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  SummitClimb Pumori 2004: Dispatch 10

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Pumori 04 home
The Team
Pumori 03
Dan Mazur
Dear EverestNews.com, Thanks for your great work at EverestNews.Com and for keeping all of our families, loved ones, friends, and colleagues back at home informed about the progress of our Pumori expedition.

We are humbly honoured to announce we have set some new records by placing the the first Nepalese woman, the first and second Irishmen and the second French woman ever, as well as 8 foreigners and 7 Nepalese on the summit of 7161 metre high Mount Pumori. We are also currently seeking verification to find out whether or not Ms. Kirsti Sampson was the first British woman to reach the summit.

On 23 March the following members and staff reached the summit of 7161 metre high Mount Pumori:

Jay Reilly - Cairns and Brisbane, Australia;

Dan Marino - Melbourne, Australia;

Ms. Kirsti Sampson - Newcastle, England (Is she the first British woman to reach the summit of Pumori?); Jangbu Sherpa - Patale, Nepal; Tenzing Sherpa - Patale, Nepal; Ms. Maya Sherpa - Patale, Nepal (first female Nepali to reach the summit of Pumori); Shera Sherpa - Patale, Nepal;

On 24 March, the following members and staff reached the summit of 7161 metre high Mount Pumori:

Daniel Mazur - Bristol, England, and Seattle;

Ms. Marion Joncheres - Paris, France (Second French woman to reach the summit of Pumori, after the great Chantal Mauduit); Phil Aikman - Lancaster, England; Mick Long - Rathmore, County Kerry and County Cork, Ireland (First Irishman on the Summit of Pumori); Aidan Forde - County Cork, Ireland (Second Irishman on the Summit of Pumori); Lakpa Kongle Sherpa, Patale Nepal; Phurba Tamang - Solari, Nepal; Gyalu Sherpa - Patale, Nepal;

The weather on Pumori was very unusual this March, where we have had more than 20 days without any measurable precipitation, and almost no cloud, basically bright and sunny all day, followed by starry clear sparkling nights. All of us are brightly sun and windburned, to say the least. Conditions have been cool in the mornings and evenings (-12 to 5 degrees centigrade), clear, and occasionally windy (5 to 30 kph), with an interim four to six hours of warm or even hot weather each day (10-25 degrees centigrade).

Our team was the only expedition in sunny-beachlike Pumori basecamp at the side of Pumori lake, just under Kala Pattar this year, and our 8 cooks, led by the culinary genius team of Krishna and Jai Bahadur, and basecamp staff did an amazing job of keeping us well cared for in our individual basecamp tents, and deliciously fed with unlimited portions and their famous signature 9 course meals, served at tables and chairs over table cloth and candlelight in the dining tent. At advanced basecamp (ABC) at 5700 metres, Pemba Sherpa, our high altitude cooking specialist, proved his worth when he was able to prepare three tasty meals a day and deliver them, (together with assistant Saptay Sherpa) directly to the tents where we slept and acclimated.

Up on the mountain, A thin or non-existent winter snow-fall has left the mountain mostly devoid of snow below 6000 metres, leaving us to cross the first gully at 5700 metres on a path of stones and dust (which would be snow and ice in a normal year), with the occasional loose rock or piece of ice falling from the sun-drenched steep slopes above. Fortunately, we posted a "watchman" at the crossing, and not a single member or staff was seriously hit. The usual three short (less than 7 metre) vertical ice pitches (one just below camp 1 at around 6100 metres, and the other two just below camp 2 at around 6400 metres) were easier than in most years. The snow-ice was actually quite soft "neve" or "styrofoam", yielding very good ice-axe placements.

This year, apparently due to abnormally low-snowpack, we were confronted with a somewhat challenging new development: a seemingly uncrossable 6 metre wide crevasse bisecting the entire glacier going across a wide area of the mountain between camps 1 and 2 at circa 6200 metres. Our team of Sherpas, together with Dan, descended to the tiny outpost of Gorak-Shep at circa 5000 metres and negotiated-for, rented, carried, and rigged four sections of aluminum ladder horizontally across the gaping maw, so we were able to safely and quickly overcome the obstacle with our large and hard-working team. Crossing this contraption was certainly exciting, as the 4 lashed ladders creaked and groaned with every step as each climber crossed, one at a time, clipped to and holding onto the two waist-high safety lines - plus the ladders tilted slightly on a 5 degree sideways lean, so the climber's crampons would skid to the side of the ladder each time they put their foot on a rung! Despite this most unnerving affair, the ladder crossings were a fun part of the route, and our hearts went out to the Everest climbers who have to cross 10 of these things going through the Khumbu icefall everyday. By the way, we have just today, as of this writing, just now finished the mammoth task of dismantling and of carrying the ladders from their position over the crevasse back down to Gorak Shep, returning them to their owners: Puty and Pemba Sherpa.

Another interesting section occurred just below the summit. Where there is normally a solid snow bridge over a huge crevasse, this year there was no bridge - only the crevasse. Negotiating this section involved climbing down 3 metres into the crevasse and up the 4m high near-vertical ice-wall opposite, to a small 50cm wide ledge with a 1m high roof. Each climber then had to crawl on hands and knees along the ledge laterally for about 4m to the end of the ice overhang, where they could finally stand up. Exciting stuff indeed up at 6900 metres. Jangbu, Tenzing, and Lakpa Sherpa, three of our top super-star Sherpas named the section the "Monkey Road" and indeed it was a path fit for a chimp. Fortunately, our team had placed a series of safety lines in and around the crevasse, trying to remove as much of the risk as possible. Coming down the same section was fun, with each climber abseiling down the side, then swinging 2m to the opposite rim of the crevasse, where there was a safe flat place to finally relax. Fortunately our staff and members were constantly there to spot and hold safety lines for everyone. Demonstrating yet again, it would seem, how much of a team sport climbing really is.

Our time on the summit was very unusual this year, as we were greeted by cloud-free 365 degree views (albeit windy) in every direction. It seems that one of our team members, Ms. Marion Joncheres, who we believe is only the second French woman to ever climb Pumori (after the great Chantal Mauduit, who climbed it with Dan in 1996) has spoken of her time on the summit most eloquently, and we translate her passage here directly from the French language:

" We are at the top of Pumori on March 24 at mid-day. The sky is blue deep, without clouds, but the weather is cold and the wind blows in gusts. Seven hours after leaving camp 2 at 6510 metres, amazed by the splendid panorama which is offered us, we admire the formidable unit of Everest / Lhotse / Nuptse framing the Western Cwm, Baruntse and Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, and the tops of Tibetan Mountains. Lingtren, is a satellite peak of Pumori which is approximately 6700 metres high, and looks like a "sky-scraper" from basecamp. But when one sees it from here, on the summit of Pumori, "mighty" Lingtren just blends into the scenery and has simply disappeared among the mountains which we dominate from our viewpoint. Here at 7161 meters; the height of Pumori, we are only at the height of Everest's "hip", but let us not sulk at how "low" we are, but enjoy our own unique position. The rise of Pumori has a regal truth. This very dry spring offered some famous passages to us, of the installation of a ladder to pass a broad crevasse (will that crossing be the best or the worst memory?), has sometimes vertical glacial climbing even slightly overhanging, the whole between 6000 and 7000 meters... If one also evokes the edges and the great slopes of ice / snow, one easily imagines the environment in which we have evolved/moved. Forgetting the fall of stones from the cliff, we will retain only this: seldom easy, often air and always infinitely esthetic, this mountain has given us everything. We also appreciate the rare privilege to be the only expedition on Pumori this spring. I will not forget either the pleasure of climbing with our Sherpa friends, always astonishing in their physical feats and enthusiasm: 7 of them have accompanied us at the top. Often suffering from the competition of its giant neighbors, Pumori, the "Daughter of Everest", is, according to its scale and my inclination, "A Mountain of Exception. " -Ms. Marion Joncheres, Paris

After a great show of climbing from all members and staff, everybody arrived safely in Basecamp for some much needed rest, rehydration and good food, and we are now taking three or four days to walk the 70 beautiful stunning kilometres of lustrous Khumbu valley scenery, through the peaceful and fascinating Sherpa culture, with our trekking staff and excellent cooks, back to Lukla airport, where our hosts are providing us each a free flight back to Kathmandu, for ourselves, our staff, and all of our luggage.

Thanks very much for giving your valued attention to Himalayan climbing and our expedition, and best wishes to all family, loved ones, friends, and colleagues from all of us, including Daniel Mazur (7 eight thousand metre summits, including Everest and K2, 12 eight thousand metre expeditions, and 23 Himalayan expeditions), Jay Reilly (2 summits each of Ama Dablam and Pumori) and all of us at SummitClimb.com.

Special Thanks to: Elizabeth Carr, Mary and Robert Mazur, Richard and Anne Laurence.

Thanks for all of your help in telling the story about Himalayan mountain climbing. Marion Joncheres, who we believe is only the second French woman to climb Pumori (after the great Chantal Mauduit), has written a small piece here in French, for your French speaking audience, and we wonder if you might post it on your fantastic site: EverestNews.com . Thank you very much! Nous sommes au sommet du Pumori le 24 mars a la mi-journee. Le ciel est bleu profond, sans nuages, mais il fait froid et le vent souffle par rafales. Sept heures apres avoir quitte le camp 2 a 6510 metres, ebahis par le panorama magnifique qui s'offre a nous, nous admirons le formidable ensemble Everest / Lhotse / Nuptse encadrant la Combe Ouest, le Baruntse et l'Ama Dablam, le Cho Oyu (versant nepalais), les sommets tibetains... Le Lingtren, satellite du Pumori a environ 6700 metres, jolie crete bien marquee qund on la voit du camp de base, a quasiment disparu parmi les montagnes que nous dominons. 7161 metres: nous ne sommes qu'a hauteur de la hanche de l'Everest, mais ne boudons surtout pas notre plaisir. L'ascension du Pumori a ete un vrai regal. Ce printemps tres sec nous a offert quelques fameux passages, de la pose d'une echelle pour passer une large crevasse (cela sera-t-il le meilleur ou le pire souvenir?) a de l'escalade glaciaire parfois verticale voire legerement surplombamte, le tout entre 6000 et 7000 metres... Si l'on evoque egalement les aretes et les grandes pentes de glace / neige, on imagine facilement l'ambiance dans laquelle nous avons evolue. Oubliant les frequentes chutes de pierres dues a la secheresse, nous ne retiendrons que

ceci: rarement facile, souvent aerienne et toujours infiniment esthetique, cette montagne nous a tous combles. Nous avons egalement apprecie le privilege rare d'etre la seule expedition sur le Pumori ce printemps. Je n'oublierai pas non plus le plaisir de grimper avec nos amis sherpas, comme toujours etonnants de forme physique et d'enthousiasme: 7 d'entre eux nous ont accompagnes au sommet. Souffrant souvent de la concurrence de ses voisins geants, le Pumori, la "soeur de l'Everest", est, a son echelle et a mon sens, une montagne d'exception. - Marion Joncheres, Paris




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