Everest 2012Despatches from this expedition [get by email]
5th June - Final blog by David Hamilton
The end of the expedition….
After reaching the summit the expedition team made a rapid descent of the mountain, hiked to Lukla in three days, flew to Kathmandu, and left Nepal.
Here is the final blog entry to conclude the story of the 2012 Jagged Globe Everest Expedition.
Early in the morning of 27th May all the members of the expedition left Camp Two (6,400m) at 05.30 heading for Base camp. This was the fifth time that they had made this journey. Normally the descent had taken 3-4 hrs, but with heavy loads and tired legs this trip took several more hours. After anticipating breakfast in Base Camp, it was more like lunch time when we arrived.
The afternoon was spent sending and receiving messages and phone calls to the outside world, and packing bags. Everyone was feeling a little ‘shell shocked’ after a very tiring 7 day trip on the mountain and it was difficult to focus on the need to make a quick exit from Base Camp in order to connect with our homeward flights. Post dinner celebrations in the mess tent left a few members of the team a little worse for wear (blame goes to the kiwi girls who provided the vodka).
While the Sherpa team closed down the mountain camps and brought all the equipment to Base camp the climbers agreed to walk to Lukla over a 3 day period (28/29/30 May). Some chose to trek directly to Namche in a long 12hr day while others split this into two legs spending a night at Pangboche along the way. On the 29th everyone was in Namche and they were able to join in the ‘Everest Day’ celebrations with an outdoor concert of Nepalese singing and dancing that lasted unto 04.00am the following morning.
The trail from Namche to Lula is always longer than people expect and it took most of the day for the team to complete this last leg of the trek. We all had a lot of respect for Nick who completed the walk from Base Camp to Lukla despite some nasty looking blisters on this toes. He was mightily relieved to finally remove his boots at Lukla and put on a pair of sandals.
Poor weather had forced the cancellation of the Twin Otter fights from Lukla for the preceding days. It became clear that we could be stuck in Lukla for some time unless we came up with a creative solution. The team agreed to reach into their pockets and we hired 3 helicopters for the following day to transport the whole team and all the baggage to Kathmandu. Several hours later, after hot showers and cold beers, we sat in the garden of the Summit Hotel and agreed that this had been a wise course of action.
David Hamilton attended the official debriefing meeting at the Ministry of Tourism and the expedition officially came to an end (at least in the eyes of the Nepalese govt). Pem Chiri (our Sherpa who was injured on 17 May) came to visit the team at the Summit Hotel and all the climbers were very pleased to see that he was making good progress.
During June 2nd and 3rd the team members left Nepal for their homes in Switzerland, Ireland, Costa Rica and the UK.
David Hamilton (at home in the UK) 5th June 2012
13:13 26th May (GMT) - Team Arrive in the Cwm
Today was the day of the grand descent. At 08.15 Pasang Tensing, Brett Hammond and Bruno Baschung set off from the south col (7900m) heading for camp 2 (6400m) a total descent of 1500m. I'm sure they were looking forward to getting to the richer air as they stayed ahead of the main group for the whole day. The advance party reached camp 3 at 10.30 a.m. for a quick refreshment, and finally made camp 2 at 14.20.
Having slept on oxygen at camp 4, David reported that the team were all well and in good spirits as the main group left for the descent. For the first hour they were shaded from the sun by the immense peak they had just surmounted and with a gentle breeze guiding them down it was a pleasant start to the day.
By the time the team reached the traverse above the yellow band the sun had risen and they were in its full glare. The huge challenge from the momentous day before combined with the strength sapping heat of the Himalayan sun meant the team started to find the going more difficult. They were joined in this arduous task by their fellow climbers also descending to camp 2. Fortunately all those on the mountain this day were going well and there were no hold ups to interrupt their downward flow. Even so, an hour from camp and the team can really feel what a test of endurance Mount Everest can be. In scorching heat and with energy levels at a minimum the team stagger into camp 2 at 15.00 hours. Even though they were heading down, all agreed that this was still a gruelling day!
Whilst the 2012 Jagged Globe Everest expedition members tackled the descent, the Jagged Globe Sherpa team dismantled camps 3 and 4 and carried equipment, rope and oxygen down the same route to camp 2. It is hard to explain what a prodigious effort this is on the part of the Nepali Sherpas; I must pass on a heartfelt, deep thanks from all of the team, whom all know that without the incredible efforts and dedication of these great people the expedition could not have been successful.
Tomorrow the whole team will leave the mountain for the last time this season. The route would seem familiar from camp two to base camp (as they have done this 4 times previously) however the Khumbu icefall has changed significantly since their last ascent. I wonder how they will all feel to leave this beautiful but intimidating glacier behind?
I will have first-hand feedback from the whole team tomorrow; after they have eaten huge amounts of tasty food and spam for Ian and Cian.
11:27 25th May (GMT) - Write up from Adam in Everest BC
Adam, our BC Manager and Chef, has written this report about the events of last night...
After having only a few hours to rest and recuperate the teams get ready to leave Camp 4 for the summit of Everest and Lhotse. Their respite may only be short but there are many things they have to do to prepare themselves for one of the biggest challenges of their lives.
They must hydrate as much as possible, eat some food (it can be very difficult at this altitude), gather their equipment (camera optional!?) and finally steel their minds to the task ahead. Before leaving their tents they must ensure that everything is in perfect order, as they will soon be walking out into some of the harshest conditions on earth.
David leads the Everest team out of camp at 2015 on Thursday 24 May. The air temperature is around -20 degrees Celsius and the windchill makes it feel much colder as they make their way across the South Col. Adele Pennington is able to leave her Camp 4 a little later at 0100. Her climb to the summit of Lhotse may not take as long, but she has some very technical challenges to overcome. She and a group of around 10 climbers decide to climb together. By doing so they minimise the risk of rockfall as they negotiate the Lhotse Couloir.
Both teams are supported by our incredible Sherpa team. Mingma is on his 18th climb to the summit, with most of our other Everest Sherpas, having been here many times before.
During the Everest climb two of the team turn back, the remaining six climbers, plus five Sherpas reach the south summit between 0600 and 0800. The team report that although there was expected to be over 100 people climbing on the 24/25 May, many teams had left camp 4 at an even earlier time and therefore congestion along the route wasn't too bad. By the time they reached the Hillary Step at around 0500 they were already encountering the first climbers descending the mountain.
At 0600 on 25 May; David Hamilton, Warner Rojas and Cian reach the summit of Mount Everest (8850m). They are accompanied by Mingma and Thundu Sherpa. It took these guys 9 hours and 45 minutes since leaving camp 4 and they climbed nearly 1000m in elevation. Warner becomes the first Costa Rican national to reach the top of the world. For David this is his 6th summit and I can only imagine how pleased Cian will be to have reached one of his major goals after so much hard work and commitment leading up to this moment.
At 0615 Adele Pennington and Kilu Sherpa top out of the Lhotse Couloir. Half an hour later, after crossing the knife edge summit ridge ,they reach the top of Lhotse.
At around 0700 Ian Ridley and Phil Purdy top out on Everest with Ang Di and Phurba. Ian has been to Everest before (an attempt from the North side) and knew the challenges that lay before him. It is with huge commitment that he has come back and finished the job.
Phil has been challenging himself for many years in order to raise money for charity. This year his principle chosen charity was Cancer Research UK. No doubt his sponsors and supporters will be very proud.
A little later, Nick Bailey summits Everest, together with Tsering Sherpa. Hopefully this is some consolation for the other team winning the league. In fact I'm going to guess that after this personal success you could probably care less.
As we all know getting to the top of the mountain is only half the story and I am pleased to report that by 1300 on 25 May all the Everest team had returned to the South Col and Camp 4 for some well deserved rest. Cian in fact descended in a little over 2 hours and was there by 1030.
The Jagged Globe team will continue to Camp 2 tomorrow (26 May) and I look forward to welcoming them back to base camp with a huge breakfast on Sunday. First and foremost, thanks must go to our wonderful Sherpa team, without whom this would not have been possible.
Adam (EBC) --
08:43 25th May (GMT) - Summits on Everest and Lhotse!
We are happy to announce that eleven members of the Jagged Globe 2012 Everest team summited Everest this morning (Leader, David Hamilton (6th summit), climbers; Cian, Warner (first Costa Rican to summit Everest), Ian, Phil and Nick, plus Sherpas, Mingma (18th summit), Thundu (5th summit), Ang Di, Phurbu (3rd summit) and Tsering (5th summit).
They are all back at the South Col sleeping now. Bruno decided to turn around on the Triangular Face with Pumba and Brett reached c8,500m with Pasang, before descending.
The team left the South Col at 2015. David, Warner and Cian were on the summit at 0600, Phil and Ian summited at 0700 and Nick at 0800.
On Lhotse, Adele summited with Kilu Sherpa very quickly (not sure of exact time), having left Camp 4 at 0015. She is on her way down to Camp 2.
David said that the route was not as busy as they had expected. We'll update when we have more details. For now, congratulations to the teams!
15:28 24th May (GMT) - On their way
David phoned just over an hour ago to say they were leaving this evening at 8pm local time (which is about now). We wish them a safe journey to the top of the world.
11:58 24th May (GMT) - Poised for the summit
The Everest and Lhotse teams left Camp 3 this morning at 06:40 local time. They climbed on oxygen to the South Col. We estimate there were up to 150 climbers en route to camp 4 today (24 May).
The first members of our team reached the Yellow Band (7,600m) at 9.45 a.m. David Hamilton reported gusting winds approx 30kph. The leading members of the team passed the Lhotse Y at about 11.00 a.m.
Adele Pennington made quick time to reach her camp 4 on Lhotse at 12 noon. She will be accompanied by about 40 other climbers hoping to reach the summit of Lhotse on 25 May.
David reached Camp 4 (7,950m) at 12.55 p.m closely followed by Warner, Phil and Ian at 13:10. All climbers had arrived in Camp 4 by 15:00.
Now it is time to study the weather and discuss plans with the other teams. Discussions with the Swiss weather forecaster show that there may be a drop in wind speeds as our team heads off tonight. We hope that the weather stays calm for them throughout their summit attempt.
There has been a huge amount of support for this team, and I speak for many when I wish them all the best of luck.
Adam (EBC) --
10:25 24th May (GMT) - Update on Everest team and Pem Chirri
For those of you following the blog, you will know that one of our Sherpas, Pem Chirri, was injured at Camp 3 last week. Pem has now been discharged from hospital, which is great news. He is on crutches and has to go for dressing twice a week at the clinic in Kathmandu. He has a follow up at hospital in 10 days time, so we'll post more when we know how that has gone. A lot of Jagged Globe climbers have had the pleasure of sharing their expedition experience with Pem, so we appreciate the kind messages and interest in how he is doing.
In the meantime, the rest of the team are now on the South Col, along with about 60 other climbers. It sounds as though it was quite slow going up to the Col due the number of people, so we'll see whether they're going to go for the top tonight or Friday night. The window looks good - better than the one last weekend. Adam reports from base camp that most teams have now left and it's pretty quiet down there with the majority of teams who are still on the mountain now at Camps 3 or 4.
10:29 23rd May (GMT) - Team in Camp 3
David Hamilton and the Jagged Globe team have reached camp 3 (7300m). It has been another hot and sunny day with a nice cooling breeze up high, allowing the team to make good time between camps.
They can now rest up for the remainder of the day and hopefully get a good night's sleep with the aid of some supplementary oxygen. They will then leave early in the morning for the South Col, positioning themselves for the summit push. At this point Adele Pennington will split up from the Everest team and head to her own high camp up on the Lhotse Face.
The weather forecast remains promising, especially as the levels of convection have dropped giving them a good chance of a summit view!
Good luck to the Everest and Lhotse teams.
09:19 22nd May (GMT) - Resting at C2 and on schedule for 25th
It is a very warm day here in Everest Base Camp. The reports from camp 2 are that they are all fit and well and looking forward to progressing to Camp 3 in the morning. Bright and early as usual to avoid the scorching sun.
The weather is looking good for summit pushes for the Everest team on the 25th May and also Adele is planning to go for the Lhotse summit on the same day.
Reports from other teams indicate that the numbers of climbers may be evenly split over the 25th and 26th giving everyone the best chance at a good summit day.
Thats all for now,
09:36 21st May (GMT) - All team back in Camp 2
Our Everest team headed back up to Camp 2 this morning and have all arrived there safely. They're sleeping now and will have a rest day tomorrow (22nd), before climbing to Camp 3 on the 23rd, Camp 4 on the South Col on the 24th and looking to summit on Friday 25th May. At the moment, the weather forecast looks good.
There were a lot of summits over the 18th/19th, though sadly there have been reports of some fatalities. Ian Ridley, who is a member of the Jagged Globe team, has written the following on his Blog:
A sad night on Everest We went to sleep last night with heavy hearts. We had heard reports throughout the late afternoon and into the evening of potential tradgedies unfolding. Pasang told us that lights could still be seen at the south summit from the south col at 7.30 pm local time. At breakfast David gave us the unconfirmed news that sadly there have been some fatalities.
No doubt the armchair coroners will be quick to summise as to why the deaths occurred but until their teams and climbing sherpas return to base camp this would be pure conjecture. For now our thoughts are with their families.
This is after all the day we were due to summit. The high winds arrived as predicted and whilst they drove some teams back there have been some summits today which is incredible.
The weather forcecast is still indicating a second window opening up on Friday the 25th.
This means we shall return to Camp Two early tomorrow morning, rest for a day, go to Camp Three on Wednesday and Camp Four on Thursday.
It snowed overnight here at base camp and every so often I'd be woken by the snow 'whooshing' off the fly sheet making a sound just like a cheap rocket racing into the sky on bonfire night.
Talking of flysheets. I understand from Pema, our Sirdar, that because the ultra violet light from the sun is so strong here at base camp that after their eight weeks of use the flysheets will have to be replaced.
Not a day for any humour, one of reflection.
11:42 18th May (GMT) - Update on Pem Chirri
Pem Chirri (pictured on the left, photographed ny Alex Ekins in base camp last month) was flown back to hospital in Kathmandu yesterday, following an accident at Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face on Thursday morning. Today (Friday) he has had an operation to fix his broken left Humerus (upper arm), which he is recovering from as well as one might expect. He had also broken his left Fibula (lower leg), but it doesn't sound like he will need an operation on this and it will just be put in plaster. Shiv, who visited him today, said "I think everyone who knows Pem will be pleased to know that he is safe, being well looked after and recovering well!" Apparently Pem Chirri is talking, eating well and remembers everything that happened in the accident. We're all thinking of Pem and hope he is feeling better very soon.
10:36 18th May (GMT) - Summit attempt on hold
Today we learned that the Sherpa team fixing ropes reached the summit of Everest at 13.30 on the 18th May 2012 Nepali time. Due to adverse weather, this is much later than the previous year, which was fixed to the summit on the 5th/6th May.
The Jagged globe team were one of the first teams on the mountain and also one of the first to sleep at camp 3. This would have put us in a very good position for the summit in the next few days. However, due to the rope fixing occurring quite late this season we have seen a large number of people heading up from Camp 3, possibly 100-150. This combined with a small weather window and relatively high winds for a summit push, the Jagged Globe team have decided it would be safer to wait for a potentially more favorable time to summit.
We wish luck to all the climbers hoping to summit on the 19th and 20th of May. After this time all indicators show that the winds will be high until the 24th or 25th, after which they drop significantly. We are all hoping that this will give us the chance to summit in good conditions.
David Hamilton (Camp 2) transcribed by Adam Ward (base camp)
09:40 17th May (GMT) - Accident at Camp 3
David Hamilton has just phoned in from Camp 2.
This morning, one of our Sherpas, Pem Chirri, was hit by falling ice at Camp 3. Apparently the ice came off a serac above and broke Pem's arm and leg. He was airlifted from the Western Cwm and is now back in Kathmandu being treated in hospital. Pem is a quiet, unassuming man, with a slight build that belies his formidable strength in the mountains. Our thoughts are with him and we wish him a speedy recovery.
The rest of the Jagged Globe team are currently in Camp 2. This accident has put their attempt back by 24 hours, which David thinks may put them outside of the weather window. We will update when we hear more news.
Jagged Globe Sheffield.
08:31 17th May (GMT) - Resting in Camp 2
The Everest team set out up the mountain at the now familiar time of 1.30 a.m. after a fortifying breakfast of hot drinks and porridge (salami for Bruno of course).
The night was crisp and clear for the 5th and final ascent through the Khumbu Icefall. David led the first half of the team into Camp 2 at around 10.a.m, followed by Pasang Tensing and the remainder of the team at 11.00 a.m Kathmandu time.
The reports were that the weather was excellent, calm winds and clear skies.
The team can now look forward to a relaxing afternoon and a full day of rest today (Thursday)! Now we are keeping a very close eye on the weather forecasts and looking for the window of opportunity that we are all hoping for!
Best wishes to all our followers,
From Jagged Globe base camp,
15th May - Summit push begins
And the event filled days begin again.
Deep studies of weather forecasts the last few days had us slowly making the necessary preparations to move the team up the mountain, but no definitive sights set for the summit days yet.
Today though, we believe the weather window looks more and more promising, so team members all packed up (and showered!) and a few brief pauses in card games and film screenings occurred to make time for last minute details.
Tonight, very late, or tomorrow very early, depending on your particular time zone, the full team makes their way up to Camp 2 to get in place where they will keep monitoring the forecasts and settle in to see when our particular window of opportunity will come.
We'll keep you posted over the next days, as our weather forecasts come into closer focus. For now, Werner making his usual rounds of satellite phone updates back to Costa Rica, Bruno stocking up on meds and snacks, Cian attempting one last win at the rounds of cards and improvements on his coffee technique, Ian -- well just his usual chilled-out self really --, Phil finished on all the engineering detail around camp, Brett continuing his focus on warmth in all down layers he's got handy and Nick keeping close accounting on the winners brackets of said card games.
We look forward to turning the story back to the mountain in the next few days. It's a strong team and a group fully in support of each other.
All our best to David and team tonight!
12th May - Waiting in base camp
Some days time flies, others it stands still.
Today is a standing-still sort of day. Another round of morning walks to Gorak Shep for the guys plus Adele.Here in camp it remains quiet. David's called in from Camp 2, where he's up for a two-day reccie of developing conditions and a chance to check out the Lhotse Face firsthand, after this last dump of precipitation.
He reports down that the winds still blow heavily up high, strong on the Yellow Band.
Just after our breakfast here, all the Sherpas returned from the last load carries up to the South Col. Mingma still waits at camp two for our youngest and newest sherpa member but Thundu, Pem, and the rest of the team now safely down here munching on cinnamon rolls and recovering in the relative warmth. Pem's load of 50kg to the Col yesterday an astounding feat. All the more so given he's hardly more than 60kgs soaking wet himself. Really humbling how hard these guys work day in and out on the mountain here.
Now they rest, like the rest of the team here.
Before you think its all tea and biscuits the next few days, there's still work to be done. We've been working on radio and battery counts this week, modifying our comms set up for the summit nights, and then continually rebuilding tent platforms as the glacier creaks and groans at night; shifting our 'beds' from horizontal into somewhat more twisted angles. Similarly, we've been to work on the toilet tents, making sure the listing doesn't land anyone down a particularly bad slide.
All best from Everest BC
08:48 11th May (GMT) - Early summit push cancelled
Plans by Everest expeditions to fix the ropes to the summit in the expected good weather period (10-12 May) have been cancelled.
Heavy snow on the Lhotse Face during the night of 9/10 May prevented both the 'load carrying' and rope fixing teams form climbing to the South Col as planned on 10th May. The 12 strong rope fixing team have returned to Base Camp.
The weather is looking better today (11th May) and the load carrying sherpas are hoping to place all the equipment needed for the summit push on the South Col. Additionally Jagged Globe Sherpas are aiming to collect the loads that were dropped at Camp 3 yesterday and carry them to Camp 4 on the South Col today.
The weather forecast models show a period of high winds from the 12th until the 17th. Once these drop it will be possible for the advance party of sherpas (including our own Pasnag) to prepare the route to the summit, with climbing teams following on a few days later.
We are all a bit dissapointed in this delay but we are aware that it it is still early in May and histroically most summits in recent years have happened in the second part of the month.
The Jagged Globe climbers are remaining in Base Camp and watching for the weather window that we hope will open sometime after 20th May.
08:53 10th May (GMT) - Impressions from Camp 3
The reward for reaching Camp Three is a greater understanding of the geography of the Khumbu Valley itself. In the far distance, guarding the entrance to the valley, is Nuptse. On the left and on the right, the west shoulder of Everest itself. In the centre is the river of ice that is the Khumbhu Glacier, which buckles into wave-like peaks and troughs before tumbling down towards Base Camp as the Khumbu Icefall.
Camp One is in the far distance too, with row upon row of tents formed on the peaks of these waves. It's a pretty anti-social place, as no-one wants to wander up and down, from peak, to trough, to peak, to see who else is in camp! In the near distance, on the right hand side of the valley, is Camp Two, which is similar to Base Camp, in that it is sited on a rocky morraine. In theory, it's a bit more socialable, as it is easier to move from camp to camp, though the distance between the upper and lower portions of the camp and the altitude, mean that this is really only for the chattering classes!
Camp Three is similar in orientation to Camp One, with row upon row of tents. However, due to the steepness of the Lhotse Face, the tents are sited on long shelves of ice, with each row some twenty feet above the next! Again, this leads to a slightly anti-social feel, as we have to be clipped into safety lines, even on our own tier, so communication between other teams is generally reduced to shouts up and down the face. Being forced into such close proximity also means that the sight of someone quite literally hanging off a rope over a precipice to go to the bathroom is regarded as pretty normal behaviour, barely meriting a shrug!
Directly above and behind Camp Three is Lhotse herself, and to our upper right hand side we can see the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur, both of which will have to be negotiated to reach the South Col, where Camp Four will be sited. Weather permitting, the Sherpas will be able to reach here in the next few days, thus completing another step towards our ultimate goal.
Upon our descent from Camp Three, back to Base Camp, we receive the sad news that one of the larger teams has decided to shut down their expedition and withdraw their team from the mountain. Expeditions of this nature are not entirely risk-free, so we can only express our sadness that a couple of their Sherpas had been injured, and respect the team's decision. The group of disabled soldiers that we met earlier on was part of this team, so we can only share in their disappointment at not being able to continue and hope that they may be able to return at some point in the future.
Nick B, team member
10th May - Update Thursday 10 May
Thursday morning here at base camp and its a new sort of scene waiting for the summit windows.
This morning we woke to snowfall through the night, breaking only incrementally between rounds of coffee and pancakes. This means a snowy walk down to Gorak Shep for the guys lunching down there this afternoon: Cian, Bruno, and Warner. Here at base camp it's become a maintenance afternoon with some upgrades to our posh toilet tents, some greasing up of the heater for keeping toes warm at post-dinner movie screenings, and then Adele and David making the usual rounds organizing ropes and fixing for Lhotse (Adele) and establishing plans for our next equipment moves up the mountain with Mingma and our Sherpa team.
As the forecasts predicted, the snow has come. So the sherpa team did a carry of gear all the way to Camp 3 in the early hours of the morning but did not press on to the South Col due to the high snowfall.
We're keeping an eye on the skies and the weather systems moving in the next few days before making our next set of plans for higher up on the mountain.
For now, the team stays in place here at base camp, an eerily quiet time with so many teams down valley and no helicopters flying in these clouded skies.
Photos of the base camp scene from the vantage point of David's tent coming next.
All the best from the Everest & Lhotse teams
08:33 9th May (GMT) - Summit plans
A lot can happen in 24 hrs...
Since the Everest team returned to Base Camp yesterday there have been several developments regarding progress on the mountain. The news that the large HimEx team are ending their Everest & Lhotse Expeditions and are leaving Base Camp for home has been made public. We have been aware of this situation for over a week, and all the other expeditions in Base Camp have made plans to prepare the route without the participation of HimEx.
A meeting of all the Everest expeditions was held yesterday in Base Camp to discuss the best way of proceeding with the climb. The weather forecasts indicate a short period of low winds on the upper sections of the mountain followed by possibly a week of strong winds. A decision was taken to use this short period of settled weather to try and fix ropes all the way to the summit. Today (9th May) Sherpas representing all the major teams on Everest will carry more than 25 loads (ropes, pitons, ice screws, pickets, oxygen, etc)from Camp Two (6,400m) to Camp Four (7,950m)on the South Col. Over the following two days (10th & 11th) a separate team of 12 sherpas will aim to fix ropes initially to the 'balcony' (8,500m) and on to the summit (8,848m). Pasang has volunteered to be the representative of the Jagged Globe expedition on the summit fixing group.
During the next two days the main group of Jagged Globe sherpas aim to carry all our Camp Four equipment to the South Coll. This includes over 100 bottles of oxygen as well as tents, food, fuel and other supplies. It should be possible for ten men to achieve this in two long working days. After this they will return to Base Camp for a well deserved rest. During the next week the climbers will be resting in Base Camp and watching the weather forecasts for an indication of when the summit winds will drop sufficiently for our summit bid to be planned. Over the next few days David Hamilton will join the sherpa team on one of their climbs to the South Col in order to get an appreciation of current conditions on the route before planning the summit climb for the main group of climbers.
If wind speeds on the mountain remain within the limits forecast expect to hear news that Everest has been climbed for the first time in the Spring 2012 season on the 11th or 12th of May. Strengthening winds could then keep most climbers restricted to Base Camp for about one week, and it likely that the main summit window for 2012 could open after 20th May if wind speeds drop sufficiently.
David Hamilton (9th May 2012)
08:29 8th May (GMT) - Report on final acclimatisation climb to C3
The Everest team are now back in Base Camp after a five day trip onto the mountain. On 3 May they climbed from Base Camp to Camp Two. This was the first time that they made this trip in a continuous push without stopping at Camp One for a night. The following day was planned as a rest day and they rested at Camp Two. The plan for Saturday 5 May was to climb to Camp Three, but heavy overnight snow, combined with poor visibility in the morning, caused the team to delay for one day.
A forecast of more snow made a return to Base Camp a real possibility as the route to Camp Three could become dangerous, but the morning of Sunday 6 May was cold and clear and a decision was made to climb to Camp Three. Leaving Camp Two at 06.00 the group arrived at Camp Three between 12.00 and 14.00. They spent the day in tents perched on narrow ledges on the steep Lhotse Face. The following morning they left Camp Three at 06.30 and were back at Camp Two by 08.30. A restful day with lots of eating and card playing followed. On Tuesday 8 May the team left Camp Two at 05.30 and were all back in Base camp by 08.45.
The team will now rest in Base Camp for at least a week while the sherpa team carry our Camp Four equipment to the South Col (7,950). Once all our equipment is on the South Col the team will be able to study the weather forecasts in order to identify the best period for a summit attempt: this may be sometime in the week 20-26 May if all goes well.
5th May - Update from Saturday 5 May
It is 2p.m and the sun has finally broken through the thick cloud that has given us several inches of snow at base camp and kept us wrapped up in all our down gear all morning. A complete change to the familiar weather patterns of bright mornings and dull afternoons.
Adele headed up the mountain this morning accompanied by Chomba Sherpa and reached camp 2 in good time. She is hoping to complete an acclimatisation rotation and also take a closer look at the condition of the Lhotse couloir with a view to fixing ropes when the weather permits.
There she joins the entire Everest team led by David Hamilton. The early morning reports indicated that the snow had fallen about 4 inches at camp 2 and therefore the decision was made to delay the scheduled assent to camp 3. 'Never mind, at least here at camp 2 we have the dining tent and Sherpa cooks to look after us' commented one team member.
Further progress up the mountain at this stage will be weather dependent, we are looking closely at our charts and sharing information with other teams to gage if the snowfall will prevent further assent at this stage. Well thats all from a sunny camp 2 and EBC.
09:08 3rd May (GMT) - On the move to Camp 3
Early this morning (3 May) the Everest team climbed from Base Camp to Camp 2, starting their third climbing rotation. During this trip they will spend three nights at Camp 2 (6,400m) and one night at Camp 3 (7,300m). This trip was delayed for two days while sherpas changed the fixed rope route on the lower Lhotse Face. The original route that had been prepared a few days ago was considered too dangerous due to stonefall and an alternative has now been found.
A period of low winds is forecast for the next few days and it is hoped that this will enable a combined group of sherpas from several expeditions to prepare the route as far as Camp 4 (7,950m) on the South Col. Once this route is established our sherpas will start carrying our supplies to the South Col in preparation for our summit bid which will come later in the month.
Some snowfall is forecast in a few days time which could have the short term effect of delaying progress, but may ironically make the upper sections of the climb safer by helping to anchor loose rocks more securely to the mountain.
09:27 30th April (GMT) - Team back in BC following successful climb to 6,750m
The Everest team are all back in Base Camp resting for a few days following their second trip onto the mountain. Everyone spent four nights sleeping at Camp Two (6,400m). The first few nights were uncomfortable for most of the group as they struggled to get used to sleeping at this altitude, but by the end of the trip everyone was coping well with the thin air. The sherpa cooks (Hem & Lapka) did a good job of keeping everyone well fed and there were no instances of 'high altitude loss of appetite'. On Thurs 26th the whole team climbed to the foot of the Lhotse face at 6,750m, where we were able to watch a combined team of sherpas place the fixed ropes on the face up the height of Camp Three (7,300m). In the next few days the ropes will be extended to the south Col at 7,950m.
The next day the group had a practice session with the oxygen equipment that they will be using higher on the mountain. They did get a few strange looks from the other climbers in Camp Two as they walked through camp and onto the trail leading to Camp Three wearing oxygen masks. Hopefully this early familiarisation with the masks will prove useful later on in the expedition.
The group were able to see a large avalanche sweeping the lower section the Wesetrn Cwm as they descended towards Camp two in the mid-morning. They later learnt that this had damaged a number of tents in Camp One. On the return to Base camp the following day they were pleased to learn that the Jagged Globe Terra Nova tents had withstood the wind blast much better than the tents of others, confirming the fact that these tents, although slightly heavier than their North Face and Mountain Hardwear competitors, are much stronger.
The three-member Lhotse team are now acclimatising in Camp Two and will return to Base Camp in a few days. Meanwhile a Jagged Globe trek team, led by Mara Larson, is due to arrive at Base Camp tomorrow to meet with the Everest climbing team.
The Everest team will be leaving Base Camp early on 1 May for a four-day trip onto the mountain. During this they hope to spend three nights at Camp Two and a single night at Camp Three. At the same time our sherpa team will place stores and equipment at Camp Four on the South Col over the next ten days. If the acclimatisation programme of the team goes well they should be in a position to aim for a summit bid in mid-May, as long as the weather is suitable!
At the moment there are very high winds in the summit regions and all the expeditions are looking for signs that the windspeeds will drop in the middle of the month as often happens.
David Hamilton, Expedition Leader
11:14 26th April (GMT) - Team in Camp 2
The Everest team have just radioed in to report on their progress at Camp 2. Everyone is doing well and today the team have reached the bergshund at the bottom of the Lhotse Face (6,750m). Now back in camp, they will spend another night before returning to base camp. In the meantime, the Lhotse team have been delayed a day as the icefall doctors repaired the fixed ropes that were damaged during several serac collapses yesterday. The Lhotse trio will leave at 2.30am tommorow morning to go to Camp 1 and then up to Camp 2. Today the team have been practicing some rope trickery to enable them to move efficiently up and down the mountain.
09:38 20th April (GMT) - Sleeping at Camp 1
We got out of our tents on 19 April at 1:00 am and following breakfast we left for climbing the icefall at 2:00 am. The weather was cold and clear. We progressed quite rapidly through the lower sections of the icefall. We did not stop for many rest breaks. This was more to do with health and safety than anything else.
There are not many areas to take a rest and in some areas of the climb it is important to pass through these as quickly as possible. We arrived at Camp 1 by 7:20. The height of Camp 1 is 6,100 metres. Initially upon arrival the weather was still cold. How things can change! The temperature in the tent climbed to 38oC. I am a modest person but there was no alternative. I was down to my underpants and cold compress for my head. The heat did not abate until nearly 1pm.
It is important to keep hydrated. I concentrated and focused the mind drinking 3 litres of warm water. The heat left me with a slight headache. Once the temperature cooled I ate a meal and continued to drink as much fluid as I could. As this was just a further stage in our acclimatisation, we only stayed one night at Camp 1. We got up at 4:30am with a departure time of 5:30am. The weather had caused some deterioration in the ice on our decent back through the icefall. Some of the crevasses were now wider, the ladders more shaky and in one case a serac had fallen over and obliterated part of the route. We were back in base camp for 8:30am for a traditional English 'fry up' and a de-brief.
I believe that all is going as well as can be expected. I have a little cough but I am eating well. I do need to ensure I get as much sleep as I can get. It will be interesting to see how I cope when we go further up the mountain.
09:24 17th April (GMT) - More photos from the Puja and Icefall
15:56 16th April (GMT) - Into the Khumbu Icefall
Following a few leisurely 'training ' days in the lower icefall close to camp it we time for our first early morning start. The team assembled wearily in the Mess tent at 04.30hrs. We had asked the kitchen for a' light' breakfast and were rewarded with yoghurt, porridge, toast and omelettes – quite a challenge in the pre dawn hours.
We walked past the tents of several sleeping expeditions on the trail through Base Camp. After a brief stop to put on harnesses and crampons we entered the Icefall as dawn was breaking at 05.30hrs. Temperatures were sub zero, bus as there was no significant wind it did not feel too cold. We climbed steadily for almost three hours crossing several small frozen glacial pools, negotiating a few aluminium ladders spanning crevasses, and climbing some short steep sections of ice.
This was a new environment for some of the team and everyone did very well with the ladder crossings and steep climbs. There was a little added excitement in the form of a snow avalanche from the slopes of Nuptse which billowed into an impressive cloud of ice crystals before dispersing into the valley below us.
As this was planned to be a 'short' training climb we turned around at 08.00hrs having covered approx 40% of the distance to Camp One. We were back at to foot of the icefall by 09.30hrs, and enjoying 'second breakfast' in Base camp by 10.00hrs. We aim to go higher into the icefall on the 17th before possibly moving to Camp one on the 18th or 19th.
16th April - Puja
Well the Bhuddist Gods were kindly looking down on us this morning as I unzipped my tent to be greeted by streaming sunshine, blue skies and our Sherpas putting the finishing touches to the granite alter that they had been preparing since first light.
On the top of a small morraine they had built a rectangular alter to place gifts for the Gods for our safe passage to the summit and more importantalty back down again.
Rather embarrassingly I almost didnt make the ceremony! It had been due to start at 9.00am and the last I had heard was that we were waiting until Adele, Ronald and Scott, who are hoping to climb Lhotse, to arrive. So it was with some embarrassment that one of the Sherpas's came to get me at 9.45am when the ceremony had already started (without Adele and her team).
I quickly ran over carrying my ice axe and crampons which were to be blessed and joined the rest of our team.
The Puja itself is fairly relaxed with talking and drinking allowed whilst the Lama chants prayers for our safe journey. Incense wafts across the morraine and the sherpas prepare the prayer flags for draping across our camp. Drinks on offer included sweet tea and 'Chang' a potent alcoholic concoction made of fermented rice. I can't help feeling this approach might swell congregations at home!
After approximately and hour and a half of chanting and rice throwing Adele arrived just in time for the flour throwing and face painting. This entails having your cheeks and nose covered in flour. After this it's time to have a drink: a coke , a sprite or of course a beer! Our first alcohol since Kathmandu. Our Lama was quite young and very thoughtfully refrained from anything alcoholic. The rest of us enjoyed a San Miguel beer which at 5% alcoholic content went straight to our heads. This was swiftly followed by three shots of whiskey each.
After the ceremony two of the 'ice fall doctors' kindly joined us (well wouldn't you if there was a free drink on offer). It was reassuring to see that they were quite old and obviously very experienced.
Cian did his best in typical Irish style to make sure that the party (sorry ceremony) continued in a most convivial manner.
We are all now assembled in the mess tent waiting for lunch all feeling rather light headed which is of course due to the altitude! The sobering news is that we are up at 2.00am tomorrow morning.
13th April - Pumori viewpoint
Pumori viewpoint 5,650m
After a few days perfecting our crampon and ice-axe technique in the lower part of the ice-fall, it was nice to spend the day out exploring some other parts of the surrounding Khumbu Valley. Yesterday evening our master chef Adam asked me what I would like for breakfast, lunch and dinner which was a suprise. We woke up for a 8 o'clock breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and chapatis. I walked into the mess tent half asleep to the team singing happy birthday. It was a great start to the day.
The weather has been great today in Base Camp and the Khumbu valley. We decided to trek back through Base camp and make our way towards the lower slopes of Pumori (7,165m). We were probably better off staying out of the Ice- fall seeing as it is Friday 13th. We walked a good pace through Base camp. I noticed a big increase in number of tents since our arrival . We made our way to the start of Base camp and then went off the trail. This was more pleasent as there weren't as many people, and there was no chance of getting hit by a yak.
As we got higher on the hike towards Pumori Camp 1, we had perfect views of Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse, and other great Himalayan peaks. By the time we reached our high point of 5,650m we could see the North Col of Everest, the South col, the Lohtse Face, Geneva spur, The Yellow Band, part of the Western Cwm, the Ice fall and of course Base Camp. The views of Everest, Lohtse and Nuptse were incredible.
After lots of photos, some video and drinks, we made our way back to our Base camp for a lovely lunch. The walk was timed to perfection. We arrived back at 1.05pm with our lunch being served. All during the lunch we heard wild celebrations of one of our neighbouring teams Puja ceremony. Myself and Adam decided to wander over and take part. We were lucky the flour throwing part of the ceremony was over. We had some birthday drinks with the neighbouring team and did a bit of singing and dancing. Didn't want to over do it as it was early in the day and we still have our own Puja Ceremony to look forward too.
Its great to celebrate my birthday here in the Himalayas. Can't wait for my birthday dinner tonight. Hi to all my family and friends back home in Ireland.
11th April - The Icefall Cometh
For the last two days we have started to look at how we will go about ascending the Khumbhu Icefall. When we first arrived at base-camp the intimidating sight of the icefall is all encompassing, with many a stubbed toe as we are distracted from looking where we are going around the rocky environs of base camp by the sheer spectacle of the looming cliff-face of ice. In the early morning you can make out the specialist 'ice-doctor' sherpa's making their way back down to base-camp, having spent the night securing and repairing the route through the ice. They provide an invaluable service, without whom, it would be practically impossible to navigate the ice-fall safely due to the constant movement of the glacier.
Following breakfast we make our first tentative forays onto the lower icefall itself. The towering wind-carved ribbons of ice are a bit of a surprise at first, but we are soon honing our crampon technique so that we are as energy efficient as possible. The last thing that we want to do is to waste energy making multiple attempts to make a secure foothold - when we climb to Camp One, we are likely to take several hours and thousands of steps, all of which need to be made as cleanly as possible so that we do not exhaust ourselves. The ice itself is incredibly hard, so it is also a case of gaining confidence that our foot-strikes are actually secure and to resist the temptation to make unnecessary foot-strikes - for some of us, that may mean an afternoon in base-camp sharpening our crampon points!
Having safely returned to camp for a very hearty lunch, a couple of us spent the afternoon wandering around the ever growing expanse of base-camp, looking in on the teams that are arriving day by day, and in some cases, enviously looking in on their facilities! We also met up with the group of disabled soldiers who are also climbing the mountain - it was quite humbling to meet these fellow climbers with similar dreams, who were not at all bothered by the fact that some of them had a significant physical disadvantage to us! We wish them all the best and hope that they are as successful as we all hope to be.
10th April - A day in the life of an Everest BC Chef
--Early rise at 6.30 a.m, leave the cosy cocoon of my 5-season sleeping bag, quickly pull on all the warm clothes I can find, squeeze into my frozen shoes and leave my sturdy tent. Walk the few yards to the kitchen tent, break the ice sealing the water barrel and start boiling water. This water will be used for hot drinks, porridge, making bread and many other things. My friend Sukra brings me a cup of hot black tea and my day has begun.
Once the heat of the oven, the hob and the burner have started to take effect I take off a few of my layers. Breakfast will be at 8a.m. so the the tasks of proofing croissants, brewing fresh coffee and of course making the ubiquitous porridge that will give the team the energy they need to progress up the mountain. They arrive sporadically for breakfast depending on their own rhythms; some sleepily and some with bounding enthusiasm, the first few cups of coffee helps to level the playing field.
After the breakfast things have been cleared away and the climbing team have headed towards the icefall for their day of activities, my own preparations for lunch and dinner continue. David H admits to planning his expeditions around regular meal times so I will expect them back for lunch at 1p.m. The bread is already on its second proof so I start to prepare the soup. Keeping hydrated at altitude is essential so I will serve the group soup at least once everyday, today it is a spicy chinese broth with ginger, garlic and fresh greens.
Alongside the fresh bread and soup I will serve some of the luxury items Jagged Globe have shipped from the UK. A selection of cured hams and salamis will accompany a coleslaw salad that will complete our lunch.
I take some time out to take some pictures of base camp life and of course the spectacular scenery that now seems familiar, but is constantly changing. My afternoon begins with a baking session, the uncertainties of the altitude, the temperature and the oven make this an experimental process. So far the scones and brownies have been the great successes and the apple pie and cinnamon rolls not so much. I am awaiting a re-supply of fresh imported meat from Kathmandu so tonight I will be serving a hearty stew of delicious local Yak meat (virtually indistinguishable from the finest Scottish Angus). Accompanying the stew will be fresh beans and mash potatoes upon request, I'm not surprised the locally-grown potatoes up here are rich, buttery and wonderful. After dinner we may have another film night - the decision of what to watch will involve an elaborate and vaguely democratic process. It doesn't matter if I don't like the choice I will happily return to my cocoon for hopefully a restful nights sleep, as I'll be up at 6.30 again tomorrow.
9 April update
The eight members of the Jagged Globe Everest 2012 Expedition reached Base Camp (5350m)on April 7th after a 13 day trek from the airstrip at Lukla (2840m).The weather was generally favourable during the trek with clear mornings and cloudy afternoons being common. There was some light snowfall some afternoons and evenings with a particularly heavy overnight fall on the 5th. All team members felt strong on the walk in to Base Camp and enjoyed a strenuous training and acclimatisation programme that included 3 climbs to over 5,500m (Chukung Ri 5,559m, Kongma La 5,535m, Kala Patar 5,620m) along the trail. Twelve members of our Sherpa team have been busy preparing Base camp for over 2 weeks before our arrival and we arrived to find our camp of more than 20 tents in fine shape.
For most of the trek the climbing team were joined by a 14 strong 'support trek' containing family and friends of the climbers and others interested to join an expedition team on the hike to Everest Base Camp. All members of the support trek arrived at Base Camp one day after the climbing team and they will spend two days at EBC before returning home via Lukla and Kathmandu tomorrow.
In the next few days the climbers will organise their personal equipment and sort the team's supplies for the mountain. The Sherpa kitchen, the 'new' team kitchen, mess tent, toilets and showers are already up and running. Over the next few days we will sort the Communications tent, the 'office', the food store and the equipment store. Once these tasks are complete and the climbers have had a few days to get used to living at 5,400m we will start to think about climbing the mountain. We are one of the first teams to get established at Base Camp and everyone is looking forward to being one of the first teams to occupy the upper camps. Our sherpas have already climbed through the Khumbu Icefall and reserved our tent sites at Camp 1 and Camp 2.
29th March - Acclimatisation walks around Namche
This morning we woke to another day of sunshine and an early breakfast at seven thirty. The plan was to have a relatively gentle morning, and walk up another 300m to the villages of Khunde and Khumjung just to the north of Namche.
The two villages are a far cry from the hub bub of Namche with very limited facilities consisting of a couple of lodges together with a bakery.
Wandering around these two villages you get a real sense of how hard life is for the local inhabitants who aren't involved in some way with the tourists. They eke a subsistence living off the semi fertile land. There's no mechanisation here as everything is done by hand with the help of a yak or two to do the ploughing. It's like stepping back in time three hundred years into a working museum.
The village of Khunde is where Sir Edmund Hilary set up a hospital and a school following his 1953 trip as a thank you for all of the help that the locals provided during that expedition. Both are still operating, which is a tremendous legacy.
From Khumjung, after a coffee and apple cake stop, we continued to the Everest View Hotel which has a terrace that enjoys panoramic views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Unfortunately for us the cloud had started to build during the late morning so our view of Lhotse was obscured.
Everyone commented on what a stunning mountain Ama Dablam is and how was it possible to climb it. So it was with some pride that the short tubby one (that's me!) was able to pipe up and say that I had climbed it two and half years ago. I can honestly say that it is a terrific mountain to summit. Have a look at the Jagged Globe website if you're tempted.
On our return leg to Namche we had an excellent panoramic view of it looking down from above. It's been built within a semi circular hanging valley which looks like a Greek amphitheatre.
Namche is full of lodges, cheap gear and souvenir shops, internet cafes and restaurants. It's a fascinating village and the hub of the Khumbu Valley. It gets it's name from the weekly Saturday market with traders coming from as far as Tibet to sell their wares. All of the team are coping really well with the altitude gain and are keen to get to see the monastery at Tengboche tomorrow.
28th March - To Namche Bazaar
On Tuesday we left the comfort and tranquility of the Summit hotel to catch a flight to Lukla in the foothills of the mountains and the start of our expedition.
Our Sherpa team did an amazing job to get all of us and our bags through a chaotic Kathmandu Domestic Airport and on to the Twin Otter plane. We had an exciting take off and shortly after leaving the bustle and smog of the city the majestic Himalayas rose to greet us. Through the highest snow capped peaks in the world we caught our first fleeting glimpse of our objective, Mt Everest.
After taking tea and making some last minute preparations in Lukla, the team set out in high spirits stretching legs and enjoying the warm sunshine.
Our first day walking was really great, with plenty of home cooked Dahl Bhat to keep our energy up along the way. The trail is constantly changing with many strange sights and sounds. Porters carried luggage and supplies doggedly up the trail and Dzopyos (Himalayan cattle) charged past us with even bigger loads. Artifacts of the Buddhist culture are everywhere here, the colourful shrines and prayer wheels make for excellent photographs.
At the end of the day we rested our feet by the warm fire of the lodge and shared stories of adventures past. There is a really interesting mix of climbers on this trip and it makes for great dinner conversation.
After a great sleep and a hearty breakfast we set out on the trail again. Today we will gain just under 500m of altitude. The trail starts gently following the turquoise torrent of the Bhote-khoshi River. We cross spectacular suspension bridges and climb through fragrant pine forests until we reach the outskirts of Namche Bazaar. We pass many colorful lodges and see many strange things before we reach our own lodge perched high on the hillside, which commands incredible views. This will be our home for two days as we rest and see the sights of this interesting mountain town.
25th March - Team arrives in Kathmandu
Jagged Globe Everest team members are all at the Summit Hotel (minus Cian who arrives later tonight). Some are making their first visit to Nepal while others have been here several times before on a variety of treks and climbing expeditions. The Summit Hotel welcomed the team with a traditional Nepalese Puja (blesssing ceremony) on their arrival. The expedition leaders (David, Pasang and Adam) have been in Kathmandu for a few days getting everything ready. Tomorrow the team have to complete the final preparations (collecting the expedition permit from the Tourism Ministry, last minute purchases, etc) before leaving Kathmandu by air for Lukla on Tuesday. Other Everst expeditions are starting to arrive in town and we are one of the first to set of for Base Camp. More news from along the trail to follow.
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Leader - David Hamilton
About this Expedition
Leaders: David Hamilton & Pasang Sherpa