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  Snowboard Everest Autumn 2003


Stephen Koch and Jimmy Chin will attempt to snowboard Everest this Autumn. They plan to climb Everest via the Hornbein route and then descend via the Hornbein. They will travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa then to Everest base camp on the North (Chinese).  Eric Henderson is the base camp manager.

Dispatch: On the North Face

We stood breathless after hacking out small platforms to stand on in the steep snow. We were several thousand feet up the north face. The sun was lighting up the east faces of the surrounding peaks as we sank our axes into buried ice for anchors. We had been climbing all night, moving slowly up and over the bergschrund onto the ice and steep snow of the north face of Mount Everest. We climbed without headlamps as the full moon lit our way. It was beautiful. We moved independently, without ropes, swinging our axes, breathing, breathing, kicking steps. Finally, climbing!

Unfortunately, we only had a few hours sleep in the last 60 hours due to anticipation, a poorly timed snow squall and a fairly cold night without sleeping bags at our small camp below the face. We needed to make it to 7,800 meters in our first push in order to have a chance of summitting the following day, also because our planned bivy at 7800 meters held one of the few safe bivy sites on the route. Fatigue and deep snow had slowed our upward progress considerably. A decision had to be made about continuing up or not. 7800 meters was still a long ways away in the snow conditions we were climbing in.

We knew this was our last chance at climbing the mountain since our time in Tibet was coming to an end. We considered the risks we would face if we continued up the route and made the decision to turn around. It was a difficult decision, but both Jimmy and I know many people that never came back from their expeditions and we agreed the goal was to live and climb another day.

The team descending the Japanese Couloir

For the descent I took advantage of the deep powder conditions and enjoyed some great turns on my snowboard down the north face. It was incredible...a dream come true.

In our eyes, alpine style climbing is the purest way to climb a mountain, going from the bottom up, in a single push, carrying everything you need with you on your back. It is the style of climbing we most enjoy. The spontaneity and creativity of this style of climbing is refreshing, but along with it comes less margins for error, a thinner line to walk and much less guarantee of success. We have learned a lot on our mental journeys during the last few months. The mental commitment alpine style climbing in the Himalaya requires is an adventure in itself. The moments are rare that everything comes together for alpine style ascents on big mountains, but this is exactly the beauty of climbing this way. All you can do is dream and try. 

This has been a grand journey. You know it has been a good one when all five members, who have been living, sleeping and eating together for over two months, can look each other in the eye and say they would happily go on another trip together.

And finally, humility is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. More than ever we stand humbled and in awe of Mount Everest lure and beauty.

We would like to extend our gratitude to Toray - Entrant Fabrics (for keeping us warm and dry this whole time), SoBe Beverages, David Koch, MSR, La Sportiva and Innovation Sports for making this trip possible.

To Cloudveil, Rome Snowboards, Dynafit, Life-Link, Petzl/Charlet Moser, GU, The North Face, Adventure Medical Kits, Black Diamond, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Marmot, Special Ops Nutrition, Anon Goggles, Daggers Sunglasses and Dermatone for supporting us and helping us follow our dreams. Also, thanks to those who have supported and believed in my dream, the Seven Summits Snowboarding Quest. Finally, to our families for your love, support and endurance. Until next time Stephen Koch, Jimmy Chin, Eric Henderson, Lakpa Dorge Sherpa and Kami Sherpa.

Sunset on Big E

Dispatches

Pictures copyright Stephen Koch' Autumn Everest 2003 expedition







 

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