Sunday, May 06, 2007


EverestSA2007 Update 7

After yesterdays sms from Andy regarding John’s progress, here are some further updates as to what is happening to the SA team on the slopes of Chomolungma, the beautiful Tibetan name for Mt. Everest.

The group has been split, because John was suffering from altitude sickness and had to move down from Advances Base Camp to Base Camp to recuperate, so now it means that while one part of the group is up, the other part is down. (Right - The cousins have been split - John & Mike)

On the 28th of April Ronnie, Mike, Andy and their Sidar Lhakpa Randu decided to climb the icy head wall of East Rongbuk Glacier to the North Col (or saddle – Col is a Welsh word). It’s a hell of a trip, making use of crampons and fixed ropes up the final stages of the North Col, to camp at 7050m…

John had reached Base Camp at this stage, but was exhausted, suffering from a tummy bug we've heard, and he needed medical attention as well as rest. And good ol' thick air!

The North Col is the low point of one the three big ridges that emanate from the summit of Mount Everest, and after some accounts I have read I know it is an achievement in itself! They descended to Advanced Base Camp the following morning. (pic show camps of the Bate 2002 expedition)

On the 30th of April the group heard that two climbers from Kazakhstan, Max and Musili (right - "no water for 48hrs during summit"), had summited without oxygen. They were the first climbers of the season to summit, but not without drama.

The climbers from Kazakhstan were in trouble on the descent and that they called for help at 4am in the morning. Sirdar Lhakpa Randu (left), from Arun Trekking and a very experience mountaineer, dashed up the slope with oxygen, rounding up additional Sherpa’s along the way, to the rescue (which took 16 hours). But as the Discovery Channel team tell in their blog, it was successful! The S.A. team had the Discovery TV crew interviewing and filming them during the day, which my unc manages to evade, not too fond, I think, of those "media opportunities"!

Ronnie, Mike and Andy packed up their gear on 02 May and walked down to Base Camp, through a snow-storm, to rest. Along the way they met John, on his way back up to Advanced Base Camp, and said he was in high spirits, looking forward to his climb up to 7 000m – so the Base Camp MD sorted him out!

On 03 May John climbed up to the North Col, which is something we’re very proud of, because this is higher than Aconcagua (6,962m / 22,841feet), which he had previously not been able to summit, and we're looking forward to hearing more… Ronnie, Mike and Andy left Base Camp for Shigar (4 300m), where they are spending 4 nights, resting, recuperating and preparing for their final push when they return to the mountain. (right by Sergio Schmiegelow in 2005)

Our Cousin Mike’s sister, (cousin) Carol joined the group in Shigar, from China and having hiked via Base Camp, where she has been working for the last year. I can imagine it must have been an awesome surprise! My mother was told that the group enjoyed their first shower in over 2 weeks – but they had to boil the water to get it hot!

Because John is acclimatizing by himself, we will only get more information when he is back from his climb.

There were a few American climbers arrested by Chinese authorities at Base Camp on the 25th of April, for protesting against China’s rule over Tibet.

I found a short clip that explains more, but the reason is that a Chinese group is taking the Olympic flame up the mountain for the Beijing Games, and Tibetans are angry about this - "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" said the banner, playing on Beijing's Olympic logo of "One World, One Dream". Drama at altitude!

The more I read about this expedition, the more I want to know about the mountain. It has a strange appeal – but it's certainly no walk in the park, and it is still early days for the team to become the first South Africans to summit from the North East. More, as we hear it.

UPDATE 17h15: As fate works, John called us earlier this afternoon from Shagir (about 140km from BC @ 4300m), where he is resting after his first trip over 7000m. Although tired, he sounded chuffed with the way things are going. He'll be resting a few days, and then he is hoping to be back at ABC by the 12th. He also told us that contact was going to be more difficult from now (so don't stress mom!), but that we should listen out for the Monday morning broadcast on KFM for more details.

See... told you I'd give you more AS I heard it!

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