Jet Stream Winds Blast Camp II
May 16, 1997
By Liesl Clark
Even from Base Camp you can hear the roar of the winds up high. "Some tents flew
away like kites," said John Tinker, leader of an Everest expedition. John is
among climbers at Camp II who are stranded in the highest winds there this
year. Gusts up to 90 and 100 miles per hour are knocking people over. "It's
hard to stand up," radioed in John Tinker. He reports that some of the kitchen
tents up there have completely blown away. The full extent of damage at Camp II
will not be known until our climbers go up and have a chance to see for
themselves what remains of the camp, also known as Advance Base Camp.
The daylong winds continued to batter the remnants of Camp II. Many of the
camps are unoccupied, so in an enormous cooperative effort, teams and Sherpas
that are up at Camp II have been trying to salvage tents belonging to
neighboring expeditions. Tents which had survived the initial wind blasts
of the morning were taken down by climbers at Camp II and then covered
Those who were at Camp II spent the day inside their tents trying to hold them
up. There was the fear that if they left their tents, the structures
would blow away completely. Late in the afternoon, we received reports that
climbers were abandoning Camp II, due to continued and increasing winds.
Without kitchen tents for cooking or personal tents to protect them from
the winds, climbers have to abandon what were once their well-stocked Advance
Base Camps. All retreating climbers are roped together to prevent themselves
from being blown across the glacier.
Unfortunately, the winds are expected to continue for the next few days.
Satellite weather reports show a large cyclone is moving up from the Bay of
Bengal, which could be responsible for this strong weather system. Climbers
are worried about deep snow conditions that could be caused by the arrival
of the cyclone system.
"We'll have to go back up and rebuild camp," said our expedition leader, David
Breashears while hiking back from nearby Gorak Shep, a trip that was much needed
by us all for exercise and morale. Joining him were Jangbu Sherpa, Dave Carter,
Ed Viesturs, Veikka Gustaffson, Guy Cotter, and Tashi Tenzing. David continued,
"The kitchen tent we're sharing with the Canadians has completely blown over.
Luckily, we think our personal tents are intact, but we won't be able to go
back up for another few days because our cook has abandoned Camp II with
all the others who are coming down from the high winds."