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Tales from an O2-less Everest climb
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Apr 27, 2004 15: 36 EST
No O2? That's right, and that’s why the Mexican/Canadian Everest team was one of the leading teams up to Camp 3. The Mex/Can's, Khoo Swee and Ed Viesturs to name a few – are quite far up the South side because when climbing without O2, spending more time at higher altitudes increases the chance of a successful summit bid. With an early acclimatization, you get several shots at the summit in one season, and your acclimatization increases with each attempt.

The Mex/Can team is a group of climbers "bound together by friendship and respect."

Andres Delgado, of the Mex/Can team has been on K2, summited Everest with oxygen, and stood atop Cho Oyu three times. Today he is on Everest for a no O2 attempt and will soon head to K2 for a double header. Here is a wrap-up of his and his team mates dispatches from the mountain:

Andres Delgado:

“I left Mexico March19th and arrived the following morning in Kathmandu, Nepal. Many memories of previous expeditions came to my mind, a good way to pass the time while waiting for immigration. So Marta, Alexander and I, went to see Sven Gangdal, a Norwegian friend with whom I climbed with on Everest in 96 and Cho Oyu in 99. We met Sven at 11 in the morning in his hotel and he had already chugged two beers. We later saw Sven in the Rum Doodle Bar, we had a beer together, wished each other good luck and I went to Everest.

Along with our sherpas, we helped to place one of the difficult ladders in the Khumbu icefall. We joined five vertical ladders to climb over an ice wall of 15 meters. The sherpas gave me an amulet of rice said to protect against avalanches, stones, cracks, etc. I now wear it around my neck with my wedding ring and a picture of Iñaki (his son).

Setting up BC has been a feat. It has been everything from weeping to laughter, short-circuits, dead and reincarnated computers, tents placed, tents cleared and tents replaced.

Tom Masterson, a 59 year old climber with the team, describes some of the climb;

We headed uphill towards the steeper terrain at the top of the Western Cwm. The going is a bit tedious as no one has been up this high this year, and the ice is criss-crossed with invisible crevasses. Eventually we get to the beginning of the steep Lhotse face. It begins with a vast bergschrund across the entire width of the face. The right side is shorter and more feasible. Andres our sirdar spent 2-3 hours making and fixing a way up, across, and through a (thankfully short) vertical cornice.”

It isn't all work, but there is a lot of it “Several days ago we had a meeting between the leaders of different expeditions concerning fixing ropes between Camp 2 and Camp 3. Only sherpas from our expedition and one from the Greeks managed to arrive yesterday at Camp 2.”

Luis Espinoza, a Mexican athlete and the youngest member of the team, reports from Friday;

“Andrés, Luis (the tough one), Richard, Martin and Tom have gone back up to Camp 3. Juan Pablo has remained at Camp 2 but Alejandro came back down to Base Camp because he was not feeling good. He has now arrived and is feeling much better but he is very hungry. Today is a rotten day because lots of snow has fallen. The weather forecast predicts that the snow will cease and after that the wind will calm down. I suppose that Andrés and a few of the climbers will want to stay up in Camp 3 for an extra day to improve their acclimatization at 7300 meters.”

Andres' latest about the next plan;

"Today we met the leaders of 10 expeditions to discuss fixing ropes between Camp 3 and Camp 4. The meeting was called by the American Dave Breshears. Until now the highest end of the fixed ropes is at the base of the Yellow Band. It is titanic work to fix ropes from Camp 3 to the Yellow band and only the strongest sherpas of the Discovery Channel expedition, headed by one of its better climbers, the Mexican Héctor Ponce de Leon made it up to that height. If the time allows it, the route will be fixed up to 8,000. As soon as the rope is ready, we will climb there.”

The team comprises three Quebecois and four Mexicans "bound together by friendship and respect". The climbers will attempt Everest without oxygen (a first for Canada if successful). After Everest, Delgado will travel to Pakistan for a K2 double header.

Expedition members: Andres Delgado, Luis Espinoza , Alejandro Ochoa Reyes, Martin Boileau, Richard Cartierts and Tom Masterson.
Images of (from the top) the view of Camp 2, The beginning of the Lhotse Face, Climbing the Lhotse Face, View of Everest from C3, Martin and Richard in C3, Richard cooking pancakes back in BC courtesy of Everest2004.ca

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