Everest & Lhotse 2016 Expedition DispatchesFollow @AltJunkies
Dispatch #16 - May 27, 2016 - Kathmandu
Apologies about the delayed final dispatch posting, but we wanted to let one of our team members post their own personal account of the events of his summit day and epic descent.
First, I would like to thank the following people who assisted with our team member's descent: Our sirdar, Pasang Ongcho Sherpa plus all the other ten Sherpas on the summit push who did their job as usual, Ben and Laura for doing the right thing in very harsh conditions, Lysle for manning the radio at camp two, Nelson for helping at base camp, Billy Nugent for medical assistance at camp four, Greg Vernovage for radio communication assistance, Dr. Tetyana and Dr. Tash from the Himalayan Rescue Association for monitoring the Junkies' radio frequency during descent and Russell Brice of Himex and Jason Liang of Simrik Air for being good friends and always being there for the Junkies when needed.
There have been many sad stories to come off Everest this season and I am glad to say that our story had a good ending with good people showing that Everest is not always the shit show that the media portrays. Western expedition operators all work very close together in troubled times and I would recommend any future Everest climbers look at this when choosing an expedition operator for their climbs.
I have personally had a very enjoyable time the last 14 seasons I have spent on Everest and am glad that we have had no major injuries during this time. Before the start of this season, we at the Junkies decided to make 2016 our last season on Everest, as the mountain and its dynamics are changing rapidly. We will now focus on the less crowded and less known peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Makalu and Kanchenjunga for the future. Nepal is a beautiful country and its people some of the friendliest I have ever met, and we hope to bring as many folks to Nepal as possible over the next several years so we can all follow our dreams of climbing the highest mountains of the world in the majestic Himalayas.
Dispatch #15 - May 19, 2016 - Base camp
This morning we had 16 summits for the Junkies on Everest. All the team members and Sherpas are now back at the South Col and will probably descend tomorrow to camp two.
The weather would not allow us to go for the summit on the 18th due to the high winds so the team was patient and waited for this morning as the winds were predicted low.
Everyone is doing well and we will post a detailed report in a few days.
Dispatch #14 - May 15, 2016 - Base camp
We started our Everest expedition on April 1st in Kathmandu with six climbers and one expedition leader and I am pleased to say that all of the above climbers are now on their summit rotation.
Yesterday at 1am, six climbers along with their twelve Sherpas climbed directly to camp two from base camp. Today they are resting and tomorrow they will continue with the climb to camp three and the next day, camp four respectively.
Our Sherpa sirdar, Pasang Ongcho Sherpa and myself will climb to camp two tomorrow and then the following day directly to camp four where will join the team members at the South Col.
We have been studying our weather forecast from our friend Michael Fagin and we hope to be able to reach the summit on the 18th or 19th depending on the wind speeds.
Dispatch #13 - May 7, 2016 - Base camp
The weather has continued its usual pattern of nice mornings and snowy afternoons. Up higher, the weather is holding and 12 of our climbbing Sherpas made a load carry of oxygen and fixed ropes to the South Col today. We insist on our Sherpas using supplementary oxygen during load carries from Camp 3 to the South Col. They have to repeat this carry once more and then all our supplies and a quantity of rope for the summit rope fixers will be in place.
Our team members continue to take daily walks to keep up with their excercise in anticipation of their summit attempts.
Once our hard working Sherpas have descended to base camp for several days rest, we will hopefully be able to come up with a plan for the summit push.
Dispatch #12 – May 4, 2016 – Base camp
Some of our Sherpas made a load carry and established camp three yesterday. They are now resting at camp two in anticipation of carrying loads to camp four. The fixed ropes are now above the Yellow Band but have not gone any further due to unfavorable weather conditions experienced up high.
All of our team members are now back at base camp and will rest for a few days before heading back up the hill to camp two.
Unfortunately, our single Lhotse team member had to descend and is now back in Kathmandu. A not so serious medical condition has meant that the climber will need to rest and recover in Kathmandu and will not be able to continue with the Lhotse climb.
Dispatch #11 – May 1, 2016 – Base camp
All of our team members are now at base camp or lower after their acclimatization rotation on the hill. We had hoped to tag camp three but unfortunately that did not happen.
Some of the team members have dropped lower for a few days to take advantage of the thicker air and to also avoid the snowy conditions that we will experience at base camp for a couple of days.
Our Sherpas plan to move oxygen and gear to camp four over the next few days in anticipation of our upcoming summit attempt.
Dispatch #10 – April 28, 2016 – Base camp
Due to each of our team members having a personal Sherpa during rotations, we have people all over the mountain at present. During the summit push each climber has two personal Sherpa. We presently have climbers at camp one, camp two and at base camp respectively.
Our camp two climbers wanted to tag camp three today along with some of our Sherpas who were planning to deposit loads at camp three. Unfortunately, a crevasse has opened up on the route which will require a ladder or two placed to assist passage. The climbers will stay another night at camp two and look at their options tomorrow to see how high they can go.
Some of our Sherpas have carried rope fixing loads from camp one to camp two already and we have some of our guys ready to carry loads for the summit rope fixing team from camp two to camp four.
The weather continues to be favorable and if all goes well, the ropes will be fixed to the South Col in the next several days.
Dispatch #9 – April 27, 2016 – Base camp
Several of our team members are now spending their second day at camp two at an elevation of 6,450-meters to aid their acclimatization. Some of the team members descended to base camp with myself this morning and others are leaving tomorrow morning from base camp for camp one and camp two respectively.
The fixed ropes are already at camp three and weather permitting, should be heading to camp four over the next few days.
When all of our members have descended to base camp with their personal Sherpas we will rest and start to make plans to move supplies to camp four.
Dispatch #8 – April 25, 2016 – Base camp
The Altitude Junkies team, Sherpa crew and Kathmandu office staff would like to send our thoughts to all those affected by the Nepal earthquake on April 25th, 2015.
The rope, hardware and oxygen for the rope fixing from camp two to the summit were airlifted by helicopter on April 23rd from Gorak Shep to camp one. We would like to thank Parajuli and all the other officers of the Expedition Operators Association for making this possible. Eight loads of 100kg were transported by Simrik Helicopters, thus avoiding 87 Sherpa loads through the icefall.
This morning several of our team members along with their personal Sherpas made the climb to camp one. Tomorrow they will continue to camp two. A few of our other team members are still at base camp taking care of annoying coughs and sore throats before going higher. Tommorrow, a few of us will climb directly to camp two from base camp to join the other team members.
If all goes well with the rope fixing on the Lhotse Face, then the team members in position at camp two will hopefully tag camp three during this rotation.
Dispatch #7 – April 20, 2016 – Base camp
We are now very close to having the ropes, hardware and oxygen used by the rope fixers being dropped at camp one by helicopter. Simrik Air are the chosen helicopter company and the neccessary documentation has now been granted by the government. We hope to have the ropes at camp one in the next few days.
It is very hard to sit down at base camp when the weather is so good, but many teams have the same idea as we do this year in regards to the icefall. The weather has been so warm we feel it unnecessary to make additional rotations through the icefall for the team members and their personal Sherpas. Many experienced guides and expedition leaders are making the same decision and we applaud them for their actions.
Even though we have only been through the icefall once, our team members continue to take daily exercise to keep up with their acclimatization. A few more days of this and then they will venture to camp one and camp two respectively.
A large number of our Sherpa crew made a second carry to camp two yesterday and established the campsite. They spent the night at the camp and today returned to base camp very early before the sun hit the icefall. They will take a couple of days rest and then return to camp one and two respectively with their chosen team members.
We have been enjoying the company of some of our friends from other expeditions and the other evening was a late one when we hosted Russ and Conrad for happy hour and dinner. A great time was had by all with tall stories about even taller mountains.
The above photos show the West Shoulder of Everest on the left and Nuptse on the right, and some of our hardworking Sherpa resting after a load carry.
Dispatch #6 - April 17, 2016 - Base camp
Yesterday, the climbers and their personal Sherpas went into the icefall for their first rotation for acclimatization. The idea was not to go too high and turn around when the sun hits the icefall. We left base camp at 6 am and returned around 10 am. I was very pleased with the performance of all our climbers.
Today we had another 4 Sherpas climb and deposit loads at camp one. They departed at 1 am and were back at base camp in time for breaksfast.
We will observe the 18th as a day of respect for the climbers who were killed in the icefall in 2014 and we will not set foot on the flanks of Everest. On the 19th, we will send another large group of Sherpas up to camp two to establish our campsite there.
We are experiencing some very warm temperatures here at base camp and in the icefall so we will slightly change our approach this year in regards how the team members and the Sherpas travel through the icefall. We will do less rotations than on previous years to avoid unnecessary time in the icefall.
Once we have camp two established, we will hopefully move up to this campsite for some time to aid with our acclimatization.
The above photos courtesy of Lysle show climbers ascending through the icefall and some of the Junkies' Sherpas and team members posing for a group photo at the foot of the icefall.
Dispatch #5 – April 15, 2016 – Base camp
We held our Puja yesterday and for Junkies' standards, it was quieter than usual as we had our Sherpa crew working hard the following day. We sent 14 Sherpas to camp two with 12kg loads each today. The crew left at 12.45 am and climbed directly to camp two, where they examined our cached gear from 2015. Each Sherpa wears a personal avalanche transciever and carries a two-way radio so we had contact with all the Sherpas throughout the morning.
Tomorrow, the climbing team will enter into the icefall with their personal Sherpa for an exploratory climb up to the Football Field section before returning to base camp.
If the weather allows on the the 17th, the Sherpa crew will make another climb to camp two with loads and this should be sufficient enough carries to this camp for the rest of the expedition. They will then have to carry loads from camp two to camp four.
The above photos show our Puja ceremony in prgress and the Sherpas doing a traditional dance at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Dispatch #4 - April 10, 2016 - Base camp
Seeing as the group were feeling very good at the altitude of 4,950 meters, we collectively decided to skip a second night at Lobuche and arrived at base camp yesterday in time for lunch. The craving for fresh coffee and our daily happy hour was too much for most of us to pass over.
We will take the next few days easy with gentle walks around base camp and we will not go any higher until after our Puja ceremony which is scheduled for April 14th. The plan will be to venture a few days later into the icefall with our personal Sherpa to try out any new gear we have and to get familiar with the route up to the football field.
We are hearing from the Icefall Doctors that the route will hopefully be completed to camp one by the 12th or 13th. If this is the case, we will plan for the Sherpa to carry loads to camp two a few days later in anticipation of the team moving to camp two for acclimatization.
The above photos show the Junkies base camp and our hard working kitchen crew.
Dispatch #3 – April 5, 2016 – Deboche
We are now in Deboche at the Rivendell Lodge. We arrived here in time for lunch. After lunch, most of the team decided to climb back up the hill to visit the Tengboche Monastary. Today we awoke to clear skies which allowed the group to get some amazing photos of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Unfortunately I had my camera buried at the bottom of my pack and did not take advantage of the opportunity.
Tomorrow we will make the short trek to Dingboche where we will spend two nights for cautious acclimatization before heading to Loboche.
Our team is quite the mixed bag of ages and nationalities with climbers from Australia, Guatamela, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.
We are hearing from various reports that there will be 250 foreign climbers on Everest this season but it's hard to believe as the trails are completely deserted and we have seen very few trekkers indeed. Hopefully the number of trekkers will increase as the season progresses.
Dispatch #2 – April 4, 2016 – Namche Bazar
The team gathered in Kathmandu on April 1st with all their luggage, and we held our group dinner in Thamel that evening allowing the 2nd to be a free day for relaxing before we started our journey up the Khumbu.
The Lukla flights have been somewhat sporadic over the past few days with many flight cancellations due to the bad weather Lukla Airport has been experiencing. We, at the Junkies, have always used helicopters to fly to the Khumbu as the choppers can fly in conditons that the fixed-wing flights cannot always make. We left Kathmandu at 10am and had lunch in Namche at noon.
Today the group took a little stroll to the Everest View Hotel that sits just above Namche Bazar. We will spend a second evening here in Namche and tomorrow we start the trek to base camp spending the night at Deboche.
All the team are doing well and looking forward to getting to base camp, where our large Sherpa staff crew have been establishing our camp and receiving cargo for the past ten days.
Dispatch #1: Kathmandu, March 20, 2016
Welcome to the expedition dispatches from our annual Everest and Lhotse expeditions. We hope that 2016 is a good year for all the Everest and Lhotse climbers as well as the other climbers in the Himalayas and the people and country of Nepal, our second home.
Our Sherpa kitchen and climbing staff have been busy in Kathmandu for the past week packing food for our expeditions and they are now all on their way to base camp. We now have over 3000kg of food and other supplies in Lukla and on the way to Everest. Nepal is suffering from a drop in tourism this spring season so we are deliberately flying all our loads to Lukla rather than helicoptering them to Shyangboche, as we prefer to give as much business as we can to the porters rather than to the yaks. It’s a more expensive option for us but better for the local people and economy we believe.
The most important part of any Junkies expedition in Nepal or Tibet is our amazing Sherpa staff. This year I am privileged once again to be working with a large number of these guys, some who have been with the Junkies for many years. Pasang Ongcho Sherpa will be our sirdar for both expeditions and as usual, Da Pasang Sherpa will be head cook. Our staff roster includes the following guys.
Pasang Ongchu Sherpa (Sirdar)
Pemba Chhiri Sherpa
Pasang Nima Sherpa
Pasang Karma Sherpa
Mingma Nuru Sherpa
Karma Geljen Sherpa
Pasang Namgel Sherpa
Sonam Chhiring Sherpa
Da Pasang Sherpa
Pasang Lhapka Sherpa
Phurba Lhapka Sherpa
Pemba Nuru Sherpa
We always like to state how important our Sherpa staff are but equally important are our climbing team members. As usual with the Junkies expeditions, we have some really experienced climbers on the teams and some who are making their first attempt on Everest or Lhotse. Between the team members we have 8,000-meter experience on Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, Everest Tibet, Everest Nepal, Gasherbum I, Gasherbum II, K2, Lhotse, Manaslu and Shishapangma. For the record we do not encourage climbers to attempt both Everest and Lhotse in the same season. All of our past and present Lhotse climbers are already Everest summiteers.
Kathmandu is as awesome as usual but the tourist numbers are low and many local business owners are complaining how there is very little business this spring season. For all those folks contemplating visiting Nepal in the fall season, please do. This amazing country and its amazing people need all the tourists possible to start to get back on the road to recovery after the devastating earthquakes and the crippling blockade that is thankfully over.
The above photos show some of our Sherpa crew packing on the rooftop of the Junkies office in Kathmandu.
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