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Author Topic: May 22 to 27 - Full report by Harry  (Read 8480 times)


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May 22 to 27 - Full report by Harry
« on: May 28 2005, 13:57 »

Here follows a report by Harry of the days following the death of team member Marko, and the gearing up for the final summit attempt of the spring 2005 International team 7summits-club/7summits.com

* May 22

I am in BC, together with Dima & Grigory. We try to get more news about Marko and other missing climbers, but the information streams are random and unreliable. There is one story about a climber from the Monte Rosa group, who apparently lies dead in his tent in 8300m camp and there is talk of 2 other climbers missing, though no-one knows who they should be.

Our Sherpas have checked every tent from the North col up to high camp today to see if Marko maybe crashed into a random other tent, but to no avail. The Chinese climbers that summited this morning have mentioned a body close to the summit & 3rd step, though their reports are conflicting with regards to colour of clothing etc, it is very likely they have seen Marko.

He either ran out of oxygen, sat down for a rest and never woke up, or he might have slipped during the descent and hit his head, we can not tell. But he will rest forever now, close to the highest point of earth.

This strong and friendly man will not come back. It is hard to grasp, and does not register fully all day.

I spent the evening with our friendly Norwegian neighbours and watch the Rwenzori DVD Romke made from our recent trip. A different world. Maybe denying today's reality will make it untrue. I am afraid it will not work.

* May 23

Today Victor comes down. This is the first thing I realized when I woke up and suddenly the sadness of the loss of a great person that had been close to us, hits me with full force. On a large expedition like ours it is normal that you do not see some team mates for several days, as they might be in different camps or even cities to rest. But now Victor comes down. I do not know Victor as a single person; I know Victor & Marko. Marko & Victor. Victor, always cheerful and showing it; Marko, always cheerful and rarely showing it, unless you take the effort to share jokes, invest some time to cross the language barrier as his English was limited.
The strong couple, the long time friends are always together. Like all great couples, one defines the other in our expedition. 'The Slovenians' were always together, whether running op hills when the rest of us were resting, or just playing cards or chess. As they did not speak a lot of Russian, they were more part of our 'Amerikanski' part of the team. Stronger than all others, we used to joke that Victor & Marko were on the way to the summit every time the jet stream formed the snow plume on the summit ridge.

Now it is only Victor coming down and that single fact makes all the sad events suddenly true. Marko, a friendly and strong climber will not join him this time.
Marko stays up while Victor descends.

In the Rongbuk monastery a once a year 2 day festival has started with blessings from the Rinpoche, dancing, a market and much more festivities; I decide to go down with the Norwegians. We charter some motorcycles and head down the dusty road. A long line of Buddhists are waiting to get blessed and we can enter the line without problem, receiving all kinds of seeds, drinks and other materials to guarantee a better future.

After a cold dusty race back I go to see Victor in his tent. It is hard to find the right words to congratulate the first Everest summiteer of the season with this extraordinary accomplishment and offer condolences for the loss of his best friend simultaneously.

During dinner our little BC group toasts on Marko as well as on Victor's ascent. Victor gets his official summit certificate, but the most impressive moment is the toast 'to the ones that did not return'. No words, no hitting of glasses, just thoughts and a large sip of whiskey in honour of Marko's soul.

* May 24

Dima & Grigory head back up to middle camp and will go back to ABC tomorrow, but I want to finish my antibiotics and decide to go up to ABC in one day tomorrow. Summer has hit basecamp, it is really warm and Victor has put his mattress outside and is playing Slovenian beach music while drinking beer, getting a suntan and packing his and Marko's stuff. Crazy Doctor Andrey is dancing around on the catchy music, stopping every now and then to gurgle with kerosine. He says it kills germs, but Viki and I wonder if it doesn't kill some braincells as well...

* May 25

I head out after breakfast towards ABC, one more half marathon on average 5800m... The Chinese camp has just started their ceremony to reveal the new height of Everest, many people stand around the new monument and fireworks are being lit, but I am not going to wait for it. I will try to find out the new height first hand within a week.

It takes me 3 hours to get to middle camp where I am treated to a nice lunch and stay for a short sleep in one of our remaining tents. The second section takes another 3.5 hours which is not fast, but also not slow for someone on antibiotics, so I am quite happy with it. I meet Lorenzo, who is coming down from ABC to middle camp for one or 2 nights at lower altitude before going up. He seems ok, and will be in the 2nd summit group with me.

It is nice to be back with the team again; it is interesting to see how everybody seems to have lost at least 5 kilos and gained 5 years of age in the few days I have been gone from ABC. This is not a place where you can stay forever and be healthy..

Unfortunately Thuraya has data problems again, so you will have to wait a bit longer on this report ;-) Romke, who has been posting all my reports and doing a lot of other stuff, is going on a deserved vacation (have fun Romke!), my friend Erik will take over as control center!

* 26th May

The new weather forecasts we received show an opportunity end of the month, so now the plan is as follows:

Tomorrow the 27th the first team will go up to Northcol, reaching camp2 at 7700m the 28th, camp 3 at 8300m the 29th with a summit attempt the morning of the 30th.

Team one consists of:
- Nickolay Cherni
- Yuri Taidakov
- Ivan Dusharin
- Grigory Skaller
- Alexander Ekavenko
- Igor Pokhvalin
- Karo Ovasapyan
- James Wilde

With support from Sherpa's (shared and private)
- Pasang Tenzing
- Mingma Forche
- Pemba Tensing Samte
- Mingma Gelu (Sirdar)
- Pasang Temba
- Geldjin
- Pemba Renjin

Team 2 will follow one day later, starting the 28th, attempting the 31st for the summit. [This plan changed, see below]

- Alexander Abramov
- Dimitry Moskalev
- Harry Kikstra
- John Christiana
- Nate Schneider
- Lorenzo Gariano
- Robert Ulph

With support from Sherpa's (shared and private)
- Lakcha
- Rengin
- Nima Dorji
- Mingma Nurbu
- Pemba Nurbu

James is getting really nervous and might explode if we have to postpone another day :-)

* 27th June: Off they go!

First thing in the morning is another round through camps. Any update of the weather is welcome. Together with our own forecasts, we find out that the 31st will probably be not a good summit day after all, so our 2nd group decides to postpone our attempt: The first group still goes up today and tries to summit the 30th in expected decent weather (little windy, but not serious), we will go up the 29th (not 28th as announced before) and aim for the 1st of June. Of course this plan can change tomorrow when we get our new forecasts ;-)

James and the 'Ruskies' started about noon, Karo & some Sherpa's spent some time burning some leaves and incense at the stupa to ask the mountain gods for some mercy...

John and I went to see the other teams and bumped into Ran Fiennes who was doing a live interview for the BBC morning news by satellite connection.
Andrey and Lorenzo came up and we were all invited in the Indian airforce tent for another pleasant round of cookies, tang and weather discussions.

Thuraya still has a lot of data problems, so all sms's received were scrambled.. I called Erik, he will have posted the delayed plans on the forum. Thanks, Erik!

Doctor Andrey is feeling quite bad, but the pulse-oxygen levels of all the team-2 climbing members are quite good, most between 75% & 82%. Team1 has reached Northcol ok, apparently James is already using some oxygen and Yuri has some stomach problems, but overall everybody is doing well.

While team 2 is relaxing in front of the two gas heaters I want to share my concern with you, my faithful readers, about a recent phenomenom:

The Evil Yaks...

Since a few days we hear a lot of bells, the sound always starting in the middle of the night. When we dare to look outside our tents at dawn, we see herds of yaks on some spots, mostly small camps of minor climbing parties near our ABC.
But the weird thing is, they just stand there. They do not move, but the bells are clearly audible. There are some Tibetan-like guys slowly running around without any apparent goal. So far nothing much to be alarmed about, you would say.
Ha! Sometime in the morning suddenly not only the sound of the bells will disappear, but also the yaks, Tibetans and ... a camp will be gone! And so slowly all small camps around us have disappeared in just a matter of days, leaving just barren rocks as if they had never been there. Of course these Evil Yaks, (they apparently control the Tibetans) scare us as we never know if our camp might be their next prey...

Umm, maybe time to sign off ;-)
Thanks for your everlasting support,


Harry Kikstra


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Re: May 22 to 27 - Full report by Harry
« Reply #1 on: May 29 2005, 06:40 »

Great post Harry!  As always I'm rivetted to your detailed accounts of life on the most famous mountain of all.

However, you may be showing signs of hypoxia - even at this early stage of the final summit attempt (evil yaks...controlling the Tibetans ... what???).  Harry maybe you have taken too many of those anti-biotics or worse still, drank that whisky too soon after taking them  :lol)

I don't expect you to become hypoxic until you get to 8300 or higher - but really I'm hoping you won't suffer this at all.  Lorenzo, for goodness sake keep an eye on him!!!! ;D

Best wishes guys and all the luck in the world for your summit attempt.  Stay safe and take care,

Mary Clare

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Re: May 22 to 27 - Full report by Harry
« Reply #2 on: May 29 2005, 12:17 »

Hello Harry

Wow...you really gave us great updates on your days in BC and then back to ABC.

There are no words to comfort you or the team regarding the death of Marko.  I guess there is just some solice knowing that Marko died doing something that was so important to him.  And he summited the highest mountain on this earth.  I pray he will rest in peace.  Lorenzo said that a stone has been carved with Marko's name on it to commemorate him.  That is a beautiful gesture on behalf of the 7 Summits team.

Regarding the "evil" yaks...I don't think so!  I think they are making the Tibetans and the small camps disappear so that there will be less people summiting on the 7 Summits day to reach the top!  Good luck to you on you on this amazing ascent of Everest!!!

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