Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Team at the South Col - Climbing Peak Freaks Style

Team at the South Col reporting a comfortable night.. Tim lays it all out: We are climbing Peak Freak style - Peak Freaks style is different from low budget and inexperienced operators. We know it's too long of day for the most to go from Camp 3, rest a couple hours at Camp 4 , strap on a mask for the first time and head out for the summit. Some can do this, the majority shouldn't, but some still do.

Peak Freaks style: Our team climbed to Camp 3 yesterday, spent the night on oxygen and today climbed to Camp 4 (South Col) and are now sleeping on oxygen. They will spend one more day/evening here on oxygen, resting, eating, hydrating. We want them in optimal condition and Joshua and Tashi both confirm from the Col that they are already in great shape, but we take no chances, this is how we climb.

We keep it small: This has always been especially important to us. We have a maximum we accept which is 12 and we often sell out a year in advance because we stick to it. We feel we do our bit in not having a huge impact on the routes and for safety, environment and movement. We still have to add proper staffing of Sherpas in that number so we feel it's important to keep it small.

While our team was climbing their way up today, Tashi sat at the Col counting climbers moving up to Camp 3. He counted around 40 people and he also did a head count at the Col and there are about 30 climbers there. On summit day (night of the 24th morning of the 25th) the maximum number we estimate is going to be around 70 people, half of what we saw on the 18th/19th and the forecasts looks really good. Climbers don't like to climb in wind over 20k and 30k+ is pushing it but some still do. Our forecast is showing to be wavering around 5 to 10k on the 24th night, and the team is reporting that they feel it calming considerably tonight already.

Our weather experience confirms there is a change to the good tonight because fog has arrived at base camp meaning the system we were waiting for is here. We are confident we have it right, but never say never, it is weather and we need to be prepared. In the event things change we always work with a contingency plan and our members know very well the importance of turning around and have proven to us that we can trust them on their word already. In our contingency plan everyone has a personal Sherpa, they are with our members tonight at the Col and they all care about each other, they're not strangers to each other at the stage or to us, most have trained with us in this environment in the Himalayas before. We also have a second set of Sherpas for them who carry extra oxygen for our members and are there for them if a situation comes about. The backup crew is at Camp 2 right now and will start up to Camp 3 tomorrow.

Communication: Tashi and Phu Tashi Sherpa who both already summited will be at the South Col during the summit push manning the radios which is important. The Sherpa language to us sounds very fast and misinformation can be a serious problem up here and we can count on these two for the job. English to Nepalese and Nepalese to English and proper radio handling. We have GPS tracking via SPOT allowing us to monitor movement during the black out section of the climb.

We can't stress enough the importance of training not just physically but mentally and technically is most important, we give our applicants a place to go for this. Everest Boot Camp. We also can't stress enough the importance of knowing who your life may be relying on in this environment that is unknown to many who come here today. We have this statement in bold on our homepage:

IS YOUR GUIDE A GUIDE? VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Peak Freaks uses only Certified Mountain Guides for our Everest Expeditions. IFMGA, NSMGA and NMA (Nepal Mountaineering Association) and aspiring ones with apprenticing certifications and certified Sherpa climbing guides. All our guides are paid the highest in professional fees, maintain their professional standards with the association, are required to have their skills reviewed on a regular basis making them insurable by standards that are recognized worldwide. This is who we put our climbers on a rope with. If you are paying close to the same in fees and your guides are not certified, I'd seriously be looking elsewhere. This is a serious climb with serious consequences should things go wrong. Rule number one of surviving Everest; prevention.

One of the most important things you can do when shopping around for a commercial Everest outfitter is to find out who is doing the guiding? are they certified? if you are not completely satisfied, keep looking!

We wish our team all the best on next stage of this journey...... Tim and Becky Rippel

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