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  George Dijmarescu Everest 2007 The Story : Part 2

Part 2 ...


I was sandwiched in a line between Sherpas with amazing loads of equipment and oxygen, and some western climbers trekking with oxygen and some without. In one of my regular rest stops to hydrate and capture the giant snake’s progress below me on film, two Western climbers passed along with two of their own Sherpa. One was confidently climbing unsecured beside the fixed ropes on a 50-degree slope. I quickly caught up with the group and noticed that the two western climbers were both climbing in an unstable manner. The sluggish climb continued for about five minutes until I suddenly heard a scream:


 I raised my head and saw a Sherpa uncontrollably speeding down the slope. I was still connected to the fixed line by my personal ascender, so I instinctively dove to the right in an attempt to stop his fall. I luckily got a hold of his ice axe with my right hand and the fixed line tightened with a violent jerk and we both came to a sudden stop.

“I got you, I got you,” I exclaimed. For a few seconds I remained on top of him making sure he would not slide any further down. The young Sherpa was shaking uncontrollably under the weight of my body.

“Are you all right?” I asked him. For a few seconds there was no response from him; then he assured me he was okay. Behind me a young western climber jumped on top of us to make sure we would not slide any further down and, together, we dragged the Sherpa close to the fixed line until he got a grip on it so we could secure his carabineer and ascender. The young Sherpa sat there for almost a minute with his legs still shaking like a paint mixer. With his head down, he whispered a thank you.

“I am sure you would have done the same thing,” I replied. I helped him to his feet and I advised him to take a short rest before going on. I thought how lucky he was that his ice axe was attached so well to his pack and that I could grab him with my right hand instead of my injured left hand.

“Good catch!” declared voices from below. The scenario had unfolded in front of several people, but most were unable to respond because they were tethered so tightly to the rope and because it happened so fast.

Once on his feet, the Sherpa kept repeating “thank you” over and over as if he had just then realized what happened.

The Sherpa then tried to catch up to his climbing party and I stopped and turned to the young man behind who had helped to shake his hand and say thanks.

The body of the giant snake slowly started to move upwards once again.

On the way to Camp 2

The young Sherpa scenario replayed in mind many times and the “what if’s” started. What if I was listening to music and did not hear the scream on time? He would have picked up speed and perhaps no one could have stopped the fall. The direct line would have taken him down the North face and to his death. I kept thinking of how many times I went up the dangerous North Col without being secured to the fixed line. What if I had lost my footing just like the young Sherpa and slid down the slope or into a large crevasse: what a foolish thing to do.

After all the excitement of the morning, the rest of the climb to the 7500-meter mark was without event. Ming Kipa was still ahead of me and focusing intently on her own struggle to reach Camp Two. The wind intensified as we approached the 7500-meter mark and there was very little snow. I rested my legs on a rock ledge with my back at the blasting wind and managed to take few pictures, but gave up the idea because the visibility was just to low for any quality shots. I was once again grateful for the new camera because I would have never captured any of theses shots with my old camera.

We set up our camp at almost 7800 meters for an easier start the next day. I visited Dawa Nuru and Pasang’s camp as the two Sherpa had already prepared two tents with snow, oxygen, food, fuel and all necessary items to make their Japanese group comfortable and safe.

Our camp location at the left-hand bank of the rocky ridge offered a relatively better position than the right-hand side, which is closer to the relentless winds of Camp Two. I sat down outside of the tent relieved that for the day there would be no more going up. I raised my camera and started to take pictures of everything I thought I was missing in my Everest photographic portfolio.

Like a miracle the wind stopped and a magnificent view unfolded before my eyes. Pumori was loaded with snow and the sun and its reflection made the popular mountain look like it belonged in a fairy tale. I could see Cho Oyu as well and thought of the climbers struggling to top its crown. ABC appeared as a pallet of tiny colorful dots dominated by the color yellow.

I spent more than an hour outside the tent taking in the magnificent view offered by a rare calm evening at Camp Two. Inside the pleasant warmth of the tent I had my first feeling that we would be afforded a glorious summit day. Ming Kipa was smiling too; perhaps she also had the same feelings.

We received a brief visit from Pasang that evening. After a brief and modest evening dinner we tried to relax our tired legs and soon the sun disappeared on the horizon while the temperature plummeted. The wind was still almost non-existent and I was praying for a calm night, unlike the previous year when Dave Watson and my wife Lakpa spent a very scary night at this altitude.

My prayers were answered and the night of May 13th was the best one I ever had at Camp Two. The morning was perfect: no wind, a cloud-less sky, and plenty of sunshine.

Ming Kipa was looking forward to starting immediately, but I reminded her that arriving at Camp Three too early was not necessary a good thing: the more time spent at 8300 meters, the more the body will deplete itself.

I could see that an Indian climbing group was afforded an earlier start and they now appeared as a large-red suit snake that inched its way between the intricate rock formations of Camp Two.

The Indian team marching from Camp 2


Ming Kipa and I started our summit push on our own time and pace. She was ahead of me for a while, but I overtook her when a couple of Indian climbers found themselves in trouble at a steep part of the route. I managed to safely overtake the climbers on the left bank and quickly returned to my own comfortable pace. Ming Kipa struggled with the slower climbers but she eventually managed to pass them as well. She and I were very close to each other but I managed to stay ahead of her; she had beaten me to Camp Two by about twenty minutes and my pride was not going to let this youngster beat me to Camp Three.

Both of us managed to overtake every non-Sherpa ahead of us and, in some cases, a few Sherpa as well. It was a great day to climb and the magnificent view reminded me of my privilege to be on Mt. Everest.

Light snow flurries started appearing at about the 8200-meter mark, but it was still warm and the winds were light. Snow never worries me above 8000 meters, but winds are an unsettling and much more dangerous problem in high altitude mountaineering.

Thoroughly vindicated from my prior defeat, I arrived at the last camp thirty minutes before Ming Kipa. I sat down on a foam mattress and waited for my young partner and passed the time by taking more pictures.

A Sherpa friend hiked over and asked me to borrow my satellite phone as he wanted to call his wife and order an immediate puja for him and his group. Sherpa are deeply religious people and I was more than happy to honor his request to help ensure a good climb.

Ming Kipa arrived with a big smile and the falling snow. “You made it girl, 8300 meters again, you made it!” I declared.

I gave her a fatherly pat on her right shoulder and she responded with a tired nod, but her shining eyes gave away how happy she was.

Ming Kipa on the lead of climbers just minutes from 8300 m camp.

When Ming Kipa climbed Mt. Everest as a part of the Romanian team at age fifteen, her English speaking skills were almost non-existent. Whatever she had to say was quickly translated by her sister Lakpa and her brother Mingma Gelu who would take over any conversation in English she was trying to have. The Romanians were not that good at the International language either and had only a handful of climbers who could communicate well in English. More importantly, Ming Kipa had never set a foot on any mountain other than the foothills of Makalu while grazing yaks. She summited Mt. Everest for the first time on May 22, 2003 along her sister and brother. Now after four years of mountaineering inactivity, time spent improving her English in a Kathmandu school, as well as learning how to dance, Ming Kipa’s climbing skills had rusted a little, but she was still able to push further and faster than many people on the mountain. I had no doubt she would shine and show strength and determination on the summit day.

Ming Kipa stowed her gear and sat beside me on the foam mattress and drank in the view as well. Like an island appearing on the horizon on the ocean, the ridge looked deceptively and tantalizingly close, but the Second Step was almost hours away. The grand scale of the mountain and the sheer number of vistas can cause the eyes to make rash, and often dangerous, miscalculations.

I have had the fortune to hone my ability to judge the time necessary to reach certain points on the ridge with the appropriate adjustments for climbing traffic, wind, and weather conditions. This year the traffic was my biggest obstacle to the speed of my climb and the supply of oxygen. Oxygen calculations need to closely match the expected climb time and climbers need to carefully plan the climb up as well down. In addition to the risk of the climb itself, the risk of a faulty mask, regulator or oxygen bottle is always a possibility and when that happens there is little a lonely climber can do. Many people that experience oxygen deprivation find it very difficult not to just lie down and sleep on the mountain without a care in the world.

Part 3: {DAVID SHARP STORY}  and more

Part one if you missed it is here...



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