Kari Kobler's Mount Everest 2002 Expedition

Kari Kobler

May 20th: Chomolungma welcomes us and we have accepted the invitation. Following the weather report the ascent starts May 13 with summit on May 16, 2002

All members are back in ABC: 

On May 16 2002 the following members of our expedition under the guidance of Kari Kobler reached the summit of Everest, which is covered in snow and Tibetan and Nepalese flags:

Kobler Kari
Mérat Michèle
Bumann Rasso
Diego Wellig
Dibona Mario
Chassot Raphael
As well as the Sherpas
Pemba Dorjee Sherpa
Tashi Sherpa
Tibetan Awang
Tibetan Pasang
Pemba Sherpa

Here's the story: since our complete trust in the weather forecasts of Meteosat in Bern, and their prediction that there would be a good weather window on Everest from May 12 to 17, Kari gave the starting signal on May 13. Full with expectations the group of Kari and nine members set off. While the first well-known stage to the North Col was without problems, the breathing got heavier once we arrived at Intermediate Camp at 7500m. Onward we went the same day across instable and exhausting gravel terrain, following a switchback course up to Camp 2 at 7800m. Nicely warm - or even temperatures too hot - and a slight breeze accompanied us. From Camp 2 on there was one oxygen bottle per person, six members used it, three declined, wanting to reach the summit without supplemental oxygen. The St. Petersburg-made oxygen masks, which were originally designed for MIG fighter planes, are very uncomfortable and cover the entire face. It is a constant back and forth: inexperienced. one doesn't know how to breathe, hyperventilates, pulls and shoves the mask here and there - it just doesn't fit - no space for sun glasses, which fog up anyway, one pulls the mask down again, gets less oxygen and starts to gasp for air at a higher frequency, or one takes the glasses off and the sun glares so strongly that one decides never to try that again. Condensation collects inside the mask, freezes at the gauge, and if one doesn't chop of the ice frequently it seems the air stops. No fun, but if you decide to use oxygen, you have to accept the consequences. 

The next day, May 15, we all reach Camp 3 at 8300m, tired and exhausted. The trail was strenuous, across steep gravel terrain. The tents seem to barely stick to the face, yet they are securely fastened by additional anchors. Short and uncomfortable is the night, the yay-sayers of oxygen does off to a slight breeze of the life-giving gas. At midnight the call comes, setoff two hours later under a starry, windless sky - comforting.  Whoever goes with oxygen has to carry two bottles with 4 liters at approx. 280 bar in the backpack (this means one bottle has 1020 liters oxygen and weighs in at 3,5 kg). Because of the stormy weather over the last days, there were some sections left where fixed ropes could not be finished, and thus on summit day there were several cold traffic jams when the sherpas put in new ropes. Whoever was ahead, did not get the safety of the ropes. Long and strenuous was the way, first from Camp 3 to the ridge, then across several technical passages, which are the three steps, among them the famous Second Step with its countless old ropes and the old Chinese aluminum ladder. Later, along the ridge to the steep summit ridge, a combination of snow and rock. There we are, on the highest point of earth, the emotions arise deep inside, yet the cool wind and thoughts of the descent prohibit tears of joy. And truly the piece de resistance is still ahead. The descent from this height must not be underestimated. Everyone staggers along and reaches Camp 3, completely exhausted. Two member make it all the way to Camp 2, one all the way to ABC. The next day everyone, including Kari, reaches ABC.

Kari and nine climbers left Camp 3 on May 16, Kari and five members reached the summit of Mount Everest [plus the Sherpas and Tibetans]. One climber was turned around by Kari, half an hour below the summit, because of time pressure. Two others turned around much earlier, also for time reasons. Josette, who went for it without oxygen, turned around because of the cold.

Congratulations for the great performance, which could happen due to the accurate weather forecast from Bern. It is not a given, that on this mountain, where tragedy strikes often, all the members return safely to ABC. 

Mérat Michèle May 18th, 2002

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