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ExplorersWeb Week in review
image story

May 15, 2005 08: 49 EST
The biggest headlines this week were Ed Viesturs ultimate Annapurna summit, and the awesome Shisha Traverse by the Everest Supercouloir expedition.

On Everest, after days of exile in Base Camp, climbers are pressing up the mountain again. On the south side, Camp 3 is very snowy and supplies have been stocked at camp 4. On the North side, there are plans for the ropes from 8300m to the summit to be fixed on the first couple of days of OK weather - perhaps already this weekend. Starting Sunday, the winds are predicted to come down to 15 m/s (even 10 in some instances) at he summit.

On Annapurna, summiteers are safely back in BC, but Piotr Pustelnik is battling bad weather on Anna’s South Side. Teams on Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Kangchenjunga are all in BC, frustrated by poor conditions.

Annapurna North: SUMMMIT! Mario Merelli, Mario Panzeri, Daniele Bernasconi, Ed Viesturs, and Veikka Gustafsson reached the summit of Annapurna May 12 at 2:30 pm, local time. The news was reported via satellite phone by Mario Merelli, who could barely say a couple of sentences before running out of batteries.

Silvio Mondinelli did not make it due to cold The Italians have been fighting the mountain for two months; they had previously fixed the route up to Camp 3, where they had been for three days, unable to leave their tiny tents due to high winds. Silvio's decision must have been difficult but a champ never looks back, “Christian Gobbi and I have decided to launch another summit bid in the next few days, along with Abele Blanc, who kindly offered to share his supplies with us. I know that starting again from the beginning is not easy, but it is just part of the game,” dispatched Gnaro from BC.

ExWeb Special: Ed Viesturs "I still have peaks that I want to climb" The six-time Everest summiteer had been rejected by Annapurna twice already, and this season didn't start out great either. Read the ExWeb Special on Ed Viesturs Himalayan Odyssey and his ultimate climb.

14 x 8000: Ed Viesturs joins the world's most exclusive climbing club Ed has now completed 20 summits in total on the world's 8000ers. Only Spanish climber Juan Oiarzabal has more; his recent K2 summit (2004) gave Juanito the world record of summiting 21, 8000+ peaks. Viesturs also became the 12th member of the elite all 14, 8000er club and one of only five to have done it without gas. Read the ExWeb special who-is-who in the club and - who's next!

Shisha Pangma South Wall - Alpine style summit! Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, and Hirotaka Takeuchi successfully reached the summit of Shisha last Saturday. They made the summit in high winds, alpine style with 4 wall bivouacs. After reaching the summit, the trio headed down the North side, thus completing a traverse of Shisha. The team is now heading over to Everest for the Super Couloir.

Everest Supercouloir next up for climbing Super woman The summit astonished the climbing community: Gerlinde made the first traverse On Shisha from the South to the North side and is now emerging as the top female climber in the world.

The Shisha summit puts her at the shared top of the list for living female high-altitude climbers together with Edurne Pasaban. Only the late Wanda Rutkiewicz has more, with eight 8,000ers. Gerlinde has climbed all her 8,000ers without O2, bagging Annapurna last May and G1 last summer. Read a special report on the super woman climber.

Shisha Pangma Traverse Debrief "We set off early and started climbing the steep 50º flank on sheer ice that was occasionally powdered with some fresh snow. We had to climb on the front points of our crampons most of the time. The slope became steeper, up to 60º. Then suddenly, one of my crampons decided to think independently and followed the force of gravity. I put my weight on the front points of the other crampon and felt a wave of fear: “Is this going to be over so soon, as it happened last year?” I asked myself and Gerlinde, who luckily was climbing just meters above me. She descended the ice towards me. “No!” she shouted: “If this mountain didn’t want you, you would have fallen already!” I hoped she was right; I had 80 meters of ice wall below me. She came by my side, climbed down all the way to retrieve my crampon, climbed back up and helped me out of there." Read the thrilling debrief and check the incredible images - one is illustrating this wrap-up - Gerlinde climbing back up with Ralphs crampon!

Nives Meroi on Dhaulagiri: "Ooops - wrong summit"! "We followed the vague traces of the Koreans, when finally they stopped - but the crest continued... We continued a hundred of meters, along the crest of rock and snow, until a top, where someone had planted a small aluminum pole...on our way down, we met with Inaki Ochoa, who said: 'That's not the summit. The true summit is 30 meters higher up! We were dumbfounded. A return was unthinkable. We decided to come down all together, wait for a new weather window - and head back up again: For the real summit, this time."

Dhaulagiri: Korean summits? Nepal’s Ministry published a press release reporting that one Korean climber and three high altitude Sherpas reached the summit of Dhaulagiri. However, the official press release contradicts reports from the international team also climbing Dhaulagiri this season: “At 10:00 am, at 7800m, the international climbers realized that the Korean team’s trails were not leading to Dhaulagiri’s main summit; the fact was that the Koreans had not reached the summit," reported Vallejo's hometeam. The controversy is on: If Koreans actually made it to the real summit of Dhaulagiri, so did Nives, Romano, Luca and probably some additional team members.

Alan Hinkes Kangchenjunga - 13 or 14? British climber Alan Hinkes is another of the 14, 8000+ summit Golden boys waiting to grab his membership. He hopes it will happen on Kangchenjunga, from where he called Friday to Berghaus, his sponsors, "I am hoping there won’t be a need for a third camp but with conditions already threatening the lives of those around me I need to make a sound judgement call when the time comes. As I have always stated no mountain is worth a life but with this being my final 8000er and having been to Kangchenjunga and failed twice already I have my sights set firm.” Well, Alan might have one peak to revisit before he gets the golden key to the house of the elite. There is a controversy about his Cho Oyu climb. In fact, neither Liz Hawley nor AdventureStats have Alan logged for a Cho Oyu summit. ExWeb checked how come.

Nepal issues New Rules for mountaineering records The Ministry has issued new Procedures for mountaineers aiming to make mountaineering records: Inform in writing, make a plan, submit substantial evidence (pictures of important spots clearly specifying the date and time), call liaison officer at BC over sat phone, leave a mark at the summit, take photos of any climber you meet on the summit/mountains and get written proof from the latter. On reaching the summit, take pictures and/or video from all four directions, clearly specifying the date and time while climbing up, if possible. Carry altimeters and (GPS) whenever possible, inform officials about spots reached including the altitude while contacting Base Camp. Submit a detail report containing all activities done and seen, eyewitnesses, pictures taken at the summit, weather situation, etc. to liaison officers at Base Camp. The Ministry will only announce the mountaineers' achievements after verifying the claims and evidence.

Everest Climbers evacuated After an anxious wait of three days, the avalanche-injured climbers finally got evacuated. The big Russian helicopter just fit on the BCMD helipad, and had to make two trips up to carry everyone down. Climbers seem to be OK, except for a Sherpa who might have broken his back.

Everest South - second avalanche Robert Goh narrowly escaped with his life when an avalanche crashed down on him at the bottom of the Lhotse wall (6,800m). "I heard a rumble and when I looked up at the Face, I saw a curtain of snow and ice falling right on me. I immediately crouched down and tucked my head in. Luckily, I had my helmet on because I felt several knocks on the helmets, which were probably chunks of ice. In a minute or two, I was half buried up to my chest. I knew that if I did nothing, I'd be buried alive. So I jumped up and ran downhill with the flow of the avalanche, which was one of the ways of avoiding being buried."

Everest record Chopper - Mystery solved! Jamie McGuinness had another chopper sighting on Everest’s North Side. This was the second landing attempt by the chopper, the previous caught on video last Friday by the Everest Valencia expedition (featured on the ExWeb newscast). The Indian Airforce Everest expedition were suspects, but then it turned out a team led by French pilot Delsesalle Didier is trying to break the record for the highest landing by a helicopter - yes, on Everest summit! The Eurocopter has a one month permit from the Nepalese government to try their feat.

The scoop on the Everest Weather Window With the jet wind parked right on top of Everest and the surrounding 8000ers in the past week, climbers are getting fired up by weather reports promising the jet moving south by Saturday, and the 60-80 mph winds to come down to 15-25 m/s (30-50 mph) at summit level. Read the AdventureWeather special report on the Everest weather window.

Shisha Pangma: Romanian summit The Austrian team led by Gerfried Göschl was not alone on the summit of Shisha Pangma Central on May 3rd. Cristian Tzecu was there too, and Shisha was his first 8000m peak. However, Cristian is one of the few Romanians who has taken part in mountaineering expeditions since the 1989 revolution in his home country.

Tension rising on Manaslu Teams currently on Manaslu are running out of time and patience. Russian climber Serguey Bogomolov and his team reached 7100m and returned to BC. They are ready to take another crack at the top. However, he is hesitant due to bad snow conditions. Serguey is climbing with Georgian Gia Torladze and a Spanish team. The German Amical team's permit is only valid until Sunday, when they will have to head back home.

Dhaulagiri: Ochoa, Stangl, Vallejo third summit bid aborted They try and try. The third attempt ended after a few run-ins with covered crevasses and avalanches. Christian broke through a thin crust of hardened snow, causing an avalanche which luckily didn’t engulf him. Minutes later Iñaki fell to his waist in a covered crevasse. Christian and Ivan ran to help and hauled Iñaki up. After that, they all agreed to run back down to BC. The weather quickly worsened during the descent, with heavy snow and strong winds. Back in BC, Iñaki and his teammates are discussing their options and trying to keep their spirits up.

First unsupported summer Arctic crossing kicks off The first-ever summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean began at Cape Arctichesky, Siberia this week. One World Expedition leader Lonnie Dupre and teammate Eric Larsen set off on snowshoes, relaying two 9 ½-foot whitewater canoes (specially modified with sled runners) across 1 1/2 miles of pressured ice to begin the trek. Just ahead, they’ll have to cross a three-mile-wide patch of open water, which they plan to paddle. The explorers expect to reach the North Pole during the first week in July, and to finish at Ellesmere Island on or around August 21.

Word from past NP teams Last month, Exweb ran a story that highlighted the zero percent success rate for North Pole expeditions. Since then, two full expeditions made it, and they made up for the whole season: Tom Avery broke the speed record to the North Pole; and Mr. Park completed his grand slam. And just before we closed the books, more last degree teams emerged to have stood on the top of the world this year. Yet, amidst the successes, there was disappointment. We revisited Liv and Ann, and Pole Track, two of the three North Pole teams forced of the ice.

Not so fast Mr. Hicks: Ocean rower delayed in British jail Oliver Hicks reported that he had been arrested at the airport in England. He had a knife in his carry-on bag. Ollie spent a night in jail, but everything has been cleared up with the authorities and he’s now on U.S. soil. Ollie arrived in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, the same entry point for the Dutch Ocean Fours rowing team. Both teams plan to row from New York to Great Britain; in fact, both teams are planning to start their expeditions on May 23. It seems to be pretty hard to get a rowboat into the U.S. The Ocean Fours team ran into trouble with customs before finally getting their boat. Meanwhile, Ollie is experiencing delays with the company in charge of shipping his boat here.

Going to Florida for a scuba certificate? Add an Astronaut badge! The Florida Space Authority is checking the possibility for private space ports, envisioning future cruises of a different kind; tourists would arrive to Florida for the usual R&R in the sun, topping the trip with a few hours in space. Scuba diving certificates to be supplemented by real Astronaut badges!

Rescuing adventurers...from space What does NASA have to do rescuing explorers? A new GPS satellite has been launched, and it will improve the current tracking systems.

Another Billionaire joins the new Space Age The Space Age is only a few years away, and the new Astronauts will give AdventureStats plenty to do. The Everest game will start all over - except in Space this time: There will be the youngest woman, the first blind person, the first from each country, the "Four Poles" - on and on. We'll have the usual debates: What's Space, really? Which rocket went higher? Phew. Canadian Arrow Partners are one of around 17 rocket builders aiming to take you there. Teaming up with Indian/American entrepreneur Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, they form the new Canadian corporation called PlanetSpace. Chirinjeev Kathuria was a founding director of MirCorp, the Russian partnered company that became infamous after founder Walt Anderson (51), was arrested at a Washington airport in what federal prosecutors call the largest criminal case of individual tax evasion.

Spirit Rover attempts first traverse on Mars If the Mars Rover Spirit had the capacity for thought, it would sympathize with climbers stuck on difficult routes in the Himalaya. Recently, Spirit came across the most difficult terrain yet on Mars. According to NASA, Spirit was, “Like a hiker walking on loose scree, the rover's wheels began to slip near the top of the ‘Columbia Hills.’"

Today's newscast... You've seen the ExWeb newscasts, anchored by visiting explorers or regular NY staff - well, although still just a very rough test - the very simple feature became our most visited link right from the start! The newscast alone has around 10.000 viewers each day! Internet TV seems to be in our future. Stay tuned...

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

Image of Gerlinde climbing up after retrieving Ralf’s crampon on Shisha Pangma, courtesy of the team.
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