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Storm at Camp V Camp V
Snow Bound
by Liesl Clark
May 14, 1999

If we could hear the sound of snow falling, today our ears would be ringing. Snow and wind have stopped all movement for our team on the mountain. All the climbers, except Eric Simonson here at Advance Base Camp, are augured into their tents at Camp V, and the Sherpas are waiting patiently down at Camp IV. "The wind is just hammering us. We're in for another El Nino cycle. Hang on!" were the words Dave Hahn used to describe the scene at Camp V at noon. The Sherpas asked for Pinzo Sherpa to please bring up more toilet paper, sugar, and chapatis (flat bread). Throughout the day, bent-over figures came off the ropes from the North Col, headed for the sanctuary of their tents at Advance Base Camp.

We are all tent bound, without enough books to pass around and few jokes to tell that haven't already been told. The radio provides us with news: Climbers who reached the summit yesterday on the south side are still at the South Col (at 26,000 feet), comfortable, snowed into their tents. For our climbers, this will be their second night at 25,600 feet, an elevation that some physiologists call "The Death Zone." Here, climbers will experience trouble sleeping, and a lack of appetite. Humans, in fact, will start to deteriorate because of the high altitude at around 17,000 feet. (For more on the story of humans at altitude, see High Exposure.) At that elevation, sleeping becomes a problem, the blood becomes thick, muscle wasting takes place, and weight loss takes place. Over the course of this expedition, we have all lost a little weight, but as we are aware of the toll altitude can take on the body, we eat enormous amounts of food up here. We call it the Everest Weight Loss Plan, where members can eat all the high fat-content food they want.

Storm at Camp V A storm forces the team to stay put.

"The wind has picked up since this morning," came in Conrad Anker over the radio. We could hardly make out what he was saying, as the flapping of his tent in the wind competed with his voice. "Jake and I are experiencing problems with our hang cook set. It keeps splashing around with the wind. We might have to cook on the floor."

"I'd say the winds are blowing at about 30-35 miles per hour outside," interrupted Dave Hahn, from his tent nearby. "Gusting up to 60," added Tap Richards, "It's nasty out there." We could all but imagine the tents at Camp V bending against the climbers in the wind. Eric Simonson will check in with his e-mail weather reports today, hoping for signs of diminishing winds and snow by tomorrow. Meanwhile, at our various elevations on Mount Everest, we wait out the gusts in our small rip-stop spheres of orange and gray, reminding ourselves of the drive that sent George Mallory up Everest's slopes: "For the stone from the top for geologists, the knowledge of the limits of endurance for the doctors, but above all for the spirit of adventure to keep alive the soul of man."

Unanswered Questions (May 25, 1999)
Forty-Eight Yaks (May 21, 1999)
On Top of the World (May 17, 1999)
Summit Team Moves Higher (May 16, 1999)
Still at Camp V (May 15, 1999)
Snow Bound (May 14, 1999)
Outsmarting the Weather (May 13, 1999)
Last Trip Up (May 12, 1999)
Up to ABC/The Rescue (May 11, 1999)
The Image of Mallory (May 8, 1999)
In Extremis (May 7, 1999)
Pieces of the Puzzle (May 6, 1999)
Dearest George (May 5, 1999)
Mallory's Discoverers Return (May 4, 1999)
Mallory Reported Found (May 3, 1999)
Waiting in Silence (May 1, 1999)
Up to the Search Site (April 30, 1999)
To the North Col (April 29, 1999)
Waiting out the Wind (April 28, 1999)
Search About to Begin (April 25, 1999)
Pitching a 1933 Tent (April 23, 1999)
Early Camp Found at 21,750 Feet on Everest (April 20, 1999)
Up to Base Camp (April 23, 1999)

Photos: Thom Pollard.
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