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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.

June 10, 1997: Back Home (27)
May 25, 1997: Climbers Return to Base Camp (26)
May 24, 1997: Descending Toward Base Camp (25)
May 23 PM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Safely Off the Summit (24)
May 23 AM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Reach the Summit! (23)
    Hear the archived live audio broadcast from the summit
    Read the transcript of the broadcast from the summit
May 22, 1997: Bid for the Summit (22)
May 21, 1997: Helicopter Crashes at Everest Base Camp (21)
May 20, 1997: Moving On Up (20)
May 19, 1997: Poised at Camp II (19)
May 18, 1997: Departing for Camp II (18)
May 17, 1997: Dead Sherpa Found on Khumbu Glacier (17)
May 16, 1997: Jet Stream Winds Blast Camp II (16)
May 13, 1997: Receiving News from the North Side (15)
    May 13, 1997: RealAudio Interview with David Breashears
May 11, 1997: Five Climbers Presumed Dead on the North Side (14)
May 10, 1997: The Waiting Game (13)
May 9, 1997: Pulmonary Edema Evacuation from Base Camp (12)
May 8, 1997: A Hasty Retreat to Base Camp (11)
May 7, 1997: Sherpa Falls To His Death On The Lhotse Face (10)
May 6, 1997: Spin: A Passenger to the Summit (9)
May 5, 1997: Delayed at Advance Base Camp (8)
May 4, 1997: NOVA Climbers Leave Base Camp for Their Summit Attempt (7)
May 1, 1997: NOVA Team Prepares for Summit Attempt (6)
April 26, 1997: Indonesian Expedition First to Summit in 1997 (5)
April 23, 1997: Expedition Leader Dies at Everest Base Camp (4)
April 22, 1997: Japanese Expedition Pulls Out (3)
April 16, 1997: Traffic Reports on Everest (2)
April 14, 1997: Rescue Season Begins (1)

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