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  The South African Everest summit report: Summit Climb Everest 2004 Dispatch


5/23/2004: Dear EverestNews.com, Here is the story of the first South African man to reach the summit of Everest from Tibet (Andre is the fifth South African t reach the summit of Everest, in total.

As anticipated life has been exciting. The three of us started our summit bid about 10 days ago.  On the first day above ABC we discovered that Mike's cough was a serious lung infection.  He generously decided to turn back to allow us the best opportunity.   We made the North Col on the 16th of May. The following day we proceeded to the next camp at 7,600 meters, which was the most difficult day experienced yet.  Lots of snow the whole way. We found that the tents were pitched on very steep ground and even getting in and out of the tents was a difficult undertaking.  We spent a few hours melting snow to create water and boiled up a hot packet of dehydrated food.

The next day we proceeded to the highest camp in the world located at 8,300 meters and predictably not a place for the faint hearted!   We arrived at camp at 1700 hours and left for our summit bid at midnight. All the climbers attempting to summit on this day probably numbered 70.At the end of the day Andre and 15 others were successful in achieving the ultimate summit goal. Unfortunately three lives were lost on the same day. Summit day started at 12:00 midnight local time. It was tough but progress was made until just before dawn when Chris had a fall which left him some 20 ft below the fixed lines. In the process he lost his Ice Axe. Although no bones were broken his normally abundant confidence was shaken. Following a group discussion, and although a mere 250vertical meters from the summit the Sherpa indicated there was still a further 7 hours to go, Chris elected to terminate his bid and return to camp.   Andre proceeded with Lakpa the Sherpa and managed to summit at 1410 hours on Thursday, May 20th. After 20 minutes on the top in appalling blizzard conditions , they returned to the 8,300 meter camp which they finally reached at 2230 hours, predictably absolutely exhausted. Chris had remained in the camp although everyone else had left due to an avalanche threat. 

Andre and Chris then proceeded to rapidly descend back to Advanced Base Camp over the next 2 days and arrived exhausted.  Chris has first degree frostbite on his feet which will take many months to heal.   Andre has a cracked rib together with various bruises from numerous tumbles.

Mike has just started a summit bid as it is predicted that the weather will provide a window.  He is going with a group of 8 climbers from our party who have all been waiting for this opportunity.  Chris had wanted to return with Mike, however the frostbite prohibited this chance.

We have discovered this mountain is very challenging with a great number of factors beyond one's control.   Looking forward to seeing everyone back home soon and if possible logistically we hope to home 1 or 2 days sooner than anticipated.

Written By Chris Drummond and Andre Bredenkamp, Cape Town, South Africa

Dispatches

 
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