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  Mt Everest 2007: Dirk Stephan Summits Everest

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Dirk challenged the summit of the Mount Everest early in the morning of May 20th and by that achieved one of his biggest goals of his life. Congratulations!!! At 8:30 Nepalese time he gave Silvie a call from Camp 4 to let us know his success. By now he should be on his way back to base camp. Have a safe trip back and enjoy you achievement!!!

12.05.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

Bad weather since two days. In the morning the sky is covered, then it snows. Not much but no sun at all. Instead of the morning warmth, awful, wet and cold temperature. Yesterday the 2. summit push failed. This time climbers and some Koreans, due to strong winds had to return at south summit. We keep on waiting. At 10 oéclock our cook Mila calls from camp 2. The storm has blown away a tent, we get off lighty. Another team had much more destruction. Later we get a new weather forecast. Therefore we could set off tomorrow. We do our packings, check the equipment, a new weather forecastin the evening. Winds up to 80km/h, rain and clouds. I decide to postpone for one week.

13.05.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

The morning commences windless and without clouds. Several teams climb up, trying their luck. Once more I head to the Pumori. In the meantime I need two hours return. A huge helicopter flies in several times. It transports the remaining parts of the 2004 crashed helicopter down to the valley. A few days ago the wrack has been parted in transportable pieces. The newest weather forecast predicts reasonable winds from 21.05. onwards, if this would be true, we should be able to commence a summit push in four days!

Acclimatization process closed

Dispatch: 26.04.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

At 9'o clock in the morning Pertemba comes in and informs me about a fatal accident of another team's Sherpa in the Lhotse face. There are no further details, it supposed to be a team from Italy with no radios. Dawa compares that with a tourist bus-driver's accident...I am not sure about it.

27.04.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

The sky is overcast and it is windy, all our Sherpas remain in their tents. Who sets out had to return half way. Part of the way has been destroyed that night. Middays the icefall will be secured again.

29. 04.07 Camp 2 6500m

Second acclimatization turn. 5 o'clock in the morning I set out. From the start I fail. In order to cut short I take a small frozen lake, just a slop. But in fact that slop is not frozen and I break in with both of my shoes. I feel the ice water at my feet. Return or continue?? As soon as I am through the icefall the sun will come and it will get warmer. On the other hand three more hours to go. I rush forward and continue. I am lucky, after 6 hours I am in camp 2.

30.04.07 Camp 2 6500m

Rest day. Dawa and I go towards the Lhotse face. Huge clouds in the lower Western CWM let us return. Middays contrary to one's expectation it gets sunny and windless.

01.05.07 Everest Camp 2 6500m

Ascent to camp 2 in the Lhotse face. Dawa and I set out at 7 o'clock. The sun disguises behind the Lhotse face. Strong gusts of wind blow from the Lhotse. Until the face it slowly ascents, the access is almost vertical. Some ropes hang down. Hooking in the ascender, pushing up, looking for footing with the climbing irons, pushing through the knees and so forth....That is our job for the next hours. Above us there are five climbers. It hails snow and chunks of ice. Not nice but we achieve the ascent well. After 4 hours we reach the lower camp 3 on 7100 meters. We have finished the acclimatization goal. No clouds blocks the view on the Pumori and the Cho-Oyu. After a short rest we descent to camp 2.

02.05.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

Acclimatization closed. I leave the camp at 7 o'clock, it had snowed a bit. I am alone. Not until the icefall I meet ascending climbers. It is extremely hot and cloudless, anyhow my drinking pack defrosts far later down. At 10 o'clock I am back in the Base Camp. Breakfast and a hot cup of water for washings. Luxury. Later on I hear that IMG will go for a summit push in on week. This is finally the spirit needed. I have to rest at least 3 days to be ready for my try. In the best case scenario in 10 days it all could be done. Thanks for all your wishes All the best Dirk

Earlier: 20.04.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

Camp 2 needs further transports to be carried. We again take a climb to the Pumori. I feel very well acclimatized, I am able to climb fast, now it is getting time to check out my abilities in the icefall.

21.04.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

Our team commences to check out the icefall today. I rest here, too often I have been confronted with the icefall the last years. Instead I carry stones to manifest the platform for my tent. The sun eats away the icy underground, left and right streams flow along at noon, it is unbearable hot inside the tent. Tomorrow I want to climb up to camp 1, but later it starts snowing.

22.04.07 Everest Base Camp 5300m

It stops snowing around 10 p.m.. In the morning all Sherpas are still in the tent, nobody climbs up. It makes no sense to dig into the icefall, weather conditions between camp 1 and 2 are unclear. We delay the ascent about one day.

23.04.07 Camp 1 6100m

I start at five in the morning. Light shoes, light climbing irons, light-grey underwear, fleece overall, fleece top, Gore-Tex trousers and jacket, harness and ice equipment, this had stood the test. I wear a waterskin under the jacket, no need to stop for drinking. I am on my way. The icefall is still jagged, the trek proceeds through immense crevasse and ice towers. Not knowing that everything flows and is instable, one could enjoy the scenery. After three hours I reach the upper end of the icefall. The valley of silence ends at the enormous Lhotse-face, where I have to take the south col. Today I continue one hour further in the direct sun. I am in camp 1. My progress is as last year - a good sign.

24.04.07 Camp 2 6500m

I feel good, thus I decide to climb up to camp 2. T wo other climbers join. Like last year the first hour I zick-zack down the crevasse and out of the crevasse, harassingly slow camp 1 disappears. I need two hours to camp 2. On top 20 minutes further tough ascent to our tents.
Later on we need to establish an ice platform, heavy work in 6500m. There is no better acclimatization.

25.04.07 Everest Basislager 5300m

After that enormous work I descend to the base camp. Three hours later the first acclimatization phase is finalized. After some rest days the next tour will be to camp 3 at the Lhotse face up to 7300m.

So long Dirk

Earlier: April 13-15: 13.04.07 Everest BC 5300m

Our team is almost completed. Meagan Mc Graph (Canada), Paul, Stephan Giesecke (USA), Attila Jelinko (Hungary), Ravi Chan Dran Pharumalingam (Malaysia), Rudolf Praschl-Bircher (Austria), Martin Byrn (Ireland) will arrive in the next days. The dining tent is fully booked, many things to talk, no boredom.

14.04.07 Everest BC 5300m

Puja ceremony will be on 19.04. There is no better day before. Either new moon or no lucky day. After breakfast Ravi and I are climbing to Pumori up to 5600m to camp 1. The summit pyramide is white, so does the Lothsewall. I have been at the BC for one week and got 1 hours training in the altitude of 5500m. This should be enough preparation for the icefall.

15.04.07 Everest BC 5300m

The expedition manager are meeting at the HRA-clinic. Patemba is joining me. He is the BC Manager. Together with Sirdar Lhakpa he is leading out expedition. Each team is exchanging radio frequences, tomorrow Sherpas of IMG will assure the Lhotsewall to camp 3. Directly after Puja we will be in the situation to complete acclimatisation.  So long, Dirk

09.04.07 Everest base camp 5300m

After breakfast Dawa and I stroll around the base camp. We saw a first Puja ceremony for the British expedition. They carry lots of equipment and devices. Among it an ergometer which shall be positioned on 8000m. On the summit arterial blood shall be extracted from a leg and immediately brought to the lab by a Sherpa. Legend said more than one million dollar expedition costs. No resources left for other emergency cases that huge is the expedition team, despite 40 doctors on board! All big commercial teams are present: IMG, Mountain Madness, Alpine ascents, to name only a few. The teams slowly gather together the next days. Groups of base camp trekers frequently appear in order to get the spirit of the base camp for a few days. The icefall will not be part of th
eir journey.

Later we level a platform for Dawa's bakery. While we swing spades and pickaxe we are met by the trekers with disbelief. Ravi from Malaysia drops in, followed by the others the next days.

10.04.07 Everest base camp 5300m

Slightly cloudy with snowfalls. When it stops I ascend half way to Gorak Shep to an altitude of 5.500m. Among huge clouds I see the everest summit pyramid, the Lhotse wall and the south col. More than 3000m in altitude to conquer. Later it again snows. We try to get Dawa's projector running, but it fails, too much energy needed. Neither the gene rator nor batteries could provide the necessary performance, thus no cinema in the bakery.

11.04.07 Everest base camp 5300m

We see that the nepal military flies in some Koreans with a huge Russian helicopter. They want to be part of the Puja fotoshooting of one of the expeditions. One hour later when the pilot returns no Koreans are left for pickup. The pilot has to take some extra round. The tourists suffer from lack of oxygen and do not manage to walk upright. No further comment needed.

It snows the whole day. The wind comes and leaves. We are busy with the failing electronic equipment.

The icefall supposed to be in a desolate conditions I will try not to pass him to often.

So long, Dirk.

Earlier: Base Camp: I have reached the base camp on Saturday. Like last year the cooking tent is the first established. I helped establishing my tent. The ice has to be leveled in order to get a straight platform. At first the ice needed to be cleared to spread stones thereon.

Weather conditions are firstly beautiful, then it is thuderstorming with snow.

The night was cold but I slept well. I stay in my sleeping back until the sun warms up the tent. For breakfast I have omelets and toast. I then keep on helping leveling the platforms for the tents. We expect next Ravi Chant from Malaysia. Not until all climbers reach the base camp there will be no Puja ceremony. Without the Puja ceremony no climber will get through the Khumbu Icefall.
All the best Dirk

April 1, 2007 Tengbouche
The audience at Rimpoche is impressing. He is 73 years old and one of the most important Buddhistic authority. He has to send its monks abroad and is not always content with the schools here. Thus repatriates' discipline suffers from cities' influence. The familarization with the life in Khumbu is getting more and more difficult. He thinks that loss of discipline is responsible for anew fire in the monastery. Thanks to the strong snowfall the monastery was not destroyed a second time.
I ask him what he thinks of us climbers who risk their and their Sherpa's lifes. He thinks of the classical dilemma: On one hand this is a job maker for Sherpas and on the other hand they have no choice in contrast to the climber. That is why it is important to get them altern atives to provide them a fair choice. In principle Sherpas live from the tourism. I get my Kata back, a blessed line and sanctified spices. Ingest daily the blessings renew.

April 2 ,2007
Today it is my doughter Lara's birthday. I wake up early to get her before school. A quarter to seven I can start. The soil is hardly frozen. The descent is getting more a slalom thru the mug, left by hundreds of Yaks.
A unpleasant cold wind soughs thru the valley. A tightrope walk between shivering and sweating. It takes me 3 hours to the Lodge in Pheriche. I am at the altitude of 4.200 m. After all the same than Base camp of Aconcagua.
I meet a compatant of my team. He is from Malaysia, summited the Everest last year from Tibet and lost one finger. This does not stop him from ascending again from Nepal.
Later I listen out of boredom a speech of the Periche Clinic regarding altitude sickness. New doctor, old speech, nothing new. The scouts join. They will accomodate base camp in two weeks.

April 3, 2007
Unfortunately I got a nasty cold. No wonder the Lodges are full of sick persons. I change accommodation to the other side of the hill to Dingboche. The owner of the Lodge in Pheriche also owns the Lodge in Dingboche and gets me there fast. Here it is much more sunny and the wind does not sough that much. I plan to ascent a bit more and it seems to work. Above me there are ascending climbers. I close on at the summit of 5050 m. It's Dave Hahn and his clients on acclimazation. I descent again to Dingboche.



Khumjung 3750m

The night was a bit colder, but comfortable with my warm sleeping back. The altitude provides no problems, thus I decide to climb up to Khumjung. I get my obligatory prayer shawl, the kata. Sherab wishes me all the best for the rise. Then I climb down to the village. I miss some magnesium to get rid of muscle cramps. There are none in the pharmacy but I find some in a small grocery. Now I continuously climb up, after 1 hour I see the Everest again. The summit tops everything, unimpressed from all what happened.

I lodge in the Khumjung Hotel. 10 minutes later I am on my way again; last years training up to 4300m. I do well, I am ok so far. Back in the hotel I meet Dawa again. He desires an early summit to dedicate to the Everest-Marathon.....

At 3 pm the sky tightens. The village befogs.  I see 15 yellow tents. British scout group camps here. Scouts do not sleep in hotels. Five of them eye the Everest. They cut themselves bolds to demonstrate the length of their expedition. They discuss acclimatization process for hours.

I sleep well this night, although sleeping back still too thick.

All the best Dirk 


Everest 2007: Dirk Stephan returns to Everest to attempt the mountain from the Nepal side of the mountain. Dirk will again be joining the the Asian Trekking team. " Last year I made it up to the southcol, where I abandoned the final push because the weather was too tough for me, and I was not willing to take the risk. On this day, the famous Apa Sherpa made his 16th summit, as others who were willing to take more risk or just were stronger than me also did it. This will be my third trip to Everest Ė also a time for reflection and thinking things over. I am looking forward to see friends in the Khumbu and above again.

I do not see many things, which I could have done better last year to succeed, however it is the experience which counts. Last year I descended the upper Lhotse face completely alone, putting my trail into the fresh untouched snow, had a terrific view over to Cho Oyu and back up to the south summit of everest. On this day I left the southcol at 5am, descended down to BC where I arrived at 2 PM. The next day I marched out to Namche and the next day I arrived in Lhukla and two days later I was safe at home. However- never say goodbye to Khumbu.... Dirk 

Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350 meters)

This is a picture of the popular South Col Route up Mt. Everest.  Base camp is located at 17,500 feet.   This is where climbers begin their true trip up the mountain.  This is also where support staff often remain to monitor the expeditions and provide medical assistance when necessary.  Many organizations offer hiking trips which just go to base camp as the trip is not technically challenging (though you must be very fit). 

From base camp, climbers typically train and acclimate (permitting the body to adjust to the decreased oxygen in the air) by traveling and bringing supplies back and forth through the often treacherous Khumbu Icefall.    This training and recuperation continues throughout the climb, with the final summit push often being the only time to climbers do not go back and forth between camps to train, bring supplies, and recuperate for the next push. 

The Icefall is in constant motion.  It contains enormous ice seracs, often larger than houses, which dangle precariously over the climbers heads, threatening to fall at any moment without warning, as the climbers cross endless crevasses and listen to continuous ice creaking below.  This often acts as a testing ground to judge if less experienced climbers will be capable of continuing.   The Icefall is located between 17,500 and 19,500 feet.

Camp I - 5900 meters

After the Icefall, the climbers arrive at Camp I, which is located at 19,500 feet.  Depending on the type of expedition, Camp I will either be stocked by the climbers as they ascend and descend the Icefall, or by Sherpas in advance.

The area between Camp I and Camp II is known as the Western Cwm.  As the climbers reach Camp II at 21,000 feet, they may be temporarily out of sight of their support at Base camp.  Nonetheless, modern communication devises permit the parties to stay in contact.

Camp II - 6500 meters

As the climbers leave Camp II, they travel towards the Lhotse face (Lhotse is a 27,920 foot mountain bordering Everest).  The Lhotse face is a steep, shiny icy wall.  Though not technically extremely difficult, one misstep or slip could mean a climber's life.  Indeed, many climbers have lost their lives through such mishaps. 

Camp III - 23,700 feet (7200 meters)

To reach Camp III, climbers must negotiate the Lhotse Face. Climbing a sheer wall of ice demands skill, strength and stamina. It is so steep and treacherous that many  Sherpas move directly from Camp II to Camp IV on the South Col, refusing to stay on the Lhotse Face.

Camp IV - 26,300 feet (8000 meters)

As youíre leaving C4Öitís a little bit of a down slope, with the uphill side to the left. There are typically snow on the ledges to walk down on, interspersed with rock, along with some fixed rope. The problem with the rope is that the anchors are bad, and thereís not much holding the rope and a fall could be serious. Fortunately itís not too steep, but there is a ton of exposure and people are usually tired when walking down from camp. The rock is a little down sloping to the right as well, and with crampons on, it can be bit tricky with any kind of wind. Thereís a little short slope on reliable snow which leads to the top of the Geneva Spur, and the wind pressure gradient across the spur can increase there as youíre getting set up for the rappel. Wearing an oxygen mask here can create some footing issues during the rappel, because itís impossible to see over the mask and down to the feet. For that reason, some people choose to leave Camp 4 without gas, as itís easier to keep moving down the Spur when itís important to see all the small rock steps and where the old feet are going. Navigating down through all of the spaghetti of fixed ropes is a bit of a challenge, especially with mush for brains at that point. One lands on some lower ledges which arenít so steep, where fixed ropes through here are solid. At this point, itís just a matter of staying upright, and usually, the wind has died significantly after dropping off the Spur. The route turns hard to the left onto the snowfield that leads to the top of the Yellow Bands.

Camp IV, which is at 26,300 on the Lhotse face, is typically the climbers' first overnight stay in the Death Zone.  The Death Zone is above 26,000 feet.  Though there is nothing magical about that altitude, it is at this altitude that most human bodies lose all ability to acclimate. Accordingly, the body slowly begins to deteriorate and die - thus, the name "Death Zone."  The longer a climber stays at this altitude, the more likely illness (HACE - high altitude cerebral edema - or HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema) or death will occur.  Most climbers will use oxygen to climb and sleep at this altitude and above.  Generally, Sherpas refuse to sleep on the Lhotse face and will travel to either Camp II or Camp IV.

Camp IV is located at 26,300 feet. This is the final major camp for the summit push.  It is at this point that the climbers make their final preparations.  It is also a haven for worn-out climbers on their exhausting descent from summit attempts (both successful and not).  Sherpas or other climbers will often wait here with supplies and hot tea for returning climbers.

From Camp IV, climbers will push through the Balcony, at 27,500 feet, to the Hillary Step at 28,800 feet.  The Hillary Step, an over 70 foot rock step, is named after Sir. Edmond Hillary, who in 1953, along with Tenzing Norgay, became the first people to summit Everest.  The Hillary Step, which is climbed with fixed ropes, often becomes a bottleneck as only one climber can climb at a time.  Though the Hillary Step would not be difficult at sea level for experienced climbers, at Everest's altitude, it is considered the most technically challenging aspect of the climb.

Summit - 29,028 feet (8848 meters)

Once the climbers ascend the Hillary Step, they slowly and laboriously proceed to the summit at 29,028 feet.  The summit sits at the top of the world.  Though not the closest place to the sun due to the earth's curve, it is the highest peak on earth.  Due to the decreased air pressure, the summit contains less than one third the oxygen as at sea level.  If dropped off on the summit directly from sea level (impossible in reality), a person would die within minutes.  Typically, climbers achieving the great summit will take pictures, gain their composure, briefly enjoy the view, then return to Camp IV as quickly as possible.   The risk of staying at the summit and the exhaustion from achieving the summit is too great to permit climbers to fully enjoy the great accomplishment at that moment.  

As most readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the climb to the summit.

Pictures from Enrique Guallart-Furio web site http://ww2.encis.es/avent/


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