April 9, 2007: Today was a
big day for the Mountain Madness team. This morning was our Puja thus allowing
the team to enter the Ice Fall. Several days of preparation went into the
ceremony. All of the climbers and the climbing staff sat in the morning air
around an altar constructed of stone. Adorning the altar were pictures of high
lamas, katas, and food and drink of all sorts. Incense and burning juniper
filled the air as a Buddhist Monk chanted, periodically throwing rice towards
the altar. After a large amount of tea was consumed a pole was erected at the
center of the altar with prayer flags radiating outward like the spokes of a
wheel to the far ends of the Madness camp. The Puja concluded with each of the
climbers and climbing staff being blessed by the monk and with song and dance.
It was a ceremony to be remembered.
As soon as the ceremony came to a conclusion the climbing team prepared to
make its first venture into the Ice Fall. The team was excited to stretch
their legs and put their skills refreshed in the ropes course to use. The
training paid off as the climbers crossed several crevasses with the largest
being three ladders wide and over 100' deep. Everyone was pretty tired upon
their return to Base Camp and excited to rest in their tents. The next venture
into the Ice Fall should take the team to the top and across many more
April 8, 2007: Happy Easter! Today we awoke to beautiful skies and warm
temperatures. Breakfast was the last meal for the trekkers in Base Camp before
beginning their descent back to Lukla. Most were sad to leave and begin their
journey home but were excited to get thicker air in their lungs and leave the
physical ailments caused by high altitude behind. After goodbyes were
exchanged the climbers ventured to the ropes course to sharpen their skills.
The course was complete with rappels, 20' high ladder crossings, and ascents
using jumars. After several laps through the course everyone was feeling
confident and refreshed. Erin added a little Easter charm to the outing by
wearing ribbons with rabbits in her hair.
Tomorrow we have a puja blessing the climbers and climbing staff allowing us
to begin our ascent of the mountain. After the puja the climbers will enter
the lower portion of the Ice Fall for the first time. Rumor has it that Camp 1
was reached by the ice fall doctors (a group of Sherpas employed by the
national park who fix all of the ropes and ladders in the Ice Fall) today and
Camp 1 is now open. With any luck we should be making our way to the top of
the Ice Fall in the next couple of days.
April 7, 2007: Today was the team's first full day in Base Camp. Temperatures
have been cold, but not as cold as normal and the Ice Fall remains active. The
route through the Ice Fall is still being fixed and all are excited to see
what is in store for them. In preparation for the obstacles to come Willie,
Eric, and Brian spent much of the day fixing ropes and ladders creating a
practice course. The Ice Fall climbers spent the day navigating the Khumbu
Glacier and practicing rappelling and ascending fixed lines. Tomorrow all of
the climbers will spend the entire day perfecting their fixed rope skills on
the ropes course. Everyone was excited to get crampons on their feet and
scramble around the ice.
Away from the glacier the dining tent has become the social epicenter of camp.
Mountaineering Monopoly and Cribbage seem to be the games of choice. The
climbers have gravitated towards Monopoly, building their confidence by buying
the worlds most demanding climbs. Meanwhile, Mark, Patricia, Dave, and Lisa
play round after round of Cribbage flaunting their victories as if they had
summitted themselves. Sadly, tomorrow the trekkers begin their journey back to
Lukla while the climbers continue with their preparations. We will all miss
the trekkers as they have become an integral part of the expedition. The
climbers will be busy over the next few days but camp won't be the same.
Mountain Madness will return to Everest in Spring 2007 with
a commercial expedition led by Willie Benegas, The final commercial team will
be announced soon... But they have several clients. They will again attempt from the South (Nepal) side of
the mountain. Christine Boskoff, owner of Mountain Madness sadly passed away
The Climber: Willie Benegas
raised in the wild heart of Patagonia, Willie Benegas, along with his
twin brother Damien, have pursued a long apprenticeship in the
mountains. As one of the "young bucks" of the world-class North Face
team, Willie has pushed his craft on the big-walls of Yosemite, the airy
summits of South America, and the loftiest peaks of the Himalaya.
The boundless duo, now
hailing from Berkeley California, completed their first major new ascent
with a route up Patagonia's West Face of Pilquitron (VI, 5.9, A3) which
is still unrepeated.
At 20, they climbed Fitz
Roy's impressive Supercouloir as well as routes on Guillaumet and Poincenot.
In the following years, Willie has ticked off the South Face of Aconcagua, a
new route on the North Face of Pakistan's Nameless Tower (VII), record speed
ascents in Yosemite valley, and attempted major new routes on the legendary
North Faces of Thalay Sagar and Jannu.
But simply overcoming
technical routes or highest summits is not enough for this 30 year old
climber. He gathers equal satisfaction by introducing others to the
wide-world of mountain experience. To help fulfill this goal, Willie and
Damien established Patagonian Brothers Expeditions specializing in South
American guided climbs and treks. They also lead expeditions for Out There
Trekking (UK, OTT) in Africa, South America, and on Himalayan giants such as
Willie has many plans for the
future, but he often gets the same question; why do you climb? When asked
about the draw of high places, he says "a mountain adventure will carry over
into many facets of your life, teaching about yourself, your co-existence with
nature, and respect for other people's cultures."
Willie's Brief Resume below
2001 OLN "Outlaws of the
1991 "Swimming with
whales" discovery channel
Nameless Tower "Book of
Shadows" VII 5.10+ A4 WI4, 1995
Mt Kenya all massif towers
in 16 hrs, 2002
Mt Cuerno 17.600ft South
Face First Ascent 5.7 WI 3 4640ft in 4.36hrs R/ trip solo, 2000
Fitzroy Super Canaleta VI
5.10b A1 WI 3,1987
Atensoraju 19.328ft. new
route North ridge/face "The Pandora Box of Artensoraju:" 5.9 WI 3, 1998
Oshapalca new route South
face "My Message" 5.7 WI 4/5 2.400ft., 2000
Aconcagua World record
ascent/descent 54miles 13500ft elevation gain, 2000
First Ascent Argentina Andes
"Welcome to a Dream" V 5.11 A4+.,1999
Patagonia Exploration, first
ascent "Swept by the Wind" 5.13a, 1,000ft.
endurance run first place 9.35hrs., 1986
The Nose VI 5.11 A1 16
ascents, ten one day ascents.
South Seas (VI 5.10 A5)
Sea of Dreams (VI 5.10 A5)
Regular Route (VI 5.10 A1)
twenty times. Fastest time was 3:30
20/20 Classics Climb's in
twenty days of the 50 Classic's Climbs of North America Book. Ascended
60,080ft, traveled 137 miles on foot, 2hrs in canoe, and climbed 241
ABOUT WILLIE: Born and raised
in the wild heart of Patagonia, Willie Benegas has pursued a long
apprenticeship in the mountains. Willie has pushed his craft on the big walls
of Yosemite, the airy summits of South America, and the loftiest peaks of the
Himalayas. Willie completed his first major ascent in the winter of 1987 with
a route up Patagonia's West Face of Pitriquitron (VI, 5.9 A3 W2/3), which has
still not been repeated. At age 20, he climbed Aconcagua's impressive South
Face, as well as Fitzroy. In the following years, Willie "ticked off" the
first ascent of the North Face of Pakistan's Nameless Tower "Book of Shadows"
(VII, 5.10+ A4 W14), made record speed ascents in Yosemite Valley, and
attempted major new routes on the legendary North Faces of Thalay Sagar and
Jannu. In 2001, he set the world record speed ascent/descent of the highest
mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua (22,831 ft.), summited Everest
for a second time, and ran the legendary Leadville Ultra 100-mile Race. In the
spring of 2002, Willie reached the Top of the World yet a third time. However,
simply overcoming technical routes and conquering summits around the world is
not enough for this 34-year-old climber. He gathers equal satisfaction by
introducing others to the world of mountain experiences and exploration.
Willie has many plans for the future, but he often gets the same question, why
do you climb? To this he simply says, "A mountain adventure will carry over
into the many facets of life, teaching yourself about yourself, your
co-existence with nature, and the respect for people's cultures."
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