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A moon rise on Everest for Mountain Madness
image story

May 12, 2004 12: 00 EST
This Sunday, we made a quick update of the Everest weekend, highlighting some important historical dates on Everest. One such was May 9 in 1996, the day that took the lives of Everest climbers, Scott Fisher and Rob Hall.

Both expedition leaders perished on Everest and remain on the mountain. Rob is near the South Summit and Scott is above Camp 4.

Their former outfits "Mountain Madness" and "Adventure Consultants" are now climbing in their footsteps. To celebrate the legendary climbers and all mountaineers joy of life, we made a special report on Adventure Consultants yesterday, including their awesome live picture of majestic clouds mounting over the Lhotse wall.

Today's expedition dispatch we dedicate to Mountain Madness, with this picture shot by Scott Fisher, of the moon rising over Everest.

Mountain Madness history is almost as remarkable as Everest itself. After Scott's death, the outfit went to Christine Boskoff and her husband Keith Boskoff. When her husband died unexpectedly a few years later, the widow found herself alone with the high altitude mountaineering operation. Today, Christine is one of the worlds top female climbers, with six 8000ers - a feat only accomplished by three other women: Polish climber Wanda Rutkiewicz (8), French climber Chantal Mauduit (6) and Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban (6). Only Christine and Edurne are alive, both Wanda and Chantal lost their lives to the mountains.

Willie Benegas is leading Mountain Madness on Everest. Willie is an Everest veteran and last spring he climbed a new route on Nuptseís West Face. If he reaches the summit of Everest, it will be his fourth time. After Everest, Willie (Guillermo) and his brother Damian, are off to find the solution to one of the most famous problems; to climb the North Ridge of Latok I (7145 m), often dubbed as ĎThe Walker Spur of the Karakorumí. As for Everest, Damian told ExWeb in a recent interview: "When we were climbing the North Pillar of Nuptse last year, we couldnít take our eyes off of Everestís west face. We studied the face under different light, at different hours, and I think there is a route there. Yeah, someday weíll go there, when we get the money, of course!"

In commemoration of Mountain Madness 20th Anniversary this year, Willie is leading American climbers Murray Rice, Gene Rehfeld, and Gary Ponder for a summit quest that begins Thursday.

Murray Rice has taken part on expeditions to K2 and Everest, and been on a number Denali expeditions. This is Murray's first expedition with Mountain Madness.
Gene Rehfeld is a cream cheese dealer from Denver, Colorado who completed his fourth of the seven summits this past winter when he summited Vinson with Mountain Madness. Gary Ponder isnít a stranger to Everestís South Side. Back in 2002 he made an attempt with Mountain Madness. Unfortunately he severely twisted his knee in the Khumbu Ice Fall and had to be evacuated from Base Camp. He had surgery soon and vowed to return in 2004. Gary kept his promise.

Sarah Henley, the teamís Base Camp manager, provides their dispatches. Here's their latest, a plan for the teams upcoming summit bid, starting this Thursday:

"Day 46: May 11

This is Sarah Henley reporting from Everest Base Camp. Well, this is rest day number two before the big summit attempt. They have one more rest day tomorrow before they head up on the 13th, for the summit. Gary, Gene and Murray took a walk down to Gorak Shep today to get their legs moving. Rest days are so important but it is also difficult because everyone tends to get antsy and bored. This morning Casey took the trekking group to the ice fall and gave a great glaciology talk which they all seemed to enjoy. There are three to five groups attempting the summit a couple days before our team and these are the folks that will be setting the fixed lines up to the summit.

At the same time our team is going for the top there are four other groups going to be there, which will be a pretty reasonable number. Sometimes summit day can be a total cluster because most of the teams head up around the same time but this year there are a lot of teams on a summit schedule of about three or four days later than us. Willie says, having less people summiting at once makes summit day much less stressful! All of this is assuming the weather cooperates as planned...

Summit Schedule:
May 13 - Go to camp 2 to sleep that night.
May 14 - Rest day at camp 2.
May 15 - Climb Lotse Face to camp 3. They will sleep there this night with oxygen.
May 16 - Hike to camp 4, hopefully by noon. Between 9 and 11 pm this day leave for the summit.
May 17 - Summit between 7 and 10 am. They will then sleep at the South Col. arriving between 2 and 4 pm.
May 18 - Be back to camp 2 between 3 and 4 pm.
May 19 - Be back to base camp sometime in the afternoon."

Mountain Madness is a US commercial outfit returning to the South Side of Everest this year. The Seattle-based company was founded by Scott Fischer in 1984. The company was purchased by Christine and the late Keith Boskoff. Christine continues the operation under the same name providing guided expeditions and climbing instruction.

Image of moon rise over Everest by Scott Fisher, courtesy of Mountain Madness.

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