Dispatches - Everest 2004

May 29, 2004

Beginning in Kathmandu, Nepal, Adventure Consultants operated its tenth expedition to scale the highest mountain on the planet, Mount Everest, in the pre-monsoon season of 2004.

Adventure Consultants Mount Everest Expedition 2004 Dispatches

Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition 2004 Team Members

Climbing Leader: Luis Benitez - USA
Assistant Guide: Mike Roberts - NZ
Expedition Manager: Guy Cotter - NZ

Climbers:
Ed Bradley - Australia
John Rost - USA
Anthony Baldry - Australia
Urszula Tokarska - Canada
Tony Barman - Norway
Samantha O'Carroll - Ireland
Greg Konrath - USA

Expedition Doctor: Dr Alison Mynett - UK
Trekking Guide: Ellen Sagmyr - NZ

Expedition Sirdar: Ang Tshering Sherpa - Khumjung, Nepal
Climbing Sirdar: Ang Dorjee Sherpa - Pheriche, Nepal

Climbing Sherpas: Chuldim Sherpa (Khumjung), Passang Tenzing Sherpa (Phortse), Phu Tashi Sherpa (Pangboche), Lhakpa Sherpa (Phortse), Tenzing Chhoney (Khumjung), Nuru Geljen (Phortse)

Base Camp Cook: Chhongba Sherpa (Nunthala)
Base Camp Cook Boy: Ngawang Chhonngba (Khumjung)

Base Camp Sherpa Cook: Dawa Sherpa (Khunde)
Base Camp Cook Boy: Pasang Sherpa (Taksindu)

Camp 2 Cook: Chhuldim Sherpa (Khunde)
Camp 2 Cook Boy: Sange Dorji Sherpa (Khumjung)

Prologue
We are counting down to the start of our 2004 expedition to attempt Mt Everest by the SE ridge, the route of ascent by Tenzing and Hillary in 1953. This will be the 10th Everest expedition operated by Adventure Consultants since we first started guiding groups on the mountain in 1992 and, to date, we have facilitated 64 successful summit ascents!

The guides will soon be arriving in Kathmandu followed by the expedition members on April 5 & 6. We will post another dispatch when we are in Kathmandu so be sure to follow our daily progress throughout the expedition.

This is Guy Cotter, signing off from AC base in New Zealand

2

The kickoff...
Greetings everyone from Kathmandu! Everyone has arrived here safe and sound. Other than a little jet lag, everyone is in fine spirits and ready to get going!

One of the biggest challenges with any Everest expedition is of course logistics. What goes where when and with whom! Towards that end, Guy Cotter and Mike Roberts will be taking one very large taxi, in the shape of a Russian helicopter, up the valley towards Base Camp with over 3000kg of food and gear! The rest of us will spend tomorrow taking in the sights and preparing our gear for our early flight up the valley the following day to Base Camp.

So stay tuned as this marks the official start to the 2004 Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition!

Mt. Everest, get ready... here we come!

Up, up and away
Greetings all from Phakding! We are finally underway!
This morning was an early wake-up call at 5am. We then all rolled to the airport and boarded 2 flights to Lukla. The second flight, consisting of Ed, Ellen and Pasang, one of our Sherpas, almost didn't land due to stiff tailwinds! Luckily, the winds cleared, everyone landed and now, sitting in Phakding, we are enjoying our 1st night along the trail, nestled in our teahouse, looking forward to our sleeping bags, as the weather here is proving to be colder than expected, even down here!

So till tomorrow, this is the Everest team, signing off...

Luis

Namche Bazaar
Hello everyone from the county seat of the Solu Khumbu region, Namche Bazaar! The walk up here today was long but pretty uneventful. After a great breakfast, quote Ed,"eggs, toast, coffee and juice..how civilized..", we headed off under threatening clouds, after a few hours the clouds parted, the hill continued up and up, and before long we found ourselves in Namche!

Tomorrow we will spend as a rest day here, adjusting to the altitude, eating doughnuts, yes, doughnuts from the German bakery here in town!

It is shaping up to be a great start to our expedition! Well, I should go, dinner is about ready, and tea is on the way!

Ciao for now!

Luis and the Everest crew!

On to Pheriche
What a difference a day makes!

Today saw the team back on the road heading up to the village of Pheriche. At about 14,000ft, we are actually going to stay here tomorrow as well, trying to let our bodies get used to the new altitude. Slow and steady..is how we like it! 

Hearing from Guy and Mike up valley sounds like the trail to Base is pretty crowded. We, however, are enjoying a relatively quiet trail, not a lot of people back with us which is good. Mike and Guy should arrive at Base Camp today and begin helping the Sherpas set up our new home for our arrival in a few days.

So till tomorrow, this is the Everest team saying goodnight from Pheriche and Happy Nepali new year!

Luis

6

Rest days
Aaaaah, rest days. Of course, the location could be less chilly, but it was still a rest day all the same! Today was mostly spent charging batteries with our solar panels, watching movies on Greg's laptop, and generally lying around and enjoying the new altitude.

We had a great surprise today as Ellie from AAI came down with a sick person from their group, and caught us up on all the gossip at Base Camp. Seems like Mike and Guy are settled in at Base Camp, tidying up the final touches and awaiting our arrival.

Tomorrow's climb will be our biggest jump in altitude yet, 2500ft. To Lobuche, the last outpost on the road to Base Camp.

So until tomorrow night, this is Luis and the gang, off to watch another movie!

15 April 2004 - Stormy Lobuche
Up and up we go! 

Today's walk, as described by the gang:
Anthony: cold, windy, dusty
Ellen: contrasts
Anna: easy
Greg: very nice
Urusula: solitary

These were some of the impressions from the team that brings us to one of the highest outposts on earth, Lobuche. At just about 16,000ft, our sleep tonight here promises to be breathless! We have a few people not feeling 100%, be it from stomach bugs or altitude, so we are going to spend yet another rest day here tomorrow. As Tony said, "we live in such a sterile environment, a few bugs may do us good!"
Samantha and the good doc Ali actually elected to stay behind in Pheriche to recover from the sniffles and plan on joining us in a few days. We are in radio contact with them so as Ali puts it, "its like we were there without the smell!"

So showers, resting and a little light exercise are the order for tomorrow. Why do we go so slow? The body needs time to adjust and the higher you go, the harder it is to recover from illness or injury.

So til tomorrow... getting closer!

Luis

16 April 2004 - Hanging in Lobuche
What a great rest day!

Heard from Samantha and Ali down in Pheriche via radio, Sam is feeling better and moving up tomorrow if all goes well. Today the rest of us hiked up a side valley to catch our 1st faraway glimpse of Base Camp! Everyone is feeling much better today and ready to get to our new home!

So tomorrow, bright and early, we will set out for Base Camp, hoping to make it there in about 6 hours or so. Guy and Mike, who with the Sherpas help have set up Base Camp already, will be there waiting to welcome us in.

Sam and Ali should follow the day after, making the team complete!

So till Base Camp,

Luis

17 April 2004 - Home Sweet Home
Hooray! What a day! There is nowhere on Earth like Everest Base Camp and finally, we are here!

It was a great, sunny, warm day today and the walk was filled with spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse, and the surrounding valleys. Tonight it began to snow lightly here at Base Camp, and talking to Sam and Ali down in Lobuche, good news, they will be here tomorrow! So bright and early, we will be up for our puja ceremony. This is a Sherpa / Buddhist blessing that basically asks permission from the gods that live on the mountain to allow us a safe passage up the hill.

It is a wonderful time for Sherpas and western members to come together as one. More on that tomorrow! For now, the team is relaxing in our heated dining tent, listening to music and sending lots of love to all of our friends, family and loved ones back across the world. Know that we are safe and sound here in our new home away from home.

So till tomorrow,

Luis, Mike, Guy and the gang

18 April 2004 - Puja Ceremony
Today is Puja day! The Puja is the ceremony performed by a Buddhist Lama prior to the group going up onto the mountain. The Sherpa people believe that Chomolungma, their name for Mt Everest, represents a goddess riding a Tiger, one of 5 sisters who each attained a mountain-top throne. This afternoon we rest and organise equipment whilst our Sherpas prepare loads to take to Camp 1 tomorrow.
At last, the expedition begins in earnest!

This is Guy signing off

8

19 April 2004 - Chutes and Ladders
Practice, practice, practice. This was how most of the day went today, sorting our equipment, putting together our systems for the mountain and doing trial runs across the same type of ladders we will encounter in the icefall. Systems are one of the more important things to get right at the start of a trip as they assure not only our safety but also our peace of mind.

So we are wrapping up our lessons for today, in anticipation of our 1st walk into the icefall tomorrow! Not too far up, just enough to get some exercise and go across some real ladders!

So till then

Luis, Mike, and the gang

20 April 2004 - First foray into the icefall
Excercise and ladders. Today we walked up above Base Camp to stretch our legs, and cross our 1st few crevasses in the infamous icefall. Ladder practice yesterday served us well up on the mountain today, as we crossed multiple sections of ladders up in the icefall, and practised our cramponing and fixed rope travel. All skills necessary for our upward progression. Then, straight back down the mountain to the wonderful sight of Base Camp and burritos waiting for us upon our return for lunch.

People from back home often ask what we do here at Base Camp between times on the mountain. Having a cook, all the good food from home, music, board games and books, we really try to rest and relax as our time on the mountain is always hard on the body and mind. And tomorrow, seeing as it is a rest day, we will go a little more in-depth with the members of the team.

Till then,

Luis, Mike and the gang

21 April 2004 - Quotable climbers
Luis - It's like herding cats...

Quotable climbers today will be our dispatch... so sit back and let me introduce the cast of characters...

Ed - Really missing the office... where is the chairlift?
Anthony - There is nothing like burning yak dung in the morning
Ali - Busy donating her body to medical science
Greg - Missing Elena, Sean and Erin very much, and Anna my wife too since she left Base Camp with the credit card
John - I wish I was sailing
Mike- Buenas dias amigo!
Sam - I'm taking up knitting!
Tony - It's brilliant! It stinks! It's excellent!
Ursula- Jeszcze polska me zginela

25 April 2004
Hello to everyone out there in cyberspace. This is Ali, the AC Team Doctor, writing in to keep you all updated with the activities on Mount Everest today. Well, a cold and early start (3.30am to be precise!) saw the whole team at last making their way up the Khumbu icefall towards Camp 1. Bad weather and lots of snow has hampered the initial foray up to higher elevations but now they are all well underway! I am receiving regular updates by radio this morning and all are doing great. They should all have reached Camp 1 by lunchtime. Camp 1 is situated at approximately 6,100m and the climbers will enjoy a rest day there tomorrow, allowing their bodies to become accustomed to the new altitude. The day after that, if all are well, it is intended that the team will move up to Camp 2 in the Western Cwm, where a set-up similar to Base Camp will welcome the climbers. They will have their own dining tent and cook who will cater to their every need! Camp 2 is at approximately 6,400m and two nights at that elevation, with a walk up to the foot of the Lhotse Face the following day, will mean that the climbers will be very ready for several days rest and recuperation in the relatively thick air back at Base Camp at 5,300m.

The Adventure Consultants Base Camp is now very quiet for a few days without the team but the rest of Base Camp is bustling with life - enough to keep me occupied for the four or five days whilst the team are away. So stay tuned to see how the team go up in the Western Cwm over the next few days!

Ali Mynett

26 April 2004 - Camp 1
Waking up at C1 for the first time on an expedition is akin to the feeling of having one too many Irish Whiskies, Vino Tinto's etc. Somewhat whoozy, a bit of a headache maybe, a reluctance to move from the horizontal. Well, this is all part and parcel of adjusting to a new altitude. Add to this some muscular aches and pains from a long hard day in the Khumbu Icefall. The good news is that this morning everyone was within the 'normal curve'.

The early morning sky revealed multiple layers of cloud clinging to the giant peaks of the Western Cym; Lhotse, Nuptse and the West Shoulder of Everest. Bodies slowly mobilized with the sun and emerged to a carpet of new snow. A Base Camp breakfast-appreciation ritual was followed by preparations for an acclimatization walk up the Western Cym. How to dress for such weather variability was on everyone's mind? One minute intense sun, the next enveloped in low cloud with yet more new snow.

From C1 the route upwards meanders gently past the crevasses of the 'Valley of Silence', ascends small ice walls, and occasionally, one's agility is tested on one of the multiple ladder spans that cross the larger crevasses. Low visibility and snow prevented views of Everest which open up from halfway up the Western Cym. Next trip!

Today's objectives have been achieved: a five-hour gentle acclimatization foray that brought route familiarity, confidence and the sense of well being that accompanies mild to moderate activity while adjusting to the altitude.

Our plan tomorrow is to take a rest day at C1. A welcome respite for some while an exercise in tedium for others. Either way, this is part of climbing Everest.

To the patter of falling snow, this is Mike signing off for the AC Everest Team

27 April 2004 - Hanging out at C1
What is it about days spent lounging in a tent that move people to inspired thoughts and creations? Today was spent lounging at C1 basking in the sunshine (no snow for once!), eating good food, telling stories from back home (did you know that John chased down a would-be car thief in his underwear?) and preparing for our walk up to C2 tomorrow.

Everyone is in good spirits and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. We saw quite a few teams come down from C2 today with stories of deep snow and hard going above. The only question we were asking ourselves was, " yeah, but obviously, they did not have bacon for breakfast every morning to stay strong! HA!"

Tonight folks are enjoying the soft glow that the sunset is casting all around us and getting settled in against the rapidly approaching night.

I am off to watch the settling glow and dream of loved ones and salads (hey, you cant have it all up here!).

Suerte

Luis and crew...

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28 April 2004 - Camp 2
Today we moved up the highly picturesque Western Cym to Camp 2. The Western Cym, a Welsh term for valley, is bordered by Everest to the north, Lhotse to the east and Nuptse to the south. The beautiful morning gave us our first close up views of the impressive and imposing South West Face of Everest. Still a long way to go! We also had our first clear views of the route to Camp 3 up the Lhotse Face.

When making jumps in sleeping altitude the name of the game is to take it slowly. We had plenty of breaks for drinks and photos. Perhaps foremost in folks memories about today is the incredible temperature contrast we were dealing with. Highs of 110F/40C contrasted with horizontal falling snow in the afternoon and the need to don down clothing as the evening approached.

Our Camp 2 is one of comparative luxury thanks to the hard work of our Sherpa Staff. We have a dining tent complete with tables and chairs which offers a welcome break to prolonged sitting in our smaller two-person sleep tents.

Tomorrow the plan is to spend a second night at Camp 2. We will also undertake a short acclimatization walk to the base of the Lhotse Face to further stimulate altitude blood chemistry changes.

This afternoon in our communal dining tent photos of family emerged and were passed around. Thoughts of family, friends and loved ones are never far from our minds. We are thinking of you!

Hurray for now

Mike, Luis and the AC Everest Team

29 April 2004 - Walk to the Lhotse face
People often ask what climbing at altitude is like. My response is simple. Go stand in a walk-in freezer, with a heat lamp pointed at you. Now turn on the wind fan and snow machine every so often. Then, take a simple restaurant drinking straw and pinch your nose so the only air you are getting is thru that little straw. Then to top it all off, put on about 10K worth of gear and clothing and go walk an endless flight of stairs.

Sounds fun right? Believe it or not, some days it can be! Today was no exception. After breakfast, we roped up and went even higher, to the bottom of the Lhotse face. To give you an idea of scale, C3 is halfway up this face and will take us 8 to 10 hours of climbing to get there.

But today's agenda was simply to get to the bottom of this massive face and return back to C2 by lunch. Everyone is in great spirits as we have completed our 1st run on the mountain. Tomorrow we will head all the way to Base Camp for a rest cycle of about 5 days. You simply cannot just go and climb Mt Everest without allowing your body time to adjust to the ever-increasing altitude. So we rest, and the next time up, we will try for spending a night at C3!

For now, we dream of Base Camp showers, movies on the computer and sushi!

Until Base Camp,

Luis and the gang

30 April 2004 - Return to Base Camp
There is no sight quite like the vision of Base Camp looming in the distance as we returned to the flatlands. Upon arrival, the orgy of food (sushi rolls), showers (piping hot water), beverages (beer, coke, sprite) and music (Eric Clapton) brought all of us back down to earth in a proper fashion.

So tonight with a movie after dinner on the laptop, some emails back home and a brief look back at the past week, we are all looking forward to some relaxation down time here in Base Camp. I for one plan on flying my kite tomorrow!

Till then

Luis and a very happy crew

1 May 2004 - Resting at BC
Today is the beginning of our five-day rest cycle. Intense sun is adding to the lethargy and ensuring the washing will be dry. Luis has a good breeze for flying his kite. In fact, the winds aloft are horrendous and are preventing movement on the upper mountain. Photographic jet stream plumes of snow roar off the ridges of Pumori and Nuptse. Everest has a particularly massive banner cloud today.

Several of the early season expeditions are now preparing to make their summit bid. During the last couple of days of April fixed rope was pushed through to the South Col; the staging location for summit bids. Weather reports are being avidly followed. Unusually for this time of the year there have been regular low snowfalls which are thwarting the efforts of climbing teams attempting lower technical rock routes.

What else? The fare coming out of our kitchen seems particularly delicious today. If passing visitors are to be believed, our culinary standards are well above the norm. Of course, there are those who believe that 'real blokes' on expeditions should eat Dal Bart and barely palatable freeze dried meals. They can have it! The post-mountain frenzy for a beer has shifted to Sprite; a welcome resupply item from Ang Tsering's recent resupply trip to Namche.

So what constitutes news in these parts? E-mails and phone calls home must top the list. Despite good shortwave reception folks prefer movies, novels and banter for the most part. Ali our doctor is busy drumming up subjects for her medical research. Last seen at the Greek's Base Camp. The movie M & M plays in our Base Camp tent. What a place for a cultural education. The Marge Simpson edition of Maxim is proving popular for a quick browse.

All our Sherpas are at Base Camp today chilling out and playing cards. For the next few days our climbing Sherpas will carry a series of loads from BC to C2. The establishment of the logistical pyramid that the success of our expedition depends on is in the hands of our hardworking and reliable Sherpas.

For, me one of the best parts of returning to BC is the welcome return of deep uninterrupted sleep.

Before I write a book, Enough!

Mike for the AC Everest Team

2 May 2004 - A boy and his kite
In my mind, there is nothing more relaxing than flying a kite on a sunny rest day. Looking down around Base Camp, as the wind increases, the kites begin to spring up, except for mine. Mike and I tried in vain to get my brand new sport kite up in the air, we will try again after lunch.

Seems tragic, as word has it that winds higher on the mountain are destroying tents at C2 and C3. Sort of ironic I suppose. Friends from other teams are stopping around for a visit and we are busy making faces at film crews wandering around with their cameras.

Our thoughts often turn to home and loved ones on rest days. Hence the computer and phone are busy most of the day conveying these messages back across the miles.

I for one just want to get my kite up!

Tune in to see what happens tomorrow!

Luis

3 May 2004 - BC Ice Skills
In the midst of a rest cycle, one's emotions shift from the relief of rest to boredom mixed with anticipation of the upcoming challenges.

This morning all team members headed for a technical ice course in the lower Khumbu Icefall. As well as being a rest day time-filler, the course provides valuable training for steep and awkward terrain such as the infamous Hillary Step. It is anticipated that most folks will test their prowess and further sharpen their skills on this course tomorrow.

Lethargy and time-out in tents seems to have been the preferred option this afternoon. This is counter to the bawdy exuberance displayed yesterday afternoon after a couple of beers.

Our ever hardworking Climbing Sherpa crew have completed three days of carries from Base Camp to Camp 2. Tomorrow is a much-deserved chill out day for them. Tonight 'members' and Sherpas are going to have a combined social dinner with the prospect of Sherpa dancing and frivolity.

Dinner calls so hurray for today.

Thoughts for many!

Mike for the AC Team

4 May 2004 - Dinner and a movie...
Movie marathon. The problem with this is what to watch. Women on the team long for "chick flicks", romantic... thoughtful... The boys opt for guns, scantily clad, um, people, and action! Usually, the end result is somewhere in the middle. The Sherpas last night joined us for dinner and a movie, sharing stories about past expeditions (Ang Tshering was working on the mountain the year before I was born!), and they delighted in watching a typical American movie!

We have decided our departure up the mountain tomorrow will be delayed by one day due to high winds up above. So yet again tomorrow we will be at Base Camp. Bags are packed and people are ready to head back up the hill. Stories are abounding about other teams stuck at Camp 2 due to these high winds and we as always are trying to stay out of the crowds and play it smart.

So tune in tomorrow for more exciting news from Base Camp life...

Luis and the gang...

5 May 2004 - Up we go!
Everyone needs to look their best! Ang Tshering doubled today as Base Camp barber, with Nawang Chongba as his willing subject.

Most of us watched from afar waiting to see what the style ended up being. Other than haircuts, today was spent planning for our departure at 4.30am tomorrow morning. Bags are packed and we are ready to go! So the next dispatch will hopefully be from Camp 1 as we push upward trying to spend one night at Camp 3 in 4 days.

Till then everyone is feeling great and ready to go!

Suerte,

Luis, Mike and the gang

6 May 2004 - Away from BC Luxuries
The 3.00am alarm revealed a day less than desirable for planned antics. Low visibility, strong cold winds from the north and intermittent snow showers. Time to hit the snooze button (didn't this happen last time we tried to go to C1)!

The 5.00am wake-up call coincided with an improvement in the weather. While the team made bets over the breakfast table, Luis and I deliberated as we viewed snow plumes cascading off the surrounding peaks. We decided to go for it.

As I write this wee update I am happily ensconced in my tent at C1 having had a most pleasant lunch, afternoon nap and music session with the walkman. The trip to Camp 1 was made in 5-7 hours, a 3-5 hour time improvement over our first run. A trip through the Khumbu Icefall is always a test of stamina. Highest on one's priority is to hope that the tottering seracs enroute remain firmly glued in place, which they did. Considering the wind continued to drop and all members were in good health the day must be rated as a good one.

As today draws to a close, the flapping of tent nylon reminds us that the high peaks are not yet ready to be summited. Brrrr ..... that breeze is NIPPY! A long Himalayan night beckons.

Tomorrow we plan to head up the Western Cym to C2.

Thinking of family, friends and loved ones.

Mike for the AC Everest Team

7 May 2004 - Camp 2 shuffle
Up we go! Today we kept rolling upwards towards Camp 2 and made it here by lunch! Our times between camps is rapidly improving, showing that our minds and bodies are slowly getting used to the workload up here. The afternoon was spent as most are, drinking lots of water to combat dehydration and telling stories from home.

Tomorrow will be a rest day here at C2, allowing us to get ready for our push to C3 the following day, so stay tuned!

Till then

Luis and Co.

8 May 2004 - C2 Rest and Wait
Today we are luxuriating at C2 on a cloudless calm day. The sun is intense and folks are reading, eating and lounging in this amazing alpine setting. Surreal to say the least.

Our ever hardworking climbing Sherpa crew completed an oxygen carry from C2 to C4 on the South Col. return in 6-7 hours. A time that has all members envious.

The plan for tomorrow is to make an early start up the Lhotse Face for a night at C3, 7300m / 24,000ft. Our three-person tents at C3 are pitched on ice platforms. Safety ropes link the tents and secure them to this exposed enclave on the massive Lhotse Face.

A successful night at C3 will mark the completion of our acclimatization program; a major hallmark. Fingers crossed that the wind does not interfere with our plans as all members are ready to pit themselves against this challenge. Please tune in tomorrow.

Thinking of friends, family and loved ones.

Mike for the AC Everest Team

9 May 2004 - Camp 3 Push
Huff and puff and roll into Camp 3. That's right folks, we are perched here, halfway up the Lhotse face, at 24,000ft. trying to get as comfy as we can at this altitude. We are going to spend one night up here, tossing and turning and getting used to the new heights because the next time up here, we will be on oxygen and headed for Camp 4 and the summit!

In our oxygen deprived states we still remember that back home, it is mothers day soon! So to all those wives, moms, grandmas, this is all your sons, husbands, daughters, wives and grandchildren wishing you all back home, nothing but the best on your special day!

John - Cheryl and Janet
Ed - Sue, Beryl and Hilda
Ursula - Krystyna
Samantha- Dolores
Tony- Torbjory
Luis - Nanni and Rosanna

Mike and Greg were busy when this was made, but I am sure they send along their love as well!

So from C3, this is Luis and the breathless gang, signing off...

10 May 2004 - Descending to Camp 3
As I put together a few words for today's web update I bask in the relative luxury of Camp 2 on a beautiful sunny afternoon. So why has Camp 2 suddenly been relegated and upgraded into the realms of desirable places to be?

Invariably oxygen tops the list, for it enables one to gain restorative rest. To say that sleep was fitful last night at Camp 3 would be an understatement for most. For the sake of group harmony, the dubious award for the most restless sleeper will not be disclosed publicly.

Appetites at Camp 3 and above take a trashing. Dinner last night for some consisted of a cup of soup. Others managed an MRE (meal ready to eat) dinner. These are pre-cooked, boil-in-the-bag style meals which are easy to prepare and quite tasty. But were the MRE's as tasty as the grilled cheese sandwiches and tuna salad etc we had for lunch today? I think not!

At Camp 3 space is limited! One has to wrestle with the idiosyncrasies of two tent mates, let alone their own. Are these really three-person tents? The two-person tents at Camp 2 seem positively luxurious, let alone the individual tents at BC.

What about the concept of going for a casual walk at Camp 3. Forget it! Camp 3 is nothing but an airy icy ledge cut on the flanks of Lhotse, the worlds 5th highest peak. In order to protect yourself from what could be a fall with dire consequences, it is necessary to be in full mountaineering gear before leaving the tent. One must wear cramponed boots and a harness with a safety leash. The safety leash must be clipped into the complex plethora of safety ropes at all times. Needless to say for many members this was their most dramatic camping experience to date. Walking carefree and unroped around the expansive flat Camp 2 sight is a relief.

So what are the realities of going to the toilet at C3?

Option 1: dressed as above mentioned (full mountaineering regalia) one teeters over a previously determined safe crevasse adjacent to camp and performs the necessary duty while still being clipped into a safety rope. Not the preferred option for the faint-hearted or those lacking coordination and cold tolerance.

Option 2: Use a ziplock bag in the tent vestibule. Avoids exposure to the cold but poses a challenge for those prone to embarrassment and not yet desensitized to such necessities.

Option 3: Wait until one returns to what was formally considered our primitive Camp 2 toilet. On getting back to Camp 2 today there was a long line!

Descending the exposed icy slopes of the Lhotse Face today took about three hours in blustery conditions. Fantastic high wind clouds ripped across Everest and Lhotse. All members are doing well, if not tired as expected.

Tonight we will discuss the various options open to us during our upcoming rest cycle. A dawn start tomorrow will have us heading for the Khumbu Icefall and the luxuries of Base Camp which we plan to reach at noon.

Best wishes to all

Mike and the AC Everest Team

20

11 May 2004 - Downward Bound
Whats the old Jimmy Buffet song? Changes in latitude, changes in attitude... For us, it was simply changes in altitude!

An early windy start at C2 found us eagerly running for Base Camp under ever improving skies. The joy of coming through the top of the icefall and seeing Base Camp again is akin to seeing a palace in the sky! Returning to showers, sushi rolls and sunshine, the team revelled in the much-deserved rest after the rough patch at Camp 3.

Tomorrow will see us going even lower down valley in search of green grass and more O2 and trying to get rid of nagging coughs from the cold dry air. In other words, our final big rest cycle before our summit push.

Other teams are trying to get set up for a summit bid on the 15th. Are we worried we will miss our chance? No way. Our theory is to let the other groups go and get out of the way. Seeing as the end of the month is warmer and has better chances of good weather... so let's hope our plan works!

So till tomorrow down valley, this is Luis and a very happy gang!

12 May 2004 - Off to the trees
Headed on down, down, down.... Green grass, juniper trees, grazing yaks... the scenes of spring... the smells... Uncomparable beauty in contrast to the stark, barren life up on the mountain. Tonight finds us in Pheriche, on our way down to Deboche. Simply enjoying the finer things in life, like soda, bottled water and a new variety of food. We also are revelling in sleeping in actual beds!

So tomorrow will be casual as well... looking forward to getting below treeline and walking barefoot in the grass...

Till then,

Luis and the casual cruisers...

14 May 2004 - Chilling out in Deboche
On the second day of our rest cycle we hiked a leisurely 3 hours from Pheriche to Deboche (3,800m/22,300ft) where we will spend two or three nights. Deboche is situated in an idyllic rhododendron forest below Tengboche Monastery. A perfect location for a brief period of 'high altitude convalescence' and recuperation.

Members are enjoying the comforts of sleeping in beds, inhaling thick air and satiating the return of ravishing 'low altitude' appetites. Not to mention having a beer and chilling out in a big way.

Greg has decided to leave the expedition for medical reasons and will fly from Pheriche to Kathmandu. We wish Greg a safe and speedy trip back to his family.

Our best wishes to family, friends and loved ones.

Mike for the AC Everest Team

14 May 2004 - Angle of repose
Trees, green grass, good food, new friends and betting on how long Samantha could actually sleep in today (if you guessed 12 noon, you are correct). We have been getting emails from the mountain keeping us informed on weather and other teams progress (or lack thereof). Looks like we get another day of vacation here before starting the 2-day walk back to Base Camp... 

Word from Greg is that he is fine, no helicopter could fly today due to weather, but hopefully tomorrow morning he will be on his way.

So thinking of loved ones, family, friends, this is Luis and the sloth crew, signing off...

15 May 2004 - Deboche Day 3
Soaking in the sun, turning pages, drifting in and out of idle conversations, listening to the BBC, the continuation of our weight gain program and speculating on the progress of parties attempting the summit today. Overall, the guiltless relinquishment to lethargy.

Tomorrow the 'sleep in' regime will be broken as we will begin our two-day return trek to Base Camp. We plan to trek to Lobuche tomorrow. Energy revised, attention will now begin to focus on the challenges and timing for the summit phase.

Hurray for now

Mike for the AC Everest Team

16 May 2004 - Moving back to the mountain
The last big bed... This is the last tea house we will stay at before our return to Base Camp and our summit attempt sometime next week. Information is coming back down the hill of summits, daring attempts, long days, big wind, perfect weather and generally lots of people lining up to go. Does this make us nervous? Like we missed our chance? Not at all. If anything, it gets the large crowds that can cause serious delays (sometimes causing missing a summit), out of our way and creates a safer summit try for us. Now all we need is some good weather and good health! So keep your fingers and toes crossed!

So till tomorrow from Base Camp, this is Luis and the summit bound......

17 May 2004 - Back in town
Back to Base Camp! The skies may be overcast but our spirits are anything but! We are back in Base Camp, looking to work on our oxygen systems tomorrow and then, weather permitting, heading up the day after to begin our push to the summit!

So stay tuned!

Luis and crew

18 May 2004 - Summit Push Begins Tomorrow
Tomorrow our summit push begins. With much relief, the waiting and anticipation will be over as we once again head up the Khumbu Icefall to Camp 1 for a night. The following day we will head to Camp 2 where we will take a full rest day. Once at Camp 2, we will refine our plan based on the weather forecast. If necessary we will spend extra days at C2 while we wait for an optimum summit weather window.

For the fourth day in a row, folks are summiting Everest. Stories abound of successful summits and mountain antics... midnight descents... one individual stranded snow-blind at Camp 4 ... the need for a helicopter evacuation from Base Camp... frostbitten digits... the hypoxic delirium of oxygenless climbers etc.. Food for thought on the need for caution and prudence.

Last night we had a comprehensive brief on summit day travel procedures. Terrain, gear, timelines, lessons from the past etc.. Today we had a training session on the use of oxygen systems.

This afternoon folks are packing gear, doing e-mails and in general chilling out. Invitations to summit celebration parties are of course somewhat untimely for our group. Sobriety and readiness for an early departure are more our preoccupations. Chhongba and our kitchen staff are preparing the best fare for us that they can. Time to push in those last calories.

Manyana

Mike for the AC Everest Team

19 May 2004  - Back in the saddle
Upward bound again! Back up the hill, arriving at Camp 1 mid-morning. Meeting friends on their way down, tales of crowds, winds, fine weather and old fixed ropes. Right now the weather looks fickle, but it is the right time for it to be so as we have a few more days to get in position. So tomorrow up to Camp 2, where we rest and watch the weather, because from Camp 3, we will be on oxygen and that is one commodity we don't want to waste!

Till then,

Luis and the gang

20 May 2004 - Situated at Camp 2
Last night we went to sleep to the sound of falling snow. Deep satisfying sleep for most; a sign of good acclimatization. Today dawned with soupy skies and lazy patchy snowfall. Nature's protection from the harsh sun and heat that the Western Cym is fabled for.

Layered in Gore-Tex we headed up to Camp 2 with steady light snow continuing to fall. Our arrival at Camp 2 coincided with a brief blizzard flurry. At this time our Sherpas descending from a carry to Camp 4 were forced to hunker down on the fixed ropes until conditions cleared. Very miserable! Fortunately the winds soon abated and the swirling masses of chaotic snow became silent, still and postcard picturesque.

Lunch was potato pancakes, beans, hotdogs and mushroom soup. Thanks to our Camp 2 Sherpa cook Chhuldim for taking on the job of wrestling with temperamental high altitude appetites. Conversation is notably shifting to the upcoming end of expedition parties and events.

Tomorrow members and Sherpas rest at Camp 2. Pressure mounts in regard to the ultimate decision of a Mount Everest expedition; fine-tuning the timing for a summit bid. This afternoon we socialized with friends who retreated yesterday in an unforecast summit blizzard. Paying large sums of money for weather forecasts does not make them more accurate!

Thoughts go out to family, friends and loved ones.

Hurray for now

Mike for the AC Everest Team

21 May 2004 - The game is on
The game is on. Here we sit, Camp 2 rest day, watching the weather, waiting and hoping... After all this time and expense, weather reports, sickness, joy and intense moments, it comes down to this. Everyone is feeling great, ready to go, hopefully to Camp 3 tomorrow if the weather continues to clear. There are a few teams left to go up and all are congregating here at C2 for the final push. So stay tuned for all the excitement and adventures to come!

Luis and the gang.

22 May 2004 - Patience at Camp 2
Greetings to all from Camp 2 where an intense game of patience has begun. The Adventure Consultants team have decided to wait another day at Camp 2. For the fourth day in a row, the south side of Everest is enveloped in low cloud and snowfall.

The ideal and hoped-for situation is to have a brilliant and non-contradictory series of summit forecasts for a given period. This has not happened so far. Group discussions on weather reveal conflicting opinions as to the best strategy. Trying to make a decision that optimizes each member's summit chances is tough.

Meanwhile, we are all comfortable at Camp 2. A lot of time is spent drinking endless cups of tea while mulling over the details of the latest weather forecasts. Proponents of black humor find an outlet for their anxiety through such verbal banter. In contrast, our group also has some natural born optimists. Keeping things in perspective, this is only our first day of delay.

Our plan for tomorrow is to assess the actual weather, take into account the various available forecasts and then make a call as to whether to move to Camp 3 or stay put at Camp 2.

Best wishes to all

Mike for the AC Everest Team

23 May 2004 - Awaaay we go
Up, up and away! This morning at C2 we awoke to clear skies and no wind. Looks like the storm is trying to decide, stay or go... We hope go! So today found us walking towards C3 and boy, was it hot! It was the sort of heat you do not expect at 24,000ft. Now that we are here, we are nestled in with our oxygen bottles and trying to rest up for our move to 26,000ft tomorrow. That's right folks, the South Col, otherwise known as C4.

I myself get to play guinea pig and test a new type of O2 system... let's hope it keeps working! If it does not, back to the tried-and-tested Russian system for me!

So dinner is on the stove, the sun is setting, everyone so far is in good form, so.... goodnight from C3.

Luis and crew

24 May 2004 - South Col
As I write today's report I am tucked up in my sleeping bag at Camp 4 on the South Col; complete with oxygen mask and headlamp. Immersed in cloud and being buffeted by the wind this, the highest camp on earth, reminds one why they bought a very warm sleeping bag.

Today's climb from Camp 3 was undertaken using oxygen and involved crossing two rockbands; the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur. The day was perfect and offered photo opportunities galore. Our hardworking Sherpa crew had tents pitched and hot drinks ready for our arrival.

The plan for tomorrow is to rest a day at the South Col before making our summit bid. Only one more day of uphill left!

Please stay tuned for the story of the pinnacle of this adventure. More than ever thoughts go out to family, friends and loved ones.

Mike, at the South Col

25 May 2004 - South Col waiting game
All is well from the South Col. People have spent the day drinking in the O2 as well as fluids, taking a walk across the South Col into Tibet and preparing for what will hopefully be the start of a summit bid tonight. The winds are quite strong, so we may have to hold up here one more day. We have enough oxygen to do so, but let's hope that the winds will decrease soon.

On a different note, Tony Barman has decided that this is as high as he will go. To all of his friends and family, he is doing well, but faced with this difficult decision, understands that safety is more important than a summit. I for one applaud he sound judgement and courage at such a time.

Everyone else is eager and ready to go so stay tuned for the next 36 hours!

Luis and crew

25 May 2004 - 10.30pm Nepal time
Hi all, Guy here at Everest Base Camp calling to say the team have called it off for tonight as it's still too windy, even though it is clear on the South Col. They're planning on having another go tomorrow - leaving for the summit tomorrow night, so we'll be waiting and watching the weather until then. Over and out for today, Guy.

26 May 2004 The countdown begins
Viento.... translation: wind... Last night was a struggle on many levels, keeping the tents in one piece for starters, plus dealing with the cold wind that at times was gusting to 70mph. Finally, the difficult decision to stay here on the South Col one more day to conserve our oxygen and hope for better weather tonight.

Humans are not meant to vacation above 8,000m, so given our oxygen supply (down to what we need and a bit of reserve), our Sherpas (strong and ready, but also feeling the altitude) and us (ready and willing, but needing better weather), we are watching the winds drop and preparing for tonight, which looks to be about 98% better than last night.

So cross those fingers and toes and stay tuned, as the last team up here, on the last days of the season, we reach for the highest possible limits of human endeavor....

Lots of love to everyone at home from up here... I am off to dream of loved ones and salads with blue cheese dressing!

Luis and the 8,000m club

26 May 2004 - News from the South Col - The summit push is on tonight
This is Guy Cotter calling from Everest Base Camp and the Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition. It is 9.14pm on the 26th of May 2004 and I have just heard from the expedition guide, Mike Roberts, from the South Col at 7,980m, where he and the group of 12 are about to embark on their attempt at the summit tonight. The weather is very clear and there is virtually no wind on the col or on the mountain above. Conditions are perfect for the attempt and the group are all feeling strong.

The climbing team consists of Luis Benitez and Mike Roberts as the guides, Urszula Tokarska of Canada, Samantha O'Carroll of Ireland, Ed Bradley and Anthony Baldry from Australia and John Rost from the USA. They are supported by the very experienced Sherpa team consisting of Ang Dorjee Sherpa, Passang Tenzing Sherpa, Phu Tashi Sherpa, Lhakpa Tharkey Sherpa and Nuru Gyalzen Sherpa.

We anticipate the team should reach the summit sometime mid-morning tomorrow and we will keep the updates coming as they proceed. This is Guy Cotter from Everest Base Camp.

27 May 2004 - 3.15am Nepal time, On the Balcony
Guy Cotter called from Everest Base Camp to report that he'd heard from Mike. The team was on the Balcony (where the route reaches SE Ridge proper for the first time). The weather was perfect - an amazing day so far and all climbers were going well! 

(Posted by Suze Kelly at Adventure Consultants in New Zealand)

27 May 2004 - South Summit
9.00am from Everest Base Camp. Luis Benitez has just called down to base from the South Summit. He is there with Anthony Baldry, Samantha O'Carroll, John Rost and Sherpas Ang Dorjee, Phu Tashi and Lhakpa Tharkey. This initial group is just now about to move along the precipitous summit ridge to cross the Hillary step and on to the summit itself. We anticipate they shoud reach the summmit at about 10.30am.

Just below the south summit are climbers Ed Bradley and Urszula Tokarska accompanied by AC guide Mike Roberts. They should be on the South Summit in 30 minutes.

Another report will be posted as they progress towards the summit.

Guy Cotter, from Everest Base Camp

9.40am Nepal Time - Hillary Step
Curent positions of the team are; Ang Dorje, Anthony Baldry and Samantha O'Carroll are on the Hillary Step, John Rost is just behind.

Ed Bradley and Urszula Tokarska got to the South Summit and are now leaving to make their way up to the summit.

Guy Cotter, from Everest base camp

27 May 2004 - 10.15am, Standing on the Summit!
Loud cheering on the radio signals the arrival of Ang Dorje (his 10th summit!), Anthony Baldry, Samantha O'Carroll and Phu Tashi on the summit of Mount Everest. John Rost is moments away from reaching the top also. Luis and the others are further behind. Fantastic news and congratulations AC team!

Guy Cotter, from Everest base camp

27 May 2004 - 11.15am Nepal time, More summits!
John Rost and Lhakpa Tarkey reached the summit but did not linger long, they then descended along with the first group. Luis Benitez reached the summit just now at 11.15am along with Passang Tenzing and Nuru Gyalzen (more cheering!). They will start their descent shortly.

Urszula Tokarska and Ed Bradley have turned around with Mike Roberts. It was a tough call to make but the weather has started to change and they have made the decision to descend, taking the safer option. We'll report on their progress as they head back to the South Col.

Guy Cotter, from Everest Base Camp.

27 May 2004 - 6.05pm, All expedition members safely back in C4
It's the 27th May 2004 on the Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition. This is Guy Cotter, at 6:05pm Nepal time.

We have just heard from Mike Roberts at Camp 4 that all the expedition members are now in the camp rehydrating and resting after their summit day. Special congratulations go to Anthony Baldry for completing the seven summits today with his ascent of Mount Everest, finishing 2 years of dedicated effort. Also congratulations to Samantha O' Carroll from Ireland, who became the second Irish woman to summit Everest and the youngest Irish woman overall. Expedition US member John Rost also summitted and congratulations are due to him for his fine effort also. AC expedition guide Luis Benitez put in a fantastic day, achieving his 4th summit of Everest in 4 years. Guide Mike Roberts missed his second Everest summit assisting Ursula and Ed down from just below the Hillary step, where they had to turn back when the weather turned.

Lastly, none of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts of the Sherpa team who are the real heroes of this mountain. Ang Dorje Sherpa achieved his 10th Everest summit today, which he always appears to do with seemingly little effort. A big thank you to Ang Dorje and your team of Climbing Sherpa; Phu Tashi (4th summit), Passang Tenzing (4th summit), Nuru Gyalzen and Lhakpa Tharkey who achieved their first Everest summits today. This is Guy Cotter signing off from Everest Base Camp.

28 May 2004 - Summit Descent to Camp 2
Today the Adventure Consultants Everest expedition returned safely to the luxuries of Camp 2.

Our final night on the South Col was characterized by attempting to rectify chronic dehydration, exhaustion, fitful sleep on oxygen and reflections on an amazing day on the world's highest peak.

In regard to our summit day, there is the official story and then there is the one which gets told to mates over a pint or two. Not that we have anything to hide! Just as the view from the summit is both literal and intrinsic. Upon our return to BC tomorrow we will see what has been written about summit day and then fill in some of the gaps.

Rousing oneself after a day in the planet's thinnest atmosphere takes an act of major determination. Joints and muscles are stiff. The desire to sleep is overpowering. Then there is the racking Khumbu cough' exacerbated by oxygen usage. One must vacate the hostile environment of the South Col in a timely fashion for the descent of the Lhotse Face is massive and requires utmost vigilance. We were blessed with fine weather for this taxing descent and folks managed very well.

Tomorrow at 3.30am (horror of horrors!) we will shake ourselves into life and begin our final descent of the Khumbu Icefall to Base Camp. Then we get to have a sleep in!

Thinking of friends, family and loved ones.

Must catch some sleep

Mike

29 May 2004 - Homeward bound
Down, down, down... Walking down to Base Camp... being the last team left on the Nepal side and then being met by Sherpas with beer, juice and Cokes. That's right folks, we are back down at Base Camp, safe and sound.

The walk was long and hard, considering 48 hours earlier we were on top of the world! Now sushi, single malt scotch and plenty of summit day stories later... fully contented and ready to start packing up for home. Tomorrow, we rest, pack and prepare for a 3-day walk down to green growing things, family, friends and the "real world", but for now.... revelling in our lessons learned, successes, failures and all that we are taking home with us.

All of us send our thanks, appreciation and "warm fuzzies" home to all those that supported, followed and cheered us on from day one.

To all of you, from all of us, lots of love and see you real soon...

Luis and the gang

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