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Everest daily wrap up: Hurricane winds batter BC
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May 3, 2004 23: 21 EST
As forecasted by AdventureWeather, hurricane force winds pounded Everest this weekend resulting in lots of damage to camps at high altitude. Because of the timely and accurate weather forecasts, all teams were safely in lower altitude camps. Winds are expected to continue for the first half of this week and will die down by Thursday. The full moon is Wednesday; a summit window may open up later in the week.

Everest Weather

A westerly jet is situated over the Himalayas with the core just south of Everest. At the summit a West-southwest wind of 30-35 m/s is gusting. A couple of troughs will pass in the beginning of the week with occasional showers. At the end of the week a ridge will pass with mainly dry weather.

Everest North: Wind woes

Two new dads on Everest. The Italian Everest/K2 expedition lost 3 tents and incurred severe damage to their IBC set-up from the hurricane force winds currently gusting on Everest. The full extent of the damage will not be known until Thursday, when the team will make an inspection.

Other news for the team is on a much nicer note; A big congratulations to the two new fathers in the expedition, Silvio ‘Gnaro’ Mondinelli and Michele Comfi.

The recurring theme today: winds. Tom and Ben Clowes with Adventure Peaks report on the damage; “We were having a civilized Sunday lunch in the mess tent at BC when an almighty gust of wind tore into camp and flattened our two loo tents, the BBC tent (Office) and sadly our shower tent! Our mess tent buckled with the strain and we all jumped up to support it. Three of the poles bent so we spent the rest of the afternoon strengthening everything and mending the odd rip here and there. None of our personal tents blew down which was fortunate. These are very strong Terra Nova Quasar tents.”

The Greek team has been joined by Pete Athans, who sees a possible summit window after May 5th or 6th. The Greek team is glad to have Pete there with them as his experience with Everest will be “critical to their success”. They plan to use his advice to find the best strategy of ascent for both the South and North teams.

The Greek South side Camp 4 is expected to be ready in 3-4 days. They also report that the 14 expeditions on the North side, including the Greeks, have all reached 7,500 meters, with many returned to BC or ABC because of the weather.

Dan Lochner wakes up to destruction in ABC. “I woke up at 6 and it was still quite windy out, so I went back to bed until 8. As I was preparing to exit my tent, I felt that maybe everyone had already gone up the North Col, as I didn’t hear anyone moving around or talking in the Mess tent. As it turned out, everyone was still sleeping due to the weather.

After exiting my tent, I began walking around only to notice that many tents had been destroyed from the high winds during the night. This was only a sample of what was to come. After breakfast, Dan and I went to the Space Station tent to hang out and work on the generator.

A few hours later, a gust of wind hit the tent and snapped one of the tent poles in half. This was a surprised but we were quickly able to repair the pole with a metal sleeve. However, an hour later several large gusts of wind hit again, this time snapping two tent poles in half and picking the tent off the ground. For a moment while the wind was blowing, Dan and I with the help of others held the tent from blowing away. After checking out the damage, we thought we had it bad until we glanced around us. Several tents were destroyed or shredded, including an adjacent Mess and Cook tent which had been completely flattened.”

Everest South: Back to basics in BC

An account from Andrés Delgado entitled: Days of Uncertainty. “Here is what we are experiencing during these days of uncertainty; we still need to complete a climb to 8,000 metres in order to complete our acclimatization. But it’s as if the mountain knows this and she is spending her time testing our patience. The days are clear and sunny, but at 8,000 metres, the invisible wind shows no mercy, taking from us the possibility of another climb.

We still have a month but the human spirit is impatient and plays tricks on us, so that we sink into despair. The difficult days have arrived, days during which a strong psyche is much more useful than a pair of strong legs. So here we are, trying to believe that the good weather will return, struggling with the impatience of our spirits and putting our bodies to the test. While we are waiting, prayers and faith are all we have left! Regards, Andrés Delgado.’’

The Irish take a beating at Camp 2. ”Due to heavy winds and bad weather forecast that has wind chill factors down to – 40 degrees Celsius at Camp Lowe Alpine. We have not being able to move from our current position for the last four days.

It is with great difficulty and indeed sadness that we have had to make a decision to retreat to Base camp Wyeth and make a further two adventures through the dangerous ice fall and the Western Cwm, before our final summit attempt as we once again will try and establish and sleep at Camp 3 at 24,000 feet, a challenge not relished.

Staying at this altitude at Camp 2 for any longer would be fruitless. We have decided to return to Base Camp Wyeth to recover from the hammering of high wind as Camp 2 and deteriorating conditions on our bodies and have postponed our attempt to establish Camp Spórt Corrán Tuathail on the Lhotse face for a few days until we receive better wind forecast.

Above 20,000 feet the body cannot recover, due to the altitude. This affects the body in many ways. Our thinking becomes slower and impaired, our heart rate increases to 130 resting, to breathe we burn 6000 calories and the oxygen we receive is down to less than 50% of that at sea level. To stay, knowing the bad weather forecast, would only be self defeating, so we have chosen to make the long descent in high winds back to Base Camp.”

School’s back in session for Alpine Ascents. “Today we spent the morning modeling the newest fashions in Russian fighter pilot wear otherwise known as Everest oxygen systems. Everybody had a good time going through the serious lessons of how to use regulators, masks and change oxygen bottles. We all found a mask that fit well and put together our own kits to bring up the mountain.

In the afternoon we went out to the base of the icefall and went through a mock scenario of being higher on Everest. Everyone donned their oxygen mask, goggles, and heavy mitts and went through a ropes course. What a challenge to breath through an oxygen mask at 17,000+ ft. with no oxygen running through it. It’s a bit like running around a track while breathing through a straw!

Everest BC is in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment. The few teams that are ready to make their move on the summit are hanging back to see if the forecast turns out to be correct. High winds are expected on the upper mountain more or less throughout the week. Therefore plans have been pushed back for many groups. The fixed lines are set up to Camp 4. The icefall is in great shape though the recent high winds have wreaked havoc on Camp 3. We’ve just this evening had some of the stronger winds yet at BC.”

Mountain.ru | RussianClimb.com | Montagna.org | Tom and Ben Clowes | Dutch paraglider | Hellas Everest | Dan Lochner | Mexican/Canadian | Irish | Alpine Ascents

Image of the Italian ABC courtesy of Montagna.org.
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