Report from Base Camp
by Audrey Salkeld
May 2, 1996
The Team Returns to Base Camp
We were happy to welcome back all our team two days ago, safe and well after their long stay on the
We knew they were expecting to film on the way down from Camp 2 where they had spent the previous
night, but would probably be with us in time for lunch. Paula set out a magnificent buffet in
anticipation of their return.
During the late morning we set up the telescope and soon saw our friends making swift progress
down through the Icefall. When almost to the bottom some of them stopped and we could see
somebody sitting down. By this time we could identify most of the tiny dots, but not who was on
the ground. We saw Ed scramble up to David with the radio and as David began to transmit we
understood what was happening.
A Danish member of Mal Duff's team, who was on his way down at the same time, had slipped and
been struck on the head. Though apparently not seriously injured, David was calling for Mal to send
manpower to help him down. Robert Schauer elected to stay with the injured man while the rest of
the party continued to Base. As it was, the victim found he could walk with difficulty, and Robert,
with Sherpa Tillen, was able to assist him down slowly before the extra help arrived. Later, it
transpired that the man had broken a couple of ribs and would have to relinquish his summit hopes.
At Base Camp, it was discovered that our own Sumiyo had a suspected cracked rib also—probably
brought about by coughing. She does not expect it to affect her summit chances, although she also
has a very bad and persistent headache. Jamling, whose headache forced him down from Camp 3, is also
looking forward to going back up the mountain after a rest. "A good experience," he called the climb.
All his life he had wanted to see the route so closely associated with his father, and all the way up
he was trying to relate the features around him with episodes in the 1953 story. "It was really a
privilege," he said, "and I enjoyed every bit of it, even during my headache. The view was really
nice, the climbing was good. Apart from missing my family, I enjoyed it all."
Having reached so high, it was a wrench coming down, Araceli said. "In Camp 3, it's 2,000 meters
to Base Camp, and 1,500 meters to the summit! I know that it's better to descend and recover,
and then go back up, but, you think, 'Ah, Jesus! going down 3,500 meters and then going up again!'
It's one thing that passes through the mind."
High Winds, and A Sad Find
At Camp 3 the team experienced high winds. They suspected the bottom of the jet stream was
dropping down and scouring the mountain. With the various expeditions already there, Camp 3
comprised quite a cluster of tents, with Rob Hall's Camp 3 slightly higher up the Western Cwm.
Several tents were blown over in the wind, and others had to be collapsed.
At dawn one morning, David saw a tent flying by in a 70 mph blast, but our tents all stood firm.
Araceli, who had never been so high before, was surprised how comfortable and snug they were.
She had not expected the climb to be so "easy" compared to other climbs she had done at lower
altitudes, nor to be such fun. She felt safe in the tents even in the worst winds. "I like to hear
the wind when you know you are safe. I wouldn't, however, like to be on the South Col when the jet
stream is blowing!"
One grim and unnerving note: just off the trail to Camp 3, the remains of what was believed to be a
Sherpa who fell from the Lhotse Face last year were discovered. Ed Viesturs buried the body.
There is another Catalan woman other than Araceli who is attempting Everest from the North side,
by the Norton or Great Couloir. So far as Araceli is concerned, there is no hint of this being a
race to be the first Spanish woman on top of Everest. She does not hold with competition in the
mountains, because, as she says, "then you lose the safe part of your mind."
Japanese newspapers are making much out of the fact that two other Japanese women in addition to
Sumiyo are aspiring for the summit this season. Yasuko Namba, 46, is with Rob Hall's expedition.
If she reaches the summit of Everest she will have completed her Seven Summits collection. Yoshimura
Yumiko, who is 50 years old and has little mountaineering experience, will be making her attempt from
the Northern side. The first woman ever to climb Everest was Junko Tabei in May 1975. Although 48
other Japanese have so far reached the world's highest peak, none of them have been women.
What's Next For Our Team
Our team intends to rest for another two or three days before heading back up the mountain. The
first climber here this season to launch an actual summit attempt has been the lone Swede Goran
Kropp, 29, from Jonkoping. His is a most remarkable venture, since he has cycled all the way here
from Sweden and afterwards intends to go home by a different route (through Russia), also under
his own power. His girlfriend Renate and a couple of cameramen came here to observe his progress,
but he will accept no help, not even a cup of tea from anyone else on the mountain. He hauled all
his own equipment up here, and made his own route through the Icefall. He set off at night, three
days ago, and, with good weather, is expected to be on the South Col tonight. One of Goran's
cameramen friends went down to Syanboche with the intention of hiring a Pilatus Porter to fly around
the summit so that he can film Goran's arrival, only to be advised that, with the permit they have,
a 20,000 foot limit has been placed on such a flight—which of course is too low to be of any use
at all. This is not Goran's first 'eight thousander.' He has climbed Cho Oyu, K2 (with an expedition
but solo to the summit), and Broad Peak (solo, in less than 18 hours.) All were accomplished without
Update on Other Expeditions
Believed to be close behind Goran Kropp are the less experienced Spanish brothers, Jesus and Toni
Martin, and word has it that a Frenchman who is sharing a permit with the South Africans is also
poised to leave. The next few days should see many climbers on the trail. Rob Hall is collecting a
mailbag for climbers on the North side, hoping it will be possible to exchange news and messages on
The Norwegian one-man expedition which was here to climb the Southwest Face with the aid of Sherpas
has been abandoned. However, a few days ago, having reached a height roughly equivalent to Camp 3
of the standard route, his party was caught in a stonefall and he returned to Base Camp. There he
received distressing news from home and abandoned his attempt.
There has been encouraging news of the heart attack victim from Mal Duff's party. Eamonn "Ginge"
Fallen, a marine diver, is recovering in Kathmandu and has been moved from intensive care into a
general ward. Also, we have learned that the sick Sherpa from Scott Fisher's time is doing well
in the capital.
As the weather gets warmer, the glacier on which we are all camped moves ever more swiftly. Today
our loo, which is a dry stone wall construction, caved in under the strain. Members who went
downhill to film Jamling climbing an ice pinnacle reported that the river, completely frozen over
when we came, has swelled impressively.