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Everest North side ExWeb special report straight from the mountain
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Apr 19, 2004 20: 15 EST
On the North Side ropes to the North Col, Camp I, 7000m, were set yesterday. The last couple of teams climbing on the North have reached Base Camp within the past couple of days. New arrivals include a Japanese team, the Russian Adventure Team, as well as the large Italian K2 50th anniversary team Ė they plan on warming up on Everest for a double North and South side K2 climb in the summer.

As quoted from a veteran of last yearís North Side season, ďThere arenít nearly as many people here this year, last spring it was a zoo!Ē Still, the North Side is not devoid of a couple larger teams; the Italians are about 40 to 50 strong, with many of the team members conducting science - a combination of physiological studies as well as geological studies.

They brought a large solar setup equal about 1.8 to 2 kilowatts. Itís necessary for them to have reliable power as they are running lots of electronics as well as a freezer to keep snow samples frozen. Not too much of a problem now, but later on when things warm up itíll be important that the snow stay frozen.

In particular, they are looking for Cesium in the snow, as high as theyíll be able to get samples. What is the significance of Cesium? For one, itís not naturally occurring, and is essentially nuclear fallout, be it from testing or nuclear energy of the nearby nuclear-capable countries. Already the Italian Nuclear agency has found trace amounts of Cesium on nearby Cho Oyu. The trace amounts arenít necessarily harmful; however, it shows that the effects of Nuclear energy are far reaching.

Itís about half and half, with some teams still in Base Camp, lower on the Rongbuck glacier and others up higher in Advanced Base Camp. Both ABC and BC received some snowfall in the past couple of days, with ABC getting almost 20cm.

Now that Camp I is fixed, teams in ABC will start to head up there as soon as tomorrow warranting good weather. Many climbers have been in ABC for a couple of days now, with stronger winds keeping them at bay.

The Russian National Team is working in shifts setting their route; some are down in Base Camp right now while others are up higher. As of a couple of days ago they reached 7100m and fixed over 22 ropes on their new route. The crew is still a bit away from getting to the crux of their climb, the North Face direct. This route will take them to the left of the Hornbein Couloir.

Image of a snowy Base Camp courtesy of Marshall Ulrich.
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