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  Everest 2007:  Mountain Madness Everest Expedition:  Namche Bazar- trekking group


ropes course

April 10 Namche Bazar- trekking group

The trekkers are reunited in Namche Bazar and everyone is feeling well back in the thick air at 11,300 feet. We dodged base camp just in time for a storm cycle to move in, but not depriving ourselves of at least one morning of brushing the snow off the tent. The trekkers left base camp and made a big push to an area just above Pheriche, where they camped for the night in and around some rock wall structures.

The next day put some miles on the feet, as well, taking them all the way to Teshinga Losasa, a very small village of little more than a couple of tea houses. They camped again for the night and awoke early thismorning for the short trek to Namche Bazar, where we now all find ourselves together again! Everyone is milling about town enjoying its attendant luxuries: bakeries, outdoor equipment, souvenirs, and something close to modern plumbing! We leave shortly for our trek down many a steep hill, and along several suspension bridges over the now familiar Dudh Khosi river. A reverse wind-up of our journey in, it is somehow so much easier on the way out! We have had a grand time and will do a final check-in when we reach Lukla tomorrow evening. Everyone sends love back home, and best wishes to our friends on the mountain, gearing up for some amazing climbing. All is well here
.
 

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 crevasses.

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.
 

Background

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 in 2006.

The Climber: Willie Benegas

Born and 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.  

wil3g.jpg (12288 bytes)

© David Keaton

 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 Cho Oyu.

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

FILMS:

2001 OLN "Outlaws of the Aconcagua Trail"
1991 "Swimming with whales" discovery channel

HIGHLIGHTS:

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.
Patagonia 62.5miles 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 pitches. 1993

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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