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  Everest 2006: Lincoln Hall picture at Everest ABC


 

Lincoln in ABC

Update: Myles Osborne for SummitClimb Everest Tibet, Dispatch 28th May 2006

Hi Everyone, We're writing to you from Advanced Base Camp (ABC) today, there's been a lot going on up here and with the kind assistance of Everestnews.com we'll let you know what we've been up to....  

So last time we left you, Phil, Myles, Dan, Andrew and Jangbu Sherpa were at Camp 3 at 8300m on 25th May, chewing on noodles and complaining about the lack of oxygen. We left camp at 11.30pm in excellent weather that night, although it was around -30 degrees, sucking on the (thankfully) un-stolen oxygen we had at high camp. We then started a slow climb up to the North Ridge proper. It's a somewhat surreal world there; you're climbing in the small, concentrated light of a headlamp, constantly checking that your oxygen mask and regulator don't freeze, watchful of the crampons and feet of dead bodies that dot the route. The Kangshung face falls 10,000 feet to your left, and the North Face 7,000 feet to your right. Tread carefully.

In the early hours of the morning we reached the foot of the First Step, the first technical pitch, glad of the warmth it generated to climb it. At this point, Phil decided to turn around; a week or so earlier, he'd saved the life of another climber suffering from cerebral oedema on 18th May by dragging him down from the Second Step at 8600m, getting some frostbite in the process, and to be honest it was astonishing that he had even made it back to this altitude in a week. And during the wee hours of a freezing morning, he made the smart call to turn himself around before he became too badly frostbitten.

Moving past the First Step, the remaining four of the group came up towards Mushroom Rock at 8600m - just before the Second Step - as the sun finally hit the ridge at about 7:30 am on 26 May, 2006. A welcome sight.... but it brought with it something none of us could have expected to see....

Sitting to our left, about two feet from a 10,000 foot drop, was a man. Not dead, not sleeping, but sitting cross leggedd, in the process of changing his shirt. He had his down suit unzipped to the waist, his arms out of the sleeves, was wearing no hat, no gloves, no sunglasses, had no oxygen mask, regulator, ice axe, oxygen, no sleeping bag, no mattress, no food nor water bottle. "I imagine you're surprised to see me here," he said. Now, this was a moment of total disbelief to us all. Here was a gentleman, apparently lucid, who had spent the night without oxygen at 8600m, without proper equipment and barely clothed. And ALIVE.

We stopped and began to talk to a man who we found out was Lincoln Hall, an Australian from the Blue Mountains. It became clear that he in fact was extremely close to death in our non-medically qualified opinions; he had sustained severe frostbite in every finger, and did not want to keep his gloves or hat on. His fingers looked like ten waxy candle sticks. His head wagged and jerked around, his beady eyes embedded in a frosty face, trying to focus on something, anything. He seemed to be in deep distress, shivered uncontrollably, and kept trying to pull himself closer to the edge of the cornice, to the point that we physically held him back and eventually anchored him to the snow. Lincoln later told us that he believed that he was on a boat, not a mountain, and that he wanted to be overboard.... i.e. 10,000 feet down the Kangshung face.  

We fed Lincoln snacks, and hot water and juice we'd brought with us, and gave him our oxygen to breathe. We pulled all his clothes on and talked to him. Dan radioed to ABC and had our staff at SummitClimb rouse the Seven Summits team, of which Lincoln was a member. It took a while to convince them that Lincoln was still alive. They believed Lincoln to be dead, having been informed of this by a sherpa the night before. Tragically, acting on this information, the leader of Seven Summits, Alex, had already called Lincoln's family to inform them of his death. Yet they quickly sprung into action and sent a sherpa team from high camp and some from lower down to try to pull Lincoln from the mountain. Phil by this point was in high camp and assisted in informing the Seven Summits sherpas there.  

The entire 4 hours we spent with Lincoln, he was fairly active, and even "thrashed around" a bit. We had to take extra care to fasten him securely to the slope, as whoever had left him the night before had not tied him in to anything, and it seemed just short of a miracle that he had not fallen off the ridge during the night.

Lincoln was unable to stand or speak clearly, but over a couple of hours he began to warm him up and talk. We waited for the sherpas we had requested on the radio to arrive and by 11:30 am they showed, with Lincoln's rucksack brought up from C3. We swapped oxygen sets on Lincoln (ours for theirs) and they started rigging him for the long hard trip down.  Later that day he reached the North Col due to the herculean efforts of the Sherpas.

But as we turned our attention back to our original morning's objective of Everest's top, we realized that time had been slipping away; we were still perhaps 3 hours from the summit, and although we were strong and eager to go on, the early afternoon storms were not far away. They could trap us high on the mountain at 2 or 3pm, probably culminating in a greater tragedy. So after years of fundraising, and months of training and climbing, we made the tough call to turn around. And as it turned out, the storms did indeed blow in that afternoon. 

Coming back down the ridge, to be honest feelings were of nothing but disapppointment at not making the summit; Everest is a peculiar mountain in that the summit is so highly prized and sought after, that nothing else seems important. This was made abundantly clear to us as two Italians walked by just as we found Lincoln. They increased their pace, moved on by, and said "No speak English." Although one of our compatriots at high camp had had an hour-long chat with them in English the day before.

The following day Lincoln had been brought back to ABC by a massive rescue effort involving several teams. We went over to visit this man of mystery we had found at 8600 metres, in his expedition's medical tent. We reintroduced ourselves and sat there talking about his family and wife. During the conversation, I could not help but wonder, "How in ANY way is a summit more important than saving a life?" And the answer is that it isn't. But in this skewed world up here, sometimes you can be fooled into thinking that it might be. But I know that trying to sleep at night knowing that I summitted Everest and left a guy to die isn't something I ever want to do. The summit's always there after all.

It's easy to be critical of the way Everest had become commercialised: sherpas dragging unfit clients to the summit and hopefully back down; teams showing up unprepared and using the oxygen and tents of others; people stealing the "Emergency Oxygen for Ecuadorian Oxygenless Ascent" bottle of a climber who only just made it down alive. We must hold on to a basic value for human life that we all hold down at sea-level and keep that in the mountains. It's something that SummitClimb's Dan Mazur and other leaders involved in this rescue remember, but that many others sacrifice for  the precious summit of this mountain.

Down here at ABC on Everest we're aware that there have been a lot of false or incorrect reports of goings-on up here, as well as many that might have worried friends and family. We hope that this will help settle the nerves, and we apologise for not being in touch sooner. A combination of telecommunications issues has contributed to some silence from our end, and we apologise profusely for the inconvenience.

We have yaks coming to a deserted ABC on 30th May and hope to be in Kathmandu by 1st or 2nd June. We miss you at home and can't wait to see you all.

Thanks for following our expedition,

Myles Osborne for the SummitClimb North Ridge Expedition 2006

Updates

 

Climbing Staff:

 

Mr. ADEN, climber, Tibet;

Mr. DEECHEN NARJUP, climber, Pasum Zom, Tibet;

Mr. LORCHUN, climber, Tibet;

Mr. NORBU ZHANDU, climbing leader, Tibet;

Mr. DAWA SHERPA, climbing sherpa, Kari Khola, Nepal;

Mr. JANGBU SHERPA, climbing leader, Okhaldunga, Nepal;

Mr. YANDAN, climber, Tibet;

 

 

Cooking Staff:

 

Mr. CHAMPA, assistant cook, Tibet;

Mr. DANZIG, assistant cook, Tibet;

Mr. GORU, assistant cook, Tibet;

Mr. DORJE LAMA, assistant cook, Nepal:

Mr. KIPA SHERPA, chief cook, Nepal.

 

Updates

Background: Everest and K2 summiter Dan Mazur leads the SummitClimb 2006 Everest Expedition on the Tibet side of the Mountain...

Introduction: Climb Everest (8,848 Metres) by Dan Mazur

Everest is perhaps the most coveted mountain in the world. The north (Tibetan) side is the least expensive way to climb it, and the dates we have chosen feature the best weather of the year. Our proposed schedule allows for two possible summit attempts and two full descents to the Chinese basecamp at 5200 metres. Our style of climbing is cautious and careful, with excellent leadership, organization, Sherpa climbers, cooks and waiters, tasty food, the best equipment, two full kitchens and basecamp plus advanced basecamp, 6 camps on the mountain, 1000s of metres of fixed line, hundreds of rock ice and snow anchors, top-quality high altitude tents and high altitude stoves, expedition mix gas, and full safety equipment: medical oxygen, gamow bag, and extensive medical kit.

This expedition to Everest maximizes many years of accumulated wisdom of the high Himalaya, a strong record of reaching the top of 8,000ers: Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho-Oyu, Shishapangma, and many other 8,000 metre summits, in addition to more than 25 Himalayan expeditions, in all safety, along with an intimate knowledge of the Tibetan and Chinese officials who regulate the permit system. This is our 14th expedition to Tibet since 1986, and we know all of the bureaucratic officials, liason officers, yak drivers, and hoteliers/restaurateurs personally.

   

The monkey temple makes a nice training walk in Kathmandu (. Try to go at dawn when the pollution is not so bad. A local woman leaving an offering at a temple (Ryan Waters).

Detailed Description

The trip begins in the ancient and colorful city of Kathmandu (you could also start in Beijing). You stay in a comfortable, simple, clean, hot-water hotel, at minimal cost (single rooms at: $15, £9.50, €14) (double rooms at $20, £13, €19) and sample some of the very reasonably-priced tasty Nepalese, Tibetan and Western-Style cuisine, available at the hundreds of local restaurants.  During your free days in Kathmandu, while your Chinese visa is being processed, you shall finalize arrangements, purchase and hire the bits of equipment you might be missing at the hundreds of mountain-climbing and trekking equipment shops in the neighborhood (with low prices, as well), and take time out for trinket hunting, with suggested visits to explore the 17th century splendors of the Monkey Temple, the Durbar Square and old Kings Palace, as well as the ancient cities of Patan, and Bakhtapur. We also have several member and training sessions during these days, where our leaders spend time with you reviewing climbing techniques and equipment, going over medical and safety procedures, etcetera. If you are concerned about the altitude and have purchased Diamox (acetylzolamide), which is inexpensively available with no doctor's prescription in Kathmandu, this might be the time to begin taking it.

After the finalization of your Chinese visa, we set out very early in a bus for the 4 hour drive to the last Nepal town of Kodari at 1,770 meters. We clear Nepalese customs and immigration, then hire local porters and vehicles to carry your bags across the Bota Kosi River on the Friendship Bridge, to Zhangmu, the gateway town in Tibet.

On the Friendship Bridge, border Crossing between Nepal and Tibet (Bruce Manning).

Upon entering Tibet, the clocks immediately go forward by 2 ¼ hours.  Our secondary government liason officer will meet us in Zhangmu. After clearing Tibetan customs and immigration, a Chinese bus takes us up the windy road through the rolling hills to Nyalam town at 3,750 meters, and a basic "hotel".  The smaller towns in Tibet are generally simple and rustic places, and this one is no exception.  The topography here is quite interesting in that we are perched in the transitional zone where the Tibetan plateau rams into the Himalaya, then drops into the forested valleys and jungles of Nepal, and finally out into the Gangetic plain of the Terai and India. We stay over one extra night in Nyalam, to help adjust to the altitude, and during our "rest-day" in Nyalam, we take advantage of the interesting surroundings to walk to the top of local hills and savor the first glimpses of the Himalayan Giants.

 

Bouldering in Nyalam on our rest day (Felix Berg). On the road to Tingri, Himalayan Giants in the background (DL Mazur). Our sturdy Tibetan trucks carry the equipment, here being loaded by our Sherpas (Tim Spear).

In the morning we continue our bus-ascent into the Tibetan plateau, to the town of Tingri at 4,342 meters.  There are superb views of Shishapangma, Cho-Oyu, and Everest as we drive into Tingri. The town itself is a very basic one-street hamlet surrounded by the tents of nomadic Tibetans. About ½ of all ethnic Tibetans living in Tibet are nomadic or semi-nomadic. Our extremely rustic little hotel has an adequate restaurant, and it will be interesting to see if the high altitude has quelled our appetites for tasty fresh food. There are the ruins of an old fortress on a rise above town, and from here we can see the finest views of Everest, Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, and Shishapangma.

A stop along the road near Tingri. There is a simply developed hot springs here. Only the very brave are able to tempt fate by entering the dirty water (Bruce Manning).

The following morning, after what for many is a relatively sleep-free night, we drive the 70 kilometers to Everest base camp at around 5,200 meters.  The drive follows a dirt road along the Rongbuk Valley and has spectacular views of the Himalaya.  Chinese base camp is located just near the medieval and active Rongbuk Monastery.

We will spend another day resting, acclimatising, and organizing equipment into Yak loads at Chinese base.

 

Preparing our yak loads at Chinese basecamp (Bruce Manning). Blue mountain sheep in the cliffs above basecamp (Felix Berg).

We then spend two days moving up to the "interim camp", which is located at 5800 metres and halfway to the "advanced basecamp (ABC)". 

 

Yak train heading up to interim camp (Bruce Manning). Interim Camp at 5800 metres, where we acclimate for a day or two before heading up to ABC (Tim Spear).

Next, we spend two days working our way up to ABC. 6,400 meters, ABC must be the highest  basecamp in the world.  It is located on a rocky moraine next to the Rongbuk Glacier.

   

Franck walking up the Rongbuk to ABC (Tim Spear). Our comfortable ABC at 6400 metres, A view of the mountain at sunset from ABC (Ryan Waters).

Upon reaching ABC, we will take another rest and acclimatization day, this time going over our equipment, safety procedures, climbing techniques, cooking and camping methods, and working to form ourselves into a more cohesive team.

After resting and completing our training, we will begin our climb of Everest.

 

Climbers approaching the North Col at 6800 metres. Lines are fixed here for safety. Our tents at the North Col at 7000 metres, also known as camp 1. Climbers Walking up to the 7500 metre camp, also known as camp 2. You can see the tents in the North Col in the background (Ryan Waters). At the 7500 metre camp (Ken Stalter).

On the way up to camp 3 at 8300 metres, which lies up and to the right in the photo (Ryan Waters). Camp 3. Andre Bredenkamp and Chris Drummond in Camp 3 .

Distant view of the second step at 8500 metres, ladders on right . On the second step at 8500 metres. We fixed 300 metres of rope here. Looking at the summit from 8400 metres. Climbing the second step. (Ryan Waters).

       

 The third and final step onto the summit. Ryan on the Summit. (Ryan Waters).  A sunburned Felix back in ABC after summitting.

Through the following weeks, we will climb up and down the mountain, according to the schedule suggested below, exploring the route, establishing camps, and building our acclimatization and strength levels. We will also descend to the Chinese basecamp several times, in order to rest well. Following the proposed itinerary below should give us the best chance to ascend in safety and maximize our opportunity to reach the summit during the "weather windows" which open in May.


SUGGESTED DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY FOR EVEREST CLIMB

1. 4 April, Arrive Kathmandu (1,300 meters).
2. 5 April In Kathmandu - Bring Passport to Chinese Embassy, for Visa. Logistics, training, purchasing, packing, training, visit temples, city tour, shopping.  Hotel and meals at members minimal cost.
3. 6 April In Kathmandu - while visa is being processed, logistics, training purchasing, packing, training, visit temples, city tour, shopping.  Hotel.
4. 7 April In Kathmandu - Pick up passport from Chinese Embassy. Logistics, training, purchasing, packing, training, visit temples, city tour, shopping.  Hotel. 
5. 8 April Bus to Tibet; drive to Nyalam (3,750 meters).  Hotel and meals at organizer's expense.
6. 9 April Rest in Nyalam (3,750 meters).  Walk around the local hills. Hotel.
7. 10 April Bus to Tingri (4,342 meters).  Hotel.
8. 11 April Rest in Tingri.
9. 12 April Drive to Chinese Basecamp (5200meters).  Camp.
10. 13 April Rest in Chinese base. Organize equipment and supplies. Camp.
11. 14 April Walk gently in the hills surrounding Chinese base.
12. 15 April Rest in Chinese base. Organize equipment and supplies. Camp.
13. 16 April Walk with the yaks halfway to advanced base to interim camp (5,800meters). Camp.
14. 17 April Rest in interim camp.
15. 18 April Rest in interim camp.
16. 19 April Walk with the yaks to advanced base (ABC) at 6400 metres. Camp.
17. 20 April Rest in Advanced base. Extensive training. Organize supplies.
18. 21 April Rest in Advanced base. Extensive training. Organize supplies.
19. 22 April Walk to Camp 1 North Col (7000m). Return to ABC.
20. 23 April Rest in ABC.
21. 24 April Walk to Camp 1. Sleep there.
22. 25 April Explore route to Camp 2 (7500m), return to ABC.
23. 26 April Walk back down to Chinese base.
24. 27 April Rest in Chinese base.
25. 28 April Rest in Chinese base.
26. 29 April Rest in Chinese base.
27. 30 April Walk up to interim camp.
28. 1 May Walk up to ABC.
29. 2 May Walk to Camp 1, sleep there.
30. 3 May Walk to Camp 2, sleep there.
31. 4 May Explore route to Camp 3 (8300 metres), return to camp 2, sleep there.
32. 5 May Walk Down to ABC.
33. 6 May Walk back down to Chinese base.
34. 7 May Rest in Chinese base.
35. 8 May Rest in Chinese base.
36. 9 May Rest in Chinese base.
37. 10 May Walk up to interim camp.
38. 11 May Walk up to ABC.
39. 12 May Walk to Camp 1. Sleep there.
40. 13 May Walk to Camp 2, sleep there.
41. 14 May Walk to Camp 3, sleep there.
42. 15 May Attempt summit if conditions allow.
43. 16 May Attempt summit if conditions allow.
44. 17 May Descend to ABC.
45. 18 May Walk back down to Chinese base.
46. 19 May Rest in Chinese base.
47. 20 May Rest in Chinese base.
48. 21 May Rest in Chinese base.
49. 22 May Walk up to interim camp.
50. 23 May Walk back up to ABC.
51. 24 May Walk to Camp 1. Sleep there.
52. 25 May Walk to Camp 2, sleep there.
53. 26 May Walk to Camp 3, sleep there.
54. 27 May Attempt summit if conditions allow.
55. 28 May Attempt summit if conditions allow.
56. 29 May Descend to Camp 1.
57. 30 May Packing in camp 1, descend to ABC.
58. 31 May Packing in ABC.
59. 1 June Yaks transport equipment, supplies and rubbish to Chinese base. Members walk down.
60. 2 June Packing in Chinese base.
61. 3 June Drive to Tingri.   Hotel and meals at organizers expense.
62. 4 June Drive to Kathmandu.   Hotel and meals at members expense.
63. 5 June In Kathmandu.  Final packing, summit celebration, saying goodbye to new friends.
64. 6 June Fly home. Thank you for joining our Mount Everest Expedition

 

 

 

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