Everest 2010 Weekend Update May 1

May 2, 2010
Outside Magazine

Everest_2002_565 Thereare good weeks and bad weeks on Everest, a bad week is when someonedies. On Monday, April 26, Hungarian climber Laszlo Varkonyi was sweptinto a crevasse by an avalanche on the North Col. A desperate searchensued, however, by Thursday, the search was called off.

The entire north side was shaken by not only the death but also theinstability of the ice on that side. The Tibetans who maintain thefixed lines, re-routed it quickly to a safer area.

Teams on the south, while aware of the north side events, continuedtheir acclimatization rotations with many climbers spending theuncomfortable night at camp 3. The weather continued to play nice andSherpas took the fixed line all the way to the South Col on the southand to camp 3 on the north. They are now being supplied with oxygenbottles, stoves, fuel, tents and other suppliers needed to launchsummit bids. Both camps are roughly at 8000m. As of today, the ropesare not fixed to the summit from either side.

Our young climber, Jordan Romero, tagged camp 2 or about 24750', his personal best on Saturday, Tibet time.

The weather is not too bad this year, albeit very dry - a low snowyear. High winds above 7000m have been a continual issue for theSherpas fixing rope and ferrying supplies to the highest camps. Eventoday, AAI reports in

Today there were several big lenticular cloudsover the higher mountains. Lenticular clouds are lens shaped cloudsformed by high winds, and we are hoping we won't see any of themtomorrow. If the winds are blowing the team can always wait another dayat Camp 2 before going up.

However, weather is very difficult to predict on Everest andlenticular clouds is indicative of high winds and perhaps changingweather. Traditionally, on May 1, the weather shifts from great to bad.On Sunday morning, right on que, 5" of snow hit both Base Camp and camp2 on the south causing teams to return to BC. Apa Sherpa's team reports:

Wewoke up this morning to 5 inches of snow at base camp and the sameamount at Camp 2. The weather forecasts have just upped the amount ofsnow for the rest of the week. Apa and everyone else at Camp 2 iscoming down as soon as possible.

But looking back onthe week, Patrick Hollingworth, climbing independent and only with hisSherpa support from Himalayan Ascent, filed an interesting dispatch onhis climb to camp 3. It is the Blog of the Day. Patrick comments on rock fall on the Face, while not common, may be the norm in this low snow year.

Our initiation to the face was quite quick as a fewmoments after crossing the 'schrund a rock came flying down the facefrom above and slammed into Jangbu's chest. He wasn't hurt but if ithad been 20cm higher it would have collected him in the face and theoutcome would have been entirely different.

Traditionally, climbers have not used helmets on Everest's South Colroute but is almost mandatory these days. In 2008, a huge rock almosttook out an entire line of climbers just below the Balcony. Patrickgoes on, in this must read, to describe what might be called aninternational incident between the Aussie and a Russian climberresulting is the line of the season:

"I could keel you whenever I want. I could keel you now, or I could keel you later".

Speaking of must reads, anything by Leif Whittaker falls into thiscategory this season. He touches on a point that I believe is hittingevery single climber on  Everest right now - missing home.

It’s been over a month since I said goodbye to thecomforts of home and embarked on this expedition and, to be honest, I’mstarting to miss some things. Staying focused on the mountain isimportant, but during the fat part of the trip, when our team isresting and recuperating at base camp, waiting for our next rotation upthe Icefall, it’s hard not to think of my own bed, my own town, and theloved ones whom I left behind. I find a passage in my father’s journalthat sums up my feelings exactly. This from April 4, 1963: “Would loveto lay on a beach somewhere and not freeze and gasp for breath.”

Finally, another nice account of climbing to camp 3 is from Bonita Norris with Dream Guides. She describes a moment of drama with another climber who was in fear of her life. Nice job Bonita.

The tough period is about to begin. Many climbers have completedtheir climb to camp 3 or camp 2 on the north and have now retreated tolower camps or even local villages to rest up for the summit bid. Thiscan last anywhere from one to three weeks! However ...

Now unlikely with the change in forecast, however if the weathercontinues to hold, we may see summit attempts as early as may 6th. Weknow that Simone Moro, who is also climbing Lhotse, is targeting anearly May summit. A few of the north teams have left base camp with theintent of pushing to the summit already. Plus there are several 'underthe radar' teams who are not depending on the fixed ropes and may makea quick push in that direction. Ah, the mysteries of Everest!

But for those in waiting, there is not a lot to do, you have alreadytold everyone you meet, every joke and story you can remember. You canonly write on the blog about eating and sleeping so much.There is quietdiscussion with experienced climbers and guides about the route aboveC3. "Just how tough is it? It didn't look that bad from C3. How am Idoing, you know, relative to the other climbers? Can we review theoxygen regulator one more time?"

Mental toughness starts at sea level.

Climb On!


Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. You can read more on his site

Alzheimer's Note
I want to thank everyone who voted for The Cure Alzheimer's Fund inthe Pepsi Refresh challenge. They did not win the $250K but hopefullyreceived some publicity about their important work. You can always makea donationthat goes 100% to research anytime. On a personal note, a dear friendtold her her best friend was diagnosed with Alzheimer's this week - sheis 53 years -old.

This week a report from the National Institute of Health issued areport on Alzheimer's saying there was no discernible methods ofpreventing the disease and more research is needed to avoid a nationalcatastrophe.

"Alzheimer's disease is a feared and heart-breakingdisease," said Dr. Martha L. Daviglus, conference panel chair andprofessor of preventive medicine and medicine at NorthwesternUniversity, Chicago. "We wish we could tell people that taking a pillor doing a puzzle every day would prevent this terrible disease, butcurrent evidence doesn't support this."

They also recommended the establishment of registries forAlzheimer's disease and cognitive decline, modeled on existingregistries for cancer.

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