams now at base camp. A few early teams are also at BC on the north but most are still in route.

The Icefall Doctors have the route into C1 which is great news. The weather seems to be fine thus far. EverestWeather.com has reported a steady wind between 45 to 55 knots all week on the summit with temps hovering around -30C. Typical for early April. The jet stream should make it's move north in mid May but that is a long time from now!

The dispatches are streaming in now that the bugs have been worked out of their sat phone and computers. TA Loeffler is setting the tone with her honest and vivid postings. Also, Tim Warren is sharing his feelings along the way. I like his observation of the Sherpas as he took his first steps on the Icefall: "...We are huffing and puffing like locomotives trying to suck in oxygen while I don't hear the Sherpas get out of breathe once." Thanks to all of the climbers who go the extra effort to bring us along.

A couple of teams have made their first steps on the Icefall so we can expect to see the first climbs to C1 this week. Let's hope the ice is steady this year and there are no accidents like in 2006. The Icefall continues to be the most dangerous part of a south side climb in modern times.

We can also expect to start hearing from the north side teams as they arrive at their BC. But there are always surprises like last year when HimEx Sherpas made the summit in late April! So who knows what will happen this year on the north especially with the Chinese conducting a dress rehearsal for taking the Olympic torch to the summit in 2008.

A warning from Yvon Chouinard
of Patagonia fame is quoted in an excellent interview from AP. He says:

... "I personally have done a bunch of ice climbs around the world that no longer exist," said Yvon Chouinard, a renowned climber and surfer and founder of Patagonia, Inc., an outdoor clothing and gear company that champions the environment. "I mean, I was aghast at the change."


April 7, 2007

First Steps for the Climbers

South side climbers have begun their baby steps to the summit. As it is said each journey starts with one step. The usual custom is for the climbers to take a day and go to the first ladders on the Khumbu Icefall. This reconnaissance has a few purposes: first is to finally get all your gear on: boots, layers, crampons, ice axe, harness, 'biners. Then to actually to step on the Icefall for the first time. Finally the goal to actually cross a ladder with all your gear on. For many this is a time they have dreamed of or dreaded for years. For all it is a memory that will never fade.

TA has a nice description and sums it up with "I wasn't scared or nervous-just eager to give it a go. I crossed over and back with no crampon snags or near misses. I even felt confident enough to capture the classic photo looking down through the ladder rungs."

Random Notes
An "interesting" dissertation from John of the London Business School Team on how to keep your bottom clean ... no commentary need by me on this one! A touching update by Pat Hickey on his puja with Lama Geshi and how he felt connected to the Lama. Mike and Casey explain their roles as profesional guides and testing Coleman's gear. Paul Adler is using a GPS tracking system to log his waypoints and display them on Google Earth. Nice touch by Paul.


April 6, 2007

Eating like there is no Tomorrow
Happy Easter
A common theme in all the past week's dispatches have been about eating at FIre & Ice and Mike's Breakfast in Kathmandu, fresh pizza in Namche, the bakery in Khumjung and on and on. This is the one time in your life you can eat absolutely anything and as much as you can hold without guilt or retribution!

Meagan McGrath notes "... They are really big on bakeries here - and they are especially fond of apple desserts, in particular apple pie.  I just had milk tea - boy, there's a lot of eating on this trip!" Pat Hicky adds "...For supper tonight I had a momo ... which is deep fried yak meat wrapped in dough. With a little mustard it was finger licking good!" And not be out done, Brian Oestrike and Justin Hewitt of the Lungevity Team set this goal "...The goal for the next two days is about 9000 calories a piece per day, and if we keep up at this rate it should not be a problem."


Is the Khumbu Glacier Disappearing?
An alarming comment from Dave Hahn on his Blog. He notes the thinning of the Khumbu glacier near Loboche as he is trekking to BC "... we went out for a walk on the moraine of the great Khumbu glacier, kind of scary to see how much the glacier is thinning at this point, it seems to have thinned by a couple of hundred feet in some areas around here in pretty recent times." This not only an estetic issue but also one of survival for the Sherpa people in the Solu-Khumbu region. The glacier melt feeds the rivers used for irrigation, drinking water and for hydroelectric generation plants. Please use this as another real example that global warming is real and through little changes each of us can turn it around.


April 5, 2007

Puja, asking for permission and safety

One of the most memorable experiences I always have on Himalayan climbs is the Puja ceremony. This event is when a Lama from a local village travels to base camp for a ceremony where he asks the mountain Gods for permission to climb and for the safety of the climbers.

The ceremony starts with the Sherpas building a rock alter and a small fire of juniper branches. The climbing tools - crampons, ice axes - are placed by the alter. On top is a picture of the Dalai Lama. The Lama chants prayers from a several hundred year-old Tibetan prayer book - the pages so fragile, I wished the wind would not blow too hard.

The ceremony can last several hours with all the Sherpas, climbers and staff participating. Everyone sips chang (a potent rice wine), rice is thrown three times into the air, tsampa (flour) is used to mark your face, and finally a khata, a white scarf, now blessed by the Lama is placed around your neck along with a red string that is not to be removed until you get home. The final part of the ceremony is the raising of the prayer flags which cover the entire camp.

Every Puja is special and touches everyone. It is during this event you realize that climbing in the Himalayas is not just a mountain climb.

Here is an excerpt from TA Loeffler describing her Puja this year:

Soon after the puja pole was raised, we each received some tsampa to eat, to throw into the air, and to smear on each other's faces for long life, safety, and summit success. At this moment, revelry took over and the tsampa delivery approximated a cafeteria food fight with kindness. Blessings and good wishes were shared all round along with snacks and beverages (both alcoholic and non). A bit more rice was thrown and now our team is blessed, ready, and able to make it's way up the mountain.

I have some short videos from past pujas on the routes page.

Random Notes
Xtreme Everest is moving higher towards BC so I assume they got their "research permit" from the Nepalese.
TA Loeffler reports 16 teams in south BC including the UK Scouts and the London Business School, I assume. Looks like IMG will have a head start over the other south teams with their early arrival into BC. AC, AAI and many independents are still in route. My bet is they will all still make summit bids within days of one another. A few teams have arrived at BC on the north side but most are still in transit.


April 4, 2007

Where are the North Side Teams?

I have received a few emails asking about Russell Brice's team and their status. Russell's company is Himalayan Experience but is commonly known as HimEx. The interest in his company may be due to the 2006 Discovery Channel television documentary/commercial/reality show featuring HImex's spring 2006 expedition.

Russell is famous for tightly controlling every aspect of his climbs including external communications. It may be even tighter this year with the Discovery film crew along again - I don't know but maybe they want to keep everything as quiet as possible to make the TV series more exciting!

Russell usually sends only 3 to 5 updates for his entire climb with the first one starting when they get to base camp. I would assume we would see something in the next 5 to 8 days since he was in Katmandu last Friday.

If you have friends or family on his team, I would not worry about not hearing anything yet. Russell is about as good as it gets in the dangerous business of Everest.

April 3, 2007

Trekking and Resting

Most of the dispatches from the teams today are about either starting their trek to BC or their arrival at BC on the south. The north is very quiet. This has always been my experience with the early season. Most of the north side teams do not send updates until they get settled at BC or even ABC.

There will be a few themes over the next five days: more impressions of the trek to BC and pujas at BC plus their first trip up the icefall. I will be interested in the condition of the Icefall given the Sherpa deaths last year early in the season.


April 2, 2007

More teams in Kathmandu, base camp established, Icefall Route is In!!

Alpine Ascents and Adventure Consultants have arrived in Kathmandu. These two well established companies usually have large teams of 10 or more climbers plus that many Sherpas and then the overall support staff. So the trek to base camp will continue to be well worn!

Several teams have arrived in base camp on the south side. According to a dispatch from Tim Warren, the trek had it's challenges: "The trek in was NOT easy.Two people had to quit on the way and virtually 100% had some health issue from GI issues,to altitude, to infections of all sorts."

IMG and the Coleman teams are at BC as well. An audio dispatch from TA Loeffler describes her new home and her views of Purmori and the Icefall. She also notes their Puja is scheduled for April 5th. Of special note is that the icefall Doctors have got the route established all the way to Camp 1. This is excellent news as compared to couple of years ago when the route was not in until early April.

"Rest of Everest" Podcast to be in Tibet again.
My friend Jon MIller contacted me last week to say he was heading back to Tibet this year and will be doing real-time podcasts. Fans of the series Rest of Everest became quite loyal to the weekly episodes produced by climbers Jon Miller and Ben Clark after Clark's 2003 summit of Everest from the north route. MIller produced a slick 15 to 20 minute episode showing high quality video and narrate through a series of casual conversations. They filmed over 80 hours on the climb and produced an 84 minute film that was shown on the Dish Network in 2005. You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes or download them to your PC but however you get them, get them.

Xtreme Everest has Issues
I saw this news item over the weekend but did not report it until i had some verification. But is appears the Xtreme Everest expedition has been stopped in their tracks due to lack of a permit from Nepal to conduct research on Everest. They were planning on hauling stationary bikes and other apparatus to measure the effect of low oxygen on humans. We will have to see how this turns out.


March 31, 2007

Lessons During the Trek to BC

It is interesting that for some Everest climbers the trek to base camp provides as many lessons as during the climb itself. Most climbers will take seven to ten days to make the trek from Lukla to Everest south base camp. This is for acclimatizion purposes and tries to follow the well proven rule of gaining no more than 1,000' a day. The climbers will only walk four to six hours a day with light day packs so it is not physically difficult. The end result is that you have a lot of time to think and reflect on what you are about to do.

However things do not always go smooth as was shown with TA Loeffler who became sick this week. Here are her thoughts she posted:

"... Last night something did not agree with my innards and I had to spend some time outside the tent "dispatching" dinner in a most violent way. I felt much better sans the meal, but wasn't sure if I would be able to move up with the group in the morning.

I spent much of the rest of the night playing through various scenarios-mostly telling myself that the light of day would bring the answer. Breakfast was a big challenge, but I managed to get some hot drinks to stay down. At the decision moment, I felt less nauseous so I elected to give it a go. My duffle was given to a porter so I could turn around at any point.

After lunch, I was able to stay with the front runners of the group, though that wasn't my intention. When we reached Loboche, the base camp doc remarked, "TA you kick ass!" It was then that I realized the gift of the different kind of dispatch. I could see, and take in and claim, the mental and physical strength I possessed today in gaining 600 meters on clear fluids alone. Feeling poorly allowed me to reduce my own expectations of myself and that freedom was a gift ..."


Tim Warren gave us another insight as he passed the chortens set up to remember the fallen Sherpas on Everest. Also for a few Western climbers. I always found this a tremendously emotional moment when you realize how the unselfish Sherpas work so hard for the climbers and sometimes pay for it with their life. Here is how Tim put it:

"It was a somber feeling when we climbed a ridge yesterday and found ourselves in the memorial for climbers who have lost their lives in the Himalaya. 'Chortens' are stone memorials between 2-12' high and there were a hundred or so. Rob Hall, BabuChiri Sherpa,Yasuko Namba,Scott Fischer, and Alex Lowe were some of the notables.The lesson for me is to be reverent and humble and work with nature and not force anything.The summit and safe return is the objective but if that seems doubtful I will simply opt for the' safe return'. 'I ain't afraid of dyin', I'm afraid of not tryin' ..."

Well said Tim.

March 30, 2007

The Grande Dame of Himalayan Giants

Most Everest climbers know of one person they must tell the truth to, no matter what - Miss Elizabeth Hawley. At age 84, Ms. Hawley is the sole decider if you made the summit of a Himalayan 8000m mountain. Who is she and how did she get this job?

Elizabeth HawleyI remember my first Himalayan climb in 1998. I was told by the clerk in my Kathmandu hotel that I had a phone call. "Who would be calling me here?" I asked myself. "This is Elizabeth Hawley. What is your full name, where do you live. How old are you?" She fired off in rapid succession. Pausing, I gently asked "Who are you again?" With a huff of indigence she simply said "Elizabeth Hawley". And that was that! I answered her questions politely and hung up not knowing I had just spoken with a legend as famous as Hillary or Messner.

Miss Hawley went to Kathmandu some 47 years ago and never left. As a journalist for Time she reported on climbs for various news services and the American Alpine Journal, Climber, Vertical and other magazines. Not only has she earned the respect (and fear) of climbers she is also sought out as a resource on routes and "beta" for the mountains.

Miss Hawley is famous for finding every climber within hours of arriving in Kathmandu and asking unique questions of the climbers claiming to have summited . For example, what other 8000m mountains can you see from the summit? What has been left behind on the summit by other climbers? If you answer wrong, you don't get credit- full stop!

In her book "I'll call you in Kathmandu", author Bernadette McDonald chronicles "Liz's" life and shows the importance Miss Hawley has achieved in the climbing world - and she has never climb a foot of any of her beloved mountains!

Her records were recently released in book and CD form with climbs covered from 1905 to 2003 for the Himalayas. You can find more about this great resource at Himalayan Database.

For a first hand report, we can look forward to Paul Adler's update in a day or so. He writes today on MyEverest.com "... When I checked in there was a note that Elizabeth Hawley wants to meet me tomorrow - don’t know how she found out about me or my arrival, but apparently she has a habit of doing this."

Good luck Paul!


March 29, 2007

Tea House - The Climber's Hotel

With many teams trekking the Khumbu you often read about their stay in teahouses. This is a brief introduction to these homes away from home.

One important aspect is that the teahouses are owned and run by the local Nepalese, mostly Sherpa people and mostly women. As is usually mentioned, these women and their children touch climbers and trekkers in meaningful ways.

The structures are built of wood and stone often with aluminum roofs. There is no electricity in the remote places. In recent years many teahouses have telephones but it is common for the lines to be down. The sleeping rooms are usually in bunk bed style but a lot have double rooms as well. Some have blankets, sheets and pillows but most people use their own sleeping bags.

A small kitchen, also with a wood burning stove but sometimes gas, provides all the food for the guests. There is usually one great room with a wood burning stove that provides a gathering place. My fondest memories are being in these rooms meeting travelers from all around the world, reading and thinking about the upcoming days.

North Side Coordination Begins
Alex Abramov of 7 Summits reports that his large (20+) team and HimEx met in Kathmandu to coordinate rope fixing on the north side. As has been the custom for several years, Russell Brice's Sherpas will fix the ropes (and thus set the overall climbing schedule for everyone) and charge each climber $100 US. This is actually a great deal for the other teams unless they want to go faster than HimEx, which is unlikely.

South Side base camp
Meanwhile on the south, teams are are reporting that Sherpas are at base camp building tent platforms and setting up the rest of camp. This is a massive tasks that must be repeated each season. BC is on the Khumbu glacier and moves constantly. Thus last year's platforms are just a pile of rocks and well down valley by the time spring rolls around. There is always some jockeying to get the "best" location in BC. Each year teams usually send a few Sherpas up weeks in advance to stake out their spot. Some teams prefer being close to the start of the Icefall route to shorten the day's climb while others prefer to be far away to minimize the foot traffic through their camp.

Weather reports begin today
Thanks again to Michael Fagin at EverestWeather.com for providing a daily snapshot of the weather on Everest. It will always be in the center below the table. Also I have added the local time for both sides next to the route maps. You might notice that there is a difference in the times between the north and south sides even though they are just a few miles apart. That is due to the custom of using Kathmandu time and Chinese time.


March 28, 2007

Climbers Crowd into Kathmandu

Most expeditions try to arrive in Kathmandu around April 1. They then target May 15th for a summit day - more about this much later. I have had some questions about the table at the top of the page and how to read it. It is fairly simple. An "x" will show the team's (or individual climber) last camp. "h" indicates their highest point thus far and "e" means their team has finished their expedition. When someone summits, I try to show the Western Climbers plus Guides separated from the Sherpas so there will be 2 numbers n/n. Remember this is all approximate and is not guaranteed! Some team try to hide their progress for their own reasons, other do not publish dispatches and then some info out there is just incorrect. But this will give a general idea of how things are going for the next two months.

Here is a partial list of who is in Nepal thus far:
  • IMG (TA Loeffler, Tim Warren, plus others)
  • Xtreme Everest
  • UK Hampshire Scouts
  • Coleman- Mike Haugen and Casey Grom
  • Mountain Madness
  • London Business School
  • Climb High - Manny & Jim
  • Philippine
  • 7 Summits
  • HimEx

March 27, 2007

The Children touch the Climbers

For first time visitors to Nepal, their excitement can be focused on the mountains. But almost everyone finds something that touches them in a very special way - the children of Nepal. If you read many of the current dispatches, they speak of the kids and have some great pictures. Tim Warren and Mike Haugen have some nice shots.

Many More Teams to Arrive
Some teams have arrived but the majority are leaving this weekend or are in transit. We can expect them to reach base camp on both sides in the next two weeks. Remember, Everest is a two month expedition. There is a lot of work just to get to BC.

More Stunts on Everest
Another Everest stunt was announced today. Pemba Dorje Sherpa will go for both summits of Everest and nearby Lhotse in one go. In addition he will stay on the summit of Everest for 24 hours in an effort to break the record of the late Babu Chirri Sherpa. I am mixed on how to react to this. If Pemba wants to bring positive publicity to the work of the Sherpa people, he could join the SuperSherpa or Democratic Sherpa teams. I am sure his effort will bring publicity to him and get him more work. But as the current speed climber record holder he does not really need it. Perhaps he is just being a regular human in our publicity crazed world - no different from contestants on American Idol or Blog writers :-) What do you think? Vote in a new poll I just put up.

March 24, 2007

Anticipation ...

With the teams in transit do not expect a lot of news for the next few days. The early birds will be reporting on their treks and travels. Let's hope they have have smooth and safe journeys. Expect to hear about weather, unrest with the Maoists and lost luggage the next week. Climbing events will not start for another couple of weeks. But this is still an exciting time for everyone. First time climbers and trekkers are astounded at the scenery of Nepal and the people. Veterans are humbled once again by seeing old friends and being back "home". Everyone is having a great time ... even with lost luggage!

March 22, 2007

How does all that Gear get to base camp?

Well not easily is the short answer! In a combined effort of Zos, Yaks, male and female porters and some really big helicopters literally tons and tons of gear make their way to the 17,000' base camps.

Mac Mackenney over at Xtreme Everest writes about their trip on the decades old Russian helicopter. His description brings back my own memories of how the old 'copter shook and I could see clear air through te inch-wide gaps in the sheet metal as it strained to get off the ground. On one trip we actually had to set down a few miles after take off and get off because it was so heavy it could not clear the passes! Take read of Mac's excellent article!

A little more on what gear it takes to run a two month expedition with five or more climbers, plus at least that many Sherpas plus the BC cooks and other miscellaneous staff running around. There are tents - sleeping, cooking, dinning, communications, toilet and shower. Tables and chairs. There is food - lot's of food: rice, chicken, veggies, eggs, bread, canned goods, tea, powdered milk, coffee and more. Each climber brings at least two 75lb duffels with their clothes, boots, sleeping bag(s), mats, technical gear and more. Then there are oxygen bottles - these can number in the hundreds for a large team. Each bottle weighs 6lbs.

In the end, the gear will weigh in well over 4000 to 8000lbs. And almost all of it will be carried by human or animal the final few miles to base camp!

March 21, 2007

Weather Outlook for Everest Season - An "Average" Season

Michael Fagin over at EverestWeather.com has sent his climbers a summary of what they can expect this year. It looks like an "average" season, in other words wind, snow, blizzards, and, oh, wind! Here is his complete report:

Background
Discussing longer term weather trends is a tricky business to say the least. Some times just making a one day forecast is a challenge. However, we have been asked by some of our clients to discuss some of the recent weather patterns and what might be expected for this climbing season.

Recent Patterns
During the last two months precipitation has been above average. In fact during February precipitation was significantly above average. However, one must realize that precipitation during these months tends to represent just a very small percent of the yearly totals.

Summit winds over the last month have been slightly above long term average and at about 90 knots. Currently there is a jet stream close to the Everest summit which is not that uncommon for this time of the year.

Climbing Season Outlook
In several recent climbing seasons when there has been a moderate El Nino just before the start of climbing there have been persistently strong summit winds during May. El Nino is above average sea surface temperatures off the coast of the equatorial portion of South American.

There was a weak El Nino during August through December 2006. However, starting early this year there has not an El Nino.What these recent patterns suggest is “an average climbing” season as far as winds are concerned.

How about the start of the monsoon. Also, will be an active storm season with depressions moving in from the Bay of Bengal. No early signs on this, but we will monitor this.
Again, these are just generalizations on this climbing season and we will earn our keep with the regular daily forecasts that we provide


Death of a Friend and Mentor on Everest
How do you deal with seeing a close friend die on a mountain – and one whom was your mentor? Elia Saikaly, climber, former weightlifter and film maker saw Sean Egan die in 2005. Sean would have been the oldest Canadian to summit at age 63. He touched so many people. Last week, Everest climber Pat Hickey also spoke of how Sean affected him. Elia is returning to Everest this year. Here is his story:

Q: Your climb is to honor the life of Sean Egan and to raise money for the Child Haven Charity, why has this become so important to you?
At the age of 28, I have learned the importance of helping others and giving back. I learned this from Sean, from the Tibetans and from the Children of ChildHaven. I made a promise to Sean Egan in 2005 before he died that I would do everything in my power as a filmmaker to help him pass on his messages to people. FINDINGLIFE the movie, our parallel story is a result of that promise. When he died, I decided to dedicate my life to this.

Sean wanted to help people find their purpose in life. "Through purpose, we would find happiness." I have found purpose through this film. He loved these children and wanted to build a school for them. He took me there and I too felt a similar love for these children. To me, they gave me hope. In the WEST, we have so much, yet we are never quite satisfied and never truly happy. Those kids have so little, yet are far richer than many of us. This has enriched my life and humbled me in many ways.

Q: Your short film is on youtube, what message are you trying to communicate with the film?
FINDINGLIFE life is a specific story, about me and about Sean Egan. It is however a universal tale that we can all relate to. We all have mountains to climb and we all seek to understand life. LIFE is anything we want it to be, we create the life around us and within us. So the move shares a story of 2 men who were on EVEREST searching for a lot more than just a trophy. On one level, through the film, Sean teaches us about living fit, happy, healthy lifestyles, he passes on his very ZEN influenced outlook on life, something we all could benefit from living in the WESTERN world. On the other level, my personal story, having been at the lowest point (on a personal level as a kid) and now going to the highest point, of a very specific defining purpose should serve as inspiration to younger people that despite all odds, tragedy, hardships, struggles. We can still lead an incredible life filled with meaning, adventure, love and passion which translates into happiness.

Q: You have been to C2 on Everest before, this time the summit? Are you nervous about the climb?
Nervous. Always. You have to be. If you do not fear, you are dangerous up there. I have been training with Gabriel Filippi for the last 12 months preparing for this. Technically, physically and mentally. Going into the DEATH ZONE will be the ultimate physical and mental test for me. I learned from Sean and from Gabriel the very spiritual approach to climbing Everest. I respect the mountain the way the Sherpas and Tibetans do and this will be my approach all the way up. The most difficult part for me will be the emotional weight of the tragedy of April 29th, 2005. Everest and Sean's fate are always present in my mind. I am ready for this climb; I have spent every day preparing for this for a full year, for the climb and for the ultimate purpose, for the FILM "FINDINGLIFE". I am going to finish this beautiful initiative for Sean, for his family and for all of us who were touched by him and of course, for me.

Q: Any other thoughts?
It will be hard going back through Dughla. I did not like being there and do not look forward to going back through there.

Last year I built Sean a CHORTEN and left some things from his daughter for him. I look forward to seeing him again, I carry him with me at all times and I look forward to seeing him on top of the world where Gabriel left a part of him in 2005.
Gabriel is doing the most selfless act: He and Sean were friends. Gabriel was done with Everest. He made it in 2005. He is a father and husband and is returning to Everest to guide me because he believes in me, in SEAN, in FINDINGLIFE and the initiative of supporting CHILDHAVEN. He wants to make sure I get up and get down safely. I am touched and moved that he is doing this for me; it is not a sport climb for him. I think he is the ultimate example in a true MOUNTAINEER. He is a humanitarian, he guided by his heart. I am honed to climb with him as a guide and as a friend.

I often say" FINDINGLIFE is about "The people we meet, the friendships we keep and the life that we find along the way, this is my EVEREST".

Elia’s website is Findinglife


March 20, 2007

Travel Woes in Kathmandu

Several reports from teams are saying a general strike by hotels, restaurants and taxis have brought the city to a standstill. There is speculation that no flights will run later this week. This could hamper teams plans to get to Lukla and to get gear carried to BC. Mike Haugen has a nice first hand report.

This is not too unusual for Nepal. Strikes are one of the only ways small businesses can protest the Government. But it usually calms down as the tourist season starts.

Would you let your Kids trek to Everest?SMYES Research Kids
Well, yes if I was with them! Actually Sally is going with her three children as part of the UK's Xtreme Everest expedition. The children will only go as far as the Monastery in Tengboche. Xtreme's mission is :

"... a research project coordinated by the UCL Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme environment medicine (CASE) - doctors and scientists studying human systems stretched to breaking point in extreme environments to increase our understanding of critically ill patients.

The goal is to place a research team on the summit of Mount Everest in 2007 and make the first ever measurement of the level of oxygen in human blood at this altitude.

This is the centrepiece of an extensive programme of research into hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and human performance at extreme altitude aimed at improving the care of the critically ill and other patients where hypoxia is a fundamental problem.

As for the Children's role:

NINE healthy British children, aged 6 to 13, are to travel to Mount Everest to take part in a ground-breaking medical study that aims to develop new treatments for critically ill children and those with both breathing and sleep problems.

The Smiths Medical Young Everest Study (SMYES) will investigate how the children cope with low oxygen levels on the world’s tallest mountain.

Doctors do not yet fully understand children’s responses to low oxygen levels, which are common in very sick children and can be fatal.

By investigating how healthy children’s bodies cope and adapt at altitude, the SMYES team hopes to improve the chances of survival for very sick children. It also aims to improve the quality of life of those with chronic/long term lung diseases and to develop new methods of detecting and treating children with disturbed sleep patterns.

But back to mom. Here is a brief interview with Sally as she prepares to leave for Nepal this weekend with her children:

Q: How have the children trained for the trek?
We have done quite a bit of walking in the Shropshire hills near where we live. My children do a lot of swimming (my oldest daughter trains 6 times a week) so they are fitter than most children.

Q: As their mom, are you worried?
I am not too worried - I was originally - at how they would cope, but we are taking it very slowly (3 days from Lukla to Namche as opposed to 1 day) ....and I know we are in really good hands. I actually know Kalsang, the Sherpa who is leading our party as he is married to my step-sister! He is a great character and I am so looking forward to seeing a bit of his country and culture and meeting his family.

My main worry is whether the children will fall out with each other, or get a bit bored when they are having some of the tests done on them.

Q: Why go to Nepal, could the study have been simulated in chambers?
I don't know whether the study could be done in chambers......I guess not as the scientists would have already done it! The fact that they are doing tests is really adding to the excitement for the children. I must point out that we were going on holiday to Everest with our extended family anyway - the tests came when the doctors realised they had 9 healthy children on location! [ed note: more info on this question at this link on the Xtreme website]

Q: Are the kids excited? I will be interested in what they think of those big yaks!!

The children are really excited....they don't know quite what to expect but know that it will be a once in a lifetime experience. Your slide show and stories are helping them to get in the mood and they can picture it a bit better now.


March 19, 2007

Climbers arriving - Early Everest 2007 Dispatches
Climbers are already starting to arrive in Nepal and Tibet. The main teams usually do not schedule arrivals until early April. Those who are early are enjoying some sightseeing, visiting friends or perhaps doing some last minute training on smaller peaks.

TA Loeffler has put up a nice dispatch about her travels to Kathmandu. Manny with Everest 2007 - Learning without Limits - has posted a nice dispatch. They are doing some trekking in the Sagarmatha National Park which contains Mt. Everest in Nepal. A smile came to my face as he described being back in Nepal and, once again, humbled by the people and the cultural sites. That is what is all about.

MIke Haugen with the IMG team talks about getting to Kathmandu and the 17 1/2 hour plane ride! He mentions seeing Everest from the plane. It is rare to see Everest on the Bangkok to Kathmandu flight. I have only seen her once from the air. But what a sight! Here is how I put in 2003:

Sitting on the full Thai flight, I was surrounded by people wearing surgical arrowmasks. I wondered about the risks of being exposed to SARS and what bad luck that would be at the beginning of my trip. I listened to my music and looked out the window. From ocean to silt covered flatlands to green forest and finally the brown hills of Nepal, we flew over Thailand, Bangladesh and India on our way to Katmandu. Knowing that on a clear day you can see Everest out the right side of the airplane, I walked to one of the doors and peered out the tiny round window. Several hundred miles to the Northeast was a layer of white puffy clouds. There it was! I quickly grabbed my camera and steadied my hands on the emergency exit. Flying 600 miles per hour at 38,000', I zoomed in eight times until the goal came into focus. Click, click – I took eight pictures not sure if any would come out. I set aside the camera and took a long look. There it was. A huge white plume rippled off the mountain revealing the ever-present jet stream howling from East to West. I could see Lhotse and Nuptse standing guard on Chomolungma, Goddess Mother of the Earth. As I looked closer, I told myself I could see the big rock where I turned around last year. Returning to my seat, a wave of excitement came over me. I stood taller, walked faster and felt strong.


March 18, 2007 Jeanne Stawiecki

Interview with Everest Climber Jeanne Stawiecki
As previously introduced, Jeanne is doing some remarkable things these days. Her story is an inspirational to everyone who thinks they are too old, too out of shape or too "fill in the blank" to be active after age 44. She will be climbing on the south side with AAI and will also be posting updates to her site SevenIn2007.com. Here is the interview:

Q: In your mid 40's you turned your life around physically- stopped smoking, started running marathons but why mountain climbing as well?
At the age of fifty, having never traveled out of the country( I had taken a few vacations:Bermuda, Florida, California) and certainly I had never traveled alone, I decided to take a trip of a lifetime and go trekking in the Himalayas. I went alone and joined a group in Nepal. I was thrilled by the mountains and the adventure. Seeing Everest for the first time was a truly unbelievable experience for me and when I returned home I couldn't forget the sight of the majestic Himalayas. I started to read stories about the mountains of the Himalayas and eventually read the book by Dick Bass "The Seven Summits".

A doctor was hired at the hospital where I worked and he ( Dr. Mark Nawrocki ) was a mountain climber. He suggested I take a climbing course. I took a weekend course in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and signed on for a mountaineering trip to climb in Ecuador. After summitting Cotopaxi, I was hooked. The scenery was amazing on my way to the summit and the thrill of this accomplishment exceeded anything I had ever achieved to date. When I returned home, I began to think seriously about what it would take to climb the seven summits.


Q: Your previous Everest climb ended with a medical evac due to a vocal cord problem, how has that experience impacted your preparation for this time?

I had to relearn how to breathe, doing diaphragmatic breathing to prevent the dysfunction. I worked with a speech pathologist and even took voice lessons to strengthen my cords. After that evacuation I had to stop exercising. I worked hard to rebuild my level of conditioning.


To prepare for my climb of Everest, I rented Colorado High Altitude Training equipment (one of my sponsors) and I have been training at high altitude with a versa climber and sleeping at a simulated high altitude of fifteen thousand feet. I decided to try climbing a smaller mountain, but one that was over 17,000 feet. I needed to see if I still had the difficulties with my breathing that had started at lower elevations on Everest and became worse when I climbed higher. I summited Kilimanjaro in August of 2006 and was thrilled to find my breathing was fine throughout the climb and that my training and conditioning enabled me to climb feeling physically and mentally fit.


I believe Everest is about endurance, physical strength and especially mental stamina. I have been doing stress workouts: training to exhaustion and then pushing even further. I have been to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to climb on weekends. I have run marathons on each of the seven continents in under five months and have run most of them in under four hours even after traveling by plane for 24 hours. The final test will be the climb itself. I feel I am as ready as I ever will be.


Q: At age 56, most people are thinking of cruise ships, not frostbite, where do you get your motivation to keep pushing yourself?

My life before I turned fifty was monotonous and too predictable. I had taken very few vacations and had never traveled outside of the US. With the landmark age of fifty I had a lot of living to catch up on and I decided I would pursue the dreams of my youth before I became too old and feeble. I enjoy living life to the fullest and for me challenging myself with my heart pounding in my chest as I approach the summit of a mountain or the finish line of a marathon is what being alive is all about! Once I started climbing and traveling, I found a new passion for life.


Q: Running a marathon on each continent and making the 7 Summits will be cool. How does it feel to be close to the end?

Nothing short of amazing.........it has been a wild ride!


Q: Any other thoughts for us followers this year?

Only one....a quote from Faust:

"Whatever you can do or dream you can do,

BEGIN IT!!!!!!!!

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"


March 17, 2007

Dressing for Everest
What do you wear when the temperature goes from 100° F to 10° F in a matter of minutes? Oh and you have to carry everything in your backpack. Oh and the wind may go from calm to gale force. Ok, let’s not forget a blinding whiteout. Exaggeration, Hyperbole? No, it is the Western Cwm on Everest’s South Col route.

Clothing is one of the most important investments high altitude climbers make. It literally becomes a matter of life and death during the climb. The short answer to the dilemma is layers. In other words a well thought out system of varying weight layers of clothing that are easily removed or added as the conditions change.

There are three basic levels: wick, warmth and wind/snow. Let’s take them one at a time.

Removing the moisture from your skin is the key to maintaining a warm, comfortable and safe climbing environment within your clothing. There are several ways to manage this moisture. Most climbers were very lightweight capilene or merino wool next to the skin. This layer wicks the moisture away from the skin and, hopefully, evaporates.

The other advantage of this layer is that is dries quickly. You always hear never to wear cotton while climbing, this is because it does not wick nor dry. A layer of wet clothing against your skin can accelerate hypothermia, frostbite and even death. Many climbers have suffered this fate thus the importance of the base layer.

PowerstretchThe next layer is for warmth. There are many choices here depending on personal preference and/or conditions. I like a medium weight pull over top or a full body suit such as the Mountain Hardwear Powerstretch suit. It is made of a medium weight fleece that breathes thus allowing moisture wicked away from the skin to pass through. Many climbers use fleece jackets.

The final layer is for protection against wind and snow. The standard for high altitude is down. There are two approaches - a full down suit or separate down jacket and pants. The full suit has the advantage of no gaps at the waistline. This is important when you are bending over to clip in or reaching for difficult holds. In high winds, this gap can “leak” and destroy your carefully designed cocoon. You can also sleep in a full suit and bring a lighter sleeping bag to the High Camps. The disadvantage is that when it warms up, you cannot easily strip down. The standard procedure is to pull the top down and wrap the arms around your waist. This is very bulky and is still hot.
Downsuit

A separate down jacket has the advantage that it can be used in camps, during rest stops and during the climb. Paints have the same advantage. Down is the warmest insulating material but becomes useless when extremely wet. Primaloft or synthetic down avoids this problem but is not as warm. Most climbers select down for their critical layer at high altitudes.

Some climbers incorporate a gortex jacket and/or bibs as an outer layer in strong wind conditions where it is not extremely cold.

Finally, protection for the hands, head and feet complete the system. Again, layers apply here as well. I covered boots a few posts ago so the summary are cotton socks, double insulating boots and integrated gators to keep the snow out.

Hands are protected with lightweight “liner” gloves followed by a wind stopper type material on a heavier glove. And for the highest altitudes down mittens – not gloves – that create an inner air space to keep fingers warm.

balacavaThe head is usually protected with a knit skull cap made of windstopper material. As conditions get worse a full balaclava that covers the nose. A cotton neck warmer is a must. Finally the down hood from the suit or jacket competes the cover. Glacier sunglasses that block 99% of the harmful light is a must sometimes combined or replaced by goggles in windy and blowing snow conditions.

As you can see, there are many levels, pieces and approaches that go into the climbing cocoon. It is expensive to get all this gear and also takes some time to get used to wearing the right layer for the conditions. The goal is always not to be too hot or too cold. Click here for a complete list of all my gear.


March 16, 2007

Interview with Everest Climber Patrick Hickey
Patrick claims two countries as home - Canada and the US - but also he has a a passion for climbing and a unique goal. He wants to be the first nurse to summit Everest. Patrick knows more about Everest than most climbers who have not been there, you see his close friend, Sean Egan died on the mountain and he knows Beck Weathers. Now for the interview:

Q: What drove your interest in climbing the 7 summits and Everest in particular?
My pursuit of the 7 Summits began in 1993 by chance when I joined a group of climbers that needed one more person to complete their team for a summit attempt on Mt. Cotopaxi, Ecuador. We were successful in our summit bid and I was hooked on the “vista from the top” and “the journey that got me there”. I had always been a camper and hiker but had never considered mountain climbing … ever! After this climb I looked for other opportunities and climbed a few volcanoes in Latin America, and then started to climb the “fourteeners” in Colorado. My next challenge was Mt. Rainier and was a formidable challenge as it proved to be a major test for my new skills. Soon after I started the 7 Summits in 2001 and have done 1 a year for the past 7 years, with Mt. Everest left as the crowning glory to my feat.

I’m sure the book “Into Thin Air” was an influence on my decision to pursue the 7 Summits as I got caught up in the drama of the event, but more importantly the tragedy of the injuries and deaths. The nurse in me wished that I could have been there to do something, to help someone. I introduced Beck Weathers at a nursing conference years ago, just prior to my climb of Mt. McKinley, and I saw how his body had been ravaged from the extreme weather of which he had been exposed. Despite these injuries he has been able to move forward and succeed in life and has motivated many people, self included.

My wife and I have always been adventure travelers and have hiked and backpacked throughout 53 countries around the world. Many of those countries were visited during two complete year long trips. I have always enjoyed meeting people from other countries and experiencing the differences in cultures. Pursuing the 7 Summits has given me another opportunity to meet more people, and experience a wider array of cultures.

Q: You live in an area that does not have a lot of high mountains, how do you train for high altitude climbs?
Training at sea level is very problematic! I have tried to be creative in my training and have been climbing steps at Williams Brice Stadium, home to the University of South Carolina (USC) Gamecocks football team. Climbing the stadium steps has helped me to get into a routine, and has been a welcome break from the USC Blatt Physical Fitness Center where I alternated between using the stair-stepper, stair-climber, rowing, and treadmill machines. Additionally I have trained in the stairwells of the College of Nursing at USC, and after work it’s always a long run and/or bicycle ride. My first altitude (since Mt. Vinson in December 2006) will be the hike in to base camp from Lukla.

Q: Why is your goal of "becoming the first nurse to complete the 7 Summits” important to you?
I am hopeful that as the first nurse to complete the 7 Summits I will have an opportunity to speak to larger audiences about the challenges that we are facing in healthcare as related to the nursing shortage. I don’t believe that the public is fully aware of the crisis that is going on in our hospitals due to a lack of qualified nurses to fully staff medical units. Patient safety issues are a major concern in hospitals and as a former Risk Manager in a hospital setting I know all too well what can happen to patients’ when there are not enough nurses to render safe, quality care. I am hopeful also that this accomplishment will help me to become a role model for those males that are interested in nursing, but possibly concerned about the stigma associated with being a male nurse. Unfortunately, males still only comprise 7%-10% of nurses.

Q: You mentioned your meeting with Beck Weathers. How has seeing first hand what Everest can do to someone caused you to prepare for your climb?
Meeting Beck gave me a deeper perspective of how dangerous it can be at the top of the world. It is one thing to read about the injuries that people sustain on the mountain, or to see it on a movie or in pictures ... but to see the physical injuries in person is quite sobering! In the past 7 years I have seen many injuries on the mountain and have been able to help as best possible with limited resources. As a nurse for the past 30 years I have seen a lot of people suffering from horrendous injuries, people dying very painful deaths, and know all too well the torment that families experience as they lament the ongoing suffering or death of loved ones. I am hopeful that the misadventures of those that are injured help others to be much better prepared so that they will not be susceptible to injury. My safety net is making certain that I have the best gear available that will help me in the most extreme of conditions.

Q: Your good friend and fellow Canadian Sean Egan died on Everest. How has that affected your climbing?
Sean was a great friend and mentor. We were both from the same town in Canada (Almonte, Ontario – population 4000) and on every trip home I would consult with Sean regarding training tips. Sean had a lot of experience in exercise physiology and had traveled to Mt. Everest on a few different occasions to do research on the challenges of altitude to the human body. I had hoped to climb Mt. Everest with Sean in 2005 but had to back out of that scenario due to work/school schedules. I have regretted not going as I have often thought that had I been there I might have been able to pick up on some of the medical cues to an emerging crisis, and possibly could have saved his life! I had sent an email to Sean when he was climbing Mt. Everest and asked him to blaze a trail to the top for me as I would soon be following in his footsteps. Due to Sean’s death I will now pick up where he left off and go to the top for the both of us! Climbing for both of us has taken me to a different dimension where I am even more determined to make this summit a success for Sean, myself, and my hometown that love us both!

Q: Any other thoughts for us followers this year?
As a “newbie” to Mt. Everest I am hoping to learn a lot of lessons from the “pros” on the mountains. As a Professor in a College of Nursing, at the University of South Carolina, I am usually the one teaching, but am looking forward to being in the student role as I know that there are a good majority of climbers that have more experience than I do, and am hopeful that they are willing to share. My wife and friends have cautioned me about knowing when to turn around, when to stop if I experience problems, and how important it is to listen to those that are thinking clearly. These wise words can mean the difference between life and death … and don’t worry, I intend to pay attention!


March 15, 2007 Bill Burke

Interview with Everest Climber Bill Burke
Bill when he summits, should be the oldest American at 65 to summit Everest. It will also be his last of the 7 Summits. He is climbing on the south side Dan Mazur of Summit Climb. Bill's website is eightsummits.com and he will be relaying phone dispatches to his wife who will update his progress. Here is his story:

Q: What drove your interest in climbing the 7 summits and Everest in particular?

I have always loved the mountains. Once I raised my family and approached the retirement phase of life, I decided to learn how to climb the "big" mountains. I took an alpine climbing course and enjoyed the challenge. After I completed the course, I climbed Mt. Rainier. At that point, I was hooked, and I pretty much knew I was going to try to climb all 7, with Mt. Everest last.

Q: What was the most challenging of your previous six 7-Summits climbs?


It always seems as though the last mountain I climbed was the hardest, since it is the most fresh in my memory. I have had bad weather on most of my 7 summit climbs, which can make even an "easy" mountain (e.g., Kilimanjaro or Elbrus) difficult. Putting that aside, I would say the Carstensz Pyramid was the hardest (it was also the last and we even had good weather on summit day). It was just a long grueling day in an environment that was unfamiliar to me since I have no technical rock climbing experience and had to learn on the job. That trip was one of my favorites.

Q: I have to ask ... you are 65, how have you approached the Everest climb than say a 40 year-old would?
It is hard for me to answer this question since I don't know how a typical 40-year old approaches a climb of Mt. Everest. I have always said that physical strength alone will not get you up a big mountain. Mental toughness and technique are equally important, maybe even more important. I train hard physically, but, let's face it, I'll never be the strongest person on any expedition. So I also work hard on the other aspects of high altitude climbing. This has served me well in the past.

Q: You have a great family. What do they think about "Granddad" going off to Everest?
My grandchildren think it's cool. My wife and children better appreciate the danger and risk so they worry, but I know they are proud and supportive. Our Christian faith sustains all of us.

Q: Any other thoughts for us followers this year?

Two thoughts: Never, ever, let anyone convince you "it can't be done." Thanks for the wonderful outpouring of love and support.


March 14, 2007 Be with Ama Dablam

Interview with Everest Climber Ben Stuckey
We met Ben a couple of weeks ago. As you may recall Ben lives in Colorado and has Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam and other Hills under his belt. He is climbing on the north side with Summit Climb this year. With only a few weeks to go before he leaves for Katmandu, Ben is taking a pre-expediton vacation with his wife to Egypt - talk about getting away before you get away! Here is the interview with Ben:

Q: What made you become interested in climbing Everest?
So many different factors, it's hard to nail down just one. The thought of standing on top of the world is what drives me. The beautiful sight of other 8000ers and seeing the curvature of the Earth has always been just a picture in my head and now that picture is soon becoming a reality. As well, I have always wondered how my body would fare just existing at the same altitude as jumbo jets fly.

Q: What are you expecting to be the biggest challenge climbing the North side?
I feel the biggest challenge will be on summit day. A combination of traversing on loose rock and overcoming the technical difficulties of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd steps will probably prove to be the crux. I am also very concerned about events out of my control such as bottlenecks up high, theft of food and gear, and being involved in a rescue where I may not be able to provide adequate assistance.

Q: You have been training very hard mostly in the gym, how do you feel with less than month to go?
In a word GREAT! I have been up in the mountains the last 2 weekends and I can still comfortably maintain 2000 feet of elevation gain per hour with a 30 pound pack on. Although I believe it takes more than physical stamina to summit Everest or any mountain for that matter. Mental stamina will prove to be priceless up high as well. I have really focused intently on developing this aspect as well as the physical.

Q: You live in Colorado at 5,000'. Do you think that will help you acclimatize easier?
You bet! I have seen the proof of this on many mountains before, from Denali, to Aconcagua, to Cho Oyu. Just living a mile high gives us an added boost in our acclimatization schedule. Also having access to over 14,000' for "training purposes" is a positive as well.

Q: Any other thoughts for us followers this year?
Mount Everest is a mountain to be respected to the highest (no pun intended) degree. With the increase of firsts on Everest (1st to climb in shorts only, 1st to strip on the summit, etc, etc.) it seems Everest has become sort of a proving ground for certain people with huge egos. Mount Everest can prove "doable" for those who come to climb Her with humility and respect. It can also prove to be a final resting place for those who miscalculate Her fury and misjudge Her complexities.


March 13, 2007 Paul Adler

Interview with Everest Climber Paul Adler
I have followed Paul for over a year now. First as an Everest climber with his wife Fiona in 2006 and then we connected live - him in Australia and me in Colorado as he helped with my live dispatches the Broad Peak and K2 expedition. I found Paul to be one of those rare unselfish individuals who opens his heart and mind to anyone who needs him. In that spirit he and Fi have spent the last seven months creating a free website for anyone with an "Everest" story, MyEverest.com. The gist is that we all have stories of challenge, despair, hope and victory and those stories need to be shared. Fi and Paul launched MyEverest.com last week. The first stories include a cancer survivor, an Ama Dablam climber, a recovering drug user and an asthmatic. Oh, and Paul's return to Everest. MyEverest.com will host, for free, climber's dispatches on expeditions. They use standard sat phones and PDAs to post their dispatches. As previously noted TA will post hers there. So with that, why in the world is Australia's favorite climber about to return to Everest?

Q: When did you become interested in climbing Everest?
I started rock climbing whilst at school, then in 1993 I did a mountaineering course in New Zealand and after that I was hooked.  My wife Fiona and I continued to climb together and get experience, until a few years ago we decided that we should give Everest a try.  It had always been a dream to be able to climb Everest and for me it’s still a dream!  I am really fortunate to be able to go back again this year.

Q: What surprised you most about your climb last year?
I wasn’t expecting the climbing and scenery to be so enjoyable.  One of my favorite days of climbing in my life was going from C3 to C4.  We had beautiful weather, we took our time, shot plenty of photos and really enjoyed ourselves. 

Q: Is there one lesson you learned from last year that has dominated your thoughts this time?

The big lesson that I learnt is that you need to take full responsibility for your safety.  Up high you can’t rely on other people like you might be able to down lower, because everyone is struggling just to stay alive.  You have to be totally self sufficient and that means not relying on Sherpas, guides, other climbers, or your logistics company.  You need to check and re-check everything yourself.

Q: You had problems the oxygen system last year, how is it different for 2007?

After experiencing problems with my oxygen system last year I decided that taking full responsibility for my safety started with research, and in particular how I could do it better next time.  This included comparing the different systems available and weighing up the pros and cons of each.  There is no one perfect system and if there was, then everyone would be using it.  This time I have chosen to use Poisk oxygen, instead of the proprietary system used only by IMG.  Poisk is the most popular system and in my opinion it offers some significant advantages over other systems.  I will be carrying scales with me to weigh my bottles to check that they have the correct amount of oxygen, plus I will be testing the flow rate of the regulator, using a method that I wish I had thought of before my first attempt last year.  We are going to write about this on our site before we leave.  I have purchased a TopOut mask this year, after using them to good success last year.

Q: How will it feel without Fiona by your side at the South Col?

lI think it will be very different without Fiona there.  I even noticed it felt different when she left earlier than me on summit night!  But Fiona will be there at base camp and hopefully I will have better radios than last time and be able to contact base camp more easily.

Q: You just launched MyEverest.com. How did you do all that work plus train?
It was a lot of work getting MyEverest.com ready in time.  There were lots of technical challenges to overcome, particularly the systems to allow climbers to have their own sites and update them with a PDA, but I am confident we have done it.  I train quite a lot and this year I have trained even harder than last year, because I know first hand how important a really good level of fitness is in the event of something going wrong, particularly when you are up high.  But I have managed to fit it all in with some help, and now I just have last minute things to do before I leave for Everest on March 29.

Q: Any other thoughts for the people following you this year?
Yes.  You play a vital role in helping climbers reach the top, perhaps more than you realize.  Your support is so helpful and that’s the reason I built the new site – I wanted other people to be able to receive the same type of support and encouragement that we did last year.  Shortly after we arrived at the we did a dispatch and downloaded all the messages that people had sent us.  I can’t begin to describe how much of a mental boost it was to receive over 300 messages of support and encouragement.  It’s the closest you can get to having a whole crowd cheering you on.


March 12, 2007 TA Loeffle

Interview with Everest Climber TA Loeffler
I introduced TA Loeffler from Newfoundland a few weeks ago. She is a special person with a huge heart. TA has dedicated her climb to the children of Newfoundland and Labrador. Here is an interview with TA:

Q: What drove your interest in climbing Everest?
I was in high school when the first Canadians reached the summit of Everest. We had an outdoor club in high school where I learned to climb, mountaineer, and paddle. I dreamed of climbing Everest but never expected to. Three years ago I needed a big project in my life and so devoted myself to training for and then climbing Denali. Since then, I've listened to my heart and have followed a path that lead me to develop the skills and willpower to be ready to climb Everest.

Q: What excites or scares you the most about the climb?
I trekked to the South Everest Base Camp in 2002 and I biked to the North Everest Base Camp in 2005. I am so excited to return to Nepal, the Khumbu Valley and Tibetan Buddhism. I still find it hard to believe that I am actually having the opporunity to climb Mount Everest. I am both in denial and terrified at the same time. I am scared about the Khumbu icefall, the extreme altitude, and the traverse from the South Summit but I know I have trained hard, have good skills, and hope to make good judgements every step of the way.

Q: You have been training very hard, how do you feel with less than one month to go?
I feel strong and ready. Climbing Everest is a marathon both in the preparation and actual expedition. I am hopeful that I have prepared both my body and mind for the challenges in the months ahead. As I say, it matters not what shape I go into the expedition in, it matters how I am doing around the middle of May. I was talking to Phil Erschler lately and he said that I'd "left nothing on the table." So, I'm ready to stop talking about climbing Everest and to start climbing it.

Q: You spend a lot of time speaking to kids at schools, what do they think of you climbing Everest?
This week I passed the 7500 kid mark in presenting to schools in Newfoundland. The experience of speaking to them has been moving, rewarding and down right fun. They love seeing the pictures I show, hearing the funny stories I tell, and I've used some animations to help them understand the reality of climbing big peaks. The kids have watched Discovery channel and love meeting someone who is going to be climbing Everest. They have many many questions about how things work on the climb and they seem to be quite considered for my safety. I've told them that I've trained hard but accidents can happen. They send me the most wonderful emails where they answer the question I asked them, "What is your Everest?"The primary students are also very excited about me taking Flat Stanley along on the Everest climb. He will provide an entry point for many youngsters to learn a lot about the people and culture of Nepal.

Q: You will be posting your Blog on MyEverest.com. Are you nervous about the "world" following you?

I have found the process of sharing my mountain and adventure path through the internet to be profound. I never expected it to lead where it has gone and I enjoy the responses I get from folks as I share my learning along the way. I look forward to having children and adults come along as expedition mates on my Everest climb. I often say in that cliched way, "it takes a village to climb a mountain."
My fundraising for this climb has been almost all grassroots. Kids gave me Loonies (Canadian dollar coins), friends bought t-shirts, and strangers attended slideshows. I'm grateful to all who will follow along and send good energy, thoughts, and prayers my way. I am a bit nervous about having the community that surrounds my efforts grow expontially but I'm hopeful that the gathered energy helps me climb safe and well.

Q: Any other thoughts for us followers this year?

As you are watching others take on their literal and figerative Everests, take a few moments here and there to reflect on what the Everest is in your life. Many say to me, "TA I could never do what you do. I could never train that hard or climb the way you do." I reply that "much of what you can do, I cannot." We all have our mountains to climb and obstacles to surmount. We are both alone and together at the same time and I look forward to having you all on my rope team.


March 11, 2007

Who are these Everest Climbers?
It is too easy to read the names of the Everest teams - International Mountain Guides, Himalayan Experience, Adventure Consultants - and conjure an image of down covered climbers, clipped to a thin nylon rope, working their way up the mountain as a single entity. But nothing could be farther from the truth. This week, I will interview climbers from around the globe to understand what they are thinking with less than a month to go, how they approached their training and what climbing Everest means to them. Yes, they may be wrapped in down and clipped to a rope but they are as individual as a snowflake. Bill Burk and Ollie

Oldest American to Summit Everest?
If Bill Burke has his way, he will be this spring. Bill has completed six of the seven summits and will be with Summit Climb on the south side this year. His website has a great layout for pictures of his adventures. What struck me about Bill, beyond his 65 years, is his attitude. It is clear from his site and what he writes that he fully understands what it takes to climb Everest. In addition it is clear that his family plays a key role in his passion for climbing. Best of luck Bill, we will look forward to your reports.





March 10, 2007 Jeanne Stawiecki

Is it too Late in Life to Climb Everest or Run a Marathon?
This spring, Jeanne Stawiecki, will attempt Everest. By the way, if she makes she will have completed a fairly unique goal of climbing the 7 Summits plus running a marathon on each of the 7 continents! Oh, one more thing, she is 56 years-old. Oh, and she didn't start all this stuff until she was 44. OK, one more thing, before all this she was a two pack a day smoker. Now, that is a real life turn-around! Go Jeanne, go!!




March 6, 2007

Training For Everest
How do you train your body to withstand a third of the oxygen in every breath, every muscle screaming for more blood while your insides literally are dying while you sleep? Perhaps an even better question, other than why, is how do you train your mind?

Veteran Everest climbers know what they will experience. First time climbers are shocked at the experience. My personal experience was difficult. I experienced a lung infection that stopped a climb and on another, my body simply refused to acclimatize above 23,000’. With the clear disclaimer that I am not a doctor and everyone should visit their own Doc before entering any kind of Everest training program, let’s talk from experience. Also there are many programs out there so this is just what I like for myself. So what is the best way to train your mind and body to make the top … and return, safely?

There are many approaches to athletic training all the way from the nightly jogger to the weekend warrior to dedicated amateur to the professional. Often it boils down to time and motivation. The vast majority of Everest climbers have full time jobs, full time families and cannot spend several hours a day for a year to get in professional shape.

The professional or highly dedicated will speak of VO2 max which is the maximum rate your body can move and use oxygen during periods of high stress or need. Another couple of terms are anaerobic threshold (AT) and lactate threshold which is when the chemical lactate acid begins to build in your blood stream and muscles thus preventing the body from functionally at full capacity. A qualified doctor or trainer can measure these levels through a series of treadmill and blood tests.

However, the essence of these measures and tests is to determine how to get red blood cells to your muscles and that is the key to climbing Everest. As I discussed a few postings ago, there is a third of the available oxygen on the summit of Everest thus making your heart, lungs and muscles cry out for more oxygen during the climb. Red blood cells, which carry oxygen rich blood to muscles, are increased in response to this lack of oxygen. However this takes time thus the acclimatization process where you “climb high, sleep low” to encourage the production of these red friends.

Training before you get to Everest must begin six to 12 months with a focused, intense and balanced exercise program – after a check up from your Doc. In my mind there are three major phases: foundation, aerobic/strength and peaking. The major groups to work on include: heart, lungs, abs, lower back muscles, thighs and calves.

continuing reading plus a sample training schedule


March 5, 2007

Has Climbing Everest Become a Joke?
Last week, it was announced that Dutch climber, Wim Hof will attempt to climb Everest wearing only shorts. My initial reaction was to simply shake my head. What have some Everest Climbers become? This may become somewhat of a rant so if you think Hof has a good idea, stop reading now.

The last few years Everest has become a playground for those who want to prove something to the world and perhaps get their 15 minutes of fame. We have had the rich, the beautiful and even a Playboy bunny make the climb. There was a Sherpa who took off his shirt on the summit, an OLN multi-month competition to see who gets to climb on the north side and more. We have also had tremendous amounts of money raised for worthy charities, amazing personal stories and triumphs and tragedies.

With the advances in weather forecasting, on-mountain support and financial motivation, some people who never even considered climbing now see it as just another competition, just another check-off item, just another publicity stunt. What bothers me is how the media falls for these stunts and feeds the frenzy. Maybe I am just as guilty by posting Hof's stunt here.

On my Everest attempts, there was a strong sense of spirituality, reverence and respect for the mountain herself. The Tibetans call her Chomolungma - "Goddess Mother of the World". Before we stepped foot on Everest, we held a Puja - a ceremony by a Lama to ask Chomolungma for permission to climb and for our safety on the mountain. Sherpas believe you must show respect for Chomolungma.

So, how has it happened that climbers like Hof feel they must perform on Mt. Everest - because it is the highest, the coldest, the most famous mountain? To satisfy sponsors, to leverage their next stunt, to simply show off? I have no idea what is in his heart or mind. All I know is that this stunt feels misplaced and disrespectful.

To be fair, his PR machine says "... Out of respect for the locals, Werner has asked the authorities for permission, "I don't want to upset religious beliefs or something..” and "...This is not a reckless stunt, but a highly planned operation.."

Well planned or not, this is a slap in the face to serious mountaineering. I wish Hof a safe climb and to perhaps gain a new appreciation for what respecting mountains mean deep inside.


March 2, 2007

Predicting the Weather on Everest - Part 2
I recently asked Michael Fagin at EverestWeather.com just how hard is it to forecast the weather on Everest and how stable is the so-called "summit window" we hear about late in each season. As Everest followers know, this is that tiny break in the weather when the jetstream moves north thus reducing the fierce winds on Everest's summit. Climbing teams wait for days or sometimes weeks for that window to appear. Michael explains what is going on with the "window":

That is the million dollar question, not that I get a million dollars to do the forecast but I could if I could get this right every time. However, on second thought I truly doubt if I would ever come close to that figure even if I were perfect. I’m going to answer this question in multiple ways as it depends on teams needs.

Here is an example. Not that a group would be unsafe but if it is towards the end of the season, end of May, the group might be much more amendable  of so so summit conditions; winds at 25 to 35 knots vs. winds of 10 knots. It also depends on the strength of the group. Stronger teams could handle the higher winds.

Predicting when the winds are within “safe summit conditions”  is “relatively” not difficult. So predicting winds in the 25 to say 35 winds is not that difficult to predict as compared to the “perfect summit conditions”. However, sometimes the winds get stubborn and stay at the 40 knot range.

Finding that “perfect window“ is certainly a forecast challenge. Perfect wind being winds at say 6 to 20 knots is extremely difficult. For one thing we are talking about winds in the jet stream (Everest summit) and this is the region where the winds in much of May in some seasons exceed 100 knots. So, there just a few days in the year when winds are below 10  knots. 

Another challenge is forecasting models do not seem to resolve the wind speeds of 10 to 30 knots that well. The models many times put the winds in the 10 to 35 knot range.

Finally as a forecaster I have to be really careful in forecasting 10 knot winds.  I have seen many times when the forecast models show winds of 10 knots and they are 40 knots. so, I have seen many times when the forecast models show winds of 40 and they are at 10 knots or even calm.


February 28, 2007

Climber Preview- Everest 2007
Another climber taking on Everest North this season is Ben Stuckey from Colorado. He has climbed Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam so he is quite familiar with the Himalayas. This year he is with Summitclimb - north. This will be his first climb of Everest. He choose the North side because "... that is where it all began, Everest climbs that is. As well, I want to explore as much of the Himalaya as possible so if I go to the North side of Everest this year I have a "reason" to go back to Everest South for maybe a climb of Pumori or Lhotse." I love we climbers rationalize our trips! Ben's training over the past year has consisted of 4 nights a week, 2-3 hours a night in the gym and climbing in the Colorado high country on the weekends. He will be doing audio dispatches, an increasingly favorite media format, so we can follow him all the way to the summit. Good luck Ben and we will be listening!

An update on TA Loeffler, our Newfoundlander who is dedicating her climb to Children. On her site she has a nice update of her recent speaking activies. She has now reached 5400 kids on the way to her goal of 10,000 before she leaves on March 17. I love the story she tells where a student sent this email "... Hi, TA I'm from Holy Cross Elem. school and you did a presentation at my school a few days ago. The last thing you said to us was "What is your Everest?" My Everest is to be a teacher. Some of the teaches in my school have inspired me. I would like to teach so I could touch children's lives. Good luck!"
February 27, 2007

The Price of Your Toes
Proper footwear is one of the most important choices when climbing Everest. And, it is fairly simple. But it is also bewildering. Not only must you choose the style but also the socks, warmth and the unknown.

Olympus MonsThe most common boots used on Everest today are models that incorporate an insulating inner boot and a hard outer boot. The two most popular boots are the Olympus Mons Evo by La Sportiva and Millet’s Everest GTX aka Everest One Sport. These boots also have an integrated gator thus simplifying getting dressed in the morning and providing a closed environment for your foot. I used the One Sport for many climbs and never, ever got cold or wet feet.

KolfachAnother options used by some climbers is a warm climbing boot such as Koflach’s Artic Expe. It also has an inner boot that fits snugly inside the hard outer boot. Some climbers use an outer boot for maximum warmth in extreme temperatures. I also have used this boot on Denali and Aconcagua with no problems and without the outer boot.

The key to all these models is the inner boot. It is a soft, space-age material, Aveolite, that feels like a slipper but is extremely warm. Some climbers are starting to add even more warmth, however by stealing a page from skier’s book. Hotronics is a foot bed warmer that is battery operated.

As for socks, most climbers wear at least a thin wool sock and a heavy outer sock from companies such as Smartwool. Some prefer two thick socks but the key here is to buy the boot large enough to accommodate all that bulk.

As for the bewildering part? Feet swell at altitude and especially after long days. But how much? And do you buy a boot assuming yours will or will not? My experience has been to buy a size larger and find socks that fit you well.

Grivel CramponsThe final part of the footwear decision are crampons – you know those spikes that keep you attached to the mountain– hopefully! My choice has always from models from Grivel, like the step-in G14. These are 12 point models with 2 of the points sticking out from the front used to grip steeper slopes or ice. This model comes with a plastic insert that reduces snow buildup under your foot and potentially eliminating the advantage of the crampon in the first place.

All this technology has a price. Boots will run between $500 to $850. Socks, $20 a pair. And another $190 for the crampons. A grand total of perhaps $1000! But then again, how much are your toes worth?


February 26, 2007

Oxygen on Everest

Tom on Summit Noght One of the most important decisions climber make when planning an Everest climb is the use supplemental oxygen. This is harder than it seems.

For some climbers they will never use bottled oxygen since it creates a dependency on a system that could fail thus increasing your risks above 8000m. Others feel it is cheating - if you cannot climb without it you should not be there.

This debate has gone on since the practice started with the Swiss Everest climbs in the early 1920's and continues today. In any event, the vast majority of climbers today use some form of supplemental oxygen. But note that it makes an effective difference of about 3,000' on how your body feels. So at 26,000' you still feel like you are at 23,000 feet!

So why use oxygen at all?

First, the science. The air we breath has a mixture of gases including oxygen and nitrogen. The atmosphere contains about 21% oxygen at all altitudes. What changes as we go higher is the air pressure. Gravity pulls on gas molecules in the air. The closer to the Earth's surface, the more pressure. At the summit of Everest, the pressure was measured in 1981 by a Nova team at 253 mmHG. At sea level it is 760 mmHG. The reason for the lower pressure is that there is less atmosphere pushing down from above. This reduced pressure allows the air molecules to scatter. This means that on Everest the air is not as dense or "thick". In other words there is the same amount of oxygen but the molecules are scattered thus the term "thin air". So in each breath there is less oxygen. To be precise about 66% less!

The critical benefit of using bottled oxygen is warmth. By reducing the work the heart and lungs have to do to keep your core warm, blood continues to flow to toes and fingers thus reducing the risk of frostbite.

Climbers have a few choices of systems. The first is from Summit Oxygen, an on-demand system using nose nozzles. Another is the traditional approach using a pilot's face mask and the Russian POISK system. And a new system from Top Out is an improved on-demand system that uses a reservoir and a face mask. All use lightweight metal bottles to hold the oxygen.

POISKThe POISK system use bottles filled at the factory in St-Petersburg, Russia (be careful of fraud with claims that bottles are new but are really refilled in other places.) The oxygen is delivered through a regulator to a tube to a face mask that provides a constant flow of oxygen. They hold about 720 liters of oxygen and weigh about 5.6 lbs. Climbers usually run their flow at 2 liters per minute and count on getting about 6 hours out a bottle. If they use more flow - 3lpm the bottle only last 4 hours.

The Summit oxygen approach uses nozzles inserted into the nostrils instead of a full mask. Their 3-litre system weighs about 7 lbs. when full. Running at 2-litres/minute it will support about 22 hours of climbing thus require significantly fewer bottles and less weight in your pack. However, this "on-demand" approach was shown to have problems when used on Everest in 2005 when the seals failed. The company claims they have solved the problems.

Most expeditions will assume 5 to 7 3L bottles per climbers. It takes a lot of work to get the bottles positioned on the mountain. They cache some at C3, South Col, Balcony and the South Summit. Obviously they are used for the summit as well as the descent. Due to Nepal regulations on the south side, all the bottles are carried down and reused for future expeditions. The days of littering the mountain are hopefully gone forever.

Alan with MaskOn summit night, climbers put one or two bottles in their packs. The rubber tube runs over their shoulder to the mask. Many climbers put tape on their cheekbones and nose-bridge since the masks will rub those areas raw after 18 hours on a summit climb. The mask interferes with visibility in that it is almost impossible to see your feet. This makes you go even slower! And since the mask is not 100% sealed around your face, air escapes fogging up goggles, precious oxygen leaks from the gaps and there is no capacity to provide extra oxygen "on-demand" during big moves.

A new delivery system has recently been introduced to address these problems. Designed by British RAF Flt. Lt and Everest climber, Ted Atkins, the Top Out system uses a separate reservoir to meet instant demands. Also the mask fits tightly to the face preventing leaks and finally it works with the POISK oxygen bottles.

Paul and Fi Adler used the Top Out on Everest in 2006 and reported "...The mask was extremely comfortable even at cold temperatures and I don't recall having any sensitive areas on our face, even after wearing the mask for several days." I would advise any high altitude climber to bring their own regulator (and a spar) plus their own mask since these are the largest points of failure of supplemental oxygen systems ... of course assuming you get your bottles new and not from a recycler..."

Gasping for breath, struggling to see where you are stepping or hauling an extra 13lbs in the Death Zone is uncomfortable. But very few climbers would trade the discomforts for that extra 3000 feet!

February 24, 2007

Discovery Channel to Return for 2007!!

The discovery Channel's Beyond the Limit special last year was so successful that they are back in 2007! They track Russell Brice's team again and that includes Mogens - the Dane with asthma and Tim - the biker dude (if he can raise the money).

I am not sure which will be more "interesting" to watch: Tim or the Belgians (see their team photo below!) Anyway, the North Side will be entertaining at the least.


February 22, 2007

Discovery Channel Everest 2006 Climber Updates

For those who watched the Discovery Channel Everest special: Beyond the Limit last year, several climbers stole the show. In a follow up story posted on the Discovery website, interviews with most of the climbers show a wide range of feelings from satisfaction, to disappointment to motivation.

One climber stood out as hard working, well prepared and level headed - Mogens Jensen. Mogens says he is returning to Everest in 2007. I really like one of his quotes when asked about his feeling of not summitting last year :...The initial period after the expedition was hollow because of the disappointment from not summitting But my philosophy in life is, "Fall seven times, stand up eight !" So I'll be back ..."

Another climber in the "good-cop, bad-cop" story line with Russell Brice was California biker, Tim Medvez . Tim is also retuning - if he can raise the money. He tells a good tale of going to Katmandu with no team and finally arranging with Brice at the last minute to join his permit and paid him in cash - 30 million rupees! I was critical of Tim's judgment but he seems have learned a valuable lesson. Tim says in response to the question of would he have summited if he had not been turned around "...Absolutely, 120 percent I would have made it, no doubt about it. But getting down? I wouldn't have made it. So it was definitely the right decision to come down." . Good on ya Tim.

Finally there was Mark Inglis, the Australian double amputee. An amazing feat of physical strength and mental toughness.

Take a look at the Discovery site to read about your favorite climber from that special.


February 21, 2007

The Kumbu Cough

I have been to the Everest region five times and the Khumbu cough was my constant friend each time. Friend is a nice way of saying a constant companion - an annoying one but nonetheless a companion. BasecampMD, the website of the medical clinic staffed each spring on the south side of Everest at base camp, has a nice medical explanation and article about the cough.

Basically it occurs when air brought into the lungs is too cold and too dry. Thus the lining of the lungs become inflamed and lose their ability to expel moisture and small particles. Bottom line is that in addition to an incredibly annoying cough, it hurts to breath.

You may say, so how bad can a cough be? Well, bad enough that you cannot sleep, ribs can get broken, you cannot breath when climbing and bad enough that all your climbing partners make you sleep in the toilet tent! But for me, it turned into a lung infection that killed any hopes of a summit in 2002. I clearly remember standing at 27,200' between the Balcony and the South Col, violently coughing, dry heaving and finally having zero energy to take another step.

In the category of misery loves company, here is an excerpt from BasecampMD from a climber in 1924: "Finally, as we approached the level of 28,000 feet [8534 m], the summit being only half a mile away or less, I felt that, as far as I was concerned, it was hopeless to continue. I told Norton that he had no chance of the summit with me. My throat was not only extremely painful, but was getting almost blocked up—why, I knew not. . . . Somewhere about 25,000 feet [7620 m] high [on the descent], when darkness was gathering, I had one of my fits of coughing and dislodged something in my throat which stuck so that I could breathe neither in nor out. I could not, of course, make a sign to Norton, or stop him, for the rope was off now; so I sat in the snow to die whilst he walked on, little knowing that his companion was awaiting the end only a few yards behind him. I made one or two attempts to breathe, but nothing happened. Finally, I pressed my chest with both hands, gave one last almighty push—and the obstruction came up. What a relief! Coughing up a little blood, I once more breathed really freely—more freely than I had done for some days."

For those headed up there this year, the only advice I can offer is to wear a mask or bandanna over your mouth from Namche on. Use hard candy to keep your mouth moist, try to breath though your nose as much as possible and stay hydrated. Check out the BasecampMD site for more ideas.


February 19, 2007

Everest 2007 Climbers Previews

Baxter of BackcountryblogWhen do you stop Blogging and start climbing? Apparently when a spot opens up for a lifetime opportunity. Baxter of Backcountry Blog is going to Everest this spring with Adventure Consultants. I really like what he wrote on his latest Blog "... Sometimes in life the planets just seem to align. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way… like when you get to Delhi, India and the man who doesn't speak any English, other than 5 words required for his job, says "May I please see your visa" - what visa?" I have always believed that when windows open up in life, you should smash through them.

Baxter goes on to say "Now, I first need to tell you that I’m not rich and I’m under no illusion that there is not a stereotype attached to those folks who attempt Everest with a commercially guided group. I am, however, a technically competent climber with some high altitude experience and a long standing desire to climb in the Himalayas."; Last year he and his wife were on nearby Kala Patar at 18,500. Just seeing the Big E was enough for him to get the fever. In additon to rock and ice climbing, he flys like a squirrel!. Baxter says "...I’ve also spent a lot of time base jumping around the world with climb/jumps from the Eiger and jumps off of the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia. I now teach base jumping and wingsuit flying (you know, those squirrel suits folks jump out of planes and from cliffs with) here in the Western US." He will be posting on his Blog as much as possible. Best of luck Baxter, climb safe!


February 16, 2007Ta Loeffle

TA Loeffler - Everest 2007

Here is another great individual story to follow this year. TA Loeffler from Newfoundland has dedicated her climb to the children of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has a solid high altitude resume with summits of Cho Oyu, Denali and Aconcagua. Each climb and her other adventures have been dedicated to children causes. She says "...Upon my return to sea level each time, I realized that I was in a unique position to inspire and influence the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador to become more physically active and to follow their dreams."

She has spoken to over 4000 kids and plan on speaking with as many more as she can before she leaves for Everest. She will be on the IMG south team permit and posting her updates on Paul Adler's new Myeverest.com website, a site which hosts stories of success and adventure ranging from climbing mountains, recovering from illness and stopping smoking. TA has already started recording her adventures on her site along with a nice section on her 21 month training efforts. Best of luck TA, we will all be pulling for you.


February 16, 2007
Belgian Team Photo
A team to "watch" - Belgians on Everest 2007

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I am not sure what this team is trying to say with their "team photo"!! The three climbers are Bjorn Vandewege, Stein Tant and Stef Maginelle. Bjorn is going for the 7 Summits and has Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Denali, and Vinson under his belt thus far. They will be on the Summit Climb permit but will be very independent. There have been 5 Belgians summit from the south side but this team could be the first north side summits. Based on their team photo, this team will be entertaining at the least!




February 7, 2007
sat image
Predicting the Weather on Everest

Is predicting the weather an art or science? According to Michael Fagin at EverestWeather.com it is both. Michael, a climber himself and a meteorologist by training, has provided weather forecasts for Everest climbers for may years. Ed Viesturs exclusively relied on Michael's forecasts during his successful summit of all 14 8000m mountains.

Michael and team look at 6 different models to come up with a single forecast. They provide forecasts for most major climbing venues: Himalayas, Alps, Denali Caucasus, Karakorum, Andes and the US Cascades.

Michael has agreed to provide the daily conditions on this site each day during the climbing season starting April 1, 2007. It will be under the team status table in the center. He was also kind enough to answer some questions that I hope you find interesting:

  • How long have you been predicting the weather for Everest?
    My first forecast was in the spring of 2003. With that being the 50 anniversary of the first summit of Everest I thought that was a good time to start. Another reason I started then was some climbers wanted a forecast for of 2003 so I thought I should  get the Everest weather forecast models tuned up first.

  • How difficult is it to predict Everest weather?
    Having cut my teeth on forecasting for Mt Rainier since 1976 has certainly put mountain forecasting in perspective.With Mt. Rainier having the jet stream and the weather systems aimed it makes that a challenge and also the big source of moisture, the Sound and the ocean, close that also makes for a difficult forecast as well. Having said all that, “cutting my teeth on Rainier” made a great foundation for mountain forecasting and being able to accurately forecast for other regions but does not make Everest forecasting easy.

    Everest has it challenges as well and here is a very brief list of them:

    1. While many locations have real time weather observations Everest does not so it makes it difficult to get an exact read on what the real time weather is like. Of note there was a weather station set up on the South Col several years ago but it was difficult to keep the station running and there were some security (theft) issues.

    2. When a tropical storm moves in from the Bay of Bengal this type of pattern can produce copious amounts of precipitation. The problem is the forecast model output is very unreliable and at times totally understates precipitation amounts and understates the  wind.

    3. During the post monsoon season, September and October, is tricky since the forecast models do not give a lot of advance warning when the drier and stronger winds kick in.

  • How do climbers get your forecasts?
    I deliver in multiple ways: email to laptops, short text messages to sat. phones, leave voice mail recordings on their phones, fax forecast to office and office sends to climbers, and they can call in to get the forecast.


February 4, 2007
click for large image of Everest from the ISS
Everest from Space

This image was taken from the International Space Station on January 28, 2004 using an 800mm lens from 200 miles above the Earth. It shows Everest (dead center of image)from the north. You can clearly see the North Face, the Western CWM, Lhotse Face and Lhotse. The large peak on the left of the image is Makalu, 27,765' or 8,462m. Cho Oyu 26.907' or 8201m is on the right middle edge. Ama Dablam is in the upper middle quadrant - bonus points for finding it! You can read more about this shot on the NASA website.


Click on the image for a hi-resolution version.


January 31, 2007

David Tait - the "Double"
Mr. Tait will attempt a new version of the normal routes this spring. He will use the North Ridge route to the summit, continue to Camp 2 or ABC on the south then retrace his steps back to ABC over on the north. In other words, two summits. I have followed David over the past four years on his Everest climbs. This will be his fourth time on Everest. Last year he summited with HimEx but he did not make his dispatches public. This year he will via his own website. In 2004, he decided to return home after not acclimatizing. He reported he was experiencing headaches around 5200 meters (17,500'). But to quote David: "Despite bitter personal disappointment, I have to focus on the positives - nearly 200k raised so far for the NSPCC, and a new school for 56 children provided for in Tibet." He will be raising money again in 2007 for his charity. Best of luck David, we will be pulling for you on this audacious goal!


January 29, 2007

Everest Sherpa Expedition in 2007
The spring Everest climbing season continues to develop. A new expedition is a unique one and has more meaning than the normal expedition. Two of the most successful Sherpas of all time are teaming to promote the contributions of Sherpas to climbing Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks. Apa Sherpa, 16 time summitter, and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, the record holder for the fastest south side summit - 10 hours and 56 minutes - are calling their team "SuperSherpas".


January 18, 2007

Everest 2007 Preview

GAvin Bates Most climbers leave for Everest in about 10 weeks so I thought I would begin previewing the season. First up is Gavin Bates. His name should be familiar since he climbed Everest in 2000, 2002 and 2005. While he has never actually touched the true summit, he has gotten amazingly close. What makes Gavin stand out is his attitude, motivation and style. First, he climbs in the shadow of the greats like Messner - in alpine style. Second he has raised over $275,000 for his charity, Moving Mountains. And third, he is amazingly independent. Here is what I wrote about him in 2005:

Then there was Mr. Gavin Bates, a true individualist. He never pitched a tent at base camp ... or camp1 or Camp 3 or Camp 4 for that matter. He used a tea house at Gorak Shep as his base and traveled fast and light. His summit bid started there and ended between the summit and the Hillary Step. He said he "couldn't be bothered" to go the few more meters to stand on the true summit. Actually, it was very crowded and the weather was worsening. His audio dispatches were wonderful and his ambition amazing!

This year he will attempt a traverse from South to North - in one push - without supplemental oxygen and solo - no Sherpa support. He is estimating it will take him 55 hours! He will acclimatize on nearby Cho Oyu before moving to Everest.

Best of luck Gavin. We will be pulling for you again!


November 6, 2006

Spring 2007 Everest Prices
Even though the Everest spring season is 5 months away, there are many climbers making their choices on guide services or outfitters. I was shocked by the price increase for 2007 climbs. Here are some examples from their public websites:

Himalayan Experience (North) - $35K now $40K
International Mountain Guides (IMG) (South) - $55K now $66KK
Adventure Consultants (South): $55K now $60K
Alpine Ascents International (South): $65K

But the winner is a new entrant in Everest at the amazing price of: Rainier Mountaineering Inc (RMI): $125K per climber!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, this is a climber to guide ratio of 2:1 but the real charm here is that the lead guide is non other than Mr. Ed Viesturs! As everyone knows, Ed is America's premier alpine climber with all 14 8000m peaks under his belt without supplemental oxygen. But $125K ... and on the normally less expensive north side ... wow ... [update -February 2007 - RMI has cancelled the Viesturs led climb]

Changes on Everest North Side

The International campaign for Tibet (ICT) website reports that the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) will increase the climbing permit fees for 2007 and limit the number of climbers. The motivations are unknown for these actions. Speculation include that China wants publicity for the 2008 Olympics and will take the Olympic torch to the summit. But John Ackerly, President of ICT speculated: "Climbers come into Tibet with advanced communications devices such as satellite phones and high-speed internet, and the Chinese authorities are likely to be concerned about the ability of these expeditions to record problems and communicate them to the outside world in ways that it cannot control, particularly at such a symbolic moment as the Olympics, when the prestige of the country is at stake." This is particularly poignant given the murders by the Chinese military of the Nun and children near Cho Oyu in late September.