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ExplorersWeb Week in Review
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May 30, 2005 14: 34 EST
It's all about Everest this Memorial weekend, and this week's wrap-up is just a quick check of the adventure and climbing events that has taken place in the past week. Sunday, the weather was supposed to improve with the jet moving away from Everest and climbers ran for it. It was a slam dunk success. Virtually all teams who tried made it, and Everest was summited from the south side at last. A total number of 46 climbers made it to the top of Everest through the South East ridge route, and some 15 climbers made it on the north side. The push continues tonight, but the jet still lingers nearby.

Mountain Madness guide Willie Benegas and the strong team of Sherpas were the first climbers who summited Everest from the South side this season. As they climbed, they also fixed ropes from the Balcony. Other summiteers were the first Muslim women, Koreans, Rotary, AA, IMG, Spaniards and other scattered climbers. On the north side there was success for IAF, Seven Summits club, Project Himalaya/DCXP and other. Check all names on the site.

A world is mourning Rena. China is a big country; the climber was known by far more people than Ed Viesturs - perhaps Messner even. There are only 12, 14x8000er climbers in the world, and Tibetans Cering Doje, Rena and Bianba Zaxi had only G1 and BP left for the complete list. (They had also climbed BP fore summit). The men were a big pride to Tibetan and Chinese mountaineering; most likely considered for the Everest Olympic torch that China plans to carry to the summit in 2008.

G1 was one of the ace climbers two ultimate summits, and that was exactly where they were headed, when the China's Tibet mountaineering G1 expedition of 11 people was caught by rockslides. Rena, 39, passed away when he was hit directly on his head by a rock that broke through the Jeep he shared with other 4 people. One of those was Bianba Zaxi, who was seriously injured: Hit on his neck; he was in a critical situation but made it through.

Mystery Chopper lands on top of Everest! Amidst all Everest statistics, expedition politics and weather debates - sometimes an expedition comes out of nowhere and puts all the magic back. The Everest mystery chopper did just that - and we can't believe they even adapted our nickname for it. Check Eurocopter's video of another impossible dream come true on Everest - the incredible thin air flight and sweet Everest summit landing...

ExWeb ALERT: Summit Oxygen system - High failure rate above 7300 m Several reports came in about the failure of the Summit Oxygen system high up on Everest. Keith Woodall reported from his summit push on Everest South Side, "my Summit Oxygen equipment was playing up...I was having breathing problems with the Summit mask and regulator...it wasn’t responding for my demand for Oxygen." From the North side on the same day: ”The Indian Air Force team had 2 members turn back at the second step – one with a broken crampon... And the other with failed Summit Oxygen system, problem with the o-ring??” And a mail from Everest North Side: ”Tshering Bhote has two Norwegian clients who have 16 (?!) bottles of Summit, he has just returned from a failed summit bid. They turned back because of high winds and also oxygen failure. One bottle they were using had leaks in two different places, between the cylinder and the first stage, and then also between the first stage and the pulse dose meter.”

”In the end they fixed it by dripping water on the leak, which froze shut. They had problems with other bottles, including another leak between the cylinder and the first stage. The Indians have one reg that was out by one setting. By rough calculation more than half of the uses of the system have failed.”

A failed O2 system is life threatening and ExWeb contacted the team at Summit Oxygen for more information. They immediately confirmed the problems: “For the last week or so we have sadly received emails and telephone calls from various expeditions stating that there are certain failures with our system," wrote the team in an effort for security of the climbers. Unfortunately, a few days back - the head of Summit Oxygen, Neil Greenwood, suddenly turned around; "I would ask that you calm the situation down" he wrote to ExplorersWeb.

For now – try switching to POISK… At this time it is impossible for Summit Oxygen to detail the extent of the problem, but from reports coming in they are guessing that 50% of the bottles and 25% of the conservers (delivering the oxygen) are experiencing problems. Climbers have already scrambled to change to POISK, and there are reports of them getting together to sue.

Iridium: “Invalid battery - matches found, 0” All of the new 9505A handsets have to be recalled due to a software bug. The bug causes the new phones to flash “Invalid Battery”, and results in a dead and useless phone. The handsets might work for weeks or even months before the error occurs, so just because the phone works prior to the expedition doesn’t mean it will when you need it most - out there. No mentioning from Iridium about the problem, even long after it was recognized.The fact is that a search for “invalid battery” on Iridium’s website gave the following information: “Your searching using ‘invalid battery’ returns no results. Please try again.”

From Annapurna South to Everest w/o O2 - Marcin Miotk dark horse in ABC! Polish climber Marcin Miotk (32), who just finished the Annapurna South Face Expedition led by Piotr Pustelnik is on Everest to attempt a non-oxygen, non Sherpa, alpine style summit push on June 2. Should he succeed, Marcin will bag the first Polish Everest summit without oxygen. Although Polish climbers have done great things on Everest (1st winter ascent, new route, 3rd woman ascent) - all have been with oxygen.

Russian Everest NF climber's Cho Oyu summit season's last, only 5% success rate Remember the Russian Everest 2004 North Face expedition? Gleb Sokolov of the 2004 Everest North Face expedition, summited Cho Oyu on May, 22 at 13.30 with mate Yuri in what was the last summit on Cho Oyu this season. This year, there were a total of 320 climbers on this peak, but only 14 summited.

Melungtse: Climbers back in BC after 12 hours of rappelling Last week, climbers on Melungtse were forced to turn back on the mountain’s unclimbed North face due to Yuri Koshelenko’s illness. The Russian was experiencing acute back pain – which is an indication of pulmonary edema – as well as nausea and numbness in the limbs. The team had already climbed the wall section of the route, and all that remained was the summit ridge to reach the peak.

Chomo-Lonzo: Central summit climbed! Christian Trommsdorff, Yannick Graziani, and Patrick Wagnon bagged the previously unclimbed Central Summit of Chomo-Lonzo on May 21st at 6:15 PM, local time. The summit push took 13 hours. The climbers had to overcome several difficult rock outcrops before reaching the upper snow slopes. Night fell as the climbers were making their way back to their camp at 7400m. After negotiating exposed traverses and delicate rappels in the darkness, the climbers finally reached their tent around four in the morning, May 22nd. .

Everest Traverse: Piers aborts traverse, switches to the North Side, Chinese pulls Luis permit “What can I say.....its amazing sometimes how we forget being up here isn’t always about when, it is very much sometimes about if,” reported Luis Benitez from BC. The traverse is over, check Luis reports on the site.

Silvio hits hard times Silvio “Gnaro” Mondinelli is back at home, recovering from the shock of losing a friend on Annapurna. However, he won’t have much time to mourn. Sponsors are pressuring him to climb, and his plans to head to Nanga Parbat have suddenly changed. Broad Peak now seems the likely destination early this summer. If everything goes fine and he summits, he’ll head to Nanga afterwards.

Happy (lonely) birthday, Kangchenjunga Exactly fifty years ago, May 25 1955, Kangchenjunga was summited for the first time. Nepal celebrated the event with a street parade and an official reception for a few members of the original climbing team. However, the mountain itself is rather lonely these days, with just two remaining climbers on the 50th anniversary: Alan Hinkes and Pasang Gelu.

Simone Moro’s Batura II expedition: “Thank God alpinism is anything but dead” Italian climber Simone Moro is setting off for Batura II in two weeks, with climbing-mate Joby Ogwyn. Before leaving, Simone provided some details on the mountain he’ll be climbing and, more importantly, he explained why he chose the isolated Pakistani peak. It turns out that Simone isn’t happy with the current trends in Himalayan climbing, and he plans on doing something about it. Read the 2 part series.

Greenland After a 48hour push, the Greenspeed team (Paul,Sarah,Eric and David) arrived safely on the West side of Greenland to set a new world record for the fastest crossing of the Ice Cap.

Franz Josef Land After the successful end of their Arctic expedition, the Franz Josef Land guys were picked up by helicopter and taken to Nagur Skaya, the northernmost outpost of the Russian Federation. The team walked in the same footsteps as K. Weyprecht and J. V. Payer, the discoverers of Franz Josef Land. Team members Christoph Höbenreich, Victor Bojarski, Robert Mühlthaler, Nikita Ovsianikov, and their dog Nanuk were exploring FJL for roughly three weeks.

Vancouver to Moscow - A breakdown in team relations Everything was going fine, the weather was warming, and Colin was looking to reunite with Tim and Yulya. But relations have taken a mysterious turn for the worse: “Irkutsk is the city where the team had intended to reunite, but unfortunately that is no longer the case. Since the last update the team dynamics have degraded and they have decided to continue independently until they reach the outskirts of Moscow. There they will wait for one another and enter the great city together.”

Contact GEO hits Greenland For the first time ever, you can now track expeditions in Greenland! Two expeditions – The Greenland Ice Queens, and the Green Speed adventure family – are pioneering the new Contact 3.0 GEO technology. Check out the images of the live maps to see the two teams’ positions.

One world expedition – Summer Arctic crossing “The first thing we noticed today when getting out of the tent was the obvious change in snow consistency. It was wet and packable, which means warmer temperatures, and we were definitely surprised to find a 36 degree reading on our electronic Brunton weather station. The other thing we noticed about today was that we are still drifting southwest. We are losing mileage while we sleep.”

Ellen gives transatlantic record a second try After a battle lasting 7 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes and 2925 miles - Ellen lost her transatlantic record by only 75 minutes and 18 miles last year. She averaged less than 2 hours sleep per day for the last 6 days bringing on her very first hallucination and had only eaten 3 hot meals since leaving New York. Now, she'll give the challenge another round: From the 1st September this year, Ellen MacArthur will go on standby for her second attempt on the solo transatlantic record from New York (USA) to Plymouth (UK) on board the 75-foot trimaran B&Q.

And they are off! The boys have left town. You've seen them in ExWeb's newscasts: Ollie in an interview about his jail time, and the Dutch anchoring news from ExWeb's roof! Friday, both boats left from Atlantic Highlands NJ. Ollie started his row across the Atlantic W-E intending to reach England in 62 days, thereby breaking the USA-Europe solo Atlantic recor and become the youngest rower (23) to attempt the 3,000-mile crossing. Gijs Groeneveld, Robert Hoeve, Jaap Koomen, and Maarten Staarink too started their challenge from Atlantic Highlands NJ, in attempt to break the world record for route USA - Europe, rowing in less then 55 days to the Isles of Scilly (UK).

The edge of interstellar space "Voyager has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space, as it begins exploring the solar system's final frontier," said Dr. Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology, last week.

Space tourists are not rocket scientists and might be super sized Jane Reifert, President of Incredible Adventures, Inc wants to point out a few things about the future space clients to the private rocket building engineers, and the funny thing is, that this could well be a blue print of a commercial Everest expedition leader's reflection on some of his clients:

1) They aren’t rocket scientists.
2) They may be “super-sized”.
3) They won’t really care where you put your spaceport.
4) They shouldn’t be expected to meet stringent physical requirements.
5) They don’t like surprises and expect perfection.
6) They aren’t overly concerned with price or safety.
7) They’re short on time.
8) They’ll likely be men over 50.
9) They will come from around the globe.
10) They’re nothing like the tourists that show up at Disney parks.

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

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