I'm writing this while the wind blows the dining tent about this afternoon.
- having just watched "Rendition"! We descended back to base camp from camp
2 yesterday afternoon. That, as you know, was our third acclimitisation climb
and it went well. We've been relaxing here in base camp for the past 24 hours.
For the time being, we plan to take two more (or so) rest days here. Then
we hope for a final acclimatization push all the way up to camp three on the
Lhotse face. This season the view with binoculars suggests an icy climb up to
camp 3 as there's less snow on the face than has been seen in years.
For now the skies remain clear, the winds continue to howl up high, and
we're just relaxing! Thank you for 'dropping by' to check on our progress.
Earlier: Heading up to overnight at Camp 2
Earlier: Tomorrow is Sat 26th April, pretty much the
1/2 way mark.
Today (Fri) is a rest day and a chance to wash
clothes and bodies as well as eat lots and watch a movie or two,
we'll also have another quiz night tonight (each person comes up
with 10 Q's for rest of team - good craic). This afternoon after a
visit to the B.C. bakery (for some proper coffee and apple pie) we
hung up a big Irish flag on the side of the mess tent and already
two sets of Irish trekkers visited us. I also met a guy I used to
work with in VF a couple of days ago here as a trekker and me and
Ian met Prakesh who was our Everest B.C trek guide in 2006 the other
day (he knew we were due back, he was here with another group so it
was great fun to meet him).
On Tuesday (22nd) we went up to Camp 1 as you knew (shaved 2
hours off our previous time), had an overnight there, then trekked
up to Camp 2 (only 3 hours) then back to Camp 1 for lunch (lovely
trek back through the Western Cwm), another overnight there and back
to B.C. on Thursday morning (shaved 1hr 15 mins off our previous
We have another rest day tomorrow (Sat) and then on Sunday
(27th.) we'll go back up to camp 1, overnight, then up to camp 2,
overnight, trek to the base of the Lhotse face at 6,700m. We will
return to camp 2 for the night and then all the way back to B.C. We
will let you all know when the final six day stint will be at camp2
- 6,400m and up to camp 3 at 7,400m will be. After that we're not
really sure but we might have one more trip up and back before our
final summit push.
All the best - Graham & Ian
Earlier: At camp one: We are established in camp 1 at 6,100m. We aim to
spend the night here tonight, before a very early morning descent tomorrow
back down to base camp. Hope to give a fuller report later.
Earlier: This week two young Irishmen – Graham Kinch
(29, from Dunlaoghaire) and Ian Taylor (29, from Leixlip) – have reached base
camp on Mt. Everest (at 5,300 m.). This now will be their home for the next 6
weeks or so as they bid to reach ‘the top of the world’ by the south face.
This is the first Irish Everest attempt
in aid of charity and if either of them summit they will be the youngest Irish
males to do so. Their chosen Irish charity is Fields of Life which is engaged
in community development, mainly in East Africa.
Chinese plans to bring the Olympic touch
to Everest have closed the north (Tibetan) side to climbers and until recently
it looked like the south side would also be closed. But Kinch and Taylor have
obtained their official climbing permit from the Nepalese authorities so their
two and a half years of training and preparation won’t now be thwarted by
events on the other side of the peak.
Background: A small Irish team made up of
Graham Kinch (a 29 year old telecoms strategist) and Ian Taylor (a 29 year old
leisure centre assistant general manager),
will attempt Everest via the South East ridge in the spring of 2008. If either
Kinch or Taylor are successful they will become the youngest Irish male to
In preparation for their
Everest Expedition, Kinch and Taylor are climbing 3 other mountains on 3
continents between June 2007 and their April 4th departure for Kathmandu. They
have already completed Mt Blanc and Kilimanjaro and shall head off to
Argentina on December 27th to attempt Aconcagua via the Polish glacier. The
year long project is in aid of the Kitandwe school project. A school they have
chosen to build in their sponsored village in Uganda in partnership with the
Irish charity Fields of Life.
Due to the small size of the
Everest team they have far greater flexibility in their approach. They will be
deviating from convention by using Gorak Shep (the original Hillary 1953 base
camp) as their base camp and will carry out their acclimatisation on
neighbouring peaks such as Pokalde, Island Peak and Lobuje.
Everest from the South Side
Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350
This is a
picture of the popular South Col Route up Mt. Everest. Base camp is located
at 17,500 feet. This is where climbers begin their true trip up the
mountain. This is also where support staff often remain to monitor the
expeditions and provide medical assistance when necessary. Many organizations
offer hiking trips which just go to base camp as the trip is not technically
challenging (though you must be very fit).
camp, climbers typically train and acclimate (permitting the body to adjust to
the decreased oxygen in the air) by traveling and bringing supplies back and
forth through the often treacherous Khumbu Icefall. This training and
recuperation continues throughout the climb, with the final summit push often
being the only time to climbers do not go back and forth between camps to
train, bring supplies, and recuperate for the next push.
is in constant motion. It contains enormous ice seracs, often larger than
houses, which dangle precariously over the climbers heads, threatening to fall
at any moment without warning, as the climbers cross endless crevasses and
listen to continuous ice creaking below. This often acts as a testing ground
to judge if less experienced climbers will be capable of continuing. The
Icefall is located between 17,500 and 19,500 feet.
Camp I -
Icefall, the climbers arrive at Camp I, which is located at 19,500 feet.
Depending on the type of expedition, Camp I will either be stocked by the
climbers as they ascend and descend the Icefall, or by Sherpas in advance.
between Camp I and Camp II is known as the Western Cwm. As the climbers reach
Camp II at 21,000 feet, they may be temporarily out of sight of their support
at Base camp. Nonetheless, modern communication devises permit the parties to
stay in contact.
Camp II -
climbers leave Camp II, they travel towards the Lhotse face (Lhotse is a
27,920 foot mountain bordering Everest). The Lhotse face is a steep, shiny
icy wall. Though not technically extremely difficult, one misstep or slip
could mean a climber's life. Indeed, many climbers have lost their lives
through such mishaps.
Camp III -
23,700 feet (7200 meters)
To reach Camp
III, climbers must negotiate the Lhotse Face. Climbing a sheer wall of ice
demands skill, strength and stamina. It is so steep and treacherous that many
Sherpas move directly from Camp II to Camp IV on the South Col, refusing to
stay on the Lhotse Face.
Camp IV -
26,300 feet (8000 meters)
As you’re leaving C4…it’s a
little bit of a down slope, with the uphill side to the left. There are
typically snow on the ledges to walk down on, interspersed with rock, along
with some fixed rope. The problem with the rope is that the anchors are bad,
and there’s not much holding the rope and a fall could be serious. Fortunately
it’s not too steep, but there is a ton of exposure and people are usually
tired when walking down from camp. The rock is a little down sloping to the
right as well, and with crampons on, it can be bit tricky with any kind of
wind. There’s a little short slope on reliable snow which leads to the top of
the Geneva Spur, and the wind pressure gradient across the spur can increase
there as you’re getting set up for the rappel. Wearing an oxygen mask here can
create some footing issues during the rappel, because it’s impossible to see
over the mask and down to the feet. For that reason, some people choose to
leave Camp 4 without gas, as it’s easier to keep moving down the Spur when
it’s important to see all the small rock steps and where the old feet are
going. Navigating down through all of the spaghetti of fixed ropes is a bit of
a challenge, especially with mush for brains at that point. One lands on some
lower ledges which aren’t so steep, where fixed ropes through here are solid.
At this point, it’s just a matter of staying upright, and usually, the wind
has died significantly after dropping off the Spur. The route turns hard to
the left onto the snowfield that leads to the top of the Yellow Bands.
which is at 26,300 on the Lhotse face, is typically the climbers' first
overnight stay in the Death Zone. The Death Zone is above 26,000 feet.
Though there is nothing magical about that altitude, it is at this altitude
that most human bodies lose all ability to acclimate. Accordingly, the body
slowly begins to deteriorate and die - thus, the name "Death Zone." The
longer a climber stays at this altitude, the more likely illness (HACE - high
altitude cerebral edema - or HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema) or death
will occur. Most climbers will use oxygen to climb and sleep at this altitude
and above. Generally, Sherpas refuse to sleep on the Lhotse face and will
travel to either Camp II or Camp IV.
Camp IV is
located at 26,300 feet. This is the final major camp for the summit push. It
is at this point that the climbers make their final preparations. It is also
a haven for worn-out climbers on their exhausting descent from summit attempts
(both successful and not). Sherpas or other climbers will often wait here
with supplies and hot tea for returning climbers.
From Camp IV,
climbers will push through the Balcony, at 27,500 feet, to the Hillary Step at
28,800 feet. The Hillary Step, an over 70 foot rock step, is named after Sir.
Edmond Hillary, who in 1953, along with Tenzing Norgay, became the first
people to summit Everest. The Hillary Step, which is climbed with fixed
ropes, often becomes a bottleneck as only one climber can climb at a time.
Though the Hillary Step would not be difficult at sea level for experienced
climbers, at Everest's altitude, it is considered the most technically
challenging aspect of the climb.
29,028 feet (8848 meters)
climbers ascend the Hillary Step, they slowly and laboriously proceed to the
summit at 29,028 feet. The summit sits at the top of the world. Though not
the closest place to the sun due to the earth's curve, it is the highest peak
on earth. Due to the decreased air pressure, the summit contains less than
one third the oxygen as at sea level. If dropped off on the summit directly
from sea level (impossible in reality), a person would die within minutes.
Typically, climbers achieving the great summit will take pictures, gain their
composure, briefly enjoy the view, then return to Camp IV as quickly as
possible. The risk of staying at the summit and the exhaustion from
achieving the summit is too great to permit climbers to fully enjoy the great
accomplishment at that moment.
readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the
climb to the summit.
Pictures from Enrique
Guallart-Furio web site http://ww2.encis.es/avent/
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