NEWSLETTERS - Everest Expedition 2001

Newsletter 1719 May 2001

We're off to see the Wizard

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Great Wizard of Oz was giving out certificates for courage, university degrees on ticking pocket watches on the summit of Everest. He'd be busy right now, because the Sherpas of the American team just (9:30 a.m.) reached the summit. Wow!!!! Great news for us all. In ABC, the shouting started in the American camp and quickly spread among us. The sound grew louder and louder, 200 people spread along 300 meters, banging pots and pans, yodelling and clapping. Smiles and pats on the back signalling our need to grab ahold of the fixed ropes and go!!!

Well, we have been watching the weather forecasts, like crazed sports fans, and yesterday chose the 23rd as our summit day. Immediately following that meeting, each climber dove into their tents and finalized their packing. In a few minutes, Asmuss, Ellen, Owen, Naoki, Kieron, Jamie and I are heading to Camp 1. We will sleep in each of the four camps and be ready to move summit-ward at 1:30 a.m. on the 23rd.

Tomorrow Andy, Marco, Robert and Evelyne will head to Camp 1. They will actually skip Camp 2 and meet up with us at Camp 3 on the afternoon of the 21st. The Sherpas will also be skipping camps, and 5 of them (Loppsang, Phurba, Karsang, Dawa and Tibetan Karsang) will climb from Camp 2 to Camp 4 on the 22nd. At that point we will all be together (16 of us) at Camp 4. Should be cozy.

As I said, we will be leaving for the summit about 1:30 a.m. on the 23rd. We have plenty of Oxygen and so we will each be using 3 cylinders on summit day. Our brain cells and extremeties are thankful for that. The climb to the top should take us about 7 hours.

But that is along way off. Think about it: you'll have at least 5 showers, 15 great meals, 10 lattes, a double espresso, a speeding ticket and a big, wet kiss on the cheek before we summit. We will, during that same period, consume about 1250 calories (a single Snickers bar is 270 calories), lay in our sleeping bag for 70 hours but only get about 12 hours of sleep, climb 8,635 ft (2450 m) and pull ourselves along 21,000 ft (7000 m) of fixed lines. A few of us will vomit (a wonderful side effect isn't it?). Some of us will cry. We'll all suffer doubts, anxieties and fears (there is a narrow gap on the ridge, with 7,000 ft. of exposure on one side and 5,000 ft. on the other).

And from the top, we'll hope to hear the banging of pots, the cheers and yodels of all our friends in ABC. The hugs will be emotion-filled. Cameras will capture the memories and record them forever. The magic of reaching the top will then sink in over the months that follow.

Over the next few days, we will try to send some short dispatches letting you know about our progress. However on the 22nd, all of us, except the cooks, will be on the mountain. We'll need every person in place, to ensure our safety and to clean our gear off the mountain. So there will be a short news blackout, at the most exciting time of the trip. We should be able to send a detailed dispatch on the 24th, along with photos. Wish us luck! We're off!!!

Chris Warner