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Thursday 3/27/2003 & Friday 3/28/03
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Jean-Michel Asselin leads a large expedition
consisting of two full permits...
Everest 50 :
The fiftieth anniversary expedition-Everything is ready for the anniversary
the first ascent
of Mt Everest.
We departed on March 26th and return on June 1st for the 25 members of the
Everest50 expedition, led by Jean Michel Asselin under the initiative of
Amnye Machen Productions and Global Expeditions.
Presentation of the expedition-The first
ascent of Mount Everest was made on May 29th 1953 by Edmund Hillary, from New
Zealand, and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay by way of the Nepalese side which would, in
the future, become the standard route taking the Ice cascade, Silence Valley
(western CWM), South Col
and South-East ridge.
years after, in May 2003, French people from Everest50 revisit its
slopes, for a tribute to the highness of this great lady. To celebrate this
anniversary, Everest50 organise an “anniversary ascent” from March to the end
of May 2003. Everest50 takes along 23 well known alpinists as well as
confirmed amateurs, and same number of experimented Nepalese, on the standard
and historical route of the Nepalese side (South East ridge). The idea is to set
roped teams occidentals/Sherpas which, by taking during 66 days their
predecessors tracks, will reflect, the spirit in which the tandem of
Hillary/Norgay reached the elusive and mythical summit. It is also a way to
Sherpas courage and professionalism, but overall it is a unique occasion to
celebrate the Mountain.
Gueorguievsky (Amnye Machen Productions) producer of TV transmissions and
movies ( see magazine Aventure on Odyssée), Jean-Michel Asselin (magazines
Vertical, Alpinisme & Randonnée) Himalayist and writer, and Sonam Sherpa
(Global Expeditions) the biggest Nepalese specialist on Everest expeditions,
are the founders of this huge project. United by their passion and history in
common, they are working on this joint effort for the past two years. As members of the expedition,
they wish to reach the summit.
Expedition point of view: Chronology of an announced expedition.
“It is at
Chamonix, in 2000, seated next to Reinhold Messner, Maurice Herzog and Sir
Edmund Hillary, that a foolish idea came to me. I was furious. Furious because
I realised that for reasons as legitimate, cruel and heartrending, we have
just missed an effective celebration: the 50th of the Annapurna’s ascent!!! The
anniversary of this terrific achievement has not stirred up the same forecasted
interest for everybody, in France, whereas it triggered at that time, sales of
seven million copies of the book "Annapurna first 8.000". During that celebration, we
were mainly behind a movement which could have been the real springboard to
reintroduce mountaineering into the media, to the average public. It was not a matter
of proselytism, but simply the occasion to tell our passion, to show summit’s
beauty, to defend mountain’s cause. The foolish idea was to think about the
50th of the Everest ascent which will take place in 2003, and even if this
celebration belongs to the British, we could take this opportunity to
celebrate, finally, all the mountains.
from Amnye Machen with TV team of Odyssée, we dove into the project, certainly
foolish, but which excites everybody. We talked about it for months. It is a
question of organising an expedition to the Everest, the “nth” to tell a world
we love and to tell also the true stories of men and women who have been, and
are, by climbing this mountain, clear symbols of this tremendous adventure.
going to climb to the Top of the World, film, write scenarios, show Nepal,
Sherpas, we are going to tell the happiness, the madness, the wonder, the
obstacles, we are going to come back to the history and tell the dream.
obviously, a huge project, and it means certainly the implication of a great
TV channel. It means great technologic means, heavy budgets, but it is overall
and first the human hand that will be worked and celebrated.
depends on Sherpas, and at Kathmandu this was our first concern : will they
want to climb in binomial (as Tenzing and Hillary did) becoming fellow
climbers instead of porters. The answer was the enthusiasm. To show their know
how, to live the roped party, those are the basis on where the project was
built. Daniel Gueorguievsky has set up with Amnye Machen Productions and
Global Expeditions, in Kathmandu, an operation which is going to allow 23
persons to participate to the 50th expedition during the spring of 2003, to a
terrific tribute to all the mountains.
Michel Asselin is the editor director of Montagne de Glenat Presse (Vertical
Roc and Alpinisme & Randonnée), after being for twelve years chief editor of
Vertical magazine. Nepal and Tibet are his two favourites places. Trekkings,
expeditions, those travels are near 25 round trips to the Himalayan land (six
trips to Tibet from 1988), he has celebrated his 20 years of Nepal in 1999. He
has participated as chief of expedition or participant to more than ten
ascents of the Himalaya : Everest (North and South edge), Cho Oyu,
Shishapangma, Pumori, Island Peak, Lakpha Ri, Lantang Gurla and Mandata
summits (1999), Amnye Machen (2001)… Among with the Everest (he has attempted 4
times and has stopped twice at less than 50 meters of the summit), he leaves
again in 2003 and wants to honor the “great bump” to
celebrate the mountain, and through it, all the mountains.
of logistic: More than 100 people are going to participate to the organisation
of this expedition from the base camp : 23 climbers and 40 Sherpas for 48
expedition members, surrounded with cooks, technicians, doctors, reporters,
cameramen, partners, all of whom are high altitude specialists. In numbers : 24
months of preparation, 1 million euros budget, 2 hyperbar boxes, 3000 meters
of ropes, 26 satellite phones, 100 oxygen bottles, 50 tents, 1500 kg of
freight from France, 4 cameras, a satellite station…
the adventure: The will of such a project is to allow everybody to share the
difficulties and joys of such an adventure. For this 50th, besides the
climbers of the expedition, Everest50 wants to allow to a large number of
people to share the magic of this mountain : to tell the stories of the men
and women in front of this monument of ice, rock and snow, to tread lifes
last meters towards the summit, to share failures and fears, to live the
oxygen scarcity, to glimpse the Everest majesty… This is the novel that
Everest50 wishes to make available to everybody by words, images and movie.
Cameramen of high altitude have been hired to capture these images that
altitude make difficult to realize.
radio, web and TV are in the adventure to follow the expedition: after having
devoted a lot of articles about this conquest during 2002, the weekly VSD and
the Journal des Enfants will propose a weekly follow up of the expedition.
France Info (in agreement with France Bleu) will organize some broadcasts from
base camp at 5300 meters during the entire month of May. Once back, TV channel Odyssée (TPS)
will propose five editions of the magazine Aventure filmed during the
expedition and Arte will diffuse five broadcasts of 26 minutes each. Nepalese
medias will also participate : prone to celebrate their mountain. They will
receive from Reuters the daily dispatches concerning all the expeditions and
Channel Nepal (Kathmandu) will propose emissions on live and magazines of this
matter (Space Time editor of Channel Nepal operates by satellite on Nepalese
territory and North India). Web sites
(English) will follow in French and English the expedition progress.
Everest50 expedition will follow the historical itinerary of the south-east
ridge taken by Hillary and Tensing in 1953 : base camp at Khumbu at 5200
meters, ice cascade and Camp I at 6200 meters, and Camp II at 6400 meters,
Camp III at 7300 meters, Camp IV at South Col at 7980 meters, then South-East
ridge, South summit (8760 meters), Hillary Step and summit.
days in Kathmandu for the last preparations, departure to Lukla and a week of
quiet walking through Khumbu : Namche Bazar, monastery of Tengboche, Pheriche
is a first acclimatization towards Everest’s base camp at 5300m.
installation of camps (April10-May 20)
itinerary takes place on west side of the Everest. From Khumbu glacier, the
advance crosses the Ice Fall, a huge ice cascade, first important difficulty.
8 days will be dedicated to establish Camp 1 (at 6100 m, just under the Ice
Fall) and overall of Camp 2. The 600 meters of unevenness from the ice barrier
must be crossed. Camp 1 is settled at the cascade’s summit, just at the
entrance of the western comb, between the Nuptse wall and the west shoulder of
at 6400m, at the heart of the western comb but installed on dry ground. With
the balance of the Everest’s great south-west side, it is a strategic place
where climbers use to spent long times. It is a true advanced base camp, with
all the advantages of the Nepalese logistic: big mess tent for lunches, and
overall cooking tent with a cook to prepare meals!
acclimatization continues (April 20th) rising towards Camp 3 at 7400m, foot
holding South Col slopes. Situated in a glacial projecting ledge, on the right
of the “Genevois spur”. It is a “test” Camp for futures summiteers.
camp 4 (From April 26th until May 3rd) it is the definitive stage. It is the
highest camping in the world. Near to 8000m of the south col, it is the
departure point of the ascent towards the summit. Very high, beaten by insane
winds, it is an absolute territory for many climbers. Once installed, summit’s
candidates join it for a short night, before the final attempt.
starts around 1 o’clock in the morning at south col (7980m). Timing to reach
top of the world is rigorous. At 14h at the latest the last roped teams should
reach the summit. After that, the descent towards Camp 4 : near of 900m of
unevenness to reach the tents and spend a second night at 8000m.
are forecasted for the coming back to base camp, 4 days to Lukla. Flight Lukla-Kathmandu
on May 24th, Kathmandu-Paris on May 30th after the celebration of “Summit Day”
forecasted on May 29th 2003 by Nepalese authorities to celebrate the 50 years
of the first ascent Hillary-Tensing.
March 26th, return May 30th 2003.
16 days of trekking, 41 days of expedition.
March 26 Departure from Paris
March 27 Arrival at Kathmandu
March 28 Free day at Kathmandu
March 29 Flight Kathmandu-Lukla
D5 to D12
March 30 to April 6 Trekking to Base Camp
D13 to 14
April 7 and 8 Installation of base camp
April 9 Ceremony (Gods)
D16 to 56
April 10 to May 20 Everest ascent
May 21 disassembling and cleaning of the camp
D58 to 62
May 22 to 26 Return by trekking
May 27 Flight Kathmandu-Lukla
D64 to 65
May 28 to 29 Free days at Kathmandu
May 30 Flight Kathmandu-Paris-
forecasts: Ten days
(from May 4 to May 14) will be devoted to summit attempts: they will be held
at the time of the best climatic crenel which could be given thanks to the
experience of forecasting on Everest acquired with the passing of years.
Everest is swept most of the time by a violent wind, the Jet Stream, which
does not allow any life at 8000m. It is thus necessary to be able to envision
three days of sharp, beautiful and calm time and without wind to be able to
leave under the best conditions towards the top. It is known statistically for
example that these crenels arrive only one or twice by season (autumn/spring).
Thanks to satellite communications established by Everest50, it will be
possible to work with a router : it is a meteorologist forecaster who, thanks
to the interpretation of satellite catches of sights, can rather precisely
give information on the stability and the date of the crenels of good weather
on different places, and thus also on the top of the world.
Giezendanner is the router of Everest50. He works for Météo France at Chamonix
and has already had experiences of router weather in the mountains: in the Alps
during the trilogies of Christophe Profit, Jean Marc Boivin and Eric
Escoffier, at McKinley, in Patagonia, at the Andes cordillera, at Pakistan and
most recently at Annapurna with Jean Christophe Lafaille in 2002. Yann has
routed Patrick Bérhault at the time of his crossing of the Alps.
top of the Everest is not unknown to him: he worked on this mountain in
collaboration with other French, Swiss and American expeditions.
Everest50: Their role
is of primary importance and without them, well little of the 1000 summiteers
of the Everest would have reached the top. Half of the Sherpas on the team
have already summited Everest several times. Among them, Sonam Dendu Sherpa reached
the summit 5 times. All of them are Everest’s summiteers or others 8000, and
experienced at altitude.
was born thanks to a long friendship shared with Sonam Sherpa, who leads
Global Expeditions, one of the best agencies in Kathmandu. Sonam started
this agency twenty years ago, primarily with his wife
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa and his
brothers Ang Tsering and Tendi.
As all the
Sherpas, he began his career by making a name working at altitude. The
the ascent he completed with the French climber Marc Batard to the summit of Thamserku in
history is punctuated by events happy and serious, thus his wife became the
first Nepalese woman to climb the Everest, but she died at the time on the
descent. Recently he lost his brother Tendi in a helicopter accident. Tendi
was very well known by French alpinists, he has worked in a lot of French
Sonam is at the head of a company which employs at the strong time of the
summer nearly 700 people. His brother Ang Tsering directs the airline company
project of Everest50 was born with them, and also with the participation of
the best Sherpas of Nepal.
(chief of Sherpas) will be Tserap Jangbu, a Sherpa who never has reached the
summit of the Everest but has a beautiful collection of 8000. Recently he was
at K2, in Pakistan with Jean Christophe Lafaille and Hans Kammerlander.
the other Sherpas, more than half of them are Everest summiteers and the
others are well used to the 8000. They will form the roped teams, to point out
the history which saw Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hillary climbing the top in
be recalled that sherpa does not mean carrying. Sherpa means the men of the
east ; it is an ethnos group which has its own language close to the Tibetan,
since it is at the origin people who passed from Tibet to Nepal, and of
Buddhist religion. They live principally in the Khumbu valley near
Everest. Their capital is Namche Bazar, at 3450m. No road exists in the
country of the Sherpas.
heroes of Everest since the conquest are the Sherpa people. Few expeditions would
have managed to climb the mountain without the formidable work which they
undertake on these slopes. The Sherpas hold all the records on the Roof of the
World: the greatest number of ascents, the greatest number of repetitions (18
Sherpas count 142 ascents, among them Apa Sherpa has a record of 12 ascents),
the fastest ascent (by Babu in a little more than 16 hours) and also the
longest stay at the top (Babu who remained more than 24 hours at 8850m).