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Everest Base Camp 5,400m, Wed, April 1 1998

Ice doctors and winds

David Lim, Expedition Leader

On March 31st, two members of the team of Sherpas who fix the rope and
ladders through the Khumbu Icefall went missing. The Icefall is a jumble of
dangerous, loose blocks of ice which marks the end of the glacier that
snakes down from the slopes of Everest. Each year a number of highly
experienced Sherpas known as the “ice doctors” would fix a route of ladders
and fixed rope through this Icefall. Various expeditions share the costs of
this exercise. By 6pm of the 31st, our ice doctors were still not back at
their camp. With failing light and whiteout conditions, any rescue attempt
was postponed to the following morning. We placed an emergency strobe light
at a high point at Base Camp. This proved fortuitious as the two managed to
get back by 2.30am; having lost track of time in the Icefall. We were
relieved that they were safe. However, their failing to carry a torch or
light was negligent to say the least. A puja or blessing ceremony was held
by our Sherpas and participated by members of our team at Base Camp. A puja
is basically a quasi-religious ceremony in which permission to climb the
mountain is asked. The Sherpas will refuse to climb until such a ceremony is
not held. The ceremony comprised prayers, offerings of rice wine, rice and
roasted barley flour or “tsampa”. The occasion ended with much gaiety,
toasts and the passing round of food, drinks and tit-bits.

Windstorm

Click the link for a video of Basecamp damaged:

ppt-devastated basecamp

Midnight that same day, a windstorm struck Base Camp. Winds coming
from the Icefall and the western shoulder of Everest destroyed most of our
tents. Members were sent scrabbling for cover as tents poles snapped and
tents collapsed from 2am onwards. The winds were estimated at 150km/h. There
was also more than eight inches of snow and avalanches could be heard in the
surrounding massif throughout the night. Next morning, after a sleepless
night, I emerged from my tent (intact thanks to it being a wind-resistant
mountain tent) to survey the damage. The main mess tent was half-crushed,
the communications tent was shredded and the medical tent collapsed. The
expedition also lost 12 a-frame tents that housed the expedition members and
Sherpas. The high winds continued all day and daytime temperature were
around -5 C. Most members who were tentless sought cover in the makeshift
kitchen ‘sangar’; a construction of rock walls and tarpaulin covers. Justin,
Johann and I stood amidst snow covered computers and equipment in the comms
tent — keeping some cover on us as the winds snapped and gusted furiously.
Our Nera satellite phone was still intact. We made calls to Singapore and
Kathmandu for more wind-resistent tents and other supplies.

Basecamp devastated

Earlier in the morning, Bruce Niven and most of the team descended to the
hamlet of Gorak Shep, two to three hours away as there was scarce
‘accommodation’. Thankfully, no one was injured. Our Sherpas, some of whom
have been on Everest expeditions for 10 years, claimed never to have seen
such ferocious winds in their time here. Such winds exist higher up eg Camp
4 but never at Base Camp! Today, Justin, Shani, Rozani, Johann and I are
conducting repairs to the tents and an accounting of damaged equipment. We
expect the extra tents to arrive in a week’s time. As a new puja has to be
held, our expedition is likely to be behind schedule by a week.

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Everest Base Camp, 5,400m, Saturday, April 4 1998

Puja once more

Justin Lean

On April 5th, we expect to have a PUJA — yes another one. During the last
windstorm, our puja pole fell west which according to our Sherpa is bad
joss. If it had fallen to the east, it would have been good. For our
“re-puja”, we will have to call another monk from Tengboche to officiate.
This will be on Sunday. If all goes well, we will head for the Khumbu
Icefall to Camp 1 on Monday, where we plan to spend three days acclimatising
and climbing to Camp 2 in the process. We should descend after spending
three nights at Camp 1. The reason why we won’t climb before the puja is
because the Sherpas take it very seriously. For them it is a way of showing
respect to the mountain. To us it is showing respect for their culture and
morale.

Everest Base Camp, 5,400m, Sun, April 5 1998

Second Puja and Team prepares for the Icefall. David Lim, Expedition Leader

After a delay of a week owing to the bad weather, the team is preparing for
its first foray into the Khumbu Icefall on Monday — just a route
familiarisation exercise. A second puja was held today to seek permission
from the mountain after the first puja last week was negated by the storm.
The two-hour ceremony was officiated by a lama and was a simpler affair and
held under mostly blue skies and sunshine. Similar pujas were held not very
far away by the American Everest Challenge 98 team. This team includes Tom
Whittaker, who is attempting to be the first disabled climber to summit
Everest. Tom is an exceptional individual who tried climbing Everest twice
before. He must be the only person in Base Camp with a duffel sack marked
“Two Legs” — his spare carbon-fibre ‘legs’! The new Base Camp tents arrived
today and most of today was spent setting up new sites and guying down the
tents properly. These are modified dome tents so they should withstand high
winds more effectively. Loads for establishing Camp 1 at 6000m have been
sorted and the team is very likely be spending Tuesday to Thursday nights at
C1. Brisk winds have been forecasted for tomorrow but Tuesday appears to be
a more amiable day. Reports received today confirmed that the storm last
week also affected much of Nepal with Namche Bazaar receiving a metre of
snow. Elsewhere, uncollaborated reports said 8–11 trekkers were killed in
the Mera region of the Khumbu after heavy snow and winds pinned them for
days near a high pass.

Everest Base Camp, 5,400m, Mon, April 6 1998

Team ascends up Icefall Shani Tan, Team Doctor

Weather: morning fine, with brisk breeze and bright sunshine deteriorating
by 1400h to overcast and sleet/hail. Temp: 10C indoors 0C out

Personnel Location: everyone inc.Sherps at EBC

Situation: Following the 2nd puja yesterday all eight climbers and Sherpas
went up Icefall this morning at 0700h in brilliant sunshine. Icefall doctors
went up before them at 0630h to repair broken sections. Sherpa Kunga went to
Camp One with a few Sherps but our chaps went half way and then turned back
when sun hit the Icefall, making it too risky to continue. All returned by
1200 hours. The broken sections have not been confirmed to be completely
repaired at time of report and decision to go up to Camp One tomorrow
depends on the return of our ice doctors. Presently all members are resting
in EBC.

Next Steps: depending on weather; the broken sections of the Icefall are
fixed, our climbers may or may not go up to Camp One tomorrow or day after.

PS: We have received the Nera, Marmite and salted fish with thanks, they are
in working order and delicious respectively.

Everest Base Camp, 5,400m, Tue, April 7 1998

Getting crowded up here Shani Tan, Team Doctor

Khumbu Icefall, 5,400m to 6,100m, Tue, April 14 1998

Mok - in the Icefall

For those of you who enjoy the pleasure of fast connection, there is a 5 Mb
version of the same movie.

And now for the news. . .

Climbing plans The team has been back in BC for four days now. . . we are
all well rested and raring to go. The weather report for the next few days
appears to be good and the climbers and Sherpas will be moving up through
the Icefall again tomorrow to C1 and then on to C2; Advanced Base Camp the
following day. The plan is to establish ABC and to acclimatise to the
altitude of C2 which is in the Western Cwm at 6,400m. The Team will spend at
least three days on the mountain before returning to BC.

Interview with Charles Corfield Scientific Officer, Global Positioning
System Survey.

One of the Scientific Expeditions at Everest this year is a Team of climbers
led by Eric Simonson. They will be carrying out GPS survey work for Bradford
Washburn (a well known cartographer) and this interesting work has amongst
its sponsors the Boston Museum of Science and the National Geographic
Society. It is known that the floor of the Khumbu valley rises at a rate of
two cm a year but that the South Col does not. The study wants to determine
if the summit of Everest is rising if at all. It is also know that the
summit bedrock is somewhere beneath many metres of snow and one of the aims
of this scientific survey will be to determine accurately (within
millimetres) the actual height of the bedrock of the summit of Everest. They
will be using the very accurate Trimble GPS instruments at three different
positions: within 10 — 20m of the summit, on the South Col and perhaps on
Kala Pattar.

Khumbu Icefall, 5,400m to 6,100m, Wed, April 15 1998

Spring is here?! Shani Tan, Expedition Doc

Spring is here?! We have fine, clear skies with slight breeze air tem
indoors very hot — shorts and T shirt weather, outdoors suntan lotion and
shades.There are butterlfies seen and bird song was also heard this morning!
(hey guys, BUT don’t forget we are still sitting on a glacier — at night
temps still drop to minus 5 in our tents and the ice cracks and pops under
our tents!)

Movin’ movin’ movin… All our Sherpas set off at 0500h for Camp 1 and some
for Camp 2 with a view to firmly establish Camp 2 by today. Our climbers
left for C1 at 0630h after a hearty breakfast of rice porridge, fried eggs,
salted fish, Marmite (we wish it were Teochew Muey) and pancakes. All were
safely in C1 by 1200h. The most recent radio check at 1400h found them
comfortably in their tents, brewing up, eating and rehydrating. Mok has a
troublesome cough from the cold air but is otherwise OK. The report up there
was hot sunny, clear skies and no breeze. We will maintain regular radio
contact with them whilst they are up on the mountain and bring you guys back
home updates. Tomorrow our climbers will move onto C2 in the early hours of
the morning to avoid the intense heat that can build up in the Western Cwm
later in the day. (which can also soften snow bridges over crevasses making
climbing dangerous).

Support Trekkers arrive! Two of the three trekkers from Country Holidays
arrived this morning at 1145h; Charlie and Teo. Ong has opted to stay in
Gorak Shep. They have their own tents and Sherpa team and dining tent. Due
thanks were given for transportation of the Nera satellite phone, Marmite
and salted fish.

Thanks HP Acknowledgement must also be given to the rapid response of the
people in Hewlett-Packard in rustling up a replacement DeskJet 340 at very
short notice. This piece of equipment will hopefully be in our hands in
about two weeks.

Click ” ice” below to view a video of climbing through the ice-fall

ice

Camp 2, 6,700m, Wed, April 16 1998

Climbing news and a floating toilet Shani Tan, Expedition Doc

Weather We have fine, clear skies with slight breeze in the morning,
clouding over now with prospect of snow at EBC within the hour and likely on
the hill an hour later. There was much snow and ice melt this morning with
rivulets running all over the camp. Our charpee was in danger of floating
away. (Imagine your toilet having a mind of its own!). However with the
clouds coming in…the hot days may be at an end. We had a still clear night
with heavy frost. This morning our Sherpas left at 0430h and made a carry to
Camp 2 and back. Our climbers started from C1 just after 0800h and all got
into C2 by the radio check at 1400h. (At 1200h check, only Swee had reached
C2) All are well and resting, and will do some “housekeeping” work this
afternoon after some food and drink. The climbers will spend tomorrow at C2
acclimatising and resting. The Lhotse Face has yet to be “fixed” so C3
cannot be established till that is done. If all goes well, the climbers will
spend another two nights at C2 before returning to EBC.

Support trekkers leave: The support trek pair who spent a night here left
this morning as some of their kitchen staff were unwell. Ong, the remaining
support trek member visited EBC from Gorak Shep late this morning.

New arrivals in EBC: Members of the Bob Hoffman Environmental Team came in
this noon, swelling the numbers at EBC. More news on them in a later report.

Camp 2, 6,700m, Friday, April 17 1998

Freezing weather and something about the Indian Ocean Shani Tan, Expedition
Doc

Weather changes We had moderate wind last night and this morning mainly cold
winds from the North. By 1300hrs, it became quite cloudy and is now at
1600hrs completely overcast with visibility down to one kilometre here at
EBC. It is also snowing at C2 but the visibility there is about 500m.
Temperatures have plummeted without the sun. It is easliy freezing in the
tent now. At least this freeze will stop our tent sites from melting into
the Indian Ocean!

Climber situation The Climbers are in C2 at present acclimatising.No further
progress to C3 was made today. Today was also a rest day for the
Sherpas.Gerald and Debbie, the HRA docs who helped with evacuating Joo Khim,
the RCS DJ, are here in EBC for a two-to-three-day visit.They are staying
with Eric’s Team.Our climbers will return to EBC tomorrow.
EBC, 5,400m, Saturday, April 18 1998

Resting before going to Camp 3 Shani Tan

Our guys are back Our Sherpas left for a carry at 0430hrs this morning and
returned by lunch time. We established radio contact with our climbers this
morning at 0800hrs and were pleased to hear that they were already in C1, on
the way back to EBC. Justin, Swee and Roz were amongst the first back in
camp and everyone was back by 1030hrs. All were in reasonable condition
although a bit dehydrated and sun-burnt. Mok is still coughing due to the
cold dry air. Everyone will stay in EBC for a well-deserved rest for the
next few days to a week whilst the route to C3 is being fixed.

Weather turns cloudy again Although the day started bright and hot, it
became quite cool and cloudy after lunch although it is not snowing at
present. There is no wind however and temperatures are not too low.

Another visitor arrives Yeo Tsin Wen arrived in EBC today for a visit from
Lobuche and will stay for the night. Discussions are currently in progress
between David, Bruce and Henry Todd on further plans with respect to fixing
the route C2 — C3.

After a very windy night — not quite as bad as the windstorm, the dawn was
bright cold and clear. Our sherpas made their way to Camp One at 0530h
followed by our climbers at 0730h. All climbers were in Camp One safely by
1400h as established by radio call via Motorola GP68 walkie talkies. At EBC,
we made a radio interview with ONE FM at 1400h as well.

HIgh on the Lhotse Face. ABC is located on the strip of rock and gravle on the right side of the photo, just under the soutwest face slopes

There are now six expeditions in EBC viz, Tom Everest Challenge for the
Disabled, Himalayan Guides (Henry Todd), a large 16-member Iranian Exp doing
both Lhotse and Everest, fully commercial Himalayan Kingdoms (UK based) with
nine climbers, a solo Danish expedition, and ours. Yet to come are a
professional expedition doing GPS work, uncompleted after the bad storm of
1996, an American Environmental Expedition and Bob Hoffman’s expedition.
Watch out for more info on these the next few days as we bring interviews
from them.

The next step depends on how everyone acclimatises. The team at Camp One
will stay two or three days and walk towards Camp Two before returning to
EBC for a well deserved rest.

Camp One, 6,100m, Wed, April 8 1998

Camp One down, Camp Two next… Shani Tan, Team Doctor reporting from Base
Camp

The weather is fine, with clear skies and a slight breeze in the morning but
deteoriated to sleet and snow at lunch time. Air temperature indoors is 5
degrees Celsius inside and 0 degrees outside. Bruce Niven, Johann, all the
Sherpas and myself are at Base Camp. All climbers are now in Camp One. After
a calm and relatively warm night, dawn was bright, cold and clear. It
started to snow at lunch and has been snowing steadily since — about two
inches worth. Our Sherpas made their way to Camp One at 0630h and dumped
their loads at Camp One and some went on to Camp Two to cache supplies. All
sherpas returned to EBC by 1100 hours. All our climbers are at Camp One with
Roz, Swee and Robert making a brief foray into the Western Cwm in the
morning and returning to Camp One for lunch. The report is that they are
well and will return to EBC by lunch time tomorrow.

The next step is for all climbers to return to EBC by tomorrow, starting
from 0700 hours. Hope to hear more from them then.

EBC, 5,400m, Thur, April 9 1998

Back to Base Camp after foray to Camp One David Lim, Expedition Leader

The day began with clear skies and a brisk 100km/h wind. The team spent two
nights (7th and 8th) at Camp 1 at 6,000 metres. The climb up to Camp 1 had
been a somewhat tiring climb through the maze of unstable iceblocks which
are part of the Khumbu Icefall. Most of the people killed on Everest die in
the Icefall when blocks tumble down unexpectedly. It is impossible to
completely avoid these dangers on this route on Everest. Passage through the
Icefall has to be negotiated up to half a dozen times during the course of
the expedition and large crevasses or cracks in the ice have to be spanned
with aluminium ladders. Crossing these (sometimes two or three tied end to
end with twine) is a hair-raising experience. The crevasses can be more than
100 metres deep. Some had bottoms that we could not see. Today, the team
made a rapid descent to Base Camp after a sleepless night. Throughout the
night of the 8th, winds battered the tents at Camp 1. Starting the propane
stoves in the morning involved cold fingers, butane lighters that refused to
work in the cold and up to an hour to boil a litre of water from snow.
Coughs, food debris and fine snow inside the tents all add up to make life a
bit squalid. The team reached Base Camp in groups of two and three between
10am to 11am.

A rest period of two days here is planned as other teams forge their way up
to Camp 1 for their own acclimatisation periods. With the exception of
nagging dry coughs from the cold air, the team is in relative good health.
Last but not least, many thanks to our support trekkers who brought with
them essential communication equipment and lots of goodies to eat.

EBC, 5,400m, Fri, April 10 1998

Renewing friendship and making new ones Shani Tan, Expedition Doctor

Weather: fine, clear skies with slight breeze air temp indoors 20C out doors
5C with breeze. Snow melting all around and butterflies are seen!

Personnel location: everyone at EBC.

Situation: The Sherpas left EBC at 0530 to carry loads up to C1 and all
returned by mid morning (they are very fit and fast). Our chaps resting,
eating and washing (the Great Unwashed) etc. David, Justin and me made
social rounds to visit the other expeditions today mainly to suss out the
number of climbers, plans, oxygen systems and to visit old friends. Eric
Simonsen, with whom the Team climbed with on Cho Oyu last November came into
EBC this morning. Eric will be carrying out scientific work like GPS (Global
Positioning System) a technique that accurately determine accurately the
rising height of Mt Everest. (This same mountain we are climbing rises by
about 5mm every year!) Look out for our exclusive interview with Tom
Whittaker, a disabled climber who has been on Everest twice before but
without success. Tom is at EBC with his project “Everest Challenge ’98″,
which also includes a trekking group of disabled persons. Essentially, all
expeditions except Bob Hoffman’s are at EBC. On the medical front, yesterday
I replaced a dental filling for a member of the Everest Challenge Team and
today me and Mok stitched up a cut hand of our own kitchen crew.

Next Steps: The Team will rest for another few days before going up again,
this time for a longer period. Leave date dependent on the weather. Some
Sherpas will go to C2 this

EBC, 5,400m, Sat, April 11 1998

Team speaks to Mr Abdullah Tarmugi; Minister confirms support for
mountaineering. David Lim, Expedition Leader

Weather As at 4pm Nepal time, the conditions as Base Camp are sunny but with
building winds of about 70 km/h perhaps heralding another windstorm higher
up.

Conversation with Mr Tarmugi At 9am, Nepal time, Team Leader David Lim spoke
to Mr Abdullah Tarmugi of the Ministry of Community Development. The
Minister has had a long-running interest in mountaineering activities and
inquired about the health of team members and also expressed concern
regarding the recent storm at Base Camp. The interview was requested by the
Minister shortly after news of the gale-force winds that destroyed many
tents was relayed back to Singapore. Through the Singapore Sports Council,
he said that support for rock-climbing and mountaineering had come through
from the Sports Challenge division of the council. David expressed the need
for future support as well to which the Minister confirmed his support for
such ventures.

Climbing Plans The team will not be climbing to Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Sunday
and Monday respectively. These plans have been shelved because of impending
storm conditions on the mountain on Tuesday and Wednesday. These estimates
were based on data supplied by the Meteorological Service Singapore. It was
felt by the majority of climbers that the marginal acclimatisation benefits
for going high for two days was not worth the additional risk of going
through the Icefall once more. The next push up will be for a protracted
period, perhaps up to four days above Base Camp and will likely be on
Thursday. However, the team’s Sherpas will be ascending to cache more gear
and equipment on Sunday.

Other Expeditions Almost all the expeditions this year are now here. They
brought with them old acquaintances and friends of expedition members.
Currently, the larger ones are:

Everest Challenge 98 with Tom Whittaker, the amputee hoping to make the
first disabled ascent of Everest.

Wally Berg/Eric Simonson’s team of professionals doing scientific work from
the summit; sponsored by Bradford Washburn’s Boston Museum of Science. The
team also includes scientist Charles Corfield and guide Greg Wilson.

The Iranian team of 16 (eight for Everest and eight for Lhotse nearby)
climbers.

Henry Todd’s group of mixed individuals including soloists from Denmark,
Bolivia, British Army members etc. The prolific Turk, Nasoo, is also here
attempting Lhotse.

Bob Hoffman’s Environmental Everest Expedition 98 — 12 members (so far,
only climbing leader Pasquale Vitale and one other member are here).

Himalayan Kingdoms commercial expedition with climbing leaders Jim Williams,
Martin Barnicott and Dave Walsh.

Henry Todd is coordinating the efforts to put a route through on the Lhotse
Face, a key section of the Everest climb involving the ascent of a
2000-metre wall of ice and rock between Camps 2 and 4. Camp 3 will be
positioned halfway up this face.

It is expected that individual teams will contribute manpower, ropes and
fixed pitons and ice-screws to secure fixed line through this section.

Supporters Many thanks to our well-wishers, this time to those from Outside
Magazine’s online chat group — Jay, Lee, Deirdre, Liz, Wes and all those
others we may have left out from this list.

EBC, 5,400m, Sun, April 12 1998

Waiting out bad weather at EBC Shani Tan, Expedition Doc

Weather Fine, clear skies with slight breeze. A lot of ice melting — tent
sites have to be remodelled.

Personnel location All at EBC (still).

Situation We had a moderately windy night. All stayed in BC after looking at
the data from Meteorological Service Singapore expecting a windstorm as bad
as the first — but it wasn’t as bad. Everyone at present in OGB, mess tent,
listening to Lighthouse Family after lunch. (For those of you at a lost,
Lighthouse Family is a British band. Some of their more listenable tracks
from their latest album, Postcard From Heaven includes: “Raincloud” and
“Question of Faith”). The team docs from the different expeditions had a
working meeting this morning to discuss deployment of kits, supplies etc.
Tomorrow is Nepali New Year.

Next Steps: The climbers will probably go up this Thursday (to be
confirmed).

Camp 2, 6,500m, Sunday, April 19 1998

Without further ado, some climbing news David Lim, Team Leader

You’ve read how we keep going up and coming down and then spend periods at
EBC resting.So what actually happens when we climb? Read on.

Camp 2 On April 15, all members of the team climbed from Base Camp to Camp 1
in four hours. One tent had to be repaired as a pole broke in prevailing
winds. Climbing a peak as high as Everest requires much ups and downs as
team members gain acclimatisation benefits by spending successive nights at
higher camps. After an uneventful night at C1, the team made a push to Camp
2 at 6,500 metres. C2 is located at the head of the four-kilometre long
glacier known as the Western Cwm. Although, the path is gradual, the walk is
sustained at an altitude of over 6,000m and at the end there were some
pretty tired climbers. Interesting sections of the route involved crossing
some enormous crevasses, some more than 100 metres deep. The crossings, over
two or three ladders strapped together with nothing more than two ropes for
handrails, were a bit nerve wrecking at first. The views of Everest’s
southwest face and the Lhotse and Nuptse walls made up for the effort and
our cameras were out in full force. Of particular advantage were our
Contax-sponsored Carl Zeiss 21mm Biogon and 25mm T* lenses fitted onto
Contax G2 and Yashica FX3 bodies. Both mechanical and electronic bodies are
working fine and it will be of some interest as to how they will function
higher up.

Lhotse Face Yesterday, April 18, Henry Todd of the Himalayan Guides
expedition convened a team leaders meeting. Those present included leading
Sherpa climbers MB Tamang and Sherpa Apa with a total of 10 Everest summit
successes between them. Also there were Bob Hoffman and Pasquale Vitale
(Everest Environmental Expedition). The teams will share resources such as
manpower, ropes etc to fix a line on the 2,000-metre high Lhotse Wall,
another obstacle en route to Everest’s summit. It is anticipated that work
on this will begin on Wednesday (April 22) following more recces from
C2.Other teams are expected to pitch in later. The Singapore team will
likely move up to C2 on Tuesday in anticipation of a successful
establishment of a line on the Lhotse Face next week.

Oxygen waylaid An unusual occurrence happened last week. Some of our Poisk
oxygen bottles that were being delivered via our agent (also an Everest team
leader this season) were waylaid at a hamlet a few hours from Base Camp.
Apparently, a very well-known rival Poisk oxygen supplier had seen this
consignment and seen it fit to stop the yak train carrying it. He is not
leading an Everest expedition this year but had been leading a trekking
group in the area. He removed certain information labels from the boxes by
peeling them off or cutting them out. We know who this person is and such
immature actions will not be tolerated and a report will be made to the
appropriate Nepalese authorities. As far as we know, none of the oxygen
bottles themselves had been tampered with but such an occurrence only
highlights how climbing Mt.Everest is big business and that some rivalries
can get out of hand. It is third parties such as ourselves that are affected
by some of these stupid actions. We have substantial oxygen supplies from
the UK and this incident has not affected our supplies at all

Everest Base Camp, 5,400m, Monday, April 20 1998

After the rest, what’s next? Justin Lean, climber

Transfer interrupted!

ble for picture–> Starbucks coffee at 5,500m Special thanks to BonStar Pte.
Ltd. For the sponsorship of six kg of Starbucks Coffee Beans for our
Expedition. The fragrant coffee arrived at Everest Base Camp with a
consignment of other goodies sent ahead by members of the Everest Team
support trek group due to be in EBC late this month. Team members wasted no
time in opening the first packet of Starbucks House Blend.

Other goodies appreciated Included in the consignment were replacement parts
for our Apple 3400 PowerBooks and Hewlett-Packard DeskJet printer and a
recent copy of The Straits Times. Our electronic equipment have been working
under difficult conditions — mainly sub-zero temperatures that sometimes
cause components to blow. We thank Apple and HP for their consistent and
reliable service and support. This is the first time the team has gotten to
see the new colour version of The Straits Times. The print quality is
excellent. As it is our rest day, team members scoured through every page of
the paper — each member reading different sections at the same time. It’s
really nice to be in touch with news from home and the rest of the world –
living on Everest is like being in a separate reality. Events in the world
seem to have little significance, right now, the stability of the Khumbu
Icefall bears more relevance to us than COE prices.

Meanwhile back in the hill. . .

The Lhotse Wall Most teams have established some sort of presence at Camp 2
(6,500m) and are now ready to push up the Lhotse Wall. In order to progress,
over two km of rope must be fixed up this great wall of ice. Climbers will
attach themselves to these ropes when ascending or descending the wall which
gradually steepens towards the top. The Lhotse Wall often consists of
bulletproof blue ice. In the event of a slip, an unroped climber can slide,
pick up speed over two km and then plunge into one of the deep crevasses
that lie at the bottom of the face. Henry Todd’s Himalayan Guides expedition
will co-ordinate efforts to fix rope up the Lhotse Wall. Other expeditions
contribute to the efforts by supplying rope or manpower. Our Expedition is
chipping in by sending two of our strongest Sherpas, Kunga and Ang Dorje to
work with Henry’s Sherpas on putting in the rope on the wall. They left for
Camp 2 today and will start work on the wall tomorrow.

Difficulties and Objective Danger Rock and ice avalanches are the main
dangers faced on the Lhotse Wall. Besides the steep blue ice, certain parts
at the base of the Lhotse Wall receive a constant bombardment of rockfall.
Though the ropes will be fixed away from the common areas of impact, the
team will be wearing their helmets (also called brain buckets), while
ascending the wall. There is also a band of seracs (large ice blocks the
size of cars and SBS buses) hanging precariously over certain sections the
wall. These sometimes detatch, plunging down the face. Camp 3 (7,500m) will
be established on the Lhotse Wall itself. Due to the inclined angle of the
face, it is necessary to carve platforms into the hard ice in order to set
up our aerodynamic high altitude tents. The bulletproof nature of the ice
and the thin air will make this hard work (an understatement).

Intentions for the next stage of the climb These days of rest at EBC
(5,400m) after having spent several nights previously at Camp 2 (6,500m)
should give our bodies a chance to recover and adapt to the thinner air we
will be encountering higher up. Weather and conditions permitting, the team
will make a direct push for Camp 2 on Wednesday (Apr 22). We have not done
this before and anticipate this to be a long grunt of a day which includes
first working our way through the confused jumble of the Khumbu Icefall,
reach Camp 1 and then push on through the furnace and expansive spread of
the Western Cwm. The team will then spend the next day pushing up the fixed
ropes of the Lhotse Wall. Depending on conditions, the team may spend a
night at Camp 3 or descend back to Camp 2. The aim is to spend at least a
night at Camp 3 before descending back to EBC.

The Significance of Camp 2 Camp 2 is also known as Advanced Base Camp. This
is where the bulk of the expedition’s logistical supplies such as oxygen,
high altitude rations and gas are stored before being moved to higher camps.
There is a proper kitchen manned by two high altitude cooks, Sonam and Urke
Tamang who provide proper dhal — bhat (Nepali rice and lentils) to our
Sherpas and ourselves. So it is a good mid-way resting point before
ascending further up the mountain.

Camp 2, 6,500m, Tuesday, April 21 1998

Getting Ready Again Dr Shani Tan, team doctor reporting from Base Camp

Getting ready again We had a clear and windless night which was quite warm,
- 8 degrees Celsius in the tents. The morning was bright and clear, becoming
cloudy at lunch time with some snow showers in the early afternoon. After
resting well in the last few days, the climbers are now getting ready again
to go up to Camp 2. The morning was spent packing, sharpening crampons, last
minute washing up. . . The weather forecast suggests improving weather over
the next few days. We can anticipate calm relatively windless days which
will be good for climbing on the Lhotse Face as our Team makes progress up
to Camp 3. The climbers will leave for Camp 2 early tomorrow morning and
will spend about four days up on the Hill. From Camp 2, they will make their
way to Camp 3 the day after tomorrow.

EBC, 6,500m, Wednesday, April 22 1998

Back up the Hill Shani Tan, Team Doc

We had fine, clear skies with slight breeze in the morning becoming overcast
with snow showers in the afternoon. The clouds are moderately dense over the
Western Cwm with no wind. After a still night, the eight climbers left after
an early breakfast for C2. Justin was doing well, with Swee and Roz in the
front with Mok and Leong bringing up the rear.The front runners got into C2
shortly after 1300h and by the 1400h radio check, everyone was safely in C2.
Sherpa Kunga also reported that C3 has been established.Tomorrow, members
who are feeling well rested will move up to C3 and will return to C2 to
spend the night. The Sherpas have a rest day tomorrow and will resume load
carries the day after.

Camp 2, 6,700m, Thursday, April 23 1998

Actively resting Shani Tan

Day of active rest We had a really warm (like just hovering at freezing
point in the tent) cloudy night and the morning sky was filled with very
high cloud and a weak sun trying to warm the earth. Further south down the
Khumbu, the sky looked leaden and we’re sure that there must have been
rain/snow there. It has been cloudy all day but the weather is not too cold.
There is heavy clouds over the Western Cwm all day. The summit is completely
hidden behind the clouds. Radio contact with the Team at C2 reports calm
windless conditions with one cm of fresh snow falling last night. All
climbers are now in Camp 2 and all Sherpas in EBC except for Kunga, Dorje
and the two kitchen crew at C2. The climbing team had a day of “active rest
” up at C2, setting up more tents in anticipation of the arrival of the
majority of our climbing Sherpas tomorrow. They also labelled our precious
bottles of oxygen with the word “SINGAPORE” and reflective 3M tape to help
positive identification of the bottles during the hurly burly of summit day.
The extra time spent in C2 will help towards acclimatisation for the next
steps in the climb. The climbers will leave at 0630h tomorrow morning for a
climb up the fixed ropes on the Lhotse Face to Camp 3. However they will
return to C2 for the night. Depending on the weather forecast for the
following week, the climbing team may stay up at C2 and then C3 for a longer
period than originally planned.

Suitable sites for radio comms and video cam for Summit Day Johann and me
made a recce walk up the lower scree slopes of Pumori that face Everest to
look for a suitable site to place radio comms and a video camera with a
large telephoto lens in anticipation of the requirements for summit day.

Camp 3, 7,400m, Friday, April 24 1998

Snowing Steadily Shani Tan, Team Doc

Not a winter wonderland We had a warm cloudy night with a short snow shower
in early evening giving way to a bright clear morning. However by late
morning, it had become completely overcast and began to sleet and hail. By
lunch, we had wet snow showers and with the temperatures dropping steadily,
by 1630h we had four inches of snow with no signs of the weather letting up.
The same situation exists in the Western Cwm where our climbers are.

Climbing situation Our climbing team made a foray onto the Lhotse face
towards Camp 3 this morning with Leong and Swee actually getting into C3
before the miserable weather forced everyone to return to Camp 2.By the
1600h radio call everyone was safe and warm back in C2. The climbers will
discuss tonight the weather reports that we have received today, and then
decide on whether to remain up high over the weekend. The weather forecasts
suggest a clearing up of the clouds and probably precipitation over the next
two to three days but that the winds will remain about same.

Camp 3, 7,400m, Saturday, April 25 1998

It’s on to Camp 4 by Dr. Shani Tan

More wet weather We had another warm night here in EBC. And up in Camp 2, it
was not too cold Johann, Bruce and I are at EBC, and all climbers now in C2,
all Sherpas in C2 except for Kunga and Dorje who returned today to EBC. All
the climbers spent the day in C2 recuperating from the effort of going up to
C3 the day before. At EBC and in C2, we enjoyed a bright clear and warm
(dare I say hot?) morning before the clouds rolled in by 1100h and it began
to sleet and rain in BC and snow wet heavy snow in C2. This situation has
remained all afternoon and at the 1600h radio call it is as yet uncertain if
the climbers will remain up high for another day or return to Base Camp
tomorrow. This will be confirmed at a unscheduled 1800h radio call later
today. At EBC, I did some repair work to the tent fly of the Comms tent
which had a long three-foot tear in it as a result of over enthusiastic
beating to clear it of snow yesterday afternoon.

Camp 3 established and ready to go! The good news of today is that C3 is
ready with tents and provisions and it remains for the route from C3 to C4
to be fixed (by Sherpas from other expeditions as agreed among expedition
leaders) and then all will be ready for summit pushes.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Sunday, April 26 1998

Safely back in Base Camp Justin Lean

Safely back Our boys are back safely at EBC after a protracted stay at Camp
2 for the past four days. The long stay at altitude gives us a chance to get
used to the thin air. However, this prolonged stay also has delibitating
effects on the human body. It started with all climbers departing from EBC
(5,500m) to C2 (6,500m) in one push on April 22nd. It took the team on
average six hours to perform the feat. Compared to our previous timings of
trips done from EBC to C1 and C1 to C2 on separate occasions, we moved
faster this time — thus showing that we were acclimatising. However, the
height of C2 is already the summit of many mountains in the Himalayas. The
thin air could still be felt and even at rest one was breathless.

ts.

KUDOs to our Sherpas Negotiating the slope on the Lhotse wall helps one
appreciate how tough it must have been for our Sherpas being the first to
ascend the face without the aid of fixed rope. They always look toasted from
their excursions on the face — partly due to the severe glare of the sun
reflected off the ice. Swee Chiow, Chee Mun and Robert got to Camp 3, where
our Sherpas were busy carving platforms out of the hard ice with snow saws
for tents. The rest of the team were at various stages of nearing Camp 3
when they opted to descend due to the onslaught of bad weather. Descending
the Face is just as terrifying as the fixed ropes are sometimes too tight to
put in a figure of eight descendeur — a device that helps a climber control
the speed of his descent down a length of rope. Instead a climber is forced
to clip his harness directly to to the rope and descend hand over hand –
which for one who is tired can be scary due to the possibility of losing
one’s grip on the rope.

Results of Camp 3 foray All got back to Camp 2 by 2pm — totally knackered
(completely exhausted). Consistent hyperventilation of the cold, oxygen poor
air left some team members with irritable dry coughs. Such is the force of
the coughing that Rozani sprained his shoulder while trying to sleep. Rozani
also developed a haemorrhagic blister that was purulent on his ankle which
needed our Dr. Mok to surgically slice off the blister to drain the puss.
Mok performed this operation at Camp 2 yesterday. The rest felt physically
drained and worked at replacing lost carbohydrates with their diet of dhal
and rice prepared by our Sherpa cooks stationed at Camp 2.

Snow means go down Yesterday also brought a steady downfall of wet snow
which thwarted plans for the team to ascend to Camp 3 to spend the night on
the April 26. The reason being that wet snow falling on the hard blue ice of
the Lhotse Face can cause avalanche. Upon gaining sufficient critical mass,
the wet snow will unleash itself in what is known a “wet slab avalanche” –
which is like a mass of wet cement that crashes down the slope picking up
speed and wiping out anything in its path. The presence of wrecked tents
from past expeditions at Camp 3 stand testimony to this phenomenon. While it
snowed during the night, small avalanches could be heard crashing of Nuptse
opposite Camp 2. Rather than wait for the latest precipitation of snow to
consolidate or avalanche off Lhotse, the team decided to bomb back down to
Base Camp. This was a wise decision as we were already feeling the effects
of staying for a prolonged period at high altitude — e.g. sleepless nights
and fatigue.

Soggy trip through the Icefall Due to the snowfall, our progress through the
Icefall was hampered by soft snow which caused “balling up” of the crampons.
“Balling up” is a term for snow building up into big balls (sometimes the
size of watermelons) under the crampons making movement unwieldy. The steep,
uneven, false floor terrain of the Icefall, this caused some alarm among
some of the climbers. All arrived safely back at EBC for potato chips and
email.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Monday, April 27 1998

Spring again? by Dr. Shanni Tan

Spring is here ? We had a very warm night with temperatures above freezing
in tents all night. There was minimal frost on the ground. The morning sky
was clear and it was intermittently rain/hail and shine through out the day,
leaving us intermittently hot and cold too.

Preparing for the next step : Everyone is resting and relaxing, having
laundry done, sharpening crampons, repairing antiballing plates, snacking,
listening to music, “carbo” loading for the next push up the Hill. Mok is
making Chinese soup tonight to add some variety to our diet. Depending on
the weather reports, the Climbing Team will go back up towards the end of
the week.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Tuesday, April 28 1998

The Plan by David Lim, Expedition Leader

Plans for the Lhotse Face, Inter-expedition cooperation : After 2 days’rest
at Base Camp, the team is planning a push to Camp 3 tomorrow. The team will
press from BC (Base Camp) to C2 (Camp 2) in a one-day push and then on to C3
(Camp 3) where we will spend one night as part of the final acclimatisation
stages. After this period up high, we will descend to basecamp and wait for
a suitable summit window. A summit team of approximately five will be
chosen. Simultaneously, climbers and sherpas from Henry Todd and Wally
Berg’s team will extend the route from C3 to South Col – the final campsite
from which summit attempts are made. While several teams have been sharing
resources it is unfortunate that one or two well-equipped teams are not
chipping in equipment or manpower to help fix the route on the Lhotse Face.
This is a common, though regrettable, fact of climbing Everest – many teams,
many interests and someteams making a greater effort than others. However,
the more important issue at hand is to keep the momentum going on the route.

“CONQUERING MT EVEREST”: This is a popular phrase much-loved by news editors
and journalists. Yet it is hated universally by climbers. The simple reason
behind this is that Everest is never conquered. It tolerates climbers, and
if lucky, they will stand for a few moments on the summit. Despite our
repeated requests not to associate such jingoistic terms, sub-editors and
newsmen keep insisting on using them. It seems while the mass media seeks to
educate and inform the public, they seem impervious to subtle and
not-too-subtle requests not to sensationalise the climb.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Wednesday, April 29 1998

Up to the Mountain again by Dr. Shani Tan

Up again onto the Mountain : The weather was hot and sunny this morning with
a cold breeze in BC (Base Camp) turning to clouds and snow by 1430h here and
also in the Western Cwm. All our climbers left for C2 (Camp 2)at 0600h this
morning and were approaching C2 at the last radio call at 1400h. We were
unable to establish contact at 1600h will try again 1800h.6 Sherpas
accompanied them to C2 this morning. The climbers left for C2 at 0600h this
morning accompanied by Sherpas who will help ferry loads to C3 (Camp 3). The
morning was clear and bright, ideal weather however by 1430h it started to
cloud over and snow. Some were carrying heavy packs and had a hard time
going up to C2. Justin and Roz are having a rather bad cough. It appears
that at least some of the route over the Yellow Band is fixed ( as yet
unconfirmed ) as David sighted some sherpas from another expedition working
on that section.The plan is to go to C3 cm and spend a night there and then
return all the way to C2 and then BC after that. The support Trekkers have
arrived!! Yap Ser Chuan, Tan Yee Lee and Veronica Cheong ambled into Base
Camp (taking care of their porters instead of the other way round, no less)
bringing with them their own luxury food like groundnuts, instant bubur
hitam, ikan bilis, amongst other delicacies. They plan to stay here two
nights before heading back to Kathmandu and then Singapore. It must be some
stroke of luck that the two support treks came into base camp the same day
that the climbers went up, but they do not seem to be put down by missing
the climbers – in fact they’re happily munching away in our rec tent right
now.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Thursday, April 30 1998

Camp 3 Reached Dr. Shani Tan

Our guys reach Camp 3 : We had fine weather, hot and sunny all day, with
temperatures up to 38 degree Celcius in the dining tent and about 15 degree
Celcius at noon. It is clear, cloudless and windless at Camp 2 and Camp 3.

The Ascent : All climbers found it hard going to Camp 2 especially for
Justin who had a bad cough and breathing hard in the cold dry air made it
worse. Urke (Camp 2 cook) had to come down to assist him. Urke gave him a
mug of warm orange juice and help him with his pack. Justin arrived at
nearly 1600hrs while the rest arrived in Camp 2 at 1500hrs On arrival at
Camp 2, Justin was started on some medications which seem to have improved
his cough. This morning, only Swee, Edwin and Leong felt fit and rested
enough to continue up to Camp 3. They started up at about 0800hrs with
Sherpa support and arrived in Camp 3 by 1530hrs. Tonight, they will be
sleeping in Camp 3 without oxygen and will be testing out our emergency
strobe light — another radio call at 1930hrs tonight will tell us whether
the strobe is clearly visible from Camp 2. This emergency strobe was
purchased to help our climbers find their tents on the South Col in the
event of a whiteout. Tomorrow morning, the climbers in Camp 3 will descend
to Camp 2 and the remaining five will go up to Camp 3 .

Next Steps : The remaining five at Camp 2 will go to Camp 3 and those at
Camp 3 will return to Camp 2. Some Sherpas will go up to Camp 1 tomorrow to
bring fresh supplies.

Support trekkers in EBC : The three trekkers who arrived yesterday spent a
rest day in Base Camp taking photos, resting and visiting other expeditions.
We had lunch together and they were amazed by the extremes of heat and cold
that exist here. They will return to Lobuche tomorrow. We wish them a safe
trek back to Lukla.

Camp 3, 7,200m, Friday, May 1st 1998

How we made it to Camp 3 Dr. Shanni Tan

Camp 3 climbing report : Swee Chiow, Edwin and Leong left C2(Camp 2) at
0930h yesterday morning under perfect climbing conditions for C3(Camp 3).
They were accompanied by our climbing Sherpas who helped to ferry more loads
up to C3. There were also numerous climbers from other expeditions making
their way to C3. The Lhotse Face was in very good condition with firm snow
and big “buckets” kicked into the hard blue ice by climbers preceeding them.
Swee and company made very good time and arrived in C3 by 1520h. Camp 3 is
strung out over several hundred vertical meters on the Lhotse wall. It is
roughly divided in to an upper and an lower camp. We have three 3-man
Mountain Hardware tents in the lower part of C3 at approximately 7200m. The
position of the tents even though guyed down with heavy duty rope is quite
precarious, as they are resting on hard snow and ice. To carry out any
activity outside the tent ( eg. going to toilet ), one has to “clip in” to
the ropes to prevent a kilometer long fall down a sheer face of ice. They
spent a very cold night in C3 ( it was very cold even in perfect windless
conditions ) and were comfortable without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Camp 3 team returns to Base Camp : We had a very hot morning with bright
sunshine and very little wind both at BC (Base Camp) and in the Westerm Cwm,
clouding over by 1430h with rain and hail by 1630h. At the 0800h radio call,
Swee, Ed and Leong were within 10 min of C2 having left C3 at 0630h this
morning. The others; David, Justin, Mok, Roz and Robert were just starting
out from C2 for C3 accompanied by Sherpa support. The C3 people rested in C2
while Sonam and Urke made rice porridge for breakfast. By 1200h, the trio
from C3 were in the ice fall enroute to BC but the other 5 are still on the
fixed ropes leading up to C3. Swee and company made very good time and
arrive in BC by 1320h where they are now resting, rehydrating and reading
emails with great gusto. ( Email was the great incentive to come down early
it seems ). At the 1600h radio call, Mok, Roz and Rob had just gotten into
C3 with Justin and David reported 5 and 20 minutes away respectively.We will
have a further call at 1800h during which Mok will give a medical update on
Justin and Roz. It is yet unknown if they will sleep on supplementary oxygen
tonight.