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ExWeb Everest debrief: Ed Viesturs
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Jun 6, 2004 08: 28 EST
Ed Viesturs, Veikka Gustafsson, David Breashears, Robert Schauer, Jimmy Chin and Amy Bullard along with seven climbing Sherpas summited Everest at 6:15 am Monday, May 17, 2004 Nepal time. The team was making a film for Working Title Films and Universal Pictures.

"We reached the Summit of Everest safe and sound. For some of us, that was more than once." said Ed in his post expedition report, "For me it was the sixth time. I guess I'm fortunate to say that I've had this once in a lifetime experience six times. It's been different every time, it's been great every time. There's no place on Earth quite as unique and even though I've been there enough it's still quite alright to be there a few more times."

For some of the other climbers this season's summit was also a repeat. "David Breashears, that was his fifth ascent. For Robert and Veikka, both of them that was their third ascent. A number of our Sherpa have climbed the mountain two or three or four times, so quite a strong group of people that went to the Summit. It was really a great experience for me to be up there again, especially with David, Robert and Veikka." This was Amy Bullard's and Jimmy Chin's first ascent of Everest, though Jimmy was on the mountain last fall.

After reaching the summit and calling the people close to his heart to tell them the news, Ed, born in Illinois, sent out this dispatch with a little Mid-West flavor: "And now you can say the 'horses are smelling the barn'; it's time to go home. We're going to get down as fast as we can."

Ed intended to acclimatize on the Everest climb, then race Alpine-style up Annapurna in just two or three days. He and Veikka were to join Simone Moro and Denis Urubko who acclimatized first on Baruntse while attempting a new route.

Simone and Denis wanted to spend as little time on Annapurna, a nightmare of a mountain, so acclimatizing on Baruntse was key to their success. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits, and Hirotaka Takeuchi acclimatized on Shisha Pangma and Xifeng Peak before heading to Anna. Piotr Pustelnik's and team were not acclimatized prior to Annapurna and that is why they were on the dangerous mountain for nearly two months. Check out their dispatches to see what it's like spending all that time on the avalanche prone slopes.

Ed had planned to hit Annapurna after Everest but now will go next year. Anna is the last of Ed's quest for the 14 8,000ers. Four years ago, he tried a route on the north side. In 2002, he aimed for the south side. He judged both routes too dangerous.

"I might as well tell you now that both Veikka and I have decided that it's a little bit too late in the season for us to go to Annapurna this year. So we decided to put it off till next year.

I feel quite alright about that. The mountain will always be there, and I'm not in a hurry to get there. It would have been nice to do it this year of course, but I knew in the back of my mind that Everest could take some time and I wasn't going to compromise this expedition just to race away and go to Annapurna. We have to finish what we're doing here, complete our task, and as it turns out time is short so I made the decision to put Annapurna off for next year."

On this season's Everest climb, Ed was with an expedition shooting images for a feature film on the 1996 Everest tragedy that claimed the lives of eight climbers. Ed was on Everest that year helping to film an IMAX documentary. The film is being directed by Stephan Daldry, whose second film, "The Hours," was nominated for nine Academy Awards.

Image of life size Ed Viesturs cut-out and Everest in background courtesy of Ed Viesturs - You can buy the cut-out for $75 from Ed's website
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