April 24,2007- Camp II and
back to basecamp
True to form for the mountains, plans have been changed a bit! The climbers
will return tomorrow and save the nights at camp III for the next push. The
team climbed part of the way to camp III today for acclimatization, and to
check out the fixed ropes on the Lhotse face, then returned to camp II for the
night. The climbing route from base camp goes like this: Straight out of base
camp the climbers enter the Khumbu icefall. The Mountain Madness camp is
located just at the base of this, being the furthest north in camp, and one of
the furthest to the east on the Khumbu glacier. The climb through the Khumbu
icefall gains 2,500 feet, at the top of which is camp I, at about 20,000 feet.
Moving up through the icefall can take anywhere from 3 hours (amazing Sherpas
with big loads) to 14 hours (you're probably a bit too tired to be there.)
Typical time without big bottlenecks is 5 to 6 hours.
Camp I is atop snow, and currently there are about 30 tents set up
representing 10 to 12 different expeditions. This serves as a temporary,
intermediary camp, mainly for acclimatization. >From camp I the route gains
the western cwm, a relatively flat, wide, long plateau. Along the western cwm,
eastward, the route follows yet more broken sections of the glacier, fixed
with ladders and ropes. It flattens out for the last half of the climb to camp
II, and many small crevasses are stepped over after insuring their sides are
Camp II serves as an advanced base camp, on the moraine bordering the north
side of the glacier. Camp II is at 21,200 feet, and carries many of the
creature comforts of base camp: a cook tent, a Sherpa cook, permanent tent
set-up and stocked supplies. It is also used as a depot for high-mountain
supplies. Once climbers are acclimatized to camp II, camp I is usually skipped
over on the way up the mountain. The tent set-up from camp I moves up to camp
III, which is at 24,000 feet, but camp II continues to be utilized as an
advanced base camp throughout the expedition.
The route from camp II heads to the end of the cwm, right up to the base of
the Lhotse face. The Lhotse face is a prominent feature looming ahead, and
climbing Lhotse or Everest will utilize the same camps up to camp III, on the
Lhotse face, and sometimes up to camp IV in the south col. So naturally,
Lhotse dominates the foreground for much of the climb. Today the climbers went
part-way up the Lhotse face, where the fixed lines begin again, mostly on icy,
steep terrain. Willie is helping to fix the lines on the Lhotse face, much of
which has already been done by other teams, as well. The guides from each of
the major expeditions are given a specific section of the climb to fix with
ropes, and Mountain Madness's section is yet to come. So, today, Willie, Eric,
Eirik and Bjorn went higher, and Jaime had to come down to rejuvinate after a
rough night. Casey and Mustafa will be joining us again in a couple days,
after some recovery nights spent in Namche, and Brian returned yesterday from
camp II with yet more Khumbu cough. Here's what Brian has to say about the
climb, and his three round-trip travels through the ice-fall, thus far.
Hello everyone from Mt Everest base camp! It was both good to get back to base
camp yesterday, as well as dissapointing that I did not get up to camp III on
my 3rd trip up high onto Everest. Base camp is much more comfortable than the
high camps. Everyday that I have been up high it has snowed hard during the
afternoon. Also the wind picks up, the tents rattle and shake, and it is cold.
During the mornings up high it is nice and warm as long as you are hanging out
in camp. If we are climbing in the morning, whether inside the Khumbu Icefall
or Western Cwm, it is an invariable oven and feels like it is 130 degrees in
the still morning air under a very intense high altitude sun. So far I have
been through the Khumbu Icefall 3 times round trip. The first time through,
the Khumbu was a fascinating and very spooky, unstable place. There are many
double and triple extension ladders that wobble and sway as you carefully
cross over seemingly bottomless crevasses. When crossing an extension ladder
it is best to focus on your boots and crampons as you carefully click your
front points over the front rung and your last two points over the rung
behind. To change your focus past your boots and crampons looking deep into
the crevasse can bring on a case of vertigo. The ice features are amazing,
deep blue and towering. In the beginning I had to reign in my focus on the
climb as I wanted instead to look around and soak in the beauty. Now that I
have been through the icefall 3 times it is just becoming hard work at high
altitude. I hardly notice the ladders anymore as they have become routine. My
night at camp II never seemed to end. It was cold and the air thin. Having a
case of the Khumbu cough going did not allow for any deep rest, as a deep
violent coughing fit was never far away, and always left me breathless and
exhausted. In the morning everything inside the tent was covered in frost. My
-40 sleeping bag had a thick layer of ice covering it. Unless we are moving up
to the next camp, we generally wait until the sun hits the tents to make
getting out of our bags a little warmer and easier. Signing off until camp
Thanks Brian, and we will write again tomorrow when the team returns to camp
Earlier: April 21, 2007 Khumbu Trekkers Farewell Dispatch
Hello from Namche!
This is Casey reporting in with Mustafa, Erin and John. We walked for 2 days
from B.C. and felt stronger with every step down hill. Trond stopped in
Tengboche to hang out in the forest and at the famous monastery there. He felt
a special connection with the place and we will pick him up in a few days.
Tomorrow I will walk with Erin and John to Lukla. Hopefully they will fly out
the next day and continue home after a day in Kathmandu. Mustafa will stay in
Namche and I will pick him up and we will start back to B.C. Mustafa is
already feeling better and another day will hopefully continue to clear the
Both Erin and John have mentioned how much they love Nepal and hope to return.
They feel th Nepali people are some of the nicest people they have ever met.
The combination of these special people and the himalayas is unbeatable.
Congrats to them for their fine efforts in getting to C2 and more importantly
for being great people to hang out with!
We wish everyone back home and at basecamp well. Talk to you soon!
April 21, 2007 Camp I: The team has made it to camp I in good form! These are
exciting times as the push up the mountain starts to take form. Three of the
Sherpas are at camp II getting it all dialed in, and the team will join them
tomorrow, making a big jump in acclimatization to above 21,000 feet, where
they will spend 2 or 3 nights. The weather got rough on us early today, clouds
moving in from the lower valley and light snow falling all afternoon, on into
the evening. But they called in early, by 4:00pm, reporting that they had all
gained two pounds from eating dinner, and were turning in for a night of
well-deserved sleep. Just what we would wish for them, so we're happy for the
We'll have more news tomorrow as they move up to camp II, and perhaps a story
or two to tell. For now, all is right in the Khumbu under the shadow of Mt.
April 20, 2007: The whole camp is a-bustle with preparations
for a big move up the mountain tomorrow. Scheduled departure time is around
7:00am, with Willie leading Eirik, Bjorn, Eric and Brian, and Jaime leading
our final Khumbu climber, Henry. The entire team will stay at camp I tomorrow
night, and will move to camp II the next day, where all but Jaime and Henry
will be staying the night. They will stay again at camp I and return to Base
Camp soon thereafter. The others will brave their first nights spent above
21,000 feet. The intention will be to take a rest day at camp II and climb to
camp III the next day, but not spend the night up there just yet. So they are
geared up for 4 or 5 days up high on the hill. We wish them warmth and safety
from the relative comforts of base camp, and the far-away comforts of home.
We said goodbye to many of our friends today, some for good,
and some for a week or so. Hopefully Casey and Mustafa will come back
gangbusters to charge up the hill. Jaime and Willie got in some quality ice
bouldering in a cave of the glacier this morning, while the rest of us enjoyed
the typical sunny, warm morning on our own little deck. We didn't get the
recent trend of afternoon snow flurries today, but the night chilled up on us
so we're all huddled around the heater in the main tent watching movies. Last
night's special feature was Top Gun, and Jaime will henceforth be finding
inspiration through the icefall with the immortal wisdom of the Kenny Loggins
band, a constant reel of Highway to the Danger Zone playing in his mind and
pulsing through his veins. A big thanks to Maverick and Goose for giving these
guys some extra motivation.
The rest of the guys are touching on their more sensitive side tonight with a
group viewing of Broken Flowers. I haven't quite convinced anyone to dip into
what they claim are the unknown waters of some super quality chick flicks, but
for sure they will cave by the end of the month. So, for now, Mountain Madness
base camp is about to quiet way down, and we will be well-informed by radio of
their every move. Wish them well! We wish you all well at home.
April 19, 2007: Hello from
Everest base camp, again. We've been very domestic, staying cozy and
comfortable and each taking care of our own little jobs. Today the big task
was to designate foods for higher camps, as the boys are planning to head up
the mountain in a couple of days. They will spend four or five days up high,
and this will be an important step in preparing high camps for future pushes
to even higher camps, and for acclimatization. So we're getting all that
sorted out now.
The local staff stay busy taking care of our most important need- eating good
food. Our head cook at base camp is Kumar Gurung, and we are served every meal
by his smiling assistant Raju Rai. Behind the scenes are the kitchen helpers
Dambar Rai and Gopal Rai. These guys stay busy most of the day keeping the
kitchen running, and they also know how to put on some music and have a good
laugh. We also have tons of help with logisitics from these guys, especially
as we start to stock the higher camps and arrange for porters to go down.
And that is also keeping us busy these days, as we have a lot of people
heading down tomorrow. Erin has finished her adventure here on the Khumbu
glacier and will spend three days hiking down to Lukla, beginning tomorrow.
Joining her are Casey and Mustafa, both of whom have been feeling pretty sick.
Casey will accompany Erin to Lukla, and Mustafa hopes that some time spent in
Namche will restore him to good health. We hope so, too, and Namche is such a
lovely town that it might just do the trick. Trond and John will also descend
tomorrow. After much deliberation John is also on the homestretch, and we will
miss his kind spirit and good nature. We're sure he'll enjoy the luxuries of
the lower climes, slowly moving back down through life zones more lush and
tropic in character. Trond will probably be resting in Namche as well, and
with any luck, in a week or so we will have Casey, Trond and Mustafa all back
with us in good health!
In the meantime we will entertain ourselves with the little things- minor
misfortunes along the lines of Eric's busted fake-tooth-retainer. Fear not,
faithful readers, for all has been made right again with the wonders of super
glue. There is no substitute for the savvy nature of a 23 year old, though
some of us will miss the opportunity for gentle mockery. But, alas, he is back
in the (slender) company of we-of-full-sets again. Welcome back, Eric.
Further enlivening our expedition is the exiciting discovery that fate has
brought two South Medford High School, Oregon graduates together on the same
expedition- Teddy and Brian. It took us a month to figure this out. Perhaps
this is a reflection of the caliber of student passed through those gates, but
suffice it to say, Panther pride lives on!
Our final excitement of the evening, then, is the scrabble game being played
on a stolen board, right here in the confined environs of the very tent from
which I write. A note to the Brits, should you read this page: it was Erin.
But rest assured- in your honor we are allowing only British spellings of
certain suspect words, ie: colour, flavour, and favour. With that, we sign off
for another cozy evening of tent life, and warm thoughts to our homies from
Earlier: April 15, 2007 Everest Base Camp
Hello again folks! This is Casey reporting from B.C. The 13th and 14th were
rest days for most. This usually consists of doing laundry, taking showers,
visiting other teams, watching movies, playing cards and just laying around.
Unfortunately these days seem to go by fairly fast! I ended up taking one of
our icefall folks, Henry, into the ice-fall for his first foray. He did great
and is doing various medical studies during his stay here at the mountain.
Today, the 15th, was another climbing day. We rose early for breakfast and
left for the ice-fall. Most folks were headed to C1 for the next 2 nights and
a short trip up to C2. Congrats to the Khumbu Extension folks for making it up
there! The rest of us turned around at the top of the ice-fall and descended
for another rest day. Many people are dealing with the "khumbu cough" at the
moment and climbing is just making things worse. Teddy should be joining us in
the next couple days and the dispatches should then improve dramatically!
Thanks for tuning in and we all send our love back home to those near and dear
April 12, 2007 Everest Base
Camp - Climber's Dispatch
Today has been a really long day for most of the group as they headed through
the icefall all the way to Camp 1 and back. Many of you know this already but
the route through the ice-fall is a winding path of fixed ropes over, around
and through seracs and crevasses. It includes many ladder climbs and crossings
that add to the excitement! While travelling through the steep Khumbu glacier
you can hear it creaking, cracking and settling...quite unnerving for most!
Unfortunately, a few folks were still feeling tired and sick so they needed to
turn around part way up. The effects of the "khumbu cough" are starting to
take affect on a few people too. The very dry air and the hard breathing you
do while performing even the most meaningless tasks create an irritation that
starts in your throat and eventually moves to your chest. If it continues to
get worse it can become quite debilitating. The worry of contracting "the
cough" has people wearing bandanas and balaclavas while sleeping (not fun when
you already cannot breathe) and walking. There are "Banditos" everywhere in
this high-altitude wild west scene! Another preventative measure is to always
be sucking on a hard candy or chewing gum. Let's hope we keep working hard at
fighting the cough.
Our incredible sherpa team continues to travel up and down the mountain at
incredible speeds. They are in the process of stocking Camps 1 and 2. They
leave early in morning and get back for lunch. Yeesh!
The next couple days will be rest days before moving up to sleep at Camp 1.
That's it for today! I know everyone will sleep well tonight. Cheers, Casey
April 12, 2007 - Trekkers Final Dispatch
The trekkers have landed safely in Kathmandu, the satisfaction of a completed
trip, and of the comforts of town. Our final night on the trail was spent in
Monjo, in what turned out to be one of the more upscale tea houses. It felt
tropical back down so low, below the 10,000 foot mark. We have all enjoyed the
rich, warm air in our lungs and good nights of sleep.
The next day's trek was a short one back to Lukla. We had our last lunch just
an hour short of our destination, with one final hill to climb on the home
stretch. Lukla sits higher than many of the towns upriver to which we
travelled, making it a conducive location for an airstrip. With enough time in
town to look around, buy some souvenirs, and clean up, we were all feeling
refreshed by dinner time.
Dinner was a most memorable one, as we brought in all of our local staff one
by one, from porters to kitchen staff to Sherpa guides, and gave them each
tokens of our thanks. The people of the Khumbu are so friendly and giving of
themselves, we are lucky to have shared this small part of our lives with so
many wonderful new friends. So we were able to thank them and celebrate with
toasts around the house.
Some of the more daring trekkers went out on the town in Lukla following
dinner, but reports are everyone made their 7:00 am flights this morning. They
are warm and clean in Kathmandu, with plenty of memories running the spectrum
from being exhausted, to laughing over games of cards. It is now time for my
return to Base Camp over the next few days, to settle in for the weeks to
come. All for now, Teddy.
April 10 Namche Bazar- trekking group
The trekkers are reunited in Namche Bazar and everyone is feeling well back in
the thick air at 11,300 feet. We dodged base camp just in time for a storm
cycle to move in, but not depriving ourselves of at least one morning of
brushing the snow off the tent. The trekkers left base camp and made a big
push to an area just above Pheriche, where they camped for the night in and
around some rock wall structures.
The next day put some miles on the feet, as well, taking them all the way to
Teshinga Losasa, a very small village of little more than a couple of tea
houses. They camped again for the night and awoke early thismorning for the
short trek to Namche Bazar, where we now all find ourselves together again!
Everyone is milling about town enjoying its attendant luxuries: bakeries,
outdoor equipment, souvenirs, and something close to modern plumbing! We leave
shortly for our trek down many a steep hill, and along several suspension
bridges over the now familiar Dudh Khosi river. A reverse wind-up of our
journey in, it is somehow so much easier on the way out! We have had a grand
time and will do a final check-in when we reach Lukla tomorrow evening.
Everyone sends love back home, and best wishes to our friends on the mountain,
gearing up for some amazing climbing. All is well here.
April 9, 2007: Today was a
big day for the Mountain Madness team. This morning was our Puja thus allowing
the team to enter the Ice Fall. Several days of preparation went into the
ceremony. All of the climbers and the climbing staff sat in the morning air
around an altar constructed of stone. Adorning the altar were pictures of high
lamas, katas, and food and drink of all sorts. Incense and burning juniper
filled the air as a Buddhist Monk chanted, periodically throwing rice towards
the altar. After a large amount of tea was consumed a pole was erected at the
center of the altar with prayer flags radiating outward like the spokes of a
wheel to the far ends of the Madness camp. The Puja concluded with each of the
climbers and climbing staff being blessed by the monk and with song and dance.
It was a ceremony to be remembered.
As soon as the ceremony came to a conclusion the climbing team prepared to
make its first venture into the Ice Fall. The team was excited to stretch
their legs and put their skills refreshed in the ropes course to use. The
training paid off as the climbers crossed several crevasses with the largest
being three ladders wide and over 100' deep. Everyone was pretty tired upon
their return to Base Camp and excited to rest in their tents. The next venture
into the Ice Fall should take the team to the top and across many more
April 8, 2007: Happy Easter! Today we awoke to beautiful skies and warm
temperatures. Breakfast was the last meal for the trekkers in Base Camp before
beginning their descent back to Lukla. Most were sad to leave and begin their
journey home but were excited to get thicker air in their lungs and leave the
physical ailments caused by high altitude behind. After goodbyes were
exchanged the climbers ventured to the ropes course to sharpen their skills.
The course was complete with rappels, 20' high ladder crossings, and ascents
using jumars. After several laps through the course everyone was feeling
confident and refreshed. Erin added a little Easter charm to the outing by
wearing ribbons with rabbits in her hair.
Tomorrow we have a puja blessing the climbers and climbing staff allowing us
to begin our ascent of the mountain. After the puja the climbers will enter
the lower portion of the Ice Fall for the first time. Rumor has it that Camp 1
was reached by the ice fall doctors (a group of Sherpas employed by the
national park who fix all of the ropes and ladders in the Ice Fall) today and
Camp 1 is now open. With any luck we should be making our way to the top of
the Ice Fall in the next couple of days.
April 7, 2007: Today was the team's first full day in Base Camp. Temperatures
have been cold, but not as cold as normal and the Ice Fall remains active. The
route through the Ice Fall is still being fixed and all are excited to see
what is in store for them. In preparation for the obstacles to come Willie,
Eric, and Brian spent much of the day fixing ropes and ladders creating a
practice course. The Ice Fall climbers spent the day navigating the Khumbu
Glacier and practicing rappelling and ascending fixed lines. Tomorrow all of
the climbers will spend the entire day perfecting their fixed rope skills on
the ropes course. Everyone was excited to get crampons on their feet and
scramble around the ice.
Away from the glacier the dining tent has become the social epicenter of camp.
Mountaineering Monopoly and Cribbage seem to be the games of choice. The
climbers have gravitated towards Monopoly, building their confidence by buying
the worlds most demanding climbs. Meanwhile, Mark, Patricia, Dave, and Lisa
play round after round of Cribbage flaunting their victories as if they had
summitted themselves. Sadly, tomorrow the trekkers begin their journey back to
Lukla while the climbers continue with their preparations. We will all miss
the trekkers as they have become an integral part of the expedition. The
climbers will be busy over the next few days but camp won't be the same.
Mountain Madness will return to Everest in Spring 2007 with
a commercial expedition led by Willie Benegas, The final commercial team will
be announced soon... But they have several clients. They will again attempt from the South (Nepal) side of
the mountain. Christine Boskoff, owner of Mountain Madness sadly passed away
The Climber: Willie Benegas
raised in the wild heart of Patagonia, Willie Benegas, along with his
twin brother Damien, have pursued a long apprenticeship in the
mountains. As one of the "young bucks" of the world-class North Face
team, Willie has pushed his craft on the big-walls of Yosemite, the airy
summits of South America, and the loftiest peaks of the Himalaya.
The boundless duo, now
hailing from Berkeley California, completed their first major new ascent
with a route up Patagonia's West Face of Pilquitron (VI, 5.9, A3) which
is still unrepeated.
At 20, they climbed Fitz
Roy's impressive Supercouloir as well as routes on Guillaumet and Poincenot.
In the following years, Willie has ticked off the South Face of Aconcagua, a
new route on the North Face of Pakistan's Nameless Tower (VII), record speed
ascents in Yosemite valley, and attempted major new routes on the legendary
North Faces of Thalay Sagar and Jannu.
But simply overcoming
technical routes or highest summits is not enough for this 30 year old
climber. He gathers equal satisfaction by introducing others to the
wide-world of mountain experience. To help fulfill this goal, Willie and
Damien established Patagonian Brothers Expeditions specializing in South
American guided climbs and treks. They also lead expeditions for Out There
Trekking (UK, OTT) in Africa, South America, and on Himalayan giants such as
Willie has many plans for the
future, but he often gets the same question; why do you climb? When asked
about the draw of high places, he says "a mountain adventure will carry over
into many facets of your life, teaching about yourself, your co-existence with
nature, and respect for other people's cultures."
Willie's Brief Resume below
2001 OLN "Outlaws of the
1991 "Swimming with
whales" discovery channel
Nameless Tower "Book of
Shadows" VII 5.10+ A4 WI4, 1995
Mt Kenya all massif towers
in 16 hrs, 2002
Mt Cuerno 17.600ft South
Face First Ascent 5.7 WI 3 4640ft in 4.36hrs R/ trip solo, 2000
Fitzroy Super Canaleta VI
5.10b A1 WI 3,1987
Atensoraju 19.328ft. new
route North ridge/face "The Pandora Box of Artensoraju:" 5.9 WI 3, 1998
Oshapalca new route South
face "My Message" 5.7 WI 4/5 2.400ft., 2000
Aconcagua World record
ascent/descent 54miles 13500ft elevation gain, 2000
First Ascent Argentina Andes
"Welcome to a Dream" V 5.11 A4+.,1999
Patagonia Exploration, first
ascent "Swept by the Wind" 5.13a, 1,000ft.
endurance run first place 9.35hrs., 1986
The Nose VI 5.11 A1 16
ascents, ten one day ascents.
South Seas (VI 5.10 A5)
Sea of Dreams (VI 5.10 A5)
Regular Route (VI 5.10 A1)
twenty times. Fastest time was 3:30
20/20 Classics Climb's in
twenty days of the 50 Classic's Climbs of North America Book. Ascended
60,080ft, traveled 137 miles on foot, 2hrs in canoe, and climbed 241
ABOUT WILLIE: Born and raised
in the wild heart of Patagonia, Willie Benegas has pursued a long
apprenticeship in the mountains. Willie has pushed his craft on the big walls
of Yosemite, the airy summits of South America, and the loftiest peaks of the
Himalayas. Willie completed his first major ascent in the winter of 1987 with
a route up Patagonia's West Face of Pitriquitron (VI, 5.9 A3 W2/3), which has
still not been repeated. At age 20, he climbed Aconcagua's impressive South
Face, as well as Fitzroy. In the following years, Willie "ticked off" the
first ascent of the North Face of Pakistan's Nameless Tower "Book of Shadows"
(VII, 5.10+ A4 W14), made record speed ascents in Yosemite Valley, and
attempted major new routes on the legendary North Faces of Thalay Sagar and
Jannu. In 2001, he set the world record speed ascent/descent of the highest
mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua (22,831 ft.), summited Everest
for a second time, and ran the legendary Leadville Ultra 100-mile Race. In the
spring of 2002, Willie reached the Top of the World yet a third time. However,
simply overcoming technical routes and conquering summits around the world is
not enough for this 34-year-old climber. He gathers equal satisfaction by
introducing others to the world of mountain experiences and exploration.
Willie has many plans for the future, but he often gets the same question, why
do you climb? To this he simply says, "A mountain adventure will carry over
into the many facets of life, teaching yourself about yourself, your
co-existence with nature, and the respect for people's cultures."
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