Everest 2011Despatches from this expedition [get by email]
27th May - Final despatch
This morning the members of the second summit team arrived back at Base Camp from Camp Two. Four Sherpas also walked from Base Camp to Camp Two, closed the camp and brought all our equipment back to Base Camp.
The expedition is now officially over and all climbers and Sherpas have left the mountain for the final time.
The Yaks have been ordered and will arrive at Base camp tomorrow morning. We will pack all of our heavy equipment on them and set off on the 3 day walk to Lukla. All being well we shall arrive in Lukla on 30 May and fly to Kathmandu the following morning.
On the way we hope to be able to watch the Champions League Final (Man Utd v Barcelona). We hear that there is a lodge at Pangboche with access to satellite television.
Base Camp Manager and Head Chef, Gavin, will not be joining us on our leisurely walk to Lukla. The annual Everest Marathon is taking place on 29th May and Gavin has got himself a place in the race. After 2 months of inactivity at Base Camp eating scones and cakes he fears that he will be last. However one of the other competitors is a 72 year old Japanese man who walked into Base Camp today with the assistance of two walking sticks. So perhaps Gavin will only be second last...
David H - Everest Base Camp
26th May - Descent and summit day account from Adam
Adam Potter is now in Base camp. The rest of the team are spending tonight in Camp 2 and returning to BC tomorrow.
Here is Adam's account of summit day:
The Second Wave
All four of us, Adam, Mark, Richard, and Steve along with two of our Sherpas reached camp four on the South Col at roughly the same time. It had been a good day on the hill with some testing sections on the Yellow Band and Geneva Spur, but we had stuck together as a team throughout. The other two of our Sherpas, Mingma and Chongba had gone on ahead to re-pitch the tents. The tents had been collapsed following the first wave of summiteers to prevent them being torn apart in the strong winds. Re-pitching them was some effort for just two people as once again there were strong winds, one Sherpa holding the tent whilst the other placed rocks to hold them down.
As soon as we arrived at the South Col we dived into our tents, out of the wind, and relaxed whilst breathing in some additional oxygen. We needed to rest, we had had a reasonably tough day and we needed to be ready to leave again by 21:00 for our summit push. Throughout the afternoon we spent time boiling water and eating as much as we could and trying to grab an hour’s sleep if we were lucky. The wind continued. It buffeted the tent fabric and having a conversation from one tent to the next was impossible, even when shouting. All the other tents that remained on the Col had been torn to pieces by the winds, poles broken, and contents scattered. Mingma visited our tent and said that if the wind did not stop by 20:30 then we would spend the night and next day on the Col and make an attempt the following night. Mingma never returned to the tent and the winds continued into the next morning on the 24th. According to the weather forecast it was supposed to be windy on the 23rd and then dramatically reduce on the 24th. Exactly when they were to reduce on the 24th depended how optimistic you were. Sadly they did not reduce soon enough for us to head out on our summit bid.
Spending the following day at almost 8,000m on the South Col was not as bad as I had expected. Our tents seemed far more roomy than at Camp 3 as they were not being pushed in by surrounding snow. We had plenty of oxygen and found ourselves with extra time to eat, re-hydrate and sleep before we made the big push. We did have a slight concern, that we had only enough food for a short time there and had not planned for the extra time. Again, Mingma pre-empted us and passed out various food. We did not ask questions but given the littering of equipment and food scattered across the Col we were helping to keep the place tidy.
Again we planned to leave at 21:00, planning to be ready at 20:30 and setting off at 21:00. We left at 21:30. We were all in our summit clothing with hardly any flesh showing. The stars were showing with a half moon helping to light the way. This time there was barely any noticeable wind but there had been at least a good 6 inches of snow, which made the going annoyingly a little more difficult. It took a short while to find the beginning of the fixed line. We all clipped in and made our way up the face that leads to the Balcony. It seemed to last forever. It was in complete darkness and every time I saw a rock edge above me in the dim moonlight I thought we had reached the top of the face, but sadly not. We stayed together as a team but eventually Steve and his Sherpa, Psang dropped off the back. Steve was still shattered from his efforts in reaching Camp 4 without the use of oxygen. We were the first team heading up the face that night and with no footsteps to assist, the fresh snow kept crumbling away.
We reached the Balcony and suddenly it was a mad rush of activity. For hours we had been making the slow repetitive slog moving up the face, with the occasional issue of blocked oxygen mask or cold hands, but no where to really stop. As soon as we reached the Balcony we all seemed to have a hundred and one jobs to do. Flasks of coffee, chocolate bars, change of oxygen cylinder, bashing ice off out coat zips and oxygen masks. It was all a big rush to get everything done as efficiently as possible before we got too cold and then move on to the next section. Plus, a Japanese team were catching us!
At the Balcony we turned left and traversed and then headed up a small slope covered with a lot of fresh snow. The fixed line stopped, buried in snow and reappeared in about 15m. Given the amount of crumbling snow and the fact a slip would result in falling all the way down the 500m face we had just spent hours climbing up, I was not too happy and my thoughts went back to my big fall in Scotland just before the trip [See BBC News - Ed]. My Sherpa, Chongba, helped me through the section of missing rope to get clipped in on the other side.
We then headed across a ridge, again covered in crumbing fresh snow. There appeared to be endless drops on either side, but fortunately it was still dark enough that we could not see just how endless the drops were. All six of us teetered across without incident, although I suspect everyone’s heart rate rose at some point with the unexpected collapse of snow on slipping foot.
We continued on to the South Summit, climbing various obstacles along the way. People had spoke of the difficulties of the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur between Camp 3 and 4, but there seemed to be far steeper sections with a lot more crampons scratching on rock on summit day. Additionally there was a steep section that we climbed to the right of some rock where the snow was thigh deep. The snow kept collapsing and progress seemed extremely slow. We persevered and finally reached the Southern Summit. It was now daylight, a great sun and still very little wind we could see the final summit ridge laid out before us, along with the Hillary step. The step didn’t look too bad but other parts looked ridiculous. How were we going to get across that! We stayed on the South Summit briefly, again for snacks, radioing our progress to camps below, oxygen cylinder changes, and general equipment fiddling. Given the various reports of snow blindness on other teams in the past couple of weeks, we were all keen to look after our eyes and all had our goggles on by now.
As we staggered from the South Summit to the main summit the difficulties did not seem as terrifying as they first appeared, with most sections being bypassed or scrambled over. The Hillary Step also did not present too much difficulty although as we moved around to the left of it there was a crack, which just seemed to want to suck your leg in. It helped progress but would have been rather embarrassing if someone got stuck!
Finally there was a short snow plod to the summit. The world opened up around us with other Giants such as Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyo and Nuptse visible. Pumori, which we had looked up at for so long and taken many photographs of, now looked like an insignificant bump in amongst hundreds of other mountains. The ridge was corniced on the righthand side, but was now wide enough that we could stay well away from the edge. There was a small patch of rocks on the left. I picked some up as memorabilia and Chongba stuffed them in the pocket of my rucksack. At approx 7:45 we finally reached the top. We took off our rucksacks, which was quite a feat in itself with the amount of oxygen hoses, masks, goggles and hats that are all intertwined, usually in a knot. We clipped our bags to an old safety line and then it was congratulations and hugs all round. Not only had we reached the top, but we had managed to get there on a day of perfect weather. We were able to take gloves off, camera batteries were not frozen in the cold, we could eat, drink, rest, and take time to look around. We all did the things and took the photos we had promised friends and family and at times the whole situation became quite emotional. Finally we had reached the summit, but a lot of the effort had not been on the final night but throughout the many weeks of reaching that point. There had been many setbacks, usually due either to weather or illness but we had managed to stay positive throughout. Naturally the general banter and teasing had helped to pass the time and sometimes help us to forget that we were on a mountain with a significant challenge ahead of us. The movies and great cooking from Gavin were also a very useful distraction!
We had reached the summit but were only halfway. We still had to get back down. All six of us still felt good with no concerning ailments of frostbite or altitude sickness. Mingma was perhaps a little more tired than we were used to seeing him, but given that he had a problem with his oxygen mask and had effectively summited without supplementary oxygen we can forgive him!
We made our way back to the South Summit passing the Japanese team along the way. They were filming on the Hilary Step at the time, but we managed to move past each other with great politeness. Stories of waiting for hours at the Hillary Step just didn’t seem possible. There were just the Jagged Globe team and Japanese team pushing for the summit that day along with maybe just a few others. It was fantastic to have the place to ourselves. We reached the South Summit and met Steve there along with his Sherpa, Pasang. Steve was naturally tired but still determined and pushing for the summit. Conversations were brief as they usually are when wearing oxygen masks.
We continued down across all the obstacles that we had passed on the way up, only with much greater speed. Wrist wrapping most of the ropes with the occasional abseil down some of the trickier rock sections. The snowy ridge back across towards the Balcony was now much easier thanks to the many other feet that had now crossed it. The six of us had gradually split up and myself and Chongba began descending the main face back down to the South Col with the tents in sight. I was now able to see why on the way up it seemed to last forever, it did last forever and by the time we reached the Col my legs felt like Jelly.
I reached the tents and some Sherpas there who were doing an oxygen cylinder carry gave me some drink. After de-cramponing and dumping my rucksack I dove into a tent and rested whilst still using oxygen. It wasn’t yet over. Before we left for the summit the night before it had been suggested that after making a quick summit bid through the night, we could make a quick decent all the way down to Camp 2 where there was good food and we could rest properly through the night at the lower altitude of 6,500m. Everyone agreed although I don’t think any of us appreciated quite how tired we would be once we got back to the South Col. After an hour or so Mark and Richard got back to the tents on the Col and after a chat and a drink I left them there to rest for the remainder of the day and through the night. I decided to stick with the idea of dropping all the way down to Camp 2 along with some Sherpas who were doing a load carry. It all ran smoothly and only took about 3 hours. The lower half of the Lhotse Face had changed considerably whilst we had been above it. The winds had blown off more snow and revealed much more ice. Some sections were noticeably more difficult with the fixed line ropes too tight to abseil on a figure of eight and yet awkward to wrist wrap down the steep ice.
I was kindly met at the bottom of the Lhotse Face with a flask of hot juice. It was then a quick wander down the glacier to Camp 2 for some dinner and then the best sleep I have had for 9 weeks!
Adam Potter - Everest Base Camp 26 May 2011
25th May - 100% summit success!!!
100% summit success…
This morning Richard (Parks - 737 Challenge hear him on the summit, Adam, Mark and Steve reached the summit of Mt Everest. This means that all 12 members (10 climbers and 2 leaders) of the Jagged Globe 2011 Everest expedition have reached the summit. They were supported by 7 Sherpas with the first group (16 May) and 4 Sherpas with the second group (25 May). Three Sherpas climbed with both groups each making 2 ascents of the peak 9 days apart.
At 21.30 last night (24 May) Richard, Adam, Mark and Steve left Camp Four at the South Col together with Sherpas Mingma, Chongba, Pem Chiri and Passang. Full details of the climb will be available once the summit team have returned to the South Col and made a full report to Base Camp by radio. It appears that there were 3 other teams climbing to the summit on the same day: 2 Japanese groups and one from India. The Jagged Globe team led the way to the summit and Mingma who was out front had to kick steps for much of the way. Strong winds in the previous days had covered the existing steps on the snow slopes leading from the South Col to the summit.
The front group of 3 climbers and 3 Sherpas reached the summit at 07.43 local time. They reported summit conditions to be perfect with little wind. After 30 mins taking pictures on the summit they retraced their steps along the summit ridge to the South Summit. Here they met with Steve and Passang who were two hours behind the main team. Mingma and Passang discussed the situation by radio with Base Camp and it was decided that conditions were safe enough for Steve to continue on to the summit with Passang. Steve and Passang were by now behind the Japanese team and followed then along the summit ridge to the top. The Japanese team reached the summit at 09.44, with Steve and Passang getting there at 10.10. They communicated their safe arrival to Base Camp and then began their descent.
The initial team of 3 climbers and 3 sherpas are now resting at the South Col and Steve & Passang are expected to arrive there in the next few hours.
David H (Everest Base Camp)
24th May - Team still on the South Col
The remainder of the Jagged Globe team who had arrived at the South Col on Monday afternoon decided to remain there for 24 hours, as the winds were too strong to go to the summit last night. As of now (13:47 local time), everything looks good for tonight with the forecast now being for the wind to abate. They have plenty of oxygen, so can spend the remainder of the day resting. Though it is unusual to spend such a long time on the South Col, some teams choose to do this from the outset, working on the basis that spending a whole day and night there gives you more time to recover. Normally, teams arrive at the South Col mid-morning, then depart at 9pm the same evening for the summit. The downside to spending a full day and night on the South Col is simply being so high up for so long, and exposed to the weather. In this case, the team have had no choice but to remain there. Stay tuned.
From David Hamilton in Base Camp:
" With the summit team poised at Camp Four on the South Col the Base Camp staff gathered in the mess tent to follow their progress throughout the night. At 21.30 Mingma Sherpa, leader of the summit team, called Base Camp to say that conditions on the upper mountain were too windy for the team to proceed.
The climbers at Camp Four have adequate supplies of food, fuel and oxygen. They will spend today (24th) resting in their tents and will reschedule the climb to the summit for tonight. The weather forecast for the next 48hrs predicts low wind speeds high on the mountain and this should give ideal conditions for the team to reach the summit.
The planned departure time form Camp Four is around 21.00 / 22.00 local time, and the climb to the top should take between 8 and 10 hours given favourable conditions. As far as we are aware there is only one other team climbing Everest from the Nepalese side that is on a similar schedule and can be expected to attempt the mountain on the same day as the Jagged Globe team. This is a team from a Japanese film company that are making a documentary about young Nepali Sherpa climbers. There have been very few ascents of Everest from the Tibetan side this season, perhaps because the ropes were not fixed to the top until a few days ago. It is possible that there will be several teams attempting Everest from the North in the next few days, and our team from the South might meet some of these climbers on the summit.
More details of the Jagged Globe teams progress tomorrow…
David H in Everest BC"
23rd May - South Col and rescue drama
Less than 24 hrs to go until the second team make their summit push…
Despite the dramas of last night (details below) Richard, Steve, Adam and Mark set out from Camp Three (7,100m) as planned at 06.30 this morning. The Sherpa team of Mingma, Pasang, Pem Chiri and Chongba had left Camp Two a few hours earlier and met them at Camp 3 as they were preparing to leave. The weather forecast had predicted potentially high winds but conditions were not too bad as they made their way up the Lhotse Face and across the Yellow Band towards the Geneva Spur and the South Col. By 15.00 all the climbers reached Camp 4 (7,950m) and they are now sheltering from the winds in their tents at the South Col.
The winds are forecast to be very strong today (23rd) but are due to drop to almost nothing tomorrow (24th). The exact timing of this transition is hard to predict. Exactly when the winds drop will be a decisive factor in helping the team to decide when to start out for the summit. Start times from the South Col are typically 21.00 / 22.00 at night, but if the winds are still strong the group may delay their departure by a few hours.
Details of the team’s progress will be communicated directly from Base Camp to the Jagged Globe office in Sheffield throughout the night, and once all the climbers have returned safely to the South Col this information will be posted on the website.
During the afternoon of 22nd May it became apparent in Base Camp that members of a Spanish team attempting Lhotse were experiencing difficulties high on the mountain. This team were climbing without Sherpa support and without the use of supplementary oxygen. As night fell it became clear that several members of this team had not returned to their high camp on the Lhotse Face. A week ago there would have been more than 100 climbers in Camp 2 in a position to give assistance, however with the season drawing to a close there were little more than a dozen climbers and Sherpas able to help. Willi Benegas (Patagonian Brothers) coordinated the rescue efforts. Guides and Sherpas from Patagonian Brothers, Himex, IMG and Jagged Globe assisted the Spanish climbers from high on the Lhotse Face back to Camp 2.
Conditions were cold and windy throughout the night and Willi was concerned that the members of the rescue team were at risk of suffering cold injuries. However, as far as we are aware all the rescuers are now resting in Camp 2 and are free of injuries. The more badly injured Spanish climbers were evacuated from Camp 2 by helicopter this morning, with some being dropped in Base Camp and others taken directly to hospital in Kathmandu.
Jagged Globe had a 3 person ‘back up’ team in Camp 2 supporting our summit bid, and two members of this joined the rescue effort. Andy Chapman and Tilay Sherpa worked during the night taking supplies of food and hot drinks to other members of the rescue team at the foot of the Lhotse Face, and then escorting injured Spanish climbers back to Camp 2 where a medical station was established at the HimEx Camp.
Andy Chapman together with Sherpas Tilay and Mingma Nuru will remain at Camp 2 until the Jagged Globe summit team return on 25th May (provisional schedule). They will then accompany them to Base Camp on the 26th.
David H / Everest BC
22nd May - 2nd summit group at Camp 3
The Climbing team of Richard, Steve, Adam and Mark made an early start from Camp Two (6,400m) and climbed to Camp Three (7,100m). Andy Chapman accompanied them to the bergschrund at the foot of the Lhotse Face and then descended to Camp Two. The team of Sherpas who will be climbing to the summit with this group left Base Camp in the early hours of the morning and are now resting in Camp Two. Tomorrow morning all 8 climbers (4 ’westerners’ and 4 sherpas) will climb to Camp Four (7,950m).
Later in the morning Andy helped members of a Japanese team to evacuate the body of a climber who had died high on the mountain a few days ago. A lightweight stretcher owned by Jagged Globe that had been positioned at Camp Four was used to lower this body to Camp Two from where a helicopter pick up was requested.
Jagged Globe Base Camp was visited today by the members of the ’High Passes To Everest’ Trek Group led by Jo Clark. The group were all fit and well and enjoying their trek. Having trekked to the top of Kala Patar yesterday they found the trek to Everest BC quite easy and arrived mid morning with plenty of time to relax and look around before tucking into Gavin’s lunch.
This was fairly standard fare for Everest Base Camp: Pasta Bolognaise Bake, Mini Quiche, Parma Ham, Salad with olives and hard boiled eggs, Cheese Board with Pickles etc. The group all said that it was the best meal that they had eaten in Nepal. The weather cooperated too and they all enjoyed great views of the mountain, as well as being able to talk to the climbing team at Camp Two by VHF.
David at Everest BC
19th May - Summit Report
Between 12.00 and 13.00 on 15 May the 8 climbers and 7 Sherpas of Jagged Globe’s first summit team reached Camp 4 (7,950m) on Everest’s South Col. The climb form Camp 3 (7,100m) had been straightforward and few other climbers were on the route. A few Sherpas from other teams were carrying loads to Camp 4 before descending to the relative safety and comfort of Camp 2. A single American guide was descending the route after being the only person to reach the summit the previous day (15 May).
After a sunny and wind free climb, arriving at the South Col felt like landing on the moon. 30-40 mph winds swept the barren, open expanse while Everest’s summit towered 900m above. Evidence that it had been a hard season lay strewn around. There were more than a dozen shredded and tattered tents that had been brand new just a few weeks before; their bent and broken poles jutting skywards through ripped and flapping fabric. Abandoned food, gas cans, stoves and ropes lay scattered on the ground. Lighter articles were being picked up on the stronger gusts and lifted, bouncing across the stony surface eastwards towards Tibet.
Our Sherpa team struggled against the fierce winds to erect Jagged Globe’s distinctive green Terra Nova tents. We had two large Terra Firma tents, each large enough to accommodate 4 Sherpas, plus four Hyperspace tents, each spacious for 2 climbers. Over the years these have proven much stronger than the yellow and orange North Face and Mountain Hardwear tents used by most Everest expeditions. During the 42hrs the tents were pitched on the South Col, they gave excellent service providing a secure reliable shelter from the extreme weather, while we watched several other tents being torn apart by the wind.
Once installed in the tents we quickly set about eating and drinking in preparation for the climb ahead. We all tried to drink a few litres of fluids. Some preferring hot drinks and other cold. Some people managed to eat hot food (such as ‘beans and bacon’ in a bag) while others ate a few chocolate bars. Then we put on our oxygen masks and turned the flow rate up one litre per minute and lay back to get a few hours sleep before the start of our summit climb.
A 20:00 alarm call was the prelude to a 21:00 departure. Our summit bid had been planned on the basis of forecasted wind speed of 20 kts. As we emerged from the tents and began to prepare our equipment it was obvious that the actual wind speed was close to double this figure. A quick consultation with Mingma (our most experienced Sherpa with 16 Everest summits behind him) revealed that he considered the winds acceptable, so long as they did not increase further. The combination of bulky down clothing, large gloves/mitts, darkness, oxygen equipment and crampons made getting ready in time a challenge for everyone. But the team did very well and by 21:08 we set off through the debris of other teams’ destroyed camps towards the long snow slope leading towards the summit. Our line of 15 head lamps providing the only illumination in an otherwise pitch black night.
For the first 45 minutes the terrain is quite gentle, then it quickly rises up to a steady 25/30 degree slope, and this continues unrelentingly to the ‘Balcony’ at 8,500m. In ‘dry’ years this slope is made up of small loose stones. This is not only a tedious and unpleasant surface to climb, but higher parties can knock stones onto those below, creating a significant hazard. This season these stones were completely covered by snow making progress a little easier and a lot safer. We climbed upwards in the pitch black at a steady pace led by Mingma. I regularly checked my watch and Altimeter and noted that we were progressing at a rate of 125m per hour. By 01.15 the lead climbers had reached the ‘Balcony’, the first small patch of level ground since the South Col. 15 minutes later the last members of the team had also arrived. We paused briefly to eat and drink something before continuing on our way. By this time a bright full moon had risen and illuminated not only the route ahead, but also the surrounding landscape of peaks and valleys. We could make out low clouds lying in the Western Cwm along the route of our ascent. The distinctive shapes of the neighbouring peaks of Lhotse and Makalu could be seen [the Jagged Globe Makalu team were at Camp 3 and might have been visible with a telescope! - Ed]. Behind us to the south we could see an electrical storm in the far distance with forked lightning jumping between clouds and flashing towards the ground.
After a short section of fairly level snow, including an exposed ridge, the ground ahead reared up into a steep rocky face. The line of yellow and black fixed rope that we were following headed vertically up this obstacle and did not seem to deviate to follow the obvious lines of weakness. We had no choice other than to follow the line no matter how difficult the terrain. The rope led upwards for over 100m before the ground became easier. This was perhaps the most strenuous section of climbing on the summit day. As I looked back I could see and hear the crampons of the other climbers scratching on the steep rocks below. Above this the angle eased slightly and the surface underfoot became more snow than rock. I checked my Altimeter and noted that we were at 8,650m, only 100m short of our next objective. The steep rock face had caused the distance between the front of the party and the rear to increase. There was perhaps a 20 minute interval between the first and last climbers of our team as we reached the South Summit at 8,750m. The time was now 04.15 as we dropped a few metres onto a level section of the summit ridge beyond the South Summit.
By the time we had changed our oxygen bottles the first light of dawn was beginning to brighten the Eastern horizon. In the space of a few minutes the sky brightened and we could see the final ridge leading to the summit, 800m ahead and 100m higher. The winds that had been a constant accompaniment to our climb at a steady 30-40 mph seemed to be even stronger on the exposed summit ridge. They blew from the west hitting us on the left side as we inched our way along the track in the snow toward the summit. In places large cornices overhung the west side of the ridge and we had to be careful not to venture too close to the unstable crest of the ridge. Although most of the route along the summit ridge was on snow there were some sections, or steps, on rock. The best known of these is the ‘Hillary Step’ which occurs about 25% of the way between the South Summit and Main Summit. In some seasons this can present a difficult obstacle of steep rock with few easy holds. However this season there was a lot of snow on the summit ridge and this made the climb easier than ‘normal’. Most of the team quickly climbed the step, some without even being aware that they had climbed the last obstacle on the way to the top. After this the route continued along easier ground until at last the large accumulation of colourful prayer flags that mark the true summit came into view.
Mingma led the way and reached the top a few minutes before 06.00. I followed a few minutes behind having made frequent stops along the final ridge to photograph the following team members. Between 06.00 and 06.30 all 8 climbers and 7 Sherpas reached the summit. Strong winds continued to blow for all the time that we were on the top. This made taking photographs difficult. Some of the flags, banners and souveneir items that climbers had carried to the top remained hidden inside pockets and backpacks, as it was simply too difficult to remove gloves to retrieve them. Using whatever cameras were at hand we took as many pictures as possible before fingers and camera batteries became too cold to work. We made radio contact with Base Camp to tell them that all was well. After everyone had spent 15-30 mins on top we turned to retrace our footsteps along the ridge and begin our descent to the South Col.
With the elation of reaching the summit behind us several members of the party found their energy levels dropping and we became more spread out on the descent to Camp 4. Despite having been first to reach the summit Mingma offered to stay at the rear of the group and assist those climbers who were slowest in descent. A member of the Sherpa team remained with each climber as people found their own pace on the long, hot climb back to the South Col. On the way down we were able to enjoy views over the surrounding landscape that had been hidden by darkness during the ascent. Although several people were too tired to appreciate this!
The first climbers arrived back at Camp 4 by 10:15 and the last by 11:30. The round trip had taken between 13 and 14.5 hrs.
The list of summiteers and times is as follows:
This has been a slightly ‘unusual’ season on the Nepal side of Mount Everest compared to my previous five expeditions. Weather conditions in Base Camp were colder than ’normal’ during the first part of the season, and there were almost daily falls of snow. The ropes were fixed to the summit on 5 May (the same date as 2009 and 2010) and there were one or two very early summits. There appeared to be fewer climbers overall on the mountain compared to previous seasons, and this meant that there were few queues, or delays in passing through the Icefall between Base Camp and Camp 1. Climbing conditions in the Icefall were also straightforward with fewer long ladders and difficult sections than ‘normal’. The weather forecasts all indicated a fairly long spell of benign weather during the middle part of May and it looked like the majority of expeditions could look forward to ‘easy’ summit conditions. The absence of obvious ‘bad weather spells’ and ‘good weather windows’ ensured that there was little ‘bunching’ of summit attempts and enabled the various teams to select separate dates for their summit attempts.
However, in reality the weather was not as stable as the forecasts had predicted and several teams found themselves experiencing stronger winds than expected. This forced some teams to abandon or reschedule their climbs after reaching Camp 3 or Camp 4. Of those teams that pushed on to the top several had quite low success rates and others suffered a number of cold related injuries.
Although the Jagged Globe summit team on 16 May experienced stronger than expected winds we were ultimately successful because we had strong team of climbers who had practiced and trained hard since the start of the expedition in late March, and we were supported by an exceptionally strong team of sherpas. All 8 climbers who attempted the climb on 16 May reached the summit in good time (9 - 9.5 hrs) and in good style. All returned to Camp 4 on the South Col by late morning and no one suffered any significant injuries from the cold or the wind. Two days later everyone was safely in Base Camp.
Our second summit team of 4 climbers and 4 sherpas will be attempting the summit on the 23 or 24 May, and we are hopeful of repeating the 100% success record of the first team.
This is being written on 19 May and it is possible that developments in the next few days will yield further information that will alter this overall assessment of the 2011 season on Everest.
David Hamilton (Everest Base Camp) 19 May 2011
17th May - Team back in C2
The team are back at camp 2 after making their way down from camp 4 earlier today. They arrived just after lunch time today and will spend the night there. If they feel up to it they will continue down to base camp tomorrow. They are all well and in great spirits after their success.
The Sherpa team have just arrived back into base camp at 6.30pm after leaving camp 4 at 8am this morning, while carrying loads down from the high camps.
Richard Parks and Steve Williams will be joined by two team members from the original team when they head up in a few days time. Adam and Mark have now recovered from their bouts of illness, so will join the two former sportsmen. They are all doing well and have been feasting on steak and kidney pies last night with a red wine sauce to give them that extra boost to get to the top.
16th May - Summits!
We have word that all six members who left the South Col last night summited at 0600 with eight of our Sherpas, plus leaders David Hamilton and Andy Chapman. That's 16 on the top of the world. We will update more when they are safely back at the S Col. Congratulations Team Jagged Globe and best wishes for a safe and speedy descent! Don't forget, we have Rich Parks, Steve Williams, Adam (and possibly Mark) still to go in the next few days... stay tuned.
16th May - Back at the South Col
UPDATE 1100 GMT:
Our Everest team are all safely back at the South Col, resting, eating and drinking. They will descend to Camp 2 tomorrow morning.
Here's a little more from Gavin at Base Camp:
15th May - On the South Col
David Hamilton updates that all 7 members that left Camp 2 on Friday, plus him and Andy Chapman have arrived at the South Col. They will spend all afternoon brewing up, drinking and eating before leaving for the summit late this evening. At the moment, they report that it's pretty windy at the col. Fingers crossed!
15th May - Update on summit push - Sunday afternoon
The Jagged Globe Everest team have arrived at camp 4 on the South Col early this afternoon after leaving camp 3 on the Lhoste face this morning. Weather conditions were favorable with low winds as they made the eight hundred meter ascent over the yellow band and Geneva spur. It is always a very challenging day due to the altitude and terrain and having to climb while wearing an oxygen mask.
All members arrived at the South Col in good time. Unfortunately Mark had to turn back en route and is now in camp 3 where he will be resting overnight. If he feels up to it he will have another crack at the summit with the next team in about a week's time.
Adam is at base camp feasting on cream teas and recuperating from a minor case of the Khumbu cold before he heads back up with Richard Parks and Steve Williams next week.
At base camp we will be manning the radios all night in support of the team as they leave camp 4 at around 9pm this evening.
14th May - Revised summit plans
After analyzing the weather data and finding it favorable the team left camp 2 and have once again ascended the Lohste face to camp 3 this morning. Because of the advanced base camp that Jagged Globe has at camp 2, and the well stocked supplies along with a cook team of two the climbers had a good days rest. They are now a day ahead of most of the other teams on the mountain that are trying to summit in the same weather window. When I last spoke to them a short time ago the winds had dropped and they were resting in their tents. A good number of them will sleep on oxygen tonight so as to get a better nights rest. They are joined by Steve Williams who is also spending the night at camp 3 on his acclimatisation rotation, before he descends back to camp 2 tomorrow. The main team will leave camp 3 at around 6am tomorrow for the six to eight hour journey to camp 4, where they are poised for their summit bid later that same evening.
Meanwhile Richard Parks arrived back from camp 2 where he has just spent six nights acclimatising. Back at base camp he feasted on a chorizo, spanish onion & gruyere cheese omelette and then enjoyed a hot shower before relaxing in the sun. Both Steve & Richard will go for the summit together, they are just on their own slightly different acclimatising schedules.
I will post again once the main team have reached camp 4 later tomorrow.
13th May - Deliberating in C2
Everyone is at camp 2 today after they descended the Lohtse face from camp 3 last night after extreme wind conditions were forecast. They made the descent in a quick two hours, which meant they were enjoying a second dinner at 8pm last night in the comfort and safety of the Jagged Globe advanced camp in the Western Cwm.
At base camp today I have been communicating with several teams and comparing weather forecasts. The idea is to give our members the best possible evaluation of the weather so they can make a decision with as much information as possible. They are discussing that information right now and shall make a decision shortly on their plans in the next 48 hours.
Steve Williams was all set to make the climb up to camp 2 at 3am this morning. However a collapsed serac in the icefall meant the route was blocked and he could not leave until daylight at 5.30am when a new route was made by the Sherpa team that make up the 'Icefall Doctors' who's job it is to secure a safe passage through the Khumbu icefall. Leaving so late in the day meant Steve could not escape the intense heat which builds up once the sun hits in the Western Cwm between camp 1 & camp 2. He arrived just before midday and shall head up to camp 3 tomorrow for a night of acclimatisation. Richard Parks is on a similar schedule and is also at camp 2 acclimatising.
12th May - Team at camp 3
David Hamilton reports that the main team arrived at camp 3 this morning. Meanwhile, Richard Parks climbed up the Lhotse Face to camp 3 and returned to camp 2, whilst Steve Williams returned to BC before coming back up. Rich reports:
"climbed to camp 3, 7100m with Passang (our Sherpa leader). We left camp 2 at 6.15am and arrived at camp 3 at 10.20am. Steve is going good, he went down following his strategy.
I carried a small load up to camp 3 and felt strong. It’s a real honour to climb with Passang Tenzin Sherpa. He’s one of 7 brothers who have summited Everest 43 times collectively! He’s 27 and this will be his 7th summit. He’s summited Ama Dablam 3 times as well. A top guy. Feeling confident about my summit strategy today was a big step so it was a good day."
12th May - Summit bid on hold - return to C2
UPDATE 15:43 GMT
The eight members and two leaders of the main Jagged Globe team left camp 2 at 5.30am this morning when they scaled the Lhotse face to camp 3. They were all set on the final leg before the change in weather derailed the plan. There were many other teams also on the same schedule at camp 3 and above when the winds picked up into blizzard like conditions.
At base camp the latest weather information was contradictive but a phone call to the meteorologist confirmed strong winds above 8000 meters to the summit. David, our expedition leader, made the decision to descend to the safety of camp 2 until the winds subside and they can make another summit bid.
We mixed up Italian with Indian and had Pasta cabonara last night at camp 2 with fresh naan bread. So while the team rest and wait out the weather they will be eating well!
Richard Parks went part way up the Lohtse face yesterday and although it was challenging found it relatively easy going. Steve is at base camp and will head up to camp 2 tomorrow morning. The two of them are acclimatising extremely well and are showing their athletic forms by making great time on the mountain.
11th May - Summit push
Jagged Globe Everest 2011 leader, David Hamilton phoned in from Camp 2 on Everest this morning at 06:59.
Eight members of our climbing team, plus David and Andy Chapman climbed to camp 2 yesterday, where the slept overnight. They are going to spend the whole of today there resting and eating, before climbing up to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face tomorrow (12 May). The following day, they will make the long climb up towards the South Col, crossing the Geneva Spur en route. Their plan is to try for the summit on Saturday 14 May.
Richard Parks and Steve Williams spent last night in Camp 2 and will continue to follow their own acclimatisation programme, with Steve descending to base camp this morning and Rich hanging out at C2. So far their acclimatisation is going well and they plan to summit around 8 - 10 days later than the main team (around the 23 May).
9th May - Fueling up for a summit attempt
As the team prepares for their summit push they have been spending the last few days enjoying the comforts of base camp. They will be burning a huge amount of calories as they ascend the mountain for the final time. So they have been feasting on delights such as braised lamb shanks in a mint sauce, crisp pastry quiches and even sushi. Gavin's afternoon teas have gained a reputation at base camp for serving scones fresh from the oven, complete with jam and cream.
If weather conditions are favorable the team will set off in the early hours of tomorrow for camp 2. Everyone is feeling fit, strong and well-rested and are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
6th May - Everest summit reached
All 12 climbing members of the expedition are now resting in Base Camp. The 10 members of the team who have been in Nepal since late March have completed the final acclimatisation phase of their climb and have returned to Base Camp after sleeping in Camp Three (7,100m). Richard and Steve, who arrived in Base Camp several weeks behind the main team, are making great progress and have already spent their first night in Camp One (6,100m).
Meanwhile our Sherpa team have been working hard and have placed most of the equipment needed for the summit push at Camp 4 (7,950m). The sherpas are returning to Base Camp today and will rest for several days before making their next trip onto the mountain. Following the example set in recent years the sherpas from the leading expeditions have worked together in recent weeks to place fixed ropes from Camp Two to the summit. Several of our shepas have contributed to this effort, carrying ropes and equipment from BC to Camp Two and also from Camp Two to Camp Four. Yesterday (May 5th) an 8 person fixing team reached the summit of Everest making the first ascent of the mountain in the 2011 season and opening the way for other teams to climb to the top in the weeks ahead.
Our climbing team and Sherpa team will now rest for a few days in Base Camp before we start to study the weather forecasts in earnest looking for the most favourable summit window. There is a consensus in Base Camp that the weather in the early part of this season has been colder and more snowy than ‘normal’. However in the last few days things seem to have been getting warmer and there is a hope that we will get some favourable summit conditions in the days ahead.
In recent years there has been a trend for teams to descend from Base camp for a few days after completing the ‘Camp Three’ phase of the acclimatisation programme. Some members of our team were considering this. However last night we had a guest for dinner: the doctor from the HRA (Himalayan Rescue Association) clinic at Pheriche. When we heard her tales of the illnesses that trekkers staying in the lodges at Lobuche and Pheriche were suffering from, we all decided that Base Camp was a much more healthy environment to rest in. Add to that our chef, Gavin's amazing food, it was an easy choice. Consequently the team will all be staying in Base Camp awaiting the summit bid, unless the weather forecast gives us reason to believe that there will be a prolonged period of bad weather on the mountain in which case we may reconsider.
The earliest date that we could consider a summit bid is around the 14th of May, and this would require leaving Base Camp on May 10th. Over the next few days we shall be watching the forecast carefully and checking on the fitness and acclimatisation of the team. If everything seems to be coming together at the right time we might find ourselves in a position to launch our summit bid in mid-May, rather than in the more ‘usual’ late-May slot.
David and the team at Everest BC
3rd May - Camp 3 reached
Richard Parks and Steve Williams have had their Puja ceremony, which the Sherpas who are Buddhist believe offers protection to climb Mt Everest. In the early hours of this morning they ventured into the Khumbu Icefall to get a feel for crossing the ladders over the crevasses and using the fixed rope system. They will take a rest day tomorrow before heading through the icefall again all the way to camp 1 on Thursday.
All ten of the main South Col team, including the two leaders David and Andy, arrived in camp 3 mid-morning today after scaling the Lohtse Face. Weather conditions were favourable with low winds although tempretures were well below freezing when they set off not long after day break. They plan on spending a night at the 7,300 meter high camp in order to acclimatise better for their summit push later in the month.
Meanwhile the fifteen members from the Jagged Globe Everest Base Camp trekking group visited us for lunch today. It was a great opportunity for us to show them what life is like for the team as they call 'home' base camp during the two months while on the expedition.
22nd April - Testing the O2 system
All the team enjoyed a few days rest to catch up on a shower, clothes washing and some good food. In the comfort of the base camp dining tent they went through the operations of the oxygen system which will be used from camp 3 and above. With the mask and goggles on they looked more like jet fighter pilots than mountaineers. The days are starting to get longer here and the glacier which the base camp is set upon is slowly melting, but the blue skies in the morning are a warm welcome.
20th April - Acclimatisation at Camp 1
The team made their first journey through the icefall all the way to Camp 1 yesterday. We left base camp at 3am to get through the icefall in the subzero temperatures while the huge ice seracs are frozen in place and therefore safer. Crossing the ladders spanning the crevasses are another challenge that most of us are experiencing for the first time. The icefall is like a massive ice maze with a safe route put through by a team of Sherpas known as the "Icefall Doctors". Most of the team arrived at C1 around 10am in windy conditions, which later deteriorated into near blizzard conditions into the night. Sheltering in our tents we found comfort in hot meals and drinks. Everyone acclimatised to the 6,100m altitude at C1 without a problem, before we returned to base camp today at mid-morning. Team spirits have been lifted by tonight's dinner of steaks, trifle and a movie on the big screen, with a couple of rest days planned for the next few days.
17th April - Puja ceremony
After an 08.30 breakfast the whole team of climbers, sherpas and kitchen staff assembled for the puja (Buddhist blesing ceremony)that marks the official start of the climbing phase of the expedition. Our sherpa team had built an impressive stone 'alter' in the middle of camp and we all sat next to it as a young lama read out a lengthy string of incantations.The whole scene was bathed in smoke from burning Juniper twigs. When the breeze changed direction the lama got a face full of smoke and collapsed in a coughing fit, but this did not seem to perturb him much and he carried on once he had regained his breath.
There was quite a bit of food and drink around that all had to be blessed before it could be consumed. Rice, Tsampa (roasted barley flour), chang (rice beer) and rakshi (rice wine) were the main ceremonial items. Small amounts were consumed and larger amounts were thrown over the assemble company. Once the 'serious' part of the ceremony was over we all stood around for an hour eating various snacks (traditional Nepali and western)and taking team photographs before searching for somewhere to hide from the heat of the sun.
Tomorrow the Sherpas will carry more loads to Camp Two and the climbing team will leave BC at 03.00 to go and spend their first night at Camp One (6100m) at the entrance to the Western Cwm. (Next report when we return to BC in two days time).
David and the JG team at Everest BC
14th April - Venturing into the Icefall
After a week of acclimatising and icefall training in Everest Base Camp today was the day that the team made their first foray onto the route leading from BC to Camp One. We all went to bed early after another of Gavin's gut busting dinners, and were back in the mess tent at 04.00 for 'early breakfast'. We left camp at 04.30 and followed the trail made by the sherpas into the Khumbu Icefall.
It was fairly dark with only the light of the moon and stars to guide us for the first hour. By 05.00 the first rays of dawn lit up the nearby peak of Pumori we were able to switch off our headlamps. We were pleased to find that the route is easier than in previous years with fewer metal ladders and fewer steep sections. We climbed until 06.30 when we had reached a height of 5,650m before stopping for a warm drink and chocolate bar each.
We then returned to BC watching the clouds below drifting in and out of the valley. By the time we reached BC the clouds had moved in for the morning, so we ate 'second breakfast' and went to bed for the rest of the morning. In a reversal of the previous weather patterns the sun has now come out for the afternoon and some of the frozen laundry that was washed some days ago might begin to dry. We are all looking forward to trekking around BC in the coming days to meet some of the new climbing teams that are arriving in camp. There will be restfull day sorting food and equipment tomorrow, before another trip into the icefall on the 16th (weather permitting).
12th April - Team in base camp
Our sherpa team have done a great job of clearing the site for BC and we now have more than 25 tents in place: sleeping tents of all the climbers and sherpas as well as Kitchen, mess tent, comms tent, office, showers and toilets. We were visited for two days (10th and 11th) by the Jagged Globe Everest BC trek team. They greatly enjoyed the facilities and food at BC and said that Gavin's food was the best they had eaten since leaving the UK. The expedition team are hoping that the high standards continue until the end of the expedition.
The climbing team have made two training trips into the lower sections of the Khumbu Icefall. Everyone has acclimatised well and this has been a good opportunity to brush up on energy efficient crampon and ice axe use, prior to our first climb to camp one.
There are quite a few climbers from other teams starting to arrive in BC and several members of our group have been able to meet friends from previous climbs. We said good bye to our trek team visitors this morning after breakfast. Last night we had a combined group of over 20 people in the mess tent for a showing of 'Life of Brian' on the big screen.
Yesterday our sherpas made their first carry to camp one and today they established the site of our camp two. Over the next few days they will begin the procees of moving the bulk of our supplies from BC onto the mountain. We hope to make a few more training trips into the Khumbu Icefall over the next few days. Our Puja is planned for the 17th, and if the weather is suitable the team will move to camp one for the first time on the 18th.
7th April - At Gorak Shep
The South Col team was shown what trekking in Nepal before trails was all about by a cross country navigation adventure by our leader David, with an accent up Chukung Ri.
The following day we took a less traveled route over the 5500 meter Khomgma La, which then descended down a scree path and crossed the Khumbu glacier to the village of Lobuche. This was by far the toughest day any of have experienced on the trip so far. But has proved invaluable to helping us acclimatise.
We are now within striking distance of Base Camp at the final village of Gorak Shep. While hiking today we stopped for quick tour of the Italian Pyramid research station, which strangely enough had a table tennis table and saw Pasang from Nepal defeat Andres from Estonia.
Everyone is feeling strong and fit while looking forward to reaching base camp tomorrow and some fine cooking promised by the team's chef.
The trekking team took the more popular route and will join us at base camp on Saturday, which are all looking forward to.
5th April - Acclimatisation in the Khumbu Valley
We left Namche Bazaar, the largest ‘town’ we shall see for a while as we made our way up the Khumbu valley.
The trail skirted the side of the mountains, which were dotted with traditional Buddhist Stumpas. Before long it was a climb up once again to the village of Tengboche, home of one of the better known monasteries in the area. We were greeted with stunning views down the valley and the iconic mount Ama Dablam shrouded in clouds. A short 20 minute trek latter, we were at Deboche and our comfortable lodge for the night.
The following day the South Col Team stopped at Pangboche to be blessed by Lama Geshie, who has presented many a successful Everest summiteers with the traditional Kata (the silk Buddhist scarf). As we sat in the small room we watched six other monks prepare religious items for an upcoming festival.
We have been in Tangboche for the last three days acclimatising. We hiked up a nearby peak to the hight of 5’000 metres, which was a gain of 700 metres. Martin pointed out it was equivalent to what they will be experiencing when going from Camp 4 to the South Summit on their summit bid.
Yesterday as the snow fell most of us took advantage of a rest day with a visit to the Himalayan Rescue Association talk on altitude related illness.
1st March - Sign up for despatches from the mountain
The Jagged Globe 2011 Mount Everest expedition arrives in Kathmandu at the end of March. David Hamilton is the leader of our 15th Everest climbing team. David will be supported by Andy Chapman. This will be David's 6th expedition to Everest, having previously summited in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009. Andy has been leading for Jagged Globe regularly since 1998 and has climbed most of the mountains in our programme, including Cho Oyu, in 2009. This is his first time on Everest. Gavin Melgaard will again be our base camp manager and chef. Gavin joined our team in spring 2010 and was also our chef on Cho Oyu last autumn/fall.
You can receive updates from our 2011 Everest expedition as they are posted by clicking on the 'get by email' link above and registering.
31st March - Everest team en route to base camp
The Everest team arrived in Kathmandu on 27 March and was greeted with a traditional Puja ceremony at the Summit Hotel. The following day we rested and then met up with the Everest Base Camp trekking group as they arrived in the afternoon. At dawn the next morning it was back to the airport for a 40 minute flight by Twin Otter to the mountain side airstrip at the village of Lukla. The landing resembled that of touching down on an aircraft carrier.
Our baggage was sorted by Nima, our Sherpa Sidar and his team, while we topped up on hot tea and sorting our day packs. We then started the gentle walk along the trail which meandered it’s way through villages. Passing small kids, porters and other trekking groups. David, our expedition leader, gave a few tips on negotiation teams of yaks which are used for carrying loads along the route, which soon came in handy. Lesson number one, “Always stay on the inside of a Yak when passing, so you don’t get nudged over the side of the trail.”
After a good night's rest at 2,600 metres, we continued along the valley crossing several suspension bridges that swayed underfoot, while crystal clear rivers swirled below.
The challenging hike up to 3400 metres to the village of Namche Bazaar definitely got our lungs working. But after a visit to the bakery and the purchase of a big apple pie for pudding it soon made the climb fade into distant memory. Today was another rest day which has meant a wander up to villages above and another visit to the bakery, for some more apple pie.
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Leader - David Hamilton
About this Expedition
The 2011 Climbing Team is:
David Hamilton - Leader 5th SUMMIT
Andy Chapman - Asst Leader SUMMIT
Gavin Melgaard - Chef and BC Manager
2011 Sherpa team
Steve W SUMMIT
Rich P SUMMIT
Andraas K SUMMIT
Tanel T SUMMIT
Alan W SUMMIT
Adam P SUMMIT
Martin S SUMMIT
Geoff C SUMMIT
Dave G SUMMIT
Mark P SUMMIT