Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Expedition Summary

Today all climbers have either begun the hike out from base camp or taken a helicopter from base camp to Kathmandu.  Last night we had our celebration with our Sherpa team, and thus have concluded a successful expedition. 

Our May 20 summit was not an easy one, the day turned out to be colder with higher wind speeds than anticipated.  There were other factors that complicated our summit day, however in the end 3 guides, 5 climbers, and 6 climbing Sherpa made the summit together.  2 of our climbers and 2 Sherpa had to turn back before reaching the top on our summit day because of complications resulting from the harsh weather conditions, and thus we avoided any injuries.  We were the only team to climb to the top on the South side route after the large scale attempt on May 19, and I don't anticipate any climbers going to the top until May 25 at the earliest based on the current weather forecast.

We decided to cancel the Lhotse extension climb because the route up the Lhotse couloir was not in suitable condition by our standards for guiding.  We are thankful for our strong and supportive Sherpa team that helped us achieve our goal of climbing Everest and making it back down safely.  Thanks for following along!

Garrett Madison

1: Rob & Karma at the summit holding the Lama Geshe blessing card
2: Climbing up the Hillary Step in icy conditions
3: View from the South Col high camp after returning from our summit

Monday, May 21, 2012

Team back to Base Camp

The entire team is safely back in Base Camp. It almost feels like summer here and people are sunning out on the rocks, enjoying cool beverages, and reminiscing about the climb.

We would like to congratulate Alpine Ascents Guide Eric Murphy who summited Lhotse yesterday at 3:41pm. We would also like to congratulate Jim Matter on his Everest effort. Jim reached the Hillary Step before impending frost bite to his fingers forced him to turn back to the South Col. The Hillary Step is a section of technical climbing only 200 feet below the summit at an altitude of 28,870 feet. That is more than 600 feet higher than any other mountain in the world and is certainly an amazing achievement! He was able to avoid frost bite to his fingers and has fully recovered.

A few of our team members will be departing on Helicopters early tomorrow morning and the rest will be walking back to Lukla through the rich oxygen and forested trails of the lower Khumbu Valley.


Back down to Camp 2

The team has safely descended the Lhotse Face and are back to Camp 2.  The weather is surprisingly nice today given the forecast and our climbers will be enjoying a fine afternoon in the Western Cwm before returning to Base Camp tomorrow.  We can’t wait to see them again and congratulate everyone on a job well done!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back in the South Col

The team has made it safely back to the South Col.  They are filling up with hot drinks and getting into their down sleeping bags. They will rest at the Col for the remainder of the day and night before descending to Camp 2 tomorrow.  The team will be back to Base Camp the next day and we are excited to welcome them safely back to camp soon.



Back down the Triangular Face

The team has just radioed from the Balcony.  They are doing well and everyone is in good shape for their descent through the Triangular Face back to the South Col tents. The Col is fairly windy at the moment, but those tents will still be looking pretty good to our climbers!


On the way down

The team has successfully descended the Hillary Step, passed the South Summit, and are currently on their way down the South East Ridge.  Nice work!




The team has reached the top of the world!!  Climbers Rob Sobecki, Laurence Clark, Mark Shuttleworth, Leanna Shuttleworth, and Marc Hester reached the summit of Mt. Everest along with Guides Garrett Madison, Lakpa Rita and Jose Louis Peralvo.  The climbing was tough with gusting winds and some driving snow, we could not have done it without our amazing Sherpa Team.  Joining us on the Summit are Kami Rita Sherpa, Karma Sarkee Sherpa, Ang Passang Sherpa, Ningma Tsheri Sherpa, Pemba Tenzing Sherpa and Ang Nuru Sherpa. No one climbs Mt. Everest alone and we are especially thankful to all the family and friends who have supported us day in and day out over the last two months.  We could not have done it without you.

A huge congratulations to today’s summiteers as we continue to follow them back down the mountain.  The top is only half way and we will continue to monitor the climber’s progress as they descend back to the South Col for some well deserved rest.


South Summit

The Team has made the South Summit at 28,700 feet!! They are reporting some good winds up there, but they pressed on through the night and have made great time. Daylight is just arriving as they break for food and water before traversing to the Hillary Step and then on to the Summit. They are only a 300 vertical feet from the Summit, but the traverse and climbing the Hillary Step will still take up to a few more hours.

Here is a picture of Everest's South East Ridge from the summit of Lhotse. You can see the Triangular Face on the lower third of the mountain, followed by the South East Ridge leading up to the South Summit, and finally the traverse to the Hillary Step and the Summit. Many thanks to Michael Horst for the great picture from last years Everest Lhotse link-up and a huge congratulations to Ben Jones who reached the summit of Lhotse at 11:11am yesterday morning!


Above the Balcony

The team has made it above the Balcony.  The winds have kicked up and the going is a bit slow, but the weather is clear and the team is pushing on.  The South East Ridge is not as steep as the Triangular Face although it can be a fairly exposed at times and there are still several more hours of climbing from the Balcony to the South Summit.  There are nearly two more hours until the first rays of sunlight begin to reach Mt. Everest.  Our climbers are doing some great work up there, so let’s wish them the best through these final hours of the night.


It is time!

It is time!  It is 9pm and our climbers are just waking up to “breakfast” and hot drinks before departing on their summit push.  They will check in with me periodically through the night as they make there way up the mountain and I will be checking in with you. 


Their first task will be to make it up the Triangular Face to the Balcony at 27,300 feet.  The Triangular face is a section of fairly steep climbing that begins 400 feet above the South Col.  It will take the climbers four to five hours to reach the Balcony where they will take an extended break for some snacks and fluids before heading up the South East Ridge toward the Summit.  We wish them all the best on their climb and big a big thanks to everyone out there for following along and supporting us as they go!!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Lhotse Fixing

The team is doing well in the South Col and are enjoying hot drinks in their tents this morning.  They will be resting through the day today and leaving for their Summit bid around 10pm tonight.  The sky is perfectly clear this morning with some light breeze currently at the South Col.


Alpine Ascents Guide Ben Jones is in the region doing a little personal high altitude climbing.  He is currently fixing lines on Lhotse with Damion Benegas.  They departed early this morning and are making great progress, fixing the lines as they go.  At 27,940 feet, Lhotse is the 4th highest mountain in the world, and its proximity to Mt. Everest provides the opportunity to link two 8,000 meter peaks in under 24 hours.  Currently only three people have managed the task; Alpines Ascents Guides Garrett Madison and Mike Horst, and Alpine Ascents climber Tom Halliday.  Garrett Madison is hoping to repeat the feat this year along with climbers Leanna Shuttleworth and Mark Shuttleworth.  They would become the 4th and 5th people to do so and Leanna would be the first female to climb two 8,000 meter peaks in under 24 hours.  Thanks to Ben and Damion for their hard work preparing the route and we look forward to following our climbers’ progress.


First things first…Mt. Everest.   The team has the full day still to rest and prepare for tonight’s climb!!

Stay tuned,




Summit Fixing Completed!

Summit!! Everest has just seen its first summits of the year by 7 Sherpa who have fixed lines for all climbing teams to use. Alpine Ascents Guide Lakpa Rita has been coordinating the fixing from high on the mountain and Alpine Ascents' Sherpa Kami Rita is among today's summiteers. The fixing Sherpa enjoyed perfectly calm, sunny weather for most of their fixing effort. Our Team is currently moving to Camp 4 in the same beautiful weather. They have passed the Yellow Band, a geological layer of marbled yellow rock visible across many of the highest mountains in the Himalaya, and will be approaching the Geneva Spur soon.

There are numerous other teams climbing to the South Col along side us at the moment.  Alpine Ascents schedules our team members to enjoy a full rest day in Camp 4 before making their summit bid. This provides our climbers with 24 extra hours of well deserved rest and allows us the flexibility to choose our summit date from the highest camp on the mountain.

The Prayer flags are hardly moving with the calm winds and we are enjoying the sunny weather here in Base Camp :-)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Everest Summit Fixing

It continued to be a beautiful day here on Everest.  Camp 3 sits at 23,000 feet, higher than any mountain outside of Asia!  Surprisingly, even at such great elevation, the chief hardship of the afternoon was escaping from the heat.  The winds were completely calm all afternoon and it can really heat up with the sun reflecting off all sides of the Western Cwm.

Lakpa Rita has been coordinating Summit fixing for all teams on the mountain.  Lakpa’s brother and Assistant Sirdar Kami Rita is on the fixing team and just called in saying the lines are fixed to the Balcony.  All the ropes, ice screws and pickets are in place at the Balconey to complete the Summit Fixing. This means Everest should see its first summit of the season tomorrow and that the path will be laid for our climbers to make their push on Saturday night!

The weather forecast is looking favorable for our summit push and we look forward to following our team up to the top of the world.

Standing by at Base Camp,




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Team to Camp 3

The team moved to Camp 3 today and are enjoying some hot drinks and resting on oxygen. Garrett described the weather at Camp 3 as the best he has ever seen. It is perfectly calm, sunny and warm. The team will move to Camp 4 tomorrow, putting them in position for their Summit bid in two days time.

Jenny and I have been entertaining ourselves here in base camp with bouldering, ice climbing and some guitar playing with the Sherpa. During the Drop Back, we were even able to squeeze in a quick trip to Imja Tse (Island Peak), a beautiful 20,308 foot peak in the Khumbu Valley that can be incorporated into our Alpine Ascents Everest Base Camp Trek. After gaining the steep headwall and traversing the summit ridge to the top, we were rewarded with great views of Ama Dablam, Thamserku, and Kangtega to the South and Nuptse, Lhotse, and Makalu to the North.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summit Rotation

The Summit rotation is off to a good start. The team has made it safely up the Khumbu Ice Fall to Camp 2 after rounding the Puja at 4AM this morning.  Everyone showed off their acclimatization from the first two rotations by improving travel time through the Ice Fall by well over an hour! They will spend the day in Camp 2 tomorrow, resting and relaxing, before continuing to Camp 3 and on to the top of the world.

We celebrated Mark's Birthday yesterday with some home made "British" coffee cake.  Another great creation from Jenny and crew in the kitchen. Here are a few shots from Oxygen School as well.   :-)


Friday, May 11, 2012

Climbing team returns from drop back, Camp 4 stocked & ready

Today our Everest & Lhotse climbing team has returned from a week of rest down valley. Our Sherpa team has finished stocking our South Col high camp (camp 4), so we will likely take 1 or 2 days of rest here in base camp then head up on our summit rotation. We have coordinated with a few other teams to finish fixing the route, but due to unfavorable weather In recent days, the route from the South Col to the summit is currently not fixed. We will fix on summit day if necessary as we previously did in the 1990s.
Photo: view from base camp looking up at the Khumbu Icefall, route from base camp to camp 1.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Team on return to Base Camp

Greetings from Pheriche Everyone,

Today we enjoyed a leisurely walk from Deboche on up to Pheriche, about 4 hours, with everyone feeling great from all the rest. Lots of eating followed our walk, and we are now headed to bead for another 10 hours of great sleep in the oxytgen rich air.

Tomorrow we will head up to Lobuche, about a 3 hour walk, to approximately 16,000', just past the terminus of the massive Khumbu glacier.

Everyone is doing great and feeling the benifits of all the rest. We plan to arrive back to Base Camp maintaining as much of this strentgh as we can!

All The Best

Eric, Jose and the Team

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Drop Back and Recovery

Greetings from Deboche Everyone,

The team is all doing great after 3 days relaxing, sleeping, reading, and eating double portions at every meal!

Life here at the Rivendell Inn, elevation 12,100' is a marked contrast to Base Camp and above. We have all been soaking up as much of the thick air as we can, whilst enjoying the trees, flowers, birds, sunshine, and clear views of Nupste, Lhotse and Everest. Every morning has dawned sunny and clear, while the afternoons have brought rain and snow up higher.

We all feel we have benefited greatly from the drop back, both mentally and physically. Tomorrow morning we will all head back up valley to Pheriche, then the next day to Lobuche, arriving to Base Camp on the 12th. We plan to have several rest days before beginning our final push to the roof of the world, weather conditions depending.

Currently Alpine Ascents and IMG, along with Patagonian Brothers, and a few other groups hope to have the route fixed to the summit, before the winds pick up on the 12th. This will put us in a great position for our summit window to begin around the 20th of May- weather depending of course.

The entire team sends their best back home to all following along on the cybercast.

All Our Best!

Eric & Jose and the Team

Monday, May 7, 2012

Climbers rest on drop back, team prepares to fix summit routes

The Alpine Ascents Everest & Lhotse climbing team is resting in Debuche (12,000'), for the next few days then will make their way back up the valley to base camp.  During this time the route fixing team will attempt to fix the lines to the summits of Everest & Lhotse.  All team members are resting on the drop back except sherpas and guides Lakpa Rita, Garrett Madison, & Ben Jones who are staying on the mountain to supervise the route fixing plans.  At least one large team has decided to leave the mountain, deeming it unsafe to climb, but we have decided to stay and continue climbing for the time being, applying our usual safety standards to the route.  When the team returns from the drop back in about a week, we will evaluate the weather forecast and make a decision regarding our summit bid(s).  Photos: Jim Matter climbing the "new route" up the Lhotse Face, Leanna Shuttleworth and Ueli Steck pause while climbing the Lhotse Face a few days ago on our last rotation.

Sunrise on EBC

Here's another time lapse video from Everest Base Camp.  Look closely for climbers starting up the icefall on left (both before and after sunrise), a small avalanche, and a cameo by the photographer.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Team returns from 2nd rotation

We just returned this afternoon from our 2nd rotation on Mt. Everest.  Our 5 nights spent above base camp helped us acclimatize, as well as gain important practice climbing on the Lhotse Face.  The climbing above Camp 2 has been unusual in that the Lhotse Face has been much drier than in previous seasons, this means that the hard ice is not covered by snow, making climbing more difficult, and increasing the danger of rock fall.  Several climbers from other teams had been injured by rock fall in the preceding days on this section of the route, and this hazard we were not willing to accept.  Our team along with help from two other teams fixed a new line up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3 that avoided this rock fall hazard.  We then climbed this route on our acclimatization trip.  We now plan to drop back down the valley to rest and recover from this last trip up to Camp 3.  During this time we are strategizing how we will fix the route to the South Col high camp, then to the summit.  Everyone is doing well!
Photos: The climbing team at Camp 2 in our Down Suits.  Climbers on our new route up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Rest at Camp 2

The Team tackled some moderate winds yesterday on an acclimatization hike out of Camp 2. They sorted through climbing gear and rested today in preparation for a hike up to Camp 3 early tomorrow morning. They will spend a bit of time at camp 3 before returning to Camp 2 for the evening and then back to Base Camp the next day.

We are excited to see everyone again soon and look forward to all the stories from their second rotation. 

Here is a picture of Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse taken from Pumori Camp 1, a nice day hike from Base Camp.  You can fallow the Khumbu Ice Fall up from Base camp and see the Lhotse Face which the team will be hiking up tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Khumbu Ice Training

The climbing team going through their paces on April 19th, prior to the first rotation up the mountain.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rest Day at Camp 2

It was especially sunny here on Everest making for a great rest day. After
moving all the way from Base Camp to Camp 2 yesterday the climbers took
maximum advantage of the good weather to rest, relax and lay low. Tomorrow
will be another rest day in Camp 2 with an acclimatization hike thrown in to
stretch the legs a bit.

Jenny and I kept ourselves busy with Base Camp chores like refining radio
communications, sprucing up community tents, organizing our vast supply of
food, and tackling laundry. By the end of the day the sunny weather won out
against our motivation and we participated in some high altitude lounging in
the hammock.