- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katie Bono
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Cody Doolan
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Thomas Greene
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Tim Hardin
- Mike Haugen
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Erik Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Logan Randolph
- Tyler Reid
- Dave Reynolds
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mike Tomlinson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Maile Wade
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Posts for Everest from 04/2011
The weather could not have been better last night and early today. Right now it is snowing lightly. It can sure help to have stable weather conditions for any night at 21,300’ and a major bonus to have calm weather for the first night of many at that altitude. The word from above is that the team did well during the night. So well in fact, that Dave was able to rally the team early this morning for a 7:30 a.m. departure and climb to just below the Lhotse Face. That section took about an hour and forty-five minutes. We would call that part of the day, the approach to the climb. Above where they stopped is a continuous steep climb to get up to Camp 3, which sits at 23,900’ more or less. Dave reports that since we have been having daily snow, the conditions on the face have improved. What we saw in the earlier part of the month was blue ice on most of the face.
The previous dry winter has created a big gap between the lower angle slopes and the steep face, which is referred to as a bergshrund. If it were a wet winter with lots of snowfall, that gap could be filled in with snow making crossing much easier. At the last meeting of the teams, we decided to send up a ladder to be placed in that area if it seemed like it would help the climbers get on to the steep section. More progress was made by the fixing team above Camp 3. Sounds like the ropes are set to Camp 4, which is the South Col (26,000’), our final camp before the summit push. More work will be needed to improve the ropes from Camp 2 to the South Col but that is huge to have the initial set in place. Dave, Sara, Bill, and Linden plan on getting on the face tomorrow. This will be a taste of steep climbing at extreme altitude.
The team is right on track and fired up!
Till next time,
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
The team climbed from Camp 1 up to Camp 2 (ABC) today in perfect conditions. They will stick to the rough outline for now spending three or four nights at Camp 2. While at Camp 2 their main objective is taking care of themselves by eating, drinking and resting. Over the next couple of days they will climb towards Camp 3 to stretch their legs and lungs and keeping with the climb high, sleep low philosophy.
Everyone is doing well and we look forward to seeing them back in Base Camp in a few days.
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
It’s a beautiful day here at Everest Base Camp.
RMI Expedition Leader Dave Hahn and our team of climbers and Sherpa left Base Camp early this morning en route to Camp 1. The team made great time through the Khumbu Ice fall and up to almost 20,000’. They are now tucked in comfortably at Camp 1.
Their plan for tomorrow is another early start to climb up to Camp 2. The Western Cwm can get quite warm with its high ice walls and an early start will get them through with some cooler temperatures. The team will spend several nights at Camp 2 (21,000’) to acclimatize. While at Camp 2 they will be accompanied by climbing Sherpa Lam Babu and Tsering as well as our cook Yubarj.
Two members of our Sherpa staff, Kaji and Dawa, went to Camp 2 a few days ago to ready the camp for the team’s arrival and have now returned to Base Camp.
I attended a meeting today here at Base Camp to discuss the plan for getting the rope up to the South Col and finishing the route work. Things went well at the meeting with a great amount of support and cooperation amongst the teams.
Life is good here on the glacier.
Till next time,
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
On The Map
Today is our third and final rest day before we head back up the Ice fall to begin our second rotation. If all goes as planned, this rotation will consist of spending one night at Camp 1 and then four nights at Camp 2 before returning back down to Base Camp. Our plan after that is then to rest for a couple of days, then to climb back up to Camp 1 and 2 and sleep as high as Camp 3 before returning back down. This would be our third rotation and the final rotation before our summit bid. Then we will rest for a week or so. If all goes well, we will make our summit push sometime in the latter part of May.
Mentally and physically, this next month will be the hardest month of my life. I worry that I won’t be physically strong enough to climb through all of these rotations, and that I might lose my focus. It’s so mentally difficult climbing down when it took so much effort climbing up to that spot, but I do know that every time I do climb up to a point where I’ve been before I feel stronger and I can breathe easier. I also completely understand why we have to climb up and down for acclimatization purposes, but doing so has been a huge challenge.
As difficult as it may seem, the first month of this trip has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life and I know this second month will be just as amazing. I’ve met some incredible people, and never in my life have I been more breath taken at the place that I’m in. Base Camp has begun feeling like home.
I want to say hi to all my family and friends, and I want to thank everyone for the comments and support.
After completing our first rotation on the mountain we are back here at Base Camp. It was a relatively warm day here at Base Camp, the clouds blew in early and snow came midday - big, wet flakes filled the air as we sat down to lunch today, covering everything with a thin but wet coating of snow. It has been another restful day here to relax and recover from our time spent higher on the mountain. With the whole team resting today, both our climbing team and our Sherpa team, we’ve taken advantage of the breaks in the snow to play a few games of horseshoes. Tshering Sherpa once again proved his ace skills, throwing a couple of impressive ringers, as did Dave (although his end of game review was tarnished by the errant shoe that managed to skip the pit and roll into the storage tent - the shoe emerged a few moments later by surprised but laughing Jaya, one of our Base Camp Assistants). RMI’s chances in the Base Camp Horseshoes Tournament that Tuck organizes are looking good. Base Camp, which felt high and difficult a few weeks ago, is becoming more comfortable, and I’ll venture to say that the air is even starting to feel a bit thicker here at 17,500’ since we returned, a sure sign that we are acclimatizing well.
The time spent on our first rotation was a good introduction into the process of high altitude climbing. We navigated the Ice fall, established ourselves at Camp 1, and ascended the Western Cwm to Camp 2, also known as Advanced Base Camp (ABC). In doing so our familiarity with the route grew, ladder crossings became easier, and we anticipated the challenges of the Ice fall. We battled high winds, cold nights, and hot days. The rotation reminded me of the adjustment in perspective that takes place every time I head into the mountains. Visiting Camp 2 a few days ago, at 21,300’, looking up the Lhotse Face towards the South Col and the summit of Everest far above, we discussed how standing in the same place in several weeks time we will only be days from the summit. But then the altitude was squeezing on the lungs, and simply walking across camp was a challenge in itself. I watched in awe as Yubaraj Rai, who climbed Island Peak with me several weeks ago and is our Camp 2 cook, grabbed a pick axe nearly as tall as he and started chipping away chunks of ice to melt for water. The thought of lifting the axe was tiring. It served as a reminder that despite making progress up the mountain, we have much preparation to do before a summit bid becomes a reality.
There is a notable, but sometimes difficult, mental shift that takes place when we begin climbing. Long expeditions like this require moving away from the hard charging objective-oriented mentality that predominates are training and preparation at home to a mentality that is focused on the process of the climb - as cliche as that sounds. With the ground that we covered between Base Camp and visiting Camp 2, we actually spent relatively few hours of the day climbing. The rest of our days were spent on the far less glamorous but equally important aspect of simply living up there. Resting, eating, drinking, sleeping, and dealing with the adversities that the environment throws at you. Because of this our first rotation was hugely important in learning to master the overlooked details of living above 20,000’. It is a trial in discovering what foods appeal up there, how challenging but important staying hydrated is, the awkwardness of pulling on a down suit in a tent, how to keep moral and drive strong during the hours of down time in the tents, the difficulties of packing up the pack in the early morning hours when temperatures hovered below zero degrees Fahrenheit, and how to readjust to the sky rocketing temperatures a few hours later when climbing up the Western Cwm. If these details are ignored the mountain and the altitude wears on the body to such an extent that the actual climbing becomes a challenge too great to overcome, the mountains just take too much of a toll. It’s only after we’ve figured out how to manage these challenges that we can confidently strap on our crampons and climb upwards.
These are the often overlooked aspects of climbing up here that we faced on our first rotation. Although the distance and the elevations to which we climbed seem small in regards to the scale of the mountain that stands above us, our days up there were immensely productive and successful. By the third night the altitude was becoming easier, the cold less harsh, and the living up there more manageable. Since returning to Base Camp the whole team is already feeling stronger and more prepared and are looking forward to heading back up on our second rotation in a couple of days.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory
Yesterday we got back to Base Camp from a climb up the Khumbu Ice fall to Camps 1 and 2. The Khumbu was everything it was made out to be. We had previously completed a series of climbs into the ice fall that had provided us with valuable experience. But tackling the ice fall in its entirety was a new ballgame.
We awoke at 4 am to eat breakfast and to prepare so that we could have a prompt 5 am start. We start this early for a variety of reasons, one of which is to have cold temperatures and a frozen solid ice fall. One of the biggest risks in the ice fall is an avalanche. An avalanche in the ice fall would not consist of soft snow, but solid ice (as hard and as brittle as stone). And since the ice fall is a constantly moving, dynamic glacier that is tumbling (in slow motion) down a 2500 foot cliff, this risk is ever present. So, the objective is to climb a solid ice “waterfall” - all of which starts at an altitude of 17500 feet.
The actual climbing is a non stop series of challenges - straight up 30 foot cliffs of ice (assisted by vertical ladders), 20 foot vertical descents in which you repel down “batman” style, 30 to 40 foot horizontal crevasses (which are up to hundreds of feet deep) in which you have to negotiate five eight-foot ladders roped together, etc.. If it wasn’t so dangerous and you weren’t scared out of your mind, it would actually be fun. The idea is to safely and quickly move through the ice fall in a business like manner, always clipping into safety ropes, and to move quickly. There are only two places that are safe enough for a rest stop. Every so often I would steal a glance at the massive glaciers overhanging us and then just keep moving.
Camp 1 sits at the top of the ice fall and at the end of the Western Cwm (at approx. 20,000 feet). We spent three nights at Camp I, and we were treated harshly at times by high winds, which I estimated (using the “guess method”) of up to 70 mph. The winds were strong enough to break a tent pole in our tent (masterly repaired by Dave and Linden the next day). The winds slashed at the sides of the tent, creating a massive roar, which kept me up most of the night. There were times that night that I wondered what I was doing in Nepal at 20,000 feet in a tent in a wind storm. I am quite sure that Hawaii would have been a more pleasant place to be!
The hike up to Camp 2 is quite beautiful and gentle (in comparison to the hike up to Camp 1). It is literally a hike up the middle of glacier. The most similar climb that I can compare it to is the climb on Denali up to Camp 2 (at 11,000 feet). The climb is a gently ascending 3 to 4 hour climb through a beautiful valley surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the world - almost vertical walls on all sides and at the end of the valley the Lhotse face and Mt. Everest - what a spectacular day! To me this is what climbing is all about - the beauty was endless.
Then, a trip back down from Camp 1 to Basecamp yesterday morning.
As we approached base camp we saw a HUGE banner hung across the entrance to our camp that said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILL MCGAHAN - a day late!” Then, last night we had a birthday dinner that insisted of T-Bone steaks, chicken, French fries, cole slaw, all followed by a birthday cake (and included candles and a “B-” singing effort - ha!). The celebration was very appreciated and will be remembered forever.
So, for now our mission is to rest for three days. We will be heading back up to Camp 2 and hopefully Camp 3 by the end of the month, and the idea is to continue to acclimatize and to get stronger for each of the next series climbs as we go higher and higher.
Thank you all for following our blog and for your kind postings. A great portion of this challenge is mental - we are all going to have days that we physically feel bad, or are homesick, or just want to know what is going on in the NBA playoffs - and getting kind words of encouragement means a tremendous amount to keep us going.
So, thanks again
Five days ago we tried getting up through the Khumbu Icefall but instead dropped down to Basecamp again to wait a day. We weren’t firing on all cylinders and it was clear that the jet stream was. The wind made a cardboard tearing sound as it scraped across the high peaks.
Four days ago we got up without a great deal of difficulty, reaching Camp I in about five hours from basecamp. The climbers we talked to told stories of big winds at Camps I and II doing all sorts of tent damage and rubbing a bunch of nerves raw. We hoped we’d missed the big wind event as we crawled into our tents for afternoon naps… but we could still hear it howling above and as the hours went by it got a little noisier right down in our own neighborhood. Spirits were high though as the four of us piled into one tent for dinner and climbing stories. That first night was not a good one for relaxing, as it turned out. We guessed that the tents were getting rocked by gusts in the 50 to 70 mph range throughout the night. Linden and I instinctively put our feet up against the tent walls to brace for the bigger blasts and we hoped that the extra careful anchoring job we’d done was working for Bill and Sara in their tent two feet away. The wind quit on us at four AM precisely and the alarm clock rang at five.
That first full day in the Western Cwm was meant to be mostly a rest day with an easy morning hike partway up the valley. That didn’t seem restful at five, but Linden and I lit the stoves anyway and started melting ice, figuring a little coffee couldn’t hurt the mood. We took our time and ate and drank for hours while gearing up and waiting for the sun to get a little closer to the valley floor. The sun has to work pretty hard at that in the Cwm as the walls rise to 25,000 ft ( not counting Everest and Lhotse) but by eight AM when we started walking in down coats, there was a hint of warmth in all the brightness. We strolled in our crampons up under the ridiculously steep Nuptse Wall and then crossed a series of easy crevasse bridges. We came to a crazy and crooked collection of six or seven ladders tied together, spanning a deep crevasse. There was a perfectly good detour trail which would avoid the high wire acrobatics at the cost of about twenty minutes and we happily went detouring. A bit farther up the valley and we came to the last crevasse… Our goal for the day. We took a short rest at this halfway point to Camp II and then reversed course, heading back for much-needed naps at Camp I.
That second night was blissfully quiet and calm and so when the alarm rang at five, once again, we were a bit more ready for action. We set out walking in the shadows at seven AM bound for Advanced Base Camp. Eventually, when we’d passed all the crevasses again, it got hot as the sun got bouncing off a billion tons of ice and snow, but we took a few rest breaks and kept on trudging to CII. When we reached the rocky moraine the angle steepened and things got tough, but my team was tough too. We strolled into the construction site where Lam Babu and Uberaz (our ABC cook) were working hard at the beginnings of a fine camp. It seemed a good occasion for myself, Linden and Sara to sing happy birthday to Bill and to shake his hand. We sat drinking tea for a few minutes and gazing up at the Lhotse Face. It was icy and intimidating, but the good news was that we could see great progress being made by the “fixing team” assigned to string rope and fashion anchors on the face. This was a team made up of strong Sherpas from a number of expeditions. Our team’s contribution toward the effort, apart from money, had been Cherring, Kaji and Dawa carrying a few big loads of rope up from base to ABC.
At midday we began walking down valley again, keeping an eye out for a ladder-crossing black dog whose tracks we’d seen all day long. Early in the day, I’d spied him trotting through Camp I wagging his tail after completing the Icefall, but we didn’t see anything but tracks up at ABC. We did meet plenty of friends out on the trail as we headed down for our Camp I with our mission for Rotation I largely accomplished. Our final night in the Cwm was quiet and a little snowy. It still was snowing lightly as we packed up in the morning and got set for a careful trip down through the Icefall. Down to comfy chairs and showers and the basecamp good life.
Mark Tucker was elated to see us again… In fact we all felt a little guilty leaving him alone with the kitchen staff for four days… But he seemed to have muddled through.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
The team woke up at 5am at Camp 1 with everyone feeling good. They need to start early today as the area they will be climbing in, the Western Cwm, will get very hot. With no wind, mile high walls surrounding you, intense solar radiation due to the lack of atmosphere above, you can be in the cooker.
It feels great for a while, but it sure can take a lot of energy from you. The goal will be to climb up to Camp 2 , have a snack, say hi to Lam Babu
and Yubarj ,our two men making the 21,000 ft + high outpost for the team. Then return back to Camp 1 for one more night before returning to Base Camp.
The Blueprint for a successful climb of this peak starts way before you get to the mountain. Training of course, experience….the more the better, then you need a Master Craftsman like our Dave Hahn out here in the field. Every action has a reaction and nobody knows that better than Dave. Right now the team is working on the foundation of this climb. Dave has the time line for this project always in sight. He looks at his plans and knows that if he fails to build to code things can fall apart. The inspector (Mount Everest) can show up on the job site at anytime and you better be ready.
Dave didn’t stop at Home Depot to pick up some help, Linden and our team of Sherpa have all gone through a rigorous apprenticeship, and have been
studying under the watchful eye of a Journeyman Everest Guide. We will continue to support our crew with the best tools and equipment out there.
So both you and I can marvel at a job well done.
Till next time,
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
Mt. Everest Base Camp Manager
All is well upstairs. Word from above is that it was a bit windy last night, some of dream land not available due to tent noise. That nylon fabric does a great job protecting from the elements but even the slightest of breeze makes a pretty good noise. Equipped with ear plugs and a down bag around the ears is still no match if a good size blow is upon you.
The team climbed up toward Camp 2 this morning and is now back at Camp 1 resting and having lunch. Two of our Sherpa team have gone to Camp 2 and will stay for the next few days setting up that camp. Full speed ahead here at Mount Everest with all teams very active.
Till next time,
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
Our Climbing Team was up early again today with Camp 1 as the goal. It was still a little windy at Base Camp but not as much as yesterday so our climbing Sherpa headed out in front of the group again to set tents at Camp 1.
We have a nice spotting scope here at Base Camp that allows me to follow the teams progress for the majority of the climb to Camp 1. It can be a beautiful dance the way you climb in the Khumbu Ice fall or an ugly representation of how not to do it. If I were a judge on Dancing with the Stars our team would be moving into next weeks competition.
Dave and Sara were very fluid in there ascent working as the lead team with Linden and Bill right behind.
As Expedition Leader Dave Hahn sets the highest standard and expectation possible of his team this making this hazardous endeavor the safest possible.
Lots of challenges exist on this push to Camp 1 which we cannot eliminate, but moving with strong technique, knowing the smartest and safest places to take a break and when to push a bit harder and faster will get you to camp in reasonable shape. We want everyone arriving at Camp 1 feeling good and with enough reserve to help your body recover after such a work out.
We received a radio call just minutes ago informing us that the climbing team is minutes away from Camp 1. Nice work team!
Till next time
RMI Guide Mark Tucker