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  Everest 2007:  Super Sherpas Summit Seven including number 17 for Apa Sherpa



Seven Summit from the Super Sherpa Everest 2007 Expedition  at 8:44 A.M.

  1. Mr. Apa Sherpa ( 47 yrs), Thame-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  2. Mr. Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa (40 yrs), Juving-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  3. Mr. Passang Geljen Sherpa (21 yrs), Juving-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  4. Mr. Arita Sherpa (47 yrs), Namche-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  5. Mr. Ang Passang Sherpa (39 yrs), Namche-7, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  6. Mr. Pemba Rinjee Sherpa (36 yrs), Juving-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal
  7. Mr. Mingma Tsering Sherpa (25 yrs), Juving-1, Solukhumbu, Nepal


Two Nepali world record holders join to climb this Spring for a combined 30 Everest summits 

Apa Sherpa, the man who has stood on the top of the world a record 16 times and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, who has summitted Mt. Everest in the record time of 10 hours, 56 minutes, and 46 seconds have announced that they are joining together to make a summit attempt this Spring.  The summit team will be comprised of the two record holders along with 4 other Nepali support members. Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa has summited 11 times in addition to his world record setting ascent. This would be his 13th summit. 

The climb is designed to highlight the role of the Sherpas and the Nepali people since the historic summit of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.  Other points to be highlighted are:

·        Guides and porters, who do the lion’s share of the work, are rarely publicized or appreciated.  Their pay ranges from $300 to $3000 depending upon their skills.  Non Nepali guides and team leaders pay can range from $15,000 to over $100,000.

·        The athletic prowess of the guides and porters enables them to carry nearly their own body weight over 8 times from base camp to the summit.  This is in contrast to the “guided” climbers requiring the carrying of their oxygen, tents, food, sleeping bags and fuel by the Nepalis.

·        Apa and Lhakpa do not require the usual acclimatization period for non Nepali climbers.  The usual acclimatization period is 6 weeks. 

·        Both Apa and Lhakpa are capable of a straight ascent from Base Camp to the summit of Mt. Everest.

·        Lhakpa’s record of 10 hours, 56 minutes, and 46 seconds reveals an incredible ascent of over 10,000 feet at a rate of over 1000 feet per hour beginning at an elevation of 18,000 feet and topping out at Mt. Everest’s peak of 29,053 feet.  For the usual climber this would induce massive brain swelling and result in rapid death from High Altitude Cerebral Edema.

·        Guides and porters are forced to cross the Ice Fall (the most dangerous zone on Mt. Everest) 20 times or more in order to carry all of the gear required by their group.  Assisted members limit their time in the Ice Fall to 4 to 6 crossings.

·        Guides regularly risk and even lose their lives saving members who are in distress.  This is rarely reported.  In the case of a Nepali guide’s death the compensation paid to the next of kin is barely enough to pay for the funeral costs.

Other members of the Super Sherpa team are Jerry Mika and Roger Kehr, long time friends of the two Sherpas.  Jerry and Apa are partners in an outdoor clothing company in Salt Lake City.  Kehr and his wife have been involved with Apa in a medical training program for Sherpas in the Khumbu.  Lhakpa’s involvement with Snowbird Expeditions has led to job opportunities in New Jersey and now in Utah. 

Mika and Kehr will support the expedition from Base Camp.  The four have formed their own company for the purpose of bringing world enlightenment about, and monetary benefit to, the Nepali people.  In conjunction with this expedition a book and documentary are in development.

The proceeds from these ventures and the future speaking fees of Apa and Lhakpa will ensure their ability to not only feed their families and to provide for their education but to also enrich the Nepali people through educational and other vital programs.  At least 25% of the net proceeds will be donated to Nepali schools, hospitals, and other deserving entities. 

Both Apa and Lhakpa have a long record of “giving back” to their communities.

Everest from the South Side in Nepal

sbrr2.jpg (46375 bytes)

Full size picture

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 you’re leaving C4…it’s 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 there’s not much holding the rope and a fall could be serious. Fortunately it’s 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. There’s 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 you’re getting set up for the rappel. Wearing an oxygen mask here can create some footing issues during the rappel, because it’s impossible to see over the mask and down to the feet. For that reason, some people choose to leave Camp 4 without gas, as it’s easier to keep moving down the Spur when it’s 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 aren’t so steep, where fixed ropes through here are solid. At this point, it’s 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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