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Mount Everest South Side Expedition
Sean Burch

Dispatch One: Kathmandu, Nepal: I arrived in Kathmandu this morning. The flight was pretty much uneventful, which is good. On the way in, SAS served us AquaVite, so I toasted my expedition with this traditional Norwegian drink. It brought to mind all of my Norwegian ancestors who have inspired me to climb. Check here for the full dispatch.

Dispatch Two: Kathmandu, Nepal: It's early morning here. We're supposed to be flying out today to Lukla, which is as close to Everest as we can get by air. But it's been raining hard here since last night. The clouds are low, making it look like we'll have trouble taking off. So we're all going to go out to the airport and be prepared to spend the day, waiting for a window of opportunity to take off. From Lukla, we'll start our trek in to Everest. I'm anxious to get things moving and get to the mountain. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Three: Ntengbcog, Nepal. Elevation 13,000 feet: This is the site of the Ntengbcog Monastery, a very famous Buddhist holy place. All of the Sherpas come here regularly to pray. I went to a Buddhist ceremony this afternoon. I couldn't understand the language, and I know very little about Buddhism, but I was very moved by the ceremony. It lasted about an hour. Unfortunately, some westerners got up and left before the ceremony was over. Gives a very bad impression of our culture. I thought it was extremely rude. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Four: Pheriche, Nepal. Elevation 15,000 feet: We arrived here yesterday, the 30th. Today has been a rest day. We're two days out from Base Camp. We're still just taking our time. The hike in yesterday to Pheriche is generally considered to be to be a five hour hike. I did it in two hours. So, I'm continuing to feel better each day. I'm leaving the western world further and further behind and getting more completely into the Himalayan world. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Five: Lobuche, Nepal. Elevation 16,000 feet: Again, we are taking a scheduled rest day to slow our arrival in Base Camp. This is the last lodge I'll be staying in before arriving at Everest. The hike to get here yesterday was again supposed to take about five hours. I did it in two. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Six: April 7, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation 17,600 feet. The puja ceremony was held today. The Sherpa lama that's part of our permit group conducted it. After prayers, rice and flowers were torn to the four points of the compass. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Seven: Camp 1. Elevation 19,990 feet: My personal Sherpa and I left Base Camp this morning at 6:45 to climb up to Camp 1. It was a hard four and half hour charge uphill, first under a leaning serac, then up a vertical ice face onto the Khumbu Icefall, and then over about 30 ladder bridges over crevasses. I couldn't help but look down into the first few cracks in the glacier.  Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Eight: April 12, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation 17,600 feet: I came down from Camp 1 on April 10th with my Sherpa Temba to eat some real food and gain strength. It was a sunny day with no wind, so it was really hot. I stripped down to just my underwear but was still sweltering. The heat slows you down and makes your attention wonder, which is dangerous. The route through the icefall had already changed even though it had only been two days since I had come through going up. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Nine: In coming up here from Camp 1, I decided to play Sherpa and carry a heavy load. That took a heavy toll on my feet. I've been eating my meals lately with a group of climbers from the India/Nepal Army Expedition. Listening to their stories and accomplishments, I am once again amazed at the general caliber of climbers here on Everest. Much is made of the tourist nature of the Everest experience, but climbing the world's highest mountain is still a major accomplishment, and every year some of the world's greatest mountaineers show up here. It has been an honor for me to be here with them and share experiences. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch Ten: April 28, 2003, Camp 3. Elevation 24,500 feet: This morning it was snowing lightly. I had planned to climb up to the South Col (Camp 4), but with this snow, I'll spend another night here and hope for clear weather tomorrow. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 11: Right now, my schedule is to make the summit bid on May 10th. Weather permitting. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 12: May 10, 2003, Camp 2. Elevation 21,210 feet: Well, I'm still here at Camp 2. I'm trying to remain calm and not get too down. The weather continues bad with high winds. The forecast is for more of the same. Unfortunately, I can't continue to hang out here because the altitude is high enough that the first stages of altitude sickness start even though I'm not exercising. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 13: May 11, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation 17,600 feet: As I had planned, I climbed up to Camp 3 today, basically just for the fun of it and for the exercise. I navigated through the crevasse field and up the Lhotse Face in about 3 hours. I was surprised at good I felt. Also for practice, I went very light on food and water since I know that for the actual summit climb, I will be going 18 to 20 hours without sufficient food or water. Just another part of acclimatization, since I'll have to be able to function well even though I've run out of easily available body fuel. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 14: May 13, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation 17,600 feet: Today has been a rest day here at Base Camp. Gabrielle fixed us all some tuna salad today. Definitely a treat from our usual camp food. She has been showing the Sherpas some new recipes. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 15: May 19, 2003, Camp 3. Elevation 24,500 feet: Well, I'm still at Camp 3. The winds have died down here, but there is still a plume coming off Everest's summit. It was tough for me to stay put, but I have to keep my head in charge and not my gut. I can feel my body deteriorating in this altitude, so it is a gamble staying here that I'll get too weak to make it to the summit. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 16: May 21, 2003, South Col. Elevation 26,000 feet: Climbed from Camp 3 to the South Col yesterday, the 20th. Was surprised that about half of all climbers making the climb around me were using oxygen. I managed to make it oxygen-free, but was totally whipped when I got here. The altitude is very tough. Very hard breathing. Fluid beginning to build up in my lungs. Bad cough. Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 17:  May 24, 2003, Everest Base Camp. Elevation 17,600 feet: I did it, I really, really did it! Wow! Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 18: It is official from the Ministry... Check here for the full dispatch

Dispatch 19: Kathmandu, Nepal: Well, I've been keeping busy here in Kathmandu resting and healing. I've finally been able to unwind and savor the satisfaction of having scaled the world's tallest mountain. Check here for the full dispatch

Sean Burch "Summit Day"


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