NOVA Climbers Safely Off the Summit
May 23, 1997 by Liesl Clark
"It was the toughest day of my life. I'm too exhausted to get into my tent, I'm
just lying here in the scree, five feet from my tent." David Breashears radioed
down to Base Camp from the South Col at 11:50 am Everest time. All climbers
(David Breashears, Pete Athans, Ed Viesturs, Dave Carter, Veikka Gustafsson, Guy
Cotter, Tashi Tenzing, and Jangbu Sherpa) reached the summit of Everest today and
made it safely down to Camp IV on the South Col at 26,000 feet.
Ed Viesturs often says, "When you reach the summit of Everest, you're only half
way there." That's true on the summit day, if you've left from Camp IV and are
returning to Camp IV. But, for Ed and Dave Carter, they have not only returned to
Camp IV, but are now continuing down to Camp III to get Dave Carter to a lower
altitude because he remained very uncomfortable at Camp IV. It was decided that
the lower altitude at Camp III would offer him a better chance for a quick
recovery. Doctor Howard Donner has been able to administer to Carter by radio
from Base Camp. "He has an upper respiratory infection and severe sore throat,"
explains Donner. "He's also quite exhausted and mildly dehydrated. His
pre-existing upper respiratory infection is most likely compounded by the high
altitude and cold dry air." We're optimistic that Dave Carter will be fine once
he gets down lower.
"We're moving slowly, but Dave is determined to keep going down to Camp III,"
said Ed as they were rapelling down the Yellow Band. Radio communications with
Ed and Carter have been difficult as they've been on the move. The only way
Howard has been able to communicate with Carter has been by radio through David
Breashears on the South Col who has better radio communication with Ed and Carter
some 1,000 feet below him. Ed has not only been guiding Carter down to Camp III,
but he is also acting as Carter's voice, which Carter lost on his way to the
summit of Everest.
"Dave Carter is a powerhouse. He stayed with us all day, without a hitch. And now
after climbing Everest, to continue down beyond Camp IV is not an easy thing,"
commented David Breashears when he returned to the South Col. Tonight we're all
going to continue our vigil, standing by our radio, to support Carter and Ed in
any way possible. As of this writing (6:00 pm) Ed and Carter are just below the
Yellow Band, on their way down to Camp III.
There are still 5 or 6 Malaysians who have not returned to Camp IV from the
summit. All are doing well, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that they will
return soon and safely to the warmth of their tents.
Click here to hear RealAudio of the climbers speaking to us from the summit of
Mt. Everest, or to read a transcript of the broadcast.