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Everest and Himalaya weekend WRAP-UP
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May 17, 2004 15: 52 EST
Mount Everest

Friday

It was a very cool first 2004 Everest summit push night at ExplorersWeb. The updates were published with videos in them of the exact route, and then, at last, the summit itself:

The team that broke the first Everest 2004 summit news to ExplorersWeb and the world at 04.00 EST were Chilean Ernesto Olivares Miranda (Makalu), Andrónico Luksic Craig, Misael Alvial Cid (K2 and Aconcagua), Sherpa Alden, Sherpa Angi, Sherpa Rama, Sherpa Shulding, Kiko, and British Annabelle Bond.

Also on the summit were Jagged Globes Kenton and Clive. Kenton Cool is leading Jagged Globe's 8th expedition to the mountain. This is his first 8000 meter summit, but he was recently nominated for the Piolet D'Or for his new route on Annapurna III. IMG reported they had Dan, Ron, Brien, Jason, Kevin and Sherpas Karma Rita and Mingma on the summit.

Jagged Globe reported:

"Although they left the South Col at 9pm, the first climbers didn't make the top until after midday. They had to put in fixed rope along the ridge as they climbed higher. Kenton Cool and Clive Jones reached the summit at around 13:45 Nepalese time. The weather was clear. "The Sherpas are legends" said Kenton, referring to their efforts in fixing ropes ahead of the main bulk of climbers."

The Greek team turned around due to high winds, also reported that day from Makalu. Both the Greeks and the Makalu climbers were instead going for it Saturday.

Saturday

The first Greek stood on the top of Everest after 9,5 hours of climb. Giorgios raised the Greek flag as well as the flag of the Olympics on top of the world, along with a picture of a fellow Greek climber who lost his life on Cho Oyu last fall, in preparation for Everest. The rest of the team are trailed Giorgios to the summit next. "Thank you for making all of Greece proud!" wrote the very happy home team in all capital letters.

Then came the nights most remarkable climb: Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition arrived at the summit of Mount Everest 7:55 AM Nepal time. Team Leader Tom McMillan and Nawang Sherpa represents a first ascent of Mount Everest by a trans-tibial amputee and a first ascent by a disabled Nepali citizen.

It’s not so rare to have a sherpa among the first teams to make the season's first summit push, but this guy is different. Nawang Sherpa is climbing Everest South with a prosthetic leg. He got a new "climbing leg" in 2002 thanks to the High Exposure foundation, a nonprofit launched by Ed Hommer, who lost his own legs on Denali and hoped to scale Everest one day together with Nawang. Ed's own Everest dream however ended in tragedy a few months later when a rock struck and killed him on Mount Rainier Sep 23, 2003. This year Tom McMillan, a California climber, stepped in to make Nawang's dream to scale Mount Everest a reality.

Following on the climb in cyberworld was also Tom Halvorson, Ed's and Nawang's "Magic man". Read the featured interview with him on this site.

Next a disappeared climber reappeared - on the summit! Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and mountaineer Ted Atkins made it on his third attempt. "His attempt was slightly delayed by weather changing conditions, he had originally planned to be at the summit by Thursday 13 May. He and his wife Shona are overjoyed at this achievement."

Ted first attempted Everest via the West Ridge in 1988, a route he called a “logistical nightmare.” In 2001, Ted returned, leading the large, successful RAF expedition up the North side. Two members of the team summited, however his own bid ended at 8300m in deteriorating weather. This year, Ted is simply joined a permit to make his own attempt on the South Col route. Ted test piloted a new personal oxygen system using an aviator's mask, some pieces of medical oxygen systems, a couple of condoms (!) and a plastic coke bottle. It seemed to have worked!

Lhakpa Gelu, the Everest speed record holder, made his 11th summit! Lhakpa was part of the Discovery Canada team and is now sharing the second place for most Everest summits with Chuwang Nima behind Apa Sherpa (14 summits).

But the Mexican/Canadian team was in trouble. Finally the news came early morning:

"Richard is heading for camp 3 and Martin arrived safe in camp 4 some hours ago and is probably now also heading for camp 3. They both are ok. Alejandro and Luis summitted at aprox 11 a.m. However Luis ran out of oxygen descending the South summit. The people from Discovery Channel gave him one bottle. A little below Tom and Andres were climbing but Tom was in bad shape. According to the people from Discovery Channel (Héctor and Andrew), he was falling over and over, had a broken crampon and was delirious. So they tried to convince him to accept some oxygen and descend.

Héctor and Andres assessed the situation and Andres (without oxygen, ed note) decided to quit climbing and instead descend. So the situation is dramatic but controlled. Alejandro and Luis are also descending. I wish I had better news than these, but I am also glad they are not worse, thanks to the help of the Discovery Channel Team."


Check the Nepal official preliminary list EVEREST May 15, 2004 for all summits and summit times.

Sunday

Mountain Madness in the footsteps of Scott Fisher and Anatali Boukreev. Preliminary reports have Ed Viesturs and Apa Sherpa on summit today. That would be Apa Sherpas 14th summit.

Unconfirmed other commercial outfit climbers, summits results to be confirmed later today.

Everest North Clouds moving in. Italian team turned back at 8600 m for unclear reasons. Expected to ABC today.

Up next (pending weather):

Monday

Everest North side attempts. Report later today. Everest South - a final wave of this weekend's climbers. Report later today.

Tuesday

Everest North Face summit push?

The team reached 8270 m Saturday morning, and a summit push could happen in three days (Tuesday) reported Victor Kozlov:

"The trio Shabaline-Tukhvatullin-Mariev fixed five more pitches at the Bastion yesterday, and today they fixed another three pitches at the difficult rocks. They'll continue to work the route another 3 days, after that Kuznetsov's team will step up. If Shabaline's team can manage to fix ropes higher up and set the tent at 8400, then Kuznetsov's group will make the summit attempt, weather permitting. Shabaline's climbers works without supplementary oxygen. Bukinitch won't work at the wall - the doctor doesn't let him - he's too young for the high altitude."

The team also sent over new pics - check out the features to your left. The challenge is tremendous; not since 1991 has anyone succeeded in climbing a non traditional route on Everest without the use of oxygen support. Only 15 people have ever achieved this, and these guys are going one harder; mapping a brand new route.

HIMALAYA NEWS

Makalu summit

High winds turned the team around after no more than 800 meters progress, so Iñaki Ochoa de Olza and Alex Txikon, postponed their summit attempt of Makalu by 24 hours. The climbers and their climbing mates Joby Ogwyn (US), German Peter Guggemos, Ivan Vallejo and Ricardo Valencia saw indications however that the wind was falling. The next day, the news came straight from the mountain:

"Navarrese climber Iñaki Ochoa de Olza, from the Lorpen-Diario de Navarra expedition, has summitted Makalu (8.463 m) this Sunday morning at 10.40 Nepal Time (06.55 Spanish time). Ogwyn and Guggemos turned around because of very cold conditions. Alex continued, but a bit behind Inaki.

Inaki could see him, and the Ecuadorian Iván Vallejo (who began the final assault from 7.400 meters) at 11.45 Nepal time about one hour or one hour and a half from the summit. "I think they will make the summit after a while, but now I'm going down to Camp III (7.600) and, if I can, to Camp II (6.550). It has been hard because of the cold, but I`m very happy now", said Inaki over sat phone to his family in Pamplona.

With this summit, Inaki Ochoa de Olza has reached his 8th 8.000 meter peak. His next project is K2, that he will attempt this summer.

Dhaulagiri Summit

Esp.MountEverest.net brought great news: "At last, this morning, the Argentinean-Spanish expedition reached the summit of Dhaulagiri (8167m). The summiteers are Argentinean Víctor Hugo Aryan Herrera and Catalán Xavier Arias. They had very hard wind, low visibility and cold. The climbers began their ascent yesterday from Camp 3 at 7,400 meters, in unstable weather. Other climbers in the team turned back earlier due to the bad weather conditions."

The expedition had a very special mission:

“We go after the dream of our predecessors, following their steps, of which they cleared the way. We march forward hoisting our flag and proclaiming our motto: All Argentineans Under the Same Sun." A war cry for sure, honoring the first expedition to attempt Dhaulagiri in 1954 , and significantly Fernando Grajales, a member of that 1954 Argentinean expedition. Fernando passed away just last month at the age of 79. The expedition leader also said: "Frequently the mountain climber looks for freedom and wishes to go beyond the mere sensation of climbing near the sky. We yearn to expand the spirit. And one is pushed by the adventure and the obsession to discover and to explore."

Shisha Pangma Central Summit

Maximo Henostroza from Huaraz, Peru and Marek Wencel from USA/Poland made the first summit of Shishapangma (central) - already on May 7 th at 3:05 pm Nepal time. "The weather was good, but the snow conditions were dicy to continue to the main summit. We did push to the summit from C-2" they wrote in an e-mail.

Cho Oyu/Everest Norton Line aborted

Ray Yeritsian aborted his summit push of Cho Oyu and won't go for Everest this year either. Ray Yeritsian, an Armenian born Californian, earlier announced that he would be attempting the 1924 Norton line with variations on Everest this spring, unsupported, solo, and without supplemental oxygen. Ray's previous are Aconcagua (summit), Mt.McKinley (summit). 2000 Everest, South East Ridge (aborted due to an injury), 2001 Lhotse, West Face, attempt, unsupported (aborted due to bad weather).

Manaslu aborted

The GMAM team on Manaslu had to abort their attempt May 7. "We have climbed 7000ers in one week, and two of them in less than 20 days, but on Manaslu we couldn't get past 6300 meters in a months work."

Last year, Piotr Pustelnik (currently on Annapurna South) and Krzysztof Tarasewicz were the only two climbers to reach the summit of Manaslu. High winds caused the climbers to fall 300m, nearly knocking them off the mountain on their descent. The pair used a compass to guide them through the blinding snowstorm down to safety, but Pustelnik sustained frostbite on four of his fingers.

Having summited twelve 8,000m peaks, he stated, “I found the expedition to Manaslu the hardest compared to my last three climbs. Maybe K2 in 1996 from North was harder. I didn't have such a bad weather even on Kangchenjunga in 2001, and now I understand why even excellent climbers were talking about Manaslu with such a deep respect.”

Annapurna final Summit push

"Hi, this is mBank Era Annapurna South Face Expedition, welcome from BaseCamp. We are leaving in a few minutes. The weather forecasts are neither good nor bad, but we have a strong motivation to end our adventure with Annapurna successfully . Keep your fingers crossed for us, as I said earlier - this is our last attempt…

Bad weather and a highly difficult route on the Southern Face of Annapurna forced the mBank team down to BC earlier this week. After escaping avalanches, being battered by high winds, getting covered by snowstorms, and half the climbers falling ill, the team finally decided to take a rest. A new push was decided on, but this is what Piotr said:

This is our last attempt, if it is possible we will fix Camp III, and from there we will try to reach the summit. Otherwise we will surrender. There is no third option.

This is Piotrs 13th 8000erand then he has only Broad Peak left. Last year, Piotr Pustelnik and Krzysztof Tarasewicz were the only two climbers to reach the summit of Manaslu. High winds caused the climbers to fall 300m, nearly knocking them off the mountain on their descent. Annapurna is the toughest of them all. Piotrs team will need all luck they can get. Serguey Bogomolov, 43, is also joining the team.

For Serguey this will be his 12th 8,000er. In July 2002 he climbed Shisha Pangma by a new route, crossing to the formerly unclimbed North-East ridge. Annapurna (8,091 m) is statistically the most dangerous peak of all the eight thousanders. The overall summit/fatality rate is 41% (although not all climbers summit of course). On Christmas Day 1997, Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche, an event that shocked the mountaineering community. In total, only 130 climbers have summited Annapurna.

Annapurna North Face

As Piotr and his team shut down their computer and left for their final push on Annapurna South, a sat phone call came from Annapurna's opposite side - the North Face:

"Simone via Satphone: “We are now in camp 1 at 5000 m. We took 5 ½ ours, because our backpacks were very heavy, about 30 kg each. We also had to scout a route between the moraine and the glacier. The weather is good, and so are the conditions on the mountain. There is not too much snow, but today we had rock falls and ice... Tomorrow we will reach 6000 meters and have a better look at the pillar we want to climb."

Saturday, the team headed up for a four day climb to reach 7000/7100 meters and set camp 3. The plan is then to return to BC for a 2 days rest. If all goes well, they'll do a summit attempt after that, around end next week. "We will see if it is possible to find a new line for a new route; or if danger will advise us to follow the French or Dutch route."

Women on top

The top female climbers in the world were Wanda Rutkiewicz with 8 summits of 8,000+ meters and Chantal Mauduit with 6; both ladies, however, perished in the mountains. Christine Boskoff (US) together with Spanish Edurne Pasaban both have six 8000ers and are, with that, the worlds top female climbers alive today.

Italian Nives Meroi (together with Polish Anna Czerwinska) has 5 8,000ers. Where's Nives now? On Lhotse, going for 6th 8000+ mountain next week! If Nives makes it, that's going to put her in a three way tie for the top spot, with Edurne and Christine. After Lhotse, Nives is off to K2. That's where Edurne Pasaban too is heading...and maybe a 7th 8000er for them both.

And then there is Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the Austrian lady climber who is considered by many to be the best female climber in the world right now. She goes after some tough 8,000ers. Where's SHE now? Gerlinde expects to summit Shisha Pangma, her fifth, by the end of this month! Her team is doing a tough route on Shisha (the South Face), and then she is off to Annapurna. If she gets both she will have 6 tough 8,000ers under her belt, and could go up to the top of the list with the most difficult mountains already out of the way.

Japanese inspiration

At the age of 65 (and 167 days) Tamae Watanabe became the oldest person to summit Lhotse Saturday. In 1991, at the age of 52, Tamae summited her first 8000er, Cho Oyu. She then went on to Dhaulagiri, G2 and on Everest in 2001, she became the oldest female Everest summiter. Tamae is the only still active senior citizen 8000er collector. When it comes to female high altitude climbing, she is now right up there on top of the world list, one short of Edurne Pasaban and Christine Boskoff, and on pair with Nives Meroi.

And with that an important day in this weekends mountaineering history: Perished May 15, 1998 Chantal Mauduit, French lady climber, who ascended six 8000ers, K2 in 1992, Shisha Pangma Main and Cho Oyu in 1993, Lhotse (first female ascent!) and Manaslu in 1996 and Gasherbrum II in 1997. She attempted Everest several times, without oxygen, but without success. She probably died on this day, 1998, in an avalanche on Dhaulagiri, at age 34.

Maoists this weekend:

The Baruntse/Annapurna team reported from their Anna trek: Yesterday, Maoists bombed one hotel in Pokhara - only 300 meters away from us! (Ed note: To prevent injuries, the Maoists first ordered everyone out of the hotel before setting off the bomb).

Sergey Bogomolov reported that the team met with a fellow Russian, in BC. They discussed the Maoists, in Hadrung, around five hours trekking from the expedition. "I heard before that they were active in the area of Makalu. Well, I think, let Ilyinsky deal with them.
-What do they want?
-Revolutionary validity.
-What is that?
-Give me 1000 rupees for revolutionary validity and Sacred Annapurna and you are permitted to pass.

-They are especially frequent in the Royal track area - where Prince Charles trekked around Pokhara for 4 days. That's the right place to be for them, a lot of rich people there. I'll rather go to the Wall."

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