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  Mt Everest 2006: Dave Watson: The Everest Fantasy Ridge report ...


Click on the pictures to see the really large versions

 

EverestNews.com, Thanks for your patience in this matter.  I am writing to let you know why the Fantasy Ridge attempt was called off.  Simply, it was out of condition.  My partner and I have had our eye on this line for a couple of years and we thought that because of such a lean snow year that this route may be safer and more climbable.  We were wrong.  The lack of snow had created a series of deep crevasses and the snow flutings on the walls of the ridge, rose to make leaning towers at the ridge crest.  We traveled to the Raphu La each carrying a load of ropes and hardware, upon arrival we knew that our attempt on the last unclimbed ridge was over.  At first sight, it was obvious, if we tried it we would disappear.  Compared to the pictures of the ridge I have seen, it looked like a ghost of itself.  It looked starved, emaciated.  The lack of snow made it look unclimbable.  The snow flutings on the steep walls looked like ribs of a dinosaur skeleton and the towers of ice on the ridge crest looked like the vertebrae.  As folks who love our lives, families and friends; we knew that if we continued it would only mean heartache for our loved ones.  The decision was an easy one because the route looked so bad.  Climbing this ridge was something we all wanted, had it been in even marginal condition we would have been tempted to try it.  Sometimes climbers and skiers wait decades for certain lines to come into condition.  Fantasy Ridge was simply not ready for an ascent.  More appropriately, I should say we were not ready for an ascent of the ridge while in that condition.  As Kenny Rogers says in, The Gambler,  "You got to know when to walk away".   The ridge will always be there and because we didn't try to climb it this year, We'll be here a bit longer.   We decided another ascent of the normal route was a good thing to do to fill time so we started carrying loads to the N. Col.  Because of our early arrival on the mountain our gear was in the high camps and our bodies acclimatized before most.  We went for the summit on a gut feeling that the birthday of our new friend (Jon Bagnulo) would be a fine day. 

 

We were the first tourists to summit this season.  Our small team, consisting of; Dawa, George, Lakpa and myself invited Jon to come along.  We left the high camp (8300m) at midnight and even though we were breaking trail and exposing buried ropes we were on the summit by 7am.  It was a clear sky and we enjoyed spectacular views (obviously).  We hung around on a small wind sculpted summit for a while and then descended.  The team broke down and packed up the camps as we cruised down the mountain.  We were all in the N. Col by 2pm, relaxing in the hot sun and drinking pineapple juice courtesy of Alex Abramov.  We then floated down the ropes and were in ABC by 4pm.  An excellent day!.  We had planned a second ascent of the mountain but our resources (money) had been run thin by the constant hustling of the locals.  Their demands for cash for yaks and cooking gas have sent us home.  Upon arrival in Katmandu we have learned that a few of our friends will never leave the mountain.  Our condolences go out to the families of these incredible men, David Sharp, Tomas Olsson, and Vitor Negrete.

 

Thanks for listening, Dave

Background and dispatches

 
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