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Our 2010 Project Himalaya Everest Expedition 8848m dispatches
We ran three expeditions this year - how did we do?
Barry Cohen on the summit in the early morning
The Project Himalaya Expedition
As the leader it is hard to be objective but I will try. Ours was a small team briefly explained by cancelling the expedition in 2009 then reinstating it, but having lost clients.
First, we had safe success with Eric and Barry summiting with Kaji and Nima. The sherpas seemed to be some of the nicest and most competent on the mountain, real stars that I have to develop more. It is a pity that Fernando was not capable of summitting this time. I could have summitted but didn't. We had no injuries, although Dayula did suffer the same back-leg problem as he did on Dhaulagiri a year ago. Most other teams on the mountain did suffer some frostbite and a couple had clients die.
Our expedition was comparably priced to Adventure Peaks (who had a big team but little success) and once all the extras are added in, somewhat similar to Dan Mazur's Summit Climb and certainly our facilities compared well - were definitely better - than our competitors. However were they right for the clients? No, I think they would have rather paid slightly more for carpeted dining tents etc - at least once they were here and had experienced Base Camp. Next year we will upgrade all sorts of small details.
What surprised me was on the mountain though. In the past most leaders and climbers thought five bottles of (4 litre) Poisk oxygen bottles was enough and a good, safe balance, and understood that logistically five bottles are possible to put in place; more is difficult unless extra sherpas are employed. However increasingly the attitude of getting to the summit no matter what style is prevailing and so we need to offer realistic options for high flow oxygen. People (for not all are climbers) are joining with less and less experience and don't care about the details, either we have to cater for them more or turn them down.
In summary, our expedition went very well, and significantly better than all of our direct competitors, and at least as well as our indirect and more expensive competitors.
Our hardcore Tibet crew in Tingri at the end (our other Norbu left earlier) - Jamie
Our other expedition
We provided for another expedition on the north side; confidentiality prevents me from disclosing full details. While the expedition went well, they had booked a tightly budgeted expedition but in reality needed the works. We simply have to charge more and provide relative luxury to these sort of groups. It is galling to see how we have pared our operation yet to find that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars more on gear than they really needed to.
However the members of the expedition didn't complain about the comfort levels and the sherpas carried all the extra loads. It is a shame that no less than three members needed assistance on the way down. That assistance can't really be called rescues, there were no emergency situations on the mountain, but this did mess with our already pushed logistics, which I had to clear up later.
In summary I feel special projects need more support than they think they need. I simply should have raised the budget.
Nepal-South side Mountain Trip
We provided extensive logistical support for Mountain Trip's 2010 Everest Expedition lead by Scott Woolums, and poured all our experience in - Scott did too. Thanks to Scott's organizational skills and long experience, and a great sherpa team supporting him, they placed the whole team on the summit - five clients, two guides and 11 sherpas. 100% success, no injuries, what more should be said?
2010 Everest summary
It is well worth reading Alan Arnette's summary of the season that covers both north and south sides.
A big thanks
Marty Schmidt (Everest support 2008) has very generously been supporting Sonam Tsering's family since 2008 for education etc, so a big thank-you from his family and myself. Sonam works as one of our climbing sherpas and summitted Everest this year.
Valerie Parkinson (Everest 2009) is providing scholarships through the High Altitude Mountain Workers Welfare Association for 5 children who lost their father in mountaineering incidents (we have not had a sherpa die on any of our expeditions). The president of HAMWWA is Dawa Gelje, our main sirdar, and so I know that the money will go exactly to where it is supposed to.
Barry Cohen and Fernando Davalos have offered to help sort out Dayula's occasional leg problem (nerve-related?) by sharing the cost of treatment - thanks also from myself (I will put some effort and money in too) and from Dayula, who is naturally worried about his climbing future.
And congratulations again to everyone for summitting!all rights reserved -- frozen in time 2010