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Harry and Alex - about Maoist shrapnel, Everest magic and staying alive
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May 17, 2005 20: 19 EST
First there were the Maoist bombs, and the tank rides on the way to BC. Then there was the Yeti's cave and a Vertical limit party on Everest north side. A few sheep lost their lives, and then Lynn and Noel had to leave the expedition, after Noel hurt his eyes.

You've seen the ad - join the adventure for 10 grand. Will you summit? Maybe. Will you remember the trip? You bet.

The wild hearts

There's something about these guys. ExplorersWeb is not about well organized trips around the world. Although we will appreciate great outfitters, and alert about the bad ones - our spirit is with the wild hearts.

And what else can you call a Russian expedition leader who reads weather by his toilet and his Dutch co-leader whose graphic dispatch of a sheep feast probably lost us all our California visitors?

Keeping up with the Jonese's

Yet make no mistake about it, Abramov has worked hard to keep up with the Joneses' in terms of logistics and services. It hasn't been easy. 18 clients and 13 sherpas are on the team, and Alex plans to climb with them to the summit. Except that he still has shrapnel, ten fine splinters, sitting in his legs from the Maoist attack. Alex refused to get surgery in Kathmandu, in order to be able to join his expedition on Everest.

Leg cramps up a little in the morning

Although the injury has prevented Alex to climb higher than ABC, he still plans for a summit push, "I am sure, that my participation in an ascent will rise the spirit of the team. I have experience from four expeditions, and last year I summited Everest. I hope for a second summit this year. I have to do it to prove myself to my clients this year, and the ones coming with me next year."

Alex family, three children and his friends are trying to convince him to stay in ABC. He has refused.

“I can't let my clients down, they have paid me for my services. I will do everything in my power to get as many of them to the summit as possible." Alex says he feels alright, except in the morning when the shrapnel causes his legs to cramp up a little.

The big summit migration

The climbing plan is to begin a push in 2-3 days. There will be two teams. The first will be under leadership of Nikolay Cherny (9 members + 6 sherpas), the second will be led by Abramov (9 members + 6 sherpas). They hope to summit sometime around May 24-26.

Abramov reports that Russell's Sherpas will start to fix rope to the summit of Everest sometime today or tomorrow, and after that the big summit migration will begin. The few teams who tried a push already (the Norwegians and the Indians) were unlucky, but others are already walking in their steps. Such is the human nature.

Harry: "I feel alone on the earth"

Harry Kikstra is having a different experience. With "his" clients Noel and Lynn gone, the climber is pretty much on his own now.

A few days back (May 13) he hiked to Middle camp, "very few people are hiking today and I feel alone on the earth. While Everest gets closer, the music in my ears keeps me going faster and faster, my senses work together and my emotions mix into a whirlpool of feelings."

"There is something about this place"

"There is something about this place, last year the exact same thing happened here, somehow going to ABC using this desolate track means crossing some mental border. I appreciate the beauty of life while almost desiring to turn back at the same time."

"Time seems to stop and simultaneously speed up and mix future, past and present into one giant symphony that drives me crazy and makes me ecstatic at the same time. This is part of Everest's magic, I am terrified by it and love it as well and float across the moraines towards ABC."

No definite truth

The past two days, Harry has spent in camp, chatting with climbers and biding his time. To stay or to go back down to BC is the big question, as no forecasts show a reliable weather pattern yet. Harry decided to stay in high camp:

"So there is no definite truth, for now we stay here, but I personally feel the devastating effects myself: my sinuses are blocked, my throat is painful, swallowing is hard and my voice is down to a minimum... Even small hikes to other parties can leave you out of breath for many minutes and the summit seems a long way from our cozy ABC tent..."

Meeting of the heads

The latest forecast shows there might be a decrease in wind the 20th & 21st, then more storm and another possible decrease the 25th. "But even if this will be confirmed the next days we still have the problem of the ropes above the 2nd step. They have not been put there, even though many parties have paid Himalayan Experience to take care of it. But their clients might not be ready, so we will need another meeting of the heads tomorrow to check the possibilities...We will keep you posted!"

Finally Harry ends with his specialty; the 'Song of the day':

"We played this during dinner, and it seems appropriate from now until after summit day: 'Bee Gees: Staying Alive...'"

Alexander Abramov has made quite a name for himself here at ExplorersWeb. He was the one to drive a Land Rover to the top of Elbrus and crashed it coming down, he was the one who slaughtered his own BC food on Everest two years back, and finally the expedition leader of our team mate's climb to the summit of Mount Everest this past spring.

This year, Alex joined hands with Harry Kikstra of 7summits.com, forming the 7summits-club.

Harry and extra guide Nickolay Cherny are leading Lynne Stark, Hanna Noel Richmond, Nate Schneider, and Lorenzo Gariano. Nikolay Cherni has 6, 8000ers and was a co-leader of the Russian Central North wall expedition last year. Lynne Stark will attempt to be the first woman from Northern Ireland to climb Everest.

Alexander Abramov guides the rest with extra guide Ivan Dus. The entire expedition offers a full service outfit with 11 climbing Sherpas (all Everest summiteers), and an expedition Doc. There are 18 expedition members in total.

Images top to bottom:

1. Yuri's birthday cake
2. BC
3. Noel, calling doc
4. North Col tent
5. Alex

courtesy of the expedition.

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