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  Everest 2007:  ANDALUCIA - EVEREST 2007 EXPEDITION


The Rock Cave on Everest where David Sharp froze to death on Everest ©EverestNews.com

 

 

INTRODUCTION

A month ago climbers Pedro López and Juan Antonio Huisa successfully climbed the highest peak of Oceania, the Carstensz Pyramid, 4,848m, in the island of New Guinea .  This mountain has been closed for several years due to guerrilla problems, we even tried it on 2003, but because of the bad political situation in the country we couldn’t even get to see the mountain.  This time, not without a lot of danger, we could make the flag of Andalucia wave on the roof of Oceania .

Now there is only Everest left to conclude this ambitious project which we started in 2002, the Seven Summit Project, which is based on crowning the highest peak in each continent.  This long trip can get to an end this same year 2007, and so we will write one more page in Andalucian sports history.  We have successfully crowned the following continents:

Kilimanjaro ( Tanzania , Africa ) September 2002

Elbrus ( Russia , Europe ) July 2003

Kosciusko ( Australia , Oceania) December 2003 / Carstensz Pyramid ( Indonesia , Asia/Oceania) January 2007

Vinson ( Antarctica ) December 2004

McKinley ( Alaska , USA , North America ) May 2005

Aconcagua ( Argentina , South America ) December 2005

This sports challenge takes enormous effort and sacrifice and proof of that is that a lot of teammates and climbers from other countries and corners of the world pay with their lives.  More than a sports challenge it is a feat, you have to give it all to achieve the objective, to get to the limit of your strength, the psychological limit and then sometimes you get your reward.  This fleeting reward is to taste the summit, which often you don’t have the capacity to assimilate, because of total exhaustion, bad weather conditions or the relentless thought that you have to climb down quick to be safe, because most of the accidents occur on the way down.  A lot of climbers in the whole world chase the dream of the Seven Summits and of course most of them can not reach it.  We pretend to be the first Andalucians to achieve this summit and to put Andalucia in a renowned place.

 

Of course this project would be impossible without the support from our sponsors, collaborators and media.  Since we started we can be very thankful with the support this project has had in the media and all of them with no exception have echoed our feats which have been amazingly broadcasted in Andalucia and Spain .

We can note RTVA and Estadio Deportivo who have reported our project to a surprising level, and they have been as well part of our project as sponsors.  TVE, A3, Localia, Giralda Televisión, Sevilla TV, ABC, Marca, Diario AS, El Correo de Andalucía, El País, El Mundo, 20 Minutos, Metro, Macarena, D. A., Canal Sur Radio, Cadena Ser, Punto Radio, COPE, and numerous local media and specialized publications have published this sports challenge to the regular citizen.

Another strong pillar has been the intitutional support we have had from the beginning, starting with Mr. President of the Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Turismo, Comercio y Deporte, Consejería de la Presidencia , the Mayor of Sevilla, the City of Sevilla and the municipal agencies, the General Director of RTVA, IMD, even the Royal House.  Some days ago we got a letter from the Chief of H. M. the King’s House, Mr. Alberto Aza Arias, who sent us congratulations from H. M. “H. M. the King sends his best wishes, so that this last challenge can be crowned with the success an effort of this size deserves”.

This year 2007 we will go directly to Everest base camp at 5,000m., because in 2006 we made a first approach of another mountain in the Himalayas to acclimatize and get to know this such extreme place on Earth.  Last year we learned with pain all about the country, the borders, the preparation expedition, the Sherpas, the porters, the official liaison, base camp, intermediate base camp and advanced base camp; all these will help us this year so that we can avoid past errors and lighten up and resolve quickly all these tasks and approach.  This year’s expedition will try to continue with the steps we made during 2006, and to pass beyond the 7,000 m where we stopped.  We trust in our possibilities and we hope to have better fortune than before.

In our sport, it is difficult to get awards, mentions or even recognition, when you get to the top nobody will applaud, or hang a medal from your neck.  We have got several awards and recognitions already, which shows the importance of this project and the sporting success we have achieved.

*Medal of the ambassadors of Centenario Sevilla Fútbol Club

*Notable sportsmen of 2005.  Day of Andalucia.  Consejería de Gobernación.

*Special mention in Sports Party in Sevilla.  Instituto Municipal de Deportes.

*Andalucian Sports Award, X Anniversary of Estadio Deportivo.

 

EVEREST BY THE NORTH FACE

Even today in the XXI century it is still a big event and challenge the ascent to Everest, and it will be more important if it is done because of the achievement of two objectives: the first for getting to the roof of our planet, and second and more important because we have finished the Seven Summits Project, being the first Andalucians to have achieved it.

The selected route for the ascent will be the North Face, a route that because of its technical difficulties, extreme cold (down to 40º C below zero because of the scarce sunlight), the inclination of the walls, winds that can be beyond 140 Km/h , frequent avalanches, and very vertical passages (1st and 2nd step) at altitudes higher than 8,600m, which will demand 200% of us.

 

SCHEDULE AND DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

 

HIGH ALTITUDE CAMPS (m)     SITUATION

Base camp 5.400                      Rongbuk glacier
Intermediate camp  5.800          Rongbuk glacier
Advanced base camp 6.500       Bottom of the wall that leads 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          

 

We will leave Katmandu by a chaotic road to the Chinese border, once in Tibet it will take us 4 days to reach the town of Tingri at 4,350m, and from there we will enter the great Tibetan highlands to reach the Rongbuk valley which start from the region north of Everest and ends in the great glacier that bears its name, the Rongbuk monastery is located at 5,000m., 8 Km away from our first objective, the Chinese base camp.

 

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 climber has problems this camp gives him or her a chance to spend some days there trying to recover.  It is also useful to go there to rest after having equipped all the route and for a summit attempt.

From this camp we will continue over the Rongbuk glacier for 5 KM . until the union with a glacial valley to the east, then we follow this eastern glacier of Rongbuk over a moraine and we will establish an intermediate base camp at 5,800m.

After at least a night we will traverse some unstable blocks and we will advance through the center of the glacier, where the path is a little easier.  We will advance over this route until we reach the base of the North Col , where we will install the advanced base camp.

 

Advanced Base Camp (6,500m)

This camp will be used as 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 the ice walls and the snow.

 

We will climb the Cang La wall ( North Col ).  The inclination of the route makes it gain difficulty because there are slopes of 30º that can change with the conditions that vary each year.

 

The route changes every year and a lot of new crevasses have to be sorted out.  The path is not simple or safe due to the presence of large seracs that majestically rise in a unstable way over a good part of the way, so we will be forced to install fixed lines on a large part of the way to help us ascend to the superior camps but especially to make descent safer. 

 

Camp I (7,000m)

We will arrive to an edge located on the North Col, we will install here the first altitude camp in a little depression shielded from the wind, and from here on the route is swept by western winds that are frequently strong at this altitude, the “wig” of snow that is often seen on Everest is caused by these winds.

 

Camp II (7,700m) 

To get to CII, located at 7,800 m . we have to cover an edge exposed to the winds with not much inclination but with almost 800m of height that looks endless to the exhausted climbers.

Along the edge there are parts of ice and snow as well as parts of just rock.

 

Camp III (8,400m)

From CII there are to options to take according to the conditions, the first is to continue along the North Face and ascend through the Norton Corridor or the route we first planned, with is to continue along the long edge which is more exposed to the wind as before, but with less risk of avalanches than the other route.

 

The main difficulty of this part of the ascent besides the wind is some difficult technical steps on the rock that are not really very difficult, but they will demand more from us in the extreme altitude.

After sorting out a zone of rock known as the Yellow Band, because of the color of the stones, in this place we will find a small place to install CIII at 8,400m.

 

Departure to the Summit (8,848m)

This is the day we will be looking for and it will be the most feared day for any mountain climber, the day when you play it all in just one card, there is only one day to attack, because it is very odd when somebody comes down from the attempt and attempts again later.  This is a crucial day at personal level, because you think about your family, the sponsors, and it is really when you gamble on your own life as in few places on Earth.  The worst starts at this altitude, the more technical steps, the biggest difference in altitudes, and all this happens in a moment when, because of altitude, the climber in on the edge of everything.

 

Without a doubt, a lot of difficulties will be found this day, we will start with an incompatible altitude with life, which happens in the death zone, as the Himalayas climbers know this places above 8,000m.; another obstacle will be the almost hurricane like winds at those altitudes and to complement all this, the snow that is sometimes heavy and deep which would force us to open the trail with an exhausting effort.

 

Besides these difficulties we have described, the route to the summit is around 2 km in a horizontal distance and some 500 m of difference of altitude, so we will be in the three “steps” path, which will be the main technical difficulties of the route.  The path starts at 8,400m and goes to the edge, at 8,500m there is a first mound which is not so difficult (grade PD),  then after a short descending distance the route goes back to the edge that is normally covered with snow and where you have to be very careful with the cornices on the East Face, from where you can see the conditions of the snow on this part.

 

Once here we leave the crest to the left and we advance until we reach the First Step located at 8,530m.  We have to climb up there among large unstable boulders and over climbing steps of second grade, the steps are not excessively technical but very exposed.  The route continues being exposed along straits of rock that resemble tiles, often covered with snow and verglass ice, which will require all our attention.  It later turns into a crest until it gets to a mushroom like rock, after which there is a small depression where most people rest for a while, and where those using oxygen change their bottles.

 

After a little distance we reach the Second Step which begins at 8,610m and has several parts, starting by a slope with stones with third grade steps, then some steps on the snow, and then you get to a metal ladder that was installed by one of the first Chinese expeditions that attempted the summit in 1975, but few climbers use this ladder nowadays and they take a detour right ahead.  This is definitively the most difficult part of the route, it is short but very technical.  We are talking an impressive step here, of 25 m ., totally vertical, of rocks, snow and ice; and as a hit to your spirit there are two dead bodies here (of the many in the zone) who died there and remain there, which you almost touch as you pass, definitively a Dantesque view.

 

After this part there is still a third step of some 10m of height and very difficult, which after you pass it, it leads to a false snow summit, this has to be passed and we have to turn some 100m to the right, get to some bands of limestone that lead this time to the 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 between 8 and 12 hours from the departure.

 

 Alter a hard and sacrificed descent where extreme precaution is little (most of the accidents occur on the way down) we will come down back to CIII, which means we have to spend one more night at 8,400m, to descend as much as possible on the next day.

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

 

Schedule:

 

April 14                                    Departure toward the Chinese border.

April 15-19                                Trip to the Chinese Base Camp.

April 20 – May 30          Acclimatization days and ascent to the mountain.

May 31 – June 1            Return from Base Camp to the border.

June 2                          Arrival to Katmandu .

June 3-4                                   Free days in Katmandu , last paper work.

June 5                          Flight departure and arrival to Madrid and Sevilla.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 
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