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  Everest 2006: ANDALUCIA EVEREST EXPEDITION 2006: ALL SET FOR THE DEPARTURE OF ANDALUCIA EVEREST 2006 EXPEDITION


Dispatches

The Sevillan mountaineers leave from Sevilla's Airport at 07:00 AM on Sunday 26.

The members of the Andalucía Everest Expedition - climbers Juan Antonio Huisa and Pedro López, along with journalist Javier Blázquez and cameraman Daniel Bueno - will leave next Sunday at 7 in the morning from Sevilla's Airport via Madrid - Doha (Qatar) - Katmandu (Nepal) to start the last climbing of the Seven Summits project with the following program:

ISLAND PEAD (6,173 m): ACCLIMATIZATION

An important phase of the expedition will be the acclimatization period, which is used to adapt to altitude and to start a good physical preparation where they can tune their bodies and the materials will be tested.  The chosen place for that matter is Island Peak, where they will have a high altitude trekking of some 15 days, and where they will see how fit they are so they can be sure to safely reach Everest base camp at 5,150m.

In 1952 Eric Shipton and his team were exploring Barun Gorge and the called this mountain Island Peak, because when seen from Dingboche it looks like a real island in the middle of a sea of ice.  The ascent route is by its Southeast face, then after a rocky part, a glacier zone has to be crossed and the final part is a snowy ridge that leads directly to the summit.

Schedule:

 

March 26

            07:00 AM  Departure from Sevilla's Airport via Madrid - Doha (Qatar) - Katmandu (Nepal)

March 27

            Arrival to Katmandu and trip to the hotel

March 28

            Free day in Katmandu for the last shopping and paperwork

March 29

Domestic flight of some 40 minutes to Luckla, a town located at 2,850 m., where the trekking begins.  That day we will go up to Phakding (2,640 m) in 3 hours.  A lot of hanging bridges will be crossed and they will follow the course of the Dudh-Kosi river, along a valley that narrows progressively until it becomes a real gorge.

March 30

Still on the course of the Dudh-Kosi river and then into the Brote-Kosi valley until Namche Bazaar (3,450m) in 5h., the capital of the Sherpa country and entrance gate for the expeditions in the zone.  The road crosses forests of rhododendrons, magnolias and giant firs, and luckily they will see some musk.  During the final part of the ascent up to Nambche Bazaar they will gaze Everest (8,848m) and Nuptse (7,000m) if the weather is nice.

March 31

Free day, because close to the 3,500m it is convenient to make a day of acclimatization to avoid future problems with mountain sickness.  From Namche, Khumjung village (3,790m) can be approached and then go back to Namche to sleep.

April 1

The trekking continues for four or five hours up to Tengboche (3,860m), spiritual and cultural center of the Sherpa territory of Khumbu.  It is located in an idyllic location: surrounded by a rhododendron forest, in an alpine prairie presided by Ama Dablam (6,921m) and by Everest further away.  The monks in this monastery have guarded, until recent times when they were robed, an scalpel and an alleged hand of a Yeti.

April 2

Tengoche is the gate of the high mountain and from here the landscape changes radically; the cows leave room for yaks, and progressively firs and rhododendrons disappear to make room for immense prairies.  In some five hours of march Pheriche (4,280m) is reached, the last Sherpa village that is inhabited around the year.

April 3

            From Pheriche they will walk to Chukung (4,730m) in three hours.

April 4

            That day will be used for acclimatization climbing the sides of Chunkung Ri, a 5,546m peak and they back to Chukung to sleep.

April 5

            Planned day to the arrival to Island Peak base camp, at the foot of the mountain in a comfortable zone (5,050m) after three hours from Chunkung.

April 6

Day of rest and acclimatization used to check and equip part of the route.  A high altitude camp can be installed at 5,300m, but the place is uncomfortable and small.

April 7

            Climb to the summit (6,173m) and then down to Chukung.

April 8

            Return to Tengboche.

April 9

            Return to Namche Bazaar.

April 10

            Luckla is reached in some 5 hours.

April 11

            A flight to Katmandu is caught after breakfast.

April 12, 13

            Rest and last preparations before leaving to Everest's base Camp.

SCHEDULE AND DESCRIPTION OF THE ASCENT ROUTE BY EVEREST'S NORTH FACE: 

CAMPS ALTITUDE (Meters) SITUATION
CB 5.400 Rongbuk glacier
C Intermediate 5.800 Rongbuk glacier
CBA (advanced) 6.500 Base of the wall to the North Col
CI 7.000 Just above the North Col
CII 7.800 On the N-NE ridge
CIII 8.400 Close to the so called first step
SUMMIT 8.848 Summit

From Katmandú we leave to the Chinese border by a chaotic road, once in Tibet it takes 4 days to get to the town of Tingri at 4,350m, and from here we get into the great Tibetan table to reach the Rongbuk valley that starts from the region next to the North of Everest and ends in an impressive glacier that has the same name.  The monastery of Rongbuk is at 5,000m and 8 Km away is our first objective, the Chinese base camp.

Chinese Base Camp (5,150m)

It is very convenient to have a camp located under 5,300m to be able to acclimatize safely and if some expeditioneer has problems in this camp it gives him or her the chance to spend a few days there trying to recover.  It is also useful to rest after having equipped all the route and to prepare for a summit attempt.

From this low camp we advance by the Rongbuk glacier for 5 Km until the union with a glacial valley to the East, then this Rongbuk eastern glacier is followed by the moraines to establish an intermediate camp at 5,800m. 

After spending at least a night there, some unstable forests are crossed and they will advance by the center of the glacier, where the road is a little easier.  Continuing on this route, the base of the North Col is reached, where the advanced base camp will be installed. 

Advanced Base Camp (6,500m) 

This camp will be used as the base to equip all the wall, this camp can be stocked by yaks, from here the route has to be ported and stocked by foot over walls of ice and snow. 

The ascent is by the Cang La wall (North Col).  The inclination of the route makes it difficult because at least for 400m the slopes have 30º and can change depending the conditions, which vary every year.

 

The route changes every year and a lot of crevasses have to be dodged as they appear.  The road is not easy nor safe because of the presence of huge seracs that rise majestically and unstable over a good part of the way, so fixed lines have to be placed over a large part of the route to help in the ascent to the superior camps, but above all to make descent safer. 

Camp I (7,000m)  

So we reach the ridge located on the North Col, here in a little depression safe from the wind the first high altitude camp CI will be installed at 7,000m, from here on all the route is swept by western winds that very often are extremely strong at that altitude, the "mane" of snow that is often seen on Everest is caused by these winds. 

Camp II (7,800m) 

To reach CII, located at 7,800m., a ridge which is exposed to winds has to be traversed, with not much inclination but with almost 800m of altitude difference which makes it endless for the strength of the climbers. 

Along the ridge some parts of ice and snow can be found as well as part of only rock. 

Camp III (8,400m) 

From CIII two choices can be taken, depending on the conditions, the first is to continue over the North Face and climb by the Norton Corridor or the way that was planned at the beginning which is to continue a long ridge which is even more exposed to winds, but with less risk of avalanches like the other route. 

The main difficulty in this part of the ascent, besides the wind, is some technical steps on the rock that in principle are not of great difficulty but the extreme altitude demands a double effort. 

After passing a rocky zone known as the yellow band because of the color of the rocks, a little place can be found to settle CIII at 8,400m. 

Summit (8,848m)

That will be the most expected day and the most feared by any mountaineer, because it is the day in which you gamble everything, just one day to attack, because it is very rare to hear from someone who attempts one time and tries another one later.  That day is crucial at a personal level, because one can only think in the family, the sponsors, and where mountaineers risk their life like in so few places on Earth.  At that altitude the worst begins, the most technical steps, the most altitude difference, and everything in a moment in which because of altitude, the climber is on the edge of everything. 

Without a doubt that day will be of a lot of difficulties starting with an altitude which is incompatible with life, a day that happens in the death zone, as the Himalayas climbers call this place above 8,000m; another obstacle will be the almost hurricane winds at those altitudes, and to top it all the snow that sometimes is heavy and deep which demands climbers to open the route with an exhausting effort.

Besides these difficulties, the route to the summit is some 2 Km. long horizontally and 500m vertically, on the way of the three "steps", which will be the main difficulties of the route.  The path starts at 8,400m and leads to the ridge.  At 8,500m the first spur is seen, which is not much difficult (PD grade), after a short part going down the route returns to the ridge which is normally covered by snow and where extreme care has to be taken with the cornices that form on the East Face, a time to look at the conditions of the snow in that part. 

Once here, the ridge is left to the left and we advance until we reach the First Step located at 8,530m.  It is a climb with a lot of unstable rocks and second degree climbs, the steps are not much technical but very risky.  The route continues exposed along some straits of rock which seem like tiles, often covered by snow and verglass ice, which require a lot of attention.  Later you go back to the ridge until you reach a mushroom like rock, with a little depression behind where most of the people rest for a while, and those using oxygen use to change bottles.

After a while you reach the Second Step which begins at 8,610m and has several parts, starting with a slope of stones and third degree steps, then some steps with snow, and then a metallic ladder is reached, which was installed by one of the first Chinese expeditions who attempted the summit in 1975, but few mountaineers use that ladder today.  This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the way, it is short but very technical.  We are talking about an impressive step of 25m, totally vertical, of rock, snow and ice; and to make things worst there are two bodies (of a lot in the zone) of climbers who died there and are still there, which you almost touch, definitively a horrible scene.

After this part there is still a third step of some 10 m high, very easy, which after being passed leads to a false summit of snow, this has to be passed and then walk horizontally some 100m to the right to reach some bands of calcium rock which lead us this time to a triangle of snow that forms the summit of the highest mountain of the Planet (8,848m)

The departure from CIII has to be done around midnight, so most of the route is done by night and the estimated time to reach the summit is around 8 and 12 h after the departure.

After a hard and sacrificed descent where extreme precaution is little (most of the accidents happen on the way down), CIII is reached again, which makes you stay the night again at 8,400m, and go down the next day.

To be able to get to the summit day in conditions to attack the mountain, at least 30 days are needed for hard work of installing equipment and stocking the high altitude camps, which will help in acclimatization of altitude, and will make us go up and down several times along most of the route.

Schedule

April 14
            Departure to the Chinese border.

April 15 - 19
            Travel to the Chinese Base Camp

April 20- May 30
            Days of acclimatization and mountain climbing

May 31- June 1
            Return from Base Camp to the border

June 2
            Arrival to Katmandu

June 3 - 4
            Free days in Katmandu doing the last paper work

June 5
            Flight departure and arrvial to Madrid and Sevilla.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera[

Dispatches

 

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