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 Everest 2008: Adventure Peaks Mt Everest Expedition returning from Camp 2

28th April We've just had the latest update from Stu and things are progressing extremely nicely. Everyone has just returned from a night at Camp 2 at the very head of the Western Cwm.  Despite some very hot temperatures in the Cwm everyone's in good spirits and ready for a well deserved rest at Base Camp. After a few day recovery, during which the Chinese are planning to summit from the North with the Olympic flame, our team are hoping to head back and visit Camp 3 for their final acclimatisation climb.

Peter B at the top of the Khumba Icefall with the Western Cwm & Lhotse in the background

Peter B & Mark P (on ladder) in the Khumba Icefall

21st April Everyone is safely back at Base Camp after their first foray into the Western Cwm and looking forward to a couple of days rest. The whole team has now spent at least one night at Camp 1. Our Sherpas are now in the process of establishing Camp 2, at the foot of the Lhotse Face, which will be the next target for the team. Everyone's going well and things should feel a lot easier the next time they head up. On his second climb through the icefall Stu was up in 5.5 hours and down in 2.

19th April The whole team, apart from Pete B, went to Camp 1 yesterday. The first time through the icefall was a lot further than people imagined and took around 6.5 to 8 hours. Stu has now returned to Base Camp and will head back up with Pete tomorrow. Everyone else is spending a second night at Camp 1 to aid their aclimatisation.

17th April The team have had their Puja today and are planning to head up to Camp 1 tomorrow for one or two nights.  If everyone is feeling ok they will then take a walk out towards Camp 2, otherwise they'll head back to Base Camp.  Meanwhile, they are enjoying their acclimatisation and rest time amid the bustle of camp life.

15th April Base camp is getting pretty busy and folk are getting a feel for the restrictions imposed this year by the Nepalese with respect to the Olympic flame relay. Yesterday Stu and the other team leaders had a very productive meeting with the Army Major who's overseeing the basecamp. We'll still have very good communication with the team but it'll be a little more involved for individuals to pick up their messages so please don't worry if you don't hear from folk for a couple of days.

Everyone's heading back up into the icefall tomorrow morning hoping to get as high as possible. They'll now hold the Puja during a rest day on Thursday before planning to spend their first night at Camp 1 on the Friday.

First climb through the Khumba Icefall heading towards Camp 1

Earlier: 14th April Stu emailed today to let us know the team are now well established at base camp and getting used to their new surroundings.  All except Matt and Mark P (rest day) went up into the Icefall and reached a height of 5700m before heading back down.  Stu plans to take Matt and Mark P up tomorrow.  They are hopeful that the last part of the route to camp 1 is fixed today or tomorrow.  The team plan to have their Puja (religious blessing) tomorrow afternoon.  Meanwhile, the TV is working a treat and the group have watched a couple of DVDs.  The luxury barrels arrived today, bringing smiles to everyone's faces.  The first pack of pringles has been opened ....

12th April An email arrived from Stu today.  The team have arrived safely at Base Camp this morning.  They have set up the lighting, generator, TV and laptop.  Everyone is well and soaking up the atmosphere and buzz as the different summit teams prepare for the task ahead; Stu estimates there are somewhere in the region of 270 climbers this year.  The weather has been cloudy with a little snow in the early afternoon but generally fairly good.  The team are itching to put on their crampons and begin acclimatisation walks.  The Sherpas are still in the process of securing the fixed lines on the Khumbu Ice Fall, a task which should be completed in the next few days.  A slight technical hitch meant that although they managed to download emails they have not been able to read them.

7th April : The team have now reached the monastery at Tengboche and had their first views of Everest hidden away behind Nuptse & Lhotse. They've just been overtaken by the 3.5 tons of base camp equipment which will be in place by the time they get there.  Yesterday was spent resting and acclimatising around Namche Bazaar with visits to the Sherpa Museum and a sighting of a yeti (skull)! There's been a reasonable dump of snow today but they've made good time with some amazing views of Ama Dablam, Lhotse & Everest through the clouds.

Earlier: 5th April After a enjoyable flight and a couple of days trekking the team have now arrived in Namche Bazaar. Everyone's doing fine and not even a hint of a headache after the infamous Namche hill. It rained briefly this afternoon and it's been too cloudy for their first view of Everest but everyone's settling into the Hotel Norling and looking forward to the rest / acclimatisation ay tomorrow. For those folk at home it's just worth noting that the team won't have access to the base camp email address until they reach base camp in about a weeks time. However a number of internet cafes have sprung up along the walk in and you should be able to contact them on their regular email addresses.

Update 4/3/2008: Our permit has now been issued and we're all good to go. After all the uncertainty and logistical challenge of moving the expedition to the South side of Everest, Stu has now got his hands on the permit. Early tomorrow morning the team will fly to Lukla and begin the trek towards the mountain exactly on schedule. The Khumbu Ice Fall team have started work and the route should be established by the time they get to Base Camp. Early reports are that the mountain received very little snow last winter and temperatures are pretty cold for this time of the year which means the ice fall should be in a pretty stable condition.

Update 4/1/2008: 1st April It always somehow seems appropriate to start an Everest expedition on April Fools Day but everything is going according to plan. The whole team are now together in Kathmandu and taking it easy before the serious business starts. Stu & the Sherpas have more than 2 tons of equipment and supplies to check off before it can be flown by helicopter up to Lukla.

31st March After a busy final few days Stu has left us to it in the office and headed to Nepal. Good luck to the whole team.

19th March The team will depart from the UK on the 31st March to begin their journey to the South Side of Everest. They'll have a few days to enjoy Kathmandu and complete their final preparations before flying into Lukla on the 4th April.

Everest 2008: Adventure Peaks Expedition which normally goes to the North side of Everest is going South this year...

Leader : Stu Peacock

Peter Brittleton
Mark Brown
Heong Chong
Ed Maxwell
Mark Procter
Peter White
Matt Williams

Sherpa Staff: Nuru Wangchhu , Sonam Dorjee, Nima Thundu, Gyan, Surrendra,

19th March The team will depart the UK on the 31st March and will aim to fly to Lukla on the 4th April once all the final preparations have been made.

Everest from the South Side in Nepal

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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 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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