Ed Hommer

  Autumn Everest 2001: The American-Canadian Expedition

Dispatch 18:  Preparing for the Summit

Advanced Basecamp Ronguk Glacier Sept 29 , 2001

My apologies for the delay in posting an update on our progress up the mountain. I’m going to reference all of the camps and altitudes in meters (m) on the mountain above our Advance Basecamp, which is at 21,000 feet. We’ve been solidly established at top of the North Col for ten days now. The elevation is 7,000m at the top of the Col.

There are fixed lines along the entire Col from bottom to top — a vertical gain of about 800m. These lines were put up by Kelly, Brian and Gopal, or Man Bahadur Tamang (one of our climbing sherpas), over a three-day period.

The fixed lines allow us to move quickly and safely while carrying loads to our camp at the top of the Col. We’re calling this Camp 1 for communication purposes when making radio calls and for position reference on the mountain itself. High winds over the past several days have slowed our progress, and we are about four days off our planned “perfect world” schedule at this time. The weather had been clear and sunny the past week, but the winds of Everest have been scouring the upper slopes, making it dangerous up high.

However, yesterday and today we have moved up and made progress. At what we call Camp 2 at 7,500m, we have one tent and some oxygen bottles now in place. Camp 2 is not the norm on this route at 7,500m. We’ve established this camp solely for my benefit so that I will have shorter days at the start of the summit attempt. Believe me, the two prosthetic legs I wear are absolutely of the highest quality and technology available. However, this is Mt. Everest, and I’m going to take any edge that I can concerning saving wear and tear on my residual limbs for the long summit day.

Our next camp on the route is at 7,800m. Today, Carl and Gopal carried seven bottles of oxygen and cached it at that camp site. They then descended to Advanced Basecamp, so it was a long day for them. Kelly also descended from Camp 1 earlier today for a day’s rest. As Carl and Gopal descended, Brian and Pemba Sherpa headed up to Camp 1 today. Their goal is to go to 7,800m tomorrow with one tent and more bottles of oxygen.

Whenever possible, we are working with the Hungarian National Team that is also attempting this route. The Hungarian team already has two tents in place at 7,800m that we can use, so that actually puts us back on our planned schedule for the most part. However, due to the possibility that our teams will overlap at 7,800m, we need to get one more tent in place at that camp, along with a stove and some fuel. Our hope is that this will get done tomorrow by Brian and Pemba Sherpa. In addition to this task, they plan on placing six lines from 7,500 to 7,800m. Camp 3 for us will be at 7,800m. Then they’ll descend back down to Camp 1 at 7,000m.

Our last and final camp will be at 8,300m, just below the northeast ridge. Camp 4 will not be much of a camp really, just a tent and that’s about it. It’s going to be a cold camp. On summit day we’ll depart from Camp 4 at midnight or even earlier. We’ll summit, then descend to Camp 3 (7,800m). That could take 16 to 18 hours to complete.

Tomorrow I’m going to go up to Camp 1 with Dan Bronstein and Scotty Anderson to carry a load of oxygen and more rope. We’re going to spend the night and then descend back down here to the Advanced Basecamp. After at least two days of rest and weather permitting, Kelly, Gopal and I will make our summit attempt on the fourth of October.

Our team is aware of the fact that we are very fortunate to have thousands upon thousands of people sending their thoughts, prayers and good wishes for our safety and success on this expedition. We definitely believe in this positive energy from others that’s coming from halfway around the world. We send our thanks.

We’ll close for now. All of us send our love to our many friends and all our families that we miss and haven’t seen in a little over two months now. Our thoughts are with all of you each day and we look forward to being with you again soon. That’s all for now. Good night from Mt. Everest.

--Ed Hommer

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