Classic Climbers Reach Pheriche
The Classic Team had a great couple of nights in
Deboche. On the rest day we walked back up the hill to visit the
Tengboche Monastery, and while we were there, made a point to drop
into the local Bakery. This group's favorite was the chocolate cake
and Crazy Wacky Cake. Today, we left Deboche early and headed for
Pangboche monastery, where we stopped in to see Lama Geshe and get his
blessing for our upcoming climbs. An added bonus to the visit was
running into ten more of our IMG Sherpas, doing the same!
After a fun visit in Pangboche, we continued up the valley towards
Pheriche, eventually crossing the small pass and dropping down to
cross the river, dodging a few yaks along the way. We are now entering
the upper valley, and as we head into Pheriche, we can look up and see
one of our first mountain objectives, Lobuche. It was a pretty sweet
view of the route, and it fired up the climbers.
Further up the valley to the west was Cho Oyu, but it
was partially hidden in the clouds today. In the Himalayan Hotel, we
bump into the Hybrid team again; it is always nice to see some welcome
faces and teammates. We are all traveling well, and most important, we
are all healthy!
Tomorrow for the Hybrid group
is to move up to the village of Lobuche. For the Classic team, a short
hike up the ridge for a view of Island Peak, Dingboche and Lhotse and
maybe a visit to the HRA clinic in Pheriche to see our friends at
Himalayan Rescue Association. The word from some people walking down
valley from Base Camp is that there has been some snow and wind up
there. Translation for the IMG Team: take our time. All is well, and
everyone wants to say hello to everyone back home!
—Greg Vernovage, Expedition Leader
IMG Teams on the Move
Everyone is where they should be right now, which is good news.
Yesterday we had IMG guide Eben Reckord with Martin and Stuart fly to
Lukla, and they are heading to Namche today. The Dominican Team made
it to Deboche yesterday, and the Hybrid team is up in Pheriche, both
on schedule, and both teams are doing well. Greg reports from Deboche
that his Classic team of climbers and trekkers are all looking good
and ready to move to Pheriche today. He says there was fresh snow
overnight and this morning it is clear as a bell, so it is going to be
an absolutely spectacular day as they walk below Ama Dablam. Today we
have the first members of the April 7 team of trekkers, Lobuche,
C2/C3, and Lhotse climbers arriving to Kathmandu. I will be working
with them and IMG guide Adam Angel over the next couple days to make
sure everyone is all set before they fly to Lukla on the 9th. So far
so good!—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner
Another Great Day in the Khumbu
We woke up and had not a cloud in the sky. For our team
acclimatization hike today we headed up to Shyangboche (the small
airport above town), then continued up to the Everest View Hotel for a
great view of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. After taking in the
sights, we looped back down to Khumjung and walked through the Hillary
school grounds. Back in Namche in time for lunch and a few showers.
—Greg Vernovage, Expedition Leader
Classic Climbers Reach Namche (11,300')
Smooth sailing so far. We landed with all of our bags in
Lukla and hit the trail. Perfect trekking weather, cool with a few
afternoon clouds to keep the sun off of us. Pulled into Phakding
yesterday and relaxed outside. We got a big treat when we noticed a
Langur monkey sitting up in the tree and looking as interested in us as
we were of him. Neither Justin or I had ever seen or heard of these
animals and we were fired up to get a few photos.
Friday we were up early and on
the trail. Good cloud cover and a cool day gave up a great opportunity
to move up Namche hill. The hill is still there, and the team handled it
perfectly: slow and steady. We pulled into Namche and the Khumbu Lodge,
where we ran into our friends with the Hybrid group and congratulated
each other on the trek so far. We are all having a great time and
laughing like crazy.
This morning we got some breakfast and then climbed up
to the top of Namche to Sherwi Khangba Lodge where Phil's old friend
Lhakpa Sonam runs the Sherpa Museum. Lhakpa says hello to all the IMG
friends and especially Phil and Sue Ershler. A little further up we got
our first glimpse of just the very top of Everest as it poked out of the
clouds. We also got a glimpse of a team favorite, Ama Dablam.
On the walk down to the Saturday market, a few of our
Phortse sherpas walked up. Danuru 2, Karma Rita, and Dawa gave us a
quick hello as they were headed home with the weekly shopping. We will
see them again once we get to Base Camp. The market was great and now we
have an afternoon of rest at the lodge. All is well and everyone is
doing very well.
—Greg Vernovage, Expedition Leader
IMG guides Greg Vernovage and Justin Merle,
along with the Classic Climbers and Trekkers, got up early this morning.
After a quick breakfast they loaded the bus at 5am for the trip to the
airport. The flights went on schedule, and by 8am the whole team and all
their luggage was successfully in Lukla.
hitting the bakery in Lukla for some tasty treats, the team is on the
trail, headed for Phakding today.
Expedition Sirdar Ang Pasang reports from Base Camp that
most of the tent platforms are now done and he will be coming down to
Namche tomorrow to meet Mike and Greg do the team's registration with the
SPCC (for the Icefall permit fees and counting the number of oxygen
bottles and fuel cartridges for the garbage deposit). The weather is good
and everything is going smoothly, so we are all psyched that the trip is
off to a great start.
—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner
IMG guides Greg Vernovage and Justin Merle did the briefing
at the Ministry today, and received our official Everest permits. The 2011
IMG Everest Expedition has now officially begun. The team members will be
arriving in Kathmandu over the next couple days, and we will have our team
welcome dinner on the evening of the 29th. So far so good!
—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner
We had our final guide meeting yesterday, and Merle, Hamill,
and Vernovage are heading out the door to Kathmandu tomorrow, with the rest
of us following over the next couple days. Next stop, Kathmandu!
Up at Everest Base Camp, Chewang Lendu (4-time Lhotse
summiter) called to report that the weather has been clear and windy, and
that the Sherpa team has been making good progress building the camp. So
far, they have managed to built the platforms and erect the Sherpa kitchen
and dining tents, the member kitchen tent, one of our two big Eureka MGPTS
US Army tents (eurekamilitarytents.com), and one big storage tent. Now they
are working on building the sites for the big, member dining tents and
communication tent. After that, they will start on all the platforms for the
sleeping tents. Chewang reports that the SPCC (Icefall doctors) and a
handful of other teams are now at BC also working on their camps.
—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner
Eric Simonson, Greg Vernovage, Justin Merle, Mike Hamill,
Ang Jangbu Sherpa, Eben Reckord, Adam Angel, and Max Bunce
Our third shipment of food and gear has now reached
Kathmandu, and everything is moving forward on schedule. With the conclusion
of the Losar Festival (Tibetan New Year), ten more IMG sherpas and two cooks
are heading to Base Camp today to continue work on the tent platforms.
Every year we have to literally carve the camp out of the
rocks and ice of glacier, which is constantly moving and changing. The sherpas
will be making spaces for a number of very large kitchen, dining, and
socializing tents, dozens of sleeping tents, several shower tents, toilet
tents, storage tents, and our communications nerve center. It takes lots of
chopping ice and prying, pushing, lifting, and rolling the heavy stones to
build a spectacular Base Camp!
Simonson, IMG Partner
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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