(Transcribed from satellite phone voice message
received April 29, 2003 at 12:18 AM)
Camp 17,600 feet April 29, 2003
Having received a dubious weather report today, Chris
and I opted to delay our trip until tomorrow. We also
wanted to meet with the Sherpas who were returning
this morning from Camp Four in order to finalize the
timing for the summit event.
Following along with a calendar, the next couple of
weeks look like this:
On the 30th we will go to
Camp Two; the 1st to Camp Three; the 2nd up to the “Yellow Band” returning to
Camp Two to sleep; the 3rd to Base Camp. The 4th, 5th, 6th will be rest days.
On the 7th we will begin our
summit attempts, moving directly to Camp Two; the 8th Camp Three; on the 9th
Camp Four. On the 10th we will attempt the summit and return to Base Camp on
the 11th or 12th.
The only concern that we have
is that our Sirdar has asked Chris and I to separate on the summit attempt:
one of us attempting on the 10th and one of us attempting on the 12th. It is
an interesting math problem and the details follow.
Our group includes five
members and six Sherpas. Sean has hired
two Sherpas; Chris, Charlie,
Robert and Rudy have hired one
Sherpa each. There are three tents in Camp Four which hold two climbers each.
Rudy is acting as Robert’s guide, so those two must climb together. As you can
see, Chris and I must split up. [These climbers are sharing Sherpas.]
My present solution is to
pack Sean, Chris and I into one tent and to make the first summit party seven
people. The tents are technically three person tents, but with down suits,
40-below bags, oxygen bottles and stoves, it is a tight fit with two. We are
all frustrated with the situation as it was discussed in Kathmandu with the
agency that we would all be able to summit together.
The second frustration is an
apparent lack of oxygen bottles. Two of our members intended to climb without
oxygen. Each assumed, since they paid full price, that the standard number of
bottles would be available if they changed their minds. I planned to use
oxygen from Camp Three and paid an additional $800 for two extra bottles. Now
as the summit approaches, everyone wants oxygen available.
It appears we have enough
bottles if everyone uses oxygen from Camp Four. It is a bit more risk than I
wanted, and I am irritated with everyone, although the blame is difficult to
assign. I feel strong and have had fast times between the camps on the
mountain so far, but as mountain climbing is just my hobby and not my life’s
ambition, I am among the most conservative. It is frustrating to spend so much
time and money to face planning problems like these that are such a detriment
to a successful expedition.
My anxiety has also been
peaked after making two new friends here. One, who is incredibly fit, has
attempted Everest six times without any success; the other, whose brother
attempted three times without a summit. I am learning every day that this is
not a rookie’s mountain.
With all of that aside, lets
us focus on the positive as with the “final show” approaching, I will need all
the positive support I can get! We have been able to secure fairly accurate
weather forecasts and have made many friends. Our Sherpas are now resting this
week and their work has given me every indication that they are the strongest
on the mountain.
That is all for now, I’ll
dispatch in the next few days from Camp Two and Camp Three. Charlie