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  Mt. Everest/Cho Oyu 2005: Martin Minarik:  The first 8000 meter summit of the season, and it was a REAL SOLO: The report!


Cho Oyu Copyright© Jason McMillan

Update: Hello EverestNews.com, I am back in ABC. Everything is OK, I am reasonably healthy and fine. On April 16, 05 at 3pm Chinese time, I saw a huge massif of Mt. Everest and I knew that is it.

I left ABC on April 14 in the morning. On serac I met Ed Viesturs groups returning, all of us fighting fierce wind. I parked for the night on the top of serac, the night was miserable because my shovel and sleeping pad were in Camp 2. 

In the morning, fighting with the wind continued to the point I almost turned around. By the time I reached the Camp 2 site (7100m) wind calmed down and I could rest in the afternoon.

My summit attempt started at 10pm. By 2am, I reached the bottom of the rocky rib on which people usually have Camp 3. It was impossible to find the way through the rock band above so I found ice crevasse where I had couple hours of sleep. Cold made me walk but soon I realized that there is no way I can find my way before dawn. I had to find another crevasse to spend the rest of the night. Of course I could any time return to my tent, which would mean the end of my summit try.

I started again after about 7am, climbed dry rock ( fix ropes do not exist before the groups come) and traverse right on the rocky ledges. Unfortunately the snow which would make things very fast does not exist this season.

I left my thermos half empty at the end of the ledges ( the only thing I had except a few things in my pockets) and continued on ice field which ends up on the summit plateau. In about 45 minutes I was at the east edge of the plateau from which you can see the huge mountains ahead of you - Kangchenjunga, Everest and Lhotse. This edge is continuously modeled by the wind and looks more like polar area then the summit of the mountain. 

There were no emotions except constant fear. With slightly frostbitten hands and toes from my previous attempt and two days without water I knew then any additional bivouac would be critical and probably with bad consequences. I also then fully realized that no one can help me. Those people who were already on the mountain were just around Camp 1 - they can be as well thousand of miles away, it would be exactly the same.

I returned back to Camp 2 by the evening just finishing my 24 hour shift.

Next day I did not start till 4pm. Wind was so fierce that the tent was flat on several occasions. In Camp 1 once again I met Ed Viesturs groups and got plenty to drink. I continued down the hill, tired as average dead person. Made it to ABC by midnight.

I did not recognize Base Camp. It was similar to the scene from Dances with Wolves when John T. Dunbar is returning for his diary. For two weeks, there was none, then three other small expeditions came. I got used to the solitude and I wanted to keep it that way. There are at least 15 expeditions and about 80 yaks are coming today. There are no more yaks in the valley, the arrangement has been done that Tibetan porters will carry my stuff down the valley tomorrow.

Cho Oju will always be in my heart for its beauty, its fierce wind and the loneliness I was able to live through while climbing here. 

Martin Minarik

Base Camp near Nangpa La under Mt. Cho Oju

April 18, 05

 

P.S. Martin is not off to Everest...

Dispatches

 

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