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Everest Expedition 2009 dispatches
Hello! This is the Altitude Junkies-Project Himalaya Everest Expedition lead by Phil Crampton.
Yes, it is a joint expedition and everyone who follows us will recognize the names of virtually all of the crew.
See below the pictures for the expedition dispatches, and see the 8000m history for the result of the expedition.
Current forecast by Mountain Meteo Services - thanks!
The Everest team members are:
Joe "Bored" Bonner
This is Joe's third time on Everest, the first time with us though. He previously gave up because work called and the expeditions looked like they would take a long time.
A flight attendant who has climbed with Phil previously.
Valerie has guided countless trekking groups for Exodus, and finally wanted to get higher than base camp. She became the first British woman to summit Manaslu, on our Manaslu expedition last year.
Ian joined us for Gasherbrum II in 2007, a season of dangerous snow conditions, as a build up for Everest. He is climbing to raise money for Cancer Research UK, and we should also give a plug to Control Risks, who Ian works for. Do read Ian's blog of the climb, and his thoughts 6 months after the expedition.
Everest logistics support
Scott Woolums is guiding his own team using our logistics support.
Mike Farris, author of the recently published book "The Altitude Experience", is also using our logistics support. Mike has attempted many 8000m mountains previously, including Broad Peak, K2, Gasherbrum II and Kanchenjunga.
Everest from Tibet
Yes, we did intend to go with Jamie as guide but with the uncertainty a number of people switched to the south and then with our last team one permit remained elusive. This break gives me a chance to catch up on many projects.
See the links on the left, there are quite a few dispatches being posted!
I am not posting regular updates but do check out Explorers Web and Alan Arnette's Everest coverage, especially his "Blog of the Day" pick.
L-R: Pasang Gombu, Nawang Geden, Sonam Chiri, Nima Tenzi, Pasang Gelu, Tarki and Sarki - Jamie
A photo from 2008 but all the same faces and more are on the 2009 expedition.
Phil's expedition dispatches
Here is a copy of the Everest dispatches from Altitude Junkies.
One day I will get Phil's photos and get some of them up here.
The team, see above.
Dispatch #2 - March 30, 2009 - Dingboche
All the expedition members have now arrived in Kathmandu and all going to plan should be flying to Lukla tomorrow with Pasang Gumba and Tarke Sherpa. The Lukla flights have been somewhat sporadic over the past few days. Some of the early morning passenger flights have made it but the later cargo flights have been unable to land due to the cloud coverage in Lukla. Luckily for us we sent all our cargo some time ago. Let’s hope the team get out tomorrow.
Phurba Sarki, our head cook and myself are enjoying our second day in Dingboche at the wonderful Snowlion Lodge. Sarki went to Pheriche today to organize our fresh potato loads to be sent up to base camp in a few day where the rest of our climbing and kitchen Sherpas are establishing base camp and waiting for the team members to arrive. We met Valerie briefly in Namche Bazaar the other day as she is trekking ahead of the other team members. She is checking on her solar cooker program that she has initiated with the help of Exodus Travel from the UK. She will meet up with the others on April 6 in Lobuche.
We had a pleasant visit with Dr. Luanne Freer today in our sunroom at the Snowlion Lodge. Dr Luanne is the founder of the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic. She came by with some of the staff that will be operating the clinic this season at Everest. The clinic treats expedition climbers and trekkers alike and also has a health post at Pheriche, which gives health care to the Sherpa families of the Khumbu region. This is a non-profit organization with a federally recognized non-profit ID, so any donation qualifies as a tax-exempt donation. Anybody wishing to donate should make payment out to HRA-USA and send it to PO Box 365 Gallatin Gateway MT 59730 and please checkout their website at www.EverestER.org. We briefly discussed a similar operation being established in Pakistan in the Baltoro region, so anybody reading this with the skills and dedication as Dr. Luanne, this is another worthwhile project just waiting to happen.
Tomorrow Sarki and I are heading up to Lobuche and then the following day will meet the rest of the Sherpa crew at base camp. We hope to have everything dialed in before the group arrive on April 8.
Dispatch #3 – April 3, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
Phurba Sarki and I arrived at base camp on April 1 and met with the majority of our Sherpa crew. We have ten climbing Sherpas and six cooks [kitchen staff], as in addition to our Altitude Junkies expedition we are providing expedition logistics to an American guide and his clients. Both expeditions will be working closely together during the season.
This morning the Icefall Doctors held their Puja ceremony and quickly got to the task of setting the route through the icefall. This must be much to the delight of the Korean Expedition who seem as if they are the only team in full attendance at base camp at the moment. We are expecting to see more teams arrive at base camp over the next few days.
Our team members are in Deboche this evening as they decided to pass through Thyangboche [Tengboche] and are spending the night at the Ama Dablam Garden View Lodge. They are all in good health and will be at Dingboche tomorrow evening.
We finally have our two Mountain Hardwear domes set up as well as our kitchen, storage and communication tents erected. Phurba Sarki, if he ever decides to hang up his chef’s apron, has a second career as a carpet fitter going on the technique he used fitting the carpet perfectly inside the Space Station earlier today.
Dispatch #4 – April 8, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
All the members are now in base camp except for Winson [Mountain Madness Camp 2, ABC trek] who will be arriving tomorrow as he started the trek a day later than the rest of the group. The group had a pleasant trek up the Khumbu Valley even though most of them have done that trek several times before. We are assuming that Valerie has done that trek at least a hundred times while bringing Exodus groups up to base camp over the years, but she tells us she has forgot the actual amount of times.
The icefall doctors have made great progress fixing the route through the icefall and in a few days after all our team are rested and well acclimatized to the elevation at base camp, we will take our first foray into this wonderful ice labyrinth. Joe is a seasoned veteran but for the other members this will be their first experience of crampons making contact with aluminum ladders, stretching over huge deep crevasses. After we have held our Puja ceremony, we will roughly go half way up the icefall to blow away any cobwebs we may have and to practice the required techniques for the crossing and climbing of the ladders.
The Korean team are somewhat in close proximity to us at base camp and each morning I watch them participate in their early morning exercises. At the end of their routine, around 8 am, they yell out loud something in Korean twice. This is comically followed with other expeditions shouting back something in English that I can’t print on the internet.
Last spring season on Everest’s south side saw glorious weather for the most part. The day I arrived this spring, April 1, base camp was being hammered by strong winds. Since then the winds have abated and we have seen glorious weather except for steady snowfall the last two afternoons. The Sherpas are all hoping for an early weather window and a similar weather pattern to last year to maximize our chances of success this season.
Supposedly the flights arriving at Lukla suffered cancellations again for three or four days in succession several days ago and this has kept a few teams from starting their trek on schedule. Hopefully they are now all on their way towards the big E, both north and south sides.
Dispatch #5 – April 11, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
Our team members are now relaxed, acclimatizing well and ready to get their crampons on and get into the icefall. We have already practiced crossing ladders and even set up some vertical ladder sections in our base camp yesterday in anticipation of the real thing.
The Lama has told us that tomorrow, the 12th April, is our auspicious day for our Puja ceremony. After the ceremony we will venture roughly halfway into the icefall, so we will have to keep our chang consumption to a minimum during the Puja ceremony until we return to base camp later that morning. On a similar subject, Joe has decided that Lindemans box wine should be the official sponsor of our expedition from now on, any representatives from the Australian company listening?!
We hear from the icefall doctors that camp one should be reached tomorrow, so after that we expect to see a large amount of climbers making the daily commute through the icefall. Our Sherpas seem to be in agreement that this year there seems to be fewer teams at base camp than last season. We were under the impression that we would see record numbers of climbers this spring but we think there have been several groups cancel their plans last minute.
Our plan is to sleep at camp one in a few days and then return to base camp for a few rest days and another birthday cake. This hopefully will allow our Sherpa crew to get the camp two kitchen and dining tent erected and well stocked, although this is all dependent on the progress of the Icefall Doctors.
Mike Farris has been kind enough to bring along copies of his book "The Altitude Experience: Successful Trekking and Climbing above 8,000 Feet", which we have been studying while we are sat at base camp acclimatizing. This excellent book has various references to all aspects of high altitude science. The book can be obtained from thealtitudeexperience.com.
Dispatch #6 – April 12, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
We held our Puja ceremony this morning with much fanfare and shortly after ventured into the icefall for our first steps onto Everest’s flanks this season. We left base camp at 10 am so we were only able to reach the first ladder before the heat and the icefall conditions decided for us to return to base camp and enjoy the rest of the Puja in style.
The icefall doctors need another day to finish the route to camp one so some of the members will take a rest day tomorrow. The Sherpas had loads ready to carry to camp one but this will also be postponed until the 14th. Winson and I will make another foray into the icefall tomorrow, but we will leave around 4-5 AM so we can get pretty much to where the icefall doctors have fixed the route to and avoid the intense heat and return to base camp mid morning.
The Koreans and the First Ascent Expeditions both held their Puja ceremonies today. We started our ceremony somewhat earlier than the other groups as we wanted to get into the icefall. Our Sherpas, as always, assure us that we have more prayer flags flying high than anyone else this season. The Sherpas sure do take pride in their Puja service.
Dispatch #7 – April 15, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
We have just returned to base camp after spending the evening at camp one. Joe went today to camp one with one of the Sherpas as he was not feeling 100% when the rest of the team departed on the 14th.
The Sherpas have also established camp two and we contemplated walking from camp one this morning and spending a night there on the evening of the 15th. We eventually decided that the Sherpas should all descend and take a few rest days as they have carried loads to camp two for two consecutive days.
The team are all doing well and made good time through the icefall to camp one. This year the icefall has fewer ladders than last year although it is somewhat of a more intricate route through the popcorn section than last spring season. Once above the icefall the route again switchbacks through a heavily crevassed area and the camp site is still painfully some distance away.
During yesterdays climb, Ian and I chatted with Ed and Dave from the First Ascent Team. Ian was somewhat happy that he was able to snap a shot of Ed and himself together near the top of the icefall. He soon picked up the pace after this encounter.
We all plan to rest for a few days before heading back up, this time going to camp two directly. I am assuming that the various groups will be meeting soon to discuss sharing the task of fixing rope up the Lhotse Face to camp three. It seems this year things are moving at a normal pace due to no restrictions being imposed because of the Olympics.
Dispatch #8 – April 18, 2009 – Everest Base Camp
We are now enjoying our third and final rest day before our next trip through the icefall. Our plan is to go straight to camp two, where we will spend several days, before hopefully climbing and tagging camp three.
On the 16th the leaders from the various expeditions met at base camp to discus the plan for establishing and fixing the route this season. The usual suspects were all in attendance plus some new faces from the north side. The plan is to place two fixed lines, an ascent and descent line up the Lhotse Face and hopefully an ascent and rappel/traverse line on the Hillary Step to avoid congestion on summit day.
Joe celebrated his 26th birthday for the 30th time on the same day as the meeting. Sarki made an amazing cake and decorated the Hardwear dome for the occasion with balloons and streamers. We plan to leave them up for yet another birthday celebration next week. Scott, Brian and Johnny also arrived the same day so we are now complete with nine climbers and seventeen staff members in the Junkies Base Camp.
One team that arrived earlier have already got members sleeping at camp two and a group of collective Sherpas from the various teams will start to fix the rope on the 23rd to camp three and hopefully soon after to camp four. The general consensus is that if the weather cooperates this season we will hopefully start to have folks reach the summit much earlier than last year.
All the team members are in good health, partly due to the daily rations of red wine, which is supposedly good for the heart, and is definitely good for moral. We finally got around to visiting the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Everest Base Camp Clinic today to enroll in the services of the ER Doc’s for the entire season. Already we had a couple of Sherpas get checked out for nasty annoying coughs.
Dispatch #9 – April 21, 2009 – Base Camp
Nothing is ever guaranteed on Everest and today was a prime example of how quickly our plans change.
We all departed base camp at 3 AM this morning hoping to climb directly to camp two. At 4.30 AM, Sherpas from various groups in front of us all suddenly started to descend the icefall. They informed us that a large section of the icefall had collapsed in the popcorn section. We did not see the collapse for ourselves but we were told that around four ladder sections had been swept away and there was now a large impassable crevasse in their place.
Sherpas from all groups conferred with each other and then the mass exodus started back to base camp. We estimate around 150 Sherpas returned to base camp with their loads meant for camp two, although we think that several Sherpas had passed the section before the collapse as we saw them at first light close to the top of the icefall.
I expected our team members to be somewhat disappointed with the very early start and the abrupt return to base camp but the excitement shown on Joe’s face declaring a “Snow Day” means that we all must enjoy our environment at base camp.
The Icefall Doctors should hopefully have the situation rectified today and that the Sherpas and ourselves can make the journey to camp two tomorrow.
Our full time camp two cooks and assistants are already at our advanced base camp. Tawa Sherpa and three Sherpas all called Pasang will work in teams of two and alternate between base camp and camp two on a regular basis because of the height of the advanced base camp.
Let’s hope Everest has no more surprises for us over the next few weeks.
Dispatch #10 – April 26, 2009 – Base Camp
We have not posted any dispatches for a few days as we have been at camp two (advanced base camp). Below is basically what we have been doing and what has been happening for the last five days.
Our second attempt to reach camp two directly from base camp was successful. The first time we tried the icefall had collapsed midway turning us and around 150 Sherpas back to base camp after an early morning stroll on the 21st. We all reached camp two on the morning of the 22nd
Our camp two campsite this year is a little higher up the advanced base camp area than we used last season. We choose this site as to avoid those nasty crevasses that suddenly appear out of nowhere at the lower level. Our Sherpa crew had done an excellent job of leveling tent platforms and making a large enough platform for our second Mountain Hardwear dome.
The plan was for us to rest for a couple of days before making the climb to camp three. Forty Sherpas from various groups collectively fixed the rope up the Lhotse Face, both an ascent and descent line, to camp three on the 23rd. Other Sherpas continued to fix to camp four on the 24th but were turned around high by strong winds. They completed fixing past the Yellow Band and towards the Geneva Spur on the 25th. At the time of this dispatch I am unsure if they made the South Col as we have been experiencing some very strong winds up high for the past few days.
We collectively climbed to camp three on the morning of the 25th. On our departure from base camp, Joe declared another “Snow Day” as he wanted another rest day before the climb to 7,200 meters. Joe’s plan was to go the following day with Dawa Gelgen Sherpa and myself but the weather put pay to that. Ian, Valerie, Pam and myself reached camp three in good time but very cold conditions due to the mild wind present on the face. We descended in time for lunch and just had time to relax in the glorious conditions at camp two before the weather turned and all hell broke loose.
On our arrival at camp two on the 22nd we witnessed two days of strong winds that relentlessly battered our tents. Scott, Johnny and Brian arrived at camp two on the 24th and seemed to have brought the good weather with them. This was short lived as the wind increased and continued to batter our tents later that afternoon. We received word from our weather experts that the jet stream was directly over us and we were to expect more dangerously strong wind over the next few days. We took a gamble and left at 7 AM for camp three in mild wind, but otherwise normal conditions for a big peak in late April.
At 5 PM the jet stream seemed to descend directly upon us and after an early dinner we all hunkered down for another night of frustrating tent nylon flapping. The wind that night was a strong as I have ever experienced on any hill and several times during the night our team members and Sherpas had to strengthen the anchors on our Trango’s to stop them becoming kites. Unfortunately, our old school, and I mean old, Mountain Hardwear dome did not fare so well. In defense of MHW, the guys in the warranty department have told us that the dome had seen better days, years ago, and it should be retired. We will take up a Stronghold dome tomorrow to replace the damaged dining tent. We were not the only team to suffer tent losses. Nearly every group had a toilet tent flying high as a kite and only being held down by some thin cord. Several teams lost their kitchen and dining tents due to the strong winds so we felt that we fared well considering.
We are expecting Scott, Brian and Johnny to return to base camp tomorrow and we can celebrate a few more birthdays that fell when we were all at camp two.
Dispatch #11 – April 29, 2009 – Base Camp
Base camp life is treating us well at the moment. Red wine, numerous birthday cakes and delicious steaks seem to fill the void in our lazy days.
Our Sherpas have now moved semi-permanently to camp two for several days, where they will shuttle loads to the South Col in anticipation of our summit attempt in the first half of May.
I would like to thank those readers who sent us messages of condolences in regards to the sad loss of our old trustworthy advanced base camp Space Station dome tent. I didn’t realize that our old faithful companion was so infamous. I would especially like to thank Alan Arnette for his humorous comments on his website.
It seems as if many groups are now on their last rotation through the icefall before descending to base camp and resting before their summit push. Some groups, we are informed, have still not even gone through the icefall at all, although they have been at their respective base camps for nearly a month. We have already tagged camp three and will move up to camp two again in several in days getting ourselves ready for making a summit attempt.
We are told that International Mountain Guides, who have been instrumental in organizing the group gear and Sherpas from the collective groups, to fix the route above the icefall this year, have posted on their website what the various teams have donated. We would like to personally thank Eric and Ang Jangbu Sherpa for all their hard work in making things go so smoothly witht the fixed ropes, so far. We have not seen the website for ourselves but for the record we have donated the following gear and staff to the joint effort of fixing the ropes; 200 Meters 8mm rope, 6 ice screws, 6 pitons, 2 four liter oxygen bottles, 1 Sherpa to fix from C2-C3, and our staff will also carry ropes to the South Col.
The plan that followed the meeting between the expedition Sirdars yesterday is that a group of five Sherpas, two from both the International Mountain Guides and Himalayan Experience expeditions and one from First Ascent/RMI expedition will fix the route from the South Col to the Summit on May 6 and 7.
We are assuming that teams will start to make summit attempts shortly after, obviously depending on the weather conditions.
Dispatch #12 – May 2, 2009 – Base Camp
We are now at the end of our rest period down at base camp and we are all looking forward to getting back up the hill. We decided to take a few extra rest days at base camp as many groups were making their last acclimatization climbs towards camp two before descending to base camp before their summit pushes. We felt there was no need to crowd the route unnecessary earlier than we had to, although to be honest, there seems to be much fewer climbers this year compared to last, it seems as if there is half the number of climbers. We have not yet encountered any crowds in the icefall or going up the Lhotse Face.
Our team members have been keeping active with regular day hikes to both Gorak Shep and Pumori base camp, as rest periods at base camp tend to leave us all feeling lethargic.
Once again the plan is to head straight to camp two from base camp, where we will relax and chill for a couple of days before heading higher and spending a night at camp three and four respectively before the big summit push. Our team members will start to use oxygen just before the yellow band as the goal is to keep everyone warm and alert in anticipation of our long summit day.
We plan not to take up the satellite modem above camp two but hopefully will send dispatches to our New York HQ via our satellite phones from the South Col and hopefully from the summit.
Let’s hope the weather stays on course for a safe and successful summit bid for all the teams this year.
Dispatch #13 – May 9, 2009 – Base Camp
All the team members are safe and now back at base camp.
When the team members arrived at base camp on April 8th, Joe declared May 10th a suitable summit day for himself. This was a totally random date he choose, but as the expedition progressed, it looked quite possible that if the weather cooperated with our schedule, we could try for a May 10th summit.
Our plan was to depart base camp on May 5th, then spend two days resting at camp two before making a push to camp three and four respectively before the summit push on the evening of the 9th, hopefully reaching the top on Joe’s chosen May 10th.
We are once again using the weather forecast services of the excellent Meteotest, from Switzerland, who seem to be the most accurate weather forecaster on the mountain, although other operators will disagree with me here. The window on the 10th seemed to slip away so we decided to spend a few more days at base camp, then suddenly the 10th looked possible again.
The group departed base camp on the 7th hoping to sneak up to the summit in one push without any rest days at camp two in transit. We started at our usual 3 AM, this way avoiding the intense heat in the Cwm on the way to camp two, again avoiding spending the evening at camp one.
At 4 AM we heard a loud crack and the loud rumble that followed. We all knew that another chunk of snow/ice had come loose from the West Shoulder and was falling towards the icefall; as we had witnessed it do a few days earlier, covering base camp in the snow from the blast that follows a serac avalanche. This time though it was dark and we could not see what was coming towards us? Our team members and Sherpas did exactly what they were meant to do in a situation like this. Those of us who were in a good position at the time took shelter behind some small ice blocks, which were too small to topple over with the weight of the displaced snow, and the others who were somewhat exposed got low and turned their backs to the blast, covering their mouths.
Several minutes later the blast was over and luckily enough for us the collapse was small. We were the first group on the trail that morning with only a couple of Sherpas from another group closely ahead of us, and we were all just out of the path of the debris that careered down the icefall. We were all covered from head to toe in snow and this only displaced when it melted as we hit first sunlight at the top of the icefall.
I spoke to Bernice from the Dutch TV expedition halfway up the Cwm as they were descending from camp two, as she asked if we were going for it. Our other team members also spoke to her and Walter as they reached the top of the icefall. Tragically, the same location of the West Shoulder shed more snow/ice later that morning as they were just at the last section of ladders on the icefall. Bernice and Walter ended up in a crevasse and were rescued but sadly their Sherpa traveling with them was lost.
Our thoughts go to the family of the deceased Sherpa
Dispatch #14 – May 11, 2009 – Base Camp
The weather rules big time on Everest.
Our plan was foiled for a summit attempt on the 10th. It seems going on the weather forecast as if the 11th and 12th will also suffer from some strong winds and the 13th and 14th will see some precipitation up high.
With all this excellent weather information in hand we have no choice but to sit tight and wait for some good news from our friends at Meteotest in Switzerland.
The team are once again relaxing and letting our kitchen staff take care of us. It seems our little incident in the icefall on the morning of the 7th has not diminished any of the team members enthusiasm to go for the summit when we have a suitable window.
We are suffering from power problems at base camp at the moment. Our deep charge solar 12-volt batteries seem unable to hold a charge, although they are brand new. Ian has been nicknamed “low battery” as every time he touches an electronic device the power goes dead. Valerie and Joe are somewhat amused, as Sarki and I keep checking the batteries each morning with the voltage meter hoping they have gained a volt or two during the night!
One of our sponsors, Brunton, have solved the immediate power problem and have shipped us four extra Solaris 52 solar panels to keep us powered up and able to send regular dispatches. We thank them indeed for this essential gesture. Please check out there website www.brunton.com.
Fortunately for us, the Himalayan Rescue Association doctors, who are based here for the duration of season, have diagnosed a medical condition with Pam. Her condition is not life threatening but the doctors are following the correct protocol and have called for a heli-evacuation for her.
We had scheduled a helicopter to arrive this morning and the Sherpas did an excellent job of removing the fresh snow off the landing pad and making a very distinctive letter H. The weather was good for a while, but unfortunately the clouds moved in and the snow started once again so the pick up was aborted.
We waited all afternoon for the weather to improve and the chopper to depart from Lukla, but to no avail. Hopefully we will get her back to Kathmandu tomorrow.
Dispatch #15 – May 14, 2009 – Base Camp
Pam is now back in Kathmandu and is well. The rest of the team are now just waiting for the arrival of the weather window for our summit push.
There has been some drama recently at base camp with some counterfeit whiskey in circulation that caused a death of a cook boy and a near death of a Sherpa. The Sherpa is now back in Kathmandu under medical supervision.
It seems as if there are now fewer climbers at base camp then when the season started. Many groups have had members leave for various reasons, mostly health issues, although several climbers have departed due to their concerns about the recent avalanches in the icefall.
We will sit tight in anticipation of hopefully some good news from Meteotest, our weather forecast service.
Dispatch #16 – May 22, 2009 – Base Camp
We apologize about the absence of the expedition dispatches the last few days as our New York HQ, who transcribes our sat phone messages, unexpectedly took a surprise vacation.
Joe left with a medical condition. Pam returned after a medical condition.
On May 19 at 7.00 AM Nepal time, Phil Crampton reached the summit of Mount Everest. Ian Rogers and Valerie Parkinson supported by Tarke Sherpa reached the Hillary Step but wisely decided not to continue to the summit. Ian had suffered from some vision problems on the ascent and Valerie was suffering from cold feet.
On May 20 at 8.00 AM Nepal time, Scott Woolums, Brian Strange and Johnny Strange reached the summit of Mount Everest supported by Jangbu Sherpa, Da’ongchhu Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa, Namgayl Sherpa, Temba Sherpa.
On May 21 at 7.00 AM Nepal time, Pam Westgate reached the summit of Mount Everest supported by Chewang Palden Sherpa.
We all spent nights at camp four and camp two respectively on the descent and are now all safe at base camp.
Dispatch #17 – May 24, 2009 – Base Camp
All the expedition members have now left base camp and are heading down to Lukla, hopefully flying to Kathmandu without too much delay because of the recent bad weather conditions we are experiencing.
We are greatly appreciative of the help from Russell Brice and his Sirdar Phurbu Tashi from Himalayan Experience, Eric Simonson and Jangbu Sherpa from International Mountain Guides and Lakpa Rita Sherpa and Ang Tsering from Alpine Ascents for their assistance with the safe descent of Mike Farris on May 23.
Mike joined our expedition as an independent climber using a base camp only service. He has carried his own food, tents, fuel and oxygen up and down the mountain by his own power, with no assistance from any Sherpas whatsoever throughout the expedition.
He is an experienced climber and we expected him to do well, although find the task of climbing Everest unassisted, a very challenging task indeed.
On May 22, at 1.30 pm, Mike reached the summit of Mount Everest but ran low on oxygen on descent and became somewhat disoriented.
Mike will most likely publish the details of his descent on his own website in the future so I will not go into any details but I have to thank Russell Brice and his excellent Sherpa crew for assisting Mike with his descent. I would also like to thank Eric Simonson for alerting us to the fact that Mike needed some assistance and to Lakpa Rita Sherpa for offering us his assistance at the south col. There are many other climbers who need mentioning who I an unaware of and Mike will do this in due time.
Another special mention has to go to Dr. Eric Johnson at the Himalayan Rescue Association Clinic at Everest Base Camp for his dedication to the welfare of all the climbers at Everest this season, regardless of the medical needs, large or small.
Mike is now down at base camp and is looking forward to getting home to the States and his family.
It’s nice to think that the big expedition companies still have time to assist us smaller operators and solo independent climbers in their hour of need. We really do thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for all the fantastic help over the last 24 hours.
Mike's frostbite was real and he will lose the ends of some fingers and the recovery time for this will be a long time but all things considered, it could have been a lot worse. The first reports I heard, it sounded like he could lose all his fingers. My sympathy goes out to Mike and to Valerie.
Thanks for all your support.