Dispatches - Everest 2003

May 27, 2003

Beginning in Kathmandu, Nepal, Adventure Consultants operated its ninth expedition to scale the highest mountain on the planet, Mount Everest, in the pre-monsoon season of 2003.

Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition 2003 Dispatches

The Adventure Consultants Everest and Ama Dablam Spring 2003 Expeditions have begun!

9 April 2003 - Kathmandu to Lukla
The AC team arrived in Kathmandu and rendezvoused at the Hotel Tibet just outside Thamel; a quiet oasis from the tuk-tuks, cars and animals sharing the busy streets.

Bill Crouse was woken at 4.30am Nepal time by a phone call from the AC office in New Zealand to wish him and all the team members well as they began their journey to Everest Base Camp. All the Everest and Ama Dablam climbers and Everest Base Camp trekkers flew together to Lukla, a flight which is always exciting. After a three-point landing, they had a quick bite to eat and left for Namche Bazaar with one night in Phakding. Whether it's the 10th or first time trekking the Khumbu, people are still awestruck at the sharp peaks covered in pure white snow that line the valley. The teams followed the Dudh Kosi River up the valley, crossing it several times on long swinging bridges which were shared with yaks carrying food and gear to remote villages.

A special experience was the puja in Namche. A Lama and his son walked several hours to meet the teams in the Himalayan Lodge. There, in a special monastery room, the Lama read from 300-year-old Tibetan prayer books prayers to the mountain Gods for safety on Ama Dablam and Everest. It was a special experience for all.

13 April 2003 - Puja Pangboche
Today the two expeditions part ways heading toward Ama Dablam and Everest. The Everest climbers and trekkers head to upper Pangboche to be blessed by Lama Geshe to climb Everest. Lama Geshe has blessed climbers for years and given them a card to carry with them on the mountain. Last November Bill Crouse and Phu Tashi Sherpa reached the summit of Ama Dablam with their card and presented Lama Geshe with this photo. After their puja and some tea, they continued the trek to Pheriche where the team will spend two nights for acclimatization.

Photo 1

14 April 2003 - On the way to Base Camp
The Ama Dablam team is in their Base Camp and preparing to leave for Camp 1 soon. The trekkers and Everest Climbers are in Lobuche taking a rest day before arriving in Base Camp on Thursday, April 17.

Aside from the normal headaches, everyone is in great shape and making excellent time up the Khumbu. The weather has been almost perfect with slight breezes and comfortable temperatures. It has snowed the last two nights but not enough to get in the way, just enough to make the black fur on the yaks turn white!

Another special time on any climb or trek in the Khumbu is the visit to the Tengboche Monastery. We sat quietly against the Monastery wall listening to the monks chanting their morning prayers on Sunday morning. Only the loud beating on the drums, clanging cymbals and baritone horns interrupted the prayers.

Everyone is excited to arrive at Base Camp. The trekkers are anxious to see what it is all about and the climbers are ready to start the five-week expedition to the summit.

15-16 April 2003 - Lobuche
We enjoyed the perfect weather and Himalayan views during our trek to Lobuche. This will be our last two nights in tea houses before Everest Base Camp. Tomorrow the climbers will hike up the ridge directly behind Lobuche to acclimatize and for a glimpse of Everest. It will be a rest day for the trekkers before their final push to Base Camp and their summit!

17 April 2003 - Everest BC
It's an early start as we leave Lobuche for Everest Base Camp. Pemba, one of our great staff gets our duffels loaded on the yaks and dzokios (a yak-cow crossbreed) for the final journey to BC. We get our first views of Everest BC on the Khumbu glacier below the Lo La (pass) and Changtse in Tibet. Everyone's in awe as the great Khumbu icefall rumbles and towers above BC. We've all made it!

18 April 2003 - Puja BC
A glorious morning in BC for our Puja (blessing) before setting off through the icefall and the start of our climb. A Lama from Pangboche, Ang Tshering and Lhakpa Tarke perform the ceremony. They'll ask the mountain gods for safe passage to the summit for the climbing team. An offering to the gods of food and drink are placed on the labsu (alter) from which the many strands of colourful prayer flags are hung. The puja ends with a cheer, tossing tsampa (flour) and a bit of chang, beer or rum (possibly all!).

Photo 3

19 April 2003 - Trekkers Depart
The trekkers say goodbye after enjoying one of Chhongba's gourmet breakfasts of eggs (cooked to order), NZ bacon, fresh yoghurt and pancakes with Vermont maple syrup! It has been a treat for all the climbers to share the magnificent journey to BC with Ellen (AC trekking guide), Craig, Claudia, Robert and Jack. We are sad to see them go, but it's time to start climbing!

21 April 2003 - Khumbu Icefall
The beauty and danger of the Khumbu icefall intrigues the climbers and trekkers at BC. Many climbers would say it's a place we should not go, but others would say it's one of the greater challenges of Mt. Everest! It's a maze of ice towers and crevasses that one must ascend to reach the Western Cwm and Camp 1. Today our team made a foray in the icefall to train on crossing ladders and work on our acclimatization.

23 April 2003 - Camp 1
4am coffee to wake the team and get us out of our warm down cocoons to head off into the cold of the icefall. Today we’ll be moving to C1 for two nights. I’m excited to finally be heading to the higher camps and the magnificent Western Cwm. It’s a crystal-clear morning as we work through the gymnasium of ice, snow, ropes and ladders that make the route through to C1. Two days ago, there was a collapse near the top of the route. Now we must negotiate a route through the collapse to gain the top of the icefall. We’ve had a great morning and arrive into C1 just as the sun starts to bake in the Cwm. Tomorrow we’ll make a trip toward C2!

Cheers from C1 at 5,950m – Bill

24 April 2003 - Western Cwm
A bit of a restless night for all of us at C1. C1 is located at the top of the icefall and gateway of the Western Cwm at 5,950m. Nick opted to stay at C1 and rest, as he's feeling a bit of the effect from the new altitude. The rest of us travelled roped together through the "valley of silence" getting our first views of C2 and the overwhelming size of Everest still looming 3,000m above our footsteps. We stop at 6,200m to rest and savour the day's journey before we descend back to C1. The route through the Cwm still presents us with ladders to cross crevasses so deep that the Sherpas say "they go to America" and crevasse walls to climb and descend. Tomorrow it's back to BC and Chhongba's great cooking!

Snow is falling and it's time to get some sleep, from C1 at 5,950m - Bill

26 April 2003 - Sushi Night
A few days' rest has been good for the team. Relaxing in the warmth of your tent at BC reading a book is pretty hard to beat! We've all enjoyed a shave and shower, plus time to wash some clothes. A few emails or phone calls to connect with family and friends. Chhongba keeps trying to fatten us up for the next trip up to C1. However, tonight is "Sushi Night" and Chhongba has opened his kitchen to my culinary skills. No, it's not fresh Dudh Kosi river fish or flying fish roe but crab, salmon, tuna, egg and miso soup will fill our bellies! Of course, the evening wouldn't be complete without red wine, beer, single malt and a few Monty Python sound bytes...

28 April 2003 - C1
This foray we'll be spending one night at C1 on our way to C2 for three or four nights. Once at C2 we'll take a rest day and then set off on a day climb toward C3. It's important to expose our bodies to the higher altitudes and get some exercise but sleep lower, allowing our bodies to better acclimatize. The team did well getting to C1 in record time! Our weather forecast for the next few is unstable, but fine for climbing to C2.

29 April 2003 - C2 Snowstorm
Well, the weather forecast was right! It snowed most of yesterday afternoon and evening. This morning there are high clouds and more snow expected. We headed off to C2 at 9 am but the clouds formed, quickly catching us about halfway to C2. The light snow helped keep us cool, as this can be a hot day of glacier travel. Chhuldim meets us with juice on arrival and a wonderful lunch. The team settles into their tents and a well-deserved nap before dinner. Everyone is psyched to be at C2!

30 April 2003 - C2 Sunset
Everyone is feeling good after our rest day at C2. I spent part of the morning building a rock wall on the windward side of our tent. Others slept or read, as light snow fell throughout the day. The skies cleared just before dinner and the western CWM had a beautiful coating of fresh snow. Clear skies and colder temperatures got us heading to the dinner tent in a hurry.

A cold night for a dispatch - Bill

Climber Profile: Nick Dyer
Nick Dyer: 37 and always trying to be younger. Lives in Sydney, Australia running his own construction business and warms a seat on the Leichhart Council in Sydney's inner west. Nick cut his teeth in the mountains on Mt. Cook, Matterhorn, Aconcagua, Elbrus and Denali. Now he's set his goal to complete the "Seven Summits"!

1 May 2003 - Lhotse Face
It was a cold night at C2, but the team is eager to start the day and make a trip to the Lhotse face. Ang Dorje also joins the western climbers for the day, so it's a full crew heading up the face. We hit a high point at 6,760m and called it a day. Tomorrow we'll push further toward C3, returning to C2 for our last night of this foray. Hopefully the weather will hold for one more day!

From C2 at 6,450m – Bill

2 May 2013 - Island Peak Summit!
At 8:10 am, Adventure Consultants own "Team Dal Bhat" (Tendi, Phu Tashi, Mick, Ellen and Lhakpa) reached the summit of Island Peak via the direct SW face route. Nothing could hold them back, except for their laughter! They enjoyed unparalleled views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu and Ama Dablam on the brilliant clear morning. 

From Everest BC - Team Dal Bhat

4 May 2003 - Wind Storm BC
We received a severe weather alert on May 1st, but it looked like we had one more good day at C2. The weather held for our second trip to the Lhotse face on May 2nd, but by the morning of May 3rd things started to change. Our team packed up and headed down the Western Cwm for BC. The winds roared like freight trains passing overhead and occasionally we got knocked to the ground by gusts. Our Sherpas tried to make a carry to the South Col (C4) with about sixty other Sherpas, but only nine made it through the fierce winds. Once in BC and out of the storm, we relaxed in the warmth of the sun. The winds continued through the night and into today. Our Sherpas just arrived from C2 and told me 23 tents were destroyed at C1. It's good to have the team in BC for a few days' rest.

Resting in BC - Bill

Climber Profile: Bob Gilman
Bob Gilman: 41 and single from Wasilla, Alaska. A construction contractor and Alaskan to the core for the last twenty-five years. A three-time winner of the gruelling 2,100 mile "Iron Dog" snow machine race, so adventure is part of his daily routine. He's stood on the summits of Mt. Cook, Aconcagua and Denali to name just a few of his mountaineering accomplishments. Now he sets his sights on Mt. Everest and completing the "Seven Summits".

At C2, but still blowing
It was time to leave the comforts of BC and return to C2. The weather forecast is showing signs of improvements for our night at C3, as part of our acclimatization schedule. We left BC at 5:00 am in light winds and a beautiful sunrise on the mountains. It was our strongest trip to C1 in just 4 hours. We were off to C2 after gathering some gear from our tent that was destroyed in the windstorm. The winds and blowing snow continued through the day, but by 12 noon we were settled in enjoying lunch at C2! We'll rest at C2 tomorrow before pushing on to C3.

At home in my tent at C2, 6,450m – Bill

Climber Profile: Alan Arnette
Alan Arnette: 46, married and lives in Colorado. By profession he's an executive in the high technology world, but his website www.alanarnette.com is his true labour of love which he on works with Cathy, his wife, to share their experiences. He's quite familiar with the mountains of the Himalaya, having been on expeditions to Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam and Everest, plus many other mountains around the globe.

Camp 3
A beautiful cold night at C2 after the light snowfall. The Sherpa's leave at 6am to carry our C3 supplies and set up camp for our arrival later in the day. We are off at 7.30 am for the Lhotse face in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. The climb takes 4-7 hours gaining 800m on 30-60° ice to reach camp. We had a perfect day, reaching C3 early in the afternoon. Time to hydrate and make some dinner!

From the best view in the Western Cwm at 7,250m – Bill

10 May 2003 - C3 Cold Morning
A calm, cold night of restless sleeping for the team at C3. Now we patiently wait for the morning sun to warm our frosty tents. Today we head to C2 and tomorrow BC!

Cold fingers at 7,250m – Bill

13 May 2003 - Oxygen Training
It's our third day of rest since returning to BC. The team's doing well, enjoying the food and thick air at BC. Plus, a shower never hurts one's recovery! Today the air got even thicker, as it's oxygen training day at BC. We all try on our O2 masks with our goggles to check the fit and familiarize ourselves with the bottles and regulators. Everest has not yet been summitted this season due to the weather. Teams patiently wait for the change.

In BC - Bill "Dr. of Oxygen"

Climber Profile: Bill Crouse, Expedition Leader
Bill Crouse: 39 from Colorado, USA. Recently married to Ellen Miller (AC trekking guide) in Namche Bazaar in a traditional Sherpa zendi ceremony. In the last twelve months, Bill has guided successful AC expeditions to the summits of Everest, Ama Dablam, Vinson and Aconcagua. In 1999 Bill first reached the summit of Everest, as team photographer/climber for the National Gorgraphic Society during the historic expedition that recalibrated the height of Everest at 8,850m. In June, Bill is off to guide AC's first expedition to Denali in Alaska.

16 May 2003 - Summit Push
The weather forecast looks good for our team's summit push. We've got our eye on the 21st of May, so it's time to head to C2 in the AM. I'll be tracking any changes in the weather, but this window is looking good for most of next week. We'll take one rest day at C2 and then go to C3, C4 and summit. It's exciting to finally be heading off to the summit. Our Sherpas sent us off with a good luck banana cake!

On the way to C2 – Bill

17 May 2003 - C2 Summit Push
4am comes early after the six days of rest in BC, but we are ready to start making our way to the summit. The icefall is busy with climbers and Sherpas making their way toward C1. Teams have been waiting for weeks and are preparing for their summit between May 19-23. We are graced with a light breeze and partly cloudy skies keeping us cool in the Western Cwm. It's good to be back at C2.

Good night from C2 at 6,450m – Bill

18 May 2013 - C3 Tomorrow
We are still on track for the 21st and the weather forecast looks promising. Everyone is feeling good after the day's rest at C2. Tomorrow we head to C3 with Chhuldim and Pasang helping carry some of the load. Some teams are already at C3 and C4 tonight, so we hope to hear of them reaching the summit on 19th or 20th.

Off to sleep at C2 – Bill

19 May 2003 - C3, Oxygen Time!
A great day climbing to C3 in perfect weather. We arrived early in the afternoon to enjoy the heat of the day. It was good to rest, eat and rehydrate before plugging into the wonderful oxygen! Tomorrow we're off at 7am for C4. BC was in the clouds and snowstorms throughout the day, so good to be high!

Enjoying my O's at C3, 7,250m – Bill

20 May 2003 - C4 Possible Weather Delay
A busy day heading to C4. The weather didn't quite match the forecast, but good enough to establish C4. Tonight, we will decide to eitherrest a day or go for the summit around 9pm. It's looking like an extra night’s rest to let the weather break and let a few teams clear the route. The good news is that teams from the north side summited today.

Making summit plans at 7,900m – Bill

21 May 2003 - C4 Waiting
It was a good decision to wait last evening, as the winds engulfed the upper mountain. We are patiently waiting and resting for the weather to change for tonight's attempt. Much of the day is spent like sardines in our tent on O's (photo Nick and Alan). I searched around the Col. a bit for artefacts without much success. The skies are thinning, and we can see most of the upper mountain, so keeping our fingers crossed.

Patiently resting at C4, 7,950m – Bill

Summit Push!
The weather has improved, so it's a go! We plan on leaving shortly after 9pm. Not as many teams at C4 tonight, but still good to be out front. Our gear's packed and now just hoping the weather holds for 18-24 hours. Wish us luck and continued good weather!

AC team off to the summit – Bill

AC group back at South Col
Just reported from South Col, 6.05pm Nepal time: The Adventure Consultants group have arrived back on South Col after a long day on the mountain. The group reached the South Summit this morning but the winds were already fierce by this time. Only one member of the expedition reached the summit, a Sherpa named Pasang Tenzing, as he was ahead of the main AC group fixing ropes with Sherpas from several other teams.

The climbing party saw many people ahead of them on the ridge between the South Summit and the top of the Hillary Step and realised that they would not be able to safely make the top and get down without exposing themselves to undue risk.

The weather conditions have deteriorated during the day with strong wind gusts on the upper mountain right now. Sometimes it takes more determination to turn around than to keep going higher. While we at the AC Base are disappointed that the group did not reach their goal, we are very happy to see them back safely back at the col.

Guy Cotter

23 May 2003 - Safely Back to C2
The team's back safely at C2 after our summit push. C4 was still bitterly cold and quite windy as we packed camp. The weather improved with our descent and our lungs with the thicker air. The winds continued to hammer the upper mountain today. We're glad we turned when we did, as we keep hearing of frostbite and other epics. It's been a great expedition.

Safely at C2 - Bill

24 May 2003 - Back to BC
Back to BC! We left C2 with the morning sun for the last trip through the icefall. Everyone is feeling stronger with each step downhill to BC. The icefall has changed and is now softening with the heat of the spring sun. Ellen and Ang Tshering greeted us at the bottom of the icefall with beers, juice and fresh baked cookies. The Sherpa team is working extremely hard to take down camps and get all the gear to BC. We should be leaving BC soon, it's been a fantastic expedition.

Back in BC – Bill

27 May 2003 - Leaving BC
We've packed our loads and the members left for Kathmandu on a helicopter this morning. Ellen, Bill and the Sherpas begin the two-day trek to Khumjung. Our plan is to fly to Kathmandu on the 29th with our cargo from Syangboche. It's been a great expedition, but now time to leave our home of ice and rock till next year. We say our final good-byes to Everest and head down the trail.

Namaste - Bill

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