What is next and what can you do?

Thanks for following Scott’s blog.  Thanks to a resurrected NCell network, we have managed to talk most days.  Two days ago, a puja took place at Basecamp for the lost Sherpas.  16 died in the end with 3 still buried in the Icefall and 9 ending up in hospital.  Scott and Kent Harvey continue to shoot footage for the movie but the Icefall remains closed.  The production company have decided to withdraw the crew from climbing Mt Everest this season.  We are not sure exactly when to expect Scott home yet – but certainly he will be home long before June 4, the expected date of return.

A little background on the Icefall:  As a glacier wends it’s way down a mountain, it may encounter steep topography.  Instead of a flowing river of ice, the glacier will slowly tumble over the steep area resulting in precariously hung ice blocks – seracs. It’s like a slow waterfall.  Cracks (crevasses) are prevalent between the blocks.  Think of a mars bar slowly melting on the edge of a counter!  This is what is happening with the Khumbu Icefall.  And there is no other way through to the upper reaches of Everest.

Icefall “doctors” fix a route through the Icefall each season and remain on hand to adjust the fixed anchors and ladders to keep access open.  It’s forever changing – a glacier in motion.  Ordinarily mountaineers would avoid such a place but you can’t on the south side (Nepal side) of Everest.  It’s the most dangerous part of climbing Everest.  After the Icefall doc.s (who are Sherpas), the second most at- risk group would be the Sherpas who carry loads and “fix” the upper part of the mountain.  These two groups of men will do more laps through the Icefall than anyone else.  By Nepal standards, these men are paid well but it is very risky for them.

On April 18 numerous Sherpas had carried loads to camp 1 at approx 21000 feet and were returning to basecamp.  In the upper part of the Icefall, a ladder had broken and someone was trying to fix it, resulting in a bottleneck.  A massive serac collapsed onto the bottleneck of people – resulting in this tragedy.

A word on job security – Sherpas, guides and camera operators are all contractors – we get paid for the days we work and we mostly take care of our own benefits (insurance etc).  I am not certain what benefits the families of the dead Sherpas will receive.  Certainly there is nothing from the Nepali government.  It’s worth remembering that no-one climbs Everest (or numerous other high Himalayan peaks) without Sherpas.  To this end, the American Alpine Club has (just) set up a fund to support the families of the fallen.  We have been members of the AAC (and NZAC) for years and believe that this fund will adequately do what it is set up for: American Alpine Club

We have many Sherpa friends who are kind, gentle and considerate people.  Wanaka-based Adventure Consultants, who run many trips to the Himalayas each year, lost three of their people.  It is incredibly sad.

Thank you for your support.

Scott ok

You may have heard of the collapse of the Khumbu Ice Fall that resulted in the death of (I think) 14 Sherpas.  This occurred between Base Camp and Camp 1 on April 18.  Scott was at BC at the time and was not caught.  He and his team at Adventure Consultants have been assisting with the rescue effort.  Details are a little scarce so I cannot write much in case I get something wrong.  This is an enormous tragedy and our hearts go out to the friends (especially those in BC and on Everest) and family of the poor men who were caught. 


I will update as I find out more.  For now, the team will remain at BC until further decisions are made.


Trekking: Namche Bazaar

Trekking:  Namche Bazaar

Scott is currently trekking into Basecamp with the team. Iffy weather, snow and rain have meant a few delays – waiting for clearances to get the necessary shots. It’s also meant a fair amount of trekking. They left the colourful village of Namche Bazaar (and the last showers) for Tyanboche Monastery. There’s a big hill to climb to Tyangboche and they still had to get to Deboche – another 2-3 miles. The powers-that-be then called them to return to Namche for some essential footage that had been missed due to the foggy conditions. They duly walked back to shoot in better visibility.  The trekking is all good training for higher up. Their trusty girl guide (Lydia Bradey), has stuck with them. Lydia has done numerous trips to Nepal both personal and guiding and has climbed Everest three times. She’s also a physical therapist and is very creative and funny so they are bound to be having a good time.
Scott was accosted by some Brazilians in Namche after one of them recognized him from Karina Oliani’s show from last year. Scott is famous in Brazil!

Return to Everest

Scott is again returning to Everest for the 2014 season.  He leaves in a few days.  This year is especially exciting as Scott is one of two cameramen (Coloradan Kent Harvey is the other) filming the mountain scenes in a movie depicting the 1996 Everest tragedy in which 8 climbers died in a fast-moving storm.  As the film’s second unit, Scott and Kent will climb the mountain to get shots of climber doubles and plates/scenics.  Much of the action takes place at Base Camp – the set of which is currently and convincingly erected in a studio in London.

Here’s the goss on who is in the film:


Adventure Consultants (Mountain Guides) from Wanaka, NZ are providing guides and logistical support.  Scott’s worked for and with AC for years and knows most of the team heading in.  Legendary Everest (ex-bad girl) climber and guide, Lydia Bradey is guiding the camera team and climbers along with prolific kiwi summitter, mountain guide Mike Roberts.  It’s a strong group, all of whom have summitted several (or more) times each.

Many friends from Wanaka will join the group to walk in.  Coffee, cake and food guru-in-harsh-places, Sarah McNab (also from Wanaka) will provide food support.  The Sherpas always do a great job with the food but Sarah will provide extra support – especially for the several birthdays that occur on the trip.

I (Anna, Scott’s wife) will post as the journey progresses.  Scott will be most likely be away until early June,


Scott becomes a mole….

IMG_4541Road washouts meant that Scott, with cave legend Kieran McKay, would fly into the cave entrance.  Obie had hoped for a flight too!

After the travel and travails of the Northern spring, Scott had a relatively quiet winter in NZ.  Once again he worked the Audi Quattro NZ Winter Games, a key stepping stone for winter athletes to qualify for the Sochi Olympics in Russia in 2014.  The production crew spent hours every day in cloying fog and the organizers of the event had to be commended for well-run competitions despite the foul weather.  Much of the mild winter, Scott was dad – holding the fort while Anna was guiding and frequently stepping up as (unpaid) photographer for her weekly ski columns.

In October, the family travelled to NW Nelson for Scott to scout the Stormy Pots cave system in preparation for a harrowing shoot which would involve a week underground looking to link what would become the Southern Hemisphere’s longest cave system.  Scott then headed to Hawaii to film the Hawaii Ironman, went home to Utah for 2 days then returned to NZ for the cave shoot.  Red Bull media sent a production crew from Germany and used the services of Making Movies, a NZ-based Production company.

Descriptions of travelling through the cave can bring on slight nausea:  the ambient temperature hovers at 5-7C, it’s rubbly, muddy and dank and you sleep in 40 year old sleeping bags, left from early cave explorers.  Scott, with his equipment, would squeeze through 12 inch (30cm) gaps – including squeezes that involved ducking underwater!  The craziest section appears to be the “hinckle horn honking holes” – a narrow area where wind is funnelled through the cave at such velocity that it causes unearthly whistling and honking as cavers force their heads through the gaps.  The link was found using paraffin and dye but even the most soft-boned caver cannot yet get through the fissure.

Never one to miss adventure, Scott arrived in LAX right after the TSA shooting, spent hours parked on the tarmac and a long day negotiating airport lines, finally arriving home at 2am after 40 or so hours of travel.

Down under

17 days home and back to Everest!

Scott left for the North side of Everest today.  He was home for 17 days (but it was a good 17).  This latest trip has been set up for some time.  Scott is travelling with David Breashears for a trekking scout to the Tibetan side.  Sherpas, Phulla and Pemba will also be going.  Scott barely got through the jet-lag and he’s off again for three weeks.  On July 14 we will head to NZ so it’s a pretty international life at present.  Here’s a pic of Scott canyoneering with Anna and Obie in Capitol Reef National Park last weekend (courtesy of Steve Howe)


Karina makes the Summit

Good news, even without the cameraman, Karina Oliani made the Summit at about 7.30am on May 17 local time with Pemba Sherpa.  They are on their way back to camp 2, where I expect Scott and Mingma are waiting.  Wally Berg’s wife rang me at 6pm last night (Ut time) to let me know that Karina was at the Hillary Step – approx one hour from the Summit.  So, despite the cold, it seemed she would definitely make it.

I haven’t spoken to Scott since he was at the South Col on the 15th but he said he would not be taking the sat phone.  It seems like the team made the good call for Scott and Mingma to descend and leave their oxygen with Karina and Pemba.  Although it would seem to have short-staffed Karina’s attempt somewhat, Peak Promotions also had an Indian team summitting the same day.  They topped out just ahead of Karina. 

I am hoping to have Scott home within the week – just the dodgy icefall to descend.  I’m also keeping an eye on AC dispatches:  Ralph going for the Lhotse/Everest double and Office manager, Suze Kelly on a “work trip” going for her first 8000 metre peak, Lhotse.   

Summit trials

News is somewhat sketchy but I spoke to Scott last night (Utah time) – it was the morning of May 16 in Nepal and they were still at camp 4.  They had not gone for the Summit because the predicted drop in wind had not happened.  Winds were gusting at over 80km/hr which is fearsome with an ambient air temp that is already 40 below!  Instead they had waited at Camp 4 (the last camp) using up their precious supply of oxygen.  Scott told me that it was likely that he and Mingma would descend to camp 2 and leave their oxygen for Karina and Pemba to make a summit bid today.  Meaning that Karina and Pemba are climbing as I type.  This is Karina’s expedition so this was a logical outcome.  Scott doesn’t mind as he’s already climbed Everest but I fear Mou Mou will be devastated.  Maybe not.  According to Alan Arnette’s blog, both Karina and Scott abandoned their summit attempt but I think that with today’s settled forecast – plus with Scott’s and Mingma’s 02, she will have gone for it. 

Our man at Basecamp, the hugely affable Wally Berg has called me three times in the past 24 hours with updates.  Bless him.  His latest call at 8 this morning informed me that Scott is indeed back at camp 2.  On descent Scott came across a Nepalese woman climber who was wandering confused and disoriented.  She was well into pulmonary edema and Scott escorted her (with difficulty) to camp 2.  The woman’s oxygen saturation was at 54% – essentially incompatible with life – and this woman would have died if Scott had not found her.  Again, I haven’t spoken to Scottie and neither has Wally – so this is 3rd hand info from the BC medical team, but it would seem that Scottie has performed some heroic action high in the Himalaya. 

I will update this blog as info comes in.  Wally and Scott are not on the same team so it’s a tricky business.  Alan Arnette is good for additional news:  http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2013/05/15/everest-2013-delayedsummits-and-more/