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China joins Russia for lunch
17:52 p.m. EDT May 7, 2003
The North Side Russian St. Petersburg team hoped to head up to ABC today. On May 5th a woman from the large Chinese national team came by to interview the Russians. Not one to beat around the bush, the Russians spoke their mind about the Chinese treatment of minorities and especially the Tibetans. The Chinese woman was quick to bring up the Russians and the Chechens. Despite such delicate topics the woman joined the Russian team for lunch and they talked more about Everest and the upcoming live broadcasts the Chinese team were planning.

May 06, Tom Masterson:

(Tuesday, 6 May 2003)
Unabated ferocious winds all night long. The prevailing wind direction is W to E, but the direction here is from S to N in the Rongbuk moraine glacial valley. Summit wind speeds this morning clocked at just under 200 km/hr. More than half our tents tired to blow down this morning, requiring extensive maintenance and rebuilding. We hope that the winds will abate enough tomorrow that we can make our way up to ABC and assess where we are.

(Monday, 5 May 2003)
Still the wind blows! We visit the British Navy camp and the summit weather forecast is for 110 knots (130 mph, 190 km/hr) winds on the summit which will diminish only to half that value by Friday, North Col winds decreasing from 80 knots (95 mph, 130 km/hr) to about a fifth that value by Friday (Thank you, Royal British Navy/Marines, for the convenient units). Here, our mess tent blew down once, but one of us was inside and able to get help to rebuild it quickly before damage was done. Sometimes when such gusts hit, you can see them moving down the valley and attempt to find shelter before they hit. Other times, it sounds like there is a jet plane overhead and it gets closer & closer until it hits. We visited a French group, who are also waiting for better weather before heading back up and knew a friend of Volodya (G's) from Argentiere in France. We visited with another British group who said that all the tents on the South Col on the other side of the mountain had blown away.

Xinmin Yan from CCTV, the Chinese national TV, visited with us. She is trying to coordinate an all-group event on the 11th of May as a start for the official week of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Hillary's first ascent. They are planning a week-long program (2 hours/day) with 2 hours of live coverage from base camp on the first day (during which they wish to interview someone from each group) and concluding with live coverage of the Chinese team arriving on the summit. We mentioned that Hillary did not arrive on the summit alone, and that very few of the groups heading to the summit could possibly get to the summit without Sherpa help.

She admitted that there was very little attention paid to the efforts of the Sherpas (and others who have helped immensely). We talked extensively about the Chinese treatment of minorities, especially Tibetans, and indicated ways in which that could be helped without jeopardizing her job. She also asked telling questions about Russian treatment of Chechens. She stayed for lunch with us, and enjoyed borsch which Dima had just taught our cooks how to make. She has also travelled extensively and worked close to my home in Canada as well as done an extensive interview with my neighbour, Gary Neptune.

The interesting change in the Chinese logistics is that the summit day is postponed by about a week from the original plans. It is still interesting that they are trying to plan a summit bid to coincide with a TV program, but, as we have seen, they are not without precedent... Stay tuned. Volodya & Andrey returned from lower elevation today and some climbers may head up to ABC tomorrow to check on status of our upper camps. As that happens, communication will diminish from this end.

This expedition is devoted the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and the 50th anniversary of Mt. Everest's first ascent. Between all the climbers of this nine member team 6, 8000m peaks have been summited and there are 2 Russian Snow Leopards (awarded to a person who has climbed all of the ex-Soviet Union's 7000m peaks) Expedition leader Anatoly Moshnikov summited Mount Everest without the use of oxygen in 1998.

Image courtesy of Russian St. Petersburg Expedition.

Dispatch forwarded by our friends at Ersh Travels.

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