A view almost unreal - North Face of
Everest from the top of Cho Oyu ©Martin Minarik
Update June 11th: [Editorial note (we usually add these at
the end) Martin writes this in his lighter style, the way he climbs.]
I am back
for little less then one week, my frostbites are healing slowly and any
walking / hiking / climbing activities are greatly eliminated for the next few
weeks. That is OK, we play high game and it is important to loose sometimes,
otherwise it would not be appreciated.
on Everest is over, since I left, many people climbed to the top, couple more
people died and I am sure many returned frostbitten.
around at 8450m after waiting for 4 days without food or sleeping bag partly
at 8100m and partly at 8300m. For the ascent without oxygen tank, wind was too
strong. And I did not want to climb with oxygen mask because I wanted to feel
like I am on the top of Everest and not on the top of Kilimanjaro (artificial
oxygen greatly reduces the effect of the altitude).
Do I want
to return to Everest ?
Of course I
want to return to Everest and I will because I do not like unfinished
business. But I will never return to North Col route (South Col route is
according to my friends even worse) in the main climbing season and most
likely I would just avoid this route altogether. There are three big walls on
this Giant, who wants to sponsor me ?:)
BC and ABC.
After Aconcagua, this is the most disgusting spot I have ever stayed. Dead
mules and dogs eating garbage were missing. BC is just the end of the road
with noise and smoke from the vehicles, local vendors and CMA a TMA
dignitaries coming and going in the last models of SUV's. This is where the
climbers money go. ABC is the narrow strip of moraine and if more then 700
people want to find the spot, the tents are stuffed one on another. Privacy
does not exist, camps are built on the shit of previous year's expeditions,
literally. Toilet holes are established, some expeditions take the "stuff"
away, others do not. Tibetans and Sherpas go anywhere sometimes it looks like
they are not allowed to go to the same hole like the clients - so they "put
it" couple meters away.
ropes. On previous expeditions, sometimes we climbed alpine style where no
rope is left on the mountain. Usually it is light expedition style where
difficult spots are secured. On Everest this was very first time when the line
of rope starts practically behind the last tent of ABC and ends up on the
summit. Each person using the rope contributed $100.00. Sherpas placed all the
ropes on the slope. I did not meet one "climber" who would carry the ropes or
fix the ropes. I have heard couple expeditions crying that the ropes were not
fixed and therefore they did not reach the summit. Well, either you are
climber and you know how to climb without the rope (there are many old ropes
from previous years) or you bring small piece. If you are client and you do
not know how to climb then you better wait and double check with Sherpas if
all ropes are set. Complaining is not appropriate, Sherpas worked very hard
and in impossible weather to please you.
These wonderful mountain people do not only completely prepare and secure the
route. During my couple trips when I carried up (and at the end down) my own
equipment, tent, sleeping bag, food I have been meeting them and sometimes I
wonder if the slavery has really been banned worldwide. Up to the last camp at
8300m, they have been working in every kind of weather. Only higher then that,
they have been stopped by high winds and extremely cold temperatures - a sign
they are also just human beings. They carry everything from personal gear of
the clients, oxygen tanks, live bodies up, sometimes dead bodies down, and
cook for the clients. One older lady from certain European country used couple
Sherpas for entirely different purpose then climbing Everest. She became very
famous for her activities.
Before getting to ABC I had no idea how many people will be there nor what is
the climbing style. I met several "climbers" on the way up and there was one
standard answer to my question about the progress. Sherpas did not do the job
yet (means Sherpas did not carry all necessary oxygen bottles, did not fix the
route up to the summit, simply did very lousy job). Only once I went to North
Col during the day. Every other time I climbed during the night because the
number of unexperienced people walking up or down made the route extremely
dangerous. I have seen people who probably saw the rope, ice axe and crampons
for the first time. Of course their "Sherpa" was handy so the Sherpas were
putting harnesses on and off, same with the crampons, one Sherpa even moved
the ascender of the client on the rope. People coming down were much worse and
the real danger was coming from them. In order to be comfortable, they did not
clip carabiner into the rope. If one of them fall, their crampons would be
very deadly weapon when reaching the head of one of us going up. Each person
had figure eight but do not even think they knew why they have it on their
harness. The attitude of all of these were the same. I paid lots of money, I
have Sherpas who slave for me so let them do the job. Ridiculous and horrible
forecast. In the saloons of the old West, there used to be sign above the
piano. "Do not shoot the piano player, he plays the best he knows". Maybe it
was bad year or maybe not. Have a mercy with these poor liars who were sending
whatever except decent and at least half correct information. Maybe if they
freeze their buts above 8000m for couple nights, they would do better job next
time. For sure, I am hiring older Gypsy lady from Albania or Romania.
Requirements : 2 teeth, bow snake around the neck and crystal ball in her
right hand. I am sure she will do the same job as all these best paid
meteorologists creating Everest weather forecast.
expeditions. Some expeditions were like medieval forts. None ever saw anyone
from inside go to visit someone else and none from "outside world" ever
visited the "Castle". Franz Kafka would easily collect material for another
book. With no exception, this applies to the expeditions where "clients" paid
the largest amounts of money. My encounter with one of these was rather funny
then awful. I was yelled at by the BOSS for using HIS shit hole. The fellow
did not have enough decency to wait till I pull my pants up. Same guy offered
me guaranteed weather forecast, each day would cost $250.00, when I naturally
refused, he said that he knew that poor Czech does not have such money. It is
funny, the same group of people used the tent of my expedition two years ago
on K2 in 6800m in the storm. We have to help each other !!!
But on the
other side, I met truly friendly and wonderful people. I enjoyed climbing with
all Sherpas. First they were suspicious. 3 years ago, another Czech climber
showed up in ABC, figured out there are lots of tents on the mountain, packed
his water bottle and went up, sleeping in whatever tent was available. In the
highest camp, Sherpas wondered who this fellow is so he pulled $100.00 and
paid them for "lodging". He became very famous for his "solo" Everest ascent
in "alpine style". His book is available in Kathmandu so you can support him
or not support him. I feel I should apologize for his cheating style as well
as for the behavior of another Czech climber from this season who mislead and
used many people on the mountain.
Sherpas found that I carry all my gear and I earned some respect for my
earlier climb on Cho Oyu. We were best friends right away, they called me one
of them. It was sincere from them and fully appreciated by me.
were many more people and we spent time together waiting for better days.
People from Brazil and Russia, George and Lhakpa, Paul and Elena, Hans who I
shared the tent with at 8300m, climbers from the British commercial expedition
where I drank many cups of tea with my old climbing buddy from Manaslu Fred
Ziel as well as the others. However above all, the friendliest team from all
was the Indian Air Force expedition. Their tent was the meeting point for many
of us, strategies were planned, weather forecasts were discussed, chess games
were played on high level. It hurt a lot to learn that one of them did not
return from the mountain. The fellow just celebrated the birth of his first
child back at home. It was one of the most senseless Act of God (sorry buddy)
I could imagine.
style and death on the mountain: Death rate among folks who use oxygen tank is
very high. I do not recall anyone who climbed without oxygen who would not
return from the mountain, at least not on north side. I can only say that
climbing without oxygen would never put you into the situation that you run
out of oxygen, that the system would not function properly. The chance you
reach the summit is lower, weather must be near perfect and the possibility of
frostbite is higher. But you know when you are at the end of steam and if you
turn around on time you can easily walk down to safety.
understand that standard routes (North Col or South Col) of Everest are what
they are. Crowded "Via Ferratas" which are as distant from alpinismus as Free
Tibet from China. I do not criticize those who go or plan to go there, climb
with oxygen, go home and be famous. This style gives jobs to lots of Sherpas
who feed their families. But it would be nice to see that there is something
left for climbers.
amount needed for permit if the climbing party is small, go without Sherpa
support and especially without oxygen tanks ? Climbing anything else except
North and South Col route ? (the only group which climbed different route this
year was a Czech team, later joined by Austrians on Hornbein Couloir). All the
dignitaries from different climbing clubs on the world should move their buts
from their office armchairs and do something. Climbers are already like
beggars from the street when it comes to buying expedition permit. And with
commercial expeditions raising prices, everything on Everest and other
mountains will just get more expensive. Commercial expeditions can pay,
ordinary climbers can not. Then on the top of Everest there will be two
trails, one from North Col, second one from South Col. And this is still
within the lifetime of Hillary, Bonnington, Scott and Messner. Very sad end of
somewhere in Himalaya in the next season ! But let's meet far from the crowds.
written in Czech Republic,
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