Friday, April 18, 2008

Everest Update

Mike Roberts and the AAI/AC Everest team are making progress, but will soon be hampered in their efforts due to the political issues surrounding China's torch carrying expedition.

Robyn ascending a 4 section ladder in the icefall

This email came in from Mike today:

"Hello from Everest Base Camp! I hope this email finds you doing well and enjoying some fine spring days.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to move up to Camp 1 for our first overnight trip. All going well, we will stay 2 nights at Camp 1 and then move up to Camp 2 for a further 3 or 4 days. The route to Camp 1 was only opened yesterday, April 17th, and the route to Camp 2 is still not opened. Historically, the latest opening of the Icefall that I am aware of is April 10th. Normally, the icefall opens about the 7th of April. This is a significant delay! Combine this delay with higher than normal climber numbers on the South Side, and the ensuing bottlenecks and delays in the icefall, and you can see there are very real safety issues. You will appreciate that in a season of high drama and politics, where we are already getting squeezed at the end of the season, we have now been squeezed at the beginning.

The Nepalese authorities have now stated that we are unable to go above Camp 2 until the Chinese have reached the summit. This is contrary to the permit conditions to which we agreed and signed. (The initial conditions stated that we were able to sleep at Camp 3 until April 30th and between May 1-10, and while we could not sleep at Camp 3, we were entitled to do day trips to Camp 3. Furthermore, it was stated that after May 10th, we could climb above Camp 3 and continue our climb to the summit regardless of whether or not the Chinese had reached the summit). As you will appreciate, this potentially has a huge effect upon us. Traditionally, we regard the acclimatization phase as complete once we have spent a night at Camp 3. Now the earliest we can even begin a Camp 3 cycle is May 10th! Where does this leave us? This is a question we are trying to ask. We are petitioning this decision through our agents in Kathmandu, but our ability to individually act is limited as Base Camp is now under military surveillance.

Please be aware that our email ability is very limited right now and may be cut at any time. The best thing we can hope for is that the Chinese are taking advantage of the recent fine weather and that they will summit early May. Fingers crossed. Climbing Everest is difficult enough without these ‘political’ and time consuming distractions. Even in a good year, Everest can be highly political and the implications of decisions become much more magnified than on any other expedition peak."

Please note that this will be the AAI/AC team's last correspondence via email and electronic dispatch for an undisclosed period of time as the Nepalese authorities have now closed all electronic communications.

Please see our dispatches page for recent photos and dispatches from the mountain.

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