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Peak Freaks Mount Everest Expedition 2012 team is in the final stages of preparations. We've formed once again a dynamic team of 12 international climbers, three western guides and 34 Sherpa staff members. Leading the expedition once again will be Tim Rippel, 21 years guiding in the Himalayas, 41 expeditions, 11 of them on Everest and the only commercial operator here to boast a 100% flawless client safety record.
Joining Tim and team this year will be legendary mountain guide Marty Schmidt from New Zealand and Joshua Jarrin from Ecuador. Everyone is getting pumped and ready to give it their best shot.
Video by Memory Athlete - Nelson Dellis from Peak Freaks Everest 2011' is producing this series as we climb for everyone following to get a feel for what this years journey looks like. Nelson is going to keep us entertained throughout the expedition. For those following last season you will remember him as the USA Memory Champion, and who just now won the title again for 2012'. Nelson will be back on Everest next spring with a cool project or two or three and more for http://climbformemory.org/donate/ Don't forget to stay tuned and consider a donation. Help end Alzheimer's disease!
We were sad to learn of the very unfortunate passing of Nepalese born Shriya Shah, though she is Canadian she was not a member of Peak Freak Expeditions. Our hearts go out to her family and families of the other incidents reported the same night. We are proud of our 21 year Himalayan flawless client safety record and will do everything in our power to continue keeping climbers safe while they attempt to achieve their dream.
EXPEDITION WRAP UP
May 26: 22:00hrs (NPT) - 19- SAFE SUCCESSFUL SUMMITS-
Once again maintaining our 21 year worldwide flawless client safety record. SUMMIT LIST
Our team all made it through the ice fall today in good form and time pulling in to EBC around 2pm. The stability in the ice fall is said to be quite good considering this time of the season. It is starting to do it's spring meltdown and base camp now looks like a ghost town with just a few camps left from the last expeditions. All we see now is stone walls where base facilities once were. I made my rounds to say good bye to the last expeditions just finishing up here before the our team came back from C2. When our team arrived back we had a nice time together with some good laughs and glasses of cheer. Tomorrow we are up at 05:30 hours to say good-bye to the team while Joshua, Marty, Ben and myself take care of some packing up before heading down to Namche. We are told the flights are already backing up in Lukla. .... Tim
It was once again an epic season with many obstacles to overcome but each season will have them and they're always different. We work with what we are given to make it happen and never give up. The crowds this year were bad but not much different than what we've been experiencing the past few years. Had everyone up there climbed responsibly which was our hope as noted earlier in the blog, each one these tragedies could have been avoided. I encourage you to have a read through Marty's dispatch above and you'll get a feel for what it was like up there for him.
Marty and Joshua are highly regarded mountain guides, Marty goes way back and Joshua is new but is on a very impressive path and we are incredibly honored to have both of these professionals in our family and you will see both of them back again next year.
A huge heart felt congratulations to the team, we are incredibly proud of everyone giving it all they had and then some. They were a dynamic team of team players, they depended on each other and encouraged each other to get the job done as one unit. Our Sherpas are our family, we love them and their families. The family history here in the mountaineering industry is tightly woven, the boys are of men that used to climb with us in the early 90's and are following their fathers footsteps now working with us. We have a strong sense of responsibilities to these families and I think that shows to go both ways and why our support is so solid.
We thank all the family friends of these mountaineers for trusting us with your loved ones.
Over and out....... Tim and Becky Rippel Photos, videos and expedition celebrations can be followed on Facebook from here on out...
NELSON DELLIS -video: The Trek Home.... Enjoy
May 26: 09:15hrs (NPT) On their way: Team is up and getting and getting fueled for the final climb through the ice fall to base camp in the next few minutes. They should be back in base camp just in time for lunch. Signs of the monsoon has already set in down in the lower valley including Lukla airport. Two days of backed up flights already happening. This is a hard time for climbers when all they want to do is get home to their loved ones. Tim and Marty have party plans underway for the teams arrival at EBC. Becky
May 25: 18:00hrs (NP) All members are safe and sound at Camp 2 - Sherpas coming in now: Our Sherpa team has been working through the night. They are super tired so the staff at Camp 2 are heading up right now to bring them in with drink and food, they are about an hour away from Camp 2.
Message from team mate Andreas Breitfuss who is home now in Australia: “Boys… I am so excited and very proud to know such a dynamic group of mountaineers, tears were streaming when I found out you summited. Well done, love you all”
One team mate that really stands out this year is fisherman Chris Cameron aka Captain Crunch who actively studies Buddhism. The day before the team was heading up to the summit Tim sent him to EverestER to get a pain checked out, they were concerned about a fall he had taken when leaving his brothers home in the US with his duffel bag on his way to catch his flight to Nepal. The EverestER docs wanted to rule out a broken rib and sent him all the way back down back down the trail to Khunde to get an x-ray - results were negative. Keep in mind this is the location of day 2 on the trek into base camp, that's how far down the valley he went. They determined he had a developed a type of ulcer that is apparently common with the Sherpas during expeditions. He said they gave him a pill, he let out a big belch and was perfectly fine afterwards.
So now the team is climbing so he bolts back to base camp same day with a quick nap at Pheriche and catches up to the team at Camp 2 and proceeds with the rest of the climb to the summit. I thought how could this be? then it comes to me, he's a fisherman, one of those "Deadly Catch" reality TV kind of fishermen. He's used to exposure, he works well in cold, wind, tugging on ropes, sleep deprived and all while on uneven ground. A big round of applause to all of them who gave it their all to this climb but Crunchy's story will be one of those that will be told for many a year. Apparently he's also very good at entertaining the troop on down days with his skits. I'm sure there's many stories to tell about the cast of characters on this journey. We'll save them for their telling. .... Becky
May 25: 09:50hr (NP) TEAM NOW APPROACHING SOUTH COL Stephen now down at the South Col and the rest of team is about 1 hour behind them if not sooner. This shows how well everything is working up there this time around. They will most certainly be down at Camp 2 today and base camp tomorrow. Other teams up high are reporting much warmer temps and winds are very low as expected.
I'm super tired now so I will update here when the team all reaches Camp 2. Over and out... Becky
May 25: 05:15hrs (NP) We have summits...
The only one from this push that didn't summit was Stephen Neil from Australia. He started to have vision problems at the Hillary Step, Joshua turned him around and is with him now below the Balcony and his vision is now cleared up. This is how it's suppose to work. Good job both Stephen and Joshua.,
Weather is excellent!... Our reports are spot on, no wind when they set out and just picking up which is typical afternoon warming but the good thing is it's all good for the next few days with nothing looming in forecast.
Movement: Being there are more commercial operators on this wave our Sherpas and Joshua are saying everyone is being really good about accommodating passing members who have a system on how this works best. Seems the nightmare on the 18/19th is all behind us now. Congratulations team... you worked incredibly hard and displayed great tenacity.
The team intends to descend all the way to Camp 2 today if all goes well. Pots and pans are smashing all over the place in base camp right now. Stay tuned ... Becky
May 25: Sherpa power: Our Sherpa team is so stoked and supportive that three of them jumped on for second summit this season, Phu Tashi and Paulden who summited after fixing rope to the summit are up there right now on the summit push as well as Tashi who summited on the 19th, just a couple days ago. What a team! Love these guys, they always give us 100% plus.
For those who know our dear friend Ang Nima we met in 1991 and who leads our base camp treks, his son Ngima is also up there. This will be his first Everest Summit.
May 25: 04:30 (NP) Some of our members have reached the Hillary Step others close behind, exciting!
May 25: 04:08hrs (NP) Joshua calls in: Everyone on the South Summit (8690m- 28,500 ft) and moving in good form expecting to be on the summit in about 1.5 hours with the weather and condition of the team being optimal. Nima called in earlier and and his mic stuck on so Tim has been able to listen in and he says there was no sound of wind which is what we were counting on, exciting!
Check out Scott Mortensen's video above, I hope it can help people who may not understand this passion get a better feel for what we do here.
May 25: While we wait..
The dark cloud that has been cast on Everest the past few days with regards to the deaths and numbers on Everest should not overshadow the good that has been brought to the people of this country from mountaineering. During the course of the 21 years we've been coming here we've watched families prosper, wear shoes, educate their children, build lodges, own their own businesses, become professionals in medicine and education to treat and care for their own. It was all made possible by adventure seekers and explores who come here to see and climb the almighty Sagamartha - Mount Everest.
A good example is Vanessa Higgot. Her husband Guy Higgot an RCMP from Ontario came here and climbed with us in 2007 and Vanessa since has led a couple Peak Freak treks with us. Vanessa knew immediately what she had to do and she's done it very well. She fell in love with the Nepalese people, you can't help wanting to give or do something for them. She thought about it long and hard to make sure what she did was the best avenue. She is the founder of "Learn For life" scholarship fund actively raising money anyway she can. She is in Kathmandu right now visiting her scholars and teaching other helpful skills to children at the Hopeful Home, a Kathmandu orphanage, and sharing the love. I encourage you to take a look through the "Learn For Life" website and get a feel for what's being done here. She is only one of thousands of people who have come here to climb and end up leaving their hearts.
Photo: Vanessa with five of her six students. The sixth student lives in Pokhara 8 hours away.
May 25: 01:00hrs (NP) Team reached the Balcony 8400m (27,600ft) - Next check in will be when they reach the South Summit at 8690m (28,500ft) in about five hours from now. Keep in mind this is the quiet time of an expedition. They are keeping their nose going the same direction as their toes to get the job done.
We have 19 Sherpas up on the upper mountain right now. Below is the roster is our Team #2 members and personal Sherpas currently pushing for the summit.
The other Sherpas are working communications, carrying extra oxygen supplements, holding position in the event of an emergency and will clean off the mountain when we are all finished up here. This group won't get their name in lights for summit success but they are 100% key players in the success of any expedition.
Over and out.... Becky
May 24: 21:00 Final Summit Push underway for Team #2
I'm happy to report that everyone on our final summit push team left the South Col at 07:00hrs getting out the door nice and early and because they are all well rested it was an easy task, they appear to be moving along really well according to SPOTS last signal. However, SPOT for both Ben and Joshua seem to acting up at the moment. We'll see if they can get them back in track. Andreas had a good thing going to deal with cold batteries in the last push. Since it has to be on the outside of your suit he activated a hand warmer and attached it to SPOT and it did the trick.
In our group this morning we have 5 members and under the lead of 1 Western Mountain Guide, Joshua Jarrin. Each member has a personal Climbing Guide Sherpa (6) and we have (4) Sherpas carrying extra oxygen that is on top of our regular cache of oxygen up one the mountain that was carried up days before, we also have (2) Sherpas positioned at the South Col and (7) more coming up to be in position at the South Col in the event of a rescue, some will go up to retrieve our spent oxygen bottles and to help on the return leg of this journey and to bring down all our equipment off the mountain when we are done.
The weather is probably the best it can be, our information is showing 5k winds but the climbers say it feels completely calm. This window of opportunity is wide open for the rest of the season which ends on May 31. This is when the Ice Fall doctors take down the ladders.
Stay tuned as our team climbs. We will report again once they reach the balcony. Over and out.... Tim
New photos uploaded on FACEBOOK from Team # 1's successful summit. Andreas and George are both back home now and Marty is hanging with Tim at base camp monitoring communications.
May 23: 21:00hrs (NP) Team at the South Col reporting a comfortable night.. Tim lays it all out: We are climbing Peak Freak style - Peak Freaks style is different from low budget and inexperienced operators. We know it's too long of day for most to go from Camp 3, rest a couple hours at Camp 4 , strap on a mask for the first time and head out for the summit. Some can do this, the majority shouldn't, but some still do.
Peak Freaks style: Our team climbed to Camp 3 yesterday, spent the night on oxygen and today climbed to Camp 4 (South Col) and are now sleeping on oxygen. They will spend one more day/evening here on oxygen, resting, eating, hydrating. We want them in optimal condition and Joshua and Tashi both confirm from the Col that they are already in great shape, but we take no chances, this is how we climb.
We keep it small: This has always been especially important to us. We have a maximum we accept which is 12 and we often sell out a year in advance because we stick to it. We feel we do our bit in not having a huge impact on the routes and for safety, environment and movement. We still have to add proper staffing of Sherpas in that number so we feel it's important to keep it small.
While our team was climbing their way up today, Tashi sat at the Col counting climbers moving up to Camp 3. He counted around 40 people and he also did a head count at the Col and there are about 30 climbers there. On summit day (night of the 24th morning of the 25th) the maximum number we estimate is going to be around 70 people, half of what we saw on the 18th/19th and the forecasts looks really good. Climbers don't like to climb in wind over 20k and 30k+ is pushing it but some still do. Our forecast is showing to be wavering around 5 to 10k on the 24th night, and the team is reporting that they feel it calming considerably tonight already.
Our weather experience confirms there is a change to the good tonight because fog has arrived at base camp meaning the system we were waiting for is here. We are confident we have it right, but never say never, it is weather and we need to be prepared. In the event things change we always work with a contingency plan and our members know very well the importance of turning around and have proven to us that we can trust them on their word already. In our contingency plan everyone has a personal Sherpa, they are with our members tonight at the Col and they all care about each other, they're not strangers to each other at the stage or to us, most have trained with us in this environment in the Himalayas before. We also have a second set of Sherpas for them who carry extra oxygen for our members and are there for them if a situation comes about. The backup crew is at Camp 2 right now and will start up to Camp 3 tomorrow.
Communication: Tashi and Phu Tashi Sherpa who both already summited will be at the South Col during the summit push manning the radios which is important. The Sherpa language to us sounds very fast and misinformation can be a serious problem up here and we can count on these two for the job. English to Nepalese and Nepalese to English and proper radio handling. We have GPS tracking via SPOT allowing us to monitor movement during the black out section of the climb.
We can't stress enough the importance of training not just physically but mentally and technically is most important, we give our applicants a place to go for this. Everest Boot Camp. We also can't stress enough the importance of knowing who your life may be relying on in this environment that is unknown to many who come here today. We have this statement in bold on our homepage:
IS YOUR GUIDE A GUIDE? VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Peak Freaks uses only Certified Mountain Guides for our Everest Expeditions. IFMGA, NSMGA and NMA (Nepal Mountaineering Association) and aspiring ones with apprenticing certifications and certified Sherpa climbing guides. All our guides are paid the highest in professional fees, maintain their professional standards with the association, are required to have their skills reviewed on a regular basis making them insurable by standards that are recognized worldwide. This is who we put our climbers on a rope with. If you are paying close to the same in fees and your guides are not certified, I'd seriously be looking elsewhere. This is a serious climb with serious consequences should things go wrong. Rule number one of surviving Everest; prevention.
One of the most important things you can do when shopping around for a commercial Everest outfitter is to find out who is doing the guiding? are they certified? if you are not completely satisfied, keep looking!
We wish our team all the best on next stage of this journey...... Tim and Becky Rippel
May 22: 21:00hrs (NP) Beautiful night at Camp 3
Team # 2 is so very happy this evening sitting outside their tents at C3 enjoying the view, they're alone up there and zero wind. It was so nice that when Mark spoke out from a distance asking where the party is I could every word. I'm pleased that our second wave plan appears to be unfolding nicely. The SPOT to watch for our second wave is being carried by our highly regarded Ecuadorian Professional Mountain Guide- Joshua Jarrin. Tim
May 21: 21:00hrs (NP) Gearing up, round two: Team #1 is now at base camp celebrating a successful summit bid and in fine form. Team #2 is experiencing the jitters tonight at Camp 2 as they try to get some sleep in preparation for their next move. The plan is for them to push up to Camp 3 tomorrow and get into position for their crack at it. Now more serious than ever before we try to get an idea of who is going when and that the weather reports continue to maintain what we are given showing a good window in the days to come.
Tashi Sherpa stayed at Camp 2 and will go up once again to man radio communications from the South Col. Mingmar and Jangbu Sherpa our other two men made of titanium lead Sherpa guides are in the group, our lead by Mountain Guide Joshua Jarrin will be transmitting SPOT signals this time around.
Get ready for another exciting ride. Over and out .. Tim Rippel
May 20: 21:00hrs (NP) Just like the above video says... "Get the - - - - out of there!".... they were reminded by Tim's haunt. Tim said it was hard for Team #1 to pull themselves out of their tents this morning at the South Col considering their bodies are trashed and trying to recover after their successful summit and down climb. Marty Schmidt knows better though, this is certainly not new to him - he gets the ball rolling.
At this point on a Everest bid resting at the Col they're warm and cozy in their sleeping bag, the sun is starting to warm the tent and all they want to do is sleep. The thought of having to get it together enough to unzip the tent and crawl out into 30+ kilometer winds at 7906 m (25938 ft) and -38c temperatures is a true test of will power. If a climber doesn't have oxygen to sleep on here they can become hypoxic and can't think clearly, this could be the end for an inexperience or unprepared climber. This is why the summit is always referred to as only being halfway of climbing this mountain.
Team # 1 is joined by Team #2 now down safe and sound and tucked into Camp 2 for the night. Becky
May 20: 10:30hrs (NP) Marty checks in from the South Col... I just got off the phone with Marty at the South Col, the wind sounds fierce up there and he confirmed that it certainly was. I could here the screams of wind and tent nylon snapping over the phone. They have been waiting to get more sun on them and are packing up to head down to Camp 2 now. Team #2 will be there to greet them...... It sure was good to hear his voice... Becky
May 19: 21:00hrs (NP) Safe and sound and exhausted at the South Col
All of us are exhausted for that matter but not as tired as our first wave team is right now. Marty's call came in a bit late from the South Col because in order to reach the radio signal he had to walk about 100 feet or so from his tent and getting himself and the other members organized in their tents and hydrated was priority.
They are extremely tired as you can imagine, it was a long ascent with so many people and events on the route but the seven of them tucked in as one strong and focused unit, staying healthy and determined to get their moment on top and return safely without incident. The interesting part will be when they share their experience up there with the second wave team tomorrow at Camp 2. They are sleeping on oxygen tonight and will have a great climb down tomorrow. Very proud of these guys!
What's next? Everyone at Peak Freaks getting some shut eye....... Over and out... Tim and Becky
May 19: 14:04hrs (NP) We have summits....... congratulations team #1 Peak Freaks! 100% success first wave.
Second wave team up in a few days... Stay tuned for the second and most important part of the journey, the return to base camp.
Something whimsical to ponder while we wait..... written by our good friend Kristene Perron.
TEAM STUCK AT THE HILLARY STEP- 11:45hrs (NPT)
Spot watchers: Tashi just called in to say they are held up at the Hillary Step, they are all good and have plenty of oxygen to sit here till things get sorted out with another team. They should be on the move again shortly. Stay tuned!
TEAM APPROACHING THE HILLARY STEP - 09:30hrs (NPT)
Hillary Step is at 8760m and on a good day from here it will take about 45 minutes to the summit.
A team of Sherpas will remain at the South Col to intercept Team #1 on their way down and be there in the event of an emergency. All is good and everyone is doing really well.
AN EYE IN THE SKY
Through SPOT, 3G and mountain radios Tim and I believe we have some of the best communications going down right now on Everest. There is a black out zone between the South Col and the South Summit where base camp can't communicate with the climbers, we call it the black hole. During this time I am able to read the topographical elevations of Andreas's GPS track and Tim can visualize their location and pace from that. We've got Sherpas at all camps on radios monitoring movement on the mountain, things like how many climbers on the ropes, speed of travel, weather and incidents. Marty and team should be reaching the south summit anytime now and then we can get his report on the pending wind reports.
Right now they are at 8600m, just below the South Summit of 8700m.
May 19: 08:00hrs (NPT) TURNING TEAM 2 AROUND & TEAM 1 STILL CLIMBING
High wind reported by various members at the South Col so Tim is turning everyone around to Camp 2 this morning to wait for the next window on the 23rd/24th. This is the same scenario how it played out last season. We have plenty of oxygen in our contingency plan offer two attempts if need be and this is a need be situation in avoiding the potential for frostbite. Marty will be checking in once Team #1 reaches the South Summit to give us their status. Tim's last words "safety first". Becky
Everyone following Andreas's SPOT Tracker right now please now that all is good. The deal here is they have to be outside the their pack or clothing in order to transmit the signal. It's too cold for batteries at this stage of the climb so Tim had instructed him to put it inside his suit till he gets to the summit or just before and take it out again. He may take it in and out throughout his ascent, exciting.... Becky
Photo: Andreas Breitfuss
GIVING IT YOUR BEST SHOT
That's what it's all about... earlier today Roger Wright from Australia was forced to turn back. This is Roger's third Himalayan expedition with Peak Freaks. He hacked his way off Pumori in 2010 and again on Everest in 2011, he coughed so much in 2011 that he broke a rib. He has come back determined more than ever thinking how could a cough stop someone from climbing Everest and thought he could beat it. It's a pretty common scenario at these altitudes and unfortunately it has taken Roger out again. He was climbing to Camp 3 buckled over hacking so much that the cough beat him up taking all his energy. He made the right decision to turn back as he knew his limits and energy required to for the return. Later in the day BG hit the wall as well, same reason, also with us in 2012 but not the cough, this time he got it and it sounds like it beat him up and has taken his energy to levels not considered to be safe. These are not cold's, this is the Khumbu cough. It's been an issue this year with Everest being so dry. We wish both of them all the best on their next part of their journey, they are both real troopers.
Photo: Roger Wright from Australia
FIRST SUMMITS OF 2012'
Peak Freaks rope fixing Sherpas Phu Tashi and, Palden Namgya along with Ang Kazi, Jyamchang Bhote, Kami Rita, Phura Kancha, Karma Gyaljen Nima Dorje from IMG, AAI, Chilean, 7 Summits reached the top today! Big congratulations out to all of them.
TEAM PEAKS FREAKS ON SUMMIT BID RIGHT NOW!
At 21:00hrs Nepal Time, Marty Schmidt heads up the first group to the summit. If you are watching SPOT you will see the tracks of Andreas Breitfuss from Australia and Tashi Thundu Sherpa, the second wave is now sleeping at C3 and will move up to the South Col tomorrow. They should reach the Balcony in about 3 hours from now as I was late getting Tim's report, he's been busy coordinating all the movement of our teams. All is looking good, stay tuned for regular posting here throughout the night.
Here's an image from Everest3D of our teams first wave move up to Camp 4- the South Col earlier today. They laid around sucking on oxygen and having high altitude dreams and trying to get some shut eye before the big event about to get underway in the next half hour..
May 18, 21:00hrs (NP) Peak Freak members leaving the South Col for the summit in a half an hour.
Details coming with Tim's next phone call. I'll be updating here shortly... Becky
May 17, 21:00hrs (NP) Rope fixed to the Balcony (8400 m, 27,600 ft) - Team at Camp 3
Good work Sherpa fixing team!!!
Tomorrow the mission will be complete with ropes fixed to the summit. Marty suggests there are probably 80 or more people at Camp 3 tonight. The plan is for half of them to head up on the 18th and the other half on the 19th which we've taken as our main window but also allowing the 20th as a back up for those opting to layover at the South Col for the night. All the teams in this push have agreed to stagger their departure times from the South Col to the summit which should help with movement up there.
The weather is awesome right now, low to no wind and the best part being the temperatures remain cool making traveling quite pleasant, unlike the past couple of years where it was unbearable for some. It's shaping up good up there and the next beauty window like this one will open up again on the 24th if not sooner which would merge the two windows offering a fantastic season of opportunities for everyone.
Our third and last trek group of the season just pulled out today. They were so thrilled they made to camp and were able to sit in on radio transmissions of all the excitement that goes on here this time of year. Safe journey home my friends!
Over and out.. Tim
May 16, 22:00hrs (NP) Fixing team leaving for the summit in 2 hours!
Our Sherpa guides did amazing work today up on the mountain. Camp 3 tents are erected and stocked with oxygen and provisions, Camp 4- the South Col is also stocked and ready for tents to be erected once the team starts to move up but not before in the event of unexpected wind. We certainly don't see any concerns in the reports we're getting. The window seems to be widening nicely.
The fixing team will be leaving the South Col in about two hours from now to fix the route to the summit. WE ARE HAPPENING!!!!
Crunchy has caught up and is in the groove with the rest of the team. Marty spoke to me again on his day getting around C2 firming up everyone's agreements on when to climb to avoid crowds and he's happy with the responses and willingness. This is fantastic!
Over and out.... Tim
May 15, 21:00hrs (NP) Summit Push Day 2 of ?
Tim reports that our team had a good day at Camp 2, resting and visiting among the other teams who just arrived. He's impressed with how everyone is working together to space attempts and getting to know each other up there. He also said that the team is pleased that he planned they spend 3 nights minimum at Camp 2: Day 1 to climb - Day 2 to recover - Day 3 to get pumped. The next steps will be in the hands of our communal summit fixing team, so we wait and we watch.
I'd like to suggest that you take a moment to check out the new video Nelson Dellis provided for the next chapter of the expedition, you will see that by this stage of the climb Tim is no longer the fun guy, this is where he reminds everyone in a harsh way about the risks and how to avoid them, he's not very nice as it's time to get serious, the party is over till each and everyone is back down at EBC then watch out. He's also made sure everyone made that phone call home before they made their final decision on the next steps. Looks like everyone got the green light and we sincerely thank each and everyone of you at home for trusting us with your loved ones.
Crunchy is back and feeling good. The doctors were able to treat him and gave him the green light to get on with is climb. He will head out tomorrow to Camp 2. As mentioned previously all our climbers have a personal Sherpa climbing guide and in most cases this year they will have a 2:1 guide/member ratio plus our western Mountain Guides, there is a lot of flexibility for giving everyone their best shot in 2012.
Onward and upward.... Becky Rippel
May 14, 21:00hrs (NP) Summit Push is On!
CAMP 2: Our team had a good day in the icefall today, nothing out of the norm and are now peacefully sleeping at Camp 2. The ice fall is doing what it does any given year. We all got up at 2:00am, had a bit of a meal and send off talk. The team got out the door for an early climb through the glacier with no crowds and cool temperatures. Base camp was buzzing with activity today with the sounds of numerous other teams packing up to set out tomorrow.
The plan: We've got some high winds right now and the plan is for the summit fixing team to meet at Camp 2 on the 16th and make the call from there on the next steps. If all goes to plan it would work to have the route fixed by the 17th. Peak Freaks Phu Tashi and Palden Sherpa will be on the fixing team.
The window for favorable weather seems to be stretching out more so this will be good in getting around bottlenecking. We've done some head counting trying to get an estimate on how many people will be up there so we can get an idea on spacing teams where possible. Keep in mind it's only the commercial operators that take this into consideration so we will also calculate the mystery factor of the private teams. According to the estimates we've made we think that about 2/3 of the original number of climbers that arrived here early April are left for the summit push. The past couple of years we've seen 90 to 130 people all summit on the same day and with how many people we have here if everyone climbs responsibly we should to see some summits taking place from the 18th to the 25th and possibly later. Earlier of course is better as it's only getting warmer
Peak Freaks style: We keep our team small for a reason. We are able to climb as one solid unit at our camps but staggered if need be on the route as everyone has a personal and a regular summit Sherpa, a 2:1 ratio and this gives more flexibility than large scale expeditions. We don't have to share camps to get everyone through a rotation, we can if we want just hang out at the South Col and suck on oxygen if the team needs time to rest or if things don't feel right or weather. We also have enough supplies oxygen etc. to allow for a second summit push if need be. All factors considered, we are ready to climb!.
However this mornings departure was minus one, Captain Crunch (Chris Cameron) got crunched when he fell down the stairs with his duffel bag the day he was leaving the US for Nepal. He got banged up pretty good and has been climbing well considering he's been in a bit of pain. Just the past couple of days his pain got worse so he went and got checked out by the doctors at the HRA and they wanted him to go to Kunde to get an x-ray. It's all good, nothing broken and is making his way back up right now. He's got time still and should be able to catch up if he's feeling good by the time he gets here, meet Crunchy.....
Crunchy (Chris) Cameron, American, 46 years old, commercial fisherman for 30 years. Fish Bristol Bay Alaska for salmon every summer and in younger years spent time king crab and snow crab fishing in the Bering sea. Also involved in salmon fisheries along the west coast off Washington and Oregon. Spend winter months in San Francisco fishing for herring. Have always been into adventure, years ago living in China for a year teaching English and running around southeast Asia for a couple more. My passion today is my time off from fishing and spending one to two months a year as a Buddhist monk at a temple in Thailand where my teacher says I need the merit to prevent my return as a fish for all the many I've captured. Peak Freaks seems like just the next natural thing "I love it" the hardest part is just getting started, leaving home going down the steps and out the door. I have a wonderful, smart, beautiful little girl "Natasha" 11 yrs old, who makes home very special for the few days a year I'm there.
Over and out... Tim
May 11, 21:00hrs (NP) Peak Freaks powered by pacific oysters:. Our hometown "OYSTER MAN" Brent, provider for Nelson B.C. loads up his truck and hits the pavement for the 12 hour delivery bringing us these succulent canned and fresh treats to our in land mountain community in Canada. We are now taking them even further. We believe climbers can truly benefit from the oils, vitamins and minerals that are packed into these little light weight tins. Check out his website and learn about the oyster revolution.
The team is all doing great, we aren't wasting any steps that everyone has been taking to stay strong and healthy throughout this expedition. So while doing the waiting thing we took a big hike today to Mount Pumori's advanced camp on the standard route. Tomorrow we rest and then get out for another go at something else while we wait out the winds that should hover over the summit for the next couple of days.
BG picked the movie tonight- "Nurse Betty", the commentary afterwards that comes from the team members is for my personal enjoyment and that's the reason I keep this DVD around, Marty wants to scratch it so he never has to go through this again.
We are ready to climb just waiting for the fixing to the summit to allow safe passage for all.
May 10, 21:00hrs (NP)Climbing foot by foot, we are chipping away at climbing this mountain. Sherpas were busy today carrying loads to the South Col and are now resting at Camp 2. The fixing team is holding as we've got some snow which is good but some monitoring and stability evaluation should take place in an attempt to prevent a situation where ropes get buried before moving forward and timing it with wind that is forecasted to move in on the weekend.
Everyone on the second wave trek team arrived at base camp today and send a big "namaste" out to all their family and friends at home. They are a happy bunch and of course have fallen in love with their leader Ang Nima and his crew. Everyone is in great spirits, stayed healthy and acclimatized on schedule, good work team- 100% success!
It's always good to see our May trek group pulling into camp around this time of the expedition, that's why we plan it this way, it helps everyone dealing with what we at Peak Freaks call Everest Groundhog Day syndrome - you are woken with tea delivered to your tent, the sun comes up, you make your way to the dinning tent for breakfast, you chat, you get to know each other very well. You have lunch, you nap, you snack, you read, you write. The sun goes down, you have dinner, you watch a movie, you play cards, you chat, you go to bed... next day... same as the day before.
Groundhog Day is well known to many, it's an American comedy film starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. Murray plays a TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event, finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. After indulging in numerous suicide attempts, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities. I'll leave you with that.. Over and out Tim..
Something to ponder: We are offering a new expedition this October to replace our "Everest Boot" on Mount Pumori for another training adventure and to work around the meltdown in the Himalayas. We will have permits for three peaks, Lobuche East, Island Peak and Pokalde. The cool thing about this trip is it's going to be a recognizance expedition, the best kind. We will be exploring some new aspects and terrain off the beaten path as we'll have our traveling base camp with us offering flexibility. I'm really looking forward to establishing something new here in the Khumbu. We have a few spots left on the team if anyone is interested in joining us in October. more... EVEREST BOOT CAMP
May 9, 21:00hrs (NP) We're going to Camp twelve and we need 4500 bottles of oxygen..that's what I was shouting out to all the Sherpas around EBC today as I was announcing to get ready the summit push is on starting tomorrow. Phu Tashi from Peak Freaks will be in the summit fixing team along with 11 other Sherpas who will leave camp tomorrow and if all goes we'll will be pushing through to the summit in a few days. The other teams involved in this effort will be from IMG, AA, AC, Patagonia Bro's, Jagged Globe, Mountain Trip, Seven Summits, Indian's and Asian Trekking.
It looks like 100 Sherpas or so will be pushing loads over the next few days to stock camps, it's going to get busy up there as we've had a bit of down time with the re-route but it's not any different than how we would climb if bad weather had set everyone back, we are still on track time wise, shouldn't be any concerns of bottle necking, we have up ropes and down ropes from lessons well learned in 1996 where there was only one rope used for up and down due to unfortunate circumstances.
Lhotse: Now that we are getting a bit of snow, still not that much but every little bit counts to glue things together in particular on the route up to the summit of Lhotse- eyes are starting to turn that direction.
Spirits are high around camp, we've been having a lot of fun. Today I took my Ipad around took some photos of our Sherpa staff and we played with the Photo Booth App, I had them in stitches as I distorted their faces with the program, tears were rolling down my face in laughter watching them crack up. Lhakpa Gelgan couldn't look at me the rest of day because he couldn't quit laughing. We ended the day with popcorn and played several rounds of cards.
Second wave trek group: They are currently in Lobuche and will be here tomorrow. Good timing, they will be able to give our team a good summit push send off. We still have one more group coming in 6 days time and that will be it for our spring groups but we will be back once again in October with our "Triple Crown" Everest Training climb and Everest Base Camp treks in October.
That's all for now... over and out.. Tim Rippel
May 8, 21:00hrs (NP) Leaders meet hosted at Peak Freaks camp
Standing room only and even then there wasn't enough room so we held the meeting outside. It was a big turnout to learn of the next steps to get the climb underway. After three hours of hashing out who is going to do what we are left still looking for one more shared fixing summit Sherpa. It's all happening though, that we do know.
After the western guides meeting we had a Sirdars (lead Sherpa guides) meeting in the tent to get it all laid out in their language, everything went well and everyone is happy with getting on with the climb. Supplies are being moved up to stock camps with tents, food, stoves, oxygen and rescue equipment. The wind we are expecting should be slowing down on the 17th - so if all plans hold together up high on the mountain we should see the first summits by the fixing team on the 18th and then the teams will follow in behind in the days after.
We still don't see any signs of a looming monsoon or much precipitation for that matter, it's snowing right now so it will be interesting to see how that adds up on the mountain- if any. There's not much behind it except some high wind and dry
Shortly after the meeting our crew came marching back into camp. I didn't realize they liked it here so much, we are having a ton of fun whatever way the climb goes. Marty, Ben and Joshua have gone down to Pheriche, it's their turn to represent Peak Freaks at the disco.
Joshua checks in for our Spanish followers:
amigos de Ecuador, Canadá y el mundo.
Meltdown in the Himalayas!
Other news that hasn't made it global which is interesting in itself. A glacial lake burst on May 5th in the high Himalayan region swept away houses, farms, cattle near Pokhara in Nepal. Pokhara is the village and gateway for climbers and trekkers who go the Annapurna mountain range, there are 26 people confirmed dead and they are expecting more. Peak Freaks has trekkers in the region right now but they are fine as they are up in the mountains and not in the valley that has taken the bulk of the hit.
This will raise eyebrows once again of something we've been watching for quite a few years here in the Khumbu Valley. The Imja Tsho or Imja Lake is at the base of Island Peak. Imja Tsho threatens downstream communities with the potential for a glacial outburst flood. The natural dam is all that is holding it back, the dam is a moraine made up of dirt, rock and ice, the same as the one that just let go in the Annapurnas.
The footage from this video sent to me this morning resembles what came out of Japan during the tsunami..
May 7, 21:00hrs (NP)May 7, 21:00hrs (NP) Climbing... ropes are in to the South Col (Camp 4).
I had a busy day today while our team members are getting home sick for base camp in Pheriche. I told them it's ok- they can come home now if they want.
Things are looking good up on the mountain so I was all over base camp today with Greg Vernovage from IMG trying to get Sherpa staff organized to get the rest of this climb underway. The new route to Camp 3 seems to be working out with no rock fall and the route to the South Col from there is straightforward and considered normal conditions.
What's next? We are looking to have 10 climbing Sherpas plus their oxygen supplements for fixing the route to the summit, at current we have two from each of the following teams; Peak Freaks, Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents and IMG, we are hoping to find two more from other teams who are here to make a complete team to get the job done- at the end of the day we are left still looking.
We have a pretty good weather window right now to push through to the summit but we are expecting extreme high winds to move in as yearly as the 12th and backing off around the 17th. Our Sherpas are stoked and want to give it their best shot as well as all of our team members.
Though our weather insight does not go too far in advance, it's hopeful it will follow the norm - if so we may start getting some summits starting around the 20th or 21st.
Team Peak Freaks is biting at the bit and wanting to get back to camp. Pheriche is starting to fill up now with members from the other teams coming down for their pre-summit push rest so our team will turn the disco floor over to them. Over and out..... Tim
May 6, 21:00hrs (NP)Practicing Patience in Pheriche
While our team is in Pheriche fattening up and getting oxygenated, Tim and our guides are going through the motions to climb this mountain. Our members are well aware of the risks associated with mountaineering and ultimately will make their own decisions based on their personal risk tolerance. We will give it our best shot providing we can get our all camps and equipment and safety measures in place and that our Sherpa members are no less than completely comfortable with the new route that is currently being explored and that the weather and timing of everything lines up. I realize there's a lot of "ands" in there but this is what it takes to climb Peak Freaks style.
BG (far left), my favorite Swede checks in:
Hi Becky. Here's a picture from Himalayan lodge Pheriche. We have party's every night. Yesterday we went to
the local disco. There was not so many girls, so we had to dance with each other.
Take care. B-G.
May 4, 21:00hrs (NP)Practice of Patience
The practice of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can choose to respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.
May 3, 21:00hrs (NP) Nothing normal about this year
An emergency head honcho meeting today. We've got situation.... it's been a slow process watching the white disappear up here over the years. We were first out of the gate again this year as a team and we were very lucky that no one got hurt in the process. We keep our teams small for many reasons and two of them is putting the importance on team bonding and climbing as a tight unit for personal safety.
Our camp got put in at Camp 3 in good time with many thanks to our hard working Sherpa crew, and the fact that we had a perfect weather opportunity that kept us climbing underneath the jet-stream that we were watching. Our team spent 2 nights at Camp 2 under stars and very light to calm winds before ascending to Camp 3 the next morning early, and were back at Camp 2 before the jet-stream moved down lower on the mountain, just exactly how we hoped it would work. The team got hammered pretty good this night but it all worked and they were down safe at EBC the next night.
The few days before when the Sherpas were carrying our equipment and fixing rope to Camp 3, the mountain was holding tight, just a few skiffs here and there. By the time our team got on the rope and started to climb it was good going up but things started to change, on the way down a couple members took a hit with some smaller rocks and they began to down climb very softly and by the sounds of it it's only going to get worse unless we get the right mix of snow and temperatures. The situation is that each time a climber pulls on the rope because of the lack of ice and snow holding things together, crampons and rope starts to dig into the rocks and sends them down the route straight on to climbers coming up.
The only normal I see right now is that this meltdown is happening all over this wonderful playground we've enjoyed for so many years. We used to climb Ama Dablam till a chunk fell off the hanging glacier, the Dablam and changed the way Ama Dablam is climbed today, so we moved over to Pumori, it's higher and ice was not affected by melt yet, but as of last autumn we are forced to call it quits playing there for the same reasons we see on Everest now. Our last Pumori expedition gave us enough warning signs to move on as we could no longer offer safety to our participants there. Now, Everest being the highest and coldest we didn't expect it to deteriorate so fast, but it has.
Route finding is key for an accomplished mountaineer and we had a tent full of them this afternoon, we all gathered to discuss options. I could see a possible solution to move out to the far far right and up and far right again. I brought our teams photos of what they saw up there and David Breashears also joined us. He had been out flying around getting shots for his "Melting Glaciers" documentation and we could see that the route I suggested was a good one but at the end of the day we didn't get any resolve because in order to get up to the Col climbers will still have to traverse the rocky area to get up to the Col.
It's not all gloom and doom. There is a fix if we get the perfect mix of snow and warmer temperatures. Getting it perfect is a huge factor in decisions that will be made in the next few days or even weeks. Right now if it snows and if there's wind it will just blow off again. If we get too much snow that won't blow off, then we will have avalanche concerns which could take it back to ice and we will have not gained any ground.
So in the interim, the route to the summit is a long ways off till we know what the weather is going to give us. I spoke to a climber from India that speaks of an ancient monsoon predictions tool and it's said to show an early monsoon. Everything Becky and I have been researching only indicates the monsoon will be normal this year, meaning the monsoon will come, but when exactly with this tidbit is not known. It almost looks the window of opportunity is right now, the winds are down as far as we can see in the reports so could this mean the monsoon will follow right after it which it typically does but usually not till the the third week of May. Who knows? we sure don't.
We are grateful we don't have teams up at Camp 2 pondering what to do, our Sherpas are pulled off the mountain for the time being. Our team are all happy campers enjoying vacation life Pheriche except for Marty, Joshua, Ben and I who are holding tight here.
Photos: Camp 2 and team climbing to Camp 3
Over and out ... Tim
Check out Nelson's video above and compare with photos we have on FB of what we're dealing with here. Not too sure about the choice of song Nelson..... the music is hot but the lyrics are a bit strong.
May 1, 21:00hrs (NP) Variables in climbing Everest
We’ve been around working at altitude since 1991 and conclude that the rules of climbing in these extreme environments are not absolute, nothing is in mountaineering. There are too many variables for consideration.
Key to mountain guiding is being aware of those variables and that’s where experience comes to play. It’s a balance between, health, weather, functional equipment, good leadership, nutrition that works, stability of the terrain, make-up of the team, their experience or ability to adapt and learn and mental preparedness. Some of these variables we can control and others we cannot. When we can’t we will try to work around it or we will work with it.
There are no rules really, we are living and climbing on glacier and a mountain that’s constantly changing and weather that’s never the same. This past year we had an earthquake, one can’t possibly predict what we are up against so we have to adapt.
Each year is different how we approach Everest considering all the variables. One year we spend one night at the South Col, the next time we may spend two, Camp 3 same thing. In 2008 during the Chinese Olympics when the Chinese stopped climbers from going past Camp 2 till May 10, we had no choice but to blast all the way up without a pre-acclimatization climb to Camp 3, it all worked out and it was a good year for summit success on all teams- we were forced to adapt. It's not uncommon for international climbers to have to adapt for political reasons, that's not the case this year.
This season Everest is extremely dry and at each incline loose rock that is typically bonded by ice and snow is sitting there waiting for a trigger. We’ve certainly got some work cut out for all of us to see how we can manage these areas to make them safer. There's a lot of head scratching going on up here right now to see how we can work with these conditions. These are the same conditions we were facing first Ama Dablam, then Pumori and now the bigger ones like Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are now calving. What to do?
On a lighter note, team Peak Freaks had a fantastic time together last night at EBC. Stephen and BG streaked down to Pheriche to begin vacation a day early and the others will follow tomorrow. Over and out ... Tim
Meet Andreas Breitfuss from Australia:
have had a long association with cold climates having been born and bred in
Perisher ski resort in Australia, (and yes we do have snow in Australia). My
love for snow sports soon took affect taking up competitive alpine skiing from
the age of 7. Although I was never really great at it, it did however provide a
great base for what was next to come. At age 18 I found out I could ski moguls
(they are those round bumpy things you encounter on a ungroomed ski run). With
that skill I went onto representing Australia in the Australian Freestyle Ski
team for 4 years. Early on in my career a knee accident required my early
Mountaineering... I found it, my thing, my consumption, my goal.
To learn more about Andreas refer to his website at: ANDREAS BREITFUSS
April 30, 21:00hrs (NP) Safe and sound at EBC, but a bit sketchy! Team Peak Freaks did a fantastic job climbing and had safe descent back down to EBC today. There were a few rocks that seemed to have come out of nowhere but the team managed to dodge the bigger ones, not a good thing.
We've proven we are a solid team with everyone holding their own while looking strong and staying healthy. The climb up the Lhotse face to Camp 3 is a real tell tale on how well a climber will do come summit push. Since they do this section without oxygen it's a good indication how well one will be able to perform when things get difficult. If they can't get to Camp 3 in good form unfortunately they won't be going higher.
Tomorrow team Peak Freaks will be will be on vacation in Pheriche, except for myself, Marty and Ben who will hold up here and keep and eye on our Sherpa climbing teams who are still working very hard up there in the wind.
I went around EBC today to gather up support for getting the mountain ready and most were good about it but there's still a few here that expect to just slide in when everything is laid out for them and climb on the backs of other teams. It's not the best position to be in, but...... just how did I get this job again this year anyway?
I did have a good ally with me to help, I got to know Pa Temba Sherpa today. Pa Temba was the first Sherpa to summit the South Face with Chris Bonnington's team in 1975. He knows all about what it takes and the number of workers required to climb this mountain, the expeditions in the day were huge. We approach the climb today as one big team with our shared rope costs and leaders meetings so we are also huge but with less of the old school Sherpa climber power per western climber. The balance can get thrown off quickly and more burden is put on the teams that do pull their weight in making sure to hire the appropriate number of Sherpas to get the job done.
Bumped into David Breashere's who arrived today, after he gets his display dusted off for another annual showing he'll be popping over to our camp so we can catch up.
What's next? Weather watch looks good for winds dying down on May 3rd, Sherpas will be pushing higher with equipment to Camp 3 and eventually the South Col.
Tomorrow we'll be introducing another team member. Check back with us to learn about Andreas Breiftuss from Australia, he's the one that seems to be spot on with Spot tracking this year... link to Everest 3D
Over and out.... Tim
April 29, 21:00hrs (NP) CAMP 3 rotation complete - Lhotse route concerns.
Our team had an early morning start getting in under the extreme winds that have now moved down lower on the mountain tonight hammering Camp 2 pretty good. We are happy with our action once again playing with what we're given up here in this extreme environment. In particular we are all very happy with how Marty and Joshua have been providing fantastic support to the team. They're solid team builders offering encouragement and go above and beyond in making sure everyone is safe, I'm very proud to have both of them onboard with Peak Freaks this season.
Marty has already made several laps up and down between camps on each climb they've been out. This is not new news to anyone that has crossed his path, if you were to add the vertical feet of Everest from base camp to the summit and back, he's probably already done that this season and then some. Then there's Joshua, also a professional mountain guide who is not only an exceptional technical climber who I witnessed on Pumori two years ago scoot his way up to the summit in very difficult conditions, he's also a chef, a graduate from culinary school in Ecuador, the two skill sets make for a perfect marriage in this industry.
Route/Weather: The winds we are experiencing here now should be pulling out around May 3rd with a pretty good window for fixing the rest of the route. The South Col is still not fixed but the rope is up there just above the yellow band. Once that gets fixed our Sherpas will start hauling oxygen, tents and food to Camp 4 while our team members rests.
Leaders Meeting: Another one today- some concerns have been brought forth about the condition of the route up Lhotse for those who will be climbing Lhotse this season. As it is all over in the mountains today, some deterioration of the route has presented itself. The rocks underneath that used to be glued by ice and snow are popping out creating hazards up there. The fixed line will need to be re-routed out and around the danger zone and some cleaning by kicking off rocks before anyone should try climbing in there.
What's next? Our team will come back down to EBC tomorrow and go for a well deserved vacation in the village of Pheriche. This will be their opportunity to rest, oxygenate, hydrate and load up on energy before their summit push. I've made their reservations and they are stoked to go where things are living, touch grass and that sort of thing.
I'll be out tomorrow rousting up some Sherpa climbers who were committed by their leaders at the initial leaders meeting to get their schedules underway for the rest of the work that needs done up on the route. I've been around this base are so much now meeting with everyone on various issues that I certainly don't need my map anymore. I've managed to get to know my neighborhood well throughout this expedition.
I'm looking forward to having the team all back in dinning tent tomorrow to hear their stories, it's always a pretty good night, one of those rewards of being here doing what we do. Over and out... Tim
Photo: Sherpa climbers hauling loads of rope and supplies
April 28, 21:00hrs (NP) Changing terrain, avalanche aftermath and helicopters: Our team is sleeping peacefully at Camp 2 and as per our weather assessments it's only slicing with wind above them and not at camp. The higher winds are at around 7500m and has put the rope fixing to the South Col (Camp 4) back a bit but our team should still be able to get up to C3 tomorrow and hang in there for a bit to acclimatize to the altitude before the big rest. The rope is at the yellow band but the team of Sherpas had to retreat out of the jet-stream and will get back it when the wind is right for the task.
Changing Terrain: Recently someone asked us if the big earthquake that happened here last year had any affect on the mountains?
Today I had a good chat today with Damian Benegas about this very topic. Things definitely seem to be altering up here in an eerie way and we are now wondering if the quake has something to do with it? Up the Chukung valley avalanches that have never been seen in this area previously had come down. Makes us wonder what we can't see, things like what's under our feet or over our heads on Everest this year? These new avalanches seem to be pulling out ancient ice so you know it's not just global warming.
All these things are good things for consideration on our movement up here. It's better for our team to endure a little wind now climbing u to Camp 3 and less time in the ice fall having to go back and do it again in calmer conditions. To add to the mix of possible shifting in the rock mass, the spring warming has begun as well. As things warm up up here you can hear the water under your feet gushing faster and louder each day. We listen, we watch and we pray that we have it right in this life of loving mountaineering.
Avalanche Aftermath: The stories are all starting to be shared of what it was like up there during the recent avalanche. We'll save those for telling once the team regroups back at EBC.
Helicopters???? what the heck is going on this year? Everyday morning till afternoon it's buzzing up here. This morning as early as 06:30am one came in waking everyone up. I'm told it's climbers going home sick or other, not sure but it's certainly not the quiet mountain environment it used to be.
Over and out... Tim
April 27, 21:00hrs (NP) Avalanche Update: At about 9:30am I was alerted when I could hear a bunch of Sherpas yelling up on the mountain, at first when I looked up I couldn't see anything then a monster cloud came barreling down the slope towards base camp. The avalanche came off the north side of Nuptse in to the Western Cwm towards Camp 1.
I made contact with Peak Freaks lead guide this year Marty Schmidt who was up at Camp 2 about the situation and he bolted down to Camp 1 to see if anyone needed help. A head count was done and everyone was accounted for from all teams. The only incident was Hugo Searle who was in the area, he was slightly buried and his camp cook was thrown about 150 meters into a crevasse by the force of the wind created by the avalanche. The Sherpa cook was rescued from the crevasse and flown out by helicopter, he's ok.
Meanwhile, the Peak Freaks team had a really nice day at Camp 2 today. It was quite enjoyable, moderate to low wind and not too hot. The big winds are still up high but not at Camp 2. Because of that just to make it more enjoyable going up to Camp 3 our team will rest one more day at Camp 2 before heading up to C3. The winds are looking even better the morning of the 29th so that's what we'll do.
Over and out ..... Tim
April 27, 07:00hrs (PST) Avalanche!!... I woke to text that there was a major avalanche above Camp 1 and that everyone in our Peak Freaks team is okay. There was a partial burial of a westerner and Sherpa shoved into a crevasse but are all ok. More to come as I get the details. If I'm correct this would be the aspect the team had been keeping their eyes on over the past two weeks. More later.... Over and out ... Becky
April 26, 21:00hrs (NP) Team at Camp2 (6500m) and rope fixed to Camp 3, good work team!... Joshua reports calm and clear skies and that everyone is tucked in except for Marty who turned around with Travis to Camp 1. Travis was experiencing mild AMS symptoms which is quite common up here and the safety measures are to retreat till he adjusts. Most the time a retreat to the elevation the climber was last feeling good for one more night is all that's needed to kick start the body in to acclimatizing to the new altitudes. He'll be fine, he's already been to C2 without problems, he'll just be back by one day and that's all good, Marty is with him and the high winds that were showing on the 28th now show backing off till a little later so they'll have time still to get their C3 rotation in. I can hear the wind up high so as reports would have it, it's kicking up at 8000m and above.
Camp 3 (7300m): Tomorrow Palden and Tashi Sherpa who work with us year after year on all our Himalayan expeditions will be heading up to fix camp while our team takes one rest day at Camp 2. The next day the team members will move up to Camp 3 and hang out for the day to allow time for their bodies to adjust to this altitude.
Photo: Palden/Tim/Tashi - my buds!
South Col (7900m) Camp 4: The fixing team will rest tomorrow then fix to the South Col on the 28th. The weather reports look spot on to play into our annual fixing to the summit dates of around May 2 or 3.... perfect!
Rescue Kits and more... There's a lot of organizing going on between some of the regular teams this year. We've been establishing rescue kits to cover all camps on the mountain, no more having to beg borrow and steal equipment should something go down. Between all the mountain guides here on Everest we've got the mountain well covered. Today I took over a rope rescue kit to IMG who's collecting things that will go up to Camp 3. It looks like Mountain Trip, Himex, Peak Freaks and IMG have it covered while Georgie at Patagonia Brothers keeps all the lists coordinated for everyone.
I thought everyone following at home might enjoy a map of our little village here at base camp that I prepared for another purpose. When I was out instigating the first leaders meeting of the season I thought it would be a good opportunity to map our village.
Well that's it for tonight, everyone is sound asleep now, or trying to, so I'll sign off till tomorrow. Over and out ... Tim
April 25, 21:00hrs (NP) Team at Camp 1- Everyone is tucked in and I'm back at EBC after a day of chores and organizing equipment for carries by our Sherpa teams.
There's quite of bit of social going on around base camp these days, dinner parties, birthdays and so on. I manage to get some photos organized to post to Facebook, met with a couple expedition leaders talking logistics and just catching up. I had dinner tonight with fellow Canadian and long time friend Gabriel Filippi and his team while our team is being entertained by Marty and Joshua at Camp 1 at which they all did pretty good in moving up today.
Weather: It's not going to be calm up there, we are showing wind lofting in and out and just how it will impact Camp 2 we're not too sure yet. This will be a little taste for the team if it picks up on what to expect the higher they go. Right now it's completely calm and the stars are out. Photo: Some of our Sherpa team members resting in their dinning tent.
Travis McPhee is now wearing the Peak Freak SPOT tracker but umm, I think he forgot to turn it on, do'h!... radio call in the morning we'll fix that up. Andreas and Ben are on track.
Travis set a goal to summit Mount Everest while raising money for charity. Choosing the right charity was very important to him, and after careful consideration, he decided on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. "We all have mentors in our lives, and I have several in my live today", says Travis. "BBBS really resonates with me, and I feel motivated and inspired to attempt this climb not just for myself, but also on their behalf as well", he adds.
"I can't pin point the exact
moment that I realized I want to climb Mount Everest but I was young- maybe
early teens. I remember flipping the pages of National Geographic and looking at
these epic pictures of the Himalayas, I was in awe at the raw beauty of the
peaks. I would read the stories of men who climbed Everest and I admired them
for following their hearts and making their dreams a reality. I too wanted to be
one of these men, but at the time it wasn't clear on how this would be possible
— I was a ski racer, not a climber."
To learn more about Travis and to donate to the Big brother and Big Sisters of Calgary, here is a link to his website. Travis McPhee.
April 24, 22:00hrs (NP)- WE ARE CLIMBING - Camp 3 is in the teams sights and Lhotse fixing plan.. The team will be up at 04:00 tomorrow morning, same drill, woken with coffee in their tents, grab some breakfast and strap on their crampons. Here's the currently climbing schedule Tim just discussed with me. The 3G signal is not around tonight so we reverted back to the using the Satellite phone.
Mountain: Two teams of 8 climbing Sherpas and 2 western climbers, Conrad Anker and Willy Benegas, they will all head out tomorrow to fix the Lhotse face with rope, one up rope and one down rope. Then if weather permits they will regroup and fix to the South Col on the 28th, then work up to the summit on around May 2nd or 3rd and fixing to the summit on the 5th of May at which will be the first news of summits if all goes to plan and weather cooperates.
Weather: The normal mix that we typically get with light snow in the valley and the jet stream wavering in and out above Everest.
Photo upload tomorrow showing life at camp and on the mountain. Over and out..... Becky
Nelson's new video is up.... Climbing C1 to C2... top of page...
April 23, 21:00hrs (NP) "Let it blow"... The winds we were expecting did indeed hit the mountain. Thankfully we keep full time staff at Camp 2 to keep an eye on things and make sure tents are collapsed when high wind moves in. All our tents are fine but word has it that some other teams tents didn't fair that well.
The wind has completely backed off for now. We will take one more rest day giving the Sherpas more time to work on fixing the ropes up the Lhotse face. We worked on beacon practice today and will start our Camp 3 climb the day after tomorrow. We also have a bit of wind in the reports that we will monitor. Everything looks normal for weather patterns, nothing exceptional or different from what we've worked with in the past.
Serious climbing will begin here. The adjacent photo shows the route taken above Camp 2 up the Lhoste face to Camp 3. This is when we will take extreme caution in avalanche evaluation. If ice forms on the face and it snows on top of that, it will be too dangerous to climb until the new snow bonds to the ice or sheds off. Temperature and wind will be the factors in making the magic mix for safe travel. If it's not safe, we'll hold tight till it is.
Marty took a walk around the base area today and said he could hear coughing coming from all over the base camp areas tents. So far so good here with Peak Freaks, fingers are crossed that we can all remain healthy... Over and out.. Tim
Photo contribution: Nelson Dellis
April 23, 23:00hrs (NP) "Sorry, we are unable to connect" that's what I've been getting on the line for the last 2 hours while trying to reach Tim at our check in time. To fill the void I will tell you that last we talked Conrad Anker had come over for dinner at the Peak Freaks camp and shared stories of his life and climbing experiences with our team, he also came through with a promise of providing the evening movie . They watched "The Wildest Dream" the story of his finding of George Mallory 75 years after he went missing on Everest.
CAMP 3: With everyone having reached Camp 2 five days ago (April 18th) they've had time to rest and reflect on the expedition and get refocused on the climb, in just a couple days they'll be gearing up to head out for Camp 3, the plan is for them to head up on the 24th. I'm showing extremely high winds right now but not able to confirm due to not getting a signal from the team this morning. Over and out... Becky
22, 22:00hrs (NP) "It's the most difficult day of my life" is what Tim said to me
just now on the phone. Guiding in extreme
since 1982, Tim has never found himself in the
position he was in today – having to call a wife
at home to tell her that her husband won't be coming home.
Yesterday Namgya Sherpa was crossing a ladder when he failed to clip into the ropes and lost his balance.
assured me on every parting, throughout his guiding
career, that I would never get that call. I have to dig deep inside to find
peace with those promises, to cope and trust Tim is everything he says he
is and will do everything to prevent a tragedy –just
as 30 year old Namgya Tshering Sherpa's wife does
season after season, with her husband working as a
mountain guide in their Himalayan kingdom.
Peak Freaks team spirit has definitely been affected by this. Namgya has been
working with us for five years now and has multiple Everest and other Himalayan
summit credits to his name. He will be missed dearly by all who know him.
April 20, 21:00hrs (NP) Yawn... relaxing day at camp for the team. A time to sleep in, late breakfast, showers, laundry, visiting, airing out toes and napping the afternoon away. We enjoyed some good social time talking politics, family and life in general. Politics are always key topics here at camp, very interesting time to share thoughts and ideas with our international clientele on how we can all change the world.
Tomorrow's dinner guest will be Conrad Anker and he will sponsor the evening movie. The team is really looking forward to meeting him and hearing his stories. Tonight we watched Tin Tin, everyone seemed to get into it, good adventure.
The Climb: We are in rest mode for the next couple of days, we plan to move up on the mountain again on the 24th which should have us climbing in behind and below the high winds that are in the forecast and hopefully get up to Camp 2 to sleep this time around and tag Camp 3. We are a few days ahead of our schedule the last 2 years which makes me happy. Get in and get out before the ice fall starts to breakup.
The weather as it always does when playing in the mountains dictates our movement. Our Sherpas are strong and healthy and so is the rest of our Peak Freak team, the only thing holding us back will be weather, we'll have to work with what we get, it's always a fine balance. According to the log books it's been holding about 3 degrees warmer this year, I can feel it too. Typically early season the nights are pretty chilly but Becky reminded me today that I haven't made such comments on that topic this season, it definitely feels warmer.
What's next? Some of the members will be taking a walk down to the village of Gorak Shep about one hour down the valley to get in some Face and Skype time. The 3G at base camp works good but it does have congestion problems during peak periods.
Over and out till tomorrow... Tim Photo: Nelson Dellis.. airing out toes at EBC in 2011.
April 19, 21:00hrs (NP) Experienced Sherpa guide dies at Everest base camp. (story) son of legendary Ang Rita Sherpa from another team. It's not clear yet which team he was working with. This is hard to understand but we've seen it a few times before where climbers with multiple summits and even climbers who previously climbed Everest without oxygen return to altitude to be totally caught off guard and turned back with symptoms of AMS. The human bodies hemoglobin (blood makeup) does change in the body, it's not always the same throughout your lifetime so it's a good reminder climbers who frequent high altitude to be on your toes, stay in tune with your body and don't take anything for granted. We all feel horrible about this news and our prayers go out to Karsang Namgal's family during this very difficult time. It's a very sad day.
Peak Freaks is back at base camp and in fine form. Tomorrow will be showers, laundry and shaving. The team will be kicking back and start to focus on the next step of climbing this mountain. The team will rest for four days and weather pending head up to Camp 2 on April 24th. They had a good look around at looming seracs and deep crevasses while there. There's some tweaking to do already which happens once the mountain guides get in there and do some safety assessments.
We are expecting to have the route fixed up the Lhotse Face on April 26th. If this works out and our team gets to C2 on schedule Peak Freaks team will be tagging Camp 3 around April 28th.
Over and out.... Tim
April 18, 21:00hrs (NP) Camp 2 (tick) been there done that. Everyone tagged C2 and are now sleeping at C1 and will be back down at around 12:00pm tomorrow. Snow looks like it's on it's way, some ominous cloud formations over Everest right now. Our team will ready when all looks good to move up and sleep at Camp 2 and possibly tag C3 if the rope gets fixed up the Lhotse face on hopeful schedule on or around April 22nd or 23rd.
EXPEDITION LEADERS MEETING TODAY: Who is doing what this season has been established with getting the mountain fixed with rope for safe massage. Recommendations and approach to how best to use manpower to get the route fixed was ironed out and agreed on by all. If all works to plan and the weather works with us we could be fixing the route the summit around May 5th to the 7th. This would be inline with the same dates we've been working with the last couple of years.
There's still more to discuss so we'll move on over to the Indian's camp tomorrow to complete more discussion. There are still a lot of teams just now pulling into camp and getting organized so this will give them the opportunity to get involved as well. The climbing season on Everest doesn't end till May 31st and if the temperatures rise too high towards later May it gets a bit risky climbing in the ice fall, so early is better than later. Thankfully our team is all staying healthy so far, no bugs at Peak Freaks.
The end of the meeting got a little funny for some of us that hung around in Russ's tent tonight. There's a few of us that have been doing this for 20 years or so, we have a lot to talk and laugh about, these are always special occasions. My career on Everest started when working with Russ back in the very early nineties, same time he was starting out, no one was making money doing this back then, it was purely just a passion to climb Everest that eventually ended up as jobs for all of us. I took a slower entry into the commercial side of things as I have a family but we managed to raise kids, now grandkids and I'm blessed to still have this awesome occupation and a dream that was fulfilled and is still alive today.
So now it's starting to get dark and we thought we'd better get ourselves back to our camps while we still can :)... Dave Hahn, Mark Tucker, Conrad Anker and myself had a good laugh at ourselves trying to tackle that feat, phew! Those who know any of us I will just leave that to your imagination and those who don't us, I'll still leave that to your imagination. Over and out.... Tim
Photo: Quiet in base camp... note the tents are spread out, unlike some expeditions that line them up side by side we do this on purpose. Snoring, private space for phone calls home at night when others are trying to sleep due to the time changes. I must say it's pretty darn quiet here tonight with the team up on the mountain.
April 17, 21:00hrs (NP) Team at Camp 1- Camp 2 (7500m -24500ft) tomorrow... We are moving along at a good pace and everyone is feeling great! Today I took a jaunt down to Gorak Shep and got onto Skype with the grandkids. Tshering Sherpa, his son and a few porter boys in the room were quite intrigued with the opportunity to meet the kids at home, good fun.
Leaders Meeting: On my way back I stopped in to have a chat with Russell and set a date for the expedition leaders meeting. We've decided to get the ball rolling tomorrow to discuss rope and manpower for fixing the rest of the route to the summit. On my way back to camp I stopped into all the camps to spread the word. There 30 expeditions here this year.
While I'm meeting with the leaders our team will be climbing up to Camp 2, they will hang out and rest at the new altitude before retreating to Camp 1 to sleep. So far everyone is remaining very healthy on the team and Marty and Joshua are all over camp 1 tonight making sure everyone is well hydrated and comfortable.
Lots of photos being uploaded to Facebook, Everest3D mapping launched and Nelson Dellis provides us a new video...Part III.. through the ice fall to Camp 1. We're happening!! You will note that the ice fall is much tamer than that of the previous video we linked. It was likely footage from 2008 from how I recall it looked that season. We're happening.. over and out .. Tim
Photo: Team heading out this morning to Camp 1.
April 16, 21:00hrs (NP) First up.. Camp 1 tomorrow- On the rope at 05:00hrs, breakfast at 04:30, coffee delivered to tents at 04:00hrs It's time to climb!
While the team makes their way up to Camp 1 tomorrow for the night with Marty, Joshua and our other Sherpa leaders, I'll be hoofing it around camp checking in with the other expeditions leaders to see when might be a good time to start rope talks for fixing the rest of the mountain above Camp 2 to the summit.
The weather today was fabulous, it had that spring feeling warmed by the daytime sun. It was a day where we could wander around camp without feeling chilled and without the down on. We still warm our feet at night with hot water bottles and wear down jackets when the sun goes down. We also have the propane heater in the dining tent so it's comfortable and it will only get warmer as the days go by.
We are in quarantine control right now. Ang Karsung informed us that there is some intestinal and possibly a strep throat virus circulating around base camps. We are all healthy and strong so he felt it's prudent to inform our Sherpa staff to stay clear and not to mingle with their buddies. We are pretty much keeping to ourselves as well. Everyone is enjoying each others company this season as always, so we'll just sit tight and keep the movies rolling on down nights. Next showing, my pick... "Snakes on the Plane" and "BG's Pool Party" :)
I wanted to introduce Mark Hughes, though he has a South African passport he was also born in Cyprus, George Andreou travels with a British passport and is also born in Cyprus. It's hopeful that they will both be firsts for Cyprus in 2012 to stand on the summit.
We are now uploaded on Everest3D online mapping, click the logo in the "tools to follow" top of this page throughout the expedition. Our Spot Trackers have been integrated with Everest3D software. You'll need to download the driver software, it's easy and fun way to follow.
Stay tuned tomorrow for news on how the team is doing at Camp 1 and how the ice fall looks from within. Over and out.... Tim
Trekker photos and celebrations just uploaded on Facebook..
April 15, 22:00hrs (NP) BUGS!!! ....... I'm killing myself reliving what went on in our movie tent tonight. So this is how we work movie night. Each person gets a night to pick, they select 4 movies from the bucket and then the movies are passed around and are voted on. It was John's night and the movie voted for was THE THAW, it's about a research expedition to the Arctic discovers that a melting polar ice cap has released a deadly prehistoric parasite. I've seen this show before so just before a freaky scene of bugs, I jumped from my chair and started screaming "BUGS!!!!!!!" hitting myself and stomping the floor, the crowd went crazy, and I mean crazy!!! The people in the show were screaming and the entire team including a few of our Sherpa boys who joined us this evening all screaming at the same time, everyone went hysterical screaming like bunch of (?) I won't say it but hopefully you got the picture. I'm sure all the other expeditions here on the glacier heard us and are now wondering what the heck? We'll probably get a lot of visitors tomorrow. I also wonder if anyone will be able to sleep tonight on the ground.. hee hee..
My new guitar strings arrived by trail mail today and a big congratulations out to Victor and Carl for a successful summit on Island Peak on the morning of Friday the 13th..... they are now in Namche Bazaar enjoying life there.
Over and out.... Tim..
April 14, 21:00hrs(NP) Team tucked in at Kala Pattar 5545m summit for the night. The weather checked out as per our reports to gift us with a nice white blanket of snow, just a couple of inches to brighten everything up for photos should the sun peak out again. Our reports show lights snow for next little while. After making sure everyone was comfortable for the night I went back down returning to EBC to be ready for some morning chores at camp. Marty and Joshua are up there with them and our Sherpa team is working on loads still to Camp 2.
What's next? The team returns to EBC tomorrow and the next day is rest day. Weather permitting we move up to Camp 1 for the night the day after.
April 13, 21:00hrs (NP) ICE FALL IS IN GREAT SHAPE... the team had some good stories to tell tonight of their instructional adventure on the ice with Marty and Joshua today. Something came up for me here at camp that needed my assistance so I was unable to join them but it was great fun listening to their stories
While they were out there I had a good chat with the Ice Fall doctors and they are really pleased with the condition throughout the route so far. As of now there are only single ladders, no double or triples tied together like you see in the video below. However this will change and things start to warm and open up. All of them agreed that this is best they have ever seen so that's reassuring.
Tomorrow everyone will rest while the Sherpas are working full steam ahead preparing Camp 2. We have a full time kitchen and dinning tent setup there so there's quite a bit of stuff that's moving up right now. It will be assembled throughout the expedition as our cooks stay up there entire time-frame of this expedition to take care of things due to weather and movement of the glacier and to be of service to our climbers who are sometimes moving up and down varying schedules with their personal Sherpas, kinda like a wagon trail inn during the gold rush.
Tomorrow is rest day then off to Kala Pattar for a sleepover..... over and out ... Tim
Photo: Nelson Dellis photo of Tim Everest 2011' Team Everest 2012 photo upload coming soon.
April 12, 21:00hrs (NP) Good day base training!... we went through the program today practicing crossing ladders with crampons on, rope rescue and glacier travel on fixed lines. Tomorrow we head out into a select location in the ice fall and start swinging axes and play around in the crevasses. I always look forward to this day, everyone gets pumped up and the reality of climbing this mountain starts to set in. It's serious business now and everyone is looking good.
More teams arrived so I expect it will just be a couple days now from now we will set a date with all the expedition leaders to sit down and discuss how we are going to divide up our resources of man power to get the mountain fixed with rope from Camp 2 to the summit and down ropes.
Our Sherpas have already started working hard moving camp equipment and food supplies up to Camp 2. I was talking to the team yesterday about the plan, I said we will climb to Camp 1 overnight, then Camp 2, then Camp 3, then summit, climb down pack-up and go home. They all stood there in amazement, you could see it in their faces thinking "that's it?". In the big picture that is it but you can be sure a lot more will go on in between.
To be more specific this is how we are going to approach the climb:
Day after tomorrow we will climb Kala Pattar and sleep up there. This will eliminate doing two climbs to gain acclimatization to Camp 1 spending less time in the icefall. When we're ready for Camp 1 we won't go up and come down to EBC again, instead we'll go up Camp 1 and spend the night there, same as last year. Then when Camp 2 is all set and the Sherpas are down here resting we will go up to Camp 2 and stay or not depending on how everyone is doing, then back to EBC to rest. While we rest the Sherpas start moving oxygen and supplies up to Camp 3 and the South Col and soon after more bottles move up higher to our stash for summit pushes and back up.
By the end of the month if things are moving well and we don't get hampered with bad weather Camp 3 should be in and climbers will actively be making their rotations to Camp 3 for acclimatization then it's time for the big rest and wait for the annual window of opportunity where winds typically start to die down and summit pushes begin. Peak Freaks has had summits as early as May 6 and as late as May 21 and for others even later, right up till the end of May. Weather will dictate ours and everyone else's move on the mountain and crowd control will be a huge consideration as well.
Here's an impressive video of climbing in the ice fall when it's breaking up late May, this is when we don't like being here. We don't mean to scare you as it is pretty dramatic with the GoPro camera and some clever editing. The ice fall this season is looking really good. The Sherpas are saying it's pretty gentle and easy going and by the speed at which they are moving up there it would seem to be true. Over and out... Tim
April 12, 21:00hrs (NP) Full swing at base camp today. The teams duffels showed up so we nixed the trip to Kala Pattar and instead everyone got into their bags that they haven't seen for 10 days and organized their high altitude home for the next 6 to 7 weeks. We started prepping rope for jumars and other equipment in preparation for our training on the glacier tomorrow.
The weather today is overcast with just a skiff of snow that has melted. I had a good look around the camp area of the glacier today, our closest neighbors are the Korean's and then the large Indian camp and in between them is RMI, Dave Hahn and then Conrad Anker's team who is here doing a reenactment climb of the West Ridge first climb in 1963. It will include a piece on how the gear used to climb Everest has evolved over the past fifty years. I've got a pretty good collection of the old stuff myself and I must say it's mind boggling how they endured.
David Breashears is here again with his educational tent setup "Tracking the Himalaya's Melting Glaciers" I really enjoy his company and look forward to chatting and hanging with him again this season.
Speaking of connecting with the way things used to be, tonight we watched "Canadians on Everest" a copy that Pat Morrow gifted us of the 1982 expedition, it's the real story and not the CBC documentary you see below. The story is still real but without the made for Hollywood drama, it does the trick getting the team geared up for the real Everest and how important it is to be in tune with what can go wrong up here. Ang Nima was in this film so it makes it all pretty real to everyone.
Damn dog! There's a dog that has been coming up here each year for about three years now, he even made his way up to Camp 2 last season. I never saw him up there so I'm not sure if this is the same one or not but I'm thinking he might be by his behavior. He's obviously been chased away before. He's been hiding out in our teams vestibules. When you open your zip and find him in there he starts to yelp like your killing him. I've asked a couple of the boys to gather him up tomorrow and take him down to Russ's tent... :)
Guiding Scene: It's pretty cool learning of the new guides who are getting into the high altitude scene here in the Himalayas. Joshua has a few Ecuadorian guide friends working here this year so it's been especially nice for him. For me it brings back memories of climbing with Julio and Ivan from Ecuador back in 1996, they were the first to summit Ama Dablam from their country, they gave me their flag that I still have. We became good friends at that time and since Ivan Vallejo has become a world class climber. Miss you guys!
What's next? Tomorrow we will start our training in the ice fall, we'll do this for two days. After that we will go to Kala Pattar and spend the night up there to reflect and prepare and gain a night of acclimatization sleeping higher than base camp. The day after that we'll rest one day and then make our first climb through the ice-fall to Camp 1. Of course everything as it always in the mountains is weather pending so stay tuned. Over and out... Tim
April 10, 21:00hrs (NP) Saying goodbye...to our support trek team and our Island Peak team today. It's always a sad time to see the family break up but not all is lost. We will be staying in touch and new friendships for life have been formed on these expeditions, that's part of the rewards of Himalayan expeditions. As the trekkers made their way down to Pheriche today the richer oxygen will begin to make them feel super energized. The Island Peak climbers will be well acclimatized for their summit push reaching heights of 6145m, we wish them good weather and great success.
Everest 2012' team members spent the day sorting equipment, things like stoves and food supplies to start being ferried up to the high Camps when that time comes. We can't get out on the ice just yet to start training as we are still waiting for some personal bags to arrive that have been back logged due to some bad weather in Lukla, they should be here in a day or two. The climbers technical equipment is their personal duffel bags so we'll take this time tomorrow to keep everyone's legs moving and climb up to the top of Kala Pattar and back, a 5545m summit. The view from Kala Pattar is a great place to go and get everyone pumped. They have the opportunity to see all of Everest, the ice fall, the camp locations and the route to the summit from here. When at base camp you can't actually see much of Everest as you are tucked up to tight in the glacier. To be able to see the big picture and get yourself prepared visually this side trip has proven to be a valuable step for most.
The weather has been quite the mixed bag this past week. We've seen better in April so we hope things start to stablize soon so we can have an enjoyable climb through the ice fall when that time comes. The new 3G service has been a bit spotty so far this year. Dropped signals and poor reception. I've resorted to using mainly the satellite phone for now. It's possible it's weather related, we'll see.
We'll let you know how our day goes tomorrow.. Over and out... Tim
April 8, 19:00hrs (PST) OXYGEN EXPLOSION ISSUES: News came to us last week but now that it's making it's way around the globe I'll take a moment to let folks know that Peak Freaks does not use either the Poisk regulator and mask nor do we use the Summit Oxygen cylinders from the UK that experienced this problem.
There have been two explosions while testing when attaching the regulators to the bottles just a few days ago in Kathmandu. Not a good thing! We use the good old tried and tested reliable Russian Poisk bottles and the new standard TopOut masks. Here's an article that I came across recently on a comparison made by an Everest climber on another design that has also served customers well. http://www.myeverest.com/node/1002 We like the lighter Russian Poisk bottles for various reasons.
April 8, 22:00hrs (NP) We're here! EVEREST BASE CAMP 5364m- It's always a big surprise to see how much the base area of the glacier changes from time to time. This year is the biggest shift I've ever seen in all the years of coming here. Our fresh water stream is now on the other side of the where we used to be and our old site is now a boulder field. We are still closest up to the glacier though, our preferred location for various reasons.
Our new location has an island effect and it's currently flat but that can be expected to change a great deal as things start to warm up here. We will be adjusting camp just like the ice fall doctors do with the ladders throughout this expedition.
Our base facility has made a considerable expansion this year. We now have two kitchens and two dinning tents. We used to operate with one large kitchen and two dinning tents, our Sherpa climbers in one and our members in another. Ang Karsung our base manager made some changes this year that makes sense. The Sherpas like to eat at a different times than our participants and we also like different food than them. With these changes it's easier for the cooks to maintain good hygiene and preferred food supplies kept separately. Our Sherpa team likes Dal Bhat (rice and lentils), being their favorite meal and they also like to eat it the traditional way with their hands. It just makes sense to separate the two cooking styles to keep everyone healthy and happy.
Our trek team arrives tomorrow and the team received a gift of cyber Easter Eggs.... other news is Lama Mingma is on his way to our camp to perform our Puja Ceremony. Before that we will gather all our climbing equipment in a pile near the stupa that our Sherpa team made complete with juniper to burn, we've collected our food supplies, oxygen and other things that will aid in getting everyone to the top and back. This is the most important blessing for the team that gives our Sherpa team the courage to climb, they typically won't go on the mountain till they've had this blessing but this year some of them did forge ahead and make setup at Camp 2 already and we sincerely thank them for their bravery. Over and out from Everest Base Camp.. Tim.. New photos up on Facebook...enjoy!
Bandh: I just got confirmation that there will be a bandh in Kathmandu tomorrow. This is the means of political protest here in the capital city banning business and transportation. Like a strike elsewhere except everything shuts down including electrical power. It makes my job a bit tricky as it does for everyone else in the city. We have many adventure seekers on various trips throughout Nepal and Tibet coming and going and now it gets a bit tricky trying to get transportation to them at points of pick-ups like border crossings on so on. It will all work, adventurous stories to take home with a twist of the overall adventure. Hopefully thing will get sorted out sooner rather than later.
Other news: Many of our past participants may be thinking to themselves wondering what happened to Angel? I'm excited to announce that Angel Armesto and the lovely Juliana Mesa became ecstatic and proud parents of baby Sara this week. Angel is over the moon with joy as you can imagine. We are incredibly happy for them, she is gorgeous! ..... Becky
April 7, 21:00hrs (NP) Lobuche (4931m)- Camp 2 staked out!... Wow.. Ang Karsung came with our kitchen crew to make us dinner down here in Lobuche and gave us some great news. We heard the icefall had been completed with ropes and ladders but we also learned that our Sherpas have already been up and down to Camp two after staking out preferred camp there and positioning our kitchen and dinning tents up there. Good work team!...
Ang Karsung also reports a good pile of snow up at camp and a heads up for those who have heard about the avalanche in the Pakistan Himalayan army base camp, please know that we are all good here in this part of the Himalayas. Very very tragic! over 100 people are said to be still missing. This is a good reminder of the effects of global warming and glaciers need to be observed carefully and approached with extreme caution. The Khumbu glacier or any glacier for that matter is NOT a walk in the park.
Base Camp tomorrow. Can't wait to be in the comforts of our facility up there and begin the mountaineering side of this expedition. Sagamartha here we come! Ang Karsung tells us we won't have turkey as such but we will have roasted chicken and pumpkin pie tomorrow night at camp.
Over and out... Tim Photo: Ice fall doctors working in the glacier fixing the ladders.
April 6, 21:00hrs (NP) Full Moon.... as it works every season we are in this location for the full moon. Ok, I'll get a little sappy here but Becky and I have a thing about the moon uniting our spirits simultaneously when we're world's apart, this is the night!
Another birthday... the trekkers are back at our table tonight to celebrate Deryk from MacKenzie B.C's birthday. MacKenzie is kind of an old stomping ground of mine in northern British Columbia, for me so it's cool reminiscing about the people and place.
Weather: It snowed most of the day during our acclimatization climb so we didn't get the view but that's ok. We'll have some pretty good viewing in the days to come. The weather has been hampering a lot of flights in and out of Lukla this spring. It's snowing all the way up to base camp with the freezing level lingering around 3900m.
What's next? The climbers move up to Lobuche, Ang Karsung and Desh will come down and cook for us here to maintain good hygiene at this stage of the expedition which is very important. Everyone is doing really well and we hope to keep them this way. The trekkers will stay here in Dingboche one more night and do their acclimatization hike tomorrow with Ang Nima. Roger is still with the gang and having so much fun he's decided to stay with them and catch us later. That's all from me now...Over and out.. Tim. Joshua has some words to send out to our Spanish speaking friends. Happy Easter everyone at home, I could smell the turkey and pumpkin pie but the smoked salmon we had tonight made up for missing out on yet another Easter dinner at home.
Hola amigos de Ecuador, canada y de todo el mundo que nos siguen en el blog de
Peak freaks, Aqui les va un reporte en espagnol (con todas las dificultades que
el internet sat y el teclado en ingles inplican). Bueno hoy vamos a pasar una
segunda noche en Dingboche, despues de haber alcanzado los 5100metros esta
manana escalando en una arista sobre el poblado. Todo el grupo se encuantra
motivado y a la espectativa de alcanzar el CB en dos dias. Manana nos moveremos
hacia Lobuche que es el ultimo "tea house" que usaremos en nuestro
camino de aproximacion al Everest.
April 5, 21:00hrs (NP) Dingboche (4412m) We are blessed... and ready to climb with the special blessing Lama Gehse gives our team each season. I'm thinking he must be 88 years old now. Two years ago he had a traumatic set back when he suffered a stroke and spent time in Kathmandu hospital. This was hard on him having spent all his life mainly in the high Himalayas. As time went on he wanted no more than to be back in his home in the village of Pangboche. This was a good call because today he looks really good. Namgya and myself did have to help him to his feet to pose in this photo but his high spirits and wit is still there.. Love this man!
What's next: The trekkers are currently sleeping in the village of Debuche, it's situated this side of Tengboche. They will hike back up in the morning around 06:00hrs to join in on the morning chant with the monks at the monastery. After that they'll start making their way further up the valley to join us here in Dingboche for the night. It will be a long day for them and they'll feel tired as the effects from the new altitude gain is one of the more critical adjustments. They will need to spend two nights here as we do too. Tomorrow while they're making their way up here we'll be hiking above Dingboche and we will all be together again for dinner in the lodge to hear their stories and share ours.
Weather: We've been getting regular dustings of snow and melting with the day time sun here and there. Makes for beautiful photos. We are now just 2 sleeps away from base camp, 1 more night here and the next will be in Lobuche, after that we'll be checking into camp at 5360m. Personally I'm looking forward my tent, my home for many years in these mountains.
April 4, 21:00hrs (NP) Pangboche (3901m).. we are here. I'm standing outside to pick up a signal, it's chilly, dark and snowing so this is short. Tomorrow we go see my good friend Lama Geshe who is doing really well by the way, to receive our team blessing for safe passage on the mountain. We will have one more blessing at base camp with another Lama who will bless our food and equipment and all the Sherpas who are already at camp awaiting our arrival.
I had a fun day today. In this section of the trail at this time this week all the Mountain Guides I've been working with all these years are concentrated around here today. It was fun catching up and taking a few moments to double check on few plans for the communal rope fixing efforts, man power and more. We had some good laughs and are all pumped to get at this mountain once again with a great bunch of people. Over and out... Tim
April 3, 21:00hrs (NP)Trekkers have rejoined with the team... We are all one big happy family once again enjoying dinner together at Kami and Tsedam's home here in Namche Bazaar (3445m). While the trekkers were making their way here the rest of us went up to Khunde and Khumjung today, it snowed a bit and now it's a bit chilly outside but we're all tucking into our warm beds now.
Tomorrow we move up to Tengboche where we will visit the monastery and leave the chanting with the monks for the trek team who will arrive the next day. We will instead move on up to Pangboche where we'll check in for a night at Ang Temba's house, Ang Nima's brother who also has a lovely lodge. It's always warming to see how well the climbing Sherpas from earlier years have done in doing what they do the best; hosting and taking care of people. We were all just young men working together in 1991 on the North side of Everest when we met. The day when we all climbed together carrying loads of rope, camp equipment and oxygen together. Much has changed today and so has their lifestyle and they deserve every bit of it.
Ang Nima's son Nima will be working with us as a personal Sherpa this expedition, Momma finally said "yes". For years she would only let him trek, then he started leading Island Peak and now he's been granted her permission to climb Everest. We understand her anxiety, he's her only son and having lived with Ang Nima's survival stories on Kantega, no doubt this is a very hard decision for her. His bag is packed and he's on the trail with us tomorrow.
What's next? Trekkers hike above Namche to visit Ang Nima's home, lunch, Hillary school and hospital and some pastry from the world's highest bakery, well kind of, Ang Karsung runs one as well in our base camp kitchen. Then they retreat back to Namche Bazaar to sleep. Over and out... Tim
Photo: Trekkers joining us for dinner once again. More on Facebook... have a look!
Namaste from Namche Bazaar, Nepal. This place of trade from the old days to the now major hub of modern ways for trekkers and climbers from around the world is always wonderful to come back to. Our team is feeling fit and happy after arriving to this altitude of 3450m. With beautiful views of the Himalayan foothills, one can just sit, be still and enjoy the moment.
We leave for Pangboche tomorrow, having a Lama blessing for our team along the way. We'll sleep beneath Ama Dablam, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. A couple more villages and we'll before heading into our Base Camp at the foot of the Khumbu Ice Fall. With all this behind us, we will work hard and get sorted with our camps during the next 6 weeks so that when summit attempt is upon us all, we will be ready. Our camps will be; camp 1, 6000meters; cam2, 6400 meters; camp 3, 7100 meters and then with the highest camp being at 7900 meters. Until next time, over and out.... Marty
April 2: 21:00hrs (NP) Worst wind storm ever seen in the Khumbu our Sherpa friends are telling us. A fierce storm hit Namche Bazaar and area on February 6th this winter breaking hundreds of trees, we saw many lying down in the river on the way up to Namche. In the village they couldn't see anything from the dust that was being kicked up. Many houses had the roofs ripped off including the military museum up on the hill above the village. Kami Sherpa said it was very scary. Last year at this time we arrived to hear stories of the earth quake that hit and now we hear these hair raising stories.
Our trekkers made it in to Lukla yesterday. Apparently Lukla airport was closed for the rest of the day after they were turned around due to wind. We are all back on track now and we will see them again tomorrow. It's too bad that we are split now, we will see them in Namche and again in Dingboche for a night, then again at base camp so not all is lost other than they missed out on Philippo's chocolate cake and birthday celebration.
There are four of all sending SPOT signals now and Jack Kister has one with the trek group too so everyone at home can check in and see where we are and watch our progress.
Mountain: Affirmative: looks very dry!
What's next: Tomorrow we hike above Namche to Khunde and Khumjung for acclimatization and take in the mountain vistas from up there before we head to Ang Nima's house to lounge around and have lunch. It will be odd with him not there as he's down with the trekkers in Monjo. his wife Kamirita wife will treat us to lunch and then we'll saunter back down to Namche and go play some pee pool. NO! that's not peeing in the pool. It's a game tradition I started here many years ago. Everyone can play in any state of hypoxia.... lots of fun... Over and out... Tim
New Photos are up on Facebook check them out!
April 1: 21:00hr (NP) Lamidanda layover (3500 ft) ..... The climbers made it on the first flight but as the trekkers were following in another plane behind them the wind picked up to dangerous levels so the pilot set down in a village below Lukla used for circumstances like this called Lamidanda. If it's good to be here, if they went all the way back to Kathmandu they'd have to wait in queue for a flight. This way they can get caught up right away. Fortunately Roger is with them and knows the routine of life in Himalayas and will take care of the situation till they catch up to the rest of us. We will meet up with them in Namche Bazaar day after tomorrow.
Meanwhile we are here in Monjo (2840m/9317ft) enjoying our first night on the trail sleeping by the river. This is the first good sleep everyone will get since they left home, no horns and barking dogs. There is however a little disturbance up here that's completely out of the norm. Typically we would be enjoying clean fresh mountain air after enduring the pollution in Kathmandu but that's not the case right now. They are doing some forest fire suppression practices by means of controlled burns. It looks pretty odd to see the forest all lit up at night and smoke in the air. We're told the smoke is really bad up in Namche. This of course will obstruct views of the mountains so that's unfortunate for first timers to this region.
There are four members tracking with SPOT... Andrea's seems to feeding the best tracks right now, have a look: SPOT
Photo: Chombi Sherpa's home in Monjo where we are sleeping tonight.
March 31: 22:00hrs (Nepal Time) Team bonding already a done deal - We did our traditional dinner at the Third Eye restaurant tonight and the team is already jabbing at each other pretty good. Mark Hughes the South African shooting jokes at the Aussies and so on. He's brave considering it's a 1:5 ratio, we were roaring pretty good tonight. Most of them we've climbed with before and know well. As for the new members we already feel like we've known them forever. It's a great start to the season and we're looking forward to what Sagamartha has to offer us this
Weather: It's typical spring weather in Kathmandu high 20's, T-shirt weather but I must say this is the worst in my 21 years here for pollution. We had a bad spell a couple years back but this is by far the worst. Everyone has to get somewhere, including us, I remember the days when there were just a handful of cars in Thamel from time to time. Everything was carried by man. It's very congested here now and way too many vehicles. It's very dry, they desperately need rain.
What's next? First group will be up at Kathmandu domestic airport at 05:30hrs and fly at 07:00hrs to Lukla, second wave will fly on the next flight. Flights have been working like clock work so that's good, one obstacle we shouldn't have to deal with on this leg of this adventure.
March 29: 21:00hrs (Nepal Time) Sleepy in Kathmandu! Jet-lag endurance is being tested today by team members who are coming in one by one. The last to arrive today was Mark Hughes from South Africa. It was late and I've been awake now for about 36 hours so I checked him in and I told him I'll catch up with him tomorrow. Other team members who are ticked off the list for a successful arrival is Marty Schmidt, Ben, BG, Roger and Lorraine, Travis, George and Henning. The rest will be arriving tomorrow and Joshua and Stephen the next day. The trekkers from the first wave group are also here. Tomorrow is Ministry meeting day where Marty and I will take care of the required formalities for climbing Everest and checking everyone's equipment and dispatching them to our cargo hold. Over and out... it's pillow time... Tim
Photo: Dialing in details with Ang Karsung Sherpa in his brand new home he and his wife recently built in Kathmandu.
March 26: Ready-set-go! Let the expedition begin! Team members are currently making their way to Kathmandu that will be buzzing with activity, Tim is shipping out today to his seasonal home in Nepal. Excitement is in the air as mountain guides and addicted Himalayan climbers gather in the capital city for launch of the semi-annual climbing season in this region. This year our Peak Freak team will consist mainly of climbers that have either been on a Peak Freak expedition previously training or climbing, it will be a special reunion and it will be just as exciting for our Sherpa families who will once again gather for the occasion. Fun times ahead... hard work and outstanding rewards for everyone involved.
Mountain: We've received reports that Everest is quite dry this year, much like the past two Everest seasons which should mean the ice-fall will have been doing its thing breaking up bringing down any large seracs that may be looming on the preferred route. Either way we trust the icefall doctors will be tweaking and fixing the ladders offering the best routes possible for safe passage.
Weather: Kathmandu: it's balmy! The climbers will instantly feel summer in the air with temperatures averaging 28c during the day and by the end of the expedition (late May early June) it will likely be a stifling 38 to 40c.
Everest: Right now we are looking at low wind and pretty warm temperatures with light snow. Just last week the jet stream was howling overtop of Everest and extreme cold. This might be a good sign but it is weather and anything can happen between now and the time the mountain is fixed with rope and camps are stocked with supplies.
Stay tuned as Everest 2012' progresses... We will be posting here as climbers arrive in Kathmandu so keep checking back.