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Featured Expedition: 2003 American Ski Everest Expedition
Dispatch 14


John Callahan

Copyright©Jim Gile American Ski Everest 2003

Dispatch 14: (Transcribed from satellite phone voice message)

American Ski Everest Expedition, Dispatch 14. We spent the past 4 days at ABC making hauls to the North Col, at just over 7000 meters or 23,200 feet. In all, it was an unbelievably successful team effort. Everybody is healthy and everybody managed to make 2 runs up to the North Col, for a total of about 18 full loads. We established 2 really good tent platforms and we set the stage to finish the route. We have all the tents, sleeping bags, food and fuel at the North Col, that we will need to finish the climb of Mt Everest. It was a huge effort but we got the job done. These were our first climbs to the North Col. That climb consisted of a 2000 foot feet of altitude, which we were told to expect 6 hours which is the normal unacclimatized time frame to get from ABC to the North Col. But for everyone on the team, we were very comfortable achieving the climb from our tents (which are at the lowest level at ABC) to the North Col in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The team is very healthy and is moving very rapidly, even though the fact we are handling full loads. As of April 27th, we are all back at base camp, due to our weather forecast [Note the American Ski Everest expedition is working with Russ Brice to receive the Bracknell weather reports.] of storms for the next 3-5 days. The trek between base camp and ABC is long and difficult. The thick air at 17000 vs 21000 feet is really allowing us to rest and recover. Many other climbers don't feel that the benefits of the rest at lower altitude is worth the effort to do the trek between ABC and base camp but for us, we really feel the rest days at base camp are vital for getting as high as we can on the mountain.

The fact that we have to haul all of our gear, really takes a toll on us. It is very difficult to fully recover. But going down to base camp is really allowing us to rest and recover, both mentally and physically.

We have also had to start thinking about our plan for the duration of the climb. Because we are not using oxygen our plan is much different. All the teams on the mountain with the exception of us are using oxygen, and those teams plan to put a high camp at 27000 feet. That is because with oxygen you stop at 27000 feet and effectively reduce your altitude by 7000 feet, at least according to Charles Houston. In other words, you can sleep at a higher altitude with using oxygen you can effectively reduce the altitude by 7000 feet.

But for us....[connection lost]

So for us to set up a camp at 27000 feet would take a incredible amount of effort. And there is not a lot of benefits if you don't have oxygen, you can't rest. So the question becomes do you set up a camp above the North Col as usual or do we just set up a soup camp, with stove and fuel so we can stop and brew up.

We will see how it all pans out, based on one thing we know for sure, the next objective is to set up a camp at around 25,500 feet or 26,000 feet. We will see how all that goes. It takes so much energy to set up camps, with the hauls and then tent platforms. We will just have to see how much energy the team has.

One thing is for sure, discussions at our mess tents are interesting and fun. Oh yeah, on the next haul we will be breaking out the skis. There is definitely good skiing between the North Col and ABC. Reports have the snow conditions for skiing from 7500 meters to be excellent.

We have scoped out at around 8000 meters, but we will have to see when we get there, a storm or two could give us skiing from much higher. But it all does not matter until we get the mountain set, we will just have to see how it all goes.

Everybody is healthy, we are having a great trip. Mike

Dispatches






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