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  Everest 2007:  Alpine Ascents Everest expedition:  Packing Up ....


May 25 Packing Up

Well this expedition has been busy right up to the end! Everyone is EXTREMELY happy as you can imagine. Yesterday after all members got down, we had a nice dinner with Champagne and wine in our tent and then went down for a small party with our fabulous Sherpas in their dining tent. We handed out tips to them for which they were very grateful and then proceeded to the glitter and dancing (including Nepali, Sherpa and Western) and drinking. Much fun was had by all and it was so nice to have time to enjoy getting to know all of them a little more.

Today Bill and Firat left for down valley and places beyond. Firat will be on a helicopter out of Pheriche tomorrow while Bill is heading for Lukla to catch a plane to Kathmandu to do some work for his foundation, Basic Health International, for about a week. He would also like to thank his foundation for all of their support on his Everest expedition. The rest of us were packing and getting ready to make the transition to home while quite a bit more activity was going on in the Khumbu Icefall. Our Sherpas were up at 5am to haul the last loads down from Camp One and were on their way down when a part of the upper Icefall collapsed below them. Dave and Lakpa were on their way up to retrieve Pemba Doma’s body which was on it’s way down from the Lhotse Face. Dave and Lakpa waited for a long time before a new way was found through the collapse and our loaded Sherpas were able to get through. A great effort was made today to get the last loads safely down and it feels like a huge weight is lifted now with everyone safely down and nobody to go back up tomorrow. Dave and Lakpa made an incredible rescue of Pemba Doma today that included the entire Icefall and involving many lowerings, raisings, and 2 tyrolean traverses. They were assisted by some IMG Sherpas and team mates of Pemba as well as a few of the Icefall Doctors and others as they got lower. A helicopter took her body out after it was prepared for cremation at the heli pad. This makes two rescues in two days for Lakpa and it has been a very intense last 5 days for him! Lakpa Rita has got to be the strongest and strongest willed of anybody on this mountain and we are so honored to have him on our team!

Tomorrow morning we finish packing and head down to Pheriche and possibly a possee to Gokyo via the Cho La Pass. Our Sherpas will catch us up in Namche.
We are looking forward to warm temps, tee shirts and grass again!

Tashi Delek from our last night in Basecamp! Amy

Earlier: May 23 - Down to Camp 2

Hello there friends, family, and loved ones. This is one happy team. We have descended the mountain after a very successful summit day. We’re happy to be where the oxygen is a little bit thicker and the food is a little bit better. Looking around the dinner table tonight we have a lot of satisfaction on our faces. So we want to thank you very much for your prayers and your best wishes, they all seem to have come true. We have come down the Lhotse Face and only have one more little challenge, and that’s to descend the deadly Khumbu Icefall.

Todd would like to report that his camera fell down the Lhotse Face today, so he will not have his pictures to share (seems like his team mates could send him some). Sticky found a crevasse today. Fortunately John was on hand to pull her out after Firat belayed her, so she is still with our team. We’d also like to mention that the wonderful support from our sherpas made this all possible, without them we could not have climbed this mountain.

We’re all looking forward to getting home as soon as possible and seeing our loved ones, so please keep your fingers crossed for good weather in Lukla so we can fly out. One more person who really needs to be mentioned is our wonderful Camp 2 cook, Ang Tsering, the finest cook in the Western Cwm. Bill, the persistent one, made it to the summit by being slow and steady. We’d really like to give him a round of appreciation in the fact that he has been going from tent to tent making medical tent calls and keeping everybody healthy. Everybody is in good health, and we’re very happy that the good Lord has smiled upon us and blessed us with good weather, good sherpas, and good teamwork.

Thanks for all your support, and stay tuned for the further adventures of the ascent of Everest.  Vern Tejas at Camp 2

Earlier: May 22 3:30 pm: Well, I guess it’s about time to send an interim descent report. No, Vern, Bill, and Pa-Rita aren’t back to the South Col yet, but they are making their way steadily down. When they talked to the South Col at 3:30 they were at the Balcony. The weather continues to be reasonable – a little breezy but sunny. So we are expecting them to be down in the next couple of hours. I’m sure they will be plenty tired and ready to sleep when they get there.

Ellie at BC

May 22 1:00pm; And here’s the second message everyone has been waiting for. I’ve just had word that the entire team except Vern, Bill, and Pa-Rita are back at the South Col. They are climbing into their tents and I suspect some of them are already asleep. I’ve also been told that the wind is picking up and blowing a lot more than it has in the last few days. So we’ll be standing by until we have news that Vern, Bill, and Pa-Rita are also safe back at Camp 4. I have also talked to Amy Bullard. She decided that her breathing would be better if she descended to Camp 2, and that is where she is now. She just had a nap, and will spend the night there before continuing on to Base Camp tomorrow. So she will be here to join our welcoming committee when the rest of the team comes to Base Camp the day after tomorrow.

Ellie at Base Camp

8:08AM Third Team Summits!

Well the great news just keeps pouring in. Our third summit team has just made the top. The group has been actually split up a bit and the fourth team is still making their way. We also have other good news that sounds like Ellie has been able to get messages through so she should be sending in the summit recount in a little while.

But for now, we want to congratulate our third group! The third group has Amy Beeton, Tony King, Werner Berger, Fur Kancha, Nima Kancha, Gyelzen and our guide and sirdar: Lakpa Rita Sherpa. Congratulations to you all!!

We'll be waiting for one more last group to head up there. It's Vern, Bill Hanlon and Pasang Rita.

One more set of congratulations.
Kristine from the office

7:30am Second Summit Team Up!

Hi out there again. It's so exciting, Ellie just called in and the second group just made the summit. Unfortunately we had an earlier miscommunication on the radio and the second team is actually made up of Todd Macy, Firat Eren, John Griber, Thopke, Dorje and Mingma. Congratulations you guys!!!

So that makes us waiting on the final summit team to call in. The final team has Amy, Tony, Werner, Bill, Fur Kancha, Nima Kancha, Gyelzen, Lakpa, Vern and Pasang Rita. We expect to hear from them shortly.

Kristine from the office

May 22nd 7:10am Summit!
We are happy to announce that part of the Alpine Ascents Everest team is standing on the summit and the rest of the group is not far behind. In the first summit team is our guide, Dave Morton, James Ogilivie, Jeanne Stawiecki, Chewang and Tshering. Congratulations to the them as they celebrate.

Following and should be up there soon is Amy Beeton, Tony King, Werner Berger, Fur Kancha, Nima Kancha and Gyelzen. The final group with Vern and Lakpa and the rest of our summit team should be calling in again soon. We expect to hear from them very shortly for more details.

We are so excited as the good news keeps coming in. More to follow.
Congratulations to the summit team - Kristine

May 22nd 6:37am Nepal Time

Sounds like we are getting close. Ellie from Base Camp just called in. She got off the radio with Lakpa. He was calling from the South Summit. He's about in the middle of our group and said that he thought Dave and the group in front of him were just below the Hillary Step. We should be hearing from the team again soon hopefully from the summit.


May 22 5:00am Nepal Time

Hi out there. I just fielded another call from Ellie at Base Camp. She is still having some problems connecting to the satellites and asked me to forward a message from Dave. She got the radio call from the group around 5:00am and he said that he thought they were about 45 minutes from reaching the South Summit. The group is feeling good and the weather is still beautiful, hardly any winds. Ellie is figuring she'll send her next cybercast out (or through the office) when they reach the south summit. Cross your fingers out there and continue to watch as the group gets closer and closer.

Thanks for watching - Kristine from the Seattle office

May 22 2:30am - We reach the Balcony!

We got a radio call from Lakpa – the first members of the team are arriving at the Balcony. It is still a beautiful night – a sky full of stars, no moon at this point, and not a cloud to be seen anywhere. And maybe most important, still not much in the way of wind. So everything is going well for the climbing team. With the clear sky the temperatures are cold, so I’m sure they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of first light in about an hour and a half. Here at Base Camp I got a couple hours of sleep while Gopal and Deepak monitored the radios until 2:00am. Then they handed off to Padam. I awoke to the gentle sound of Nawang Thandup continuing to say prayers and burn juniper out by the puja altar. Soon the team will be starting up the Southeast Ridge on their way up to the South Summit. This will take several hours and will be full daylight by the time they get there.

Ellie at Base Camp

May 21 11:45am - Up the Triangular Face : This will be the last report from May 21. By the time I write again it will be tomorrow. Step by step by step the team is making their way up the Triangular Face. It sounds like there have been some adjustments to oxygen masks, and some sorting out with people going different speeds, but everything is going well. It is still a beautiful night, although the moon has set behind Pumori so travel is strictly by headlamp. It will start getting light again at around 4:00 am. Our sherpas tending Camp 4 will be watching the glow worm of headlamps heading up the mountain.

Here at Base Camp Gopal and Narayan are entertaining all of us with stories (lies???) and views of the world. Unfortunately my Nepali isn’t good enough to understand most of it, but the laughter is good. We are drinking sweetened black tea and huddling around a nice propane heater. We even have a light overhead, run off of one of our battery banks. So despite being the middle of the night things are pretty cushy. Padam and the cookboys are presently sleeping, but soon we will be waking them up and trading off the radio monitoring duties. I’ll let you know whenever I get an official radio call from the team.

Ellie Henke at Base Camp

May 21, 9:20 pm - We're Off!

It’s 9:20 pm in Nepal. I’m standing at the South Col in front of my tent, with clear skies and a crescent moon. The team is all just crawling out of their tents and we are planning on starting out in ten or fifteen minutes. There are very low winds. We see a few people up toward the Triangular Face with their headlamps on, other people are getting ready. We’re looking forward to a good summit day. We’ll be in touch as we head up the mountain.

Dave Morton at the South Col

Also from Base Camp: the Base Camp team is assembled in the communications tent to give the Climbing Team a big send-off. I am here along with chief cooks Gopal , Padam and Deepak, our two liaison officers Narayan and Mukti, and our cookboys Sila, Kancha, Tshering Tenzing, and Lakpa. Nawang Thandup is outside lighting the juniper and saying prayers. I have incense burning inside as well. We will be taking turns all night listening for the radio and keeping track of the team. I plan to send reports in every 2 or 3 hours to let you all know how the team is doing. Outside we still have clouds, but we’re starting to see some stars peeking through above. It’s a good night down here as well.

Ellie Henke at Base Camp

Earlier: May 20am - On the Move to Camp 4 : Good Morning in cyberland,

It’s another exciting morning for us as the team moves on up the mountain from Camp 3 to Camp 4. Today they will be meeting notable landmarks including the Yellow Band, the Geneva Spur, and the South Col itself. Our weather has been very warm, to the point that there was discussion this morning about whether to wear down suits or not. With the higher elevations we can expect the temperatures to be cooler, but the sun on the mountain has been intense. Some will wear their suits, others are deciding not to. Last night the team slept on oxygen for the first time, and today they will be climbing using oxygen for the first time. They’ve already noticed how much easier life is with a few extra O’s. The night at Camp 3 was much easier than the last time they were there. So far the weather is cooperating with sunny skies, mild temperatures, and almost no wind. We are watching the forecasts as they are calling for winds in the 10 to 30 knot range at the summit over the next few days. When the temperatures are below zero that makes things a little more chilly but not impossible. We’ll see what it really does. So far we are on track for leaving the South Col for the summit tomorrow night, and hopefully reaching the summit on the morning of May 22 (Nepal time).

Meanwhile, here at Base Camp we have valley clouds that are staying below the elevation of the climbers. We have beautiful views of the higher peaks peaking through the clouds and bathed in sunlight. Base Camp is busy this morning and filled with the music of yak bells. Some of the teams that have already reached the summit are now packing up and heading down the valley for home. In the next day or two all our close neighbors will be gone and our camp will be a small island in the middle of the glacier.

Check back for more news from the team after they reach Camp 4 later today.

Ellie Henke
Base Camp Manager

May 19 pm - We Arrive At Camp 3: Hello Friends, We finally made our move up the mountain, and we now have what we call “mountain inertia”. It was a really hot day, probably the hottest day of the expedition, coming up the Lhotse Face with one step, then several breaths, another step, several breaths. . . It was so, so hot. We got a bit of heat exhaustion but we were able to fix that with electrolytes and drinking. It felt like 100 degrees out.

Now we’re all tucked in at Camp 3. We are on ½ liter flow of oxygen tonight. Everybody has great appetites – it makes a huge difference getting to go on oxygen. We all feel a lot better than the last time we were here. We’re really, really excited to be moving up the mountain. It’s like our bodies are moving themselves now. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, to be going up the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur, heading up to the South Col and spending a rest day there. At the Col we’ll meet up with all of our sherpas, we’ll have a whole rest day there together before heading up for our summit bid. The weather looks like it’s going to hold out really nicely. We’ll let you know tomorrow what we find at the South Col.

Amy Bullard at Camp 3

Earlier: 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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