Everest 2002 Expedition
CLUB DE EXPLORACIONES
DE MEXICO EXPEDITION TO EVEREST
APRIL AND MAY, 2002
It's May 17th in
leader on the North side of Everest, told Javier and
Luz María at ABC that his Sherpas saw Demetrio
Carrasco, member of our expedition, fall and die at
8500 meters, on the day of the summit attack.
There was also a
contact loss with the summit group and, because of
the late hour, two of them would have to bivouac
above 8300 meters, which few people survive. The
situation is dangerous...
There were really
moments of anguish like this during the expedition;
it looks easy that 4 Mexicans get to the Everest
summit, but it isn't. There have to be many factors
together, and a little luck to achieve it. The CEMAC
expedition could gather these factors... This is a
summary of the story...
Seven members of
CEMAC formalized their assistance to the Everest
expedition, the world's highest mountain, since
2001. It was decided to attempt it without Sherpas
or oxygen. After months of work, planning and
organization, we left towards Katmandu, Nepal, on
March 29th. This is the obligatory gate to go to the
North Face of the mountain by the Tibetan or Chinese
The members were:
María del Carmen Peña.
Luz María Zamudio.
Chief of the expedition.
We were in Nepal's
capital for 5 days shopping for equipment, backup
oxygen in case we decided to use it, food and
configuring our satellite phone with a solar panel.
Luz María caught the flu which would affect her
during all the approach.
We began the trip
towards the Chinese border by bus. We left Nepal in
Kodai, and Zhangmu is the entrance to Tibet. The
next day we traveled to Nyalam for 2 days of
acclimatization with ascents to almost 5,000 m.
Afterwards we moved to Tingri, at 4,300 m. and 2
other days of acclimatization. Then we went to
Everest Base Camp at 5,100 m., very close to the
We were from the
11th to the 13th of April organizing loads and
acclimatizing. Luz María was still sick with the
flu. On the 14th, the 7 members of the expedition, 2
cooks and 30 yaks, moved 1,800 kilos of equipment to
the intermediate camp at 5,800 m. A dining tent was
fixed late for all of us to spent the night there.
The wind was strong.
At last, the next
day, the Advanced Base Camp was installed at 6,400
m. on a moraine at the foot of Shangste. Only 2 days
later, Demetrio Carrasco had pulmonary edema and
descends with one of the cooks to Base Camp for 9
The rest of the
group ascended on the April 19 and 20, up to 7,100
m. to Camp 1, stocking it with a tent and equipment
in what is called the North Col. Camp 2 was intended
to be fixed on the 23 th and 24th but the eternal
wind on this face of the mountain did not let us, so
the equipment was left at Camp 1.
Demetrio is back,
but Luz María and Javier descend to Base to rest.
Three days later Carmen joins them. Camp 2 is
installed until May 4 and 5 at 7,600 m. in 2 groups.
Raúl, Salazar, Demetrio and Jorge participated.
There is no wind on the ridge but Camp 2 is strong.
The tent was left there without rods.
The days between
workdays are less every time. On May 6, Javier
Salazar has pulmonary edema and has to descend to
Base Camp. We tried to advance to Camp 3 on May 9
and 10, but it is impossible to get there, the wind
is like a hurricane and literally flies. Raúl,
Carmen, Jorge and Javier Santos participated. The
latter spends a night at Camp 2 and the wind threats
to rip everything, tent included, spending there one
of the worst nights of his life.
Only 2 days later,
the summit attack begins. It would be the first and
last because the weather has not let any expedition
get close to Camp 3. Everything started with a
weather report that indicated that on the 16th and
17th there was going to be little wind at the summit
zone, with slight snowfalls and clouds... only the
wind worries us and this would be the waited
However, we did not
have installed Camp 3 or 4, which we wanted to
install at 7,900 and 8,300, respectively. The attack
would be Alpine style carrying everything from
7,600, which implies 20 kilograms for each of us.
It was intended in
the beginning to climb in 2 parts, separated by a
day, to give us a support on the summit day, but we
decided to put all our cards on the table and 5 of
us would do it at the same time. This implied
logistics problems, because the tents were not
enough and we would have to pack ourselves in just
one, in the higher camps.
On the 13th,
Carmen, Demetrio, Raúl, Jorge and Javier Santos
climb to Camp 1. One more day to get to Camp 2, at
7,600 m. Javier Santos quits his attempt due to
respiratory problems and migraine. He descends to
Advanced Base. Javier Salazar gets to this camp on
the 13th, after recovering from his edema and finds
out that the rest has gone to the summit. He
announces that he will immediately join them; he is
recommended not to do so, because of his previous
problem; however he feels strong and decides to
reach them having one day of delay.
On the 15th, the
group advances only 300 meters reaching 7,900 m. The
extra load exhausts them, besides installing camp
and preparing water and food. The next day, with
unstable weather, we reach 8,300 m. late in the
afternoon. Back again to install camp and rest
because in just a few hours the summit attack
begins. During the night, Javier Salazar reaches us,
who, exhausted, would rest 2 hours and joins us for
the definitive day.
exhausts us; nobody had ever camped so high in our
lives. It is the first attempt to reach Everest's
summit for all of us. We feel tension because we
don't know how we will feel on the 3 steps of the
route. Time flies by. At midnight on the 17th, we
dress up and decide to use the oxygen backup to
attempt the summit. Each one has 2 tanks which in
normal conditions last 6 hours each.
At 1:30 in the
morning, Carmen leads trailing the rest. At 3 am we
meet a climber who is doing a bivouac because he lost
his sight and waits for the Sherpas to help him the
next day. He is like a zombie but he is alive. At
dawn we pass the first step, with 40 meters of easy
climb at 70 degrees.
At sunrise we are
at the famous Step 2. We all make it, except Raúl.
His cornea was beginning to freeze, we wait for a
long while to see if the problem is controlled, but
he has to take the hard decision to go down, but
it's the right decision to avoid irreversible
On the third step
we make short climbs with intermediate rests. We are
at the summit pyramid. It looks easy but it takes us
more than 2 hours to do it.
At the end, wavy
snow slopes that lead us to the summit. Jorge
Hermosillo reaches it at 1 pm. Demetrio Carrasco
half an hour later, and Carmen along with Javier
Salazar get there at 3:30 in the afternoon, being
the last of all who made it to the summit that day.
They could be seen from Advanced Camp at plain
sight. Those who were watching thought that descent
time has gone by, but they kept on climbing until
they reached the summit.
From it some eight
thousands could be seen: Lhotse, Kangchenjunga,
Makalu, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma... The landscape is
unique... we were on the top of the world.
everybody runs out of oxygen and trouble begins. All
effort was used to reach to the summit and descent
was very hard, and to the limit. Jorge reaches camp
at 8,300 at 6 pm. Demetrio at 9 and Carmen, along
with Salazar, until 11 pm. We were convinced they
had to do a bivouac, but they never gave up and
reached the camp exhausted.
Our mates at
Advanced Base could make a radio communication at
last with the guys at Camp 3 and find out that
Demetrio is inside the tent... It is not possible,
but the expedition leader told us about the wrong
dead man, we knew later that the deceased was a
Slovenian who was mistaken for Demetrio by the
Sherpas. [Actually it is believed by George
this was a Japanese climber who fell, but who was saved
by a unbelievable effort from a Sherpa climber. The
Slovenian, we have confirmed died at 7800 in a tent.
We are going to have to wait for that story until George
Dijmarescu's computer gets out of the shop... ] At
midnight they can all take a deep breath knowing
that everybody could go down to camp 3.
The drama did not
end until everybody reached Base Camp. It took 2 to
3 days to descend in the worst physical conditions,
dehydrated and exhausted, literally in zeros.
3 days of rest
followed to recover bit by bit, although Carmen was
still weak. On the 24th they descended to Base Camp.
During this trip her health suddenly gets worse. It
was a pulmonary edema that brings along edema and
pneumonia. From that moment on she would be the main
worry for all the expedition, until they get to
On the night of May
27, the jeeps that are going to take us to Tingri
arrive. The next day they will get to Katmandu,
where after 4 days they begin their trip back to
Mexico. The trip ends on June 1st. However, Carmen
spends one more week in the hospital.
members of Club de Exploraciones de México, reached
Everest's summit, also Badia and Alejandro, from
other friend expeditions, which were mutually
supporting each other to achieve the objective,
instead of destroying ourselves with envy and
This is an
undeniable fact: 6 Mexicans who knew how to work as
a team, reached Everest's summit.
We have a lot of
people to thank for their support. Instituto
Mexiquense de Cultura Física y Deporte del Estado de
México, Club de Exploraciones de México, its
partners in Mexico and Toluca, Lise Waitier,
Mexicana de Aviación, Singapore Airlines, the
physicians team of Sección Toluca who were paying
attention to every clinical case we ran into, and in
general to everybody who cooperated for the success
of this expedition.
Spanish by Jorge Rivera.
For more on Zoran's
death (the Slovenian) read here:
I lost my friend Zoran.
The rest of the
story on Zoran's death is going to come later...
For more information on this expedition see