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St. Petersburg team going for CIII, 8300m
16:34 p.m. EDT May 2, 2003
One more trip up for the Russian North side St. Petersburg team. They have established Camp II, 7900m, and now want to set Camp III at 8300m. Once this is done, the team will be in position to make a summit bid.

In climber Tom Masterson's latest dispatch he answers a question received via email. One expedition follower wants to know, "Why don't you just walk up to the top of the mountain and then back down?"

May 02, Tom Masterson:

Report from Everest/English language, continued, for period through 2 May,

Everyone in the group has now been above the North Col and slept at the North Col (~7000m). Our high camp is now at ~7800 m at the top of a steep finger of snow. We have one more camp to establish at ~8300 m before we can look for a summit bid. We are presently regrouping at BC. The group doctor, Dima, has been working hard to keep folks healthy. He is widely in demand by several groups including the Russian group from Moscow, Mountain Dreams from Ft. Collins/USA, Indian group from Darjeeling, Nepalis, Sherpas, and Tibetans. This is not always an easy task as most mountaineers feel that they are perfectly fit until they drop over dead.

We have received a few e-mail questions. We will try to answer one with this posting. Why don't you just walk up to the top of the mountain and then back down? There are varieties of reasons. First, the human body does not always cooperate. It is a creature of habit and complains vehemently when the amount of oxygen is reduced to less than 30% of that available at sea level. You can do something as simple as standing up and the body will keel over. Muscles are notorious for requiring oxygen for normal operation, as is the brain for reasoned thinking. In any event, my body was rejoicing as I descended from 7500 m (24500') to base camp at a mere 5100 m (17000').

And, believe us, the 22 km slog, (with 1200 m elevation change) between BC and ABC is not just undertaken "for the fun of it". However, our efforts totally pale beside those of the British expeditions of the early 1920's! They (including Mallory, Irvine, Haldeman and many others) explored areas about 100 times larger than those we are looking at with nothing close to present-day equipment or supplies. Time and time again they would come to the top of a pass and find no reasonable way to the summit from that perspective. When they finally found (1924) the North Col approach that we are now attempting, Mallory and Irvine disappeared into the clouds above 8300 m, never again to be seen alive.

Haldeman (Sp?) spent a week searching in vain for them above 8000 m, probably with nothing warmer than tweeds, coat, and a few extra pair of socks. Amazing! Of course, there are a few extra constraints on the part of the mountain, which may decide to dump 30 cm of new snow on carefully planned routes, creating severe avalanche hazards. Also, Everest is so tall that its head sticks far up into the jet stream. As the jet stream moves back and forth, the summit frequently experiences (e.g. tonight) 30 m/s (180km/hr, 110 mph) winds that are not conducive to life in any form. More reports continue as computer access & functionality, power generators, and base camp time permits.

This expedition is devoted the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and the 50th anniversary of Mt. Everest's first ascent. Between all the climbers of this nine member team 6, 8000m peaks have been summited and there are 2 Russian Snow Leopards (awarded to a person who has climbed all of the ex-Soviet Union's 7000m peaks) Expedition leader Anatoly Moshnikov summited Mount Everest without the use of oxygen in 1998.

Image of team member Marina Ershova climbing above Camp I towards 7500m courtesy of Russian St. Petersburg Expedition.

Dispatch forwarded by our friends at Ersh Travels.

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