Dispatch 35 from Everest / May 20, 2012

O’Neill: The day has finally arrived.

Two Ascents, Both Seek Summit — Southeast Ridge Team to Focus on Education and Science; West Ridge Team of Anker and Cory Richards to Retrace Route of First American Ascent on West Ridge.

Climb to Be Covered Online Starting March 16 at natgeo.com/oneverest and www.thenorthface.com/everest. Real-time Updates from West Ridge Team to Start April 16 on National Geographic Magazine App for iPad

The day has finally arrived.

Photo 4

View of base camp.

We’ve received our weather report today and it couldn’t look any more promising for a summit attempt on the 25th. Winds are low, a mere 5-10 km per hour at 8500m at midnight. Temperatures are manageable at -20 C and the weather window is solid, in that it lasts for 3-4 days.

Everyone in camp was struggling with letting this first weather window pass us by, but in the end, I think it’s the best decision we could have made. Our team is now six people, Kris Erickson, Sam Elias, Emily Harrington, Conrad Anker, Mark Jenkins and myself.

Photo 6

Conrad does an interview with Anjin and Kris- an amazing ice formation in the background.

Phil has decided to step down from making a summit attempt and has taken on the role of base camp manager, something we desperately need.

Sooooo, tomorrow we will get up at 2 a.m., head out around 3 a.m. and climb to Camp 2. We will then have a rest day at Camp 2 and go to Camp 3 on the 23rd. We will leave Camp 3 around 6 a.m. on the morning of the 24th and expect to take about 8 hours to get to the South Col.

Given that everybody feels strong, we will rest for a handful of hours and then start our summit push.

The majority of climbers went for the first summit window so we are hoping the mountain will be considerably less crowded and will, therefore, allow us to move quickly and safely.

Our group has definitely had its challenges the last week or so. First, Phil got pretty sick at Camp 2, on our last rotation, and had to descend on oxygen. Fortunately, he is well but, as I said, won’t be trying for the summit. Then I sprained my ankle but, thanks to some sage advice from Greg at IMG, it is back in one piece and I feel very confident climbing on it. I’m pretty sure it’s going to hurt like an SOB:) but I’m taking a positive outlook that it will help distract me from the suffering of high altitude.

Greg, by the way, is an Olympic gold medalist volleyball coach so he’s seen a few sprained ankles.  His advice was to stick my foot in a mostly frozen glacial lake 4-5 times a day, among other things that equally sucked.

Photo 5

Extreme icing to get rid of swelling. Torture.

I thought he was crazy but it worked!

Kris got a sinus infection and had to go on antibiotics. Not great but we’ve had enough time at Base Camp for him to heal.

Finally, Conrad got food poisoning. Not pretty. I’ll spare everyone the details on that. Needless to say, camp got a bit grim but things are looking up and we are all getting our mojo back.

I won’t be doing any blogs while on the mountain but we will be doing sat phone updates to the North Face and Nat Geo websites, as well as Facebook.


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