North Face of Mt. Everest on a clear day

 

  Autumn Everest 2001: The American-Canadian Expedition

Dispatch 20: Weather Woes

Advanced Basecamp Rongbuk Glacier Oct 4, 2001

Well things do not bode well for us here in Tibet at our Advance Basecamp as far as the weather goes. Today we suffered more high winds and more snow on the upper reaches of Everest.

We are receiving weather forecasts and reports from Roy Strasser at American Airlines Weather Services. Those reports indicate at least two or three more days of unstable weather and high winds on the upper mountain.

The final date that we can go for the summit is Oct. 8th. Even that late date will cause a lot of logistical juggling. The yaks arrive here at ABC on the 11th to transport all of our supplies down to basecamp; some team members must be here at that time. Going for the summit on the 8th really puts us right to the edge as our departure date from basecamp to the Nepali border is on the 15th.

At some point during each day we all find ourselves silently and intensely staring at the sky to the south and west. We're thinking and hoping that the sky will clear and the winds will abate, giving us the window that we need to safely ascend the world’s highest mountain. We must be patient and not over zealous for this is also the world’s highest graveyard.

Each time we ascend the North Col we need only look off to the right of our route to be reminded of this, as there lies the body of a fallen climber forever interned on Everest. What dwells within each of us that creates an inexplicable draw to compete in this contest? In his book, author and climber Joe Simpson calls it “This Game of Ghosts.”

All of us on the team are working as hard as possible and playing all the angles toward success yet all the while keeping in the forefront of our thoughts and focus that this is only a game. True success is to play the game, if you choose, until you’re too old.

Our hope is that we can move up tomorrow and that the weather reports and forecasts will be inaccurate — in our favor. We are not alone in this. The Hungarian team is encamped a few yards away and is also waiting for the chance to move. As I sit here now and listen to the wind-driven ice pellets pummel our tent, it does not look like tomorrow holds great promise for a break.

Even on these days of waiting and stormy, cold nights, being here within the realm of the magnificent Everest cathedral brings me comfort and a quiet peace. Though things are not what I wish, it is the pure honesty of the mountain that envelops us.

We would like to send some photos, but they would have no definition to them. Just wind-driven snow over gray rock.

I will close this for now with hopes of a “good news” update tomorrow that this team is gaining altitude.

--Ed Hommer

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