Monday, April 30, 2012

Safe and EBC but a bit sketchy & a day with Pu Temba.

April 30, 21:00hrs (NP) Team Peak Freaks did a fantastic job climbing and had safe descent back down to EBC today. There were a few rocks that seemed to have come out of nowhere but the team managed to dodge the bigger ones, not a good thing.

We've proven we are a solid team with everyone holding their own while looking strong and staying healthy. The climb up the Lhotse face to Camp 3 is a real tell tail on how well a climber will do come summit push. Since they do this section without oxygen it's a good indication how well one will be able to perform when things get difficult. If they can't get to Camp 3 in good form unfortunately they won't be going higher.

Tomorrow team Peak Freaks will be will be on vacation in Pheriche, except for myself, Marty and Ben who will hold up here and keep and eye on our Sherpa climbing teams who are still working very hard up there in the wind.

I went around EBC today to gather up support for getting the mountain ready and most were good about it but there's still a few here that expect to just slide in when everything is laid out for them and climb on the backs of other teams. It's not the best position to be in but...... just how did I get this job again this year anyway?

I did have a good ally with me to help. I got to know Pu Temba Sherpa. Pu Temba was the first Sherpa to summit the South Face with Chris Bonnington's team in 1975. He knows all about what it takes and the number of workers required to climb this mountain, the expeditions in the day were huge. We approach the climb today as one big team with our shared rope costs and leaders meetings so we are still huge but with less of the old school Sherpa climber power per western climber. The balance can get thrown off quickly and more burden is put on the teams that do pull their weight in making sure to hire the appropriate number of Sherpas to get the job done.

Bumped into David Breashere's who arrived today, after he gets his display dusted off for another annual showing he'll be popping over to our camp so we can catch up.

What's next? Weather watch looks good for winds dying down on May 3rd, Sherpas will be pushing higher with equipment to Camp 3 and eventually the South Col.

Tomorrow we'll be introducing another team member. Check back with us to learn about Andreas Breiftuss from Australia, he's the one that seems to be spot on with Spot tracking this year... link to Everest 3D

Over and out.... Tim

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Camp 3 rotation complete- Lhotse route concerns

Our team had an early morning start getting in under the extreme winds that have now moved down lower on the mountain tonight hammering Camp 2 pretty good. We are happy with our action once again playing with what we're given up here in this extreme environment. In particular we are all very happy with how Marty and Joshua have been providing fantastic support to the team. They're solid team builders offering encouragement and go above and beyond in making sure everyone is safe, I'm very proud to have both of them onboard with Peak Freaks this season.

Marty has already made several laps up and down between camps on each climb they've been out. This is not new news to anyone that has crossed his path, if you were to add the vertical feet of Everest from base camp to the summit and back, he's probably already done that this season and then some. Then there's Joshua, also a professional mountain guide who is not only an exceptional technical climber who I witnessed on Pumori two years ago scoot his way up to the summit in very difficult conditions, he's also a chef, a graduate from culinary school in Ecuador, the two skill sets make for a perfect marriage in this industry.

Route/Weather: The winds we are experiencing here now should be pulling out around May 3rd with a pretty good window for fixing the rest of the route. The South Col is still not fixed but the rope is up there just above the yellow band. Once that gets fixed our Sherpas will start hauling oxygen, tents and food to Camp 4 while our team members rests.

Leaders Meeting: Another one today- some concerns have been brought forth about the condition of the route up Lhotse for those who will be climbing Lhotse this season. As it is all over in the mountains today, some deterioration of the route has presented itself. The rocks underneath that used to be glued by ice and snow are popping out creating hazards up there. The fixed line will need to be re-routed out and around the danger zone and some cleaning by kicking off rocks before anyone should try climbing in there.

What's next? Our team will come back down to EBC tomorrow and go for a well deserved vacation in the village of Pheriche. This will be their opportunity to rest, oxygenate, hydrate and load up on energy before their summit push. I've made their reservations and they are stoked to go where things are living, touch grass and that sort of thing.

I'll be out tomorrow rousting up some Sherpa climbers who were committed by their leaders at the initial leaders meeting to get their schedules underway for the rest of the work that needs done up on the route. I've been around this base are so much now meeting with everyone on various issues that I certainly don't need my map anymore. I've managed to get to know my neighborhood well throughout this expedition.

I'm looking forward to having the team all back in dinning tent tomorrow to hear their stories, it's always a pretty good night, one of those rewards of being here doing what we do. Over and out... Tim

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Changing terrain, avalanche aftermath and helicopters..

Our team is sleeping peacefully at Camp 2 and as per our weather assessments it's only slicing with wind above them and not at camp. The higher winds are at around 7500m and has put the rope fixing to the South Col (Camp 4) back a bit but our team should still be able to get up to C3 tomorrow and hang in there for a bit to acclimatize to the altitude before the big rest. The rope is at the yellow band but the team of Sherpas had to retreat out of the jet-stream and will get back it when the wind is right for the task.

Changing Terrain: Recently someone asked us if the big earthquake that happened here last year had any affect on the mountains? 

Today I had a good chat today with Damian Benegas about this very topic. Things definitely seem to be altering up here in an eerie way and we are now wondering if the quake has something to do with it? Up the Chukung valley avalanches that have never been seen in this area previously had come down. Makes us wonder what we can't see, things like what's under our feet or over our heads on Everest this year? These new avalanches seem to be pulling out ancient ice so you know it's not just global warming. 

All these things are good things for consideration on our movement up here. It's better for our team to endure a little wind now climbing u to Camp 3 and less time in the ice fall having to go back and do it again in calmer conditions. To add to the mix of possible shifting in the rock mass, the spring warming has begun as well. As things warm up up here you can hear the water under your feet gushing faster and louder each day. We listen, we watch and we pray that we have it right in this life of loving mountaineering. 

Avalanche Aftermath: The stories are all starting to be shared of what it was like up there during the recent avalanche. We'll save those for telling once the team regroups back at EBC. 

Helicopters???? what the heck is going on this year? Everyday morning till afternoon it's buzzing up here. This morning as early as 06:30am one came in waking everyone up. I'm told it's climbers going home sick or other, not sure but it's certainly not the quiet mountain environment it used to be.
Over and out... Tim

Friday, April 27, 2012

Everest AVALANCHE update

At about 9:30am I was alerted when I could hear a bunch of Sherpas yelling up on the mountain, at first when I looked up I couldn't see anything then a monster cloud came barreling down the slope towards base camp. The avalanche came off the north side of Nuptse in to the Western Cwm towards Camp 1.

I made contact with Peak Freaks lead guide this year Marty Schmidt who was up at Camp 2 about the situation and he bolted down to Camp 1 to see if anyone needed help. Hugo Searle was in the area and was slightly buried and his camp cook was thrown about 150 meters into a crevasse by the force of the wind from the avalanche. The Sherpa cook was rescued from the crevasse and flown out by helicopter, he's ok.

Meanwhile, the Peak Freaks team had a really nice day at Camp 2 today. It was quite enjoyable, moderate to low wind and not too hot. The big winds are still up high but not at Camp 2. Because of that just to make it more enjoyable going up to Camp 3 they will rest one more day tomorrow at Camp 2 before heading up to C3. The winds are looking even better the morning of the 29th so that's what we'll do.
Over and out ..... Tim

Avalanche above Camp 1

Major avalanche above Camp 1 and that everyone in our Peak Freaks team is okay. There was a partial burial of a westerner and Sherpa shoved into a crevasse but are all ok. More to come as I get the details. If I'm correct this would be the aspect the team had been keeping their eyes on over the past two weeks. More later..

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Team at Camp 2, rope fixed to Camp 3.. good work team!

Joshua reports calm and clear skies and that everyone is tucked in except for Marty who turned around with Travis to Camp 1. Travis was experiencing mild AMS symptoms which is quite common up here and the safety measures are to retreat till he adjusts. Most the time a retreat to the elevation the climbers was last feeling good for one more night is all that's needed to kick start the body in to acclimatizing to the new altitudes. He'll be fine, he's already been to C2 without problems, he'll just back by one day and that's all good, Marty is with him and high winds that were showing on the 28th now show backing off till a little later so they'll have time still to get their C3 rotation in. I can hear the wind up high so as reports would have it, it's kicking up at 8000m and above. 

Camp 3 (7300m):
Tomorrow Palden and Tashi Sherpa who work with us year after year on all our Himalayan expeditions will be heading up to fix camp while our team takes one rest day at Camp 2. The next day the team members will move up to Camp 3 and hang out for the day to allow time for their bodies to adjust to this altitude. 

South Col (7900m) Camp 4:
The fixing team will rest tomorrow then fix to the South Col on the 28th. The weather reports look spot on to play into our annual fixing to the summit dates of around May 2 or 3.... perfect!
Rescue Kits and more... There's a lot of organizing going on between some of the regular teams this year. We've been establishing rescue kits to cover all camps on the mountain, no more having to beg borrow and steal equipment should something go down. Between all the mountain guides here on Everest we've got the mountain well covered. Today I took over a rope rescue kit to IMG who's collecting things that will go up to Camp 3. It looks like Mountain Trip, Himex, Peak Freaks and IMG have it covered while Georgie at Patagonia Brothers keeps all the lists coordinated for everyone.

I thought everyone following at home might enjoy a map of our little village here at base camp that I prepared for another reason. When I was out instigating the first leaders meeting of the season I thought it would be a good opportunity to map our village. 
Well that's it for tonight, everyone is sound asleep now or trying to, so I'll sign off till tomorrow. Over and out ... Tim

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TEAM AT C1- Meet Travis McPhee

Team at Camp 1- Everyone is tucked in and I'm back at EBC after a day of chores and organizing equipment for carries by our Sherpa teams.

Phu Tashi Sherpa is working on the Lhotse fixing team and we will have two other Sherpas working on either the Everest summit fixing team or the Lhotse summit fixing, names TBA.

There's quite of bit of social going on around base camp these days, dinner parties, birthdays and so on. I manage to get some photos organized to post to Facebook, met with a couple expedition leaders talking logistics and just catching up. I had dinner tonight with fellow Canadian and long time friend Gabriel Filippi and his team while our team is being entertained by Marty and Joshua at Camp 1 at which they all did pretty good in moving up today.


: It's not going to be calm up there, we are showing wind lofting in and out and just how it will impact Camp 2 we're not too sure yet. This will be a little taste for the team if it picks up on what to expect the higher they go. Right now it's completely calm and the stars are out. Photo: Some of our Sherpa team members resting in their dinning tent.

Travis McPhee is now wearing the Peak Freak SPOT tracker but umm, I think he forgot to turn it on, do'h!... radio call in the morning we'll fix that up. Andreas and Ben are on track.

Travis set a goal to summit Mount Everest while raising money for charity. Choosing the right charity was very important to him, and after careful consideration, he decided on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. "We all have mentors in our lives, and I have several in my live today", says Travis. "BBBS really resonates with me, and I feel motivated and inspired to attempt this climb not just for myself, but also on their behalf as well", he adds.

"I can't pin point the exact moment that I realized I want to climb Mount Everest but I was young- maybe early teens. I remember flipping the pages of National Geographic and looking at these epic pictures of the Himalayas, I was in awe at the raw beauty of the peaks. I would read the stories of men who climbed Everest and I admired them for following their hearts and making their dreams a reality. I too wanted to be one of these men, but at the time it wasn't clear on how this would be possible — I was a ski racer, not a climber."

That's two ski racers on Peak Freaks team this year, Andreas Breitfuss from Australia is the other. It's interesting to see the make-up of teams year after year. We have two bankers as well, John Stephens- (Canada) and George Andreou- (Cyprus).

To learn more about Travis and to donate to the Big brother and Big Sisters of Calgary, here is a link to his website. Travis McPhee

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Camp 3 is in our sights tomorrow and Lhotse fixing plan.

WE ARE CLIMBING - Camp 3 is in our sights and Lhotse fixing plan.. The team will be up at 04:00 tomorrow morning, same drill, woken with coffee in their tents, grab some breakfast and strap on their crampons. Here's the currently climbing schedule Tim just discussed with me. The 3G signal is not around tonight so we reverted back to the using the Satellite phone.

The Plan:

April 25: Camp 1 - second round, sleep here
April 26: Camp 2 - second round, except this time they will sleep here.
April 27: Camp 3 - tag and retreat to Camp 2 or 1.
April 28: EBC
Mountain: Two teams of 8 climbing Sherpas and 2 western climbers, Conrad Anker and Willy Benegas, they will all head out tomorrow to fix the Lhotse face with rope, one up rope and one down rope. Then if weather permits they will regroup and fix to the South Col on the 28th, then work up to the summit on around May 2nd or 3rd and fixing to the summit on the 5th of May at which will be the first news of summits.

Weather: The normal mix that we typically get with light snow in the valley and the jet stream wavering in and out above Everest.

Photo upload tomorrow showing life at camp and on the mountain. Over and out..... Becky

Nelson's new video is up.... Climbing C1 to C2... PEAK FREAKS- check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let it blow!

The winds we were expecting did indeed hit the mountain. Thankfully we keep full time staff at Camp 2 to keep an eye on things and make sure tents are collapsed when high wind moves in. All our tents are fine but word has it that some other teams tents didn't fair that well. The wind has completely backed off for now. We will take one more rest day giving the Sherpas more time to work on fixing the ropes up the Lhotse face. We worked on beacon practice today and will start our Camp 3 climb the day after tomorrow. We also have a bit of wind in the reports that we will monitor. Everything looks normal for weather patterns, nothing exceptional or different from what we've worked with in the past. Serious climbing will begin here. The adjacent photo shows the route taken above Camp 2 up the Lhoste face to Camp 3. This is when we will take extreme caution in avalanche evaluation. If ice forms on the face and it snows on top of that, it will be too dangerous to climb until the new snow bonds to the ice or sheds off. Temperature and wind will be the factors in making the magic mix for safe travel. If it's not safe, we'll hold tight till it is. Marty took a walk around the base area today and said he could hear coughing coming from all over the base camp areas tents. So far so good here with Peak Freaks, fingers are crossed that we can all remain healthy... Over and out.. Tim

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The most difficult day of my life"

"It's the most difficult day of my life" is what Tim said to me just now on the phone. Guiding in extreme mountain environments since 1982, Tim has never found himself in the position he was in today – having to call a wife at home to tell her that her husband won't be coming home. Tim assured me on every parting, throughout his guiding career, that I would never get that call. I have to dig deep inside to find peace with those promises, to cope and trust Tim is everything he says he is and will do everything to prevent a tragedy –just as 30 year old Namgya Tshering Sherpa's wife does season after season, with her husband working as a mountain guide in their Himalayan kingdom. Here is a press release on the incident that has been authorized by the Ministry of Tourism Nepal: Namgya's body has been retrieved from the crevasse by climbers who were in the area at the time. A high altitude helicopter lone-line retrieval has been organized to take place just as soon as it's possible. The Peak Freaks team spirit has definitely been affected by this. Namgya has been working with us for five years now and has multiple Everest and other Himalayan summit credits to his name. He will be missed dearly by all who know him. Becky Rippel

Friday, April 20, 2012

Showers, laundry, talk politics and time to check in with loved ones at home.

Yawn... relaxing day at camp for the team. A time to sleep in,

late breakfast, showers, laundry, visiting, airing out toes and napping the afternoon away. We enjoyed some good social time talking politics, family and life in general. Politics are always key topics here at camp, very interesting time to share thoughts and ideas with our international clientele on how we can all change the world.

Tomorrow's dinner guest will be Conrad Anker and he will sponsor the evening movie. The team is really looking forward to meeting him and hearing his stories. Tonight we watched Tin Tin, everyone seemed to get into it, good adventure.

The Climb: We are in rest mode for the next couple of days, we plan to move up on the mountain again on the 24th which should have us climbing in behind and below the high winds that are in the forecast and hopefully get up to Camp 2 and tag Camp 3. We are a few days ahead of our schedule the last 2 years which makes me happy. Get in and get out before the ice fall starts to breakup.

The weather as it always does when playing in the mountains dictates our movement. Our Sherpas are strong and healthy and so is the rest of our Peak Freak team, the only thing holding us back will be weather, we'll have to work with what we get, it's always a fine balance. According to the log books it's been holding about 3 degrees warmer this year, I can feel it too. Typically early season the nights are pretty chilly but Becky reminded me today that I haven't made such comments on that topic this season, it definitely feels warmer.

What's next? Some of the members will be taking a walk down to the village of Gorak Shep about one hour down the valley to get in some Face and Skype time. The 3G at base camp works good but it does have congestion problems during peak periods.

Over and out till tomorrow... Tim

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Death On Everest 2012- Sherpa climber dies from AMS at base camp

April 19, 21:00hrs (NP) Experienced Sherpa guide dies at Everest base camp. (story) son of legendary Ang Rita Sherpa. This is hard to understand but we've seen it a few times before where climbers with multiple summits and even climbers who previously climbed Everest without oxygen return to altitude to be totally caught off guard and turned back with symptoms of AMS. The human bodies hemoglobin (blood makeup) does change in the body, it's not always the same throughout your lifetime so it's a good reminder climbers who frequent high altitude to be on your toes, stay in tune with your body and don't take anything for granted. We all feel horrible about this news and our prayers go out to Karsang Namgal's family during this very difficult time. It's a very sad day.

Peak Freaks is back at base camp and in fine form. Tomorrow will be showers, laundry and shaving. The team will be kicking back and start to focus on the next step of climbing this mountain. The team will rest for four days and weather pending head up to Camp 2 on April 24th. They had a good look around at looming seracs and deep crevasses while there. There's some tweaking to do already which happens once the mountain guides get in there and do some safety assessments.

We are expecting to have the route fixed up the Lhotse Face on April 26th. If this works out and our team gets to C2 on schedule Peak Freaks team will be tagging Camp 3 around April 28th.

Over and out.... Tim - Peak Freaks

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Peak Freaks tagged Camp 2, Expedition Leaders meeting success!

April 18, 21:00hrs (NP) Camp 2 (tick) been there done that. Everyone tagged C2 and are now sleeping at C1 and will be back down at around 12:00pm tomorrow. Snow looks like it's on it's way, some ominous cloud formations over Everest right now. Our team will ready when all looks good to move up and sleep at Camp 2 and possibly tag C3 if the rope gets fixed up the Lhotse face on hopeful schedule on or around April 22nd or 23rd. 
EXPEDITION LEADERS MEETING TODAY: Who is doing what this season has been established with getting the mountain fixed with rope for safe massage. Recommendations and approach to how best to use manpower to get the route fixed was ironed out and agreed on by all. If all works to plan and the weather works with us we could be fixing the route the summit around May 5th to the 7th. This would be inline with the same dates we've been working with the last couple of years. 
There's still more to discuss so we'll move on over to the Indian's camp tomorrow to complete more discussion. There are still a lot of teams just now pulling into camp and getting organized so this will give them the opportunity to get involved as well. The climbing season on Everest doesn't end till May 31st and if the temperatures rise too high towards later May it gets a bit risky climbing in the ice fall, so early is better than later. Thankfully our team is all staying healthy so far, no bugs at Peak Freaks.  
The end of the meeting got a little funny for some of us that hung around in Russ's tent tonight. There's a few of us that have been doing this for 20 years or so, we have a lot to talk and laugh about, these are always special occasions. My career on Everest started when working with Russ back in the very early nineties, same time he was starting out, no one was making money doing this it was purely just a passion to climb Everest that eventually ended up as jobs for all of us. I took a slower entry into the commercial side of things as I have a family but we managed to raise kids, now grandkids and I'm blessed to still have this awesome occupation and a dream that was fulfilled and is still alive today.
So now it's starting to get dark and we thought we'd better get ourselves back to our camps while we still can :)... Dave Hahn, Mark Tucker, Conrad Anker and myself had a good laugh at ourselves trying to tackle that feat, phew! Those who know any of us I will just leave that to your imagination and those who don't us, I'll still leave that to your imagination. Over and out.... Tim

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everest 2011 Part III - Khumbu Ice Fall

Peak Freaks at Camp 1, Camp 2 tomorrow, we are climbing!

April 17, 21:00hrs (NP) Team at Camp 1- Camp 2 (7500m -24500ft) tomorrow... We are moving along at a good pace and everyone is feeling great! Today I took a jaunt down to Gorak Shep and got onto Skype with the grandkids. Tshering Sherpa, his son and a few porter boys in the room were quite intrigued with the opportunity to meet the kids at home, good fun.  
Leaders Meeting: On my way back I stopped in to have a chat with Russell and set a date for the expedition leaders meeting. We've decided to get the ball rolling tomorrow to discuss rope and manpower for fixing the rest of the route to the summit. On my way back to camp I stopped into all the camps to spread the word. There 30 expeditions here this year.
While I'm meeting with the leaders our team will be climbing up to Camp 2, they will hang out and rest at the new altitude before retreating to Camp 1 to sleep. So far everyone is remaining very healthy on the team and Marty and Joshua are all over camp 1 tonight making sure everyone is well hydrated and comfortable. 
Lots of photos being uploaded to Facebook, Everest3D mapping launched and Nelson Dellis provides us a new video...Part III.. through the ice fall to Camp 1. We're happening!! You will note that the ice fall is much tamer than that of the previous video we linked. It was likely footage from 2008 from how I recall it looked that season. We're happening.. over and out .. Tim
Photo: Team heading out this morning to Camp 1. 

April 16, 21:00hrs (NP) First up.. Camp 1 tomorrow- On the rope at 05:00hrs, breakfast at 04:30, coffee delivered to tents at 04:00hrs It's time to climb!  
While the team makes their way up to Camp 1 tomorrow for the night with Marty, Joshua and our other Sherpa leaders, I'll be hoofing it around camp checking in with the other expeditions leaders to see when might be a good time to start rope talks for fixing the rest of the mountain above Camp 2 to the summit. 
The weather today was fabulous, it had that spring feeling warmed by the daytime sun. It was a day where we could wander around camp without feeling chilled and without the down on. We still warm our feet at night with hot water bottles and wear down jackets when the sun goes down. We also have the propane heater in the dining tent so it's comfortable and it will only get warmer as the days go by. 
We are in quarantine control right now. Ang Karsung informed us that there is some intestinal and possibly a strep throat virus circulating around base camps. We are all healthy and strong so he felt it's prudent to inform our Sherpa staff to stay clear and not to mingle with their buddies. We are pretty much keeping to ourselves as well. Everyone is enjoying each others company this season as always, so we'll just sit tight and keep the movies rolling on down nights. Next showing, my pick... "Snakes on the Plane" and "BG's Pool Party" :)     
I wanted to introduce Mark Hughes, though he has a South African passport he was also born in Cyprus, George Andreou travels with a British passport and is also born in Cyprus. It's hopeful that they will both be firsts for Cyprus in 2012 to stand on the summit. 
We are now uploaded on Everest3D online mapping, click the logo in the "tools to follow" top of this page throughout the expedition. Our Spot Trackers have been integrated with Everest3D software. You'll need to download the driver software, it's easy and fun way to follow. 
 Stay tuned tomorrow for news on how the team is doing at Camp 1 and how the ice fall looks from within. Over and out.... Tim
Trekker photos and celebrations just uploaded on Facebook..

April 15, 22:00hrs (NP) BUGS!!! ....... I'm killing myself reliving what went on in our movie tent tonight. So this is how we work movie night. Each person gets a night to pick, they select 4 movies from the bucket and then the movies are passed around and are voted on. It was John's night and the movie voted for was THE THAW, it's about a research expedition to the Arctic discovers that a melting polar ice cap has released a deadly prehistoric parasite. I've seen this show before so just before a freaky scene of bugs, I jumped from my chair and started screaming "BUGS!!!!!!!" hitting myself and stomping the floor, the crowd went crazy, and I mean crazy!!! The people in the show were screaming and the entire team including a few of our Sherpa boys who joined us this evening all screaming at the same time, everyone went hysterical screaming like bunch of (?) I won't say it but hopefully you got the picture. I'm sure all the other expeditions here on the glacier heard us and are now wondering what the heck? We'll probably get a lot of visitors tomorrow. I also wonder if anyone will be able to sleep tonight on the ground.. hee hee..
My new guitar strings arrived by trail mail today and a big congratulations out to Victor and Carl for a successful summit on Island Peak on the morning of Friday the 13th..... they are now in Namche Bazaar enjoying life there.  
Over and out.... Tim..