Everest 2001 : Erik Weihenmayer

Today, most of the team started heading back up to Everest Base Camp.  After four days of R&R down valley at Dingboche, (elevation 14,500 ft) we are all excited at the thought of getting back to our base camp home away from home and getting ready for a summit challenge.  Brad, Sherm, and Reba departed yesterday morning for base camp and spent the night at the Italian high altitude research pyramid in Lobuche. They are scheduled to arrive at base camp today.  Irie, Jeff, Steve, Luis, and Erik started back to base camp this morning and are planning on reaching base camp tomorrow after sleeping tonight at the pyramid.  Charlie is planning on hiking directly from Dingboche to base camp and left early this morning.

Chris, Mike Brown, and Kim are far more energetic and have opted to go back to base camp via the 18,000 foot Kongma La Pass that separates Dingboche from Lobuche.  If successful, they will also spend the night with the Italians.  Mike, Didrik, and I have decided to stay back at the Snow Lion Lodge in Dingboche for a last night of yak dung fireplace heat and peace and quiet.  We plan on returning to base camp tomorrow morning directly from Dingboche along with all of the telecommunications equipment that we have been using for the past five days.

The best news of all is that the indefatigable NFB Island Peak Expedition made it back to Dingboche last night in one piece.  Zach, Jonathan, Jason, and Kevin (plus doctors Dave and Liz from the HRA Clinic) left two days ago from Dingboche in an attempt to scale 20,200 foot Imja Tse, commonly referred to as Island Peak.

Yesterday they climbed to advanced base camp at 18,000 feet and after a brief night attempted a mass assault on the summit commencing at 3:00 a.m.  Climbing to within 100 feet of the summit, they were beaten back by a fierce Himalayan storm packing 50 MPH winds and  blowing snow.  Executing sound judgment they retreated off the 75 degree ice slopes back to the safety of base camp.

Utilizing the weeks of high altitude acclimatization gained from being at Everest Base Camp, they were able to descend non-stop in one tremendous moonlit push from Island Peak base camp back to Dingboche.  This effort and the judgment they used in turning around 100 feet from the summit of Island Peak are truly commendable.  Tomorrow Jonathan and Jason will be leaving us and returning to the United States for graduation from medical school.  Zach and Kevin will return to Everest BC to help us in our summit attempt.

All of the last few months of planning, training and climbing are about to be put to the test in the next two weeks. Everything we have worked for will be put on the line when we leave base camp this coming Saturday, May 5, and climb to Camp 2 for our first summit attempt.  We have been keeping track of weather and the winds, primarily the jet stream, which are starting to diminish from last week's 100 plus MPH winds and the afternoon pre-monsoon clouds are starting to gather and strengthen.  This means the climbing window is upon us.

Although we have the entire month of May to summit, we do not want to push our summit attempt off to the end of the month for fear that the full monsoons will come early.  Kami and our Sherpa climbers broke through to camp 4 on the South Col yesterday at 26,000 feet.  They carried up tents, food, fuel and the first set of oxygen bottles. They will make another carry tomorrow, followed by a third carry on Saturday.  Camp 4 should be fully stocked by then and all we will be waiting on is a weather window in which to summit.  We are all really excited to get back to Camp 2 for a chance at the summit.

Assuming the weather cooperates, our summit schedule is:

 

Thursday, May 3  Team Arrives back in NFB Everest BC

Friday, May 4   Rest Day and prepare for summit attempt

Saturday, May 5  Erik, Sherm, Jeff climb to Camp 1

Sunday, May 6  Entire team climbs to Camp 2

Monday, May 7  Rest day Camp 2

Tuesday, May 8  Climb to Camp 3

Wednesday, May 9 Climb to Camp 4, South Col

Thursday, May 10 Climb to the Summit of Mount Everest

These dates are all dependent on the weather and the general health of the team. We will not leave camp 2 for a summit attempt if the winds are too high or there is a chance of heavy snow.

We will keep you updated.

P.V. Scaturro Expedition Leader May 2, 2001

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