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Everest countdown - two hours till summit?


image story



May 14, 2004 19: 36 EST
The Chilean teams webmaster learned in a sat phone call from his team that they left Camp 4 at 10pm Nepal time (about 12pm EST). They are leading the climb, (no word yet on RAF Ted Atkins). Other teams left the South Col around an hour later.

The Chileans expect a new phone call in the next hour, hopefully from around the South Summit. Check the ExWeb TV video of their exact route!

Right now (7pm EST) it is around 5am on Everest. In one hour the Chileans may reach the South Summit and by around 10pm EST they could be standing on the top of the world - weather permitting. The winds seem to be low, but their full impact will not be known until the teams reach the exposed South Summit.

Trailing the Chileans are possibly the Greeks and a commercial outfit.

The Chilean team is split into three groups of three. Team one is Ernesto Olivares Miranda, Sherpa Angi and Sherpa Rama.

Team 2 is Andrónico Luksic Craig, Misael Alvial Cid and Sherpa Alden.

Team 3 is Annabelle Bond, Kiko, and Sherpa Shulding.

The Greek South team consists of five climbers, not including sherpas. The commercial outfits size is not known.

While sitting up with us awaiting the satellite phone calls from the climbers up there, why don't you take a climb in the latest Everest Web TV video! Climb camp 4, the South Summit, and the Knife ridge leading up to the Hillary step.

Also, check "The Route" article on this site (in the link to your left).

Camp 4

"Camp 4 sits on a plateau resembling a moonscape. You are at the edge of the atmosphere and the sky owns a strange, dark blue color. It is surely the closest you can get to space on earth.

Only a small climb above camp, you look down the Tibetan plateau with it's vast brown plains, white glaciers and the other alpine giants - Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu -in the distance. It's all magic and unreal.

Yet, this is also the place were the media, fame and fun of BC definitely are gone. Only fear remains on everyone's face. People don’t talk a lot. Resting in your tent, feeling weak already, you try to get some sleep as night falls outside. In a couple of hours you will start to put on your gear for the final part of the adventure - the summit push.

Finally, the hour is come. At about 11 PM we put on the final gear and step out in the night. There, in the distance, you can see a worm of light slowly moving up a dark wall. It´s climbers head torches flickering in the dark. It’s completely silent. Nobody talks. If you do, you whisper. It is absolutely terrifying and you climb and climb, awaiting fthe first ray of dawn. It’s desperately cold. It's steep and at parts very icy. The ice axe and the crampons cut skin deep into the ice. You need to pee. Forget it. Someone turns around. "Can´t go on, good luck".

Balcony

A cold, white moon rises from below, but you hardly glance at it or even the bright twinkle of Universe above. The adrenaline keeps your body moving. And then, suddenly, after hours and hours of despair, you notice a thin blue beam of light at the horizon. Sunrise!

If you are lucky, now is the time for the fabled mountain ghost. The mountain projects itself onto the morning fog. The shadow towers in front of you like a giant mirage. Beneath lies the world in all its glory, glowing in the rising sun. You feel the warmth and all hope returning.

You kick your feet to beat the oncoming frostbite. You are at the Balcony, having a short rest, changing to a new oxygen bottle.

South Summit

A ridge lay ahead, and just above you, not far at all, is the South Summit. You begin to enjoy the view, and the possibility of success. Finally, you step up onto the small plateau of the South Summit, and there - just around the corner - is the Everest summit itself!

You have watched it so many times from the distance, and suddenly it is so strangely close. Just right there, only 95 meters / 310 ft away. You can almost touch the white tail of snow.

When you reach the South Summit you are just a couple of hours from your dream come true.

The Knife Ridge

But there is one more obstacle in your way. The Knife Ridge. You will grasp your breath upon seeing it. It is steep and looks truly nasty. The ridge towers almost freely over Nepal and Tibet, it’s sharp and very steep. Hillary Step is in the middle somewhere, a rock climb in the sky.

You step onto the ridge via a small, half open tunnel from South Summit. You climb with your crampons at a sharp, crooked angle towards the side of the ridge. Occasionally, the snow gives way and you slide down for a hairy second. This is not a place to climb without fixing ropes. Clip in carefully, focus on each step and keep moving.

The Hillary Step

The Hillary step - although very exposed at parts, the climb is fast and feels safe, given the conditions. The danger is to get tangled in the ropes. Bring a good knife. Check the ropes well for strength.

After the step, you will spot white, strange wave-formations of frozen snow pointing out from the summit. Keep climbing towards them. This section is usually unroped, yet not too steep. Still, be careful and use your axe. You might eagerly look for the summit now, yet all you’ll see is a white edge on the horizon. You will not know how far you have left and feel frustrated and tired.

Then you reach another white edge, but this time – it doesn’t continue. Behind it, there is instead a slope down. You are peeking down at the North side of Everest. You have reached the summit, friend."

Image of South Summit from ExWeb files.
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