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ExplorersWeb Week-In-Review
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Jun 5, 2005 07: 28 EST
The week was packed with reports from Everest summit pushes and climbers struggling in tough conditions. The weather was iffy; windy one day, calm the next. Success was a game of chance, and people were stranded in high camps much too long, caught between spells of wind thrown at them by a sneaky jet lingering close to the mountain.

"The good thing is that you often have very clear still late nights and early mornings, the winds and clouds will often arrive to wreak havoc from 11am onwards," dispatched Duncan Chessell. And that's exactly what many climbers took advantage off. Those who made it, often headed out very early - one summit came as early as in the twilight of 5 am Nepal time.

More oxygen issues "Julian stopped for a hot drink and some water; he also switched from the “Summit Oxygen” system to a generally more reliable Poisk system. His Summit Oxygen system was just not delivering enough juice. When he compared the two systems using a pulse oximeter he found that he had to use the Summit Oxygen at double the Poisk flow rate to maintain an even Oxygen saturation level in his blood,” dispatched Duncan, whose own POISK froze up: "The Poisk system I was using had worked really well at similar altitudes and temperatures. This time however the oxygen line joining the oxygen tank and mask, filled with water and froze." There have been issues mainly with two systems on the mountain: Indian "Poisk" and British Summit Oxygen.

Everest South: Valencia team turns back - Oxygen failures again Cold and failures in the supplementary oxygen equipment - again, provided by Summit Oxygen - forced the Valencia team to turn back without reaching the summit on Everest’s south side: “All the British Oxygen bottles (Summit Oxygen) they had have failed except for four. These are the ones Jorge and Haya are taking along to the summit.” Two hours later: “The wind has increased and the four remaining O2 bottles have failed as well."

Climber lost: IAF expedition lost a climber, the number of confirmed fatalities on the mountain increasing to four this season, two on each side. The IAF team spokesman mentioned a blizzard on the mountain, other climbers said he ran out of oxygen between the 1st and 2nd Step. It's unclear if the climber went on the troubled Summit Oxygen system. The IAF team carried both; "We're using the Summit system. However, we are also carrying the POISK system, mainly because the Sherpas are comfortable with it," they told ExWeb in an interview.

AMS incidents were quite a few in the past week's summit fever. One climber collapsed between the first and second Step and had to be revived with a syringe full of Dexamethozone and a high flow rate of oxygen. Another was disoriented for 5 hours at 8000 meters. Several on the south side suffered HAPE an HACE at the South Col. 7-summit club had a couple of late summits and scary descents. Most AMS incidents this past week took place at the descents after successful summit bids.

Apa Sherpa's 15 summits - a tale of skill and survival Apa Sherpa is world record holder of most Everest summits: 15 with last week’s. The Nepalese climber is a low key man, and climbing Everest is his job. Guys like Apa know what it's all about. They are the ones running around the mountain saving climbers lives; distributing warm jackets and hot chocolate to people sleeping in the snow. When the season is over - they get a summit tip, a leftover down jacket, and a new school perhaps. If they were born in US, they'd be type A achievers; doctors, athletes and rocket scientists. Their kids would go to Harvard and they'd make six figure checks. Read the ExWeb special on why Sherpas survive on Everest, and why climbers should listen more to them than to some of the bandit western "expedition leaders" on the mountain.

First video of Everest North summit 2005 Julian, a team member of DCXP was one of the lucky climbers this past week. He cruised up and summited at 6:40am Nepali time, his summit panorama video and stills shots showed just how good their weather was. Find the first 2005 summit shots and video at ExWeb.

It's hard to beat the motivation of a headstrong woman. Outrunning all weather forecasts and the jet itself - Urszula Tokarska summited at 5 am with Nima Tashi and Pema Temba, becoming the first Canadian woman to complete the Seven Summits!

Everest summit: Danielle, 20, youngest Seven Summit climber Alpine Ascents cyber climbers shot over one last live image before the summit push: Danielle sported strawberry blond braids and a brave smile in the death zone at the South Col (8000 meters). That same night she replaced the current 7 summit record holder Britton Keeshan, 22 at the time of his record. Danielle says climbing helps her to focus (she has ADD) and has even made her somewhat of a local celebrity. “People come up to me in the street and say ‘Hi.’ It’s really amazing,” she told ExWeb.

Everest North: Gerfried Göschl summits w/o oxygen! Carlos Pauner, Gavin Bates, Edwin and Robert, Jarle Traa - many tried but only Gerfried finally made it this windy Everest season. Gerfried came to Everest after a no O2 summit of Shisha Pangma (8027m) on May 3. He descended in darkness for three hours to high Camp at 8200m, snow-blind on one eye. The climber is sponsored by Northland Professional, who also sponsors the Chinese clean-up expedition who will make one Everest expedition every year until the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 to collect garbage.

Alan Hinkes summits Kangchenjunga - Bags his 13th 8000er! British climber Alan Hinkes reached the top of Kangchenjunga. His Sherpa and longtime friend, Pasang Gelu, had to stop around 15 minutes short of the summit due to exhaustion. Hinkes claims Kangchenjunga as his 14th 8000er, which would made him the first Briton to achieve such a goal. However, there is no official confirmation on Alan reaching the actual summit of Cho Oyu. In fact, neither Liz Hawley nor AdventureStats have Alan logged for a Cho Oyu summit.

Everest BC Helicopter crash A big MI-17 helicopter crashed at Everest Base Camp, while attempting to land. The tail rotor hit the ground, the body spun out of control, rotor blades exploded and sent debris flying. Luckily it didn’t flip over and landed on its belly, everybody got out safely and nobody on the ground was hurt. Fortunately another helicopter was able to land in a safer landing area to pick everybody up a few hours later, the passengers were not acclimatized.

Plea for Indian woman A plea went out to an Indian girl's family to persuade her to come down. It worked, and the girl is safe.

Czech Hornbein Couloir - it's over The expedition decided to call off the climb on May 25 after receiving discouraging weather forecasts.

Everest Supercouloir: "What is a summit compared to a friend's life?" A fast response, common sense and unabated support from skilled team-mates saved Hirotaka’s life. Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Hirotaka Takeuchi were on their BC-to-summit Supercouloir push on Everest’s north face, when the Japanese climber fell sick.
“Hiro’s eyes were wide open, but it was as if he was not there anymore. After a while he opened his clenched teeth and spat blood.” Read the chilling debrief of the Everest Supercouloir.

Everywhere you go - I will follow too: Wedding at the summit of Everest! Pemba Dorje Sherpa, 23 and Moni Mulepati, 24, is the happy couple and something tells us this marriage will last. Check out the summit wedding images on the site.

Sibusiso, double Everest summiteer Sibusiso Vilane enters the history books as the only black man to have climbed Everest twice and by two different routes.

Ranulph Fiennes turns back on Everest Ranulph’s health finally let him down. Fiennes was forced to turn back just one hour into the summit push. The polar explorer has earlier done two crossings of Antarctica (one with skidoo and air support, and one with kites), and traveled across the Arctic (with snowmobile and re-supplies).

Monica and Jean sends live image at 8300m! The image was taken at 8300m, becoming the highest live image sent through Contact software.

Makalu West Pillar attempt over: "We gave it all" “When we needed luck most, fortune turned its back on us,” said the Spanish climbers. A strong westerly wind hit the Pillar in full force: the team had to dig small platforms and set a new camp, after their previous camp 3 was destroyed in a storm. The summit team spent a long, scary night, fearing that the tents would be blown off from the wall with them inside. The following morning conditions were far from improving, wind reaching 90 km/h, and thus forcing the expedition leaders to abort the attempt. “We feel desperate, and depressed,” vented the GMAM spokesman. “This was the second attempt on the Pillar for the Al Filo team. As for us, we now have to go back home without summiting for the third time, after our previous attempts on Dhaulagiri and Manaslu. There is no excuse. We simply didn’t make it. Even though we gave it all.”

Everest speed record attempt aborted Bruno had to call it quits at 8200 m after a 16h climb.

Vikings for Pakistan sky descents! September last year, Fredrik made it to the Central summit of Shisha Pangma - and skied down. This year, he and Jörgen Aamot are off to Pakistan. The targets are a virgin ski descent of Laila peak (6614 m) followed by a climb up and ski down a virgin line on Gasherbrum 2.

Russians for K2 West Face first ascent The climb is set for 2006, but the expedition starts already on June 15 this year. A small team will reach the bottom of K2 West Face (Pakistan side), set a Base camp, and choose the route line for the 2006 climb.

Avalanche alert in Pakistan and media reports of casualties 2005 Since a 1993 climb on K2, Greg Mortenson has dedicated his efforts to set up schools in remote mountain villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan and probably spent more time in the region than most foreigners (60 months over 29 trips). Just back from a six week project trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he reports that during the 2004 - 2005 winter season, more than 800 civilians and Army personnel were reported killed by avalanches in Pakistan Karakoram/Hindu Kush/Kashmir mountains. The actual fatalities are probably above 2,000. "On this trip, I saw the most snowfall I've witnessed in 29 trips to the region since 1993. The Pakistan Meteorological Department has also issued a recent warning for all 2005 mountaineering expeditions." Read the warning and some of the media clips.

K2 is heating up Ireland is leaving for Pakistan today, and other climbers are already in BC.

Greenland world record The Adventure family Green Speed expedition broke a kiting world speed record on their crossing. Check the debrief. At one point, one of the members made a speed of up to 60 km/h.

The Weight Watchers Greenland program We will have to add another feature to the expedition Contact software: A log about...pounds lost! At least for the Danish Greenland ladies, who keep dispatching how much weight they've been losing on their trip: "I can't believe that nobody has tried this before," they rave.

Vancouver to Moscow - 1 year anniversary! The guys rowed across the Bering Sea in a boat they bought on e-bay, and went hiking through Siberian wilderness, determined to make it on foot all the way from Vancouver to Moscow. That's when disaster struck. Colin had surgery in Vancouver, swore to raise additional funds for the expedition right from the hospital bed and return to Siberia - and did exactly that! Last week he was looking to reunite with Tim and Yulya. But relations took a mysterious turn for the worse: “Since the last update the team dynamics have degraded and they have decided to continue independently until they reach the outskirts of Moscow," was the message. There you have it, drama to the very end. Read the anniversary special.

OneWorld expedition: It's over The Arctic summer crossing was aborted Friday due to insufficient speed in adverse conditions.

Jail time couldn't stop him. Ollie is out there rowing his boat - and - for the first time - we have live pics too! Ollie is using Contact 3.0 and now we'll get to follow an ocean row images and all. This is also the case of Atlantic Four, and latest, OceanFours. Go figure it all out for yourself at the Oceans section of ExWeb.

Saito San - closing in on home and record! Saito closes in on home. His expected arrival in Japan is on Sunday or Monday, June 5/6. Minoru Saito will then become the oldest person at age 71 to do a solo, non-stop circumnavigation.

Fedor - less than a week to go! It's been a tough sail, but Fedor is a guy who finishes. He now has only 900 miles to go on his single-handed circumnavigation. "Looking at the water running behind the stern, I feel excitement of completion this round the world sailing but at the same time it is sad to realize that in 5-6 days it will be over. After so many days at sea where you have 3 components: Ocean, boat and yourself, soon I will be among people, houses, fast moving cars. I remember from my previous round the world sailing – it always takes time to recover and get use to the new life on shore."

Deep impact - closing in On July 4, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will attempt to blow up comet Tempel 1. Don't get too soft; stuff collides in space every day. This rock is hurtling through space at tens of thousands of miles per hour. Two of NASA's eyes in the sky, the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, helped scientists prepare for the comet encounter. Check the pics of Tempel 1.

End of season... As the final summiteers are taking their last steps to the summit, Everest is closing down for the season. On the south side, the icefall cut-off time was June 5, and BaseCampMD took down the clinic tent. There was a big ‘end-of-season’ party in BC and it will continue in Pheriche, all the way to Kathmandu. WNI sent the last weather forecast, and SMHI will turn to K2 and the Karakorums in the next week.

So, now what? There will be expedition debriefs, and follow up reports. Check in for interviews, videos and expect some really cool stuff to happen with ExplorersWeb. And soon enough, the fall season will begin, with new teams arriving Himalaya and Everest. As long as there are Himalayan peaks, and willing climbers, the stories will continue. So while we say good bye to Everest, it's hello Pakistan, and congratulations to all the Everest summiteers of 2005 - who made it in a season that was anything but easy. Never give up!

Read these stories - and more! - at ExplorersWeb.com

Image of climber on Makalu’s West Pillar, courtesy of the Expedition/RTVE.
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