May 23, 2009 8:30am FIRST AAI SUMMITS!
It’s a big group, so everyone is spread out a bit, but our first people have
arrived at the summit. The first group to top out were Kay with Chewang Nima,
Stephen with Mingma, Frank Slachman with Dawa Nuru, and Lori with Tsering
Dorjee. And of course Lakpa was up there with them. This is all I have for now
– we are still waiting on the others. More as it comes.
May 23, 2009 - 7:00am - South Summit!
May 23, 2009 – 7:00am - First People to
Hooray! We just got the call from Lakpa that the first of our climbers have
reached the South Summit. In the first group are Kay, Stephen, Chewang,
Mingma, and, of course, Lakpa. The rest of the climbers are strung out behind
them, with the last ones still maybe 45 minutes to an hour behind the first
ones. Lakpa says it is windy and cloudy, so not much joy from strong sun. The
first ones will take a break, get something to eat and drink, and I believe
change oxygen bottles before heading across the final traverse to the true
summit. The final traverse includes the famous Hillary Step. It is too cold
and windy for the first ones to wait at the South Summit for the last ones to
catch up, so they will be continuing on soon. I have asked the last ones to
let me know when they reach the South Summit so I can pass that news on to
you. We may be seeing our first summits about the time I hear from the last
ones at the South Summit. So stay tuned, we’re getting close.
May 23, 2009 – 5:30 am - Somewhere Below
the South Summit
Well, it’s been about two hours since my last report telling you about the
team’s arrival at the Balcony. Since then things have been pretty quiet. I’ve
taken over monitoring the radios while Gopal and Padam are back in their tents
in their sleeping bags. The next landmark in the climb will be the team’s
arrival at the South Summit. I haven’t heard from the team so I don’t know how
close they are getting, but they will call when they get there and I’ll pass
the news on to you. I’m guessing it may be in another hour or so, but we’ll
all have to wait and see. From the South Summit there will be only the
traverse across to the true summit left to do. The part of the route below the
South Summit is steep and rocky, and is some of the most difficult and taxing
of the entire climb. So I’m sure everyone is up there trying to keep breathing
instead of talking on the radio.
Oh yes, it is now daylight. We don’t have full sun yet, but it is definitely a
May 23, 2009 – 3:00am Almost to the
We just got the call from Jeff (JJ) that the team is a little below the
Balcony and moving well. They will be stopping soon for a break. Gopal took
the call from his sleeping bag in the communications tent. I heard the call
from my tent nearby, and when I climbed out to come write this report I
discovered that the snow has stopped and we now have a sky full of stars! No
wonder it felt a little colder. So it is still good conditions for the team up
above. Now if the wind will just stay away for a little longer. . . . .
May 22, 2009 midnight - The Triangular Face
May 22, 2009 12:00 midnight Somewhere
on the Triangular Face
It’s almost midnight, so this will be the last report for May 22 (Nepal Time).
An hour or two out of Camp 4 the first group should be on the Triangular Face
and the second group should be getting close. It is the middle of the night
and cold up there, so we won’t expect to hear from them for another few hours.
We generally have an understanding that they are not to take their mittens off
to make radio calls that aren’t necessary in the middle of the night. There’s
no sense risking unnecessary frostbite. So no radio call means no problem.
At this point I am going to sleep for a few hours, leaving the radio
monitoring to Gopal and, later, Padam. I have my alarm set for about 3:00am.
At that point I may be able to give you a report from the group calling in
from the Balcony. We expect them to be near there about 3:00 or 4:00 am. We
start getting our first daylight about 4:30 and that is always a real boost
for everyone with that feeling of having made it through the night. Not to
mention things get a lot warmer when the sun hits. So expect the next report
in about three hours.
Ellie in Base Camp
May 22, 2009, 11:00pm - 2nd Team is On
May 22, 2009 11:00pm 2nd Group is on
We are now all on the road. It is 11:00pm Nepal time and we just got the call
from Michael Horst that the 2nd team is walking out of Camp 4. With him are
Tom, Phil, and Adam. In the meantime the first group should be nearing and
starting their way up the Triangular Face. We also got a call from Lakpa a
while ago telling us that the wind had dropped significantly. Conditions are
now fairly good and we are hoping they continue throughout the night.
Meanwhile, here in Base Camp I am sitting with Gopal, Nima Nuru, and Stephen
Coney’s wife Caroline. We are gathered around two propane heaters, which are
rather cozy, and drinking tea. We even have lights running off our
mega-battery bank, so we don’t have to sit in the dark with our headlamps. So
even though we will be spending a late night, conditions aren’t too bad for
us. Earlier we were joined by Sanjee and Yam Kumar, but they ran off to tend
the juniper which we will have burning all night up by the puja altar.
May 21, 2009 South Col
Hello family, friends, and loved
ones. This is Team Red and Team Blue. This is Jeffrey James Justman, now known
as Clint Eastwood (because of his hoarse, gravelly voice), reporting. We are
all safe up at Camp 4. The team cannot tell you how excited we are. 26,000
feet takes a tremendous amount of energy. The entire team today did an
incredible job. For the guides it’s pretty exciting. We’re going to take a
rest day tomorrow. The weather is good. Please knock on wood, say a prayer,
keep your fingers crossed for continued good weather, and in a couple more
days we should have this thing done and be on our way down. But first things
first, our team of sherpas are doing an incredible job – hot drinks are
flowing, soup is flowing, and we’re having dal bhat for dinner. Everyone is
relaxing on oxygen, which is a very nice thing, allowing us to recover a
little bit more. So tonight we’re going to continue with more of the same.
Everyone is doing great, I can’t emphasize that enough. We are all very, very
happy, and very excited to be here. So stay tuned. We’ll touch base with you
tomorrow on our rest day to say hello again. And again, please keep those
fingers crossed – it looks like we still have some good weather to come.
May 20, 2009 pm
Hello there friends, family, and loved ones. We are one team, with Red and
Blue together at Camp 3. It was a glorious day, not too hot and not too cold.
We were able to make good time up to Camp 3, arriving in about nine hours.
Everybody’s feeling the altitude, but tonight’s the night we get to go on
oxygen. So hopefully we’ll sleep real well before we continue up the hill. So
stay tuned for the further adventures of “Purple Team” on Everest.
May 20, 2009
Ok, the cybercasts have been a bit brief the last couple of days, so let me
fill in a few details from Base Camp. First of all, while we still have the
Red and Blue Teams, everyone now is moving pretty much as one group on the
same schedule. There have been some slight changes, so:
The Red Team guides are Jeff and Michael Horst. The Climbers are Adam, Phil,
Frank H., Tom, and Matt.
The Blue Team guides are Vern and Garrett. The Climbers are Kay, Lori, Frank
S., Michael Morales, Stephen, and Chris.
Generally the Blue Team is moving a little slower, so they are usually the
first ones to start in the morning when we move to a new place. The Red Team
has been leaving an hour or so after the Blue Team.
We are now on our push to the summit, which will take several days. Everyone
left Base Camp two days ago on May 18 to move all the way up to Camp 2 in one
day. Camp 1 no longer exists for us – all the tents have been taken down and
it will no longer be used. The climbers are now acclimatized and are strong
enough after our extended rest down the valley that they can make it all the
way to Camp 2 in one day. It was a long day for them, taking from 10 to 12
hours, so the next day (May 19) they had a full rest day at Camp 2.
Today (May 20) they are all on the move again. They left Camp 2 this morning
at about 7:30 to head up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3. Our weather conditions are
perfect, with blue sky and light breeze. This will be their second time
climbing this section of the mountain, and their second time spending a night
at Camp 2. The previous time the goal was acclimatization, and their night at
Camp 3 without using oxygen had to be one of the most miserable of the entire
expedition. This time the goal is the summit, so it will be an entirely
different experience. Tonight everyone gets to start using oxygen for the
first time. They practiced with the oxygen bottles, masks, and regulators in
Base Camp before going up, and now they’ll be put to use for real. Sleeping on
a ½ liter flow of oxygen all night will make all the difference.
Tomorrow the team will continue on up the Lhotse Face to Camp 4 at the South
Col at a little over 26,000 ft (7,960 meters). En route they’ll have the
thrill of climbing past the famous Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur. Tomorrow
they will be climbing using oxygen for the first time, and that will continue
all the way up the rest of the mountain.
After the team arrives at the South Col tomorrow night (May 21) the plan will
be to spend an entire night and the following day at Camp 4 resting, eating,
and hydrating (drinking lots of water). With that extra time they will be
ready to start for the summit on the night of May 22, and hopefully reaching
the summit on the morning of May 23. I’ll give you more details on that as we
Ellie Henke from AAI Base Camp
Hello friends, family and loved ones,
Vern Tejas reporting for ‘Team Purple”. We are finally on our way with the
combined Blue and Red teams moving up the mountain early tomorrow morning.
Everyone is excited. We had a running question and answer session over dinner
trying to fill in all of the blanks for the climbing members. JJ gave a great
confidence building talk which was well received and merited a long ovation.
The team is psyched, acclimatized and raring to climb. We’ll ascend to camp
two tomorrow where we will rest and wait for the right weather. Please join us
for our ascent of Everest right here on this station.
Earlier: May 16, 2009
Hello everyone, as you know we are all
sitting at Base Camp relaxing. The weather today was alright here in Base. It
seemed a little windy up high. The weather overall is improving and with that,
a lot of people are starting to move up.
Our team of Sherpas have completed their exhaustive task of equipping Camp 3
and Camp 4 for our arrival. They all came down today for a well deserved rest.
We have a few folks with the sniffles and the Khumbu Cough. My cough is so
good I've named him Cliff. And he's annoying beyond belief. It is however, at
this point, that the team needs to make the decision of when to go up for our
summit push. A lot rides on that decision. Number one is weather and they are
still calling for some high winds for a few days. The other, is we would
rather not get caught up in the incredible numbers that want to push the
summit. It literally can become an absolute traffic jam. What is nice is most
large teams get together and talk about when they believe they will heak up.
So with that said, we are being patient and resting here at base for another
day before we think of pushing up. Today gave the team the opportunity to go
over the oxygen systems. - Jeffrey James Justman
Earlier: Doing the hang in Deboche
May 12, 2009
May 12, 2009
Hello friends, family and loved ones,
It’s been snowing for 3 days now and that is quite unusual for Deboche. We
have retreated all the way down valley to 11,000 feet for rest and relaxation.
The new Rivendell Lodge here in Deboche has become our home away from the
mountain. However, May should be a time of warm temperatures and flowers but
sleet and snow abound. The bright side to all the inclement weather we are
experiencing here is that it is much worse on the mountain. At camp two there
are high winds and base camp has eight inches of snow. So we have picked a
real good time to be away from Everest and someplace warm with good food.
Speaking of food, we have been pigging out. Our appetites have come back with
the oxygen and we are making up for lost time. Much of the team is eating
double rations every meal. That is after all what we came down here to do….to
prepare for our summit push. And it looks like we’ll be ready when the
mountain is ready for us.
The team is now back together again. We are one big happy family, yet somewhat
smaller. Our push up to camp three was really tough on Blue team members. None
of us slept well in our 23,000 foot tent city, but Alex didn’t sleep at all.
In the morning he was hurting so we helped him out by carrying his equipment
for him as we descended to CII. Yet even with our help he moved slower as time
went by. Our concern led us to seek medical help from the wonderful doctors at
the Himalayan Rescue Association. They looked Alex over and told us he had to
fly out as soon as possible because he had acute pulmonary edema. To
complicate matters, while we were descending in the wind from Camp three, team
member Kurt did not notice how cold his hands were. By the time we got to CII
he had frostbitten his hands. The doctors said he would need to leave the
mountain as well to heal safely. So, both were medivaced off the mountain by
chopper. With them a big chunk of our team spirit left too. In those same two
days, Kathy had an I. T. band flare up in her right leg. It became
excruciating for her to climb. We had to decide what was best for her and the
team’s safety. Ultimately she was able to down climb to CII and Base camp
under her own power but was not able to reach CIII. Without CIII
acclimatization under her belt she is not able to attempt the summit. She has
been a delightful team member so her departure stunned us all the more. We
miss you guys immensely and are sadden by your departure. May your travels
home be safe and relatively easy. Please get well soon.
Update: Blue Team: Checking in from Lower
Altitude : Hello there friends,
family and loved ones this is Vern Tejas reporting from Blue Team. We came
down through the icefall yesterday underneath the threatening serac that was
hanging above which caused that big avalanche the day before. None of us were
in that and fortunately we were able to pass without any trauma. Our team of
Sherpa came down the day before to help evacuate people out of the
(…transmission break…), however we came down to basecamp and we celebrated
with lots of oxygen all around and lots of appetites and hot showers. Today
the team has moved down valley to get more acclimatization and more rest and
recuperation. We are down in Pheriche right now about 14,000 feet so we have
dropped about 9000 feet in the last three days. All team members are feeling
the benefits of the oxygen and enjoying them. Stay tuned and we will tell you
what happens tomorrow when we drop another several thousand feet, we are going
almost all the way down to 11,000 tomorrow so follow us and see how we fair.
Ciao for now from the Khumbu Valley
Earlier: Happy Mothers Day
May 10, 2009
Deboche: Hello everyone, Team
Red and Team Blue are all together in Deboche. We want to keep our update
short, (we are great). Instead, we want to each take the opportunity to say
Happy Mothers Day
Hi Mom, Hi Jodi, Hi Stella, it’s Jeff. I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s
Day. Mom I know it has been a really tough year for you. Even though you have
never climbed a mountain, you are the strongest climber in life I have ever
met. If I only have half your strength I will do well on Everest. I love you –
Jeffrey James Justman.
Hey Mom. This is Adam. Just wanted to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Mom, I
know you are taking great care of Jenny right now. Heal up soon Roo! Happy
Mother’s Day also to Allison – thanks for your love and support. Finally, miss
you and love you M. Can’t wait to see everyone soon! – Adam
To the mother that let us make our own mistakes and picked us
up when we fell; to the mother that gave us rules to be safe but never
discouraged our fantastic adventures; to the most patient, brilliant,
nurturer, provider, teacher, shoulder to cry on and hand to hold; I can’t
express how much I love you but the wonderful thing is, you already know. To
you, much love and a happy mother’s day. I will see you soon to make a deposit
in the hug bank. Your little one. – Matthew
Hi Mum. A big Mother’s Day greeting from high on the mountain. Looking forward
to seeing you and celebrating a safe return in Kathmandu – Stephen.
Happy Mother’s Day, I know that it has been a challenge to support the many
challenges that this trip has presented, but you have blessed me with your
support when you understood the ultimate goals that I am attempting to
accomplish, for that I am forever grateful Your loving son, Frank H.
Bonjour mom! Je te souhaite une très bonne fête des mères. En attendant de te
revoir, sache que je vais bien et que je suis en train de realiser un de mes
rêves. Merci de tout mon coeur pour le soutien que tu m’as apporté dans cette
aventure. Grosse bise – Phil
To the two best Mom’s – thanks for all your love, care and understanding!
Words can’t express my true appreciation. Love and see ya’ll soon – Chris
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, Laura, Nana Helen. I love all of you. Hi Dillon. –
Today as we hiked down valley, I was reminded of my beautiful mother. Peeking
out from behind the rocks, were tiny purple Iris, Mom’s favorite flower. I
knew she’d be following me every step of the way. Miss you Mom, but you are
always in my heart. –Lori
Happy Mother’s day moma, don’t forget to save me a seat at the
movies... – Michael Morales
Isabella, Happy Mother’s day. Miss and love you. Hope you have a great day.
Give Katrina a hug for me…. Frank Slachman
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, thank you for all your love and support. You have been
an inspiration to me . It is not easy being a mom and you have done a
Wonderful job. Love Kathy
Happy Mother’s day Mom, thank you for the loving and supportive emails
recently, you have been a wonderful influence on my life for the last 30
years! I hope you are having a great day! I look forward to talking with you
soon! Hope you and Dad are well! Love Garrett Madison
Fred and Martha, tell Mom happy Mother’s Day. I know she’s not seeing the
cybercasts, but you can pass it on to her. Also hugs to you both. Ellie
Mom, thank you for giving me a great love of the outdoors and respect for my
body. Not a day goes by without me applying at least one of the many lessons
you taught me. Please have a Happy Mother’s Day. Love, your son, Vern.
Earlier: For friends and family, The Red Team is now at 12000 feet
resting and relaxing in the thick air. We plan to recuperate for a few days in
the lowlands before we head back up to base camp and wait for a weather
window. The Blue Team is back at base camp after their stint at 24000 feet.
They too will be descending into the lowlands tomorrow for several days of
recovery. You wouldn’t think that high altitude would be so taxing. But it is.
And let me tell you, we are all glad to be down low recovering. It makes all
the difference in the world. We all are getting even stronger, which will make
a big difference when we go back for our summit push.
Take care everyone and we will send some more photos and video soon. – Jeffrey
May 6, 2009
Hello everyone, this is Team Red Alpine
Ascents. We are all safely back at base camp after a five day stint up high on
Mount Everest. Our main objective was met as we climbed up to 24,000 feet and
spent one night at Camp 3. The entire team did a great job at high altitude.
The Lhotse Face as you will see in the video is very steep and it does not let
up, even when you arrive at camp. With our objective of sleeping one night at
Camp 3 accomplished, we descended back down to base camp. And let me tell you,
it feels great to be back down to lower altitude. However, we are going to
feel even better tomorrow. We are going to descend to 12,000 feet for a final
rest and recovery. By going to that altitude we will allow our bodies to fully
recover. This is important so when we return we will be fully charged up for
our summit attempt. We still have a ways to go however. So first things first,
we’re going to eat, sleep and drink, not necessarily in that order. But we are
looking forward to some down time relaxing. Team Red will definitely stay in
touch in the interim. – Jeffrey James Justman
Blue Team Report from Camp 3:
Hello there friends, family, and loved ones. This is Vern Tejas reporting for
Team Blue. We’re up doing our acclimatization at 7,143 meters above sea level
at Camp 3 in the middle of the Lhotse Face. Fortunately our Sherpas have
secured the tents well here because the wind has come up. We just got into
camp about an hour ago, and it’s taken us a while to get organized. We’re just
getting through supper and we’re looking forward to trying to sleep tonight.
We’ll see what happens, between the altitude and the wind it might be a tough
one. But as long as you all are following along with us, we’re happy. Thanks a
lot for staying tuned with us. Come back tomorrow for an update after we get
back down to Camp 2.
Ciao for Now.
May 4, 2009 : Blue Team Report:
(Guides: Vern and Garrett. Climbers are Frank S., Kurt, Lori, Kay, Kathy,
Alex, and Mike Morales)
Ok, here’s the official report straight from the mountain:
This is the Blue Team. Today we went from Camp 1 up to Camp 2. Everyone did
great. We got a little snow in the afternoon. The Red Team is up at Camp 3
right now. We’re looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow, and then the
following day we’ll be moving up to Camp 3. So everyone is eating big meals
and resting up for the challenge ahead. We have a few individual messages to
shout out to friends and family:
“Hi, this is Kay LeClair. I’m doing great up at Camp 2. I just wanted to say
hi to family and friends everywhere. I hope you are all doing well and I look
forward to getting up to Camp 3 soon. Bye”
“This is Frank Slachman here at Camp 2. I wanted to say hi to Joni, Kelley,
Katy, Kipper and Kibo (I hope I got that right).”
“This is Kurt Gusinde up at Camp 2. I wanted to say hello to family and
friends in Phoenix and Portland, Oregon.”
“Hi! Kathy Setian here, wishing my son Cameron a very happy sixteenth birthday
on May 5 (maybe 6, I couldn’t quite hear it), and my love goes out to all my
“Hi, it’s Lori Schneider. I wanted to send my love to my Dad and my family
back in Jamesville, and to Jim and my family and friends in Bayfield, and
everybody else out there who is in my heart. I love you all. Bye.”
And it looks like Alex and Michael have stepped out of the tent, so we’ll have
to wait until later for messages from them. That’s all from the Blue Team.
Red Team moves to C 1 :
May 1, 2009
This morning our Red Team left Everest
Base Camp at 4 AM to climb up through the icefall and arrived at Camp 1 after
5 hours time. They reported easy climbing through the icefall and were resting
in their tents after a hot lunch around noon today. Tomorrow they plan to
climb up to Camp 2.
Our Blue Team rested today in Base Camp and will take another day of rest
tomorrow in preparation for our move to Camp 1 on May 3rd. All is well here in
April 30, 2009
Base Camp :
Well, it was inevitable. I’m sitting at the computer in the communication tent
with a hot cocoa and some Famous Amos cookies. That’s not inevitable but the
snow sure is. Our team has been blessed with sunny weather from the start. And
to be honest with you, it is rather nice to have a little snow. It’s not
accumulating too much at least down here at base camp. What the weather is
doing higher up on the mountain, well…that’s another story. And tomorrow, the
Red Team will find out.
Mike Horst, Lakpa Rita and Jeffrey James will lead the Red Team on their
second foray up the mountain. Our goal will be to climb up to Camp Three at
24,000 feet and spend one night there. We will then return to base camp around
May 6 for our “big rest” before looking for our summit window. It is getting
closer, however we still have some work to do. Speaking of work, our Sherpa
team is working non-stop to stock and supply Camp Three and Camp Four. We have
to give a big shout out to the boys who are putting in “hard time” up high to
help prepare us for a summit attempt.
Meanwhile, the Blue Team will be enjoying a couple more days of rest in base
camp. They will be heading up with Vern and Garrett in a couple of days and
will swap camps with the Red Team as they are descending back to base camp.
One would think that splitting the group would create some competitiveness.
And it has. So to settle the “turf” war we decided to have the teams compete
in a “walk off” similar to the movie “Zoolander”. We made a cat walk and each
team member strut their best poses. It even broke out into a break-dance
fight. We have video but we are having a tough time editing the film, the
moves were that fast! In the end, the Blue team got tired and pulled out an
apple pie from the bakery and called a truce.
So we are still one big happy family here at Alpine Ascents base camp.
-Jeffrey James Justman
Team Red & Blue Back Together
April 28, 2009 Base Camp :
Hello Everyone! This is The Blue Team. We are happily all back at Base Camp,
reunited with The Red Team. As you may have heard the last few days, we had
our first go around up high. The Blue Team did great through the icefall. We
spent two days at Camp One. After a meal or two of Spam we headed up to Camp
Two, which serves as an Advanced Base Camp. It was a windy day traveling to
Two. At Camp Two we were treated to great food and all the hot drinks we could
stomach. And let me tell you, hots were in order seeing how cold it was.
Luckily everyone had their down suits to keep them warm. And speaking of warm,
you should have heard the team members shouting as the hot water in the
showers at Base Camp hit dirty skin. As I am writing this in Base Camp, one of
the team members is still in the shower, refusing to leave even though the hot
water ran out. Everyone is doing great and Garrett and I are really proud at
how well The Blue Team did for their first foray up to Camp Two. Our next go
around will only be that more comfortable. – Jeffrey James Justman
Namaste friends, family and gloved ones,
Team Red had quite a bonding day. Frank Hutchinson shared details of his
checkered past as an Olympic Bobsled racer. He kept us enthralled for over an
hour with tails 100 MPH crashes and his role in opening the sport African
Americans. He also shared his passion and project advocating better treatment
for our more than 2 million men and women that have served our country bravely
in our two on going wars. When he finished the whole team was behind his
effort and agreed to help him with his mission. Then we went for a morning
hike and found a cool boulder to test our rock climbing skills on. With Nupste
and the West shoulder of Everest as a backdrop we couldn't resist taken a
photo to share with you.
Team Blue down climbed the Khumbu Icefall to join us for lunch. It is great to
have us all back together, one big happy family. All members are in good
health and appreciative of some time off to relax and recuperate from the
demands of climbing with so little oxygen. A few days here in Base Camp and we
should be ready for our next foray into near space, to stress our bodies
further. This will hopefully cause our bodies to respond by building billions
of new blood cells which will allow us to adapt to higher altitude. Come join
All our best, Vern Tejas
Congratulations to Nikko on becoming an Eagle Scout
Blue team Climbs towards Lhotse Face : April 27, 2009
Camp II April 27, 2009
Blue Team Reporting: This is Team Blue, up at Camp 2 at 21,500 or so feet. We
spent today, our second day here at Camp 2, taking a foray toward the Lhotse
Face. The team got a better look at it, and it’s actually looking very good.
Some other teams, including our sherpas, went up and we can now see tents up
at Camp 3 at 24,000 ft. So a lot of teams are doing hard work, and we are
doing hard work as well just acclimatizing and taking it easy. Everyone is
doing great and we’re very proud of the team. We’re looking forward to another
great dinner here at Camp 2, Advanced Base Camp. The sherpas have been working
very hard for us, and it’s much appreciated. We’re eating very well and
drinking as much fluid as we can put in. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to
heading back down to Base Camp. We’ll be getting up early in the morning and
making our way down. We should be down to Base Camp in the thick air right
about noon. So we have some photos and videos that we’ve been working on and
will be sending your way very soon. Everyone says hello to family and friends
and we’re looking forward to jumping on the sat phone and making a few calls.
Jeffrey Justman for the Blue Team
Rest Day for Red April 27, 2009
Base Camp April 27, 2009
Red Team Reporting:
If you are reading this, the first thing you should do is Purell your hands.
We were very lucky today: Vern introduced us to the pleasure of wearing the
Top Out oxygen mask unfortunately without oxygen! Enjoying dinner with a
little Citizen Cope. Our guides informed us that dinner is not a democracy.For
those who know me, will appreciate that I found apple pie at the highest
bakery on earth. Chris is off duty. Most of us had a restful day reading, one
took an unintentional swim. Rice! Rice! Rice! (from Phuri our cookboy)
And even though the satellite internet connection fails when it senses us
coming, this is Team Red signing off from Base Camp!
*If this seems a little disjointed, it is! It is a compilation of sentences
and phrases contributed from each of the team members.
April 26,2009 - Blue Team to Camp 2 : Blue Team Report:
Hello friends and family, this is Blue Team up at Camp 2, at 21,500 ft. plus.
Today was an interesting day, we had a little bit of less than ideal weather,
a little bit of wind and a little cold and cloud. We did a good job getting up
to Camp 2 from Camp 1. We settled into new tents, had a good dinner this
evening, and now we’re swapping stories at the dinner table, so that’s always
a good sign. You can’t hear it as you’re reading this, but it’s probably
blowing a good 30 or 40 miles per hour. It sure is nice to be in Advanced Base
Camp. We have good food, all the water and “hots” we can drink, and everyone
right now is just focusing on taking care of themselves, which they’re doing
very well. We’re going to spend two nights here, tomorrow we’ll do a little
foray towards the Lhotse Face where we can get a better look at it. Then we’ll
come back to camp, enjoy more good food, and keep hydrating. Then the next day
we’ll head back down to Base Camp, where we’ll be able to send some video and
photos for everyone to see.
Jeff Justman for the Blue Team
Team Red camp II round trip
April 26, 2009 : Base Camp
Hello friends, family and loved ones,
Vern here reporting on Red team’s progress. The jet stream hovering near
Everest has made fro some real windy weather. Our tents rattled all night long
making sleep difficult. When we drug out this morning several nearby tents had
been flattened. We were lucky that only our outhouse tent needed to be
erected. Lakpa whipped up a bunch of hotcakes for breakfast and we were off by
7:30. We met Ed Viesters on our decent, he being the most celebrated North
American mountaineer our team was delighted to be climbing along side him on
Everest. We ran into Blue team just as they were leaving C1 and had a great
time getting caught up on their going ons. Then we plunged down into the
Khumbu Icefall. We moved with alacrity, jumping from one block of ice to
another, crossing ladders and arm rappelling. In less than 3 hours we were in
base camp enjoying Gopal's cooking and taking hot showers. The team is doing
well and in great spirits. Join us tomorrow for a well deserved rest day.
April 24 Team make up and miscellaneous News
from Base Camp
This is a catch-up cybercast
coming from Base Camp. Things have been rather busy, so here are some
miscellaneous news items:
First, it seems our intrepid guides neglected to tell you who is on the Red
Team and who is on the Blue Team. So here you are:
Red Team guides are Vern, Lakpa, and Michael. Climbers are Stephen, Adam, Tom,
Phillipe, Chris, Matt, and Frank H. The Red Team has just completed two nights
at Camp 1 and today moved up to Camp 2, where they will spend another two
nights before returning to Base Camp. Blue Team guides are JJ, Lakpa, and
Garrett. Climbers are Frank S., Kurt, Lori, Kay, Kathy, Alex, and Mike
Morales. The Blue Team just moved up to Camp 1 today, moving into the tents
just vacated by the Red Team. They will be on the same schedule as the Red
Team only two days later. These teams are for the first trip up the mountain.
There may be some moving around in the future depending on health of the
Vern was a little busy last night so I volunteered to send in a report for
him. Vern was taking care of Ang Tsering, our Camp 2 cook, who was developing
a lung infection. Ang Tsering came down from Camp 2 to Camp 1 yesterday
evening, and continued on down to Base Camp today. The doctors at the
Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) clinic here in Base Camp checked him out
and determined that he did indeed have pneumonia. Some antibiotics and a few
days rest in the thicker air down the valley should put him back in action in
a few days. We look forward to him re-joining the team.
In the meantime, Vern wanted me to tell you that the Red Team had a wonderful
day yesterday exploring up the valley of the Western Cwm. We have had bright
sunshine with a little wind to keep things cool, so the Red Team spent about
four hours hiking up the valley to better acclimatize for their move up to
Camp 2 today. I’m expecting that we’ll get a report directly from them this
We should also get a report from the Blue Team this evening regaling us with
tales of their adventures moving up through the icefall to Camp 1 today.
So even though the Tibetan Snow Cocks fly back to Tibet whenever they hear me
say it, this is Ellie signing off for the Alpine Ascents International Mt.
April 22, 2009 Blue Team Update
Today the Blue Team took a rest in base camp and organized gear for the
planned ascent to Camp 1 on Friday Morning. The weather has been great so we
all took showers, did our laundry and tidied up our camp. We had a surprise
visit from Dr. Torrey who came to say hi and see how we are doing, she is from
the HRA clinic (the Himalayan Rescue Association) in base camp. Since our camp
is a bit removed from Everest base camp proper, we don’t get many visitors,
but we certainly enjoy our privacy. Everyone is enjoying our rest day and look
forward to our next day of rest tomorrow. Our Sherpa staff made a carry to
camp 2 and have now stocked the camp for both our Red and Blue teams that will
be spending time there over the next few days. Special message for Lori’s 2nd
graders: We really did have pizza tonight!
Earlier: First Glimpse into The Icefall :
April 21, 2009 : Base Camp
Today the entire team booted up with ice axes
and ascenders in hand and ventured into the Khumbu Icefall. All of the
training this past week was well worth it as everyone did a great job. We made
it about a third of the way through. Along the way we went up and down; steep
and mellow and even crossed an occasional ladder or two.
The real big news is...with 14 climbers and 5 guides, we are a rather big
team. To make everything from mountain logistics to personal enjoyment we have
decided to split into two teams. Team Red and Team Blue. I am not personally
happy being in Team Blue seeing that all my clothing is red. But I am
searching Base Camp for a swap.
Everyone is excited, being in a smaller team will allow us to move smoother,
especially in the icefall. Tomorrow, Team Red will be moving up to Camp One.
They plan to stay there two nights and then head up to Camp Two for two
Meanwhile, Team Blue will have two more days at Base Camp and then we will
head up to Camp One. Everyone is doing great and we
are all itching to see new scenery.
Earlier: More training :
April 19, 2009 : base
camp : Today we spent 4 hours
out on the ice practicing skills such as fixed line travel involving ascending
a vertical line, descending a vertical line, ladder crossing, and using the
"arm wrap" to descend quickly down moderate slopes, building upon the concept
we reviewed yesterday. We had beautiful weather and accomplished a lot in
terms of preparing ourselves for our future foray into the Khumbe Icefall in a
few days time! Tomorrow we look forward to more training! Stay tuned....
Team ladder practice : April 15, 2009
Base Camp : I’ll be honest with you, it has
been a tough couple of days, me included. The news spread fast as we arrived
at base camp. There is a lot of little “sick” bugs floating around. And quite
a few of us have been battling with the three demons. They are: The G.I.
Demon, The Head Congestion Demon, and The Fever Demon. I will spare you the
descriptions of what the Demons provide you with. However, I can say, everyone
is taking appropriate action to nurse themselves back to health. And it is
slowly working. So don’t worry to much even though a few of us would love our
Mom’s chicken noodle soup and popsicles as we get tucked into bed watching
cartoons. That ain’t gonna happen! But we do have Vern!
Today, the team worked on a knot tying course. Everyone now knows how to tie
their shoelaces as well as a few essential mountaineering knots. Another
highlight was we started to work on crossing ladders. Vern set up a course
with every imaginable scenario. Some ladders were flat, some were ascending,
descending and some were set “kittiwampis” (if you’re wondering what
kittiwampis means, it means all crooked and lopsided). Vern even made an
ultimate challenge by tying several ladders together and placed it over a
moat. Don’t worry, no one fell in except me but Mike Horst had his lifeguard
tube and pulled me out.
As you can tell by this dispatch we are all still in great spirits despite not
feeling as healthy as we should. We are recovering, eating, drinking and most
importantly and Patch Adams would be proud, we are all laughing. And that is
the best medicine.
That is all for now, I need to go and wipe down this keyboard with a
disinfectant wipe! – Jeffrey James Justman
Earlier: arriving base camp!
Greetings friends and family! Today we arrived in base camp
after a 5 hour hike from our lodge in Lobuche to find our tents already set up
and food on the table. The hike took us past Kala Pattar where we stopped in
the last outpost known as Gorak Shep to have a nice lunch before moving on. We
got a great view of the summit of Everest during the last hour of our hike
(see photo) so we stopped and took a quick break to eat a bit and snap a few
pictures. The summit is the black pyramid in the middle of the photo. A few
members of our team remained in the lodge in Lobuche with guide Michael Horst
to take one more day of rest before moving up here our to base camp tomorrow
at 17,600’ where the air is a little thinner. The rest of us are here and
setting up our communication tent, eating a few snacks, and having a few hot
drinks as the sun has gone behind a cloud and we are all wearing our down
jackets to stay warm. We passed our trekking group upon arriving base camp,
they had inspected our camp before heading back down to Gorak Shep where they
will spend the night and descend the following day. All is well here and we
look forward to taking a rest day tomorrow! Bye for now!
Earlier: April 12, 2009
Lobuche : Hello
everyone from the 2009 Alpine Ascents Everest Team. We are in Lobuche, which
is our last stop before base camp. As we get higher in altitude, we are paying
even more attention to acclimatizing properly. Vern is emphasizing positive
pressure breathing, rest stepping, and drinking enough fluids. The team we
have is doing really well and they are taking all the tips and techniques to
Tonight here in Lobuche we are having another great dinner and we are
surrounded by even more trekkers and climbers as they are either going or
coming back from base camp. Everyone is thinking of family, especially this
week-end. So we thought we would make a little video greeting from our team.
Hopefully, if all goes well, our next communication will be from base camp.
And we will save you the joy we will all have in reaching our destination to
unload all our gear. We’ll save that for the next Everest Team Dispatch..
P.S. Stephen's segment had technical difficulty. He says hello to family and
Pheriche : My Friends, family and loved ones,
Brilliant weather woke us early. Phereche is surrounded by towering peaks and
these were dreamlike due to last night's fresh snowfall. The team was eager to
trek up the hill behind town for acclimatization and photos. We climbed to
4449 meters and were treated delightful views of the mountain hamlet of
Our team is strong and one of the most pleasant I have had the honor to lead.
We are adjusting well to an abbreviated trek to base camp. If all's well in
the morning we will head up valley to scenic Loboche. Please join us. Namaste,
April 5, 2009 : Phakding : The entire ream flew to Lukla today. The flights in
were more than adventurous. We flew between periods of total white out and
striking views of the Himalaya. After loads of tea and a brief lunch the long
awaited trekking began. Perfect hiking weather was with us all the way to
Phakding where we settled for the afternoon and bedded up for the night.
Everyone is healthy and in good spirits.
April 1, 2009 :
Kathmandu : We
are spending our second day as a team here in Kathmandu putting the final
preparations together. The team had a great city tour and are now relaxing and
taking it easy. Tonight we will visit The Rumdoodle Restaurant and enjoy a
final evening before we depart to Lukla tomorrow.
March 29, 2009
: Kathmandu :
Lakpa's big day!
Today, reading The Rising Nepal, one of the Nepali newspapers we were reminded
of how great last evening was and how important Lakpa Rita’s accomplishments
are to the Nepali people. Lakpa became the first Nepali to summit the highest
mountains on each continent, the seven summits. During the award ceremony many
officials were on hand and spoke of Lakpa’s contributions not only to
mountaineering and tourism but to the socio-economic support of Sherpa
children. There was an incredible slideshow of Lakpa on all seven summits and
the entire crowd on hand congratulated him on his accomplishment. For more on
Lakpa Rita Sherpa please visit his guide bio. Jeff Justman
Everest from the South Side
Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350
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).
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.
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 -
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.
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 -
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.
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.
29,028 feet (8848 meters)
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.
readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the
climb to the summit.
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