Everest – The North Ridge 2004
Dave Pritt Expedition Leader
Paul Noble Assistant Leader
Tony Griffiths(BBC Challenger)
Dr Mike Brennan
Ewen Thomson TV Director
Rachel Skelton TV Assistant Producer
Paul Moores Camera Safety Support
Tashi Sherpa – Climbing Sherpa, summitted Everest twice, along with Ama Dablam & Cho Oyu
Mingma Nuru Sherpa – Climbing Sherpa, summitted Everest twice, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu
Lhakpa Tshing Sherpa – Climbing Sherpa, summitted Everest once before
Thundu Sherpa – Climbing Sherpa, summitted Everest once before
Phurpa Ridar Bhote – Climbing Sherpa, summitted everest once before
Mingma Tenzing Sherpa – Climbing Sherpa
Surendra Kumar Gurung – Cook
Gyan Bahadur Tamang – Cook
Kul Bahadur – Cook
Anil Bhattasai – Sirdar We would like to take this opportunity to thank the following companies for all their help and support and for the items they have kindly given to support our team,
REPORTS (in reverse order)
Report 15 -Friday 21st May – The Team have aborted their Summit Attempt
Dave called early this morning to let me know that our team have decided to abort their summit attempt and are currently on their way down back to ABC. The team were involved yesterday in assisting climbers who were coming back from summit attempts in bad ways. Unfortunately some of the climbers from other teams have not returned. The following websites have more information about what has been happening, www.mounteverest.com, www.everestnews.com.
It’s extremely difficult to express the disappointment for the team, all of which have dedicated the last year to preparing for this. On the other hand, we have to admire the courage that every one of them made the decision to turn around as they had doubts about carrying on.
The team have asked me to thank the sherpas, who throughout the expedition have done a splendid job getting everything in place ready for them, and the last few days the sherpas have been with the team, carrying & ensuring the team have been fed & watered at each high camp. As the team descend, the sherpas will now start the task of stripping down each camp and carrying all the equipment back to ABC. The team hope to be back into Kathmandu on the 27th May and to the UK shortly after that.
I would like to thank every one for all the support and kind words of encouragement for the team that we have received over the last 2 months
Report 14 – Thursday 20th May Emails & calls from Dave at ABC
First Email: The weather overnight at 7800m was Windy together with some snow fall. The 7.30am radio call included quite a bit of discussion as to what to do, move up, stay put or abandon the summit attempt. The weather forecast shows a reasonable summit window for Friday and a chance of precipitation today, Thursday together with winds 20-30knts. Other groups have summitted this morning (Thur) or are close to the summit in clear weather and minimal wind, ABC is wind free so it appears the group are in a band of cloud and wind at 7800m.The group have decided to push up to the top camp at 8300m in the hope that the winds and snow they are experiencing will gradually drop. Next update 2.5hrs
Second Email: The group finally decided the weather was too windy to move up to 8300m today and are spending tonight at 7800m in the hope that the weather will have improved by morning for a new summit attempt on the 22nd. Unfortunately if it remains the same, our summit will be abandoned and the group will return to ABC.
The past four days have shown a similar forecast, we have been unlucky to date with the amount of precipitation that has fallen; hopefully things will come good in the morning.
Satellite Call, 7am this morning: The group are all ok, they are currently looking after other climbers that summited yesterday & today that are arriving into their camp in bad ways, and they are making them hot drinks and getting them warm. Mike is currently on his way down the North Col back to ABC to join Dave.
Dave has confirmed today that the team will leave for the summit at around 1am on Saturday morning (weather depending), and that Summit Turn around time will be 11am (6am our time)
Report No 13 – Wednesday 19th May From Jill Pinkerton Adventure Peaks Office
Firstly I’m sorry that our website hasn’t kept updated the last few days, technical problems, which are now fixed.
As you will read below, due to high winds the team stayed at 7500metres last night. Today they moved to 7800metres. Mike is now apparently on his way down after reaching 7740metres. The remaining team are all well and again in good spirits, they are all being well looked after by our Sherpa team. Tomorrow the team will move to 8200metres, to summit on the 21st. It’s apparently snowing hard on the mountain. All the team but Ray (who is using POISK) went on their oxygen system yesterday.
Report No 12 – Tuesday 18th May From Jill Pinkerton Adventure Peaks Office
All the team are now at 7500metres, apparently its been a day of slow progress due to winds, but all the team are well. The plan for today was for Rick, Ray, Ben & Tom to push to 7800metres to summit on the 20th May, with Mike, Serena, Paul & Ian to stay at 7500m, tonight, and summit on the 21st. The team will all now summit on the 21st May. The weather forecast is to snow tonight which could have an impact on summit attempts. Dave reported that all the team were in good spirits.The BBC Challenger Tony, decided he had had enough of Everest on Saturday, therefore all the BBC team are now safely back at BC and are heading to Kathmnadu on the 20th May. Also, I spoke with Kevin the other day, who is now back home in the states, he’s suffering from 2 broken ribs from coughing whilst on Everest, we wish him a quick recovery. I will keep you posted as we hear news on Tuesday onwards.
Monday 17th May
The team left ABC this morning set for the North Col, to summit on the 20th May. All the team safely arrived at the North Col, unfortunately Dave who has been suffering from a chest infection & sore throat had to return to ABC, from where he will now remain in constant touch with the rest of the team who are with Paul and all the climbing sherpas.
Report No 11 – Thursday 13th May From Jill Pinkerton Adventure Peaks Office
The team are on the move up… they left BC this morning; some of the team are walking the 22km slog to ABC in one day, whilst others are doing it in two days. All the team are doing really well, apart from the usual sore throats and coughs. We are constantly looking at the weather reports that are coming in daily, and its looking like the 17 & 18th May with even better summit weather on the 20 & 21st May, if this is so, the team will wait for the better weather on the 20 & 21st. We will keep you updated. The team of 9 (which includes both Dave & Paul) will all attempt the Summit together on the same day, along with sherpa summit for Serena & Mike. Once they leave ABC (6400metres) this is their route to the summit:
Day 1 ABC to North Col (7000metres), Day 2 North Col to 7800 metre camp, Day 3 7800 camp to 8200metre camp.
Day 4 8200metre (approx 2am start) to The Summit, then back to 7800 camp, if not 8200 camp.The team before leaving ABC will be told by Dave the Turn Around Time for Summit day. All of the team will be in constant touch with each other and ABC as they are all carrying hand held 2 way radios. Dave will also be carrying the satellite phone in order to keep me informed of the Teams progress. During Summit time we will endeavour to get the website updated as quick as we can.Its an exciting time for the Team members, this is what they have been preparing for, for such a long timeÉÉ for those back home who have loved ones away its an extremely emotional, stressful time as we sit and wait for their safe return, all of us though have been with our partners, sons, daughters through all their preparations and their dream to climb Everest. We wish the whole team a safe success, buts it’s also important at this stage to say that the fact they have all reached 7000metres and spent 2 nights there is a huge achievement in its self.
Report No 10 – Monday 10th May: Well, we’ve been sitting out strong winds for the past week down at BC. The last couple of days, however, the winds have dropped and we’ve been able to relax in the sun on our makeshift ‘patio’ outside the mess tent, renamed the Buena Vista Social Club. A typical day has consisted of: breakfast at 8am for 8.30am, we then linger until 10.30am when we adjourn lingering for morning ‘real’ coffee and biscuits. More lingering occurs until lunch at 12.30pm. After lunch we socialise or take part in an afternoon activity until 4o’clock club where we drink more coffee and consume more biscuits. Dinner is at 7pm when the temperature drops dramatically and bedtime promptly follows at 8.30pm to 9pm.There has been various added excitement throughout the week. The strong winds have kept us busy. In one strong gust, during a magnificent lunch, the side of the mess tent collapsed requiring Herculean effort to repair and reinforce. Two toilet tents took a flying tour of the moraine. This has required the services of the Rongbuk Bog Builders to construct a stone toilet and a second roofless squarehouse out of the remains of its predecessor. The BBC office tent didn’t quite make it either, receiving swift attention from the dismantling crew. A fully reinforced camp has allowed us to focus our efforts, not on the wind, but on more relaxing activities. We have received free golfing lessons from our resident Golf Pro, Iain. Some of us need more help than others. Interestingly, a golf ball at 5200m travels half as far again as it would at sea level due to the lack of air resistance – science at our fingertips! I have been flying the 3.0m kite I brought, taking advantage of the sunny days and brisk winds. Ben, Tom and Ray have been busy cultivating their beards (there may be an element of competition!). There has been plenty of sponsorship photos being taken. This group of hardened mountaineers are now the new faces of Branston Pickle, the ever increasingly popular Nestle Condensed Milk, P20 sun protection and Buff. We are all waiting in eager anticipation of our summit bid and it’s that thought that’s keeping us going through this long period of waiting. It’s getting closer! Rick
Report No 9 Tuesday 4th May From Tom Clowes BC
On April 29th the team returned back to base camp from having spent a couple of weeks at 6,400m and above. They spent 2 nights at just over 7,000m on the North Col which does take it out of you. It is cold and windy at BC but the air is much thicker so they will be able to recover properly before moving back up the mountain in a week or so. Eating and drinking is their main aim. Tom’s socks are toxic and he has trouble breathing in his tent! Iain is making a good recovery after his dehydration episode on the North Col. Ray is nursing a high altitude cough but it seems to be easing now at a lower altitude. Young Rick is extremely proud of his beard which is thicker in some places than others. He loves the quiz book and even as I write he is reading out questions to the rest of us! Ben takes great pride in answering most of them correctly. Serena (the cleanest of us all) has already done her laundry while the rest of us have put it off, blaming the weather! I think we have all made use of Dave’s shower to wash ourselves. This is a true luxury – Thank you Dave! Mike, our doc, is doing superbly well and though he appears to have lost some weight he now looks about 33, he is tanned and the sun has bleached his hair! Paul is dreaming of his Adventure Racing Calender back in the UK – not sure where he’d rather be, doing the ‘Adrenaline Rush’ or climbing Everest!! The food here at BC is unbelievably good and Ganu should be working in the Ritz. He does us proud. We are all missing Kevin and hope that he has returned safely to the States by now and made a full recovery. Once we know when the weather window will be and the team starts making their way back up the mountain, we will keep you all informed on a daily basis.
Report No 8 – Wednesday 28th April – Jill Pinkerton Adventure Peaks Office. Following on from yesterdays report, when I noted that Kevin was returning to ABC on Thursday with Tony and that he was feeling better, it has now turned out that Kevin has sadly had to leave BC & the team today to return to Kathmandu (he’ll arrive there Thursday) as he has been diagnosed by another teams doctor who was at BC with pleurisy.Tony & Ewen plan to go to ABC, taking 2 days leaving on Friday. The rest of the team are currently descending the 22km back to BC, Dave will follow to BC tomorrow as he has stayed behind to co ordinate with our sherpas the setting up of all our remaining camps ensuring that whilst the team are resting at BC the next 7 to 10 days waiting for the weather window, that when it does arrive, everything is in place in order to allow their summit bid to take place. The team will now be starting to monitor the weather reports that are been emailed to BC & ABC, looking for that spell when the winds will die.From myself in the office, and the team we wish Kevin a speedy recovery, we are all thinking of him.
Report No 7 – Tuesday 27th April – Jill Pinkerton. The group have returned safely from the North Col back to ABC today. They will then return to BC tomorrow. Kevin & Tony are preparing to leave BC on Thursday to walk to ABC, they are both feeling a lot better now. Our Sherpas are doing a grand job, since arriving on the mountain they have been busy setting up each camp, which involves carrying huge loads up and down the North Col, as well as playing a major role on the mountain by fixing the ropes, Dave reported this morning that they have now fixed the ropes to 7800metres, and have set up the teams camp at 7800metres, they will remain at ABC and continue to prepare the other 2 camps as well as carrying all the teams oxygen supplies.
Update from Conan Harrod on his progress, 1 year on: It is now the end of April and the 2004 Everest team are doing well. Most of the team members have already reached the North Col. It’s amazing to think that it was nearly a year ago that I was battling against the odds to survive from an injury that would have almost certainly killed me if it had happened any higher on the mountain or on the descent later in the day. Despite the frustration of still not being able to fully exercise the legs in any way, I am finding the reports on this year expedition a nice distraction. By the end of 2003, the specialists at the local hospital were concerned that I may have to undergo a major operation due to the fact that the main fracture had stopped healing. Fortunately on my last check up in March 2004, things had improved enough to rule out completely any further operations and suddenly I could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. There is still some movement in the fracture sight so it will still be some months before serious exercise can start. I can walk around quite comfortably now and in the mornings it is not obvious that I am carrying an injury. Since December I have started training hard at the Gym to improve my upper body strength and I am now stronger than I have been in my life. Just in the last week or two, I have started adapting some of the leg exercise machines to allow me to use them without risk of damaging the fracture. At least I can start to regain some of the strength in my legs. I have pretty much decided now that a return to climb Everest in 2005 would be far too ambitious and dangerous for myself and the rest of the team as I would not have given myself sufficient time to regain my strength and confidence. I will therefore be attempting to summit with Adventure Peaks on the 2006 expedition and my work have already agreed to give me the 2 months off that I require. I am even going through the process of purchasing all the replacement High altitude gear I lost on the trip so there will be no backing out then! Peter Madew who suffered frostbite in his fingers as a result of his rescue efforts has now pretty much recovered after an operation at the end of last year to remove the tips of 3 fingers. I hope to meet up with him on a possible trip to Australia at Christmas on route to New Zealand for my next planned expedition in January 2005 to climb Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Like most plans at the moment, this could change. Good Luck to the Everest 2004 team. I wish them every success and a safe return. Conan Harrod
Report No 6 – Monday 26th April 2004 From Jill Pinkerton, Adventure Peaks Office: Dave has just called the office from his bed at the North Col (7000metres) to let us know that everyone is doing great and ok. They left ABC as planned Sunday, from which they ascended back to the North Col, and spent Sunday night at 7000metres. Today (Monday) they have all ascended along the North Ridge to around 7200metres before retreating back to their tents on the North Col to spend their second night at 7000metres. Tuesday they will return to ABC then to BC on Wednesday to enjoy clean clothes, powered shower, rest and a beer at the BC Tibetan Beer tent.
Report No 5 – Friday 23rd April – From Jill Pinkerton, Adventure Peaks Office: Great news Dave called this morning to let us know that 8 of the team (including Dave & Paul) reached the North Col yesterday (7000metres), Serena also did a great job and reached about 6400. (Kevin & Tony are still at BC with chest infections) The team returned to ABC yesterday, everybody is really well and pleased. They are enjoying a well deserved rest today and tomorrow, then Sunday they hope to go back to the North Col to spend the night, with the hope that in the morning they push to about 7300, before dropping back to ABC, then BC on Tuesday next week, weather permitting. Once at BC they will enjoy a good long rest before moving back up. The Teams laptop at ABC is having technical charging problems (not bad at 6400metres, with -25 temperatures) therefore the team can not currently send/receive emails until they return to BC, they do however still have use & access to the sat phone to contact family & loved ones. For information, even though the team are climbing the North Side in Tibet, they do however work on Nepal time, therefore they are 5 hours ahead of GMT. We continue to wish the team a safe and successful expedition, and keep our fingers crossed that the ‘weather window’ comes good!!
Report No 4 – 21 April 2004 from Tom Clowes at Advanced Base Camp: We have now been at ABC for 5 days and we are becoming more acclimatised at 6,400m. Life at this altitude certainly does drain your body! Yesterday we walked up to the base of the fixed ropes on the North Col which was a beautiful walk. Tomorrow we plan to leave early and climb to the top of the North Col at 7,000m. The weather has been sunny but when the sun goes in it gets extremely cold. The other night we recorded an outside temperature of -17 degrees. Tony and Kevin went back down to BC a couple of days ago as they were not feeling great. We are in regular radio contact with them and they are feeling much better and hope to return to ABC within the next few days. There is not a lot to do here at ABC except eat and drink lots! There is a vole that scurries around our Mess Tent every now and then looking for scraps. We have named it Roger! The Team currently now have 2 basecamps, of which they have a bed and clothes at each camp, along with a mess tent complete with tables and chairs, CD player. At each camp they also have cooks which prepare and serve the team fantastic meals. The proposed programme for the next few days, weather depending will be once they have been to the North Col (7000metres), they will then rest a day or two, before returning to the North Col to spend the night, before descending right back to BC for a well earned 6 day rest, before heading back up the mountain.
Report No 3 – Tuesday 13 April 2004 from Tom Clowes at Base Camp: On the 11th April we had the Puja Ceremony where a lama came up from the Rongbuk Monastery to bless all of us and our gear before moving any further up the mountain. The Sherpas made an altar out of surrounding stones and strung up prayer flags all to give good luck and to keep the mountain gods happy! Juniper was burnt and we all threw rice and tsampa into the air and over each other! Tibetan tea was drunk and the Lama tied bits of string around our necks to keep us safe! It was an interesting morning for us all as several of us had never experienced a Puja before. Over the last few days we have been acclimatising by walking up the valley sides. The scale of the mountains here is vast and the views are spectacular. Today (13th April) we tried to gain as much height as possible before we move on up to Advanced Base Camp (ABC). Rick and Ray got to 6,000m while the rest of us reached heights of around 5,850m. Serena and Paul joined us yesterday. Its good to have the whole team together again.
Report No 2 – Friday 9 April 2004 from Mike Brennan at Base Camp: After all meeting up at Heathrow on the 29th, we had an uneventful trip through to Kathmandu, and were smoothly transferred to the comfortable Hotel Vajra. A great evening meal followed at Rum Doodle’s…(Dave, being a summiteer gets free meals there. How we would love to share the privilege….). Surprisingly good food on the warm roof-top terrace, good company, no biting insects…what more could we ask for? Three days in Kathmandu followed, with everyone buying last minute things, and lots of really cheap, but good quality, gear from “Shona’s”. Dave was sorting the formalities, and then off we went to the border by coach. The transfer there across the border went smoothly enough, and our hotel in Zhangmu was adequate. The Chinese food sequence began thereafter, good quality, lots of it, but every meal???? The journey from Zhangmu was in Toyota Land-Cruisers. Speedy and comfortable, just an hour to Nyalam, much improved lodge there since my last visit in ’98, and there was a very modern-looking Internet Cafe!!! The team continued to bond over the next 24 hours, and we had a decent acclimatisation walk above the town, in good weather, up to 4200m. The next day saw another drive through superb Tibetan scenery to Tingri, more Tibetan than Chinese in appearance, and little changed to my eye from the past visits. We managed a good walk next day up towards 4800m, a few feeling the height by now, but no serious problems. Everest was visible, though in mostly greyish skies, and far from dominant, except perhaps in our thoughts. The Sherpas set off a day before us to try and set up camp. Yesterday, a stunning 4 hour drive through small communities scratching a living in harsh surroundings finally brought us to the famed Rongbuk monastery, with the even more famous view of mighty Everest towering over us all. Beautiful to those who notice these things, and very, very big! Some of us seemed quiet, and there were definitely a few watery eyes…..maybe the dusty wind? Then the last few kilometres to the Base Camp at 5200m, where few groups seemed to have arrived. The tents were all up and well secured with stones, the gear was laid out in orderly lines, the large mess-tent for 16 was ready for our meal, and here we are. What a superb team of Sherpas! No missing gear, excellent food under our belts (better than at home was heard at the table), and linked, somewhat temperamentally, by sat phone to the world again. We are all in decent health, spirits are high, and we are all very happy to be here. We do not underestimate what may lie ahead, and look forward to moving up to ABC, probably on Thursday. Four Sherpas have set off today to begin establishing ABC, which will be similar in almost every way to BC, but at 6200m it will be colder still.
Report No 1 – 19th March 2004: The Team are currently packing and preparing to leave, they will meet at Heathrow on the 29th March, arriving into Kathmandu 30th March from which they will spend 3 days finishing packing all the equipment, meeting there sherpas and sightseeing. Adventure Peaks staff Jill & Dave are just finishing packing 60 blue barrels packed with all equipment and food (which can not be bought locally), these start there journey by freight on the 19th March. Once leaving Kathmandu the team will travel overland into Tibet arriving at Everest Base camp approx 6 days later. From here, once base camp(BC) is established and all communication systems have been set up the team will email reports of their expedition and progress. We would like to take this opportunity to wish the whole team an enjoyable, safe expedition, and hope that they all achieve their goal. Jill Pinkerton Adventure Peaks