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Dispatches
by Liesl Clark


Deadly Ascent homepage

Frostbite

Pete Athans swung his ice tool and placed it perfectly in a dimple in the frost-covered blue ice. We were filming him ice climbing on a serac that had broken off of the West Buttress a few seasons ago. Few climbers can so effortlessly move up and down a slightly overhanging 30-foot wall of ice. "It's like cheese," Athans said when he placed his first ice tool into the large Flintstonian ice boulder that lay a quarter mile from Fourteen Medical. It landed with a crisp thunk.

The rest of our team, including Colby Coombs, Caitlin Palmer, and John Grunsfeld, await better weather up at High Camp at 17,200 feet. Clouds are strangling the summit slopes and winds buffet the high snow walls the team built to protect the tents. "Our trip up the ridge from 16,200 feet to High Camp was spectacular," Grunsfeld reported to Dr. Howard Donner on the radio last night. It was a long day with eight hours of climbing from 14,200 feet. "We all have small headaches, but are otherwise doing well."

To leave High Camp for the summit, the winds should be low, with good visibility. A group of climbers, led by expert guide Scott Darsney, had to turn around on their summit day due to cloud cover that moved in and offered poor visibility.

Tomorrow, if the weather is good, we will move up with Athans and Donner to High Camp to join the rest of our team. "It's like Calcutta up here," Coombs said today by radio. Athans has confirmed that over 100 climbers are between High Camp and the summit. If the weather turns bad, Athans and Donner will be equipped to assist climbers in distress.

"Hey Liesl!" Donner yells outside my tent as I write this dispatch. "I have a frostbite victim who is just coming off the fixed lines, and he's willing to let you film him." As the snow falls, we move quickly to gather our camera and sound gear together and meet the climber outside the medical tent.

Location: Fourteen Medical
Altitude: 14,200 feet
Air Temp: 0°F
Windspeed: 2 mph

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Climbers on the mountainside

Climbers near the High Camp at 17,200 feet.

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Dispatches

On the Way (06.01.2000)
One Shot Pass (06.02.2000)
Midnight Rescue (06.04.2000)
Across a Glacier (06.05.2000)
Cold Toes (06.07.2000)
Cloud Walkers (06.09.2000)
Fourteen Medical (06.11.2000)
A Climber Saved (06.13.2000)
Lull Before a Storm (06.15.2000)
Frostbite (06.17.2000)
An Unforgiving Mountain (06.19.2000)
Stopped Short (06.20.2000)
A Great Loss (06.20.2000)
Bid for the Summit (06.23.2000)
Summit Reached (06.24.2000)


E-Mail

Set #1 (06.07.2000)
Set #2 (06.08.2000)
Set #3 (06.11.2000)
Set #4 (06.12.2000)
Set #5 (06.21.2000)


Meet the Team

Pete Athans
Colby Coombs
Dr. Howard Donner
John Grunsfeld
Dr. Peter Hackett
Caitlin Palmer



Liesl Clark directed "Deadly Ascent".



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