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  Annapurna 2010: The grief continues


 

Zaragoza, Thursday, April 29, 2010

BREAKING NEWS

Carlos, Javier and Juanito will try to fly from base camp to Katmandu
in helicopter this Saturday, May 1st.  Once there they will have to do some paperwork.  They will try to get plane tickets for May 3 in the evening.

As for the health of our climbers, besides the great physical wear of
several days in extreme altitude and the exhaustion, Carlos has a
finger with a little frostbite, and a severe conjunctivitis.  Juanito
has frostbite in his feet, and Horia a little frostbite in a finger.
The doctors have given the first care and they are fine.

The two Sherpas of the expedition, Sonam and Dawa, are fine too, they did not want to go down in the helicopter and are now going down to camp 1.  They will arrive to base tomorrow with a better weather.

The members of the team that remained in base camp, Javier Pérez, Dr. Nerin and Dr. Morandeira, are very affected because they were two whole days in direct contact with Tolo, until 8 last night, when they lost contact with the climber.

From here we want to send a strong and emotional hug to the family of Tolo and tell them that we join them in their grief in these harsh
moments.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

Earlier: Zaragoza, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SAD GOODBYE TO TOLO

Very sadly, we inform you the decease of Tolo Calafat.  I have talked to Carlos at 7:40, Spain time.  He has just arrived with Juanito and Horia to base camp.  The last communication with Tolo was yesterday evening at 8.  Then, according to Carlos, his voice was just a thread of life.  From camp 4 they sent up a Sherpa in his search, with oxygen, water, sleeping bag, medicines.  The Sherpa climbed for 11 hours without finding him.  It snowed a lot yesterday in the afternoon on the high part of Annapurna and the weather was horrible.  This morning, a helicopter with an expert Swiss rescue team could fly, with Jorge Egocheaga, over the zone where Tolo was, close to the mountain, and did not see absolutely anything.  After a long time trying, the helicopter could land on camp 4 and took out Juanito, Carlos and Horia, with ropes tied to the helicopter, and they were transported to base camp.  The first thing Carlos did was to call Tolo’s family, devastated by the notice.  Carlos, Juanito and Javier are very affected. Thanks all of you for your support.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

 

IN CAMP 4

 

Carlos and Juanito are in camp 4, still recovering from the hard effort from yesterday, and with minor frostbite, which for the moment are not important.  They are waiting for Tolo, who stayed at around 7,500 meters (we don’t have exact information) to rest.  It looks like he has problems to continue descending and they are organizing a rescue from base camp.  This is all we know for the moment.  We will keep you posted.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, April 27, 2010

RESTING IN CAMP 4

Carlos Pauner and Juanito Oiarzabal are resting in camp IV.  After a
long descent, around 20 hours (Spain time), Carlos informed us about his arrival.  They are tired, after an exhausting day.

At the moment of the telephone call, Tolo Calafat and a Sherpa
continued their descent to camp IV and were in contact via walkie-talkie with Javier Pérez, who is at these moments monitoring
the descent from Annapurna’s base camp.

We won’t have more news until tomorrow.

Thanks to all. Greetings.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Zaragoza, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No word from Carlos after his call from the summit.  We called base camp at 17:40, Spain time, and Javier Pérez says that the Korean expedition, which made it to the summit an hour before Carlos, has not reached camp 4 yet either.  Carlos, Juanito and Tolo are going down fine, after the Koreans.  They are going slowly because it is dark in the evening.  Javier says that the moon is full and that will give them some visibility.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Zaragoza, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SUMMIT!

Carlos called at 12:15 PM, Spain time, from the summit of Annapurna!  He is there right now, with Juanito and Tolo.  Then will go back down right away.  They fear that night can fall before they get to camp 4.  They will keep us posted.  Congratulations Carlos!

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Annapurna, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ANNAPURNA: HIGH TENSION

This Annapurna where we are now, was climbed in 1950 by a group of strong French climbers, famous in their time because of their feats on the Alps, specially in Chamonix, where most of them worked as mountain guides.  Why is it then that 60 years later this mountain resists so much?  Why the bad fame?  We have to find a reason in the passage of those 60 years, when the glaciers that surround Annapurna have suffered a great transformation.  The dangling seracs (big blocks of ice) have been crushed, and the avalanches fall on its slopes every day.  In fact, the day we arrived at Base Camp, when I was coming down from the helicopter, the shape of the mountain was so overwhelming and broken, that I thought that we could not leave BC, only if we were going on a suicide game.  As the days passed, we discovered the climbing route, the weak spots among the chain of threatening glaciers, dangling seracs and avalanches that sweep everything.  So, most of the Himalayas climbers involved in the race for the 14 summits above 8000 meters, leave this summit until the end, because of the danger.  Sadly, more than one has perished on this mountain, ending his or her race of the “14 eight-thousands”.  The scary shape of the mountain as its recent history, makes its climbing, the tension, -the high tension-, much more patent than in other eight-thousand meters mountain.  I have seen that in myself and in Carlos Pauner.  When we arrived at camp 2, which in another mountain would be an acclimatization phase, relatively calm, in Annapurna you are with your eyes wide open and listening to every sound to see if you have to get away quick from the tents to dodge an avalanche that can sweep the camp where you are.  The first night that we spent in C2, we slept with an open pocket knife in a safe place, the boots at hand, in case we had to rip open a tent in the middle of the night to be safe.  Days later, when we climbed to C3 at 6,600m, on the trip to the cone, in the meeting place of avalanches that fell from the superior part of the Hoz Glacier, with a bar of seracs of more than 200 meters thick dangling on our heads one thousand meters above, a severe silence is imposed on the group, a silence that aggravates the situation of tension and danger in the spot.  Once that passage was passed, the welcome we had on the steep slopes of the Hoz Glacier, with an avalanche of blocks of ice, sent us back to that state of permanent tension, mandatory in Annapurna.  The usual jokes among us, while we shoot video, climb or rest in the high altitude camps, are just for Base Camp this time, the only place in the mountain where you can stop feeling the enormous pressure of the thousands of tons of ice that Annapurna keeps on the heads of those that attempt to climb it.  Two days ago, climbing to C3 in a summit attempt, I broke one of my crampons in the steepest zone of the cone.  While I was trying to fix it, an avalanche of powder snow swept that zone of the mountain without mercy, and brought me back to the state of high tension constantly required by this Annapurna.  This avalanche of blocks of ice and powder snow that brushed me by, swept everything in its way to a huge crack in the ice of the glacier, that swallowed everything that fell from a thousand meters from above.  I thought I was seeing the gates of hell.  Today, April 27, while Carlos covers the last steep ramps from C4 to the summit, I am safe at Base Camp.  I don’t feel the high tension generated by the chaotic dangling glaciers of Annapurna anymore, but I feel, up there, a few hours away from the summit, the enormous tension of the group that attempts to step on the summit of Annapurna, 60 years later.  Good luck everybody, good luck Carlos.

Javier Pérez

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: STILL CLIMBING 

Good day everybody.  We still have no direct communication with Carlos.  I have spoken with Javier Pérez at 09:40, Spain time.  From base Javier can see the images of the Korean TV camera that is located at camp 1.  He sees two people ahead, by the corridor zone (he doesn’t know who they are.  We don’t know exactly how far away from the summit they are.  Half an hour behind them are 5 Koreans, and behind them, half an hour or more are more climbers, but they are undistinguishable.  It looks like there is a lot of wind and a lot of snow, so they move slowly, opening the path.  This summit is getting difficult.  We will inform you as we get more news.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SUMMIT!

Carlos called at 12:15 PM, Spain time, from the summit of Annapurna!  He is there right now, with Juanito and Tolo.  Then will go back down right away.  They fear that night can fall before they get to camp 4.  They will keep us posted.  Congratulations Carlos! 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Zaragoza, Monday, April 26, 2010

CAMP 4

Good morning and good news!

Carlos called at twelve thirty, Spain time, from camp 4, at 7,100 meters of altitude.

Everything goes as planned.  He is with Juanito and Tolo.  It was hard to climb, they are hydrating and resting.  Tonight, around 2 in the morning, they will leave for the summit.  They have at least 9 hours for the ascent, a difference of altitude of 1,000 meters.  They will attempt to make it to the summit as soon as possible, because there are storms coming this Wednesday.  The idea is to get back down to camp 4 from the summit, and on Wednesday very early, start to descend to base.  Carlos is very excited, because he is caressing his dream of reaching one of the most dangerous summits of the planet.  We know that Javier returned safe and sound to base camp.  We will keep you posted.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, Sunday, April 25, 2010

CAMP 3

Carlos called around noon, Spain time, from camp 3 at 6,600 meters.  This morning, the three of them along with Javier began to climb from camp 2.  One of Javier’s crampons broke and decided to get back to camp 2.  The entire Korean expedition is there in camp 2.  Javier will have to get down to base tomorrow.  For Carlos, Juanito and Tolo, the summit attempt is still on.  Tomorrow, if the weather permits, they will climb to camp 4 where they will spend the night.  If they make it, they will go for the summit on the morning of Tuesday 27.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera 

Zaragoza, Saturday, April 24, 2010

SNOWING ON CAMP 2

Carlos, Javier, Juanito and Tolo have reached camp 2 at 14 hours, Nepal time.  The weather was as expected, good during the morning, but snowy since noon.  It was snowing heavily when they called, so they were worried.  Annapurna is a mountain with a lot of risks by itself, and if it keeps snowing it becomes even more dangerous.  The Korean expedition, which was in camp 3, went down to camp 1 because of bad weather.  They will wait there until tomorrow, when they will decide to climb again or to go down to base.  Our climbers will do the same, but from camp 2.  They will decide to continue or to go down tomorrow.  The zone of camp 2, where they installed the tents, is safe.  We will keep you posted.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Annapurna, Friday, April 23, 2010

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Today is April 23, the day of the patron of our extraordinary land.  We will finish this Frago ham that has lasted so many days and we will remember anecdotes and dearly moments of our towns, cities and people.  Our Aragon flag flies in the Puja and it is going to be a different day without doubt, as it has been for so many years here in the Himalayas.  I think that I have celebrated this day here for the last 7 years, since I started my pilgrimage over these mountains with the Aragon flag on my back.  Everything has happened, good and bad moments, but I can assure you that, since the Government of Aragon gave me this opportunity, I just have been proud of being from Aragon and to fight shoulder by shoulder with people from all over the world for a common objective.  We have climbed a lot of mountains, but we have shown a lot of people how our Aragonian character is and what kind of blood runs though our veins.  Today is also a very special day for all of us.  We got the weather forecast and we decided the day of our summit attack: April 27.  It won’t be a day with a perfect weather, but we expect it will be enough to finish this adventure.  We have rested for 6 days, we forgot everything bad that has happened and we have focused for the final battle, which has arrived.  We will leave for camp 2 tomorrow, day after tomorrow for camp 3 and then to camp 4.  The dice have rolled and in a few hours we will dip into this ghostly, dangerous and difficult mineral world.  We will fight for our dream, to achieve an objective which is reachable for few and we know that we will give everything we’ve got.  As climbers these could be our hardest and most exciting moments of our lives.  Any way, we should not forget that life is complex and cruel and that we all have our Annapurna in our lives.  Ours, also, has that same name.  We will prepare with calm this afternoon, with an almost mystical ceremony.  We will remember our loved ones, our friends.  We will dream of going back to hug them and to live a lot of things with them.  Personally, I will follow the same ritual I have done every time.  I will dress accordingly, leave my tent well organized, check the last detail and call my family.  I will think about my daughter, in how proud I am of her, and I’ll hope I have been able to transmit to her the essential values of life: friendship, strength and sacrifice.  I will slowly go to sleep and tomorrow at daybreak everything will be different.  I will be a different person, a walking machine, a suffering machine and my only thought will be to get up there and to survive.  Along with my teammates we will fight for our objective, we will help each other, we will cry and laugh together.  We will climb and get down.  Before we can imagine everything will be over and I just hope that we have a little luck for all these things.  We are ready without a doubt.  Happy Saint George’s day everybody.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Annapurna, Sunday, April 18, 2010

ON THE EDGE OF THE SWORD

Suddenly, a terrific sound surrounds us. I look up and see an
avalanche of blocks of ice that falls down as a meteorite shower.  I
dodge the first one, which sweeps away the hat from my head and I dive to the ground, as my teammates do.  A first set of hits and someone screams: Are you all ok?  No answer, or at least not what we hoped.
Another set of blocks the size of a TV hits us without mercy.
Afterwards, silence.  Absolute silence and a group of shadows with
human shape that begin to rise little by little, still with a
frightening look in their eyes.  Miraculously we are all alive and
still in the same place.  Xavi got the worst part and was hit hard in
his back.  All the others are slightly hurt.  We have just arrived to
the location of camp 3 and this was our welcome.  A hard day without a doubt.  At 8 in the morning we were leaving camp 2 and were ready to cross the most dangerous zone of this cruel mountain.  Under the big funnel that comes down from the altitudes, we cross with our beating hearts under tons of dangling ice.  After 30 minutes of tension, we cross this Thermopiles pass and we get onto a lateral corridor, safe from avalanches, or at least that is what it looks like.  Then a very vertical terrain that has leaded us to the hanging glacier of camp 3.
It is a dangerous place, exposed, and while we decide where to install the tents, we were surprised by this avalanche of ice, that comes from a crack of a frozen wall hundreds of meters above us.  Frightened, disoriented, we went down a few meters and installed the camp sheltered by a gigantic block of ice.  This is indeed a safe place and we could rest from a day filled with risk and fatigue.  We are resting today at base camp, meditating about what happened, knowing that we were supremely lucky on a mountain that doesn’t give chances to a climber.  Xavi is recovering from the hit and we are all resting calmly knowing that we did our job and with the panic tingles still inside our bones.  With this episode we finish our acclimatization period and now we wait for the summit attack.  Next time we go up will be to go to camp 2, then to camp 3 and then to the summit, installing an intermediate camp 4 before caressing the white summit.  Let’s hope everything goes ok, as it has been so far.  Let’s hope we continue having this point of luck that has come with us until this date.  We will proceed cautiously, with no fear.  We will proceed with hope and caution in a difficult and beautiful mountain of the Himalayas.

Carlos Pauner

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


Zaragoza, Saturday, April 17, 2010

RESTING AT BASE

We finally have news.  Carlos and the rest of the group rest at base
camp.  They climbed from camp 2 to camp 3, where they slept.  They had a lot of problems, because when they were installing camp 3 at 6,600 meters of altitude, a close by serac broke and an avalanche of blocks of ice came down hitting some of them.  Luckily they have some bruises but they are alright, but with the fright in their bodies.  This morning they descended from camp 3 directly to base camp, where they are now.  Tomorrow Carlos will tell us about what happened on this journey to camp 3.  They have all completed their acclimatization now, and after resting some days, they will attempt the attack to the summit, if the weather is fine.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


Annapurna, Thursday, April 15, 2010

SLEEPING IN CAMP 2   

Carlos, Javier and the rest of the group left this morning from base
camp to camp 2.  They got there after a long journey.  They are
resting there tonight, and tomorrow they will go up with the intention to mount camp 3 and sleep there.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
 

Annapurna, Saturday, April 10, 2010

BACK TO BASE

We are a few steps away from base camp, walking back from our high altitude trip.  We are stepping on the grass at the border of the
glacier and in some 20 minutes we will be in the tents of our mountain home.  I breath deeply, calm, comforted by the morning sun, happy to be back after a job well done.  We have been inside the mountain for two days.  The first took us to camp 1, 5,000 m of altitude.  We decided to stay there, because the perspective of crossing the cracked glacier ahead was not the more prudent thing to do at those hours of a warm noon.  On the morning of the next day, tethered and with extreme care, we crossed the entire glacier and we climbed on the snowy ridge that leads to the location of camp 2, at 5,600 m.  From that place, another image of this terrible mountain can be seen.  Already inside of it you can see the large walls of ice that lead to camp 3.  The vision is disturbing and you can see the large dangling glaciers and walls of ice in unstable and feeble balance.  A large avalanche surprises us just before going to sleep, but luckily it passes at some distance.  Now we can calm down.  We don’t have to be so alert to
every noise, every crackling of ice, every dangling rope.  We slept at
enough altitude for our acclimatization, at least at 50%.  Now 3 or 4
days to rest and we have to try to install camp 3 and sleep there.
This will be the final point and the next leave will be a summit
attempt.  We still have much to go, but by then we will have to cross a really dangerous zone.  This is the key to the ascent and we have to count with swiftness and luck in equal parts.  I don’t want to think much about it now.  We will have time for that later.  For the moment, calm, chat with other expeditions and to wait for the evolution of the mountain, which by now is in good conditions.  We could say that we have a nice progress on our way to Annapurna.

Carlos Pauner


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
Annapurna, Thursday, April 8, 2010

CAMP 2

Carlos and Javier are already at Camp 2, at 5,600 meters.  The route
from 1 to 2 was in better conditions than yesterday, and they arrived without problems.  They are going to spend the night there, and early tomorrow they will go down to base camp.  They will meet their first acclimatization phase, as they had planned.  The weather forecast says that they have three or four days of bad weather coming.  They will use them to recover and to rest at base camp, before doing another incursion on the mountain again.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Annapurna, Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SLEEPING IN CAMP 1

Carlos and Javier left early this morning from base camp, with the
intention of going up to install camp 2.  They reached camp 1, at
5,050 meters, and they started to climb to camp 2.  It was late, it
was very hot, and they found zones with a lot of crevasses in bad
shape and very dangerous.  They decided to go back to camp 1 where
they are now.  They will spend the night there, and early tomorrow,
also colder, they will climb to camp 2.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Zaragoza, Saturday, April 3, 2010

CAMP 1

Carlos and the rest of the group left yesterday very early from base
camp.  They climbed up to 5,000 meters where they installed camp 1.
They left there the necessary equipment and went back down to base camp.  It took them a lot of hours, and the route is very complicated. Now they will rest two or three days until they leave base again with the intention of installing camp 2.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


Annapurna, April 1, 2010

UNDER THE SLEEPING BEAST

We have installed our base camp at 4,200 m of altitude, under the
spectacular Annapurna.  After numerous helicopter flights we could
bring up here everything we need for this expedition.  We had our Puja today, this ceremony that pretends to put away the bad spirits of the mountain and cover us with luck and bonanza at the same time.  The day has been sunny and a little windy, but it did not snow as the last two days.  We took a furtive glance at the almost 4,000 meters of wall that separate us from the summit of this gigantic mountain.  It is impressive.  This face of Annapurna looks like an agitated and convulse wall, with hanging and broken glaciers, impossible aristas  and chaos everywhere.  It is hard to imagine a safe route for the ascent in this world of vertical ice.  Not in vain, our route sorts the hanging glaciers, trying to find, in the high part, the Hoz glacier, where the path to the summit is clearer.  First we will have to cross a glacier and avoid a large slope of blocks of ice to reach camp 1, at some 5,000 m of altitude.  From there a cracked glacier will take us to the bottom of the large intermediate plain, where we will install camp 2.  Crossing this plain and get on top of a spur of ice will be the most dangerous part, because we will be threatened by all the seracs in the higher part.  From camp 3 to 4 we still have to pass a large wall of ice, previous to the superior glacier.  The entire route is complex and demanding, just like this mythical mountain of the Himalayas.  For the moment, we will concentrate in the immediate things, as always.  Tomorrow, we will take the path to camp1, carrying tents and some gas to install.  We will spend the day outside and during the afternoon we will be back to the comfort and safety of our base camp.  It is going to be like that always.  Advance little by little, thinking in the next thing, attacking problems one at a time altitude in this wild world which will be our home for some time. Edurne’s group is ahead of us, they have already told us about the route.  We will collaborate with the other expeditions and we will all try to leave a route that is reasonable safe, hoping that we all can be lucky in this great mountain challenge.  A lot of work ahead, but for the moment everything goes as planned and we will be already working tomorrow, trying to decipher the traps we will surely find these weeks.  The long journey to Annapurna starts now.

Carlos Pauner

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
 

 

Zaragoza, Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AT BASE CAMP

Carlos, Javier and Tolo are already at base camp.  They flew yesterday from Katmandu to Pokhara, where they caught another flight to Tatopani, a little Nepalese town located at 1,190 meters of altitude. From Tatopani they were transported to Annapurna base camp at 4,200 meters of altitude.

They needed seven helicopter flights to move the equipment and loads.
They met two expeditions there, with whom they will share this
expedition’s base camp, with the expedition of Al Filo [de lo
Impossible] and with the Korean expedition.  Carlos mentioned that
everybody is ok, and that it is a comfortable and a little cold base
camp, because of the altitude is not as elevated as in other
eight-thousands.  Now they are going to organize what will be their
hope for the next weeks.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
 

Zaragoza, Monday, March 29, 2010

 

TOWARD POKHARA

 

Carlos, Javier and the rest of the group arrived at Katmandu by Thursday afternoon.  On Friday and Saturday they organized all the necessary paperwork to leave to Annapurna.  They have checked the material, distributed the loads, requested the permissions and other papers and they are ready.  They also had time to visit an orphanage in Katmandy where the Kumara association in Zaragoza sponsors some children.  

 

Yesterday, Sunday, they were going to fly to Pokhara, but they delayed the flight until today.  This change of plans is because it is not clear if they can reach base camp by foot.  They may have to catch a helicopter.  They will have more information when they land in Pokhara today, and we will tell you then.

 

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

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