The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2011

Climbers Paraglide from Everest Summit to Namche Bazaar

Everest and Nuptse
Everest and Nuptse by Stevehicks on Flickr

Nepali tandem paraglider pilot Babu Sunuwar, 29, and climber Lakpa Tshering Sherpa, 35, summited Everest on Saturday and descended via paraglider, according to flying magazine Cross Country. The pair flew over 20 kilometers, crossing the flank of Nupste and the summit of 5,806-meter Pokalde Peak before landing 42 minutes later in the town of Namche Bazaar. The flight completes the first leg of their summit-to-sea attempt, in which they plan to climb Everest, then fly, bike, and kayak to sea level in Bangladesh.

The news comes after two other flying descents off Everest were aborted this season. Briton Squash Falconer, who was attempting to become the first woman to solo pilot a paraglider off Everest, scrapped her aerial descent because of high winds and low visibility. Brazilian Rodrigo Raineri, who planned to hang-glide from the summit, abandoned his summit bid after experiencing frostbite on his toes in C4.

AIn other news, reported a speed record on Everest, claiming that American guide Michael Horst summited both Everest and nearby 8,516-meter Lhotse in just 21 hours. After summiting Everest on May 14, Horst reportedly decended to C4 for an afternoon of rest before traversing the South Col and summiting Lhotse. Alpinist believes this makes him the first person to climb two 8,000-meter peaks in a single day.

Other notable summits this week include RMI Guide Dave Hahn, who notched summit number 13 on Friday, and Outside blogger Alan Arnette, who summited for the first time with a team from International Mountain Guides. High winds forced Edurne Pasaban, the first woman to summit the world's 8,000-meter peaks, from C4 back to basecamp. Pasaban is currently trying to re-summit Everest, this time without supplemental oxygen. Her team was regrouping over the weekend before deciding their next move.

As the 2011 Everest season begins coming to a close, Outside will continue to cover the headlines from the mountain.

--Michael Webster

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Everest Summit Recap - More Than a Summit

DSC01186 The route I took from the Balcony to the summit as seen from Lhotse on the same day I summited.

I stood on the summit of Mount Everest at 5:00 AM, May 21, 2011. To say this event had a personal meaning is an understatement. To say it had a broader meaning leaves much to be explained. I will write a complete trip report in my usual standard once I get home but for now here is an overview from my summit push.

The weather played havoc with every team in 2011. High winds were forecasted and changed plans but then never materialized. Sudden storms did appear without notice causing great discomfort, concern and in some cases, frostbite and blindness. So when our IMG expedition leader announced at 9:00 PM May 15, the weather forecast had changed for the positive and we needed to leave base camp in 5 hours, we were skeptical to say the least.

But we moved ahead spending a night a Camp 1 and then moved to Camp 2. But the forecast changed yet again, this time calling for high winds the morning, May 19, we were supposed to summit. While other teams ignored this revision, we stood down and spent another night at Camp 2. Not all bad since this gave our bodies more time to rest, hydrate and prepare for our ultimate summit push. But now our summit was at the end of a 3 day window of low winds so the margin for error was reduced to zero – assuming the forecast were valid.

But we moved forward and on to Camp 3, then to the South Col, a harsh camp at nearly 8000m where the body no longer functions properly. My climb from C3 to the Col was fast, over twice as fast as my previous climb; about 3 hours. The recent snows had made the route over the Yellow Band, a limestone strata that crosses the Himalaya in the area, and on the Geneva Spur slightly easier instead of climb on rock.

Arriving at the South Col is more like landing on a distance planet. The ground is covered with small slate tablets revealing a history of being underwater at some point – amazing. But the overriding feature is the route up the Triangular Face to the Balcony. From there the route follows the Southeast ridge to the South Summit. You cannot see the true summit of Everest from the South Col – but you know it is there.

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Telluride Mountainfilm: Three Reasons to Smile

This year's Mountainfilm, which starts Friday in Telluride, Colorado, features three films about happiness. Here are their trailers. The first, called simply Happy, is an 80-minute feature film from Roko Belic, who directed the Academy-Award nominated Genghis Blues. To shoot Happy, Belic trotted the globe, travelling between 14 countries in search of universal truths about happiness. The film asks, We know what makes humans depressed, but what makes us happy? This trailer does a nice job.

The second is I Am, a journey about one man's attempt to discover all that's wrong with the world.The film premiered at Mountainfilm last year, and won the Audience Choice award largely because the director, Tom Shadyac, revealed in 80 minutes all that's right with the world. 

The third is an 11-minute short, Mr. Happy Man, from director Matt Morris about a man in Bermuda who wakes up every day at 3 a.m. to tell drivers caught in traffic that he loves them.

Mr. Happy Man trailer from Matt Morris on Vimeo.

For more info on Mountainfilm, check out this post. More trailers coming tomorrow.

--Kyle Dickman

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Mountainfilm: Hendri Coetzee's Kadoma

Kadoma_teaser from Ben Stookesberry on Vimeo.

Telluride, Colorado's Mountainfilm is four days out and counting. To continue our trailer-a-day trend, here's Kadoma, a film from whitewater kayakers and filmmakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic. Kadoma tells the story of their ill-fated kayaking expedition to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where trip leader Hendri Coetzee was killed by a crocodile in December 2010. Outside's Grayson Schaffer wrote a detailed account of the expedition for our March cover story, Consumed. Read it for more information on why Coetzee, who was the first to paddle some of Africa's hardest rivers, was among the world's most accomplished kayakers. Watch the (tense) trailer above.  

--Kyle Dickman 

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Steck and Bowie Retreat From Everest


Climbers Ueli Steck and Don Bowie have given up their Mt. Everest summit bid after encountering cold and windy conditions high on the south side of the mountain.

The pair began their final push from their camp at 25,250 feet at approximately 11:30 pm. According to a text message posted to Steck's website, Bowie had to turn around at 26,250 feet because of the cold. Steck continued on alone, reaching the third step before deciding to retreat.

"Another hour and I would have summitted Everest," Steck wrote on his website. "For the love of my toes I turned at an altitude of 8700 meters [28,550 feet]."

Steck and Bowie planned to climb Everest as the final leg of their Himalaya Speed expedition, where they attempted three of the Himalayas' eight-thousanders in alpine style. On April 17, Steck soloed Shishapangma in 10.5 hours; on May 5, he and Bowie summited Cho Oyu.

--Adam Roy

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