International Mountain Guides (www.mountainguides.com) Everest 2002 Expedition

Update 5/18/2002: If you missed the "live" action from Friday night that we covered, here is a re-cap. Dispatch - Recap of the long day, the Ford [women's part of this expedition] team is at C4, storm

Things change fast on Everest. This has been a stressful day, we had a lot of climbers up high, things were sailing along nicely, and then all of a sudden, Everest changed faces on us. The Ford summit team left the Col last night at 10 am, led by Dave Hahn and composed of guides Lisa Rust and Ben Marshall, climbers Jody Thompson, Kim Clark, Alison Levine, Lynn Prebble, photographer Jake Norton, and Sherpas Panuru, Ang Galu, Pemba Dorge, Ang Passang (a different one from the sirdar), Phu Nuru, Karma Rita, Danuru, Mingma Tenzing, and Pemba Tenzing (in support at South Col.) They were the only climbers at the Col last night, a big change from two days ago!  The night was clear and calm and they made good time to the Balcony, where they changed oxygen bottles. Above the Balcony, they hit deep snow, and Jake, Karma Rita, and a couple other Sherpas broke trail. The team stayed together (except for Dave and Alison, who were lagging behind) and reached the South Summit at about 6:40 am. Everything was going great, and the summit was only a couple hours away! Then, in the space of about 10 minutes, several things happened. First, Alison collapsed below the South Summit, and Dave asked that one of the Sherpas be sent down to help him.  Then Lisa started having vision problems on the South Summit, a big scare for everybody.  Finally, within a couple minutes, lenticular cloud caps formed on Lhotse and Makalu, and clouds started brewing around the summit. Dave, with the help of Sherpa Ang Passang forced food and water into Alison, and administered dexamethasome to her.  Lisa, accompanied by a Sherpa, started down from the South Summit.  After a radio chat with Dave and BC, it was decided that the remainder of the team would continue on.  Partway across the Traverse to the Hillary Step, Ben radioed down that Jody was starting to wobble and that the wind and clouds were starting to come in more.  He said they were pulling the plug on the climb. After making sure everyone was OK and back to the South Summit, Jake radioed down to Dave and asked if he could head back up and go to the top.  Dave said everything was under control (Alison was feeling better as the dex kicked in, and Lisa was descending OK) so he said “go for it”.  Jake (who had reached over 28,000 feet on both the 1999 and 2001 Mallory and Irvine Research Expeditions), accompanied by Karma Rita, made quick work of the Hillary Step, and they were on top by 7:45.  They took a few photos, then headed down.  They were able to catch the rest of the team below the Balcony on the descent.  By then more clouds were piling in around the upper mountain, the wind was starting to pick up, and the weather was obviously starting to deteriorate. Jake's ability to move very quickly up and down earned him a summit today. The weather window was closing fast, Jake darted up and down just before it slammed shut! Everyone was doing well, and the South Col was reached at 9:45 in a storm with wind and bad visibility. Over the next hour the weather started to get worse, with zero visibility and blowing snow.  The Ford team is now safe in the tents, waiting for some improvement before heading down further. At this point it looks like they will stay at the Col for another night. We aren't out of the woods yet, you don't want to spend a lot of time at C4, and especially not in stormy weather. I have to take my hat off (once again, this is getting to be a regular thing) to Dave Hahn, he showed us again today what a world-class mountaineer/athlete/guide can do to take charge of a bad situation and turn it around. Everyone up there did a great job today and hung in there tough. Now we gotta' get them down.

Eric Simonson IMG Expedition Leader

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