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Author Topic: 18 May: Summit plans and open air Rope Powwow  (Read 7789 times)


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18 May: Summit plans and open air Rope Powwow
« on: May 22 2005, 00:38 »

While Alex is kicking my behind in a quick game of chess the new weather reports come in: the weather will improve the next few days with little wind on the 20th, 21th and maybe 22th, after that the wind will pick up again.
Victor is the only other climber present in the tent and clearly in deep thoughts, so I ask him what's on his mind.
"I think Marko & I will go for the summit" he says.

The idea does not surprise me as it has been haunting my mind as well the past few hours. And if anyone can climb, it will be these 2 strong Slovenians. But later this afternoon will be the general meeting about the (non)fixing of the ropes above camp 3, so I wonder if that issue will be resolved during this short weather window.
"What about the ropes, chances are big they will not be there when you go"
Victor shrugs, gives me one of his many smiles and simply replies:
"We are climbers".

I discuss the situation with Alex. The first 'window' in an Everest climbing year is always the most dangerous as the ropes are not fixed or not tested. As leaders of a commercial expedition we will always advise against going on such a first 'rush' until it is clear that the window is so obvious and long that it will be an opportunity for everybody.

"A first window like this is only usable for very strong climbers, who can climb without Sherpa support. They must have years of climbing experience in bad weather and without guidance. Even then Everest will always be a league of it's own and I will advise against it. But of course everybody is a free person and we can not stop them, just advise. From all the tough & experienced climbers in our team, Victor & Marko are amongst the strongest. Maybe you and Lorenzo could follow as well, but the weather is always uncertain."

Victor has decided and is packing;  looking again at the different forecasts I decide to talk to Lorenzo when he gets back from his hike to the fixed ropes to discuss the opportunity.
While I am preparing my summit pack in the vestibule of the tent I see Victor leaving, stopping for a moment at the Stupa, seemingly to pray.
I wish him good luck and a safe climb, and he gives me one more of his smiles as a thank you.
I do not see Marko; he is normally faster and though they are inseperable, Victor normally starts earlier on their hikes and climbs.

Volodia/Vladimir is oneof the less experienced climberswith moremoney than mountaineering knowledge, but he is sickof waiting and wants one good try and does not want to be told not to go up today.
He is totally fixed and we have no choice but to let him go, finding comfort in the fact that he has hired a private Sherpa and our Sherpas are the strongest on the mountain.

Lorenzo returns from his hike and is clearly amazed:
"I was just telling my blog listeners that we will need lots more patience, next thing I meet a long row of climbers going for the summit!"

I explain about the short weather window and ask him if he is interested in joining me up the mountain. Lorenzo is a guide in Italy and has summited Lhotse, the 4th highest peak in the world. He is not just a client of mine and I would feel safe with him as my climbing partner.
We are both worried about the rope situation and decide to go to the already infamous rope meeting at 18.00 at the Himex camp.

rope meeting, center row: nate, david hamilton (jagged-globe, in back) and Himex's Russel Brice

Jon, the captain of the Norwegian team (our friendly neighbours in BC) has called the meeting at the Himex camp, for all the leaders of the expeditions.
Apparently Himex' chief Russel Brice was not impressed with the meeting proposal and instead of inviting everybody in one of his many tents he is sitting on a stone wall near his stupa.
Many people gather, but Jon himself is the last one to arrive, though exactly on time.
He explains why he wanted the meeting:
"It was agreed that all teams would pay Russel $100 per climber, so he could fix the ropes for all. However, now the ropes are not fixed to the summit and it seems that the climbers wanting to use the upcoming short weather window will have to climb without ropes unless we decide some solution soon".

A discussion starts, in which it becomes clear that Russel _was_ asked in the beginning to handle the ropes with his team of experienced Sherpas.
But many leaders thought he would just earn some extra money and voted against the plan, opting to 'donate' Sherpas from different teams instead, so Sherpas from all teams could make money. This was already decided before we arrived in BC, so we had no influence on the decision.

Clearly Russel's Sherpas had done a good part of the work already, including fixing the double ropes to Northcol and placing extra rope coils for others to fix higher up. He had administated everything clearly and it becomes clear that instead of letting his team do all the work, which would have been est for all and Russel would not have made any money of it at all, the splitting up has had a negative effect on the efficiency.
"If my team had done all the work, as agreed beforehand, the ropes would all be fixed now", Russel said. "But I think the upcoming days are too dangerous for my Sherpas, so if you want to climb, you will have to arrange the ropefixing yourself"

With that and a remark about certainly not telling when he was planning to go up with his clients as he paid good money for his weather forcasts and would not share that information, he dissapeared into a tent.

To get to a practical solution we invited all leaders of teams who wanted to use the upcoming window into our big messtent. A discussion followed resulting in a practical plan where a shared team of 4 sherpas would work to get the rope fixed the next 2 days.

During dinner I thought a lot and though Lorenzo was a bit shocked by the quickly changing weather forecasts and the expected winds on the 22nd, he told me that he would join me if I wanted to go. We had seen the Norwegian team together, their first team was just leaving, the 2nd part would leave in the morning.
"Let's go in the morning", I said. "We will climb up to North Col; there we can see how fit we are. If we feel very strong, we can continue to 7700camp and catch up with Victor & Marko. If we feel less strong, but the forecasts for the 22nd are still ok, we will stay one day behind them.
If we feel bad, we will just go down to ABC again and use this as extra acclimatisation."
We decide to leave at 07.00...
« Last Edit: May 22 2005, 01:42 by Romke »

Mary Clare

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Re: 18 May: Summit plans and open air Rope Powwow
« Reply #1 on: May 22 2005, 07:55 »


I feel like I am reading a book on the "best seller" list.  I don't know how you find the time and strength to write so informatively while helping to lead and expedition on Everest.  This post for the 18th was fascinating.  I have been reading a lot about Russel Brice and the "rope dilemma" and it obviously hasn't been resolved yet.  I hope this situation get resolved quickly.

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