The IMG Everest team went to bed last night to a snowy
scene, as a storm moved up the valley late in the afternoon and dumped about
six inches of snow by bedtime. This morning is was clear and blue, but again
this afternoon more snow came, though not as heavy as yesterday. This trend of
clear mornings and snowy afternoons is not unusual, and we are glad to see
some accumulation on the mountain. The Khumbu has had a very dry winter with
very little snowfall, and the upper part of Everest is quite black, so some
snow will improve the climbing conditions for our team.
We are still organizing the 20,000 pounds of food, fuel, and
gear that was shipped to Base Camp, so we have a few more days of work here
before everything is well organized. Today Mark Tucker led the Lobuche
climbers for a climbing school on the glacier near the Icefall, and Justin
Merle led some of our climbers up into the Icefall for some climbing practice.
Tomorrow we plan to set up a ropes course to further practice the skills that
will be necessary for the Icefall and Lobuche Peak.
—Eric Simonson, IMG Expedition Leader
The IMG Everest team reached Everest base camp today and had
the Puja (blessing ceremony) with our sherpas. We were joined by the lama from
Pangboche monastary who led the ceremony. The weather was excellent and
everyone had a great time celebrating the official beginning of the climb. The
Icefall Doctors (icefall route sherpas hired by SPCC) have now placed nine
ladders and have reached the "popcorn" section of the icefall. They are hoping
to finish the route up the icefall in the next few days if all goes well.
—Eric Simonson, IMG Expedition Leader
Earlier: Expedition Leader, Eric Simonson, reports that yesterday the
team trekked from Dingboche (14,450') to Lobuche (16,000') and will stay there
for another rest day and good night's sleep. The team is doing well and
enjoying the big views from day hikes around Lobuche.
Eric is excited that the Icefall doctors have started their
work on the Khumbu Icefall. Ang Jangbu in Everest Base Camp says the Icefall
Doctors had their Puja (blessing ceremony) yesterday and began working in the
icefall today. The Icefall Doctors are a few Sherpas, paid for by all the
climbing expeditions, whose job it is to set the best possible route through
the icefall and maintain it throughout the climbing season as the glacier
moves and inevitable destroys parts of the route which have to be reset. We
expect that the icefall route will be set in a week or so. The team plans to
make it to Everest Base camp on Monday, March 6th, and everything is moving
forward as planned!
Ang Jangbu in BC reports that the Singapore women's group
did summit Lobuche Peak yesterday at around 11am and returned to Lobuche base
camp safely. They are taking a rest day there today and plan to come all the
way to Everest Base Camp tomorrow. While John Golden's group is in Dingboche
and everyone is doing well.
Earlier: Tengboche, Pangboche, Pheriche: IMG expedition leader Eric
Simonson called in to say that yesterday the team hiked from Namche to
Tengboche Monastery at 12,700', and then went a little further to spend the
night in Pangboche.
Today the team will be moving up to Pheriche at around
14,000' where they'll spend the night and have a rest day, acclimating and
doing some short hikes. In Pheriche they'll also meet with the HRA (Himalayan
Rescue Association) who have established a clinic in Pheriche and treat anyone
who needs their help for a nominal fee. They meet with climbing and trekking
expeditions to better prepare them for altitude issues and other potential
mountaineering health issues.
All is well, and everybody is doing fine. Typical for the
Khumbu Valley in the Spring, the weather is cold and clear in the mornings
with some light (but melting away) snow in the afternoons.
Earlier: Over the next few weeks people from all over the world will
converge on Kathmandu, Nepal to join in one of the world's classic
human-powered challenges. For some the goal will be the summit, for others it
will be Base Camp. Each year at Mt. Everest there is a different mix of teams
and countries represented, but we all share personal goals, a love of the
mountains, and an adventurous spirit.
In Kathmandu, preparing for our arrival, IMG leader Ang
Jangbu and his team have already received our big oxygen shipment, as well as
50 new tents, 2500 meters of 8 and 9mm fixed rope, and additional food and
supplies that were shipped ahead of our departure. They have repackaged
everything into yak loads, and we have now had several big MI 17 helicopter
flights to Shyangboche (above Namche), with over 3000 kg of food, fuel, and
gear on each flight. These flights were met on arrival by our sirdar, Ang
Pasang, and his crew, and sent toward Base Camp by yaks. Currently we have
some of the Sherpa team at Base Camp, constructing the tent platforms. Since
the camp is on a moraine, underlain by ice which moves and melts, these need
to be reconstructed each year (and sometimes even during the expedition!) IMG
leaders Mark Tucker, Justin Merle, Mike Hamill, and I are all on our way to
Nepal and will be there in the next few days. Next stop, Kathmandu!
We have a great team for 2009 and I am personally looking
forward to meeting everyone soon.
This Everest expedition is truly a team effort. On behalf of
everyone on the IMG team, from Ashford to Kathmandu, thanks for following
along with us. We'll look forward to sharing our 2009 Everest adventure
—Eric Simonson, IMG Director
Earlier: In 2009 IMG will return to with a few more members! IMG
Himalayan Director Eric Simonson, and a film team featuring IMG on Discovery
Channel’s popular Everest TV series, will join the great group of climbers and
trekkers already on board for IMG’s 2009 Everest expedition. Since 1991 IMG
has successfully supported 179 people from 14 countries to the summit of
Everest, and we are looking forward to another great season on Everest.The
planning and preparations are already well under way. Ang Jangbu reports from
Kathmandu that the first 3000kg of gear was sent last week by helicopter to
Shyangboche. The loads are now moving by yak toward Base Camp, where the
Sherpa team has already started building our camp. Stay tuned for more!
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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