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ExWeb Special report: The Ropes and Summit Push on Everest North Side
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May 20, 2005 17: 58 EST
Previously published May 19, 2005 13: 09 EST

The ropes on the North side have been a big issue lately. Yesterday we ran a special report on the increasing number of climbers growing unhappy with Russell Brice. Not only were the ropes not fixed to the summit - more importantly, Russell was said to not communicate well with the teams.

Yesterday, there was a big meeting at ABC. Expeditions who wished to take their chances with the forecasted brief drop in winds Fri/Sat said that they have no choice but to take on the job of fixing rope themselves. Well today things have changed for the better. Russell assigned 4 Sherpas to help fix rope for the teams going for it tomorrow, and we also got a detailed account from Everest north side.

The Everest accountant

ExWeb had in fact asked him prior his departure for news on the fixed rope situation from the mountain, and we couldn't have asked for a better source. You can tell this guy works with numbers in his professional life - an Everest accountant couldn't have compiled the facts better! So here goes, a report straight from fixed rope HQ on Everest North side:

"I am of the impression that there are erroneous rumors circulating around other camps and perhaps on the Web. I thought you would appreciate knowing the facts, which I have ascertained from reliable sources, i.e., the people directly involved with the issue."

"Following the dissemination of misinformation and just plain lies regarding the fixing and removal of ropes after last year's Everest season, Russell met with the CTMA regarding how to handle this year's rope fixing and the avoidance of a repeat of what happened last season."

CTMA asked for help

"Russell suggested that the CTMA take over completely the fixing of the ropes and charge all expeditions a fee per climber. The CTMA agreed to take responsibility for the rope fixing and charge $100 per climber but since they didn't have enough experienced sherpas on staff to fix the ropes, they asked Russell to help them out and lead the effort to fix the ropes to the summit."

"Russell agreed and between then and the beginning of this season he acquired and transported at his expense 10,000 meters of rope from the United States to ABC. I actually helped with the removal of the rope from their spools and tying of it into transportable loads at BC."

The ropes were carried and fixed up to Camp 4 (8,300 m) by April 24

"As a team we arrived at BC on April 8 and on April 12 Russell had a meeting with all the expeditions established at that point and discussed the meeting he had had with the CTMA after last season and the rope fixing."

"All the leaders present expressed interest in participating, Russell readily agreed to share the burden and a fee schedule was worked out for compensating the teams and sherpas who did the work on the mountain. From that meeting on the 12th until the 24th of April, the ropes were carried and fixed up to Camp 4 (8,300 meters) by the sherpas of 5 teams."

The exact numbers

"The teams and the man days totalled by each team were as follows: Indians - 5, Norwegians - 11, Jagged Globe - 6, Chinese - 3 and Himex - 43. The disproportionate number of man days put in by Himex's sherpas during this period was simply a function of the far greater number of sherpas that Russell had to contribute to the effort than the other teams combined."

"On April 23rd, Russell asked the other teams for one sherpa each to carry rope to Camp 4 and each expedition leader declined citing as the reason their sherpas were too busy. Consequently, Russell's sherpas carried and left 1,000 meters of rope to Camp 4 the following day and left it there for fixing in the following days."

Winds too high since

"Unfortunately, as you undoubtedly know, high winds began buffeting the upper parts of the mountain in the following days and haven't stopped, with the exception of very brief periods, since that time. The severity of these winds has continued to prevent the safe finishing of the rope fixing from 8,300 meters to the summit."

"Last Saturday, May 14th the Norwegians sent 3 of their sherpas to fix rope above Camp 4 and they succeeded in doing so up to 8,500 meters, but at a price...one of the three suffered frost bite to his hands. This risk is why no other expedition leader has sent a sherpa to fix rope above 8,300 meters since April 24th."

Going for it today

So, there you have it. In an ExWeb special weather update that will be published later today, things are pretty much the same as yesterday - except for news on the monsoon. The skinny is that the winds might be low Friday/Saturday, with the Jet returning to the mountain on Sunday. After that, it seems we could expect the window to open around May 25.

With that, the Everest camps are now divided in a smaller troop going for the forecasted 2-day weather break, and a bigger school waiting for the real window. One of the early risers is Alex Abramow, who reports from Everest North side:

"Yesterday leaders of other expeditions came to our camp. There were representatives of the Norwegian expedition, two Indian expeditions, expedition 'Monterosa' and a brief visit by David Hamilton from Jagged Globe. Leaders of these expeditions offered us to become the fourth expedition to go in the forefront and provide Sherpas to fix ropes. We decided to hold another meeting today at 4 pm, and to invite leaders of all expeditions."

Later, after meeting

"At the second meeting it was decided, that the 4 expeditions leaving for a summit push today will be responsible for the final fixing of ropes. The money collected for this purpose will be given to the Sherpas who will do the task. As a result, 4 Sherpas will leave North Col tomorrow and arrive 8300 m the next day. They plan to fix ropes up to the top of the Second step."

"This morning Vladimir Lande has gone up the North Col and started an ascent, together with 2 other climbers. Tomorrow (May, 19) Dyma Moskalev, Sasha Yakovenko, Harry Kikstra and Lorenzo Gariano will head up as well. Three other expeditions (Norwegian and two Indian) also plan a push. Nikolay Cherny will possibly climb to the North Col tomorrow, pending weather."

Image ExWeb files.

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