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  Mt. Everest 2006: The Fantasy Ridge expedition leaves Monday for Everest

Bottom of Fantasy Ridge: it starts with a steep technical climb and then with an awkward almost horizontal pitch before some elevation is gain. 


Dave told EverestNews.com last night that the team leaves on Monday for Nepal. His sprits were high. The small team is still being finalized on this highly dangerous expedition which if succesful will surely be one of the greatest achievement in Mountaineering ever.


Below was our Q&A with Dave Watson:


Hello Dave, a few questions..


EverestNews.com: What makes a climber want to take on something as dangerous as the Fantasy ridge on Everest??


Dave: When thinking about a climb, objective danger must be considered. I think the perceived danger is much greater on something like Fantasy Ridge. It's the last unclimbed ridge?, people ask in astonishment. I thought Everest was climbed out, they say. There must be a reason why it has not been sent. It probably too dangerous. Yeah, there are many reasons why it has not seen an ascent, and I think the objective danger is not at the top of the list. I have not been a big mountain climber very long at all, in fact, most of the guys in the 8000er club have been climbing longer than I've been alive. I don't know all the facts on who has tried FR and have not been able to talk with them, though I've tried to contact the Indians, they seem to have had the strongest effort. Nobody that has tried FR has been back to try again. Most big hard routes take a few tries. If you could onsight it, it probably would have been done long ago. Another factor is the approach, anybody who has climbed on the Kangshung wall has approached from the East through the Kharta valley. This is a 30 mile trek that takes between 2-3 weeks and most teams have to deal with striking porters. This to me sounds like a huge hassle. I can't imagine that these teams arrive in Kangshung BC feeling good. Most stories I've heard say that the teams are fatigued, ill and injured upon arrival at the base of the wall. That is no way to start such a demanding climb. Another reason for the FR not seeing traffic is that even if you send the ridge you are still 1000 vert meters from the top and once on the NE ridge the team must climb the crux of the NE ridge (pinnacles) and then climb the crux of the normal route. If you are trying to summit, that is one heck of a route, probably one of the longest, hardest routes in the world. This route would appeal mostly to somebody who has already summited Everest, because a summit this way is unlikely. Climbing to me is about the movement and the environment, summits are magical but not necessary for enjoyment or success. We have a new approach planned, although much more technical, we believe we can be at the base of the route in a much shorter time. We will be rested, strong and acclimatized before we climb down into the Kangshung base. Now I will try to address the danger. This is a ridge, and ridges many times offer a safe place to climb because there is little avy danger and there is nothing falling from above. Both routes on the Kangshung Face are far more dangerous than FR, those routes were completed by bold masters and took direct lines towards the top. The danger in Fantasy seems to come from collapsing cornices and it's incredible length. This winter the Everest region has seen very little snowfall and high winds. We feel that these conditions may be perfect for this climb. No new snow means small stable cornices and styrofoam like snow conditions. We hope! With skill, knowledge and experience humans can exist in very unlikely conditions. We hope that FR will accept us.


EverestNews.com: You say you are short on funds, what would additional funds be used for?


Dave: There have not been people beating on our door to join in this adventure. Our only other friends who want to climb with us are our sherpa friends Dawa Nuru and Ang Dawa, both from Thame. They are very fun and friendly guys. These guys have both summited 8 times and are eager to climb somewhere else on the Mt. But this is there season to make money that will support there families most of the year. We can not ask them to come with us and miss out on the work. We really want them to climb with us so we must raise money to buy their "freedom".


EverestNews.com: You are a technical climber, as we understand it, describe your background?


Dave: I have been climbing for only 11 years, but many of those years I would climb 300 days a year, rock, ice, gym anything. I got pretty good at rock climbing and soon started ice climbing which felt really easy compared to difficult rock. I got bored with ice (before the mixed revolution) and focused my winter energies on skiing, all the while I continued to improve on rock. I worked as a rock "guide" in the northeast for the summers and ski patroled in the winters. I feel I am a very competent trad, sport, wall, ice climber but I really enjoy bouldering the most. I love the movement and focus, strength and timing. Bouldering gave me the confidence in my strength and technique to tackle some of the harder climbs I've done. If it's easier than 5.14, I know I can probably do the moves. I really enjoy mountaineering because of how much ground you get to cover and the incredible landscapes. The mountains (especially Everest) have such powerful spiritual energy that one cannot help but to feel how precious our existence is.


EverestNews.com: On the Mallory and Irvine Mystery, you know one of the climbers from last year who has stated that the Real Second Step can be climbed and you have seen some of the pictures from last year. What are you thoughts on the real possibilities of climbing it?


Dave: I have seen a few pictures from different angles and to me it looks like a definite possibility. For today's tech climbers anything looks climbable. But the attitude and gear where much different in the 20's. I try to imagine myself in leather boots, numb feet, wind blasting through my clothes, hypoxic and look at that terrain and try to do some routefinding. The second step is a major obstacle up that high, and all options must be explored in order to see if it was possible that they climb near the ridge. I'll check it out and get back to you.


EverestNews.com: Similar to Jean-Christophe, if someone gets lost or hurt, you are gone. How does one prepare for that?


Dave: My condolences to JC's family and friends. I know him only by  reputation and he is a great inspiration to many generations of adventurers. I climb because of the intense joy and satisfaction it gives me. I can get hurt or lost doing many things, most of which don't make me as happy as climbing. I know I will be fine, no matter what happens, as JC is fine now. I do however feel guilt and discomfort knowing that something that is so precious to me can be so painful and terrible for my family, friends and lover.


EverestNews.com: It sounds like you guys are going to "sell the truck" and mortgage the house, why?


Dave: We just want to go climbing, The FR may be in it's safest condition now. We need to go get on it. Perfect conditions for alpine routes are elusive. I can always get a new vehicle.


Submit your questions to Dave

Would you like to help Dave and the Fantasy Ridge group? $20, $50, $500, $1000 anything you can spare will help a great deal. To use Pay Pal, click on this link… 

More on the expedition is here.

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