Stephen Koch and Jimmy Chin will
attempt to snowboard Everest this Autumn. They plan to
climb Everest via the Hornbein route and then
descend via the Hornbein. They will travel from
Kathmandu to Lhasa then to Everest base camp on the
North (Chinese). Eric Henderson is the base camp
Dispatch: Returning yesterday from Camp I at 19,300 ft, to ABC at 18,500ft I
could not help but stop and feel the difference in air temperature and
humidity at the lower elevation. We spent much of our time above 20,000ft
during our stay. As I watched Jimmy and Stephen climb the last hill to ABC, I
sat, caught my breath and chomped down the rest of my half eaten Snickers from
7am this morning.
On August 11th we set out for Camp I on the flanks of the Central Rongbuk
glacier. Here we set up two tents on a dry flat portion of the glacier,
overlooking the west face of Changtse (North) Peak, and the north face of
Everest. On the morning of the 12th Stephen, Jimmy, and I picked a route
through the glacier and up to the base of the face. The weather conditions
were mixed, with valley fog and various forms of precipitation. We were able
to wand a good route to the base of the climb, avoid the man eating crevasses
and negotiate the snow bridges.
The following day we awoke to a clear and crisp day in the high alpine of the
Himalaya. We quickly gulped down our oatmeal and headed out on the glacier.
Our goal for the day was to tour up to Lho La Pass at 20,000ft. From here one
can look into Nepal, and into the normally well traveled Khumbu Icefall, which
is now vacant. During our ski tour, we had great views of Everest, Pumori, and
several other amazing peaks. Upon arrival to the final headwall we were
engulfed by a giant cloud bank rolling in from Nepal. This limited our views,
yet we were sure we found the border. We took our team photo, and quickly
shushed back to Camp I, where we knew a warm cup of tea would be awaiting us.
The following morning (13th) the three of us got an alpine start and followed
our wanded path to the base of the face. Arriving at the Japanese Couloir at
7am, I observed Stephen and Jimmy in a frenzy trying to get there. They were
stripping all unnecessary clothing and gear in order to run partway up to the
face before it got too warm. They needed to feel the pulse of the mountain and
get a handle on the snow conditions. They climbed up to the base of the
couloir and determined that conditions were good. With warm days and cold
nights the snow was starting to freeze up nicely.
The 1500ft descent back to Camp I was filled with GS (Giant Slolam) arcs, and
perfect corn-snow conditions. After arriving back at camp we filled ourselves
with ra-ra noodles and milk tea before heading down to ABC.
As I finished my Snickers and gulped my final splash of water I looked up to
see Stephen and Jimmy travel out of sight. If the weather continues to hold
and we keep getting these deep freezes Chomolungma will be in condition for an
ascent and descent of the North Face.
I am off to pull food and fuel for the next three days. The three of us are
heading up to the high saddle of Changzheng peak, 22,500ft. The goal here is
to sleep and eat high, for Jimmy and Stephen to better acclimate for their
attempt on Everest.
Photo Caption: Camp I below the 9000 foot North Face of Everest
Stephen Koch' Autumn Everest 2003 expedition