Alpine 8000 Everest 2002 Expedition

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Alpine 8000 Everest 2002 Expedition

Expedition: Leader: Willie Benegas
   * Robert Geier  -  Australia
   * Maria Maccecchini  - USA
   * Louis Strik  -  Holland

   * Pingui, a small stuffed Penguin, the only penguin to summit 2 times. Our team mascot

Sherpas:  After two summits together, I consider them my best friends in Nepal.
   * Phenden Sherpa 3 times to the summit.
   * Pemba Ringi Sherpa     3 times to the summit.
   * Mingma Sherpa            1 summit.
   * Dalengi Sherpa cook
   * Dorgi Sherpa C2 cook
   * Migma chiri Sherpa    South Col.

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April 27-May 1st: As someone says, we continue to survive on the planet of the Sherpas! After the great storm that hit Sagamartha, it looks like someone has upset her a bit there were almost 5 days of furious storms. This morning my group left for Camp 2 and got there without much trouble. I stayed at BC because I am lucky enough not to have to take a day’s rest at Camp 2. These last few days have been especially hard, particularly yesterday. Everest took her first victim. Without really understanding the circumstances, a member of the Himalayan Guides group lost his life after falling from the Lhotse Face. May the Gods of this mountain protect him on his journey to eternity.

With great sadness I began to experience the same emotions as last year when my friend Babu Chiri passed away. If I have learned anything on Everest on my two previous climbs, it is that you must learn to be patient, to respect the mountain as much as possible and she will show the way to her summit. Luckily, Maria and Robert are in great shape. Each day they learn a new lesson on Everest. One thing I must be grateful for is the members of my group. Spending 60 days with the same people can be a bit difficult, especially if they are distinct personalities. In my group we are all definitely very different people but we have created a great family atmosphere, full of dignity. We look after one another. If anyone has a bad day, we give them the space or support they need.

I have calculated that we will sleep at Camp 3 on the 3rd as the last stage in our acclimatisation, as long the mountain lets us. At the same time, I would like to change some ropes and sort out some of the sections below Camp 3. On the 25th, when I climbed the Face, I wasn’t impressed by the state of some of the ropes and other equipment.

At the end of the day, there is always something to do and as many of my friends say, Willie has got ants in his pants! and I cannot sit still for a minute!

When I climbed Everest for the 1st time, my father was very unwell with lung cancer. He managed to fight that battle for another 2 years. Unfortunately he died on the 6th September 2001 in faraway Patagonia. During his fight, I managed to conquer Everest a second time and I always felt that he gave me the necessary strength to manage it.

On the day of his death, I was at home in Berkeley. One thing that upset me greatly was that I never got to say goodbye and to thank him for the life which he gave me. So now I want to get to the highest point on earth so that I can at least have a few minutes to talk to him and to simply say ‘thank you’. Willie

Translated by Adrian Sutton.