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Kinabalu One-day ascent , 23 August 2013. David makes the first 1-day mobility-impaired climb of Borneo's summit
Qinghai Virgin Peaks Expedition 2012: Tackling 6000m virgin peaks in the Tanggulashan area of Qinghai, China
1st Singapore Everest Expedition: online dispatches of the landmark 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition, led by David Lim
Aconcagua 2000: David Lim and Tok Beng Cheong tackle the Polish Traverse in Feb 2000, as part of David's comeback climb from disability
Tien Shan Expedition 2000: David and members of the 2001 Everest Expedition lead and trained a team of novices in the first ever Singapore expedit...
Ojos Del Salado - Chile 2001: The Everest 2001 Expedition’s major warm-up climb prior to the Everest climb in 2001.
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Alpine Rock in Borneo -2010:Why We Need Heroes: Climbing with Borneo alpine rock with Sir Chris Bonington, the legendary British mountaineer.
Extreme Desert Crossing 2007:David and Shani make the 5th ever recorded crossing on foot of the Salar de Uyuni
The “Spirit of Singapore Expedition 2009”, makes 3 virgin peak ascents including the tough peak later named Majulah Peak
Iran Expedition 2006: Multi-peak ascents in Alam-Kooh, and a climb of the long north ridge of Damavand in the Alborz peaks.
Ojos del Salado 2005: The highest volcano in the world --"Of my many adventures and climbs worldwide, there are a few which taught me the lesson t...
Nike Timing Mt. Fuji Climb 2004: David, Ting Sern and Masaharu make an attempt on Mt Fuji in the winter from the Yoshida trailhead.
Mountain of the Star Expedition 2003: An all-disabled mountaineers’ ascent of Pico de Orizaba, 5700m, Mexico’s highest peak and North America...
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Kilimanjaro 2011: David Lim returns to Kilimanjaro to climb it from the Rongai Route.
Elbrus 2003: Climbing highest summit of Europe - in 2003. David teams up with Grant and Rudolf in Russia...
Kilimanjaro Challenge 2004: Four disabled mountaineers atempt a remote route on the northern icefields of Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), the summit of ...

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On the road…

Hi everyone,

This is WTS here, keying the last despatch (not the trip report) of this expedition. I am typing from my hotel room in Zhangmu – near the border between Tibet and Nepal.

The Nera M4 antenna is aimed at the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) Inmarsat satellite with barely enough signal strength to transmit data … but it works!

Okay …

These are the last two reports I promise ….

Q- What clothings do climbers wear?

A- Virtually all climbers today follow the layering system. Basically, it consists of 3 layers – the outer shell, the middle layer, and a innermost layer. Let’s start with the outer shell.

Depending on the nature of the climb and the expected weather conditions, the outer shell can be a down jacket (for warmth and windproofness) or a totally waterproof and breathable one (mainly Goretex materials). In most 8000m peaks, virtually all climbers will choose a down jacket, as the weather is mostly cold,but not wet. For tropical areas, a Goretex shell to protect climbers from the rain will be used.

The middle layer is mostly made of “Polartec” fabric – a material designed to keep a person warm but does not absorb water. Natural materials such as wool are excellent warmth keeping layer – but once it is wet, it hardly insulates well. Artificial materials such as Polartec are made from polyester yarn, and hardly absorb water. Hence, they will keep you warm even though it may be wet. This is important because as a climber exercise, perspiration will work its way into the middle warmth layer and soak it.

The inner layer is a wicking layer – mainly designed to spread the perspiration next to the skin and sent to the middle layer in a larger area. The idea behind the wicking layer is that if you increase the area to be exposed for evaporation, the perspiration will go much faster. Hence, the wicking layer is designed to absorb perspiration and spread it over a larger area.

Other clothings are worn – depending on the nature of the climb – such as if heavy snow is expected, then gaiters are worn over the shoes to prevent snow from entering the mouth of the shoes.

Q- How big are our tents

A- In base camp, we use a “two man” tent for personal use. This ensures that we have enough space to sleep as well as to store personal things inside the tent for easy access. Most tents at base camp are two walled tents – an inner wall which allows water vapour to escape easily (but is not waterproof) and an outer wall that is totally waterproof.

At higher altitudes, where weight is a premium, we will squeeze two people and their stuff into one “two man tent”.

If weight is really an extreme consideration (as it will be for summit attempts), a single walled tent is used. This material is similar to Goretex (which is waterproof, but also allows water vapour to escape).

Ting Sern

Going home

From left, Gil, Roz, Beng Cheong, David and Ting Sern. A bit worn but happy.

Dear Folks,

200 yaks are headed up to ABC yesterday – most of the expeditions are tidying up and wrapping up their businesses and the yaks will be bringing down equipment, rubbish, summit and high camp gear. Over here, packing to go with the impending monsoon, rains, snow and so on. Last night we had a small get together with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team who are also here climbing Everest. The single malt whisky was most welcome :-)

It’s been a heck of a trip, even if the summit was not on the cards. Our return journey will take us back to Tingri (4,300m), and then Zhangmu (2,200m) where we hope to survive the hot dusty plains after Kodari back to Kathamandu. There’s a 3-day general strike starting today in the capital. We’ll be posting 1 -2 more reports from Kathmandu but until then, it’s been great having all your supportive email, comments and questions.

If you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, do help the Society for the Physically Disabled by going to http://www.brandsworld.com and registering your support. One of our key supporters, Brands Essence of Chicken will donate $1 for every support registration received. Many thanks!

Ciao,
David

The Party’s over

You’ll get a chance to read Gil’s account of the summit push (translated to English>>> go to Gil’s report) .

Some really interesting news is the summit success of blind climber Eric Weihenmeyer ( sic ) from the south side. My old friend PV Scaturro was one of the sighted climbers assisting this remarkable man who makes even the hardest tasks seem easy after his ascent. Eric has made previous climbs on Aconcagua, Denali and Vinson . Way to go!

The French paraglider tandem couple Bertrand and Claire have also confirmed that their recent, spectacular jump from the summit is a record. In 1990, when Bertrand was only 17 years old, he summitted Everest with his father and then they both paraglided from the South Col ( 8000m ) to basecamp. The recent successful jump makes it the highest ever from a mountaintop.

The party’s over now on the summit. Today, grey clouds, high winds and predicted snowfall makes it clear the superb summit window we’ve seen these past few days is closed. We’re counting down the days before we leave.
Ciao,
David

Real Everest Heroes

Dear Friends,

We’re wrapping up the expedition soon. We’ll have a final report when we get to Kathmandu but until then will keep on transmitting until we have to pack to leave on the 28th.

Yesterday, members (all professional guides) of the IMG 8000/Mallory + Irvine Research Expedition 2001 abandoned their summit bid to save the lives of stricken climbers on the summit ridge. While we have had an informal arrangement not to report on the movements or activities of the Eric Simonson-led expedition owing to some exclusive news arrangements, the gallantry of the American team for their deeds on the 24th deserves a special mention in today’s report. Information is a bit sketchy in places and we’d be happy to make suitable changes to the story if corrected.

Beginning early in the morning, the team of Andy Politz, Dave Hahn, Jason Tanguay, Tap Richards, Phu Nuru and Phu Dorje began a swift ascent of the standard summit route when three Russian climbers were found huddled near Mushroom Rock (between the First and Second Steps) — in pretty bad shape after having spent a night out after their summit bid. Oxygen was given, modifications made to their oxygen kit so a switch could be made to the American oxygen tanks. High altitude medicines were administered and the team stayed until the Russians had revived sufficiently to get moving downhill. A couple of hours later, two members of Russell Brice’s team were discovered near the bottom of the 3rd Step. Guide Andy Lapkass and a client had also spent a night out. It is uncertain if Andy Lapkass had decided to stay with his client to help him through the harsh night or was himself exhausted from the summit bid. In any case, both were suffering from vision problems (most likely caused by cerebral edema), frostbite and unable to move. Again, medicines and oxygen were administered. The sherpas attached to the IMG 8000 team gave up their oxygen gear for these climbers and descended. Shortly after, the summit bid was called off so that these two stricken climbers could be escorted down to safety by the team.

The slow and extremely taxing affair took all day (a beautiful summit day with many summtting from both sides). Russell Brice sent up a team of sherpas with extra oxygen to Camp 6 where his other guide, Chris Warner had spent the night in relative warmth and safety after successfully tagging the summit and returning. The rest of the Russian team were not involved in the rescue.

It is not known if Warner made any significant attempt to assist in the rescue after the arrival of his team’s sherpas. It is known however that several of Russell’s sherpas did make a move up the ridge with extra oxygen in the rescue. Russell Brice has been involved himself in coordinating numerous rescues in the past ten years so it seems the deposits of good karma that have been made paid off yesterday when it was his team’s turn to need help from others. Later in the afternoon, the team came across the same Russians they had helped earlier in the day, still struggling down. More assistance was rendered but one Russian was beyond help and died. The Americans were becoming almost like a extreme altitude paramedic squad.

In an unrelated situation, another climber died in high camp from yet to be confirmed causes. Our sympathies to all the friends and families of the lost climbers.

All the injured climbers still have to make their way down to the North Col and then the long, 21km trek back to basecamp. But it appears they are out of mortal danger now.

It must also be added that on the north side, several teams passed by both teams of these stricken climbers on May 24th without rendering or offering any major help to them. It seems ” summit first ” is the motto of many on Everest.

Including the Chinese glaciologist last month (he is now reported to be alive and recovering), these rescues by the Simonson team have saved at least FIVE lives on Everest this season. In both cases, team members had given up summit chances to render assistance.

I personally wonder how many summitters from the north side on May 24th will go home with a little twinge of guilt for not helping. But being called an ” Everest hero” by the undiscriminating media and friends for the rest of their lives must certainly help assuage the guilt……..

In the meantime, you can send your good wishes to some ‘real’ Everest heroes on http://www.mountainguides.com (The Mallory + Irvine Research Expedition 2001 site).

Way to go, guys.
Dave Lim
at East Rongbuk Base Camp

Gil’s report…

Ola,

Quando cheguei ao campo 5, a 7.800m de altitude, apos cumprir uma das etapas mais dificeis da escalada do Everest, a subida da espetacular crista norte, Rozani olhou para mim com olhar exausto e apreensivo, e disse – Gil, precisamos descer para o Colo Norte, David esta mal; neste momento terminava a nossa ascencao a maior montanha da Terra. Tinhamos chegado ao limite da seguranca – a integridade fisica dos membros do time estava muito acima do cume da montanha.

Partimos do Campo Base no dia 12 de maio rumo ao Topo do Mundo. Seria a nossa ultima ida para cima, agora para tentar chegar ao cume. O tempo como sempre mal, muita neve e vento. Apos dois dias de caminhada chegamos ao Campo Base Avancado (ABC – 6.500m) onde ficariamos de prontidao de acordo com a meteorologia. No dia 15 de maio, com total incerteza do tempo, Michael e Terry, dois americanos clientes da Internatinal Mountain Guides, empresa que compartilhavamos o campo base e o base avancado, partiram para a escalada final do Everest, acompanhados de quatro fortes Sherpas. O tempo sempre ruim causava apreensao. Acompanhavamos pelo radio cada passo dos 6 escaladores. No ABC, uma pequena cidade de barracas, todas as expedicoes trocavam informacoes acerca da previsao da meteorologia. 18 de maio, o dia previsto para eles chegarem ao cume, amanheceu ensolarado, sem vento, perfeito para chegar ao topo. Foi um presente merecido para eles, e os seis foram os primeiros do milenio a alcansar o topo do mundo. Euforia no ABC, pois alem do sucesso deles a meteorologica previa tempo otimo ate o dia 24, pelo menos.

Partimos no dia seguinte para o Colo Norte (7100m), acompanhados de, pelo menos, mais de 30 escaladores de diversas partes do mundo. Entre estes estavam Claire e Bertrand, um casal de franceses que iriam tentar decolar de Paraglider do cume em voo duplo. Chegamos exaustos no Colo Norte, porem entusiasmados pelo bom tempo. No dia seguinte, enfrentariamos a Crista Norte do Everest ate o Campo 5 a 7.800m de altitude, o trecho mais dificil de toda a escalada afora o dia final de chegada ao cume.

20 de maio acordamos as 4 horas e apos todos os preparativos necessarios partimos para a crista as 7:15hs. A crista, em sua maior parte, eh uma enorme lingua de gelo com inclinacao media de 45 graus. O Campo 5 fica 200m na vertival apos terminar a lingua de gelo. A subida eh extremamente lenta; ao longe os escaladores formam um linha de pontos negros praticamente estacionada. Durante a subida me chamou a atencao um Georgiano, que sabia tudo sobre o futebol brasileiro. Pelas 11:00hs comecou a ventar e a chegar nuvens. Esta crista eh uma das situacoes mais expostas de toda a escalada. O vento comecava a dar rajadas de mais de 100 km/h e levantava a neve produzindo o chamado vento branco. A subida comecava a se tornar cada vez mais dificil, porem montanhas colossais como o Chang-Tse que faz o colo com o Everest e o Pumori comecavam a mostrar os seus cumes. Terminei a escalada da lingua de gelo e iniciei a parte de rocha. Aqui comecavam as barracas do campo 5 empilhadas sobres as rochas e sacudidas pelo forte vento – nao sei como ainda estavam ali. Fui subindo entre elas, algumas vazias, algumas ja com seu donos no interior. Estava terminando uma das partes mais dificeis da escalada, pois a partir daqui utilizariamos oxigenio artificial. Teriamos mais dois dias pela frente: o primeiro considerado “facil” ate o Campo 6 a 8.300m – umas 4 a 5 horas de escalada (com oxigenio) e o segundo, no dia 22 de maio a escalada final ao cume, aos 8850m de altitude.

De onde eu estava o cume estava “tocavel com as maos”, daria para ver uma pessoa no cume. Ansiedade e apreensao tomavam conta de mim. Estava perto do topo do mundo. Quando cheguei aa ultima barraca, as nossas estavam 50m a frente, veio o nosso destino – David por meio de radio informava a Rozani a sua situacao. No momento aceitei como um sinal de Deus, terminava aqui a seguranca da equipe. Nos eramos um time e como tal atuamos. Eu estava extremamente exausto e a descida teria que ser com toda a cautela, as pernas bambas teriam que ser controladas passo a passo. Logo de saida escorreguei e levei o meu unico tombo – passei rolando pela barraca dos colombianos que assustados vieram me ajudar. Nenhum dano para mim, o que nao posso dizer o mesmo para o meu macacao de pluma de ganso.

Durante a descida o vento continuava fortissimo e eu me distraia com o voo do “Chuff” um passaro negro (corvo) de bico amarelo, um pouco maior que um pombo. Ele brincava com a altitude e com o vento, liftando nas reentrancias do Everest e voando em disparada a favor do vento. Fomos descendo lentamente atras de David, os cumes do Pumori e do Chang-Tse estavam la em baixo, e os gigantes 8000m Kangchenchunga e Makalu a leste, e Cho Oyu e Shishapangma a oeste na altura dos nossos olhos. O Sol comecava a se esconder atras do Chang-Tse e apesar do vento e do frio sentei na neve para sentir um pouco este momento magico. Nao pude registrar este momento pois nao podia acessar a maquina fotografica com as enormes luvas – e nao podia tira-las sob perigo de congelamento. Entao, o ceu dourado atras das colossais montanhas do Himalaia fica apenas na minha memoria.

Quando alcancamos David ja estavamos bem baixo, e Sherpas de nosso time que Rozani havia chamado para ajudar ja estavam com David. Na realidade nada fizemos por David – os Sherpas se encarregaram de tudo, inclusive ajudaram a mim e a Rozani carregando nossas mochilas. Talvez Rozani e eu nao precisassemos baixar e pudessemos seguir rumo ao topo do mundo, mas nada questionei, como disse aceitei como um sinal de Deus, um sinal da montanha, que nosso limite tinha chegado. Fizemos tudo certo, cada um deu o melhor de si para o time. Entao foi para ser assim. O Everest sempre estara lah, talvez um dia ele nos aceite.

No dia seguinte, 21 de maio, baixamos para o ABC, sem antes eu ir ate a barraca de Paulo e Helena, um casal de brasileiros que estao pela terceira vez tentando escalar o Everest. Porem, eles tem a proposta de chegar ao cume sem oxigenio artificial, tarefa gigantesca. Se conseguirem serao os primeiros brasileiros a chegarem ao topo do mundo sem oxigenio artificial, e Helena sera a primeira brasileira (nao sei se nao sera a primeira sul americana) a chegar ao topo do mundo. Oxala consigam. No momento estou tentando obter noticias deles.

Dia 22 de maio, o nosso dia escolhido para chegar ao cume, amanheceu maravilhosamente ensolarado, o melhor dia de todos desde que chegamos aqui. Nenhuma nuvem no ceu, sem vento. Um presente. Um presente para Claire e Bertrand que voaram numa asa branca – um voo do topo do mundo. Que pena que eu nao estava lah para ajuda-los na decolagem. Fui recebe-los no pouso, no meio do Glaciar Leste de Rongbuck, junto ao ABC.

Retornamos ao Campo Base no dia 23 de maio ainda sob um tempo maravilhoso. Quando cheguei ao Base o pessoal estava grudado na luneta que focava o Everest. Estavam acompanhando um guia e seu cliente da Guatemala que estavam ainda descendo do topo – estava anoitecendo. Eles passaram a noite na montanha, a mais de 8700m de altitude. Tres russos tambem passaram a noite. A sorte da dupla eh que o dia seguinte amanheceu novamente firme e a equipe de guias profissionais da “International Mountain Guides” que esta fazendo a busca do corpo de Irvine (Fantasmas do Everest) estavam do campo 6 e conseguiram fazer o resgate deles ate este campo. Isto eh uma excessao, rarissimo de acontecer. Nao hah resgate acima dos 8000m. Porem, um dos russos morreu e tambem um australiano faleceu no Campo 6.

Vitoria ou derrota: nao viemos aqui para derrotar nada. Viemos sim para tentar chegar ao topo do mundo, aos 8850m de altitude do Monte Everest. Ao longo destes dois meses que aqui estamos atuamos como um time. O respeito e o trabalho maximo de cada um foi o que reinou. Chegamos ate onde a montanha quis que chegassemos com seguranca. Retornamos dos 7800m de altitude, pois a integridade fisica de um membro da expedicao esta muito acima do cume do Everest.

A experiencia de conviver dois meses com esta magestosa montanha foi colossal. Espero que tenhamos conseguido passar um pouco a voces esta maravilhosa e dura experiencia que tivemos aqui e que esta montanha entre em vossos coracoes.

Agora inicio o meu retorno ao meu querido pais, o Brasil, aos meus queridos familiares e aos meus queridos amigos. A saudades eh muita.
Gil Piekarz


English Translation by Marcelo Fernando Schiocchet
When I arrived at Camp 5, at 7,800m, after climbing one of the most difficult parts of the Everest route, the magnificent North ridge, Rozani looked at me with very exhausted and apprehensive eyes, and said: -Gil, we have to go down to the North Col, David is not well. At this moment, it ended our attempt to climb the biggest mountain in Earth. We had reached the limit of the security – the physical integrity of the team members was worth much more than the mountain’s summit.

We left the Basecamp on May 12th toward the world’s summit. It would be our last climb, this time for reaching the top. The weather, as always, was bad with lots of wind and snow. After a two day climb we arrived at the Advanced Base Camp (6.500m), where we would stay in stand-by, depending on the weather forecast. On May 15th, completely unsure about the weather, Michael and Terry, both Americans clients of the International Mountain Guides, the company with who we shared the base camps, left for the final climb, together with four very strong sherpas. The always bad weather was causing apprehension. We followed through the radio every step of those six climbers. On the ABC, a little town of tents, all the expeditions use to exchange information about the weather forecast. The May 18th, when they were supposed to reach the summit, started with a clean sky following the sunrise, without wind, perfect for their summit attempt. This was a well deserved gift to them, and they were the first six guys in this millennium, to reach the world’s summit. Great happiness in Advance Basecamp, because besides their success, the forecasts were saying perfect weather at least until May 24th.

We left for the North Col (7.100m) in the next day, together with at least 30 other climbers from several places around the world. Between them, there were Claire and Bertrand, a French couple that were going to try to take of from the summit using a twin Paraglide. We reach the North Cole exhausted, but also excited due to the good weather. On the next day we would face
Everest’s North Ridge to camp 5 at 7.800m, the most difficult day, apart of the summit attempt. On May 20th we woke up at 4 AM, and after all preparation, we left to the ridge at 7:15 AM. The ridge is mostly a neck of ice, with and average slope of 45 degrees. Camp 5 is 200m higher than the end of the ice neck. The climb is extremely slow; from far, the climbers form a long line of black points virtually stopped. During the climb, one Georgian that knows everything about Brazilian football called my attention.

At 11:00 AM the wind started to blow and some clouds arrived. This ridge is one of the most exposed situations of the whole climb. Some blasts of wind were over 100km/h, lifting the snow and forming the white wind. Climbing was getting worse every minute, however huge mountains like the Chang-Tse that make the North Col, just started to show their summits. I finished the
climb of the ice neck and started the rocky part. Here were the first tents of Camp 5, piled over the rocks and shaked by the strong winds – I don’t know the how they were still there. I kept walking between them and saw that some were empty whilst others had their owners inside. I was finishing one of the most difficult parts of the climb, because from here on we would be
using artificial oxygen. We would have two more days ahead, the first was considered “easy” until the Camp 6 (8.300m) – about 4 to 5 hours climbing (with oxygen), and the second would be the final attempt to the summit at 8.850m.

From where I was, I felt like I could reach the summit just stretching my arms, I could clearly see a man in the summit. I was close to the world’s summit. When I arrived at the last tent, ours were 50m ahead, came our destiny – David informed to Rozani, through the radio, the situation. At that moment I accepted as a signal from God, the team’s security ended here.

We were a team, and that’s how we proceeded. I was extremely exhausted and the descent would have to be very done very cautiously. The loosen legs would have to be controlled step after step. Right in the beginning I slipped and felt down. My only fall – I passed rolling through the Colombian’s tent, that scared me. No injury to me, but I can’t say the same to my down suit. During the descent the wind was very strong and I distracted myself with the Chuff´s flight, a black bird (crown) with a yellow beak, a little bit bigger than a pigeon. He played with the altitude and the wind, soaring in the Everest’s walls and flying fast together with the wind. We descended slowly after David. The summits of Pumori and Chang-Tse were far below, and the 8.000m giants Kangchenchunga and Makalu at east, and Cho Oyu and Shishapangma at west on the level of our eyes. The was starting to hide behind the Chang-Tse, and despite of the cold wind, I sat down in the snow to enjoy that magic moment. I could not register this magic moment because I couldn’t reach my camera with those thick gloves, and I couldn’t take off the gloves because of the danger of having frostbite in the fingers. Then, the golden sky behind the magnificent mountains of Himalayas, stays only in my memory.

When we reached David we were well down, and the sherpas from our team that Rozani called to help, were already with David. In fact we didn’t do anything for David, the sherpas took care of everything and also helped me and Rozani by carrying down our backpacks. Maybe Rozani and me didn’t need to came down and could have followed toward the world’s summit, but I didn’t question.

As I said before, I accepted as a signal from God, a signal from the mountain, that our limit had been reached. We did everything right, each one gave it’s very best for the team. Then, it was meant to be like that. The Everest will always be there, and perhaps someday it will accept us.

On the next day, May 21st, we came down to ABC, but before, I went to the tent of Paulo and Helena, a Brazilian couple that are for the third time, trying to climb Everest. Nevertheless, they proposed to reach summit without artificial oxygen, a huge task. If they make it to the summit, they will be the firsts Brazilians to make it without the oxygen, and Helena will be first Brazilian woman to ever climb the Everest ( I don’t know if not the first South American woman). ” Oxala” they make it. In this very moment I am trying to get information from them.

The May 22nd, the day when we planned to reach the summit, I woke up perfectly sunny, the best day of all since we got here. No clouds in the sky, no wind at all. A gift. A gift for Claire and Bertrand that flew in a white wing – a light from the world’s summit. It’s a shame for me that I wasn’t there to help them taking off. I went meeting them as they land on the East Glacier of Rongbuk, besides the ABC.

We returned to Base Camp on May 23rd, still under a wonderful sky. By the time that I arrived at the Bamsecamp, the people were joined together at an eyepiece focusing at the Everest. Their were following one guide with his client from Guatemala, still descending from the summit when the sun was setting down. They passed the night in the mountain over 8.700m of altitude. Three Russians also passed the night outdoor. The luck of the double is that the next day also rose sunny and the team of professional guides of the International Mountain Guides, that were in Camp 6 searching for Irwine´s body (Everest Ghosts), managed to make their rescue back to this camp. This is an exception in Everest, very unlikely to happen. There is no rescue over 8.000m. Yet, one of the Russians died and also an Australian lost his life in Camp 6.

Victory or defeat: we didn’t come here to bait anything. We did come here to reach the world’s summit, at 8.850m of altitude, the top of Mt. Everest. Along these two months that we stayed here, we acted as a team. The respect and maximum work of each one, was what reigned. We climbed as far as the mountain allowed us to climb safely. We returned from 7.800m of altitude, because the physical integrity of one member of the expedition is far beyond the Everest’s summit.

The experience to get along, for two months, with this magnificent mountain was wonderful. I hope that we could have passed to you a bit of this wonderful and hard experience that we lived here, and that this mountain get a place in your heart.

Now I start my regress to my beloved country, Brazil, to my dear family and my dear friends. I miss them so much.

Gil Piekarz

STATISTICS:
The days are counted since the departure (March 24th) and arrival (May 30th)
in Katmandu.

Total days – 67
Nights at 2.200m – 03
Nights at 3.700m – 02
Nights at 4.300m – 04
Nights at 5.400m – 33 – Base Camp
Nights at 6.000m – 06
Nights at 6.550m – 15 – ABC
Nights at 7.100m – 04 – North Cole

Kilometers walked between the Base Camp and ABC (distance of 22 km) – 176km
Maximum height reached – 7.800m (we didn’t use oxygen)
Falls – 1 (not bad ha?)
Baths – 6 (and I was one of the cleanest!!)
Loss of body weigh – 8Kg
Books read – 2 (I missed more)
Slide films taken of 36 pics – 20
New friends – many.


ESTATISTICA:
Os dias sao contados a partir da saida (24 de marco) e chegada (30 de maio) em Kathmandu

Dias totais – 67 dias
Noites dormidas a 2.200m – 03
Noites dormidas a 3.700m – 02
Noites dormidas a 4.300m – 04
Noites dormidas a 5.400m – 33 – Campo Base
Noites dormidas a 6.000m – 06
Noites dormidas a 6.550m – 15 – ABC
Noites dormidas a 7.100m – 04 – Colo Norte

Kilometros caminhados entre o Campo Base e o ABC (distancia de 22Km) – 176Km

Altitude maxima alcancada – 7.800m (nao usamos oxigenio)

Tombos – 1 (nao esta mal neh?)

Banhos – 6 (e fui um dos mais assiduos)

Massa corporal perdida – 8 Kg

Livros lidos – 2 (e faltou)

Rolos de slides de 36 poses – 20

amizades – muitas.

Why we turned back…

Dear Friends and Everest watchers,

We got back to Basecamp yesterday, after a long long 21km trek from Advanced Base Camp. For me , it was a somewhat tearful moment, to be greeted by my longtime expedition buddy Beng Cheong, as well as the relief of returning relatively unscathed. We count the days before our departure from Basecamp on May 29th, nursing a variety of aches, frostnip, coughs and whatnots.

Right now, I’d like to plunge into what happened to us on our summit push but first, some serious and unfortunate news from Everest. Two rescues/assists have happened this morning on the summit route and one rescue is still underway for two climbers who spent the night out after a summit climb. We also know of one fatality unrelated to this rescue that befell another team. On the third brilliant (in terms of weather) summit day this season, people are in trouble. We can’t release further news until the next of kin and the right people have been notified by their respective expeditions. Everest is proving once again to be merciless and forgiving all in the same week.

On May 18th, after a 6-day wait at ABC (6,500m), the summit team comprising Rozani, Gil and myself received the news we had been waiting for – good weather predicted for May 22 – 26, at least weather with reasonable winds. Waiting and living for long stretches at altitudes is no easy matter. On an interpersonal basis, close quarter living breeds intolerance, minor irritations, opportunistic infections and so on and we were not spared these problems. The team however, headed up the North Col in good spirits and reasonable health on May 19th. Being the slowest of our trio, I left earlier and reached the 7,000m Col after a steady 6 hours on the fixed lines. I immediately went to work, clearing snow from our tents, setting up the stoves, collecting chunks of snow and began to melt snow for water. Gil and Roz appeared sometime later and slumped into their tents, tired from the climb up. A few selective words eventually got them to join me to discuss the food plans and other details for the continuation of the summit climb.

We would have our summit sherpas join us at Camp 6 (8,200m) on the 21st, the sherpas being swift enough to make the climb from the North Col to Camp 6 in a single day. Their role would be to assist us in carrying extra oxygen supplies. In the meantime, we would be left alone to make the very long day to C5. The North Col-Camp 5 day is a difficult one, Himalayan veteran Andy Politz describing it as one of the ” hardest days in the Himalayas “. Usually from 7,500m on other big peaks, supplemental oxygen is used. But here, one has to do the climb from 7,000m to 7,900m without oxygen. In our case, our sharing resources with an American expedition meant that for various reasons, Camp 5 was located at 7,900m, about 200 vertical metres higher than the usual campsites. This was to prove decisive in what happened next.

Leaving North Col at 7.15am on the 20th, we joined a growing number of teams also headed on the same summit schedule as us. I tucked in with Gia Tortaladze, a Georgian climber who had got to within 50 metres of the summit in 1999. Gil picked a spot which kept hi pace about 50 metres ahead of me. Roz eventually moved up and scooted beyond sight. The ridge itself is about 40 degrees in steepness but is unrelenting for about 700 vertical metres.

We each shouldered packs weighing about 10 kilos, containing 2 days’ food, supplies and personal clothing. This amounted to the heaviest pack I had ever carried at this altitude. On Everest in 1998, almost no Singapore team member carried anything like this above 7,000m, unless the pack also contained an oxygen tank (which would aid the actual climbing). One European lady climber had two sherpa to carry everything for her! You get to meet all kinds on the North Ridge.

The weather, initially clear, began to deteriorate badly from 2pm. When I reached the top of the snow ridge at 7,650m, Gil was about 50 metres ahead, no sign of Roz and I was very tired. I had estimated taking 10 hours to get to Camp 5 so had to look forward to another 2 – 3 hours of really tiring climbing above the snow in the rocks. A plume had fallen on top of Everest.

The wind, occasionally gusting to 100km/h began to merge into one single howling wind that swept across from west to east. About 50 vertical metres of climbing later, my tightly velcroed cowl was caught by the wind and burst open and my elasticated goggles were almost wrenched off my head. Fitting mittens over my fleece gloves took so long it only worsened my half-frozen hands. Radio communication was really difficult in the roar of the wind. I was exhausted and had shot my bolt. I was now too tired to go up AND fight the wind. Descent to the Col so far below also seemed unacceptable and possibly dangerous knowing the condition of my disabled right ankle. 90% of the other team had already found refuge lower down in their tents.

I turned to go down only to bump into Gia once more. We descended back to knot of tents at 7,650m. A member of Stefan Gatt’s friendly Austrian expedition thrust both Gia and myself into one of their vacant tents and there, recovering somewhat, we explored our options. Gia was to eventually go back up late in the afternoon when the winds had died down. Staying put without a sleeping bag (ours were already pre-placed at Camp 5) and oxygen on which to sleep eventually changed my initial decision to try to stay the night.

But here’s the clincher as to why we turned back. Roz, in absence of radio calls from me but for the initial call that said I was in trouble had made a unilateral decision to turn around. He had also asked for our sherpa summit team (at north col) to come up part way to meet me as I descended. However, there have been too many instances of tired team members descending late in the day to disappear, fall or injure themselves whilst the rest of their team were on their jolly way to the summit. It would have been too easy for him (being just 50 vertical metres from Camp 5) to have made a decision with Gil to continue with the summit mission whilst I descended to Col on my own.

Gil, himself tired, took a tumble on the descent which made several spectacular tears to his downsuit.

I picked my way down slowly, stopping every 20 paces or so to rest. I found the slipping sun and beautiful and unnerving at the same time because we were losing the light fast. Eventually, the 4 sherpas, led by my old sherpa friend MB Tamamg met us with hot tea and helped us down. I was by far in the worst shape. I had primed myself for a ten hour climb and now had been battered by strong winds when i was at my weakest and then faced with an additional four hour descent into the darkness. Only by grabbing MB’s shoulder and elbow for support could I manage to haul myself up the final rise to the tents at the Col. It was past 9pm.

On reflection, if I had been a party of Roz’s decision, I would have probably urged them to continue with the mission. The actual descent to meet the sherpas proved not as hard as I had believed and my ankle had held up well. Roz and Gil would have then made a great push on summit day (which eventually was all blue skies and good conditions). But by making the decisions that he did, Roz must have known that none of us would have had the energy (or time left) to make a second summit bid.

In short, he gave up a certain summit bid (and possible success) to ensure I made a safe passage back to the Col. I can also reflect on such possible elements which might have aided us eg. a Camp 5 situated a 100 metres lower; extra sherpa support even to Camp 5, my turning back earlier, avoiding the situation which arose etc etc.
However, none of these really dilutes the essence of the decisions and events on May 20th; that one climber had the moral courage and made a team decision for safety ahead of personal aspirations, ambitions and summit dreams. I might be thought to be disappointed at our lack of summit success. But I find it hard to find any expression in my heart but that of gratitude and admiration. Rozani may never summit Everest but earns more respect from me from his decisions than many so called Everest heroes. Thanks for everything, Roz!!
David

Return to Basecamp

Hi everyone,

Our ISDN satellite link was down since yesterday morning, and we are cut from the outside world. We had to borrow time from the American team’s ISDN hardware (identical to ours) to send / receive emails.

Our climbers are now on the way down from ABC (Advance Base Camp) to BC (Base Camp) today. They will give us a first hand account of what happened on that day when they were going up the North Ridge from North Col to Camp 5.

Ting Sern

Turning Back

Picture was taken during the time the 3 climbers were attempting to climb up to Camp 5. You can see the horrible wind blowing in the clouds in this picture (taken from Base Camp).

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday, our 3 summit climbers were doing pretty well. They were more than 3/4 the way up the North Ridge with height gained of approximately 7,500m. They were approximately 300m below Camp 5 when a sudden gale force wind blowing from the east to west of Everest at 40 to 50 knots caught them by surprise. The wind slow down their progress tremendously and reduced visibility to a point where they decided to turn around at 5.00pm Nepali time.

Our climbers all made it back safely to North Col at about 8.30pm Nepali time.
The weather today is sunny but the westerly wind is still blowing very hard.

Despite, having good health and prayed for good weather for their summit bid, our summit team was again defeated by the mountain. They will be descending to Advance Basecamp today. Hope they have a safe journey back to Basecamp tomorrow.

Signing off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

Towards Camp 5

Hi,

Weather today – sunshine, but very windy and a bit cloudy. 5 IMG (International Mountain Guides) climbers from our Basecamp are also now on the way to ABC (Advance Base Camp) enroute to summit too.

Today, our climbers are going up to Camp 5 (7,500m) from North Col. They left North Col early this morning – 8:15am Nepali time. From Camp 5 onwards, use of supplementary oxygen becomes mandatory (see article below).

Reproduced below is a short radio contact between Eric (American Expedition Leader at Basecamp) and the climbing team going up to Camp 5 ….

Eric: S’pore team, David Lim, do you copy?
**** No signal ****
Eric: Broken, Broken, Do Not Copy?
**** No signal ****
Repeat several times …
Eric: Okay, no contact, Basecamp standing by.
**** No signal ****
Eric: David, where are you? How is Roz and Gil?
Dav: We are on the ridge. Do you copy?
Eric: Dave, you are on the snow. Not the rock yet? Copy?
Dav: That’s right. We are on the snow. Copy.
Eric: How’s the wind? Over here at base camp, we could see thick clouds coming in.
Dav: The wind is picking up, but not very strong. We are fine. Copy.
Eric: Sounds good, way to go. Good job. Basecamp standing by.
**** No Signal ****

This extract was monitored at 12:05pm Nepali time.

Signing off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong


Your curious questions answered…

Q-The contact / communication / camaraderie among the other teams/countries
in Basecamp. Do you share stuff like equipment; talk about their countries
etc?

A- Our Basecamp does not belong to us actually. We are part of Eric Simonson’s climbing group (to save us money). This group is known as IMG (International Mountain Guides) and their job is to guide clients up “big” mountains. Most of the IMG people are from USA. Their clients are worldwide – so earlier on, we meet some people from France, UK and other countries. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner, we meet in the dining tent where all sort of topics are discussed. Some of the discussions are technical – mainly related to climbing of course, but sometimes, big items (like the US – China plane crash) are discussed too.

Technical climbing equipment are not shared (strongly recommended not to), but sometimes, when the other team runs out of critical supplies (like batteries), we will pass them some (provided we still maintain stocks ourselves).

We don’t have provisions for a big Basecamp BBQ – but yesterday evening, there was a big party in the main tent which is similar in nature to a BBQ was held there.

Q-Acclimatisation and High Altitude and its related problems to human bodies … OR “Why we have to climb to higher camps and back down several times?”

A- This subject can be expanded into a BOOK (yes, I am not kidding) and medical journals have been published on this subject. I will try to explain things in laymen terms.

In this discussion, any elevation higher than 2,500m (10,000 feet) is deemed high altitude.

The human body is designed to function at its best at sea level (0 meters) when the air pressure is measured at 1 atmosphere. This is because the hemaglobin (the reddish stuff in red blood cells) is saturated with oxygen (nearly 100%) at that air pressure. Oxygen is required by the brain, body organs, etc., and is needed for energy conversion from food you eat into glucose that the body can use.

As you go higher, the air pressure drops and so does the amount of available oxygen. At 5,000m (height of Everest Basecamp), the amount of oxygen is only half that of sea level’s availability. At 8,848m (summit of Mt Everest), only one third is available. When the amount of oxygen pressure drops, the human body tries to compensate. In a process known as acclimatisation, the body compensates for the lack of oxygen. Additional red blood cells are manufactured, the heart beats faster, non essential body functions are shut down (temporarily), and you breathe harder and more frequently. BUT, acclimatisation cannot take place immediately – in fact, it take place over a period of days or even weeks. Hence, when you first arrive at high altitudes, you have to take things easy. Even normal chores like walking is tiring.

Most climbers and high altitude trekkers follow the “golden rule” – Trek / Climb High, Sleep Low. For high altitude climbers like those attempting Mt Everest, the way to acclimatise is to stay a few days at Basecamp, climb up to a higher camp (slowly), stay there for 1 night initially, then return to Basecamp. This process is then repeated a few times, each time, you extend the time spent at higher altitudes to let the body “get used” to the oxygen level there. Once you are used to that altitude, you then repeat the process with a camp placed at higher elevations. Remember – you cannot rush this process (and this explains why we need to spend weeks at times acclimatising before attempting to climb a high peak).

However, more insidious and serious medical problems might develop in individuals who attempt to go up too fast. The two most common symptoms are HAPE and HACE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and High Altitude Celebral Edema). Both are life threathening and must be treated immediately. In fact, we saw 3 cases of them in the past 1.5 months here at Basecamp.

At extreme altitudes (above 7,500m), breathing bottled oxygen becomes almost mandatory for 99% of the climbers. This is because, at that height, available oxygen becomes so low you can hardly function without supplementary oxygen. Sleeping becomes very difficult, digesting food is non functioning (because the digestive system is non-essential to life), and you get hosts of other problems without additional oxygen.

Finally, at the “death zone”, 8,000m and higher, no human body can acclimatise at that height and staying longer than necessary will result in deterioration of body functions and ultimately, death.

Oops! new plans

Hi Everybody,

This report was late because we were waiting for our ISDN link to be activated … all featured reports will be sent tomorrow morning (wherever possible).

First, sorry for the previously sent report. It was sent too fast – because …

We are now in the fast lane – 64K ISDN link was just activated and I was not used to the speed of it (having used to 2.4K for the past 1.5 months). Anyway, I have to say “thank you” to the following people/corporations for making this possible -

a) George Tan of Ad Idem Productions (Pte) Ltd for doing all the groundwork for me on my behalf,
b) Temasek Polytechnic’s Satellite Internet Competancy Unit (SICU) for lending us this Nera M4 World Communicator and footing the satellite time as well
c) Steven McClung for carrying the M4 up to Tibet for us
d) Hermstedt Asia (Pte) Ltd for lending us the Marco ISDN Card (for Apple)
e) Pacific Internet for having put in some special effort to activate this ISDN link for us (in less than 3 days – ordinarily will take 1 month!)

Now for today’s late report …

a) Yesterday evening, we received a couple of Singaporeans on a private tour of TIBET. They gave us a very nice surprise – because we didn’t anticipate any more Singaporeans. They came from Lhasa and they will be heading back to Singapore that same way. They also asked us whether we need “Bak Kua” … we appreciated their kindness but we have already overloaded our tents with three different types of “bak kua” !!!!

They are from Left to Right -
Victor Loh, Alvin Neo, Jackie, WTS, Kim Chai & David.

b) Next, a MAJOR CORRECTION on our part ….

Our climbers are only climbing up to North Col today, NOT yesterday as reported. We apologise for this mistake. This also implies that the schedule given yesterday has to be pushed forward ONE day.

The revised schedule is now as follows -

19/5 (Sat) – Climb to North Col
20/5 (Sun) – Climb to C5 (7500m)
21/5 (Mon) – Climb to C6 (8300m)
22/5 (Tue) – Climb from C6 to summit and then back to C6
23/5 (Wed) – Climb down from C6 to North Col (or ABC)
24/5 (Thr) – Climb down from North Col to Advance Basecamp (or maybe Intermediate Camp)
25/5 (Fri) – Reach Base Camp.

Please note this schedule is not craved in stone, but subject to the wishes and whimmes of the weather. There is NO provision for a retry – only one summit slot is allocated.

c) Today, 2 American climbers and 4 sherpas reached the summit of Everest at 9:30am Nepali time. They will pave the way for more teams to reach the summit. The weather today is PREFECT – no wind, no clouds, and a brilliant sun.

Signing off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

Plans

Hi Everyone,

The weather today is sunny with scattered clouds over Everest. Our 3 climbers have started their journey from Advance Base Camp to North Col. They will spent a night there and if the weather continue to be good, they will proceed to higher camps as follows:

18th May – North Col (7,000m)
19th May – Camp 5 (7,900m)
20th May – Camp 6 (8,300m)
21st May – Summit attempt & return to Camp 6
22nd May – North Col
23rd May – ABC
24th May – Basecamp

The first team consist of 2 American climbers are going up to camp 6 today. Ahead of them is a team of sherpas breaking the trail above camp 6 and they are now tackling the steep “Yellow Band”. Hopefully they could find the rope to fix it all the way to the “First Step” and beyond.

Signing Off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

Tomorrow…

Hi everyone,

Our 3 climbers are still in Advance Basecamp, and tomorrow, they will be on their way to the North Col. The weather has been holding up, except the wind is picking up in strength.

Meetings and discussions has been going on at base camp among other climbers – as no expedition have made any attempt for the summit yet. Any first team that is going up will have to endure the hard work of establishing the route all the way to the summit. Subsequent teams will have an easy job of just following their foot steps! The question is who will be the first team???

Signing Off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

Clouds, Sunshine and Wind

Hi everyone,

Today’s weather at Basecamp is mixed. In the early to late morning, we have a cloudless blue sky with strong winds. In the early afternoon, the clouds are in and right now, we have a good sunshine alternating with cloudy weather. However, the wind had picked up a fair deal today!

Our 3 climbers are still at Advance Basecamp, waiting for weather to break.

Latest – ALL 6 American climbers and 1 doctor came back down to base camp, leaving David, Gil, Rozani at ABC and another 2 climbers at north col.

Signing Off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

White out!

HI everybody,

Today’s weather is mean !!! It is very windy, it snowed during the night and early morning, is cloudy, and now, the clouds are coming in (again). Weather forecast says snow, and more snow is expected.

The 3 climbers are now stuck at ABC (Advance Base Camp), due to a white out condition. They can’t move up. They will wait for the weather to get better before deciding what to do next.

Some American climbers are already on their way down to Base Camp because of the wind and snow dumped up high.

We pray for good weather in the next few days.

Signing Off,
Ting Sern & Beng Cheong

Resting at Advance Basecamp

Hi Friends,

This morning I received a message from our climbers. Our team of 3 climbers are now resting in ABC (Advance Base Camp).

The weather at Base Camp is fine – plenty of sunshine, lots of wind, but little clouds.

The American team that was scheduled to summit today was turned back just below the “Yellow Band” (8500m) because of deep snow. Sherpas will be employed to ‘kick steps’ into the deep snow before another attempt will be made at the summit.

Ting Sern


Today’s sponsors feature -

ALLSPORTS EQUIPMENT:

Thanks to Anthony Seah and Allsports, we have over 400 metres of quality Beal fixed line for use on the mountain.

MOTOROLA:

Apart from the numerous handheld cellular telephones, Motorola make some fine wireless radios – which we have been using since 1996.
A total refurbishment of all our GP 68 rugged radios from Motorola – many thanks!

SNOW CITY

Snow City provides a fun environment for Singaporeans to experience real snow and slides. Snow City has supported the Expedition by providing a novel site for PR and publicity events – not to mention some warm ups on cramponning up the easy snow slopes!