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Summit debrief

What happened to everyone; and we have a the team result page too.

Expedition summary

Briefly, our expedition went very well, if I can say so. For the most part our food was good, and sometimes excellent, even if we did sometimes struggle to cater to people with very diverse dietary habits, more diverse than we have ever previously had.

We had a very strong expedition crew, even some of our kitchen hands had summitted Everest so we never came close to running low on carrying power. Admittedly part of the reason was we couldn't lay off all the sherpas we had booked for the north side, and our south side expedition ended up being about half the size. Tawa, our Camp 2 cook even carried a couple of loads to South Col. We also managed to bring down every oxygen bottle from the mountain, other than four that were stolen (they were cleaned off the mountain by enterprising sherpas who didn't realize Marty still wanted to make a summit attempt after all the other teams). Bringing down all our empty bottles doesn't sound difficult, but in fact is. I wish that more of our team had summitted but everyone got as high as they could, logistics and backup were not the issue. So in summary, our expedition went very well.

20 May - Namgyal summits!

What an effort by Namgyal, the pocket rocket. We had assigned him to help fix ropes from South Col up to the South Summit, and he was working along with another 10 sherpas from other teams. So himself and Namgya (sometime DCXP sirdar) fixed up there and then kept going form the South Summit to the main summit, topping out around 3.25pm. He was back to South Col on darkness.

Amazingly enough, Namgya summitted on the 21st as well, so two summits in two days. Namgyal would loved to have done this as well (and myself too), but instead headed down the mountain so as not to use extra oxygen.

The Project Himalaya expedition more than played their part in helping fix ropes and share the work. Pasang Gombu helped fix ropes from Camp 2 to Camp 3, we put in rope from C3 to South Col (only 200m, but that was what was asked...) and then also offered Jangbu for carrying rope on the 21st, when no other teams offered power. Later for some reason he was not needed.

I will comment more on the ludicrous south side rope fixing game later.

21 May - Summit debrief

In the end the Meteotest weather forecasts proved accurate, although it has to be said that with all the confusing forecasts, we partly based our decision on the fact that the forecasts sounded OK, but more importantly that it was a special full moon and the weather is often better then. The sherpas say that the moon is full on both the 20th and the 21st, particularly auspicious. Basically, the weather was perfect, not a breath of wind from when we set off at 10pm on the 20th to around 9pm on the 21st, a huge help to us. We climbed in gloves rather than bulky mittens.

I Jamie, climbed bringing up the rear, until passing Andy while in a train of people, and was never able to wait long enough for him to catch up. Pasang Gombu did stick with him on the way up though, all the way. No radio contact was probably a way of avoiding getting turned around! We don't have a turn around time, rather I judge as to conditions; if we had set one at 10am, then everyone would have had to miss out on the summit.

I summitted somewhere around 11am, late, yes, but in a long line of climbers and conditions were very good, not a breath of wind. David, Anselm, Jangbu and Chewang headed down perhaps just before 12 noon. On the way down they met Pasang Gombu and Andy, but still did not radio. Pasang Gombu had given his oxygen, mask and regulator to the slow Korean, who had a faulty system (later he did replace that bottle at BC, and thanked me). Since Pasang Gombu was still heading up he took Jangbu's system, as he shouldn't need it on the way down. Unfortunately, he did, but at least they had the good sense to radio me, and then they waited on the South Summit, and waited a long time for me. I only left the summit a little after 1:30pm, arriving there at around 2pm. There I gave my oxygen system to Jangbu and my spare bottle to Chewang (or Pasang Gombu, whatever, I think it went to Andy later) and then I climbed down without (and had just spent 2.5 hours or more on the summit without).

We did have a spare mask and regulator, I'm not sure why we didn't use this, that is oxygen deprivation for you.

It is chains of events like this that scare me. This whole situation was the result of a slow Korean climber putting others needlessly at risk, and impacting our expedition. This meant that David and Anselm descended much of the way without sherpa partners (but sensibly descended together), and I descended from the south summit, helping another climber (Swiss; not from our team) and all the while not on oxygen. I felt strong, no need for oxygen in this case... but with oxygen I would have been thinking more clearly.

Radios were another weak point this time. We have the best radios on the mountain but only the sherpas really used them. Anselm dropped his just as he was leaving South Col in the late night, I retrieved it but since I started climbing with Andy, couldn't give it back. In theory we have enough radios for 1:1 for everyone, but in practice it didn't seem like it. None of the climbing members used the radios much, whereas in the past we have.

Jamie McGuinness on the summit of Everest

Jamie on the summit with the way down visible, and Lhotse fading into the background - with Jamie's camera

Jamie waking outside at South Col

A warm night at 7900m, Jamie slept outside after arriving back very late from the summit - photo by Pasang Gombu? with Jamie's camera

The reason was one of the Peak Freak sherpas dropped the poles to their tent on the way up to South Col;
I ended up with a four person tent to myself, better their five sherpas use it, and I could sleep outside, and had offers from several other teams to share a tent.

Marty Schmidt MSIG

We provided BC support for Marty, Tim and Giannina. Marty and Tim were independent on the mountain, without sherpas.
Marty is exceptionally strong at altitude and has climbed Cho Oyu from "Camp 0.5" in under 11 hours...

28-29 May - Marty's solo speed attempt

Marty writes: Giannina and I then decided to try for a one day ascent of Everest. Having everyone clear out of Base camp, leaving just Giannina, Ningma, Sonam and myself, I felt ready to try for the summit in under 24 hours. Mark Batard made a 22 hour ascent many years ago and the record is now around the 12 hour mark by sherpas. But for us white folk to do it under 20 hours would be good enough for me. With just the 4 of us at BC, our food was the best during these 5 days than all the other days combined. Always make sure that BC food is the best in the world or get another BC organizer right away. Tim, Giannina and I suffered this year with bad food, hence we will organized our own trip to the Himalayas from now on.

So, on the 28th of May, I left BC at 1800 hours. Making it to camp 1 in 2.5 hours, then camp 2 in 45 minutes. Arriving in camp 2 at 2115 hours. I rest and changed clothes for .5 hours, leaving for the Lhotse head wall at 2145. I climbed well to camp 3 in 2 hours arriving at 0015 hours. I pitched my tent, brewed hot drinks, filled my thermos and left for the South Col at 0115. I pushed gear to the Col back on the 16th and knew this area well. Arriving at the Col at 0345, I took 15 minutes to look for the back up O2 cylinders that Tim and I planned to use for our ascent. We paid extra money for these cylinders to be in placed at the Col. I looked and looked and they were not there. To me and Tim, this was a crime and we will look more into it in the near future. I promised my wife Giannina that we would have back up O2 in place, but it was not there, heads should roll for this.

My next step was to check if I was feeling well enough to keep going for the summit. I left the South Col at 0400, arriving at 8,200 meters at 0530, my lungs needed to be looked at. I contracted a lung infection at some point and I started to heave green and yellow oysters, this was not a good sign to continue. I felt OK, a bit stretched with my air intake, feeling like I needed 3 good breathes for every good one. Yes 8,200 meters is high but I really felt like the infection was robbing me of good breaths. I made the decision to turn back, I had the strength to do it right then. Plus climbing to the summit without the back up O2 would not be good in case I needed to rescue myself, since no one else was up there on the 29th May. Happy 55 year anniversary Sir Ed.

Jamie writes: Later the Altitude Junkie sherpas reported that the oxygen was there when they pulled their tents down on the 26th - the four bottles were in their tent vestibule. On the 27th of May in a radio call that was hard to interpret, Dave Hahn of IMG reported that the "goraks" were at South Col, ie sherpas cleaning up. Thanks, Mark Tucker, for trying, and thanks Dave.

Summit climb had a team on the South Col on 27 May, and later reported that sherpas were emptying all full oxygen bottles to carry down, "spraying" oxygen at each other, a wasteful and dangerous "oxygen" party. Over $1000 blown...

Other team results

We had lots of friends on the mountain and lots happened, here is some brief news.

Phil Crampton's Altitude Junkies and Ryan's Mountain Professionals

Phil is a good friend and now runs his own outfit, Altitude Junkies. Previously he used to work for Dan Mazur and while he has summitted Everest a few times, he has missed out on more summits due to dramatic rescues high on Everest.

This year he managed to summit on the 21st with one of his team but a day later still make a surprise rescue of Ryan Waters, a fellow guide, who developed pulmonary edema. Most of Ryan's team summitted, including Ryan but Ryan became seriously ill on the way down. See pictures of one of the pre-summit parties at Ryan's camp.

Alan Arnette was climbing with Ryan and turned back from somewhere around The Balcony. I feel for Alan, on his third attempt. I also admire the fact that while he is raising money for Alzheimer's research, he pays for the expeditions out his own pocket. All, ie 100% of the donations goes to the charity.

Peak Freaks

Tim Rippel's Peak Freaks expedition is next to our BC and also his crew are good friends of ours, many are related. There are several people lucky to be alive after some serious events. I assume Sultan became ill with cerebral edema, around the summit. Certainly Tim made a proper rescue, lowering a very uncooperative person down rope length after rope length, until at about 4:30am they had to abandon him, leaving him in a sleeping bag and after fueling him up. This was slightly below the balcony, I think.

The Indian (Snow Lion or army - I am not sure) team then found him around 6am and started working on him. Initially we heard that he was dead, as was the Korean, but later reports said they were both alive. A big thanks to Pasang 2 and the two Nepali sherpas from that team. Rescue teams were sent up for both, both being brought down to South Col, and then after refueling, walked further down.

Tim also had to cope with one member with snow blindness and another exhausted...

Kari Kobler's Swiss guide climber

I gave up my oxygen on the south summit, giving my whole system to Jangbu who had given his to Pasang Gombu but was finding he could not cope. I also had a spare bottle that went to Andy. Then I accompanied Janie (Uwe), the Swiss climber, down. He had climbed Everest without oxygen, as had Mingma, the sherpa with him.

Now the Swiss climber was on oxygen but complained that he wasn't getting any air. I checked his system several times, he was getting 4 litres a minute, the Poisk maximum. So every time he stopped he took off his mask and myself or Mingma either told him to put it on or occasionally physically put it on him. He was obviously messed up with cerebral edema and he had already taken 4mg dexamethazone on the summit, and at the South Summit I gave him 4mg more. It was a real shame that even with meds and oxygen he didn't seem to improve substantially.

Myself and Mingma accompanied him down, eventually passing Tim and Sultan and company. At The Balcony I met a sherpa coming up to meet Janie with hot drinks and oxygen, so at last, around 9pm, I headed down alone, after berating the Korean. There is more to that story.

Janie later died of exhaustion-HACE on the last easier section to South Col unfortunately. Very sad. It seems his was the only death on the mountain this season.

Adventure Peaks

How did the Adventure Peaks team end up getting caught in another expedition's tents at South Col? They even ate some of the other team's food, very bad form. What went on? Why?

DCXP Lhotse

Lead by Paul Rogers, this was a team originally planning to climb Cho Oyu, then changed Shishapangma when Cho Oyu was closed, then switched to Lhotse once Tibet closed. Eventually Mal Haskins and Richard Moriarty with four sherpas summitted.

The first Vietnam team

National teams are always interesting, this was no exception, and was being filmed by a Thai production company. Brad Clement (from the Everest Peace Project, 2006) was a cameraman and consultant. They succeeded, which was cool. Brad and Roger especially, thanks for the laughs.

The Danes

Henrik is aiming (and succeeded) in climbing the seven summits (ie highest on each continent) in record time. Soren was assisting and Sherap Jangbu was the local guide-sirdar. When they decided to leave Everest when above Camp 2 was closed due to the Chinese attempts to get the Olympic Torch on top, and go to Elbrus, which they had previously failed on, I was apprehensive. However they returned around 10 days later and then slowly ascended Everest, succeeding with three or four sherpas in support. They calculated that they spend 21 days on Everest, only, although they did arrive acclimatized. Amazingly well done!

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