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 Everest 2009: Summitclimb Mt Everest Nepal expedition : Several Updates


©EverestNews.com

Hi everyone. This is Samuli Mansikka, the leader of the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition, calling in with a dispatch for 19 April from basecamp

Today we were scheduled to have a rest day, so resting was pretty much what we did. Domhnall, Jason, Richard, Roger, and I went for a walk to Gorak Shep, where as Josette, Vikram, David, and Dale stayed here in basecamp. They had some showers, washed clothes and took it easy.

We also watched some quality TV series on DVD here. Everyone is really hooked on ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Lost’, which are our favourite shows here.

Not much happened today, so I guess we could consider it a successful and relaxing rest day. We are getting excited about the cricket match that is scheduled to take place on the21st in Gorak Shep. Most of the team will be heading to Gorak Shep that day to see the highest cricket match in the world.

Hello and Namaste. This is Richard Pattison calling in for the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition with a dispatch for 18 April, 2009.

We’re all back safely in basecamp now after a 2 day foray on to the mountain, all knocking an hour off our previous ice-fall descent time. We had 2 okay nights at camp 1. Moderate winds kept us awake on the first night and we had an early start this morning. We cooked for ourselves on stoves hanging from the roof of the tents and dined on packet soup and 2-minute-noodles.

We’re probably the most acclimatized team on the mountain now, having touched camp 2 at 6400 metres/21,000 feet. We’ve cashed most of our down gear at camp 1.

The team has made a unanimous resolution to carry straight through to camp 2 in the future and bypass camp 1. The allure of a dining tent with tables, chairs, and a cook is too much. Camp 2 will be fully established in a few days. One or two tents with stoves will be left in camp 1 for us to rest and melt snow on the way through. It’s only another hour and a half to camp 2 on an easy and gently rising, fairly smooth glacier.

It’s often said a week is a long time in politics. It is even more in the Khumbu Icefall. The conditions have changed considerably in just 3 or 4 days. Firstly, there is far more traffic and due to the traffic, there is a clearly defined path now under the ropes and the short steep sections, requiring jumaring and front pointing, is now an easy staircase.

New ropes have been added in slow sections to speed up queues, in other sections for a better route, and to avoid a couple of collapsed sections. Some of the ladders now hover above ground because the ice has moved and the rope is now taught, but your body weight basically brings the ladder back down to ground.

This morning we found a 20 metre section of rope buried under a large serac. It was a reminder of the glacier movements and more like what I was expecting from the ice-fall. We had already made a decision in the team that no one would be left in the ice-fall after midday.

There are 4 kilometres of rope at camp 2 to fix across the Lhotse Face to the South Col. All teams have contributed in some form. We hope the route will be fixed to camp 3 for our next venture on to the mountain and our further acclimatization to the altitude.

We now have 2 more rest days here in basecamp. We spent the afternoon watching a marathon of ‘Scrubs’ on Vik’s DVD player and tonight we’ll watch a couple of episodes of ‘Lost’. Bye for no

Hi everyone. This is Samuli Mansikka, the leader of the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition, calling in with a dispatch for 17 April from camp 1.

We enjoyed another night here after walking up to camp 2 and back. We woke up at 7:00 a.m. and started off around 9:00 after a nice breakfast.  The walk to camp 2 is about 2 kilometres and maybe 400 metres of elevation gain. It’s all very easy terrain, so the members made it there in about 2 hours. After getting back, we just had a lazy afternoon here in camp 1 getting our bodies adjusted to the altitude.

Tomorrow we’ll wake up pretty early and climb down the ice-fall to basecamp, where we’ll probably take a few rest days. I’ll call you when we get there. Bye

Hi everyone. This is Samuli Mansikka, the leader of the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition, calling in with a dispatch for 16 April from camp 1.

This is the first night we’ve spent here in camp 1 at around 6000 metres/20,000 feet. After a trip to camp 2 tomorrow, we are returning here for a second night. It’s been really good for getting used to the altitude.

Unfortunately, our Lhotse member Morten is not here with us tonight. He had to retreat to Lukla because of a lung infection. We are all very sad to see him leave and would all love to get to climb with him someday in the future.

The views are amazing from where we are right now. You can see the Lhotse face and the Everest Southwest face very well. There are also spectacular views down the Khumbu to Pumori and Cho Oyu, which Everest members, Vik and Dave, climbed with us last autumn. It’s great to have the 2 of them here with us again after a successful, though little bit windy, Cho Oyu expedition a few months back.

But now it’s all about Everest and Lhotse, so wish us luck and thanks for checking our dispatches here at SummitClimb.com. Bye

Hello and Namaste. This is Richard Pattison calling in for the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition with a dispatch for 13 April, 2009. A belated happy Easter for yesterday.

Today was the most anticipated and essential day of the expedition so far: we ventured into the Khumbu Icefall for the first time. We walked with nervous excitement from a restless sleep at 4:00 a.m. and left camp (5300 metres/17,400 feet) after breakfast at 5:00 a.m. The full moon was so bright that we didn’t need torches. There was quiet confidence in the team following our constant ice-fall training 2 days ago and puja ceremony yesterday, where a Lama from Pangboche Monastery came to bless us and our equipment (ice axes, crampons, boots, helmets, and harnesses) and also to say a few prayers for our safe passage on the mountain.

The objective for today was an acclimatization climb to the top of the ice-fall at 6100 metres, 20,000 feet and also for our sherpas to establish our camp 1 with tents, stoves, and other equipment. However, we knew that the route was not finished yet, so we hoped that the Icefall Doctors would race past us and complete the route before we arrived. That they did, although Josette and Domhnall were too quick and had to wait. I’m sure they have similar ancestry in their family tree.

The whole group arrived between 3 ½ and 5 hours. It was a quick climb considering the average time is 7 hours for a foreigner on their first trip of the season. We rested for an hour near camp 1 and enjoyed the situation. I always thought the ice-fall would be scary and intimidating, but it wasn’t. It was beautiful and inviting. Maybe this was just a friendly and polite introduction, but apparently this is the most straight forward route for quite a few years. It was quiet and relaxing with great views across the valley to Pumori.

The first 3 crevasses passed in short succession only needed half a ladder each, so it was an encouraging start, but no crevasse was longer than 1 ladder throughout. The biggest construction was actually 3 ladders laced together to overcome a serac near the top. We lost count of the horizontal and vertical ladders. There were also a large number of short steep sections that required jumaring up and a few other crevasse jumps that added excitement.

The route is fixed throughout with rope from bottom to top safely. The whole team coped well with this obstacle course. The descent took almost the same amount of time and was quite exhausting. The altitude, blazing sun, dehydration and lack of sleep took its toll.

We’re all quite tired, but a happy and excited camp to have been through the ice-fall. We all think we deserve two full days of rest now before we do anything else. We’re all turning into bed now for about a month after today’s exertion.

We send our love to our family and friends at home. We’re thinking of you. Bye for now. Ri

Hi, this is Dale Wagner calling in for the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition with a dispatch for 12 April, 2009.

We had a rest day today in basecamp. It was a beautiful day and good for showering and washing clothes. We also had a puja ceremony, which was very exciting with lots of throwing rice and flower. The sherpas had quite a bit of chang and there was some dancing as well.

Everyone is excited for tomorrow. It’s going to be our first trip into the ice-fall, so we’re leaving early in the morning.

That’s about it. Everyone is doing fine. Thanks for following along our expedition. Bye

Earlier: Hi everyone. This is Samuli Mansikka, the leader of the SummitClimb Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition, calling in with a dispatch for 11 April.

We are in basecamp now and have had a really good day here. The weather has been amazing and we’ve been training on some fixed ropes, ladders, and a course that we set up close to the start of the ice-fall route. Some members have been adjusting their equipment and just getting familiar with the many features of the route we are going to climb.

The Ice-Fall Doctors, the specialists who fix the route through the Khumbu Ice-Fall every year, say that the route may be open to camp 1 on Sunday or Monday. After the route has been fixed we’ll start establishing our camp 1 on top of the ice-fall. The elevation there is about 6000 metres/20,000 feet.

Now it’s time to go and enjoy the delicious dinner are great cooks Jay Bahadur and Temba have prepared for us. I will call in again after the puja ceremony. Bye.

Earlier: April 5th, 2009: Hi, this is David Fairweather calling from SummitClimb for the Everest Nepal/Lhotse expedition with a dispatch for 5 April, 2009.

We left Pheriche, where we spent the night, and climbed the ridge up to Dingboche to one of the last paces we’ll be able access the internet. Then we had a spectacular walk along the ridgeline with amazing mountain views in beautiful, clear and sunny weather to arrive at Dughla which is a lone hut.

This is the last place we will be with the trekking group because from here the people doing the glacier school will branch off in a different direction. We’re going to be walking up to Lobuche and then hopefully in 2 days we’ll arrive at basecamp.

Everybody is doing well and we’re all looking forward to arriving at the mountain. Bye.

Earlier: Dan reports in live (4/2/2009)

Hi, this is Dan Mazur calling from SummitClimb.com & SummitTrek with a dispatch for 30 March, 2009.

Today we had a really busy day. The weather was gorgeous and we’ve been having some rain in the evenings, which is nice because it freshens up the air. Kathmandu is really beautiful right now and very peaceful. The people here are so friendly and welcoming.

We had our orientation meetings today. Everyone is fully informed about how the trips are going to go. We enjoyed meeting each other and it looks like we’re going to have some great climbs and treks this year.

We’re just preparing now to get our Everest Nepal expedition into the field. They are going to fly tomorrow to Lukla, as well as our Everest View Glacier School, Everest Basecamp Trek and Island Peak climb.

It seems the Everest Tibet climb is going to have to wait a couple of days for the permits to be issued, but we’re feeling very positive about how that is progressing and we’ll be travelling to Tibet in a few days.

Thanks for following our expeditions and we’re wishing you all of the best. Thank you very much. Bye, bye

Everest from the South Side in Nepal

Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350 meters)

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). 

From base 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. 

The Icefall 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 - 5900 meters

After the 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.

The area 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 - 6500 meters

As the 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.

Camp IV, 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.

Summit - 29,028 feet (8848 meters)

Once the 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.  

As most readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the climb to the summit.

 

 
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