Report from Base Camp
Filed by Liz Cohen
May 24, 1996
They Made It!
This morning we heard from David at 8:00 am that everyone was fine and walking
around the South Col. He said it was a beautiful windless day up there. The
team was packing up and getting ready to film the scenes for the weather
station and GPS. They'll come down to Camp 2 later today where they'll pack up
and do some filming and continue down within two days. We're all looking
forward to their return and then packing up and returning to Kathmandu.
Here's a more in depth report of what happened on the summit day:
On May 22nd it seemed that the weather finally broke and the team, which had
been unbelievably restless after days of 'rest' at Camp 2 moved up from Camp 3
to Camp 4 at the South Col. The camp had been battered by the winds and the
team had to spend time repairing the damage. The last call we received was at
5:00 pm from Ed who said they were getting ready to get some rest. He would
leave at 11:00 pm and the rest of the team, climbing with oxygen, would leave
at 12:00 am.
That left us here at Base Camp to do what? Wait. We decided the best thing to
do would be to get some sleep, but the three of us (Paula Viesturs, Brad
Ohlund, and myself) spent a restless night. Wong Chu (our Sherpa sirdar or
leader) spent the night by the radio on the floor of the cold dining tent. We
could hear the 11:00 pm radio call as the Sherpas checked in while the team was
getting ready to leave the South Col.
May 23: At 9:00 am a voice croaked over the radio and we all jumped out of our
seats. David and Ed were at the South Summit and the rest of the team trailed
behind by at least one hour. The weather was good and David and Ed were still
strong, although David was losing his voice. Since Ed was without oxygen, he
would continue to the summit and David would wait for the rest of the team.
At 10:55 am there was a howling over the radio. Ed called to say that he and
David couldn't go any further—they had reached the summit. Todd Burleson
and Pete Athans were also here in the tent. The Sherpas came in from the
kitchen when they heard our yells. They were so excited and happy and proud.
By 11:35 am, Jamling, Araceli, Robert and five of our Sherpas had reached the
summit. The Sherpas include Lhakpa Dorje, our climbing sirdar, who made it
without oxygen; it was a first summit success for Dorje Sherpa; and two
brothers also made it—Lhakpa and Thilen.
Goran Kropp, the lone Swede, also reached the summit by 12:35 pm, accompanied
by Ang Rita who holds the record for the most summit successes—this is his
10th time. Spaniard Jesus Martines also reached the top.
Ed had returned to Camp 4 by 2:45 pm, and the rest of the group had returned by
4:30 pm. They were exhausted but happy that they had achieved their goal. By
this time David had lost his voice completely and Robert was very hoarse.
Everyone took tea and fell asleep in their tents.
Just an aside—during all of this, and old Russian man and his wife arrived
at Base Camp and began paragliding over Base Camp from the slide areas above
the Camp. Yesterday, they slammed into the LhoLa and Todd Burleson and Pete
Athans rushed to the rescue again. The woman was quite badly hurt with a
dislocated arm and severe abrasions on one side of her body. Everyone rushed
around to get the Doctor who was still at Mal Duff's camp. We spent hours on
the phone with the Russian Embassy trying to arrange a helicopter evacuation.
The couple didn't even have a tent and have been staying under a tarp!! This
morning the woman is still in bad shape. We're not sure now if he'll be able
to arrange for Sherpas to carry the woman down as an evacuation has yet to be
Check back with NOVA ONLINE on May 28th for an update on the team's return to