Two reports the second from Charlie
May 23, 2003 Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal: Charlie
Wittmack reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8:20
AM on May 22. It was his third attempt on the summit
during the two and a half month expedition that
experienced unusually high winds and snow.
"We could see that the jet stream was not moving off
the summit and as the monsoon season approached we had
to decide if we were going up or going home," Wittmack
The final two summit attempts were launched
consecutively two nights in a row from camp four. "We
spent two nights at camp four without food or oxygen.
After the first attempt all of the major teams headed
home. The winds were over 80 MPH and there was no
indication that things would improve. We were
exhausted from the first attempt and never expected to
reach the summit on the second night."
Wittmack reached the summit, after 11 hours of
climbing, with his partner Pasang Tharke Sherpa, of
Nepal. Winds on the summit were approximately 40 MPH,
with moderate snow and visibility of less than 50
meters. Having broken his left crampon near the
summit, Wittmack experienced a harrowing descent,
taking another 10 hours to climb down to his tent in
On reaching Camp 3, Wittmack discovered that one of
his teammates had removed the equipment from the
camp. Wittmack eventually found shelter in Texan,
Gary Guller's tent, but spent another night without
food and water.
Today he returned safely to Basecamp and received
treatment for minor frostbite and snowblindness.
Tomorrow he begins the trek back to Kathmandu and
expects to return to Iowa during the first week in
Thoughts from the Summit of Mount Everest: 29,035 ft
learned that an individual is only as strong as the network that supports
him. As I stand here on the top of the world, it is an achievement that
reflects on the entire state of Iowa, and the spirit and teamwork of her
people. This is a victory that we all share together.
Special thanks are immediately due to the thousands of students and teachers
across the state, at The Adventure Institute partner schools, who chipped in
so much time and energy to make this dream come true. During one segment of
the project students were challenged to find an Everest dream of their own,
and I am pleased to report the future of our state is bright.
Some people thought that that an Iowan on Everest was a silly idea, but that
didn't slow us down. We have shown once again that Iowa truly is composed of
"fields of opportunity" and together we have learned that the limit of
possibility is equal only to the limits of our dreams.
I would also like to that Chuck Huss for sharing his wisdom and advice on each
phase of this project. Without his mentorship I would still be in Des Moines.
And to Voss Distributing and Red Bull for providing the technology to make all
the dispatches possible.
Finally, to my family, especially my parents, sister and Catherine Scharf.
They are the best belayers a climber could ever have - especially on difficult