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Everest and Himalaya daily wrap-up: Hurricane force winds ahead!
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May 6, 2005 13: 44 EST
Snow has been dumping on the mountain, just check this image of the tents on Everest North Col. That will soon change though. As the jet stream moves over the Everest area, winds will jump dramatically to 25-35 m/s (56-78 mph) this weekend.

The high winds are forecast to remain for a week, eliminating any plans of an early summit bid. On the South Side, most teams have recovered what they could from the avalanche, and are sticking it out in Base Camp until the weather improves. Some North Side climbers have slept above 7500 m, and have supplies stashed all the way to 8300 m. But the North Siders also plan to make their way down the mountain and wait out the high winds.

Elsewhere in the Himalaya, Kazakhs Maxut Zhumayev and Vassily Pivtsov summited Cho Oyu, and are safely back in BC. On Dhaulagiri, Iñaki Ochoa had to abandon his second summit attempt a mere 100 meters from the peak. But he hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. See separate Exweb articles for details on these stories.

Chopper altitude record?

Jamie (Project Himalaya) on Everest’s North Side reports that a helicopter may have landed on top of Everest! If so, it shatters the record helicopter altitude of 25,150, set in 2004, by the Indian Air Force. Back in 1996, a chopper made it up to Camp 1 on Everest to evacuate Beck Weathers. See separate story for details.

Avalanche update – Awaiting evacuation

Jim Williams (the polar skier and extreme chef) reported that a Sherpa and a Polish climber who were injured in the avalanche are still in the BC medical tent, waiting for the weather to clear enough for a helicopter airlift. Three of the climbers were planning on leaving BC today, while the sixth climber is hoping to recover enough to attempt the summit in a couple of weeks.

Everest Weather – Blistering winds in the forecast

As the northwesterly jet moves in from Pakistan, summit winds are expected to scream by at 25-35 m/s (56-78 mph). Even at 7500 m (24,606 ft), the forecast predicts 20-25 m/s (45-56 mph) winds. It seems that the only good news is that the snow will be tapering off; conditions should be drier until Tuesday.

Everest South

Exploradus (Jim Williams) – “Making a run for it”

Climbing permits are expensive, and not all climbers come from countries where funds are readily available. Jim Williams reports on one of the unforeseen results of the avalanche: “The other interesting story line of the day was that the Polish climber (who is recovering in the medical tent) was climbing without a permit and despite his bad condition was trying to get off the mountain without accepting any aide and although unsuccessful, was trying not to be noticed as he came back into Base Camp.”

“There are rumors that he’s going to try to make a run for it one of these nights and sneak out of camp undetected, but thus far the Liaison Officers (representatives of the Nepali Government at Base Camp) have kept a close watch on him and are waiting for a helicopter to come in to transport him out. We are not exactly sure what his punishment will be for climbing without a permit due to the political instability in Nepal and the fact that even the smallest crimes are being punished with jail time at the moment.”

Editor’s note: An Everest climbing permit is $10,000 from the south side. As of 2003, the per capita GDP in Poland was $11,000. In the United States it was $37,800. The official punishment for climbing without a permit has previously included a 5 year ban from climbing in Himalaya.

Singapore NUS – Salvaging gear

“Today, our Sherpas who had been ferrying loads up to South Col, came down to Camp 1 to salvage what they could. Fortunately, we did not have much there -- just some ski poles, stoves and pots.”

Adventure Consultants – Team reunited

In the last few days, the team was split between BC and C2. Today they report: “The team is all back together now as one! Now for the bad news...the snows above at Camp 2 have fully evacuated the mountain, forcing us all back down here. So much snow is up there, that it was knee deep in places when we left. So now we are all back down, fingers crossed, that the weather will improve and we all will go to Camp 3 to sleep for the night.” Check the ExWeb special story today ("Everest Traverse - the boy in the bubble") on AC guide Luis Benitez.

Gavin Bates – “Amazed that nobody was killed”

In today’s audio dispatch (through raspy coughs), Gavin Bates comments on the devastation of the avalanche, noting that there are “ice boulders the size of cars” strewn about Camp 1. He’s taking shelter in one of the Iranian team’s tents, and looking forward to a push up to Camp 2.

Everest North

Everest Vitesse – No O2 speed attempt

Bruno Brunod and his nine member crew are not only climbing without O2, they’re taking on a bigger challenge: A non-stop ascent and descent from Base Camp to the peak of Mount Everest! In his latest dispatch, Bruno reports: “First night at 7000 m for our climbers. The night was quite good, just some headaches.”

Project Himalaya – Gear at 8300m

Julian and Jamie slept at 7680m. “This is just a quick to note to say that ALL our team members are OK,” Jamie reports. “We are preparing for Julian, Sukhi and Paul to head to Base Camp as the summit winds are predicted to be high for a while, so we will wait these out at BC.”
The team has oxygen and a tent stored at 8300 m, but they don’t expect to have a chance to get there until the winds die down.

Cho Oyu – Kazakhs summit!

Maxut Zhumayev and Vassily Pivtsov

The Kazakh climbers summited Cho Oyu on May 3rd, and returned to BC safely. See separate Exweb article for more details.

Dhaulagiri – Summit bid thwarted again

Iñaki Ochoa

Just 100 meters from Dhaulagiri’s summit, Ochoa had to turn back due to high avalanche risks. Read the full Exweb story published earlier today.

Makalu

The Spanish team has fixed Camp 3 at 7350m on Makalu’s West Pillar today. Not a moment too soon, either, as high winds are expected in the area for the next few days. See separate Exweb story published earlier today.

Jim Williams’ Exploradus dispatches | Singapore NUS Centennial expedition´s reports | Adventure Consultants | Gavin Bate’s – Adventure Alternative | Everest Vitesse 2005 | Project Himalaya | Inaki Ochoa (Spanish) | Russian Climb website | Al filo Makalu expedition



1. Image of North Col tents after snowfall, courtesy of Project Himalaya.

2. Image of Dawa courtesy of Project Himalaya.

3. Live image over Contact 3.0 of descending icefall ladder courtesy of Team Exploradus.

4. Helicopter image courtesy of Indiadaily.com.

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