Monday, May 31, 2010

Enjoying Kathmandu!

A quick update from Kathmandu. It has been a very busy couple days as we flew out from Base Camp in helicopters down to Lukla. We spent a night there and from and then connected onto Kathmandu. It feels really good to be down low and to begin celebrating one of our best trips ever!

We are waiting for our bags to show up before catching our flights home. There is certainly a lot to do in order to wrap everything up. Mostly, we are just enjoying being with the team and taking advantage of going out for meals in good restaurants. Kathmandu definitely has a festive atmosphere right now as there are a lot of teams in town at this time, with many more still hiking out from Base Camp.

The helicopter option was a great team decision, as it saved us some precious time and helped enable us to enjoy this time in Kathmandu! We are staying at the Yak and Yeti, which is a nice place to decompress (unacclimitize!) while meeting friends and taking care of last minute business in Kathmandu.

Scott Woolums reporting from Kathmandu!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The team is in Kathmandu

Sorry for the delay in posting. I have been out of town and I just received word that the team is in Kathmandu. Bill and Scott have tried to post, but the infamous Nepali internet service is apparently at an all-time low for reliability...

In any case, the team members are waiting for equipment to be flown back to Kathmandu from the dirt airstrip at Lukla, but poor weather has delayed flights. Everyone is very thankful that we organized a helicopter for them, as they would otherwise be waiting at the airstrip with all the gear!

Scott and Bill will post more photos and a recap of the trip in the coming days, so check back, but this will be the last "regular" update for our very successful 2010 Everest expedition.

Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who posted comments in support of this great team of climbers. We'll back on Everest in 2011!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Photos from Up High!

Wahoo! Everyone is very excited (and exhausted) right now in Base Camp. It's hard to believe that all of us really made it, but reality is slowly sinking in. Up til now we have been just too tired to really appreciate what just happened! Everyone worked very hard for this goal. It's just simply amazing.

We have attached some more photos from our summit push and would like to pass along a few more details of how the day transpired.

As we had been watching the weather forecasts very closely, we made a decision to go up to Camp 3 on the 21st of May. It ended up being a simply perfect day, with no wind and everyone moved well to a small, chopped out perch at 24,000 ft. on the Lhotse Face. We were treated to a beautiful sunset that evening, but after the rays of light waned, it became very cold. The next morning looked perfect so off we went to Camp 4 at 26,000ft., starting very early in the morning.

Along the way we climbed through the distinctive Yellow Band and the rocky Geneva Spur. These two sections are quite challenging at this altitude. About 80 other climbers moved up to high camp on the same schedule as us, however; it's a big mountain and people tend to get scattered quickly.

Once again, our team had a very good day to move up and we were tucked in to Camp 4 by around noon, providing us with some time to rest, rehydrate and recover. As we prepared for our evening summit bid, the wind kicked in quite strong. Over the next few hours we were on the fence as to whether we should wait until the 24th to go, as there were huge streamers of wind and blowing snow coming off the top and through the South Col. Bill and I were seriously worried about conditions... and then the about an hour before we had planned to leave for the summit, the wind just stopped. It was really remarkable and very lucky!

With better conditions at hand, we continued to prepare for our summit bid and departed The South Col at 8.30pm on the 22nd to head for the top. Yep, that's 8.30pm the day before! It made for a long hard, cold night of climbing across the South Col, up the Triangle Face towards the Balcony. During the night, each of us faced individual battles of staving off personal fears, freezing cold and the claustrophobic myopia of following the small circle of headlight beam in front of you.

It seems to take forever to climb up to the Balcony at close to 28,000ft. This is really our first good place to stop in the dark in order to change out our first oxygen bottle. We had a total of 11 Sherpas climbing with us, carrying extra oxygen which makes life up here safer, warmer and for most of us...even possible!

From the Balcony we started up the difficult rock climbing/scrambling towards the South Summit. This was the point when daylight began to taunt us with an agonizingly slow appearance, and then treated us to one of the most amazing sunrises of our lives as it spread across Tibet. At sunrise, we had been climbing for almost eight hours and those first rays of sun felt simply amazing!

Above the difficult climbing, we felt now were in a good position to continue to the summit, as winds were still light and everyone was moving really well. At the South Summit we again changed out our oxygen so we would have plenty for the climb over from the South Summit to the Main Summit of Everest. This next section is where the famous "Hillary Step" is located. This iconic feature is actually a very narrow, exposed ridge with quite interesting climbing at well over 28,500 ft. After negotiating the Hillary Step, we made a slow climbing traverse up and over to the main summit.

We were thrilled that our entire team of five climbers, two Mountain Trip guides and eleven Climbing Sherpas had all made it to the summit! That made for a very happy group of 18 of us in total, taking in the views from the top of our planet!

The winds were now beginning to blow at maybe 20 mph and it was fairly cold, but it was still more or less perfect weather on the summit. The weather was so good that we spent almost an hour taking pictures and enjoying the outstanding views all around us.

While we enjoyed our time on the top, we remained very conscious of the fact that we were really only halfway through our day, and so we began our long descent. As we reached the Balcony, quite a lot of clouds and wind moved in making for some challenging conditions. A climber from another team was having difficulties with possible Cerebral Edema and we loaned one of our Sherpas, Gombu, to assist him and his guide with their descent (their climb down to the South Col went well and he was evacuated from Camp 2).

All in all, it was quite a sporty descent and a rough night as the winds and snow continued until the next morning. We were very fortunate to have found that small window in which to summit. Not all teams were so lucky.

We are now in Base Camp, packing everything, as tomorrow there will not even be a camp here! Everything is getting loaded into barrels and then onto yaks for the three day descent back to Lukla where our equipment will be transferred to Kathmandu. We have scheduled two chartered helicopters for the flight out and are planning to leave tomorrow morning. It will be a bit of a shock to go from Base Camp directly to Kathmandu in one day! But I know that I can safely say that everyone is very much looking forward to being back in "civilization" and everything that entails! At least Kathmandu will provide us with a bit more of a transition back to our Western version of civilization and all its creature comforts.
We hope you enjoy the photos. We'll post more stories soon from our 2010 expedition.

And then there will be more stories from Everest 2011.....

Scott Woolums - reporting from Everest Base Camp

Oh yes and some photos from the descent!

You're only halfway through your day when you're on the summit!

Sometimes the descent can be quite challenging. We had some high winds and snow as we left Camp 4, but then things continued to improve.



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everest Summit 2010!

We are all safely back in Base Camp after a very successful summit on May 23rd, 2010.

I'm afraid we will need to keep this short as is a lot going on here in Base Camp and we have lots of work to do, but we wanted to pass along the news that 18 members of the Mountain Trip 2010 Everest Expedition reached the summit at just after 9am!!! All 7 of our climbers and 11 members of our Sherpa Team stood together on top in very good weather.

We spent well over 30 minutes on the summit as there was just a light wind, the skies were clear and the views were amazing! We tried to take in as much as possible from the top before we had to start down to the South Col. Before getting back near the area known as the Balcony, we were caught by the afternoon convective clouds and increasing winds and snow made for some very low visibility.

Back in Camp 4 it continued to snow and blow hard all night, which more or less shut the mountain down, although we did hear that a group made the summit in poor conditions. What crazy weather, from super good to whiteout and blowing. Anyways, we're here in Base Camp and everyone is doing very well. We are thrilled that on our entire trip there were no injuries or frost bite, and everyone is very, very happy, although pretty tired after some long days.

We will post lots more photos and stories on our way downhill! Yahoo!

Scott Woolums reporting from Everest Base Camp.

En Route to Base Camp

I received word that the team is doing well and is heading down to Base Camp as I type. I expect they will be pretty tuckered out when they arrive, so I doubt we'll hear from them until after they are a bit more rested.

They helped out a climber with Cerebral Edema on their way down, and are moving well.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No word as yet from the team...

I wish I had more to pass along to you, but I have not heard anything from the team since Bill's call some 23 hours ago. We hold to the old adage of "No News Is good News," as someone always finds a way to communicate drama from the high mountains.

I know that Bill's satellite phone died on their summit push, so they may just be having technical difficulties. Ahh, better living through technology, eh?

The weather appears to be pretty good, all in all, with modest winds and little snow, so I expect they are just busy heading down hill. We'll post more as soon as we hear anything.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Heading downhill!

Bill just called from Camp 4 to say that a band of happy and healthy climbers was about to head downhill to Camp 2.

Everyone is doing great and is fully conscious of the fact that they have a long way to go down. They are focused and, while they are excited to get down to the relatively "thick" air of 21,500 feet, they know they need to be cautious as they make their way down the Lhotse Face.

They should arrive sometime during the night (in the US) and Bill said they would try to post some photos from summit day after they arrived.

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes and hearty congratulations. I'm sure we'll all rest a lot easier when our friends and loved ones are back down at Base Camp.

Back in Camp 4 after a successfull summit of Mount Everest!

This call from Scott Woolums came in during the night. It confirms that our entire 2010 Everest team safely reached the summit of the highest peak in the world!

As equally important, they are all back in Camp 4 resting as well as people are able to rest at 26,000 feet. It sounded like an absolutely amazing summit day.

The team will descend to Camp 2 at about 21,500 feet tomorrow (this evening in US time zones) and will undoubtedly check in from the comforts of our Advanced Base Camp after they arrive.


Climbing Team:

Vivian Rigney
Cindy Abbott
Denise Fejtek
Paul Fejtek
Ania Lichota
Bill Allen
Scott Woolums

Special thanks to our incredible Sherpa team! You are one of the pillars of our Everest program and we cannot thank you enough for your hard efforts to make this ascent possible.

Sherpas to reach the summit:

Pasang Gombu
Da Wang Chhu
Pemba Chhotar
Pem Chiri
Pasang Tendi
Sonam Chhiring
Da Kusang
Karma Geljin

And thanks to our "Safety Sherpa" Mindu, for selflessly waiting for our team at the South Col.

Here is Scott Woolums, calling in from Camp 4 at 26,000 feet:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Podcast from Bill - on the summit?

Sorry for the lack of any definitive news, but I'm posting after a few minutes of detective work and deductive reasoning.

My phone just rang with a satellite phone calling in, but I couldn't hear anyone on the other line and then it went dead.

After waiting for a few minutes, I checked our online voicemail box that they have been calling podcasts into and found the following message. If you listen carefully, you'll hear other voices in the background, and Bill sure sounds pretty happy. I'm going to assume that the team is on the summit of Mount Everest!!!!!

I'll post through the night as more reports come through.

Great weather at the South Col with no easy decisions

Scott called about 40 minutes ago from the South Col of Everest. The team moved up from Camp 3 in what Scott called "quite amazing weather." He said he was basically in a T-shirt as he negotiated the famed Yellow Band, a very distinctive band of sandstone that the team needed to traverse at an elevation of about 25,000 feet. The weather remained very warm as they rested, hydrated and ate after arriving at the South Col.

Located at 26,000 feet, the South Col is the low point between Everest and Lhotse. High Camp is tucked in amongst this rock strewn area and the team will rest while breathing low flows of oxygen. Scott sounded remarkably "normal" on the phone as we discussed weather forecasts, which is not something you'd expect while talking to someone at that elevation.

Vivian on the Lhotse Face

Everyone did very well on the grueling move up the Lhotse Face. The challenge now is to make the extremely difficult decision about when to head for the summit. There are over 100 climbers at the South Col, all grappling with a similar decision. The jetstream has shifted slightly to the north of the mountain, but there are still some bands of high winds to the south. Windspeeds are forecast as fairly high, but manageable, however when you add in the "human variable," of having to contend with so many other climbers, the decision as to whether to stay a day or to go becomes very challenging.

Scott and Bill are working through the many variables that will form the basis of their decision, including the amount of food they have at high camp, the plans of the other climbing teams, and the fairly wide discrepancies between our different forecast models. We have plenty of oxygen cached, so waiting another day will not affect the "O's" needed for summit day. This sort of decision is one of the most agonizing aspects of big mountain climbing and guiding. Scott reported that there were teams heading for the summit as he spoke. Leaving the South Col at 7 pm to make a nighttime summit bid seems a bit too tempered by ambition, ego and perhaps desperation for our taste.

In any case, they are poised and ready to go for the summit! In addition to our five climbers and two Mountain Trip guides, we have 12 Climbing Sherpas ready to head high as part of our team. We are therefore extremely well supported with staff and oxygen, and only wish we had a weather forecast with a higher probability of actually being correct- one way or another.

Scott said they would make "the call" shortly as to whether they will stay at the South Col for another day or head for the summit. He said if he does not call in then we are to assume they are going for the top, as they will not stop to make phone calls until they reach the summit. It's challenging to write about this without getting too melodramatic, but this is pretty high drama!

On a side note- my son Logan turns 7 years old today and just told me he is going to wish for a safe and happy summit when he blows out the candles on his Super Mario Brothers birthday cake. We're all sending our best energy and wishes on the winds to the team. A groups of the Everybody to Everest trekking team, who hiked in to Base Camp to support Paul and Denise and the Challenged Athletes Foundation are climbing a peak in California today in solidarity of the climbers and to send their best wishes out from a higher elevation.

Bill called in after arriving at the South Col. You can listen to his dispatch below.

I'll update as I hear anything!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Podcast from Ania at Camp 3

The following podcast was called in via satellite phone during the night. They had a very bad connection, which is not uncommon as the mountain really inhibits their ability to lock on to satellites. I am posting this as I expect that all of Ania's many friends and family will enjoy hearing bits of her voice, whether or not you can actually make out much of the information she was trying to pass along.

The team is camped at Camp 3, having moved up the Lhotse face in absolutely beautiful conditions. Even though they are at just shy of 24,000', Scott reports that it is "T-shirt warm" and was quite hot during their ascent from Camp 2. Everyone did really well and they are hopefull for the next 48 hours.

Winds up high are still quite strong, but all models show that they should lessen over the next 12-24 hours. It looks like they will have a descent summit window that will still be gusty, but manageable. There are a lot of people moving up the mountain, and there is a lot of politicking and negotiating about who will start up for the summit at which time.

The plan is that our team will move up to the South Col in about 7 hours and spend the day resting as best one can at 7906 m (25938 ft). They will then set out for the summit in the middle of the night.

We'll keep you posted. Until then, enjoy hearing Ania from Camp 3!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

High Winds prevent move to Camp 3

Bill called during the night and left the following update. After I spoke with him at the base of the Lhotse Face, the winds really began picking up and they decided the prudent decision was to head back to Camp 2 for the night and hopefully take advantage of the decrease in the winds forecast for tomorrow.

Never a dull moment up there! Here is his message:

At the base of the Lhotse Face!

Bill just checked in to say he was standing at the base of the famed Lhotse Face, a 3700' (1125m) wall of ice and snow that marks the western flank of Lhotse and is a challenge for climbers headed to the South Col of Everest. Fixed lines provide some protection as climbers scale this 40-50 degree face and negotiate bulges of 70-80 degrees.

The team will spend the night at Camp 3 tonight, sleeping on oxygen at just shy of 24,000'. There appears to be a slight lessening in the fierce winds that have been whipping the upper mountain and our crew wants to be in position to make a summit bid if it actually occurs. A large cyclone to the south looked threatening, but now appears to be headed a bit to the east of Everest. We are watching it closely, however.

I've re-posted this so as to keep it in chronological order with the team's ascent. Posts from the mountain are sent out in batches, and the two previous posts came through after I had originally posted this update. Sorry for any confusion!

Stay tuned and think warm thoughts!

High Winds in Camp 2!

May 19-

Well, it's been an exciting day. We started up to the Lhotse Face in beautiful clear weather, but it then became quite windy this afternoon and tonight. We are planning to leave for Camp 3 tomorrow morning, so hopefully we'll see less winds tomorrow for our trip up the Lhotse Face.

The weather forecasts have not offered a clear window this year. Now we are trying to thread the needle (with several hundred other climbers) between the Jet Stream, which is now very near Everest and an approaching Cyclone in the Bay of Bengal that looks to be heading our way soon. We are now looking at May 22nd as our summit day.

It's looks like it's going to be a windy climb up to the South Col over the next couple days. We are actually in a very good position to wait a day in C3 or C4 if conditions are unreasonable. We have lots of oxygen for any delays up high and we definitely have one of the strongest Sherpa Teams on the hill! We are all looking forward starting our summit push! Yahoo!

Scott Woolums reporting from Camp 2, Mt. Everest.

Waiting in Camp 2

Photos from below the Lhotse Face this morning.

We are seeing some seriously high winds on Everest right now. They are actually some of the strongest winds I have seen. We can hear the jet stream just above us ripping at the summit right now. We had plans to move up to C3 today, and onto the South Col on the 21st, but so much for that! The whole upper mountain is being raked by winds of 50 to 100 mph.

We went for a short walk this morning with hopes the winds could drop, but only 1 hour out of camp it became quite clear that we were only going for a short hike and not to the top of Everest this time. Everything looks better for the 23rd now so that's our new focus. Our forecast models are looking like the Cyclone will bring moisture to the Everest region around the 24 and 25th now. So we'll take another rest day in Camp 2 playing cards, listening to the wind and getting ready for tomorrow.

Quite a few people moved to Camp 3 today and we counted over 50. With the winds having definitely increased, our guess is that some, if not most, will change their plans and come down today. Camp 3 is currently disappearing in huge waves of blowing snow that stretch from the South Col all the way across the Lhotse Face to Lhotse Summit. It is very impressive to see, but not anything we'd choose to be in!

Scott Woolums reporting from Camp 2, 21,500ft., Everest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Podcast from Camp 2!

Bill just called in from Camp 2. It is evening in Nepal, and a blustery one at that. The forecasts predicted higher winds today and the winds are expected to continue for the next couple of days. Hopefully, the winds will not be so strong so as to keep the team from pushing up to Camp 3 and then to the South Col, as they want to be in position for the upcoming lessening in the winds, predicted for this weekend.

Keep your fingers crossed, send your best wishes and good energy to the team high up on the biggest mountain of the world and enjoy the podcast:

Live from Camp 2!

We just arrived in Camp 2 at about 21,500 ft. It was a beautiful day, and we had a good climb up through the icefall. There were a lot of people moving up today, over 100 at least.

We have been playing a game of cat and mouse with the weather over the last few days. The forecast high winds yesterday and today really did not happen. Yesterday saw a number of teams reach the summit in what looked like a short window in between a wandering jet stream. Today was quite a bit better than forecast. Still predictions show more wind on the way for the next several days. We are carefully watching all information available. We are still confident that the decrease in winds forecast over the 22, 23, 24 will hold a good summit day for us. But we also have our Quiji board, tarot cards and our lucky dice!

We are not being elusive with exactly when we are going, it's just as the date gets closer, the forecasts become much more accurate. To say we are going on the 24th would be reckless as things are changing rapidly by the day. One factor that will play a big role over the next week is a large tropical depression that's formed in the Bay of Bengal and basically is heading our way. We may see precip and clouds from this as early as the 21st. This is the same type of storm that shut the mountain down last year with a lot of snow! It is way to early to predict what will happen with this, but we are watching closely.

The team is doing well, everyone made good time up to C2 today. Our plan is to rest here tomorrow as it's a big jump up from Base Camp. We will carefully evaluate the weather tomorrow and try to see a clearer picture of what will happen over the next week.

Life here at Camp 2 is good. We have 2 Sherpa cook staff, a very nice Mountain Hardware Stronghold tent for dining, solar power, email, internet, and all of us have our own tents. It is about as comfortable as possible considering the temps will be around -10c tonight and we are sitting at over 21,500 ft!

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Moving on up!

The team is tucked in to their tents at Camp 2. They were up and at it early this morning, as Bill left a message that was only half intelligible, due to the sat phone connection. I did make out 3:30 A.M., and I believe they were almost ready to head up into the Icefall at that time.

Another call came in early this morning (CO time), so enjoy the podcast from Camp 2 on Mount Everest!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ania's Birthday! And We're Heading for Camp 2

From Base Camp, Monday May 17th

Sunday was Ania's birthday!

We had another beautiful day here at base camp. We went for a good hike after breakfast and finished the day with a great dinner and birthday cake. Our Sherpa cook team once again amazed us with a beautiful cake complete with frosting and "Happy Birthday Ania" written in Strawberry Jelly. We also had a guest over from the Colombian team, the rest of her team was at the S. Col last night and heading for the summit early this morning. She was monitoring her team on our big base camp radio and sharing some Colombian music with us (we're all wearing out our music
libraries at this point). Ania led everyone in a dance around camp to some Latin Dance music including a lap thru the kitchen tent where all the Sherpas were finishing their dinner. This made for lots of laughs and smiles! It was another entertaining night.

This morning we woke to news that several climbers were approaching the summit, including 2 members of the Colombian team! It was a beautiful calm morning up high, but the winds are picking up as the day wears on. We are all wishing the best of luck to everyone high on the mountain today, and hope they get back to high camp safely this afternoon. It's exciting to hear of the first summits in several weeks. As forecasted, this window of lower winds was quite short, but a few small teams are trying to take advantage of it. The winds are expected to continue to pick up today and continue for a few more days after this.

We are excited to be packing up and organizing today in order to head up to Camp 2 early tomorrow morning! This is the beginning of our 5-6 day push towards the summit. We are looking at a couple of possible decent summit days coming up, and so we are going to start up the mountain so that we will be in position to take advantage of the hopefully diminishing winds. It is still a bit of a guessing game, but we've been pouring over our forecasts and it looks like we'll get a shot towards the end of the week. We've all put a lot of time and energy into getting to the point where we are acclimated, healthy, and fit enough to be heading off for a summit bid.

So it looks as if all the hard work, training and acclimating will all come together over the next few days. We're looking forward to being up high and in position for the summit... of Mt. Everest, only a few short days away!

Scott and Bill reporting from Everest Base Camp!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Base Camp Life!

Hi from Everest Base Camp! We are in the middle of "the waiting game"! Base Camp is a super comfortable place to be through this. So we thought we would give everyone a little sample of what life is like here.

7am- Bill gets up with the sun for a cup of coffee and a bit of quiet time before everyone is awake.

8am- Breakfast (prefaced with hot towels for faces and hands). Today we ate apple pancakes with scrambled eggs and, as always, fresh ground coffee!

9am- Morning emails. We all are sharing one computer for emails, so we pass around the laptop in the dining tent and all check and answer emails throughout the day. Then, usually morning and night, we hook up to our satellite modem and do a "send and receive." This can create a time lag between when we respond to emails by up to a day. I think every team member has their own individual blog in addition to the Mountain Trip blog, so there's no shortage of stories flowing out of here every day.

9.30am- Hot sunshine, shorts- time for showers and laundry! We have a very nice shower tent with a battery operated pump that works very well. Ask someone in the kitchen for a 5 gallon bucket of hot water, and a base camp shower is a little bit of heaven.

10 am to 1 pm- Time to visit, go for a hike, or catch up with personal tasks. Yesterday (Friday the 14th), we went for a hike up to Camp 1 on Pumori, a mountain that looms above base camp to the west of us (the Khumbu Icefall is to the east side of our camp). It is a great hike up to over 19,000 ft, which doesn't really feel all that high to us anymore. It's a great way to get some exercise, remind our bodies that there will be higher altitudes in our future, and the views of Everest from up there is hard to beat.

1pm- Lunch time, usually announced with a big stick on an empty Oxygen Bottle! Every meal here is all you can eat! Today's lunch was veggie spring rolls and potato salad.

Mid afternoon- If it's cloudy (or not) we'll gather in the dining tent for a movie. We probably have over 100 movies to choose from, and the selection process amongst the group is half the fun. If you pick a bad movie, you'll hear about it for days. We watched Pink Panther and Pink Panther 2 in the last couple of days, to many groans and eye rolls, but it's entertainment.

7.30pm- Dinner. Last night we had Momo's filled with either buffalo or vegetables followed by the best chocolate cake ever! Serki, our cook, has a small oven in the kitchen and he makes fresh rolls, cakes, cookies- something outstanding every day!

Apres Dinner- Another movie perhaps?? Or cards, but we seem to be stuck with the 2 games we know how to play, Hearts or Rummy. If anyone knows the rules to another great card game email them to us!!

Food, Emails, and Weather Forecasts...
These are the things that dominate our day's now.

Everyone wants to know when we are "going to the summit". There is no answer to that until more or less 5 days before as that's about how far out we can project for a forecast we like and then make a commitment to move to Camp 2. Once, we get to Camp 2, the whole schedule can change when we are there, as we reassess the most current forecasts and make the next commitment to move to Camp 3. We download new forecasts daily, which provides us plenty to think and talk about. With all the weather information we are looking at, there seems to be favorable weather starting perhaps as early as the 22nd and probably lasting through the 27th.

We are watching that window closely to see how it all comes together. It's the talk around camp these days, and even though we are paying for the weather forecasting services of experts, but it can all seem like guesswork at times, and it seems to be forever changing. At the end of the day, we try to get the best information we can, and we are carefully watching what's going on in the mountains around us.

Tonight we are actually planning on having some guests over for dinner! The two doctors from the Base Camp Clinic are coming over this evening. Dr. Peter Hackett is a friend from Telluride, it will be good to have some new faces around the dinner table.

That's a bit of what Base Camp life is like. There are plenty of distractions to keep us entertained, but we are all ready to climb the mountain!!

Bill Allen

Friday, May 14, 2010

Acclimatization hike on Pumori

Bill called with a report from an acclimatization hike the team took up to Camp 1 on neighboring Pumori. Here you go:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Waiting in Base Camp......

We are currently back in Base Camp and playing the waiting game now. We have been following all the forecasts closely, looking for a break in the high winds. We returned to BC a couple of days ago from a very nice period of rest and recuperation down in Dingboche. Right now, our Sherpa team is also taking a well deserved break before we all move up for our summit bid.

All of our supplies and camps on the upper mountain are completely set to go, so there is very little left for the sherpas to take up high in preparation for our summit attempt. Everyone on our climbing team is ready to go as well, feeling healthy and strong. We are all just waiting and resting for a bit, as the forecasts are starting to look like a solid weather window starting around the 22nd and 23rd.

This is the "Hurry Up And Wait" period of expedition climbing. We have no set plans at this point as we don't have to commit to a summit date until five days beforehand. Making plans any farther out is just wishful thinking, so we'll stay here in BC and monitor the weather, rest and mentally prepare ourselves for the days to come.

Many teams here in camp are looking at a small break in the high winds that have been hammering the upper mountain that is predicted to begin around May 16th. It does look like a decrease coming in the winds that may allow some smaller/faster teams to blast up. We feel it's too small, and looks to be accompanied by some very cold temperatures, meaning, unless the models shift, it will present a lower chance for success and too high a risk to attempt with our team. Patience is very important as it is easy to get caught up in the tremendous incentive to push up the mountain after being in camp for a long time. Many other teams in BC arrived over 2 weeks before we did in Base Camp. That makes for a lot of waiting, and increased psychological pressure to grasp at these smaller, lower probability, weather windows.

Today is our first actual "waiting day" of the expedition. There have been lots of stories of destroyed tents up at Camp 2 and even more from over on the North Side of the mountain. Things have definitely been a bit on the wild side the last few days. Even here in Base Camp we had a few gusts approaching 50 knots, shaking things up quite a bit! When we saw the winds increasing, we dismantled our Camp 2 tents two days ago, so everything in our Camp 2 is currently good to go. We also have a Mountain Hardware "Stronghold Dome" tent in C2 that has proven to be living up to its name, as it has been incredibly strong.

So this is one of the tougher parts of the trip, waiting and watching as the season gets closer to the end. There is a lot of anxiety tied to watching and waiting. It's a fine needle to thread between the start of the Monsoon and the end of the high winds of May. We are looking for the big fluffy pre-monsoon cumulus clouds to start floating around Everest as the jet stream pulls back. Then off we go! Stay tuned!

Scott Reporting from Everest Base Camp!

Report from Vivian at BC

Here's the latest dispatch from guest blogger Vivian.


We are back in Base Camp after our break down in wonderfully heavy and oxygen-saturated air of Dingboche. We had a blast doing not much more than eating, sleeping, walking around, and re-acquainting ourselves with civilization again and planning our summit bid in the Spring sunshine of 4400m/15000ft!

Coming back up to BC was incredibly fast - going to show how much stronger and acclimatized we've become. We had hoped to aim for a summit window around 16th-18th May, which looked like a decent weather window but the jetstream's moved back and has been causing havoc these past few days with extreme wind - 140km/hr blasting the higher camps.

We've heard that Camp 2 has been badly hit with a bunch of tents shredded/blown away. Luckily, our Camp 2 base has escaped the tent carnage so far. Da Phinju Sherpa has been in charge of keeping things together at Camp 2 while we are gone. He's had his hands full up there making sure our tents survive the winds, just another example of the incredible hard work our Sherpa team puts in to make this expedition possible. The rest of our Sherpa team is taking a few well deserved days of rest down in Dingboche after getting all of our oxygen and tents to Camp 3 and Camp 4 (at the S. Col).

The increasing strength of the sun's rays is melting the icefall and the glacier upon which base camp is perched. While this means pleasant and balmy waiting days here, it also brings back some ghosts from the past.....

Yesterday, the Sherpas discovered the recently revealed bodies of four climbers, perhaps from expeditions going back 30-40 years. In all likelihood, they probably had accidents and fell into crevasses higher up and their remains have been slowly moving down the mountain in the glacier over the years. It was a solemn sight, seeing the remains being taken away, but at the same time peaceful amidst the incredible beauty of this setting. I guess one just has to be here to appreciate this opinion...:-)

We're going to be watching the weather closely now and hope to start our summit bid within the next week.

That's all for now folks! More from sunny BC soon...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

12 May - Ania Reporting

12th May. This is Ania from Everest Base Camp. Yesterday lunch time we came back from our little holidays 1000m below Base Camp. We had a grand reception with three course dinner (toped up by banana pie) - life is hard!

Vivian has put together a list of the best of his I-pod for the team and we listen to it and sang sitting around the table. Then Scott as an exemplary leader got out the strobe lights and we had a bit of a disco. Morale and energy levels are high.

This morning started with Bill's coffee grinding ceremony (as every day), which feels the dining tent with wonderful aroma. Today is rest, shower, laundry and lazy day. The new weather forecast shows that Jet-stream is still too close to the mountain so for now we stay put. It is another beautiful sunny, slightly windy, day here at basecamp, but we can see the wind blowing hard up high.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Call from Lobuche - May 11

Bill called from Lobuche (4930m) this morning (in Nepal time). The call is a bit garbled, but they are doing well and are headed back up to Base Camp today. Everything is in place for a summit bid, and they are just awaiting a promising weather window.

Here's the podcast:

Photos from Scott

Sunday, May 9, 2010

R and R in Dingboche!

Photo of Dr. Peter Hackett, Bill and Scott having cinnamon rolls in Dingboche.

We're enjoying being down at low altitude for some "Rest and Recovery" after being up high on Everest for quite awhile. Everyone on the team is doing super well and benefiting from being down to lower altitudes, as this is just what the doctor ordered.

We will head back up to Base Camp over the next few days. Some of our Sherpa team is also down for a rest before our summit push. Everything is completely set for the summit bid right now. We have over 70 bottles of Oxygen now cached at High Camp. Camp 3 is fully supplied and ready, so it seems there is not much left to do but go for a hike up to the top in the next few days!

Stay closely tuned as we are about to give the summit a go!

Scott Woolums reporting from Dingboche, 14,000 ft.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Podcast from Bill at Camp 2

Just down from Camp 3!

Wahoo! We had a huge day today, moving up to Camp 3 at 24,000 ft.

Everyone did super well going up the lower part of Lhotse Face and coming back down. We left Camp 2 at 5 am, moved over to the base of the Lhotse Face and then started uphill. Good conditions made for pretty easy climbing up to Camp 3. Most everyone set new personal altitude records today. It was very warm and with no wind, it made for an enjoyable day, at least as enjoyable as climbing above 7000 meters can be!

We are all back safe in Camp 2 now, and will probably be up here for one more night before heading down to Base Camp and then on down lower for a much deserved break from being up high for almost 2 weeks. This marks the end of our second rotation, our last venture up high before heading back up for our summit attempt. From this point on it becomes a waiting game, watching the weather closely and making sure all of our oxygen and supplies are in place for a summit bid. Every aspect of the coming weeks presents a tough job, but our climbers and Sherpas are ready for it. Today our Sherpas carried multiple loads up to the South Col.

We are in no hurry here as the fixed lines have not even been put in above the South Col. Also the weather seems to have taken an unstable turn and has been snowing and blowing most afternoons. We are looking carefully for the consistent, low wind, pre-monsoon patterns that typically bring warmer and more predictable weather to Everest!

Scott Woolums reporting from Camp 2 , Mt. Everest.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Off to Camp 3 Tomorrow!

Photo from the base of the Lhotse Face looking up at teams moving today in poor

Everything is set for our first trip to Camp 3 at 24,000 ft. Today we climbed to the base of the Lhotse Face at around 22,500 ft.. Tomorrow we'll head up the blue ice of Lhotse Face to Camp 3. All reports indicate that the Face is fixed well with both up and down ropes. Now we'll see if we can get some good weather, as it has been on and off snow and wind here in camp today. All our Sherpas are carrying loads to the South Col at 26,000 ft tomorrow. So we will all get up and out of here early in the morning. Our Sherpas plan on leaving Camp 2 at 1 am, and we are hoping to leave at 5 am. Standby for tomorrow's report!

Scott Woolums reporting from Camp 2, Everest!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Podcast from Camp 2

Storm in Camp 2!

Wahoo! Last night was a bit rowdy with high winds and a lot of snow and we've seen no
sunshine this morning.

Fortunately, it was perfect timing as today is a rest day for both us and the Sherpas. We can hear huge winds up towards the summit right now. We have a very comfortable camp so life is OK, even with 30 knot winds and snow.

Yesterday we came up from Base Camp directly to Camp 2. That is a tough hike, with over 1000 meters vertical gain. Everyone was pretty tired from that exertion. It's funny. because it was incredibly hot yesterday on our way up, which is quite a contrast to what we are experiencing now.

Hope all is well at home with friends and family!


Scott Woolums reporting from Camp 2, 21,500 ft., Mt. Everest!