Newsletter 246 May 2010
First Summits of the Season
On Wednesday the 5th May at about 11am, Russell received a radio call from the summit of Mount Everest. The caller was Himex Sirdar, Phurba Tashi, announcing that he had just reached the top of the world for the 17th time after having successfully fixed the rope to the summit. Tashi and his team, consisting of Himex mountain guide Adrian Ballinger, Dorje Sherpa and Ang Rita Sherpa, were part of the Sherpa crew that was responsible for fixing the rope from the South Col to the very top.
Three Sherpas of IMG and another three Sherpas of Alpine Ascents were part of the summit team, bringing to ten the number of first summits of the season.
“The weather is perfect up here, and there is only a slight breeze,” Adrian said over the radio when he reached the top about half an hour after Phurba Tashi. Even though Adrian was not really part of the rope fixing team, he was supposed to place some bolts on the route using the heavy Hilti drill. However, the batteries of the drill only lasted for two bolts and Adrian was able to follow the rope fixing Sherpas all the way to the summit.
The rope fixing team left Camp 4 at 3am in perfect weather conditions. “Once again, Russell absolutely nailed it with the weather. Even though it was snowy and cloudy at base camp in the morning, it was calm and clear up here. I took pictures without my gloves on,” Adrian said. Other than having fixed the rope to the summit, the crew was also busy clearing the mountain off the old rope, which makes climbing Everest safer as it ensures that the rope, the climbers will clip into, is actually attached to an anchor. “The Sherpas and Adrian are removing most of the old rope, which they will leave on the mountain for the clean-up expeditions to take down,” Russell explained.
Back at base camp
While Phurba Tashi and his team were busy opening the final stretch to the summit, the rest of the Himex crew slowly trickled into base camp on Wednesday morning. Jens from Denmark was the first to arrive, followed by Helmut, Stina, Gabriel and Jo. “It is great to have everyone back at base camp – finally the camp is lively again,” said Monica, who was getting ready to do a quick medical check-up on the climbers. Everyone looked very well considering they had been up high on the mountain for about one week – the only difference was that some of them looked a bit thinner than a week ago. After having weighed himself, Jens found out that he lost about nine kilogrammes, however, his compatriot Stina is convinced that she has actually put on weight. “It must be all the Mars and Snickers bars,” she said. Everyone seems to be in good spirits and the only ailments they have brought down from the mountain are minor colds and runny noses.
Upon their arrival, Tashi, Lakchu and the kitchen boys were busy preparing a late breakfast for the starved crew and before everyone was trying to get a space in the shower tent, they were served a hearty breakfast, consisting of beans, eggs, toast and bacon followed by delicious vanilla yoghurt with fruit. “You are the best, Nima,” Stina burst out when she saw the bowl of fresh fruit with yoghurt nearing her palate. “It is great to be back here, even though I also enjoyed being at the higher elevations,” said Gabriel, imbibing his first beer just before digging into his breakfast. Helmut from Germany had ‘ransacked’ the beer supply in the ‘White Pod’ providing everyone arriving at base camp with a can of Carlsberg. “Camp 3 was incredible and the views were amazing and I think this can only be topped by the summit day,” Helmut said.
Most members of the team are currently lounging in the ‘White Pod’ emailing, reading, filming or just relaxing, and unlike many other teams on the mountain, the Himex members will stay at base camp and not descend to the lower elevations of villages such as Pheriche or Lobuje. “I think having the ‘White Pod’ makes a huge difference and it makes it less necessary to go down and stay in a lodge just before the summit push,” said Mike Roberts from Adventure Consultants, who popped in for an espresso before heading down to Pheriche.
After having finished their acclimatisation phase, most expeditions go down to the lower villages for a couple of days to recuperate and enjoy a real bed or sitting in a proper dining room. Monica and I walked around base camp this morning and it almost felt like a ghost town as so many teams had left for the lower villages.
Adrian and the nine Sherpas are staying the night at Camp 2 before they will come back to base camp. Wednesday’s summit success marks the second time in a row that the Himex team was the first one to reach the summit in a season. Last year, Phurba Tashi, a team of Sherpas and Himex client, David Tait, reached the top on exactly the same date, and it took another two weeks for the next groups to reach the top of the world.
The next few days will be filled with eating, washing, doing laundry, recovering from the high altitude and, of course, waiting for the weather window to arrive. At the moment, it is still unclear when the weather gods will allow the hundreds of Everest aspirants to fulfill their dreams and reach the highest point on earth.