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  Everest 2007:  Alpine Ascents Everest expedition:  The Pieces Come Together


May 19 am - The Pieces Come Together

It’s a quiet morning here at Base Camp, but there’s excitement in the air. It feels like pieces of a puzzle all coming together to make the final picture. Our team of summit sherpas walked out of camp this morning at about 5:30 heading for Camp 2, where they will be in position for heading on up to the South Col tomorrow. Meanwhile at Camp 2 our team of western climbers is beginning their ascent up to Camp 3, where they will also be in position for heading up to the South Col tomorrow. Although it’s cloudy in Base Camp it is sunny higher up and should be an excellent day for moving on up the mountain. In addition to Lakpa, the sherpas chosen to assist the climbers to the summit are: Lakpa’s brother Thapkee, Chewang Nima, Mimgma Tshering, Fura Kancha, Nima Kancha, Tshering, Dorjee, Gyelzen, and Pa-Rita. In support at the South Col will be Lakpa Nuru and Passang Tsheri. It will be their job to melt enough water to keep everyone hydrated and any food anyone thinks they can eat. Most popular is usually RaRa (Ramen) noodles and fruit cups.

This time Camp 3 should be easier than the last time. Last time the climbers were trying to push their bodies to further acclimatization so they didn’t use oxygen. This time they are going for the summit, so they will begin sleeping on oxygen for the first time tonight. They are also more acclimatized from their previous efforts so life should be easier. They will be sleeping on about ½ liter flow tonight, and then will continue breathing oxygen as they continue on up to the South Col and on to the summit.

Ellie Henke
Base Camp Manager

May 17 - Up to Camp 2: Let the climb begin! The team is psyched to be on their way to the top. Kancha and Lakpa, two of our kitchen boys, woke us up this morning at 3:30. Gopal had breakfast on the table at 4:00, and everyone was suited up and ready to go by 5:00. By that time it was getting light, the dawn of a magnificently sunny and windless day. Everyone threw rice and said a prayer at the puja altar before heading up into the icefall for the last time. From base camp we could see a string of climbers as they made their way up through the “popcorn”. It was a long day for our team. They reached Camp 1 by about noon after about seven hours of climbing. But this time the day didn’t end there. After a rest and some lunch snacks they were on their way again, pushing on up to Camp 2 by 5:30 pm – 12 ½ hours of climbing. So this report is coming from base camp so the team can rest and get some food and drinks after their arduous day. We’ll have another report directly from the team tomorrow after they’ve had a good night’s sleep.

Also of note today were a pair of (unconfirmed BC scuttlebutt) Italian climbers doing a technical ice route up our side of Nuptse. We could see them up there today, and through binoculars it looked like they only had light day packs. We speculated that they were either up there for the day or were going to be doing a very cold bivouac. Later I was told that they were putting up fixed lines and would be going back up again in a couple days. So this will be future BC entertainment watching them work their way up a probable new route.

Ellie Henke  Base Camp Manager

May 16 - BC: Friends, family and loved ones,

We are in “Go” mode. Every one of us is excited with anticipation as we prepare for tomorrows departure for the upper mountain. Weather report looks favorable and we are all in good health. Even potential people problems with other teams seem to be resolving themselves. The first teams from the South side summited this morning relieving some of the human pressure on our route. Hopefully in the next few days even more folks will top out and be gone by the time we move into position. This is actually our plan, to miss the first wave and go when it’s wa
rmer and less crowded.

Still, we have time for fun and games. We need to remain relaxed as it’s real easy to get sucked up into the mood of summit fever. Patience is a virtue in times such as these. To that end we cheer First the “Champ” of base camp Chess. We also salute the gallant team member that, under the cover of darkness, stole the dinner “Gong” from a very noisy nearby British team. Only time will tell if we will be made to pay retribution for this dastardly deed. Stay tuned.

Wish us luck,

May 15 - Base camp: Today found us preparing for our push up the hill, which possibly will come May 17, day after tomorrow. This will give the crowds a chance to settle out and the temperatures to continue to increase and the winds to continue to abate. Patience is everything now. Today we sharpened our crampons, put foam on our ice axe heads, caught up on email and other technological advances and went for walks to keep ourselves focused and fit.

Warner received a Fed Ex package the other day with two kites inside. The winds this morning were perfect for breaking these out and it was fun to watch Warner fly his kites like a kid in front of the crystal blue sky. Firat made the long journey over to IMG’s camp to play Dave Hahn in Chess. Dave is reputed to be the Chess superstar of all of Basecamp.

With the warming temperatures small rocks are falling off their ice pedestals and it has been one of our favorite activities to anticipate when they will be ready to go and give them a little assistance. Also there is a river forming between the icefall and our camp and we can hear the soothing sound of running water from our tents. I can’t help but think how nice it could be someday to exit basecamp on rafts!

Tonight our friends at Mountain Madness will be attempting to summit Mount Everest! This will be the first bid of the season. We are very excited for them and will be monitoring their radio frequency to hear how their progress is being made. It looks like a stellar night for a summit bid!

We’ll keep you posted and until then will be eating more bacon and playing more poker!

Good Night!

May 14 - BC

Namaste and Tashi Delek everyone out there!

I’ve been a bit out of the loop here in cybercasting land since I was under the weather for a few days after our drop back. I’m slowly coming back around and my body is starting to cooperate. Everyone around camp is abuzz with summit hopes and ideas. Many people have already headed up on their summit pushes and many more are on their way tomorrow and the day after. It’s an exciting time of the season for everyone!

We are planning on having at least another day here at BC before we head up to begin our long march to the summit. The forecasts are starting to solidify and come together in a good way for us and I’m optimistic how things are shaping up. Today we had a mix of rain and sun. We’re still enjoying the luxuries here in BC. That includes a great game of Texas Hold ‘Em tonight with another American team coming over to utilize our professional chips. Hopefully the local boys do well. With sun out each day we we’ve also been able to enjoy some movies the past couple of days- a great distracter to keep the mind off the summit push until we actually begin.

The team is healthy and strong with no real sickness or difficulties to hang us up at this point. We’re looking forward to an exciting and wild 3rd week of May here!

We’ll be in touch soon.

All the best,

May 12 - Base Camp: Friends, family and loved ones,

Thanks for bearing with us throughout our technical issues. Hopefully we are now out of the woods and will continue to have improved communications for the duration of our expedition.

We have made it back to Everest base camp stronger than when we left. Team members noticed their endurance and acclimatization were vastly improved over our first trek up to base. Our spirits and physical beings are now ready for the next phase, the actual climb itself. Us, guides are now concentrating on our weather reports to divine the correct moment to start our summit push. In preparation for our upcoming ascent we put on a half day oxygen school. The main thrust was to familiarize all team members with the proper care and use of our O2 delivery system. Now the team feels comfortable enough to change O2 bottles and regulate oxygen flows should anyone need to in an emergency situation on summit day.

On a somber note, we are sad to have lost Victor from the team. He had to make a difficult decision to go home to resolve some important issues. We will miss him and his sense of humor in the days to come. Hopefully there will be a more opportune time when he will be able to return again to attempt Everest. Best of luck in all Victor.

Namaste, Vern

May 10th: From the office: we got a message from the team. They apologize for not being able to send in any cybercasts or get any emails out. They have been having some technical difficulties with the computer. At the time of the message, they were getting ready to make the journey back to base camp and they should be able to get the computer up and running and get more daily cybercasts up. Thank you for your patience and support.

May 5 - Pheriche : Hello friends, family and loved ones,

Ah the first day of R&R. As part of our acclimatization program, we traditionally drop down real low after we climb up to camp III. And today was the first day of the process and it feels great. We had a leisurely rise this morning with most of us succumbing to “Bag Suck”, the inability to leave our sleeping bags. With all the oxygen at base camp we felt compelled to sleep as long as possible. Most of the team has not had a full night of sleep for over a week so hence the “bag suck”. All that said, we hit the trail down to Pheriche well rested and rearing to go.

Over glacier and across moraine (glacial rubble piles of rock) we move quickly toward even thicker atmosphere and the world of the living. We could smell the vegetation before we got to it. First there was mosses and occasional lichens, then grasses and prostrate dwarf Juniper. Pink flowers (family Primulacae) and vocal little birds welcomed us back from the heights. Babbling brooks and freshly born yaks frolicking amidst the stone villages reminded James of his Scottish highlands. Proud Chortans (memorials to fallen climbers) etched against the swirling mist humbled our passage. Yet each step was a step into the world of life and joy.

Join us tomorrow when we eat the Teahouse!

Namaste,  Vern

Earlier: Base Camp : Back in the thick air of 17,300’! The return to BC today was a bit of a homecoming. It was a return to better tasting food due to more oxygen here. It was a return to warm showers… a return to modern communications like email… a return to clean clothes… and a return to our homes away from home- our BC tents. It really does feel like we’ve come back to a luxurious setting compared with the thin air of C3.

The experience up high on the Lhotse face was dramatic for everyone. Many of our climbers had not slept at that altitude ever before, let alone climbed at that altitude. It was an accomplishment in it’s own right despite our expectations for the next couple of weeks. The three nights we spent at C2 readying ourselves for the trip up to C3 were well worth the patience. A couple of the climbers were able to recuperate from a bit of the generalized altitude ‘yuks’ by spending a third night instead of the expected two. Everyone who was already feeling on top of it were able to do a bit more reading, napping, and music listening. By the time we set out on May 2 towards C3 on the Lhotse face everyone was ready for the journey.

Camp 3 is set on chopped ledges in the Lhotse face at the head of the Western Cwm. It’s a commanding spot with views down the Western Cwm towards Pumori, Cho Oyu, Gyachung Kang, Lingtren and Khumbutse. There really is nothing to compare the views to… unless it’s Camp 4 but we’ll get there later. The late afternoon and evening we spent at C3 was spectacular because of the combination of snow flurries and late clearing up high. The entire Cwm and lower valley where BC sits was covered by thick clouds and as the sun set it also was obscured. It made for a wonderfully surreal sunset.

The following a.m. the gang descended the fixed lines which string together the route from C3 back to the flats of the Western Cwm. This year much of the route is bare ice rather than snow coated blue ice. It makes for a bit more excitement really. The team handled it well. Lakpa and I added a few hundred meters of needed fixed line in spots where only one line was fixed. Having an up and down line in those spots is essential to keep teams moving.

This morning as we sputtered out of C2 after a brilliantly restful sleep we heard that the Korean team next to us had two members within a couple hours of the summit of Lhotse. A couple of us were able to use their spotting scope to check out their tracks leading into the couloir which leads to the summit. We assume that they did summit later in the morning and we send our congrats. It was the first summit of the season on this side of the mountain though there were north side Everest summits earlier in the week.

Tomorrow we head down valley for some needed rest and relaxation. We’ll be bringing the computer so we can send dispatches and the team can email family and friends.

We’ll be in touch soon.

All the best, Dave

Earlier: Camp 3 : We arrived at Camp 3 at about 4:00 yesterday afternoon and got right into the tents. We were tired after a nine hour climb. We went right to work making pots of water for our water bottles and ramen noodle soup, garlic shells, fruit cups, and all the various accoutrements that go with dinner at Camp 3. The evening was very beautiful with the full moon. We could see all the way out through the Cwm. Then it started snowing through the night. I thought it was snowing pretty hard all night, but when we woke up in the morning there really wasn’t any accumulation. It was just a flurry of snow crystals hitting the tent all night long. The temperature went down to about -10 F.

We all slept pretty well, although restless. Everybody did very well throughout the night. We were impressed. This morning we got up when the sun hit the tents at 8:40 and started the stoves. At 10:30 we made our way down to Camp 2. It was very hot. We wanted to take all our clothes off it was so hot. It took us four hours to get down to Camp 2. Dave and Lakpa (after Lakpa carried a load to Camp 3) fixed a down rope most of the way from Camp 3 down to the bottom of the Lhotse Face.

We spent the afternoon resting in our tents enjoying some fresh beautiful snow at Camp 2, and now we’re getting ready for another delicious meal. Tomorrow we head down to the luxuries of Base Camp.

Amy Bullard from Camp 2

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