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"Just to get by" Everest North 2004 7800 m Video


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May 12, 2004 16: 46 EST
Dave D'Angelo of team ExWeb just shot over a kick-ass video straight from the mountain. Make sure you have your sound on, if the Flash video doesn't show, do the MS window media player option.

This is the best video sent from Everest since Scott Woolums "storm in Camp 3" last year! Both expeditions edited the videos right in the high camps, and then used RBGAN and Contact 2.0 for transmissions live to web. No middle men here, guys - this is the real thing from the mountain straight to you!

And here's Dave's latest report:

"Thunderstruck never gets old. I think the next time I am ready to head up, that is what I'm going to listen to - nah nah nah nahaaha..Thunder! nah nah nah nahaaha. (If you know the song you get it and you should now be stoked for this dispatch. If not, go to Kazaa and download it.)

Sardines

Anyways, it's been an exciting couple of days - I figure I'll begin on the lighter side of things. My second time up at the Col, as luck had it we had four people inside a four person tent. Sounds logical, doesn't it? Have you ever looked at the side of can of coke or a package of peanuts you might get on a plane - it often says two servings per container. So are you really supposed to share the mixed nuts with the guy beside you?

Do you see the connection? A four person tent is wonderful for one, good for two, tolerable for three, but for four - unghastly. We even tried sleeping head to toe. Needless to say I got about two seconds of sleep the entire night at 23,000 ft, and it wasn't because of acclimatization.

A wet, sloppy kiss

So onto the lighter side I mentioned. It gets dark at night and as it were, my pee bottle and water bottle are of the same shape and size. Their contents are inversely proportional and at midnight the former was full and needed to be emptied outside the tent before being used again. It was dark and one thing led to another - let's just say there was a mix-up and I ended up with two warm bottles.

Didn't find out until it was too late and I took two swigs. The first I thought was just my imagination, the second I realized something was drastically wrong. I had liberated precious, precious water from the tent, not the pee. And what was behind door number one was now also behind door number two. It was not unlike the battle of whits with the Sicilian in The Princess Bride. Who wants a wet, sloppy, kiss?

A bad night on a Tokyo subway

Moving on. . . I thought I had found a secret weapon for high-altitude climbing. Sudafed, it clears up your head and makes breathing easy. I had taken two pills in the morning and one at night in case my nose got blocked. As I learn about a day ago, in Base Camp, Sudafed not only dries your nasal passage out, but your entire body.

I woke up with this warm sticky mucous in my mouth, not to mention that I was sleeping on a downhill and anything that was in my lungs found its way in my throat. It was the worst night of my life, lying awake for hours upon hours, as tight as a Tokyo subway, blood rushing to my head, mucous slowly traveling up my trachea like syrup down a window, the taste and smell of piss in my mouth. And we had planned to climb higher the next day. I know now why I felt so dehydrated - no more Sudafed for me, any more. I guess it makes for a good story later on?

Heading up

All four of us collected ourselves as best we could in the morning, made some breakfast. I started boiling water as soon as I could get my hands on the stove, I wanted out. Started up towards Camp II for acclimatization purposes.

The weather forecast was right on and it was whipping up there. Only us, the Italians, and some other independent climbers and sherpas were on our way up. The route from CI to CII is 2000 ft, the 1st 1000 on snow and the second on rock. Our goal was to reach lower CII at 7500m or roughly a hair under 25,000 ft. No one made it to Camp III that day, it was just too windy.

Hell's Yeah!

The snow is long, exposed, and was very windy. A little more than halfway up, Dmitry was a bit behind me and looked up at me and waved down. I waited for him to come up and he said that he along with the others, will head down. I said I wanted to go up; it was just an hour or so more to 7500m. He spoke to Alex on the radio and said he would wait with the others at Camp I, North Col, and we'd all go down to ABC together.

For me this was a very interesting situation. I will admit, as seen from my previous two forays to larger mountains, I am the first person to turn around. This time it was different, I felt like going higher even when I had a great excuse to head down. I was moving fairly quickly and feeling good. Lower Camp II was just a bit higher. I wouldn't say I was enjoying the climb, like the way I would an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, but it felt oddly good. No headache, I was putting one foot in front of the other and in a way battling the wind, I just felt good. Dmitry helped me get my down jacket out and I drank some Gatorade. He and the others below headed down and I kept going - it just felt right.

On the way up there, just after parting with Dmitry, I started getting that same feeling as I had the first time up to Camp I - I saw the end of the rope, I knew I could get there, I was looking around, I was getting a little choked up, I was smiling - I still can't figure out why? I looked up at sherpa above and gave a "Hell's Yeah!!"

Feeling good

The summit is a long way off, still, but none-the-less, I can't put the feeling in words. Is it because I've doubted myself so much about this? Is it because I can look down and see how small Camp I was; I could see my progress? I don't know, but I told myself I wasn't there yet, and tucked my head down and kept going up. A few steps, some big breathes and a couple yanks of my Jumar. The Jumar is attached to the fixed ropes and only goes one way on the rope. I slide it up, and then use it to help pull myself up. The sherpas just clip into the ropes and use only their legs - I need a little help from my right arm, not the first time.

I'm Sailing!

Maybe this can help relate. Remember in What About Bob? "I'm Sailing! I'm Sailing! I'm a Sailor! I Sail!" For me that's what the feeling was like, this almost stupefied elation, "I'm climbing! I'm climbing! I'm a climber!" I'm on the side of Everest, feeling good, the wind is blowing, Tibet is at my feet - it just ain't that bad?

An hour and a half later I rounded the last rope, saw the tents, and abruptly the wind speed at 7500m jumped to at least 18 to 20 m/s, just like the forecast said. I had reached lower Camp II, the set goal for the day. In all I climbed from Camp I to lower Camp II, 7500m in about 3.5 to 4 hours - is that good Mike? Climbed up to a nearby tent, stayed clipped in so I had to sit on the windward side, drank, and took some video. 25,000 ft - a new high point for me. I knew that having done this, the next time I am up there is for my summit bid.

A bit haggard

After 10 or 15 minutes to chill I started heading down, all the way down. Made it to the Col and then continued to ABC with Marshall - the others were right behind. By the time I reached the bottom of the glacier and started to hike on rocks to ABC I was very tired, and stumbling a bit. I was whipped and my boots felt loose.

Marshall, much stronger stayed behind me the whole way down. When we're going between BC and ABC, I often go in front to slow him down some so he keeps his energy :) He's more than twice my age, but extremely, extremely strong, and his very high tolerance for feeling like crap will no doubt be a huge asset on summit day.

Stay tuned for tomorrows report on the teams summit plans and the Russian version of weather forecasting.

The Russian Adventure team, headed by Chief Abramov has recently been on trips to Elbrus and Ararat, over in Turkey. They also ran a successful Everest expedition last year and are running another trip again this year to the big E. This time, Dave from team ExWeb is with them.

Image of Dave, courtesy of Dave.
Video music "Just to get By" courtesy of Talib Kweli.

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