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 The 2001 Himalayan Experience Everest Expedition

Dispatch One !

Russel Brice, of Himalayan Experience, and Chris Warner, of Earth Treks, will once again be leading a team of climbers on an expedition to Mount Everest. They will be following in the snow filled footsteps of Mallory and Irvine, climbing via the North Ridge, from Tibet. The expedition departs Katmandu on April 1st and hopes to put climbers on the summit by the end of May. During this expedition journals and photos will once again be sent back and posted on EverestNews.com. 
Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience
This year’s team will be made up of 10 clients, 4 guides, 8 high altitude Sherpas, 4 cooks and 4 Tibetans. This is truly an international team, with climbers from New Zealand, South Africa, Guatemala, France, England, Switzerland, Scotland, Nepal, Tibet and the United States.
The team will establish Base Camp at 17,200 ft. in the Rongbuk Valley. Base Camp is literally placed at the end of the road. A convoy of jeeps and trucks will deposit us and over 20,000 pounds of equipment, food, fuel and oxygen tanks at this point. Once ready, we will load the gear we need on the mountain (10-15,000 pounds) onto a yak train. Each yak can carry approximately 120 pounds. We will need two separate teams of approximately 60 yaks, to transport our gear on the two day journey to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 21,400 ft.
Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience

ABC is a wind swept place at the base of Mt. Changste. It literally is a swath of rubble, strewn like a thin veneer on top of the slowly moving East Rongbuk Glacier. Throughout the season, this strip will be filled by our 4 large group tents (kitchen, storage, dining and communications), 20 sleeping tents and 2 toilet tents. Above and below us, 20 or more teams will have a similar set up. Viewed from the North Ridge, ABC, with its colorful tents, is a veritable flowered choked meadow in comparison to the icy white and steel blue glaciers and the black and brown rock faces. 

ABC is our base of operations for the climb. We will live out of this camp, going off to work on the upper mountains for a few hours or days at a time. Two superb cooks will work around the clock to feed us. Despite the excellent food, we will each lose between 10 and 25 pounds. The cold, lack of oxygen and the hard work combined, burn off more calories than we can consume in a day.

The trail from ABC ascends the ever more jumbled moraine to its highest reaches. From there we climb onto the glacier and traverse a plateau to the base of an icy headwall. We will string a series of fixed lines (ropes anchored in place and left for the duration of the climb) for more than 1,000 vertical feet to the col (saddle) between Changste and Everest. Here, at 23,000 ft. we will place Camp 1. The only shelter here is a large wall of ice, behind which we will place 6 tents. 

Now on the North Ridge, more fixed lines will lead us to Camp 2 at 25,000 ft. The ridge is very exposed to high winds and we will be traveling as if dressed for the summit from Camp 1 on out. Last year, we often encountered winds in excess of 50 mph and heavy snowfall on this section of the route. The climbing between Camps 1 and 2 is entirely on snow.  Camp 2 is literally a ledge carved out of the snow. Four or five tents will be placed here, the only protection afforded by a twisting of the ridgeline, funneling the snow over our heads. 

Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience
Above Camp 2 the route follows a rocky ridgeline upwards to Camp 3 (26,000 ft.). Most parties actually place only 3 camps above ABC. We place 4 to better insure our chances. Our climb from Camp 2 to 3 takes us past more than a dozen other groups, each with two or three tents perched on this wind scoured ridge.
Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience

Camp 3 is the site of the early British Expeditions Camp 5. Last year, I found a piton believed to be hand forged and placed by the early British just below this camp. Russel found a ridgepole and upright poles from their tent, along with a weathered can of food. I gathered a few other odds and ends from the tent. We brought these down as well.

Camp 4 (27,230 ft.) is the last stop before going for the summit. By the time this camp is established we will have carried more than 18 tents, 50 oxygen bottles (13 pounds each), 35 sleeping bags, 70 foam mattresses, 18 cook sets, 100 fuel canisters and thousands of feet of rope up the mountain. 

In order to aid acclimatization, each climber will climb to at least the height of Camp 3 during the prep phase of the expedition. Once the hill is prepped, and the climbers have had at least a few days rest in the oxygen rich, comparative luxury of Base Camp, the summit bids begin. 

Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience
The climbers will move up the mountain, and weather permitting, move from camp to camp. Most climbers will begin using Oxygen at Camp 3. Statistically, most successful summit bids on the North Ridge occur in the second half of May.

Summit day begins at 1 a.m. with the melting of ice for hot drinks. Once dressed, the climbers set out for the top, using the ropes that are fixed, to follow a series of gullies and ledges to the ridge. There are three “steps” on the North Ridge, the hardest being the famed Second Step. In 1975 a Chinese expedition placed a ladder on the steepest of the three “pitches” that make up the 100 ft. tall step.

Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience

The North Ridge ends where the Third Step tops out on into a snow pyramid. Most climbers traverse up and right across this section, tackling the final climb, via a rock gully that tops the North Face. The summit is a stagger away. 

Chris Warner

Owner of Earth Treks Climbing Center, and Mountain Guide

                                <<<  Dispatches >>>       The Team

Himalayan Experience Everest Expedition 2001 Background

Everest 2001

Daily News and Expedition Coverage

The Team

 

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