Today the succesfull record was set to the top of Everest at 5:50am. Himalayan Rescue Association's staff Lakpa Sherpa telephoned from Base Camp about the summit. Dick morse, Kame Sherpa, Mingmar Sherpa, Ngima Sherpa and our high camp cook Pemba Sherpa sumit Mt. Everest (8848m) at 5:50am this morning. After summit the team headed back to camp IV.
More news and pictures is coming soon.
Mingmar, the guidereported at around 1:30 pm that the team arrived at South Col. They will stay there tonight. Tomorrow team will go to Base Camp.
With luck and good weather today will be our summit day. Climbing above the Balcony (27,500 feet) we had a fair amount of steep snow sections. Mixed in between were rock and ice covered rock sections. We would climb up mostly snow ridges or faces and than skirt rock outcrops or climb directly up them. Most of the rock was easy fourth class except that you are now up above 27,500 feet. The safety of the fixed lines was very good, but you still put out a fair amount of effort working your way up.
Finally we reached the South summit (28,704 feet). It was still dark, but you could begin to see the sky in the east starting to show signs of light. We changed our oxygen bottles and had our second drink of water. The water bottles were just starting to freeze up. From here you could see across to the Hillary step – still more than an hour away. While we took a short break a small group of eight climbers passed us.
Shortly after we started back up we were held up behind four of the folks that had just passed us. Unfortunately one of the four had just gone blind. They had trouble with a regulator and went without supplemental oxygen for about fifteen minutes. The result probably from hypoxia caused the blindness. We waited about twenty minutes while they call their team doctor. Finally they decided to turn around to help the blind person down. They hung on above the fixed line while we passed them. At this point it is about 8,000 feet steeply down the South face to camp two on the left and more than 8,000 feet down the East face on the left. This was definitely not a good location to pass anyone. It is unfortunate how your luck can change and in sight of your goal. The pat on the back probably did little to help them, but it was a least a way to express some feelings.
After traversing the ridge to the base of the Hillary Step I began to think we had a chance to reach the summit. Latter in the day, back at the South Col the Sherpa’s told me that they thought we would make it after reaching the Balcony so quickly.
The Hillary Step was not a lot harder than several of the rock steps lower on the mountain. I will say that leading it without fixed line would have been the toughest part of the climb, but now with all the old and new fixed lines your main concern is to not get tangled up while trying to climb with crampons on sloping rocks. Above the step you come back out on an ascending snow ridge headed to the summit. I think at this point I told Kame that I thought we would make it. I still felt strong and was keeping up well with Pemba and Mingmar. I was particularly proud of how strong Pemba was on his first summit of Everest. Especially having broke trail in fresh snow all the way up to the South Summit.
We continued to plod our way up the summit ridge. At this point we looked to our left and could see the shadow of Everest cast far out to the West. Sunrise had just started out over the cloud covered plains of Tibet. Finally we could see four folks on the summit and knew that we only had a short distance to go. It had been such a long journey to this point. There has been so much support from family, friends and especially my wife Terri. She has put up with all these crazy trips over the years that I know are harder for her than me.
After the last few hundred feet we were on the summit at 5:50 AM. Our summit push had taken about eight and one half hours Yes – I even shed a tear. I had several good reasons to do this climb and those that know me well understand why I wanted to get to the top of this mountain. They make sense to me and that is good enough. I do wish I had gotten it done last year with my good friend and climbing partner Bill Cole, but frostbite after summiting Cho Oyu prevented me from going on to Everest with Bill. Pemba Sherpa summated for his first time. He was our high camp cook and is now a climbing Sherpa. For Ngima Sherpa this was his second time summiting Everest. Last year he summated Everest for his first time on the Chinese
side. Mingmar Sherpa made his third summit of Everest, second from this the Nepal side. After all is work with me at the South Col over the previous day, I should call him Doctor Mingmar Sherpa. For Kame this was his eight summit of Everest, with more than half without oxygen.
After pictures and spending a little over thirty minutes on the summit we headed back down. It was still clear up high, but clouds were building below us. At the summit there was some wind (~ 10 to 15 mph) and according to Mingmar it was colder than normal. Stamping feet and shaking hands helped to prevent freezing digits.
As we descended we passed many climbers still coming up. Our guess was about 60 climbers reached the summit today. Snow began below the South Summit, but we had no problems getting down to the South Col before noon. At camp four we made some calls home since our SAT phone would not work when we were on the summit. We did call base camp on our radios when we were on the summit to let them know that we had made it. Finally we had a few hot drinks and got in our sleeping bags for a well earned sleep through the rest of the day and night.