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Dan Mazur Ama Dablam Expedition: Dispatch 19

Dispatch 19 (10/22): Another successful day with John and Jocelyn reaching the summit at approximately 1.00pm after spending a sleepless night in extremely high winds at Camp 3. Teams lower on the mountain could hear the wind roaring like a freight train overhead! They returned to Camp 2 after their bid, and met up with Jay's team who had been climbing strongly all day.

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Meanwhile, Dan's team climbed the difficult, technical mixed rock and ice and exposed ridges to Camp 3. They reached Camp 3 at 3.00pm and settled in for a windy night.

A reprieve for Jay's team - Brian's ankle healed sufficiently to allow him to walk to Camp 1 with Phurba Tamang. He plans to join the team at Camp 3 tomorrow.

The three Finnish members, Hansi, Annti and Ville are safely back in Basecamp. Thank you for following our expedition from all of us at Summitclimb.com

Dispatch 20 (10/23): Greetings, this is Ryan writing from base camp on behalf of Dan's group. We got little sleep in Camp 3 during the night. Strong winds and weariness from the altitude kept folks from getting much rest through the night. We got started for the summit at about 8 am (not exactly an alpine start), but a perfect time for an Ama Dablam summit attempt. Winds continued to be strong for the first half of the push and let up a bit above 21,700 feet. The slope is consistently steep from Camp 3 to the top--45+ degrees most of the way.

Our group consisted of Dan, Pasang Sherpa, Maya Sherpa, Galu Sherpa, Tenzing Sherpa from Patale, Camele, Tony, Chris, Bryan, Larry, and myself.

Pasang Sherpa lead the way the for group and I followed a few minutes behind constantly gasping for air. He continued to wait for me at each anchor.

When we got to the last pitch, he pulled aside. put my ascender on the rope in front of his, and let me be first to the top--a very classy gesture. We celebrated with many pictures and high-fives as we checked out perfect views of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Pumori. After that we waited a few minutes for Bryan and then quickly started to descend as my hands and feet were numb. Everyone else reached the summit soon after we started our descent and they all celebrated accordingly. We all got back to camp 3 by about 3 pm.

Bryan and I, along with Tenzing and Galu, decided to descend down to camp 2 while the others stayed for other night at camp 3. After that things got interesting...

Jay's team arrived at Camp 3 at about 3.00pm after climbing the technical mixed rock and ice from Camp 2. To our surprise, after three weeks of near perfect weather, a mass of dark coloured high cloud was accumulating very quickly in the entire valley and rapidly approaching Ama Dablam and the surrounding peaks.

This mass of cloud was about to turn into a three day storm that would dash the summit hopes of Jay's team, dump several feet of snow, cause another team on a nearby peak to abandon nearly $10 000 worth of equipment, and create havoc and snow loading the Lhotse Face to a point where it is impossible to climb safely.

As I write this, the storm has passed, but still there is almost 12 inches of snow on the ground in Basecamp.

Thank you for following our expedition from all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch 21 (10/24): A carry on from yesterday's news - the storm started at around 5.00pm at Camp 3, where Jay's team were preparing for the summit bid and Dan's team were recovering from their success.

Brian Rolfson was on his way to Camp 3 from Camp 2 after spending the night at camp 2 in the storm.  I guess I'll have to tell the story as I was climbing alone with one of the Sherpas and am the only one that can relate the experience. I  had a rough night and We'll just leave it at that without details. After awakening and assessing the situation I decided that I would climb to camp 3 through the storm hoping that the storm would break by the next day so that I could have a summit attempt. I climbed throughout the day during the storm with Purbar Tamang. Up in the mixed ice rock couloir the ice and rocks were covered with a sheet of snow an I could not tell the difference from rock or ice. The conditions were very cold and the ice was not well bonded, so even lightly tapping on the ice or trying to dry tool sent large blocks of ice and rocks crashing down the couloir. It was difficult communicating to Purbar to tell him to stay off to the side and to stay put until I could get to more stable areas. Above the couloir I met Dan and his group descending from Camp 3. Purbar and I made out way up to the mushroom ridge in near whiteout conditions. Arriving at the mushroom ridge the storm was still raging. I could see the ridge and the drop off on either side of the thousands of feet but the light was such that it was very flat light and I could not distinguish details of the ridge so the exact edge was difficult to see. I was afraid that I would step in the wrong location and either pop through the ridge or fall off the edge to either side. The tracks from the previous groups coming up and down had been completely covered by the new snow  of the storm. At least 1-2 feet had fallen. Finally we were able to make our way to camp 3 in whiteout conditions and could not see the tents of camp 3 until we were right on top of them. It was good to crawl into the tent and get into a warm sleeping bag. I was still hopeful that the storm would ease and I would be able to make a summit attempt the next day.

Jay's story - "We woke up in Camp 3 to marginal conditions, strong wind, low visibility and light snow. At about 9.00am, the conditions improved slightly - the sun even came out briefly - and we decided it was now or never! We stepped out of their tents into negative 30 degrees Celsius with wind chill and started up the fixed lines. I was leading, followed by Kirsti, Ali, Lakpa Sherpa and Tenzing Sherpa (Makalu) in that order. At the top of the first pitch, Ali turned back saying his hands were too cold. The rest of us continued upwards.

Throughout the climb, conditions alternated between worsening and improving, indicating the storm was still in it's infancy and very dynamic.

For the most part though, things hadn't really changed much from Camp 3 and I really thought we were going to get to the top - no views of course, but at least a summit.

Finally the clouds broke just enough to allow us a glimpse of the summit - and we were close, very close. The Sherpas were very excited to be so close, and I could here them urging Kirtsi on.

I was climbing 50m above Kirsti and the Sherpas and was a mere 50m below the summit when it hit me. I had climbed right into the teeth of the storm! It was like walking between two bulldozers having a fight! When I remember back now, I don't think I have ever been struck by such sudden ferocity. The strange thing was, it was concentrated in a tight little ball right over the summit and was POWERFUL! Within 10 seconds I was blind, my glacier glasses had iced over, and I was literally drowning. The wind was whipping up so much fresh powder snow, every breath was like taking a lungful of frozen sand. I had to descend - QUICKLY. I couldn't see, could hardly breathe and was being pummeled from every direction by 60 knot snow laden frozen winds.

The other immediate problem I had was that Kirsti and the Sherpas were weighting the line and I couldn't abseil back down. So blind and with frost nipped fingers, I stumbled, fell, body rappelled 50m back to Kirsti and the two Sherpas.

Once out of the storm and back to the others, words came out all at once. "theresareallybadstormuptherewecan'tgoupit'

snotpossiblewehavetogodownnow!" Lakpa Sherpa gave me a strange look, brushed all the ice from my face mask as if to say "You're crazy!", and indicated that he wanted to continue upwards. I slowed my speech and ordered everyone down - immediately! As we started our descent down the fixed lines, the storm decided it would have some fun and follow us a little. Not fun for us! 2 hours of battling with driving snow, no visibility, growing darkness and freezing winds saw us safe but utterly exhausted back in Camp 3."

Meanwhile, Dan's team was experiencing a harrowing descent to Camp 2 -

Larry writes - " I was so elated from the previous day and successful summit. I thought things were down hill now. A storm began to brew during the night but we were hopeful it would clear. Wrong, we awoke to a full blown storm. Dan was pretty cool about things and felt that we should get down to camp 2. We prepared for our descent, beginning the rappel from camp 3. We then reached the mushroom ridge or the " Twilight Zone". We were in a fierce storm on an extremely difficult ridge, with tremendous drops on both sides. We made it safely down the ridge and the descent then entered the rock and ice gullies which we rappelled. We took great caution during the descent and everyone arrived safely but exhausted in camp 2.  

Thank you for following our expedition from all of us at SummitClimb.com


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