News: Summit Climbers Move to Camp 6 Eric Simonson - Basecamp Sun, May 13, 2001 2:25AM
We are rolling the dice with the weather now. The forecasts are unpredictable and at a certain point, we just need to gamble. Once the climbers move to the North Col (23,000'), the clock is ticking on how long they can remain there. This is even more the case at Camps 5 (25,600') and 6 (27,000'), where limited resources (propane, food, oxygen) make it difficult to wait out a storm. Now the weather for the next few days looks reasonable, with the jet stream still split to the north and south of Mt. Everest. We are still concerned about these periodic impulses of moist air that come through and cause intense periods of snow. They are hard for the meteorologists to predict, so we are not sure if our climbers won't get hit by a snowstorm at some point along the way. That's the way it goes. If its too bad, they can turn around and descend, or wait a day or two if necessary.
Dave, Andy, and John radioed down at noon that they were well up into the gullies below Camp 6, breaking trail. Our Sherpa team of Panuru, Phu Nuru, and Palden are moving up behind them, having started up from the Col early this morning (the Sherpas hate to sleep at Camp 5!). Once at Camp 6, the team still must set up a third tent, as well as dig out the two that were left up there after the search. In addition, someone is going to hopefully be able to climb up to the base of the Yellow Band before dark, and mark this crucial start to the route, so as to make it easier to find the start of the gully in the middle of the night. Add to that drying out the sleeping bags left there, getting going on the melting and cooking, and getting settled before it gets too cold. The early morning start will come early!
This will be the first attempt on the summit this year from the Tibet side of Everest. The team has 550 meters of rope with them for the summit ridge, along with pitons and pickets, to replace the old rope on the First and Second Steps, and the spectacular Traverse between them (9,000 feet of exposure!). It will be a hard day, but this is a great team. Andy, Dave, Panuru, and Palden have all been to the top via this route, so they know where to go and what to do. Hopefully they will get the route established for our other teams that are also moving up (Tap, Brent, Heidi, Jason went to the Col today).