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Everest daily wrap up: Squeezing through the weather window
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May 4, 2004 11: 11 EST
South side teams are on the move again, having fared better in the strong winds than the North side. Winds will die down for a brief period later this week, opening up a small summit window. Historically, May 10th is a good day for successful summits, the next period falls around May 23rd.

Everest Weather

A westerly jet over the Himalayas with the core just south of Everest is weakening and moving somewhat southwards during Wednesday and Thursday. Then the jet will move back northwards and will be situated over Everest throughout the coming weekend. Westerly winds on the summit are still around 25-30 m/s, though weakening and turning northwest from Friday. Possibly increasing again after that. Below the summit, 7500m, winds are around 10 – 15 m/s and will drop down Thursday and Friday to 5-10 m/s.

A low over Tibet moves eastwards and a trough with some showers will pass Everest on Wednesday. It is followed by a ridge and mainly dry weather. However, during Saturday and Sunday a new trough will bring wet conditions once more.

Everest North: Repairing storm damage

Tom and Ben Clowes have been busy repairing storm damage. “They have repaired the mess tent using poles from the BBC tent, I wonder how pleased the BBC lot will be when they return from ABC? And they have replaced the WC tent with a low stone wall from behind which they wave to passers by while on the job. The wind is still very strong both at BC and higher up.

The next decision rests on interpretation of the weather forecasts as they need 72 hours to get in position on the North Col from BC for a summit bid. They have to leave BC while it is still stormy to catch any lull at the right time.

More dispatches have been sent back to Adventure Peaks so keep watching their website. I expect the bank holiday is making it difficult for them to get it updated. I understand that Kevin was still in Khatmandu this morning; they have no definite date for his return to the US.”

The Italian Everes/K2 route; "From ABC to the North Col (7066 m), in a wind protected depression, it is possible to set up the first high camp (Camp 1). A more or less pronounced ridge stretches from the North Col up to the North East ridge. Here, at an altitude comprised between 7560 m and 7800 m, one will find a mixed rock/scree terrain where it is possible to pitch a tent (Camp 2).

The route passes over a series of rocky ledges on the Northwestern side of the mountain. After a few rocky steps (technically quite easy) is Camp 3 (8200-8300 m), afterwards one will have to climb over the yellow band."

Everest South: Eager to go up

Irish make the move up after the storm. “After getting an updated forecast today, there seems to be a break in the weather on Wednesday. A decision has been made to take a chance and leave Base Camp Wyeth early and make for Camp 2 Lowe Alpine. After a few hours rest there, and with favorable weather, we intend to then make a push for Camp 3 Spórt Corrán Tuathail.”

Moon set, sun rise; that is how Alpine Ascents began their day. “A 3 AM wakeup followed by a 4:30 AM start got us all moving well in the icefall. The pace was slow but steady. We were able to reduce our time in the icefall by two hours.

Camp 1 was setup for us by the sherpas. Boy were we lucky as the wind was gusting hard enough to knock us off our feet. We spent the early afternoon building snow walls to protect the tents. Finally the wind died down and we were all able to enjoy a nice dinner.

In the morning we will pack our bags and head to Camp 2 through the Western Cwm. We hope to ascend to Camp 3 on this trip.”

Adventure Consultants’ departure up the mountain tomorrow has been delayed by one day due to high winds up above. So yet again tomorrow we will be at BC. Bags are packed, and people are ready to head back up the hill. Stories are abounding about other teams stuck at camp 2 due to these high winds, and we as always are trying to stay out of the crowds and play it smart.

Clive and Kenton of Jagged Globe have spent a night at camp 3, which they described as ‘Great, we were the only ones there and we were treated to an amazing evening…’ Nick turned round at the base of the Lhotse face and is currently at camp 2, still waiting for the wind to drop so he can spend the night at camp 3 and then join Clive and Kenton in 'wait mode'. Clive and Kenton had a 'good time' descending the Lhotse face in howling winds, ‘...it all got a bit exciting towards the end...’, but they got back to camp 2 in one piece so all is well. Overall, the team is fine and they're optimistic at this stage about the summit.”

Other Mountains: Mack daddies of Makalu

British Services Makalu: “Following yesterdays progress towards the summit of Peak 3 Ben and Colin set off from the intermediate camp at 7am with the aim of reaching the summit. Although the skies were clear the wind was extreme, making for very cold going from the outset. Face masks were essential to prevent wind burn and double mitts were needed to ensure fingers remained warm and useable.

Despite the strong wind the route to the top of the existing fixed ropes was relatively straight forward, the wind having scoured the ridge free of loose snow. At this early stage only one Sherpa, Neema, was in support, helping to move the coils of fixed rope for use higher on the ridge. On reaching yesterdays high point Ben immediately set about climbing the route above, placing snow stakes as intermediate anchors at suitable intervals. Despite the wind-chill progress was steady, overcoming some steep and narrow sections of the ridge as they presented themselves. Further rope and snow anchors were brought forward by the remaining Sherpas, Pema and Tenzing, allowing the lead pair to continue fixing. Ian and Dick, setting off some hours behind the lead pair, climbed the route and checked the existing anchor points, upgrading as required.

After several hours of exposure to the unrelenting wind and bitter temperatures the summit of Peak 3 was reached. A snow stake was driven into the snow at the high point and all members began to descend back to the relative shelter of Intermediate Camp. It is hoped that the new lead team will be able to complete the final part of the route to Camp 2 tomorrow.”

Tom and Ben Clowes | Montagna.org | Irish Everest | Alpine Ascents | Adventure Consultants | Jagged Globe | British Services Makalu

Image of Italian Camp 1 courtesy of Montagna.org
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