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 Everest 2008: Summitclimb Mt Everest / Lhotse: getting ready

Hi, this is Sam, the leader of SummitClimb’s international Lhotse expedition calling on May 14th.

Our whole team has now returned to basecamp after a good trip to the higher camps. On the 11th we climbed to camp 2, where we had a rest day on the 12th. Yesterday the whole team climbed up to our soon to be camp 3 at a bit over 7000 metres/23,000 feet and all returned to camp 2 for the night. The day before yesterday the weather looked kind of bad, but it changed dramatically overnight, so we took the chance to push our acclimatization by visiting camp 3.

The next time we will go up will be to sleep in camp 3 in order to finalize our acclimatization for the summit push. If the weather allows, we will climb up to camp 2 on the 17th and camp 3 on the 18th. For now, everybody is doing well and we’re happy to be back in our comfortable basecamp with private tents and a bit more variable foods than what we get in the high camps.

I guess the only bad thing is that yesterday my ibook failed because of the altitude, so now I might need to start reading instead.

Dinner is supposed to be soon and I’m wondering what the menu is today. I guess we’ll probably be having pizza and some pasta or something like that. Oh well. That is all for today. I’ll get back to you soon. This was Sam for news of SummitClimb’s international Lhotse expedition 2008. Bye.

Earlier: Team has gone to camp 3. Going back to basecamp to prepare for the summit! Hello SummitClimb news. This is Arnold calling from camp 2, 6300 metres/20,700 feet. Today Matt, Berry, and Irish John came down safely from camp 3 at 7300 metres/24,000 feet and they were the first from our team to spend the night up there. Ken and UK John also went to camp 3 today. All of them are now on their way down to basecamp to do their final rest to prepare them for their summit attempt.

Tonight Christian, Eric, Michael, Andrew, and the three Mallorys will sleep in camp 3 to prepare them for their summit attempt. Sophie and her sherpa are there as well. That group will also go down tomorrow and rest in basecamp. In that time, all of the sherpas will start carrying all of the oxygen to camp 4 and prepare the high camp so that everything is ready for our members to summit.

I estimate that the first members will summit around the 20th of May, if the weather allows us of course. Everybody is quite healthy and strong. Only Adam Mallory is still having some stomach problems and resting in basecamp, hoping he gets stronger and he should be here with me in camp 2 soon.

So we’re doing well here and everybody is getting pretty excited to go to the summit. The clock starts to tick now. In a few weeks we’ll probably be finished. After all of the delays with waiting for the Chinese to summit everything is going very fast now. Let’s see what happens. I’m excited and I’m sure all of the members are excited. Pretty soon I’ll have more news. Bye, bye.

Earlier: Hello SummitClimb news. This is Arnold calling from camp 2 at 6300 metres/20,700 feet.

Most of our members are relaxing here in camp 2 and waiting for camp 3 to be finished. Today our sherpas pitched three tents in camp 3 and tomorrow they will finish the rest of the job setting it up. Our camp 3 is at about 7400 metres/24,300 feet. Also, two sherpas from our group, Mingma Shera and Dorje, went all of the way to the Geneva Spur to fix the ropes there. Our staff is doing a marvelous job in trying to catch up from our delay.

Tomorrow Ken, Christian, Andrew, Michael, Laura and the Polish couple will come up and join us in camp 2. Then everyone will be in camp 2 except Adam Mallory. He got a stomach problem in camp 1 and had to go down to basecamp, but he's in good hands with our sirdar, Kaji, and our other sherpas who are taking care of him there. So I hope to see him in camp 2 soon as well.

Until anything changes, that is it for now. Tomorrow most of our members will climb on the Lhotse face, sleep in camp 2 again, and then if they sleep in camp 3, I will give a ring again. Bye, bye

12 May, 2008 (Lhotse) : Sam Mansikka, our expedition leader, called in this evening.

The whole team is in camp 2 right now taking a rest day. It snowed last night and today, so they are going to head back down to basecamp tomorrow if it doesn't let up. They are all doing well and having a good time hanging out and telling stories

Earlier: 9 May, 2008 (Lhotse)  : Hi everyone. This is Sam calling on May 9th.

Today we had a rest day in basecamp. This morning was beautiful, but now it is snowing a bit. We hope it will stop soon since we’re preparing to enter the ice-fall tomorrow. This time we are planning to sleep in camp 2 and also in camp 3.

Everyone is doing well. We went to see Christian, our Everest team’s doctor today because one of our members had a blocked nose. He gave us some nasal spray, which I’m sure will help. Craig looked over Stefanos, who had some stiffness in his back, but he’s better now. Craig has been enthusiastically collecting oxygen saturation data for his friend Christian’s study. He usually does it after meals, so it’s been: meals, saturations, and a few rounds of Uno.

Besides climbing, we’ve been talking about Chevy Chase movies, 80’s music, goldfish in a tank, and everything in between. So we’re having a good time here with a lot of flapping. Everyone’s excited to go climbing tomorrow. I just hope the weather allows us to follow our planned program.

That’s about it for today. I’ll get back to you soon. This was Sam from SummitClimb’s international Lhotse expedition 2008. Bye

9 May, 2008 (Everest)

Hello SummitClimb news readers.

Today we got the official news the Chinese summited! That means all our restrictions to climb Everest and Lhotse are gone!

Tomorrow Ken, UK John, Irish John, Jo, Harris, Linda and Sofie will go to camp 2 to join Matt, Berry and the Mallory family, who are already on the way to C2. Camp 3 will be fixed on the 9th and our tents will probably be in place on the 10th or 11th (photo right by Aldas Baltutis: Arnold in Everest basecamp in 2007).

Everybody is very happy to start climbing again and spirits are very high.

On the 10th, Laura, Eric, Christian, Michael, Andrew, the Polish couple, Arnold and Maya will go up to C2. This way we have enough tent space in C3 and everybody will have a good night there.

Most members will come down after sleeping In C3 at 7200 metres/23,600 feet to have their final rest in basecamp before pushing to the summit.

So everybody is fine and we are all excited to start the final stage of our expedition! Cheers, Arnold

3 May, 2008 (Lhotse): Team in basecamp.

Hi everyone. This is Sam calling from Gorak Shep on May 3rd.

SummitClimb's Lhotse expedition has now reached basecamp.

Les and Bert also arrived in basecamp today so the team is now complete. They had a nice hike and we are now happy to have them with the team.

Tomorrow the team members will rest in basecamp and organize their gear. We will have a puja on May 6, so no climbing before that. Everyone is feeling fine. No one is having any altitude related issues and we are looking forward to climbing in a few days. This was Sam from Gorak Shep. Bye.

3 May, 2008 (EBC Trek)

Team in Phakding.

Hi, this is Mike Martin from the May Everest Basecamp Trek. I'm calling to inform everyone of our progress. We just wanted to check in at the completion of our first day and include in our post that the Himalayas are everything we imagined they would be and better. Today was our easy day, going downhill the river valley and across suspended bridges. It's just truly awesome.

We're sitting in a teahouse that looks out at massive bluffs and huge rocks.

We're just extremely happy to be here. Everyone is working well together. We have a great guide, Mingma Sherpa, and he's taking really good care of us.

That's it for now. We'll be in touch again tomorrow after we make it to Namche. Thank you very much.


2 May, 2008 (Everest) : The Everest team is all down from the mountain. Everyone is doing well.

Linda has recovered and is feeling better, so she plans to move up with her Sherpa. Matt is feeling strong. Berry is feeling much better, after coming up to basecamp a bit too fast (his bags were lost in Heathrow Terminal 5 and have now arrived). Jo is feeling strong. Sophie is well. The Ottos are OK.

The Mallory's have been working their way up the mountain, and Laura Mallory was looking very strong in Camp 2, go Laura! Laura Ross has been quite focused on staying healthy and getting properly acclimated. Andrew is staying the course. John is quite keen. Agnieszka and Maciek are staying the course. Ken wants to stay in basecamp and be ready when his chance comes.

Most of the team are moving down to lower villages for a rest. Many will go down to Dingoche. Arnold and Maya went to Pangboche for a much needed rest.

Its been a tough year to lead the Everest team (and difficult to be a member of course), with all of the Olympic torch closures. Foreign military jets are seen flying over the summit. A helicopter landed in basecamp with embassy officials on board, for an inspection of the basecamp. There are checkpoints in the Khumbu where our team's luggage is being searched for communications equipment, cameras, flags, etcetera. Our Lhotse team is moving up, between Dughla and Lobuche, and they are looking strong. Go Lhotse team!

Down in Kathmandu our office has been contacting the ministries and embassies to monitor the situation. Ropes on the Tibet side of Everest are fixed to 8300 metres / 27,224 feet. Yesterday was too windy to summit, so the team is hoping to go for the summit on 2-3 May. After the Tibet-side team summits, then the mountain should theoretically reopen in short order.

If they don't summit on 3 May, then they are hoping for another weather window on the 6th of May. Various officials are saying that the Nepal side of Everest could remain closed until 10 May, so no teams above basecamp until after 10 May. No one knows if that will be enforced. Everyone hopes this will not be the case. We will be monitoring the situation daily

Earlier: The team is currently acclimating in camp 2.

All of of our members, except the Mallorys and Linda, made it to camp 2. They are all healthy and strong. The Mallorys are a little bit behind schedule, but they are sleeping in camp 1 right now and tomorrow they will come up to camp 2 for a short visit before returning to camp 1.

Unfortunately, Linda had a chest infection and couldn't make it to camp 2. Right now she is resting in a lower village with one of our kitchen staff to take care of her. We send her our best and hope she will recover soon.

So everybody is doing fine. This year, due to the Chinese Torch Parade on Everest, our dispatches are a bit less frequent, but don't worry, everyone is doing well so far

Earlier: Hello, this is Sam Mansikka, the leader of Summitclimb's International Lhotse expedition. Here's our greetings to Summitclimb News from Namche (3400 metres/11,200 feet) on Sunday, 27th of April.

After an exciting flight to Lukla yesterday we hiked to Phakding for the night.

It is beautiful here and everyone's enjoying the hike so much! There's a good amount of "positive feeling" in the air, as Stefanos would say.

We have a very international group consisting of 10 members representing 8 nationalities. We have Diane and Ian from South Africa, Ron from Canada, Johnny from Denmark, Roger from England, Stefanos from Greece, Herman and Bert from Holland, Les from New Zealand and me, Sam from Finland. Bert and Les arrived early and telephoned two days ago to say they are having lots of fun trekking to Gokyo and then planning to walk over the Cho La Pass, where we'll meet up with them at Gorak Shep in a few days. We are planning to reach base camp on May 3rd to start our climb.

Oh, mobile phones seem to work fine here so I'll call you soon with more news about our expedition to the world's 4th highest mountain.

Stay tuned to SummitClimb.com for more dispatches!

This was Sam for Summitclimb's International Lhotse 2008 Expedition

Earlier: This morning Ken, Andrew, John Shelton-Smith, John Dowd, Sophie, Matt, Tenji(1), Dawa, Tenji(2) and Ang Sherpa went to camp 1 and are planning to go to camp 2 tommorow!

The past three days our Sherpa's have been very busy carrying supplies to C2. We will have a small basecamp there.

Tommorow Laura, Linda, Arnold, Christian, Jo, Eric, Berry, Mike, Maciek, Agnieszka, Pasang (1), Pasang (2), Dorje and Maya Sherpa will go to C1 and on to C2. The Mallory's and Haris will follow on Sunday.

The mountain is probably going to be closed from the 1st of May until the Chinese Olympic Torch team summits, so we are just in time to get some more acclimatization.

A view of our comfortable camp 2 looking up towards the Lhotse face (Bruce manning, 2007). Members wave in the Western Cwm between camp 1 and camp 2 (Dan Mazur, 2007). Our team members ascending above camp 3 looking down to the Western Cwm (Bruce Manning, 2007). Our team members approaching camp 1 above the ice-fall (Tunc Findik).

23 April, 2008 (Lhotse)
Our Lhotse expedition is arriving in Kathmandu. This expedition was supposed to be the Cho Oyu expedition, but since Tibet has been sealed off to foreigners due to the Chinese Olympic torch relay, 9 Cho Oyu members and the leader decided they would like to have a go at Lhotse instead of canceling their trip.

The weather has been warm and sunny and Kathmandu has been quite peaceful (photo right by Tunc Findik in May 2007: The Lhotse face).

Our team is looking good and we have been hanging around together quite a bit. Yesterday we checked all of the group equipment like tents and ropes.

Our super-skillful sherpas Jangbu and Shera are doing the equipment purchasing and packing, and Jai Bahadur, who cooks amazing and tasty dishes, has been organizing the food.

Our Lhotse team will have four climbing Sherpas: Jangbu (1), Jangbu (3), Lakpa (1), and Pasang (2), as well as Shera supporting.

Mr. Murari Sharma and Mr. Deha Shrestha have been busy running around Kathmandu getting all of the permits and everything sorted out.

We had a lovely dinner last night at the Roadhouse in Thamel and then went for a nice dessert at the New Orleans Café.

Today we have been checking the team member's equipment and doing the shopping for needed items.

Tomorrow the rest of our team arrives. Welcome to Lhotse, world's 4th highest!

21 April, 2008: Hello Summitclimb readers. This is Arnold again calling from Gorak Shep.

Most of our members  have now slept in camp 1, at about 6000 metres/19,700 feet, and everybody did fine.

Our last 4 members, "the Mallory's", arrived in basecamp two days ago. They look strong and healthy.

Today they are trekking to Pumori ABC at about 5700 metres/18,700 feet to get some more altitude. After this they will probably practice on the ropes and ladder on the lower part of the ice-fall to get comfortable with this obstacle, before going to camp 1.

Right now the members who slept in camp 1 are resting, taking showers, and washing clothes. Normal basecamp life!

This morning 14 Sherpa's went up to pitch camp 2. They will put a full kitchen and about 16 tents there. This is going to be our 2nd Summitclimb village on the mountain. It will probably take about three days before our camp 2 is fully operational and our members can sleep there. Until then we will probably do small walks around basecamp.

We are not in a rush, as we are still a long way from climbing to the summit of Everest and Lhotse.

Cheers, Arnold


Earlier: Arnold is back: click here to listen to Arnold

20 April, 2008

We would like to send our sincere thanks to the Nepal Army for coordinating communications and assisting in the rescue of the ill sherpa. Things went very smoothly, thanks to them. We are grateful.

19 April, 2008 (Trek & Island Peak Photos) 

Here are some photos from our recently returned Everest Basecamp Trek and Island Peak expedition. Click one of the thumb nails below to view a bigger version of each image.

The village of Jorsalle. Yaks and porters on Jorsalle bridge. Barbara Mallory and Mingma Sherpa (Preston Stroud). Our team ascending the summit ridge on Island Peak (Emil Friis). Kevin Cooper on the summit. Kevin Cooper on the shoulder to the summit. Stefano, Emil, Tom and Kevin on the summit. Summit morning (Stefano Ricci

18 April, 2008 (Update): The everest sherpa's rescue helicopter has arrived in Kathmandu. Many thanks to all of the sherpas and team members who helped out. Also a very heartfelt thank you and our deepest appreciation to the Nepal Air Force for a brilliant helicopter-rescue.

The doctor examined Gyelzen Sherpa and said he is OK, he just needs some rest. Gyelzen is able to walk, speak, eat, drink, and seems fine. He went back to his village to be with his family and the doctor will conduct a follow-up exam tomorrow. We wish him all of the best. Thank God. It seems this was not a very serious accident, and could have been much worse.

Today and tomorrow our entire Everest team plans to move into camp 1, and we wish them all of the best for a safe and successful journey through the Khumbu Icefall.


18 April, 2008: Mrs. Nima Sherpani telephoned us this morning to report that our team worked through the night to carry the ill sherpa down to Pheriche hospital.

Mr. Murari Sharma telephoned from Kathmandu airport to say the helicopter will takeoff shortly to bring the sherpa back to Kathmandu, where he will be immediately transferred to the Kathmandu hospital for further examination and treatment


17 April, 2008: On a worrisome note: A sherpa, Gyelzen (1) Sherpa, has suffered an apparent stroke at 11:00 am on 17 April, 2008 at the top of the icefall. He was going up to camp 1, but did not reach there. Instead, he lay down on the trail at around 5800 metres/19,000 feet and complained he could not feel the right side of his body. He is unable to walk and his right side seems to be paralysed. 20 sherpas working together carried him back to basecamp and we are sending a helicopter for him now. We are very concerned about his safety and are working to evacuate him to the hospital in Kathmandu as soon as possible.

We are very mysified that this happened, as he climbed to the summit of Everest in 2006 and 2007 with no trouble. In addition, during today's journey to camp 1, he was not carrying a partcularly heavy rucksack, nor was he climbing too fast, as he was together with the group. His age is 39 years old.

On a more upbeat note (not to diminish in any way the tragic happenings of the day), 5 members and three sherpas moved to camp 1 at 5950 metres/19,500 feet, where they are safely spending the night. These are:

  • Ken,
  • Haris,
  • Andrew,
  • John Dowd,
  • John Shelton-Smith,
  • Dawa Sherpa,
  • Tenji (1) Sherpa,
  • Phurba Sherpa.

Sending our best wishes to the team and everyone in Everest basecamp, especially to all of those who lent their kind help

15 April, 2008
Today we had the big meeting with the military.

This is what they said:

  • Radios are allowed, but we have to give them one so they can listen in on our conversations.
  • No Sat-phones or Rbgan until 10th of May. They want us to hand them over.
  • No camera's or video until the 10th of May.
  • We can't climb above camp 2 until the 10th of May, but Sherpa's are allowed to fix ropes up to the South Col between 06:00 a.m. and 18:00 p.m.
  • Everybody will get a liaison officer but they are delayed in arriving in basecamp because of the elections. They will inspect our camp for sat phones, Rbgans, etc., but they will respect the privacy of our member's tents.
  • There will be a check post at Gorak Shep and all trekkers will be checked and are not allowed to bring their camera's to basecamp.
  • If the Chinese torch team summits early then we can just go ahead before the 10th of May. Right now the Chinese are planning to summit on 28 April.
14 April, 2008

Dear SummitClimb news readers,

Today we went into the Khumbu Icefall for the first time. I think the route is great and a lot easier than previous times I was here. All of the members enjoyed playing with the ropes and ladders a lot.

Yesterday most of our members went to Pumori ABC, which lies at about 5700 metres/18,700 feet, thus making today's walk in the icefall a lot easier.

We are not allowed yet to climb to camp 1 until the army arrives here. They are going to keep an eye on the climbers here on the south side, so nobody does anything bad to the torch climb on the other side of Everest.

I think tomorrow we will have another meeting in basecamp and then be able to proceed to C1.

That is all for now. I'll write again as soon I have more news

Earlier: On our walk from Pangboche to Pheriche we got about 3 inches of fresh snow, which made it pretty tough, but it was also a great adventure. Luckily, when we arrived in Pheriche, there was a hot stove waiting for us and our cooks prepared us an excellent.

After a good night's sleep in Pheriche, we woke up in the morning and the sun was shining again, with all of the high peaks around us covered in a fresh layer of snow. We had a beautiful hike to Dughla with nobody having any trouble with the altitude.

We had a good meal and sat around the stove again. After a good night's sleep we walked to Lobuche, where we plan to stay tonight. We saw our first views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, and Pumori here. Everybody is getting very excited to reach basecamp tomorrow.

Tomorrow is going to be a tough walk, taking about 8 hours to reach basecamp. There are rumors that basecamp is not very busy, which is good for us and I'm sure our sherpas have reserved a very nice spot for us.  So until we reach basecamp, that's it for now. Everybody is doing great and we're having a good time. I'll call you again from basecamp. This was Arnold. Bye, bye.

Earlier: 6 April, 2008: Team moving up to Pheriche.

Hello SummitClimb news. This is Arnold, the leader of the Everest/Lhotse Expedition 2008.

I'm calling from Pangboche at about 3950 metres/13,000 feet and it's a snowy day. All of the members have left and are walking to Pheriche today, 4200 metres/13,900 feet. Everybody is doing fine and we are strong and healthy.

Yesterday we had a big puja ceremony led by the lama here in Pangboche and the expedition got blessed, so we are good to go now to base camp. We decided to stay one extra night in Pangboche because we had some problems getting enough porters and yaks. All of the teams are moving up at the same time because of the permits being issued so late this year.  While creating some minor logistical problems in the valley for others, it's not going to affect our expedition at all.

Right now it's snowing a lot and I think it is going to be an adventurous walk to Pheriche. That's it for now. Everybody is doing fine and I'll call back in a couple of days. Thank you. Bye, bye.

One of the many terraced hillsides on the trek to Everest basecamp (Elselien te Hennepe).

5 April, 2008: Mr. Kaji Tamang, our field supervisor telephoned today. Due to heavy snowfall, the team stayed put in Pangboche today, and did not move up.

Hopefully the snow will clear so the team can move up tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

4 April, 2008: Mr. Emil Friis called today. He is from our EBC trek plus Island Peak climb.

"The team are having a wonderful trek and staying in Tengboche tonight. It was a very beautiful trek from Namche and spectacular views of Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Everest, Lhotse, etcetera, were on display throughout. The Tengboche monastery itself is a very beautiful place. We are staying in a comfortable teahouse now and enjoying delicious hot drinks and biscuits before dinner. Our trek leader Mingma and his wife Yengi are doing and amazing job of leading and taking care of us. We are looking forward to tomorrow's adventure."

Our past Everest basecamp trek leader, Elselien, receiving a blessing from the local Buddhist Lama in Pangboche (Liz Stevens).

Everest 2008:

Hello SummitClimb news readers, I am Arnold the leader of the Everest / Lhotse expedition.

On 1 April, after a rainy start in Lukla, we all arrived dry in Phakding the same day. Everybody was very happy to be on the trail in the fresh mountain air!

After a quiet night of good sleep, the whole team walked up to Namche Bazar at about 3500 metres on 2 April. Although this is a steep hike, the whole team did great. I think we have a strong group this year. 

On 3 April we spent our day relaxing in Namche Bazar. This is the last big village on the way to basecamp. It has a nice market some good restaurants and bars, and the hiking around town is great with some good views of Ama Dablam, Everest and Lhotse.  

On 4 April, we will walk to Pangboche, which is about a 6 hour walk from Namche. On the way we will pass the monastary of Tengboche. This will be an interesting stop on the way.

We will stay in a nice lodge with great views of Ama Dablam and the south face of Nuptse and Lhotse.      

So everything is going well and all of our team members are having a great time.

More news in the next dispatch.


2 April, 2008

The team made it to Namche Bazaar. It was a beautiful trek. They plan to rest tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpa people. See this unique village on our trek to and from basecamp (Tunc Findik).

1 April, 2008:

Our team flew to Lukla today on a beautiful sunny morning. Everyone was very pleased to be getting out of Kathmandu and beginning their expedition.

Looking forward to an enjoyable trek to basecamp.

Our team boarding the plane for Lukla (Dan Mazur).

31 March, 2008:

Today we gathered the entire group together and had a nice breakfast and then all of our expedition and trek leaders, as well as office staff presented an orientation session to the members and helped them finish their shopping and packing. We are ready to go! We had a delicious final banquet, said goodbye to our new friends in Kathmandu and went back to the hotel to get to bed early.

Tomorrow, April 1st, we will fly up to Lukla first thing in the morning to begin our trek. Kathmandu has been lovely, warm and peaceful, a very interesting city, and we will miss it very much. However, we will look forward to the next chapter: trekking to bascamp. We will keep in touch. Thanks for reading!

30 March, 2008:

Hello, this is Dan Mazur from SummitClimb.com writing to you from a beautiful and peaceful Kathmandu.

More of our team members are arriving in Kathmandu, and our staff has been meeting their flights and bringing them to the hotel. We have been checking the members equipment and clothing, as well as helping them purchase/hire any missing bits and pieces. We all went out to dinner and had lots of fun. Our team orientation is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and we are looking forward to having our team all together.

We fly to Lukla tomorrow, on the 1st of April to begin our trek to basecamp. Thanks for reading and we will send more news tomorrow.

29 March, 2008:

Hello, this is Dan Mazur from SummitClimb.com writing to you.

Our team members are arriving in Kathmandu, and our staff has been meeting their flights and bringing them to the hotel. We all went out to dinner last night and had lots of fun. More members are due to arrive tomorrow, and our expedition orientation meeting is scheduled for the morning of the 31st.

Then, we will fly to Lukla on the 1st of April. Thanks for reading and we will send more news tomorrow.


A view of Swayambhunath Stupa, the "Monkey Temple". It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Swayambhunath's worshippers include Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, and the Newari Buddhists of central and southern Nepal. Each morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, file past the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa. On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective (Elselien te Hennepe).


Everest from the South Side in Nepal

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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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