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Everest South: Mountain Madness SUMMIT PUSH now!
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May 29, 2005 12: 56 EST
At 9:00 PM local time - junt minutes before publishing this story - Mountain Madness team members shall be abandoning their tents and heading out to the night. Their summit bid is on!

Fixing ropes on the way to the summit

Guide Willie Benegas left Camp 4 ahead of the rest, along with a strong team of six Sherpas. Their task will be cleaning the ropes up to the Balcony and fix the rest of the route up to the summit before the other climber’s arrival.

Mountain Madness team left C3 earlier this morning in good weather conditions.

Exploradus team in Camp 3

Willie and the Sherpas have a tough, long work ahead. Jim Williams, Exploradus team’s leader, mentioned it in his last dispatch, reported at the team’s arrival in Camp 3, earlier today:

“Our group headed up to Camp 3 today,” reported Jim. “We got an early start and most were lucky enough to get to the ropes at the Lhotse Face before the sun hit. All team members arrived in Camp 3 around 5 PM. Our Camp 2 cook Namgyl accompanied the crew to camp to cook for the members.”

Good weather and a hard work ahead

“At the moment the weather seems to be cooperating and the first groups maybe heading for the summit tonight. Tonight's effort will be long as the trail to the summit has to be broken and about 1000 meters of fixed line has to be put in place. This will take a big effort by the Sherpas. Climbing this mountain without the Sherpas support would be next to impossible.”

“They will leave early in the morning, meet the rest of the members around 8 am and then continue to the South Col.”

Alpine Ascents team is in Camp 2, ready to head for C3 tomorrow. However, Vern Tejas and David Liano have arrived today in C4.

Both Exploradus, Mountain Madness and Alpine Ascents are among the teams attempting the summit between today and tomorrow. Some others have chosen to turn around and heading down back home. Such is the case of Adventure Consultants.

No summits from the South yet

Whilst a number of climbers have summited Everest though the North side this season – including a Serbian with a sherpa and a Norwegian team earlier today – no one has summited from the South (Nepal) side yet. Benegas and the Sherpas would be the first climbers progressing above the Balcony since spring 20404.

Willie (Guillermo) Benegas has climbed Everest four times, reaching the summit each time.He is currently guiding for Mountain Madness.

Damian and Willie (Guillermo) Benegas, born in Argentina and living in the USA, have attracted the attention of the climbing community since they were very young. They began their career by opening routes in their homeland, mostly in Patagonia and Aconcagua (which they have summited about 30 times). Then they extended their efforts to the rest of the Andes, tried extreme rock-climbing on big walls such as El Capitan (Yosemite) and Baffin Island, and soon headed for the Himalayas. They own a guiding company.

In 2003 they were the first to climb the North Pillar of Nuptse. The result, after an alpine style non-stop six day climb, was a new route named “Crystal Snake.” Last summer, they attempted their first climb on the North Ridge of Latok I.

Image of Willie Benegas in BC courtesy of UPV Valencia Spanish expedition.

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