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Featured Expedition: 2003 American Ski Everest Expedition

Copyright©Jim Gile American Ski Everest 2003

(Transcribed from a satellite phone voice message, May21st)

Dispatch 33: American Ski Everest expedition, May 21st. We just got back to ABC. We made a run up to the North Col, then we hauled supplies up to Camp 2. We are getting ready for a forecasted window that has now moved from the 24th-25th-26th to the 27th. So we will see what happens.

The second thing that happened is that, we got all of our members up to just over 25,000 feet. For about one half of the team, that was a altitude personal record. For Steve, Jeremie, and myself, we hauled the skis up; there was no snow above 25,000 feet. We strapped on the boards; conditions up high, were extremely tense, pretty frightful actually.

It was pretty much just ice and we were able to slither down a 100 meters and actually found some good snow on the north ridge on Mt Everest. We then proceeded to complete the ski of the north ridge and then drop into the North Col, with a initial ski repel.

Actually it snowed pretty hard last night. We had 6 inches of powder. No powder on the north ridge. The North Col gave up 6 inches of excellent skiing. So in addition to Steve and my, descent from 8000 meters [Shishapangma]; we can chalk up a 25,000 feet descent. It is something the three of us, Jeremie, Steve, and myself are felling pretty good about. It was a team effort. It was a huge part of the goal, was a ski descent from the summit, but it is just not to be done this year. Just not enough snow, and with all the high winds, not possible. Even those couloirs, if they are not down to the blue ice, the wind [inaudible] looked to be only a meter thick.

The couloirs are not ski able this year [spring], with this limited time, we have been backed into a corner. These couloirs, unless you climb them, they are not to be toyed with, at least not by this group.

We are happy. We are proud. There are not a lot of people in the United States that have a ski descent above 25,000 feet. Another feather we are proud of, we worked our butts off. We are proud of the style we did it, no Sherpas, no oxygen, no nothing...

We are going to get the updated weather forecast. People are reaching the summit of Everest. The weather despite having big winds and some snow for the ski descent.

People are managing to get up there. We got the supplies and everything in place. We need to get a few days rest, and check the weather forecast. And then give it 110% and see what can happen. We have smiles on our faces, this is a pretty rough place to be, at it was this year. Mike

Dispatch 34 (Transcribed from a satellite phone voice message, May22nd)

American Ski Everest Expedition Dispatch May 22nd

We spend the day today just talking about the ski yesterday. I am doing some video for my buddy at Nat Geo. We got some really good footage, so we watched that and talked about it. We can probably count 6 maybe 7 people from the United States that have ever skied from 25,000 feet, out of the 7, so we pretty proud of the accomplishment. Out of those 7, obviously 3 are us. So we are excited about that, and we are just talking about that the fact we actually got up there and that we actually skied from a little bit above 7600 meters. It was a blustery cold day and we managed to strap the skis on. Although, it was not that steep, where we strapped the skis on, it was incredibly icy.  

And so it was a task to just get the skis on our feet with our packs on without falling off the mountain. On that North Col, when you climb up, there are 3 pitches, they are all pretty steep. Two pitches are relatively short 200-300 feet, one is 500 feet pitch. They are all in the 40-50 degree range, and as you are climbing up, you are continually checking out he snow conditions and looking for the Ski line.

We were very fortunate the night before we got a little bit of snow. The snow filled in some of those small divets. Because most of that slope is cobalt ice. There was just enough snow to get [inaudible]  after talking to Steve and Jeremie, the first couple of turns were pretty dicey in that in was on that ice and you have to take a step at a time.   You kind of side step down [inaudible]. It fell out 500 feet to the edge, that falls 1000’s feet down to the East R. Glacier.

So it was kind if just testing the water, then after 500 feet, you got some rolls that leveled out. The snow there that fall off of those faces has actually was excellent skiing. Kind of a dry chalky skiing. We were actually looking at the video. I was surprised by the  number and quality of turns made by those guys.  

I don’t know what I was like; I was the guy filming obviously. And then you have 2 or 3 of these rolls. That ridge kind of falls off to a rocky cliff off to the west. Off to the east, it is the glacier down below. Then once we skied down, we had to cross a few crevasses and everything. We got to the North Col camp, and stopped and rested a little bit for a break. It was still bad weather. The snow has accumulated to about 6 inches, so we knew that the skiing for the North Col had a chance to be very very good. So we started out the Ski with a repel, because the headwall is a pretty hard steep ice climb. So we started with a repel. [inaudible] . That crossed over a rather large snow bridge. So it was [inaudible] 

So that was a lot of fun,. Then we had another vertical repel, down, [inaudible] We had 2 more slopes that were probably 30-40 degrees. It is steeper… connection lost…

We will ask Mike to write a complete detailed report… this sat phone connection in bad windy weather makes this hard. But hopefully from the above you got a taste of what they did….

Call 2: May 22nd

So the skiing is done, A lot of people are climbing this mountain and summiting in this weather, I just consider terrible [the weather]. We are just hoping and praying those people are OK.

Also because we are not on oxygen we don't have the ability to go up in those conditions. We are waiting for the forecast for the 27th. We are just hoping the weather clears up. If the weather breaks we are in a position to get up there and summit! Mike

Also who are the American who has skied from 25,000 feet or above beside us: Here is who we think has..

Laura Bokas on Cho Oyu

Chris Erickson on Cho Oyu

Wayne Mc Coy on Cho Oyu

Breet Stomburger on Cho Oyu

Let me know what you think Mike.


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