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  Autumn 2003 Expedition: Peak 38

One small Czech ski-climbing expedition attempting the first ascent on Peak 38 (a neighbor of the Lhotse Shar)

Update: unfortunately the Peak38 expedition is facing problems with the alternator, which damaged 3 of their units already (among others AC adaptor for laptop). So in the next few days there will be no information about the ascent. They completed camp 2 and acclimatisated for altitude in previous days. Tomas Merka

Czech ski-climbing Peak 38 expedition, will be attempting a first ascent and ski descent. In Himalaya there are still several unclimbed peaks, these are the destinations of those who are looking for adventure and unexplored places. One of the still unknown mountains is Peak 38 (7591 m) in the Everest - Lhotse - Lhotse Shar - Shartse ridge just between Lhotse Shar (8386 m) and Shartse (7459 m), 6 km from Everest itself. Not only to climb the Peak 38 but ski down his south face is the aim of 6-member Czech ski-climbing team (5 man and 1 woman). The Czech skialpinists want to make first ascent and ski descent during October 2003, although the idea is nearly 3 years old. They have come to Nepal on the 5th September and have started their acclimatization on the 10th September by trekking from Lukla through Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Tengboche, Lobuche to Gorak Shep and Kala Pattar. On the 21st September first two members reached base camp, which is bellow Island Peak on the side of Lhotse Shar Glacier (GPS: N 2755 '08.3''; E 08656'49.2''; elevation 5270m). The rest of the team reached BC one day later. The weather is very bad, monsoon activity is still affecting the Mount Everest area, there is 100% humidity and no visibility. However on the 22nd September Vladimir Smrz (skialpinist) and Lada Prielozny (climber) have found the route through the Lhotse Shar Glacier to the first high camp (C1), but the bad weather forced them to come back to BC and to wait for better visibility. On the 24th September our expedition have celebrated Puja. On the 26th September the weather has turn to be a little bit better so all expedition members went to C1 to bring some material which is needed to go up and Vladimir and Lada during this day fixed successfully first 100 meters in the rock just above C1. The original plan was to go up directly through the seracs in the bottom part of the south face of Peak 38, but it looks to be very dangerous so we decided to go up through the rocks on the left side (when I am looking up) of the Lhotse Shar Glacier. The leader of the team Robin Baum (34) had only two photographs of the Peak 38 so ascent tactics existed only in very rough dimensions. Now when the weather seems to be better (we hope - today was the first day we could at least to see our mountain) and we can see our mountain we are "more clever" which way to choose. But we can't see yet the upper part of the Peak 38 all day - we saw it only few minutes today. The team is put together from high altitude experienced ski mountaineers Robin Baum (leader, ski descent from Tarke Kang 1998), Vladimir Smrz (ski descent from Tarke Kang 1998, ski descent from Cho Oyu 2000), Alice Korbova (ski descent of north face of Peak Lenin 2001), Jiri Kalousek (ski descent of north face of Peak Lenin 2001), Libor Chrastil (doctor), Vladimir Prielozny (climber). The team is completed by two media support members - cameraman Lubos Klima and journalist Jana Hanzlikova.

Other Updates:

23.09.03 We got hooked

Today was a very important day for our expedition. Six of us left with the load direction first height camp (C1). Vladimir and Lada made a small search for the right spot. Because the access road under the SE pillar of Lhotse Shar and Peak 38 is common, we agreed last night with Libor and Mr. Um (the leader of Korean expedition) to use the fix ropes together. The Koreans have already built three camps and reached 7000m. The road to the first camp starts with climbing down to iceberg, further it goes on walking on unstable stones across the glacier Lhotse Shar. We marked the road with stone man and bamboo sticks with flags from Alice. At the end we climb up the Korean fix on rubble platform leading to the first camp. Its height is 5330m. We arranged the places for tents and left Vladimir and Lada here to fix the right pillar going around the ice-fall tomorrow. So we got hooked under the hill and the road to 6000m height looks passable. Now we only have to wait for better weather which should come in the middle of the next week according to weather forecast. Today we had spaghetti for dinner and Tyrol fat as a dessert.

22.09.2003 First day in the Base Camp

What do we have behind? Let's sum it up. Vladimir and Lada are in the BC since Sunday, 21st September. They were surprised by our sirdar Niru, who was here much earlier than anyone would expect.

. in the most optimistic estimation we wanted to meet him in Chukhung earliest on Sunday, but more likely on Monday or even later, but he managed to move all the expedition material (around 1000 kg), carried by 40 fetchers from Jiri, i.e. the last village which bus can reach. Niru is very skillful guy. Cook Dhany does not show his skills yet, but both soups, chapatti, ad dal-bhat (rice with lentil sauce and vegetables - Nepal national food), were good. When we (Robin, Libor, Kalda, Alice, Lubos, Jana) arrived around noon (Monday 22.09) in the BC, the social tent was, which for the time being served also as a kitchen, was already standing, as well as three small climbing tents - our home for next month. During Monday we all together arrange the flat surface for the remaining climbing tents and for the communication tent, which meant several hours of mining huge and small stones from the ground, digging in the soil with bare hands, sometimes we felt dizzy and had fast breath when we dug the stones in 5 200 m above the sea too intensively, incredibly dirty hands .. We have built a kitchen, beautiful stone WC, on top of which the guys later made a roof. Robin, who obviously was looking forward to have his first fully operational communication tent, started the generator for the first time, so we could feed both of our notebooks, batteries for the cameras, hand set and satellite phone. According to Libor's memories Robin wished to have such communication center already in the previous expeditions. So at least one wish came true, however, many things can still go wrong. The next person who wishes all the wires and technique would work well is definitely Jana. The generator, which we had to set to lower atmosphere pressure in Kathmandu, was running about ten hours and consumed around two liters. It is standing right behind the communication tent and smells a little. But thank God for it, we've got the fuel, which Jana and Lubos need for their work. In this weather we did not bother to even unpack the solar panels.

Alice made order in the food, some of them are to be taken to the height camps, other for kitchen in BC. Robin, Vladimir, Lubos and Jana tested all four hand-sets, one of them will always be switched on in the base camp for receiving. After excellent dinner (dal-bhat) and solemn toast (sliwowitz) Robin and Libor visited the neighboring Korean camp to meet Mr. Um, who is leading the Korean expedition to the south-east pillar of Lhotse Shar and their 19 climbers have built third height camp high on the mountain. Today we watched them with telescope, but they are visible by eye as well.

21.09.2003 Peak 38 - Oh, my Goodness, that's horror

It is 19th September, 8:30 a.m. and I together with Lada we are leaving Kalapatar after two hours enjoying the view at surrounding panorama with the majestic Everest. After finishing our needs (little hills) and filling the fuels we are setting off to the village Periche 1500 and 3 hours lower. The next day slowly in the fog we are heading forward not as gaily as the day before, but hoping to see our goal of our journey. However, the weather has different meaning and the fog is exchanged for heavy rain. The morning looks very optimistic, but before we finish our breakfast, all the view are again f.... The planned five-hour climb changed into 3-hour Vladimir's competition to the expected base camp under Peak 38. We are passing the base camp under Island Peak, suddenly the clouds disappear and we are almost fainting. For the first time we saw Peak 38 with our own eyes.

(decently) "Oh, my Goodness, that's horrible!" The view at cragged seracs of the iceberg flowing down from the top makes us feel hopeless. "Are we able to get through?" Similar broken iceberg we saw the day before yesterday under Everest, but over there it is necessary to use number of ladders and bag fetchers. We do not suffer from such advantages at all. We have to find the BC and try it out. We go on and find beautifully equipped camp, and we are astonished what is it doing here. After a while it comes out it belongs to Korean going up to Lhotse Shar. We go on. And now we are really surprised! On the place of our base camp there is complete baggage of our expedition, which should be brought by the fetchers earliest two days after our arrival. Niru, our sirdar, is quicker than our wishes, so we together with Nepal cook Dhany start to build BC under Peak 38. During building our exclusive WC, social tent and other necessary useful things of BC in the height of 5250m, we also try to see the wall through telescope and find some climbing route in it. "Hurray, we've got it!" at least theoretically made in our heads. So tomorrow morning, before the main field of our expedition arrives, we start off between moraines and icebergs in order to find the way to the wall in this labyrinth.

08.09.03 Visiting ministry: Sometimes it happens that wrong information cost lost of money. Two years ago when we started preparing this expedition, we believed that our mountain is called Shartse. The fee for this mountain had a discount from the government 75%, i.e. 3000$.

After several phone calls with J. Novak (the head of Czech climbing association) we found out, that the little hill with the quote 7591m is called Peak 38/Shartse II, as it had been mentioned in several maps. In the fax from Miss Hawley we read, that our hill is called Peak 38, Shartse II and sometimes it is also called Shantishikar. We still believed there is a discount 75% for our mountain. After several consultations with Nawang (the head of our service agency in Nepal) we left for ministry, in order to hear the sentence. Mountain named Shantishikar lies in completely different area than at Everest, mountains named Shartse I and Shartse II do not exist, there exists only Shartse and there is no discount for our hill Peak 38. So the incorrect information flow in between the Nepal offices, cartographers and God know who else cost 3000$. Where is the truth probably only Buddha knows.

Tomorrow we go to ministry again..

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