Mount Everest, 8850m
Mount Everest is the highest summit on earth. The top reaches 8850 meters. The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia, is located on the border between Nepal and Tibet. It is also known as Chomolungma which means “Mother of the Universe” in Tibetan. Mt. Everest is also one of the 7 summits.
Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norway Sherpa made the first ascent from the Nepalese side on 29 may, 1953. We climbed the Northeast ridge on the Tibetan side which was climbed first in 1960 by a Chinese and Tibetan expedition.
April 17 - May 16:
We arrived at Katmandu April 15 and spent two days to review the gear, food, etc.
Apr 17-22: we flew to Lhassa (3660m, Tibet), we left Lhassa and cross the Tibetan plateau toward Everest.
Apr 23: we arrived at Everest base camp (BC) at 5150m/17,000'.
Apr 24-May 16: we made a first rotation up to the North Col at 7050m/23,000' to acclimatize and carry loads.
May 17: Base Camp (BC, 5150m/17,000’) – Interim camp (5750m/19,000’)
24th day of the expedition. We came back from our acclimation trip to North Col (7050m/23,000’) 10 days ago. Even though we train 3h a day, I am a bit worried that those 10 days spent at the Base Camp have been too long and that we lost part of our acclimatization. My Oxygen saturation seems to confirm it. It was at 90% a few days ago, it is now at 86%. In fact, I wanted to leave for the summit two days ago and shoot for the middle of the good weather window (May 21-22) but as a Team we decided to wait two more days.
We are going up today, toward the Interim camp. It is a walk of 12km (7.5mi) on the East Rongbuk “roller coaster” glacier. 3h30 on the moraine.
May 18: Interim camp (5750m/19,000’) – Advanced Base Camp (ABC, 6450m/21,000’)
We continue our walk on the East Rongbuk glacier on the famous “miracle highway”. It has been named this way by the first explorers because there is an easy strip of stones splitting the glacier in two parts. We progress along this strip instead of crossing 10km of glacier and crevasses
May 19: Rest day at the Advanced Base Camp (6450m/21,000’)
We stay at the ABC to recover from the last two days and to review the gears one more time.
May 20: Advanced Base Camp (6450m/21,000’) – Camp 1 at North Col (7050m/23,000’)
Last time I climbed to the North Col I baked, so this time I leave ABC early. Geff is sick and will not go up with us. We try to climb quickly when we pass the big serac half way to the col.
May 21: Rest day at North Col
I am not sure we needed this rest day, many teams skipped it and went straight to camp 2. Anyway, we will stay here at 7050m/23,000’ all day melting snow to drink and eat, listening to music and reading books. Many climbers who summitted earlier are passing in front of our tent, we cheer and congratulate them but we are scared to see how exhausted they are.
May 22: Camp 1 at North Col (7050m/23,000’) – Camp 2 (7700m/25,000’)
We just got a call from Duncan who is at the camp 3; he told us to be prepared for a cold and windy day… Let’s be positive, I’ll wear the down suit instead of carrying it in my rucksack already full, and hopefully the MP3 player will cover the noise of the wind.
The snow conditions are good but the wind is getting stronger as we climb up. When we reach the camp 2 the wind is blowing at 60 km/h (37 mph). As there is no large spot to put all tents together, they are quite spread out. I share a small tent with Gavin. We spend a part of the day listening to the radio conversations between the Sherpas trying to help out a climber who broke a hand in the second step.
This night we sleep for the first time on oxygen at a very low rate (0.4liter/min). The wind is blowing hard during all the night. We sleep with all the clothes on and we keep everything in the rucksack in case the tent is blown away.
May 23: Camp 2 (7700m/25,000’) - Camp 3 (8300m/27,200’)
We got the last weather forecast by radio early in the morning and it is bad. The wind will be stronger than expected, from 40 km/h (25mph) raising to 80 km/h (50mph), the temperature will drop to -25/-30ºC (-22ºF). We have a long discussion between us. Finally Kirsti, Kevin and Gavin decide to go down. Namgyal Sherpa who has summitted Everest three times thinks it is doable if we leave early and climb fast. I decide to go with him and Nima Sherpa.
We leave early to the camp 3 that we reach in 4 hours. I am not sure we should call this place a camp, it is rather a 30º snow slope where we can pitch a few tents. Going in and out of the tent once we had taken off the crampons is quite a challenge.
We spend the afternoon resting, drinking and eating some snacks. At 11pm we have all our clothes on and not an inch of skin is exposed to the wind. We have to wear the goggle even if it’s dark to protect the eyes from the frostbite. I put 2 bottles of boiling water inside my down suit. It takes a while to put crampons on; the boucles are frozen and the metal is so cold that it sticks to the gloves. Fortunately we covered the ice axe with soft plastic and hockey tape to avoid this problem and to isolate the metal from the gloves. 11:30pm, we are ready to go.
May 24: Camp 3 (8300m/27,200’) – Summit (8850m/29,035’) - North Col (7050m/23,000’)
Full story, pictures and movies
The full story, 38 pictures and movies of Mt. Everest expedition
10 minutes video of the Expedition