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ExplorersWeb Week in Review
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Apr 24, 2005 13: 10 EST
Jimmy Chin turned back by Cerebral edema on Cho Oyu, Annapurna summit push on, Arctic areas deserted and Everest icefall sending climbers home - the adventure season is in full gear!

The spring season's first summits went to Cho Oyu There were other expeditions on the mountain but Martin Minarik was first up to summit April 16, as the other climbers were still in various stages of acclimatization.

Ed Viestur's Cho Oyu: "things were a little bit squirrelly" The guys had a tough summit push. Only 15 minutes into the climb, it was clear that Jimmy was not well. "We made the decision to get him down as fast as possible." The team decided Ed would help Jimmy down whilst Veikka would continue up, as Ed has already summited Cho Oyu twice. Veikka reached the summit at 11 in the morning, in very windy conditions. Ed helped Jimmy down, administering drugs and caring for his climbing mate. Today, all three are safe back in BC packing up the yaks. Next up; Annapurna!

Annapurna North: Climbers at 6600 - summit push tomorrow? The climbers reached 6.600 m today, and stopped under a serac for the night. The weather was OK till 2 o'clock, after that it started snowing. They've been working very hard; they don't have enough rope to fix so they have had to climb up and down to fetch lines. They are moving on the mountain with heavy loads and no sherpa support. They will try to reach 7100 meters tomorrow, and make a bivouac there for a few hours of rest. They will make a summit push Monday, April 25, as they feel very well.

Everest South side - teams in camp 2, icefall in poor condition, sheer ice higher up “Tomorrow we are moving up to C2 for at least two nights weather permitting,” reported Keith Woodall. “Overall moral is not good. BC is like being imprisoned with a sentence hanging over you.” Climbers are tense as they are working the mountain through the instable ice fall. In addition, conditions are reported dry this year with sections of blue ice higher up.

"The South West Face is so bare this year; it’s hard to believe it’s climbable at all,” reported Jagged Globe from camp 2. And ”we were all woken about 6:30am this morning to the thump of rotor blades from a huge Russian helicopter. This had flown in early to pick up Ben and a couple of others and needed the cool of the early morning to generate the lift at this high altitude.”

There were several injuries in the past week on Everest South side, most in or near the icefall. Numerous climbers are heading home already, including Canadian Ben Webster, who broke his leg. The cold weather has also caused quite a few frostbites, treated in the BC clinic.

“The icefall this year has 19 ladders, the longest of which is a precarious 6-ladder vertical span just below C1," reported 4 time Everest summiteer Luis Benitez (Everest Traverse). "Teams report that the icefall route is relatively fast with the strongest Sherpas completing a round trip to C2 in approximately 7 hours. Reports from higher up the mountain indicate that the Lhotse Face is heavily iced and the last hour into C2 is broken terrain with exposed rock.”

”At times Base Camp resembles a war hospital, with elite mountaineers stricken by seemingly innocuous viral and bacterial infections. Our team alone has 3 members down with illness and rasping coughs plague the rest of the crew.”

It has begun: Contact 3.0 GEO positioning on Everest We haven't mentioned it much, but the fact is that many expeditions on Everest and in the Himalaya this year use Contact technology for updates - you'll often know them by their stunning pictures and frequent reports. One that stands out right now is Nigel Clark (Alpine Ascent Client). On Everest South side, Nigel is first out to demonstrate the brand new Contact 3.0 GEO technology! Follow Nigel as he moves over the mountain - check his latest and top altitude, position and weather!

Everest ten year after: It’s too crowded here! Waldemar Nickevicz knows how to celebrate anniversaries. Ten years ago he became the first Brazilian Everest summiteer, (north side) together with Mozart Catão. Now Waldemar is back to honor the occasion, from the south side this time. It won’t be an exact repeat of the ’95 climb, since Waldemar’s climbing buddy Mozart lost his life on Aconcagua in 1998. The Brazilian was bewildered at the amount of teams gathered in BC. “It took us half an hour to cross this town of canvas,” he reported. Already acclimatized, he went straight for camp 2: "We planted the tents at 6400m, slightly lower than usual: The spot at 6500 was already ‘reserved’ by commercial expeditions. Camps from different teams are being fenced with ropes to limit their territories. We don’t like how the ice fall looks, so we will try to make just two trips up before the summit bid.”

Gavin Bate - Adventure Alternative Base Camp! Gavin is using Gorak Shep as his base camp as opposed to the traditional camp at the foot of the mountain (it was the camp used by Mallory and Tenzing in 1952). "It has caused quite a stir amongst the climbing fraternity as all now wonder why stay camped on the ice for three months when you can return to GS for home cooked food and R&R between climbs!”

40-years old letter found on Everest: "Dear Son, there are so many interested in your expedition." Garry Hartlin, an Algonquin College teacher found a mystery letter miraculously conserved in the ice pinnacles near BC. It was penned by a proud mom, more than 40 years ago on St Patrics day. “I have done some digging into my mystery letter," he reported. "The only American Everest Expedition was in 1963 and was sponsored by the National Geographic Society. I found the list of names from that expedition and the only name that was remotely Irish was a photographer and geologist named Barry Bishop who summited Everest on May 1st 1963.”
Persian ladies for Everest - reaching for a great summit Our world is changing. When Shipton, Hillary and the first Persian men stood on top of Mount Everest, there were women listening to the news. Amidst their domestic chores and limited freedom, they imagined what it must have been like for the men to see the world from the summit of Everest. They dreamt, whispered among each other, and read the climbing tales. Some of these women were mothers and grandmothers of the girls in a picture published last week on ExplorersWeb. Read the special on the first muslim women climbers on Everest right now!

Willie Benegas, the most popular guy in Everest BC! Sherpas respect him, ladies love his sense of humor, and the guys quickly consider him a close friend. And the fact that MM’s camp is the only one with a gas oven, providing fresh baked bread daily, is another plus. Yet Willie has not made friends just by cracking jokes or giving away steaming slices of bread. If there is a problem, he’s the first to the help. When Ben Webster had the accident in the icefall, Willie jumped to the rescue: Reported the Canadian team’s BC technician Mike Swarbrick. “It’s great to know that remarkable people like this are around in times of need. These are people who will risk injury to themselves in a place of constant danger without hesitation, to help another.” Read the ExWeb special on Willie Benegas and another grateful friend of his “Tony the Goat” .

ExWeb Interview - Monica Kalozdi: "They are with me all the time" Devout wife, successful businesswoman, devoted mother of three, Everest climber. Is there anything Monica Kalozdi can’t do? ExWeb caught up with supermom on Everest to check how the climb - and the kids homework is doing! Apparently, the youngest did “super duper well” on last week’s spelling test.

Everest North side - ahead of schedule Climbing and rope fixing goes well on the North side. The fixed rope contract appears to have been a good call: Led by Russell Brice (NZ), the rope team is ahead of schedule. Rope was fixed to 7700 meters already April 17. Last year on April 18, ropes on the North Col were set to Camp I, 7000m. Sherpas have put up tents at 8300 m, and many climbers hoped to reach the second step before the weekend.

“Several climbers went home due to health problems, and one North Col trekker had to be evacuated, carried by porters and yaks," reported Jean Pavilliard. A number of North side climbers are debilitated by Khumbu cough. "To remain healthy is a key concern nowadays: Drinking plenty to avoid dehydration, wearing a mask when hiking to avoid the Everest dry cough, etc. Cuts and blisters don’t heal at this altitude.”

“Sigrid suffered frostbite on her face, but she expects it to heal with some skin lotion,” reported the Norwegian ladies after they made it to the North Col (7000 m) and returned to 5400 m. The plan now is to make the first attempt to reach the summit on May 8th.

Alexander Abramov was finally reunited with his team on Everest in the past week, and the expedition did well in his absence - even the mahogany toilet was in place!

Indian Air Force quest for Everest: "The view of the mountain left us spellbound" The Indian Air Force guys are flying close behind the ladies from the Indian Army on Everest North side. Reports from the fighter pilots have been scarce, but last week a lengthy report arrived. IAF expedition leader Amit Chowdhury, 46, finally found some time to reflect: "Base Camp is like a small village. The Rombuk monastery short of BC is being rebuilt and looks quite deserted. The entrance of BC is lined with tea shops. The Tibetan Mountaineering Association has its office atop a small hillock. It's mandatory for the leader to report and present all the permits etc."

Czech expedition to Hornbein Couloir "We are all shocked when in one part of the camp (close to the tent of the Finnish expedition) a tornado hit!!! 3 personal tents and 2 large kitchen tents disappeared in about 10 seconds. We stared in fear, wondering what was going on. Everything was in the air about 200-300m high twisting and whirling. The tornado took about 5 more tents belonging to another expedition. It missed our tents by about 20 cm. Afterwards, the wind calmed down and dropped the stuff. We are scared and we have no idea what else can happen. The Lama is coming tomorrow morning and will go with us all the way to the Base Camp. That is considered a big honor here. We cannot wait for tomorrow to get out of here.”

Dhaulagiri “The Himalayas may be crowded, but not here,” reported Iñaki. He and Pete reached BC during the weekend. The Italians and Ivan Vallejo were happy to greet them. They are 11 people (Guggemos has hired one sherpa to help him). The only other expedition currently on the mountain is a team from Korea.

Annapurna South: A hungry crew in Camp 1 and evacuation from BC Last in Camp I, the climbers found that the sherpas had placed the supplies somewhere else, "so we are a little hungry!" reported the team. The weather was beautiful, and spirits were high, "we can see the route which we hope to climb up, so we are very excited." Their cook's assistant however was evacuated out of BC "he will be fine and everything will be OK."

Shisha Pangma Ralf, Gerlinde and Hirotaka is already in BC on Shisha’s south face. They found the mountain overloaded with snow, and set their BC lower than last year. The team is acclimatizing on surrounding peaks in order to launch a BC-to-top attempt on Shisha Pangma any day now. Later they'll head for this year's coolest Everest climb: The Everest North Supercouloir. Austrian Gerfried Göschl is in place as well, leading a team there in an acclimatization climb of his double header, Everest without oxygen.

Manaslu by surprise German Amical and a small Spanish team from Navarra have got company on the peak. Nacho (Ignacio) Orviz has joined up, so has another Spanish team led by Juan Corro, and also Russian Serguey Bogomolov and Georgian Gia Torladze are on their way. Colombian Fernando Gonzalez Rubio rounds off the newcomers on the mountain.

Carlos Soria's Makalu expedition aborted before it started “This is frustrating,” vents Spaniard Carlos Soria, currently at home in Madrid. He should be in Makalu’s BC by now. Days before leaving, he was rock climbing at sunny Penon de Ifach, by the Mediterranean Sea. He knew the route so well, he never thought he could fall. He fell about eight meters and hanged from the rope without hitting the wall. Problems came later: I suffered from a slipped disk. Every time I start walking, I’ve got this pain all over my hip and leg!”

Kazakh climbers in Cho Oyu middle camp - climbing gear in Delhi Young ace climbers Maxut Zhymayev and Vassily Pivtsov have reached middle camp on Cho Oyu. The big deal? Well, when the guys arrived in New Delhi, the airline company lost all their climbing gear. They tried to get it back in Kathmandu, but without luck. Now what to do? Fellow Russian climbers on the spot helped out, and Gia Tortladze even footed the bill!

12 more expeditions are headed for Karakorum this season K2 in particular is heating up - another 20 climbers have been listed, among them a Polish-Bulgarian expedition led by ace female climber Anna Czerwinska (5, 8000+ summits), and a ten member American-International expedition led by American Fabrizio Zangrilli. Carlos Pauner (currently on Everest for a no O2 attempt) will lead an expedition to Nanga Parbat.

Arctic: Bear down! “Polar Team Steve Wright and Simon Elmont had to shoot a polar bear as it clawed its way into their tent. ”In the unnerving circumstances they reacted coolly and shot the bear despite having to struggle out of their sleeping bags."

2005 North Pole expeditions check: Success rate – Zero It has been a remarkable 2005 North Pole season. Expeditions have aborted one after the other; both on the Arctic Ocean and in the surrounding areas. The Bering strait, the Magnetic North Pole, The Geographic North Pole - all have been abandoned for different reasons - in spite of unusually good ice conditions this year, at least at the beginning from the Russian side. Even Messner learned that a North Pole expedition is very difficult (he aborted after a few weeks) and the ice is just one part of the challenge.

The last successful attempts for an unsupported North Pole expedition from Russia was the crossing made by Torry Larsen and Rune Gjeldnes in 2000. The last unsupported expedition to the North Pole from Canada was done by Pen Hadow in 2003. The only chance left for an unsupported success this year is Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen who will try it in the summer season - still expecting to be pulling their slacs (half sled/half canoe) for upwards of 80% of the crossing.

Teams still out there worried Tom Avery and the Korean team are the only ones left on the ice right now (Mr Park, who has summitted all 14, 8000ers is the expedition leader of the Korean attempt), and although both expeditions are proceeding well (both are supported), they worry to hit massive leads close to the pole. Tom is currently in the final degree, only days from his quest to beat Peary's time of 38 days to the pole.

Tom Avery’s Ultimate North Expedition In an attempt to make the most out of the remaining days of the expedition, Tom Avery has simply increased the length of the day: “With the dogs showing the first real signs of fatigue, we're trying to work out how to get the most out of them. They've done so well to get this far but there's still some way to go and we don't want them to burn out before the end. So we've decided to continue the clock rolling and increase our days to 29.5 hours. This breaks down as follows:

2.5 hours to get up, have breakfast and break camp
6.5 hours travel (includes two 15 minute breaks)
4 hours rest and lunch in the tent
6.5 hours travel (includes two 15 minute breaks)
3 hours to set up camp, have dinner and go to bed
7 hours sleep”

”Since Marvin Camp we've found that the dogs' performance has been dropping off towards the end of the day, so by breaking the day into shorter sessions, we hope that we can get more out of them.”

Expedition Siberia: We made it - we are in Ambarchik Bay!" This part of the world is one of the few remaining places on earth that is virgin territory. This is a genuine journey of discovery." With these words, the two explorers started out on their winter crossing of far Siberia, taking them over 3500km, along the river of Kolymna. Friday, after nine months of a truly great adventure, a triumphant final dispatch: "We pitched our tent for the last time at N 69°38'04.8 and E 162°13'45.8, and the view across the bay is beautiful! Kolyma with it's incredibly friendly people and wild nature, will be greatly missed. One part of our heart will always belong to this region!"

Himalayan Cataract Project: Climbers and Docs working miracles The field hospital is set up. Kathmandu and Maoist threats are behind them. Now the extreme docs are accomplishing what they came to Everest to do: Helping underprivileged Nepalese people recover their sight. Led by seven-time Everest summiteer Pete Athans, the Cataract Project team (consisting of a group of doctors, a selection of athletes from the North Face team, and a filming crew from Serac Films), brings its expertise to Nepal. Read his and Conrad Anker's reports on what it's like for people to be able see for the first time in thirty years.

Fedor update: "I have had enough of storms" Earlier in the month, Fedor had to play cat-and-mouse at the tip of South America: Cautiously waiting for a break in the wind, then pouncing when the brief window opened. After squeezing by Cape Horn, Fedor Konyukhov has crossed the “furious fifties” and “roaring forties” (the latitudes, not the time periods) and is now sailing northeast from Argentina’s coast. After 100 days in the stormy Southern Ocean, it would be an understatement to say that Fedor is happy to have that behind him.

ExWeb book preview: Mick Dawson vs. sea serpents Last year, Golden Gate rower Mick Dawson was rescued on August 22nd after his row boat capsized in his second attempt to reach Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA from Japan. As Dawson found out, one of the interesting aspects of ocean rowing is the close proximity to the life aquatic, "…The creature was at least two meters long and as thick at its middle as an anaconda. I couldn’t believe my eyes and at first put it down to a trick of the poor light, until I saw, only moments later, another of these creatures swim by, then another followed by another, all just below the surface of the water, menacingly, within touching distance. It appeared my dimly lit rowing boat had somehow become the focal point for a large group of predators that had seemingly leapt from the pages of an ancient mariners’ drunken tale.”

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

Image of climber crossing a ladder on Everest South side, ExplorersWeb files.

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