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)
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.
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/
Scott just called from camp 2. They have been there for a couple of nights with their backs pushed up against the sides of the tent against the wind. He sounds great. The foul days of initial acclimatizing are over. The wind is too strong to go and stay at camp 3 up on the Lhotse Face so they are just going to head up and tag camp 3 today. The Lhotse face climbs steeply out of the Western Cwm (“coom”) up to the South Col and camp 4 – the final camp. Camp 3 is part way up the face. It’s over 7000m so is an essential part of the acclimatization schedule. After camp 3 on the actual summit bid, they will start using oxygen.
The team should be back at basecamp in 2 days. They will then rest up and wait for the jet stream to back off. The summit bid is likely to be mid-May, which is the gap when the jet stream backs off just before the monsoon. Last time Scott summitted on May 16. Mou Mou (Obie’s mouse) will be joining the summit team. She has elected not to acclimatize and will be making an oxygenless ascent. She is truly a remarkable mouse. Last time Grey Mou Mou went to the summit but has lapsed into depression since because his public speaking career never took off. That could be because he ended up in NZ.
If you would like to read a balanced perspective on the debacle of last week (which I feel was biased in the Western media), check out this blog of a guide who is on the mountain as well: http://alpenglowexpeditions.com/blog/everest-best-and-worst-0Photos are from 2010 but you get the gist: 1. Climbers leaving camp 2 or 3 – they are heading up the Lhotse Face, 2. Getting to the top of the Khumbu Icefall and 3. Camp 4 at the South Col
Scott called this morning. After about fifty tries from both sides, we got to talk. It is worth noting that we are talking via the Nepal cell phone network, ncell at a cost of 6 rupees/minute to the US (about 1.5 cents a minute). The closest tower is at Gorak Shep less than 2 hours walk down valley. It’s pretty amazing.
Scott, Karina, Pemba and Mingma have returned from two nights at Camp 2. The first couple of loops up high are always brutal and Scott suffered from bad headaches, vomiting and the “Khumbu cough”. Fun. But as always, he kept working and carried the same loads everywhere as the Sherpas. However, he is back in the relatively thick air of base camp. They will rest a few days before heading up again and will journey up the Lhotse face to Camp 3.
The Khumbu icefall is perhaps the most notorious part of the route. Apparently this season there is a “squeeze chimney” where climbers have to turn sideways to move between the towering blocks of ice. Those who know Scott well will remember issues with towering blocks of ice!
You can text Scott at Basecamp on his US phone. I am sure he’d love to get word. Although spectacular – especially with the incredible full moon of the past few days – the whole experience is pretty grovelly (as we would say in NZ). It’s life in a tent, it’s rocky, it’s icy, it’s cold and there are no showers. It’s also high and altitude hurts at first. You can send word of meals you are enjoying because all he is eating is dal bhat, the Nepalese staple of vegetables and lentils. Best not to repeat his comments on dal bhat!
I hope to post pictures soon.