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Everest and Himalaya daily wrap-up: North Side summit push!
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May 16, 2005 12: 22 EST
Everest action is starting to heat up. The Catalan team on the North Side has started a summit push, and if the weather holds out (and they’re lucky enough) they could snatch the first summit tomorrow. The mountain has split into two schools of thought. One side sees the brief drop in wind speed as a good chance to launch a summit bid. The other school is convinced it would be crazy to make a summit attempt until the true weather window opens.

Experienced climber Russell Brice has been one of the leading voices advocating against current summit pushes. But some of the lower budget expeditions are questioning his motives for encouraging teams not to start their bids just yet: Is there an ulterior motive, or is it just sound advice? See separate story for more on the weather controversy.

On Everest North, teams that have been in BC for two weeks are considering moving up to higher camps so they don’t lose their acclimatization. On the South Side, some teams, such as Alpine Ascents (including 20 year old Danielle Fisher), plan to leave for Camp 2 tomorrow, and keep an eye on the forecasts to try to sneak in a summit attempt.

Everest Weather – Still no weather window

True, there may be brief periods of lower winds, but the true weather window will probably not arrive until after the 20th. Today, the AdventureWeather forecast predicts winds of 20-25 m/s (45-56 mph) at the peak. The winds should decrease to about 15 m/s (34 mph) starting Wednesday. Troughs moving eastward should bring occasional showers for most of the week.

Everest traverse – Letting the first wave get out of the way

“Back at BC safe and sound,” the team reports. “Now to begin our rest cycle. Some would say we are late in getting to this point, I say, au contraire! Better to let the 1st wave go and get out of the way, fewer numbers and hopefully better weather. We are down for at least 5 days with oxygen to check, north side to open, and some serious reading and relaxing to do.”

Everest North

Catalans – Early summit push

Since the Catalan team stayed at ABC, rather than descending all the way to Base Camp, they took advantage of slightly lower winds and launched a summit bid. They are hoping to go for the summit early tomorrow morning. See separate story for details.

Indian Air Force - Upcoming summit bid

In a recent email, the IAF reports, "Based on the weather reports, we have decided to send in our first summit bid on 17th. Our five member team is in Camp I (North Col) today. They will move up to CII on 15th, CIII on 16th . By then, if the ropes are not in position, the Norwegian team and ours would have to fix rope as they climb towards the summit."

DCXP – Jockeying for summit push position

“We are planning to go up to ABC in split groups over the next 3-4 days beginning the 15th May. The idea is we have been at BC for 14 days now and too much more and we will start losing our high altitude acclimatization and fitness, so we need to move up. We also need to be closer to the hill in case the weather does break and we are able to push to the summit ahead of expected – BC is just too far away to rush up from. This will at least give us something to do for a few days.”

Sigrid and Aud – Two months of tent life

In a recent telephone call, Sigrid reported that it is still very windy and the weather is bad. It is about -15 degrees Celsius at night and -4 during day. They are at ABC, 6400 meters. Sigrid and Aud have been living in tents for almost 2 months now.

Project Himalaya – Pockets of calm weather

Team member Paul reports from the North Col: "It is windless and sunny, I am relaxing outside the tent.” The team thinks Paul might wander up higher, but the winds beyond North Col are probably savage. He will probably stay another night for acclimatization.

Everest South

Alpine Ascents – Camp 2 (and beyond) tomorrow

Dave reports, “We have decided to head up to Camp II tomorrow and begin our summit attempt. We will certainly be closely monitoring weather forecasts each day as we make the difficult decisions regarding the move up to the higher camps.”

Carlos Pauner w/o O2 – High altitude warning

Carlos is in BC. Last weekend he went for his fifth and final acclimatization trip up to C3, and now he is back waiting for the weather window. During his stay in C3, he began to feel the effects of the cold in his fingers. He has recovered now, but the wants to pay attention to the warning: No jokes allowed at high altitude. His no O2 attempt will require two days in the thin air.

Singapore w/o O2 – Slapped on the face constantly

Last week, “Edwin and Robert spend a harrowing night sleeping at Camp 3 (7,300m) without oxygen. The winds were raging at 70 knots (120kph), threatening to flatten the tents, and making a racket flapping the tent fabric so loudly that they could not even hear the walkie transmissions.”
The next morning, the team pressed up to Camp 4, despite having not slept a wink. The westerly winds came straight at the climbers, causing wind burns. The winds also picked up sharp snow crystals which pelted their faces with tiny painful cuts. According to Edwin, “The winds were whipping our faces. Although I wore a balaclava which covered my whole face except my eyes, and I had goggles on, I still suffered wind burns on my left cheek. The winds felt like I was being slapped in the face constantly.”

Adventure Consultants – Awaking to frostbite conditions

“Camp 3 is no easy place to hang for the night,” the team reports. “At 900m higher than C2 it is a big acclimatization jump. This morning some of our team were proclaiming their worst nights sleep ever! That aside, from an objective point of view everybody did OK. OK meaning we did not have to break out the emergency medical oxygen and everyone was able to safely negotiate the descent of the Lhotse Face today. Having said that we awoke to frostbite conditions. Yes, it was very cold! The winds during our descent were up to 40 knots; enough to take one’s breath away at times.”

Climbing for a Cure – Camp 4 stocked

This is from the team’s latest dispatch: “Our Sherpas have completed all our large load carrying duties to Camp Four. This was an amazing feat once again, considering the other day, 50+ Sherpas attempted to carry gear to Camp Four and only 18 made it, 13 from one team and the other 5 were ours (who by the way were carrying double loads once again to 26,000 feet!). Many other teams left gear and packs tied off to the fixed ropes between Camps Three and Four since the winds and conditions were too brutal to complete the task that day.”

Jagged Globe – Late May summit attempt

“Tomorrow (Tuesday 16) our Everest South Col team will leave base camp and climb up to Camp 2 on Everest, where they will wait in the hope of summiting around 21/22 May. This is when the forecasts indicate that the winds will start to drop. So if the climbers can make it to the South Col, they only need one day of calmer winds to make an attempt on the summit.”

Summit pushes in the Himalaya

Makalu – West Pillar death

Sumbu Sherpa, working for the Spanish “Al Filo” team, passed away yesterday in Makalu West’s BC (5400m). Sumbu was a kitchen helper and never intended to climb higher than BC. The cause of death is still uncertain. See separate story for details.

Annapurna – Summit pushes on the North and South Sides

On the South Side, Piotr’s team in Camp 2 for the night, hoping to continue their summit bid tomorrow. On the North Side, the teams are in BC, and aim to kick off their push to the peak tomorrow. See separate Annapurna story for details.

Adventure Consultants | Everest Traverse’s dispatches | Singapore Mountaineers w/o O2 | Alpine Ascents Cybercasts | Jean Pavilliard and Monica Kalodzi’s dispatches | Climbing for a Cure’s dispatches | Esplugues al Everest (Catalan) | Jagged Globe dispatches | Sigrid Hammer’s website (Norwegian/English) | Carlos Pauner | DCXP | Project Himalaya

1. Image of Catalan climbers courtesy of www.espluguesaleverest.com.

2. Live image over Contact 3.0 of Jean courtesy of Jean Pavillard.

3. Long exposure image of Everest courtesy of Paul Holmes and DCXP.

4. Live image over Contact 3.0 of fiddle performance courtesy of Alpine Ascents.

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