News: Mike and Terry Summit Eric Simonson - Basecamp Sat, May 19, 2001 3:30AM
The first ascent of Mt. Everest in 2001 (from either Tibet or Nepal) occurred at 9:20am on Saturday May 19. Congratulations to our non-guided climbers Mike Otis and Terry LaFrance and Sherpas Mingma Ongel (Phortse), Kami (Pangboche), Danuru (Phortse), and Lhakpa Nuru (Thame). This is Kami's fourth ascent, Lhakpa and Danuru's second, and Mingma's first.
While the search team was down at Base Camp licking its wounds from the big push last week, our two IMG non-guided climbers Mike and Terry launched their own bid, using our camps, Sherpa team, fixed rope, oxygen, and infrastructure. On May 12 they moved to ABC, where they endured several days of waiting for an improvement in the weather forecast. On May 16 they moved to Camp 4 on the North Col and on May 17 they climbed to Camp 5. Also on May 17 Danuru and Lhakpa Nuru climbed to Camp 5 from ABC and met Mike and Terry there. They all spent the night together, using oxygen for sleeping. That same day Kami and Mingma Ongel climbed to Camp 4 at the North Col. The next morning, the 18th, Danuru and Lhakpa blasted up to Camp 6, and punched out the route in the Yellow Band during the afternoon, as well as re-fixing the First Step with the 70 meters of rope Brent and Jake had left up there back in April. At the same time, Kami and Mingma climbed to Camp 6, arriving in the afternoon. The six of them shared three Eureka tents at Camp 6 that night, waking at 11pm to start melting snow and brewing up. The plan for the next day would be for Danuru and Lhakpa to go ahead, each carrying one bottle of oxygen and 250 meters of fixed rope. Mike and Terry would follow with one oxygen cylinder each, and Kami and Mingma would stick with them, each carrying two cylinders.
They started their climb at 1:30 am, and Danuru and Lhakpa arrived at the top of the First Step at 5am, and fixed the traverse to the Mushroom Rock (sometimes referred to as Camp 7). Mike, Terry, Kami, and Mingma were a little behind, but caught the leaders at the Mushroom Rock by 6 am. While Danuru and Lhakpa continued to fix to the Base of the Second Step, Mike and Terry switched to a full cylinder (carried by Kami and Mingma), and left their partially used bottles for use on the descent. Then they followed with Kami and Mingma, eventually all reaching the top of the Second Step by about 8am. By then Danuru and Lhakpa had blasted on up to the Third Step, where they fixed more rope up the summit snow triangle. The team continued to push, the weather being perfect, with very little wind.
For all of us at Base Camp, it was a great morning, as we sat around the telescope and drank coffee, occasionally offering encouragement on the walkie talkie to the climbers above, whose progress we were closely following.
After fixing a bit more rope in the summit gullies, Danuru and Lhakpa emerged on the summit ridge at 9am, and were soon closing in on the top, which they reached at 9:20. Terry and Kami made the top at 10am, and Mike and Mingma were standing on the summit at 10:10. Lots of photos (including one of them all standing on top, taken from Base Camp through the telescope), and they were ready to start down at 10:30.
The descent went smoothly and by 1pm the climbers had all completed the rappel off the Second Step and the traverse to the Mushroom Rock. Here Mike and Terry switched back to the two partial oxygen cylinders they had dropped on the way up, and the two empties were picked up by the Sherpas who would take them back to Camp 6. They will be brought down at the end of the expedition when we strip all our camps and equipment off the mountain.
By 2pm the climbers had finished the remaining traverse to the First Step, and rappelled off that. From here, the terrain becomes less lethal, and the rest of the climb down through the Yellow Band went smoothly. By 3:00 they were back at Camp 6. After a short rest, Mike and Terry headed on down to Camp 5 for the night. The Sherpas continued all the way to ABC!!