RE: CONSTANTIN LACATUSU
LHOTSE (8516M) EXPEDITION 2008
-last 4 dispatches, newest
DATE: O5 may 2008: Safe in
base camp, Thank you, China !
DATE: 28 APRIL
TITLE: CAMP 2
I spent 3 nights in Camp1 to
get recovered and acclimatized after the hard push over the Ice Fall with the
The weather was good, just
slight windy in the last day.
April 25: I’m moving to Camp
2. It’s a 4 hours day, sunny and pretty nice with the LHOTSE FACE ahead all
way. Going up you look at the face and imagine possible routes to the summit.
The Face seems very steep and icy, same the final couloir going to the summit
ridge. Everest summit is not visible from here. I am still in the area so
called Western Cwm, the long and crevassed upper part of Khumbu Ice Fall.
Except the landscape, the
things to notice on this section are the huge crevasses cutting the glacier
all way from Everest to Nuptse walls. Most of the crevasses are crossed
frontaly over the aluminum ladders. One Sherpa fell in crevasse a day before
but was lucky to have some friends around who helped him get out of hell.
The Camp2 (6500m) is at the
end of the Western Cwm, at the bottom of the Lhotse Face. Many tents already
here pitched up by the Sherpas. The Eco-Everest team camp is closer to the
face, left side, on the moraine. It took me 2 hours to dig and prepare a
platform for my VAUDE Space Explorer tent. But working is good at this height,
keeps you active, focused and helps acclimatization.
I spent 2 nights here at Camp
2, looking at the possible route to the summit, drinking a lot and eating the
delicious TRAVELLUNCH food brought from Romania.
On April 27, I am back in
Base Camp, looking for the news from the Everest North Side. Now, all our
work, preparations, schedule and even success depend on how fast the Chinese
will get to the top with the famous hypoxic Olympic torch. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, in the first part
of May we are not allowed to go above base camp. The Olympic show is just for
people on the other side and for the rest of the world. Like always, should be
some collateral victims; I mean us, the climbers on the South side of the
DATE: 22 APRIL
TITLE: PUJA, PETRA & CAMP 1
April 18 was Puja ceremony in
base camp. A monk from Pangboche monastery did the job, a nice show which
climbers always like. Every expedition starts like this with prays to the
Himalayan Gods before entering their sacred kingdom. The signs were good. No
wind and bright sun. We may start the climb.
On 19-th of April it was the
big day for me. My second daughter was born. I was in touch with Irina by
telephone; I knew it’s going to happen. I ordered a chocolate cake at the
bakery organized in base camp by Dawa Sherpa. With white cream, the cook
wrote: Welcome PETRA and again welcome but in Nepali. We celebrated IRIS-PETRA’s
birth in the evening with French red wine brought especially from Kathmandu. I
thank Mother and God for this unique gift, the most beautiful ever to get.
April 22 was the start of the
climb. Although I did not feel very good yet, after taking antibiotics (for a
throat infection) for the last 10 days, I filled up my VAUDE backpack with
over 30kg and moved on. The Khumbu Ice Fall, one of the most dangerous
sections of all 8,000m peaks looked a bit strange to me with all these moving
ladders over crevasses and seracs ready to fall at the impact of just a
sunray. It’s more a Via Ferrata in ice but it’s funny and also very historical
because this was the way of the famous British 1953 expedition led by John
Hunt. It was here, in the area called ‘Atomic Bomb’ where Hillary fell in a
deep crevasse but was saved in the last minute by Tensing Sherpa. All this ice
field, broken in all directions is like an icy river flowing down steadily
with 1m/year, between the steep walls of Everest and Nuptse. In some points,
the movements are instantly and in just seconds huge seracs fall down keeping
the Ice Fall alive, active and extremely dangerous for climbers. A day after I
crossed this area, a serac of a big house size fell exactly on our route but
by grace of God nobody was there.
Camp 1 is above 5900m, in a
pretty safe site, between larger crevasses. From here you can see the majestic
LHOTSE FACE and The Summit. The way to Camp 2 looks much sweeter for it’s not
as steep as it was to Camp 1.
I arrived in Camp 1 exhausted
after carrying the too heavy backpack but I had no choice. I am my own Sherpa
on this trip. While Sherpas carry 20kg above BC, I had to take up over 30kg.
Now I have enough gear and food to survive and acclimatize here for several
DATE: 16 APRIL
TITLE: BASE CAMP
The road to Base Camp was
nice, in good weather and spirits. All way I remembered how me and Irina have
trekked all corners in Khumbu, 10 years ago, filming for a tv doc. At that
time I was well trained after the fastest ascent of the season on Cho Oyu (11
days from BC with no previous acclimatization) but Irina just came from the
city stress and office work. She was doing so well while our 1 month filming
around, although for her this harsh environment was not common at all.
The other thing to notice
from the approach to base was the incredible meet in Dinboche with 2 great
friends and partners during the Everest 1994 expedition from the Tibetan side,
Russell Brice and Marty Schmidt. Without any previous arrangement each of us
planned to stay overnight in Dinboche at the same date, at the same lodge.
Russell Brice (NZ, lives in
France), was heading with a small group to Island Peak after was forced to
cancel his regular Spring expedition on the Everest north side. He looked
same strong as before and got married meanwhile with a French journalist. He
was accompanied by some of the Sherpas I remember so well from both 1994 and
1995 ventures to Everest.
Marty Schmidt (US, lives in
NZ) was leading a small team to Everest. Plan is to make an oygenless ascent
with Tom (USA) while his wife Giannina will take care of communications and
base camp logistics. I remember so well the bad weather and bad luck we had in
1994 when we were forced by a huge avalanche to abandon our hard first ascent
climb on the NNE-Face. Then, moved to North Ridge, we were involved in epic
rescues of some friends.
I reached BC (5300m) on 16-th
of April, 10 days after leaving Romania. Base Camp site, on the moraine of the
end of Khumbu glacier, dominated by Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, Lingtren and
Khumbutse, was so crowdy as I’ve never imagined. Maybe half thousand people
here altogether, maybe more. More than 200 climbers are heading for Everest,
some 25-30 for Lhotse ; I will check exactly the official records later on.
This remote place, near Nepalese-Chinese Himalayan border will be our home for
the next 5-6 weeks.
Although I am alone for this
mountain, in BC I will join the expedition organized by Asian Trekking, the
ECO-EVEREST EXP. 2008, led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, the Ang Tshering’s sun. Dawa
is a young guy who is at the beginning at his Himalayan career. He was
educated in Europe, Scotland, returned to Nepal and last year summated
Everest. In The Eco-Everest project, besides Asian Trekking as
field-supporter, the main partner is ICIMOD (International Centre for
Integrated Mountain Development), which is making 25 years in 2008. I have
interesting talks with the researchers in base camp, including ICIMOD
president, Andreas Schield, a nice Swiss living in Nepal since the 80’s. Their
project is focused on climate change and glacier melting, but also on
eco-friendly expedition’s logistics.
The Eco-Everest climbing team
includes experienced climbers from US, Austria, Spain, Mexico, Brasil, Japan
and of course, Nepal. For Lhotse there are 3 Americans (Will, Stuart and
Brian) and 1 Mexican (David) so, we may combine strategies and forces on the
Earlier: Constantin Lacatusu’s LHOTSE
(8516M) Expedition 2008
From Nepal’s capital Katmandu
to Sherpa’s capital Namche
I am in the Sherpa capital,
Namche Bazaar, after everything went on pretty smoothly.
But the 2 final preparations
days in Katmandu were even busier than in other occassions because there were
many people to meet and things to sort out. So, I just spent in my hotel room
bed a full night in arrival day and just 3 hours the night before departure
for Lukla, that was yesterday (09.04.2008).
On my arrival day (7.04.2008)
in Nepali capital, Katmandu, I was already in the hotel bed at 8.30 a.m.
hoping to get some sleep after 2 consecutive white nights. But this did not
happen because after just 15 minutes already spent in the other world I heard
the phone ring, that means it was pretty noisy (smthg.like a truck horn). Only
one person in the world could call me in the hotel room after less than 1 hour
after landing Nepal: miss Hawley, the Reuters (and some famous mountain
magazines) correspondent in Katmandu for many years who was doing her job. She
should be in her seventies but she is still doing a very good job with the
same passion and professionalism as some decades ago. She keeps the only
complete records of Himalayan climbing in Nepal, that means Himalayan history,
a wonderful and helpful work for world climbing community. She interviews
climbers before and after expedition and put everything in files. She is just
using a manual typing machine and only few years ago she agreed to have all
her records on a CD, The Himalayan Data Base, published in US and updated
every season. So, in just 30 min. I was in the hotel restaurant talking with
this active woman who taking into account my sleepy/dreamy situation looked to
me even more impressive.
The rest of the day I didn’t
touch the bed, I had to go to Asian Trekking, my expedition travel agent to
get news on Everest area situation. I was informed that due to general
elections in Nepal on May 10, I have to fly Lukla a day before as all flights
maybe cancelled for the elections. In the evening I met my very good friend in
Katmandu, Deepak Bandhari who owns a travel agency and manages a nice hotel in
Next day, the 2-nd and the
last in Katmandu before leaving was dedicated to sorting the expedition gear,
buying some expedition food, final arrangements to fix with Asian Trekking and
pleasant meets, lunch and dinner with Ang Tshering Sherpa (Asian trekking
owner) and Deepak Bandhari. It was a full and nice day although it had a
catastrophic start. At 8 am, that means in the morning (!), the phone ring put
an end to my dreams: “Good morning, my name is … (no name to remember in that
case), I am miss Hawley’s assistant, I would like to speak with you, I am down
at the reception, please give me some minutes”. Due to deep respect I have for
miss Hawley I was down in 7 min. and heard (I did not see anything being too
sleepy) the excuses of a local guy who made the mistake to not notice on the
paper in his hands that miss Hawley has already met me. I remember I said the
normal short word people say in this abnormal situations but all was heard was
The night of April 8 to 9 was
very short, just 3 hours sleeping. Luggage finish 2 am, wake up at 5.
The yesterday flight to Lukla
(2840m) was fine, that means we survived, which is good. In Lukla I was
expected by my guide, Chuldim Sherpa from Khumjung. He will take care about
porters to carry my hundred kilos of luggage. He quickly found 3 young guys
from Solu (the region South of Khumbu). I will carry just 25 kg. Trekking to
Phakding was pleasant, same the today one to Namche. Not too much to notice
except the vivid coloured Rhododendrons on all way.
Few words about Chuldim: he
is a tall guy. That means he is over 1.70m; so, very different here in Khumbu,
Nepal. Until now if someone had asked me how did you feel in Nepal, the first
word to come was ‘tall’; but in the last 2 days I did feel just ‘great’. We
will go together to base camp at 5400m. Still 5 days to walk along a classic
Himalayan trekking route.
Few words about weather: the
mornings of the first 2 days were good, clear sky but the afternoons were
cloudy with just slight wind. Chuldim came to Lukla from higher (Khumjung), he
said me, while I was taking a picture to a rhododendron, that above Namche no
more rhododrendons ! Bellow Namche is spring, above Namche is winter. I was
also told that it was a soft dry winter but there were heavy snowfalls some 7
days ago. Climate change reached the Himalayas as well, this is no news. The
news will follow next days, probably not very rich, not in perfect grammar but
I will try do my best. And don’t forget, no news is good news, which means I’m
climbing or I’m sleeping…
pre-expedition hard time including the stressful waiting for an OK from Nepal
Tourism Ministry has gone. The adventure starts today, April, 6. From my
previous experiences I know that this approaching section of the expedition,
with goal to reach BASE CAMP is extremely important for the next section, THE
Last time, in 2006, my luggage was lost and I had to wait several days in
Kathmandu for it. Now, I am more confident because I have 2 airlines supporting
my undertaking: TAROM and GULF AIR, so hopefully all 3 big packs will land
Kathmandu same time with me.
I'm writing this first dispatch waiting for the next flights to BAHRAIN and
then, KATHMANDU. I am pretty tired, I did not sleep at all last night but I do
not complain. This is an expedition, so.. People wanting to sleep in expeditions
should not go in any Himalayan expedition.
I am tired but happy to reach this point. I always feel like that. Once Romania
is left, most important task of all project is done. Now it's just a matter of
patience and luck.
I would not leave Europe (I am in Istanbul now but I do not know which side, so
let's say Europe) without saying a big THANX to Irina for understanding me and
letting me go out for a while in a quite difficult period for us. Most people
would say it's crazy. Yes, it's crazy but this is our way. After I'll be back
home I will find one more kid in the family so it will be again great and normal
(this 2 words will fit together which not happens too often).
I am also grateful to my long-term supporter, RIFIL, a romanian-italian joint
venture (the first in Eastern Europe after WW2 !), without them this expedition,
same as many others before, was not possible. I know I will never be able to
offer them in return what they really deserves, I will just say Thank you for
your confidence !
I am going for a such big adventure that I already feel it, at thousands
kilometers before landing Nepal. Be with me and it will be our Adventure !
Watch this space by kind help of EverestNews.com
LHOTSE - ROMANIAN SOLO EXPEDITION 2008
Powered by RIFIL
Also supported by BAUMIX, VAUDE, HP, Piatra Neamt municipality, TAROM, GULF AIR,
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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