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Everest South Side Expedition: Everest 50
Everest 50: The fiftieth anniversary expedition. (French)

 Current Nepal Time

Follow Along: Wednesday 3/26/03: Fly from Paris to Katmandu via Doha (Qatar) No feeling that a war happen under the plane. They just not see any light from Istanbul or Thursday 3/27/2003 & Friday 3/28/03 Check here for the full dispatch.

Jean-Michel Asselin leads a large expedition consisting of two full permits...

Everest 50 : The fiftieth anniversary expedition-Everything is ready for the anniversary climb celebrating 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.

Fifty 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 acknowledge the Sherpas courage and professionalism, but overall it is a unique occasion to celebrate the Mountain.

Daniel 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.

Chief 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.

Then, back 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.

We are 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.

It is, 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.

Everything 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.

Jean 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.

A mountain 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…

To share 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.

Press, 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 www.glenatpresse.com (French) and www.everestnews.com (English) will follow in French and English the expedition progress.

Title : Itinerary

The 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.

 The Trek.

After two 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.

Ascent and installation of camps (April10-May 20)

The 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.

Camp 1

The first 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 the Everest.

Camp 2

Situated 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!

Camp 3

 The 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

Finally, 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. 


The attack 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.

The way back 

Six days 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.

Forecasted schedule 

Departure March 26th, return May 30th 2003.

66 days, 16 days of trekking, 41 days of expedition. 

D1            March 26                    Departure from Paris

D2            March 27                    Arrival at Kathmandu

D3            March 28                    Free day at Kathmandu

D4            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

D15           April 9                       Ceremony (Gods)

D16 to 56   April 10 to May 20       Everest ascent

D 57          May 21                      disassembling and cleaning of the camp

D58 to 62   May 22 to 26              Return by trekking

D63           May 27                      Flight Kathmandu-Lukla

D64 to 65   May 28 to 29              Free days at Kathmandu

D66           May 30                      Flight Kathmandu-Paris-


Weather 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.

Mt. 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.

Yann 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. The top of the Everest is not unknown to him: he worked on this mountain in collaboration with other French, Swiss and American expeditions.

Sherpas of 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.

Everest50 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 pinnacle was the ascent he completed with the French climber Marc Batard to the summit of Thamserku in the Eighties.

Sonam's 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 refuges.

Today, 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 Yéti Airlines.

The project of Everest50 was born with them, and also with the participation of the best Sherpas of Nepal.

The sirdar (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.

Among all 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 1953 together.

It should 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.

The true 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).

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