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  Mount Everest 2004 Expedition: Americans Dan Lochner and Dan Meggitt


Dispatch Everest 2004 Team Endeavor

Dan Lochner & Dan Meggitt Team Endeavor - Everest 2004 North

Dispatch - #12 Ė May 3 Ė May 10 - Team Endeavor - Mount Everest 2004 

3-May-04: Meggitt and I made our first trip to the North Col today. The weather wasnít perfect but it was much better then what we had experienced the previous days. Our Sherpa gave us the go ahead to climb the North Col so Meggitt and I took off. I left about a half hour before Meggitt but since we had radios, our separation wasnít an issue.

First, Iíll explain the route to the North Col from ABC. To begin, one must navigate oneís way on uneven rocky terrain from ABC up several foothills toward a stop off point where climbers change into their crampons and harnesses. At this stop off point, the rocky terrain has now morphed into snow and ice and there are several large rocks here were climbers can sit while changing into their climbing gear. Many people choose to place their crampons and harnesses here in barrels or even on the open rocks instead of carrying them down to ABC. From this point, one must walk up a small hill and zigzag a few times until one reaches a snow and ice flat which leads directly to the North Col. This flat meanders gradually up and down as it approaches the North Col. At times, this region can be quite windy due to the wind coming off the surrounding mountains or it can be dead calm. Once the foot of the North Col is reached, most climbers take a short rest to drink and eat and to cache trekking poles that are not desirable on fixed ropes of the Col. From here, climbers attach their ascender to the fixed ropes and begin climbing up the Col. It zigzags for several pitches until one reaches an ice wall approximately halfway up the Col. This wall is roughly 50-60 feet tall and is rappelled during descent. Continuing, there are two long stretches to go before reaching the top of the Col. Around 3:30pm, it seems this area begins to loose sunlight, so it is desirable to tackle the remainder of the Col before this time so one doesnít begin to cool off. Right before you reach the top of the Col, there is a small flat section where some climbers pitch their tents, most likely those who wait too long to secure a tent area at the Col are required to settle with a less than desirable location. A few minutes later, after stepping over a crevasse, the top of the North Col is reached.

The hike on the flat to the fixed ropes was pleasant. However, by the time I reached the ropes, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. My hands were cold and I began to doubt the weather conditions. As I continued to climb, the wind seemed to pick up and I was still cold. By the time I reached the wall of the North Col, I received a radio call from Meggitt that he had just reached the fixed ropes and the wind was blowing hard enough that it caused him to turn around. I confirmed his radio call and told him I was going to continue on. Just after talking with Meggitt, I began to climb the wall but the wind was so strong that it made very difficult to maintain my balance as I ascended it. At this point, I decided there was no need to push the envelope so I turned around. Once I was on flat ground again, I called Meggitt back and told him the wind was also too strong and that I was turning around.

My descent to the bottom of the fixed ropes was fast but when I arrived at the flat, the wind was stronger. As the wind blew from the left while I descended, I had to lean into the wind in order to maintain my balance. When I didnít, the wind pushed me several feet to the right, almost causing me to lose my balance. Even though I had a balaclava on, my face and particularly my nose were quite cold so I faced to the right as I descended.

When I returned to ABC at 1:30pm, I had a nice lunch and met up with Meggitt in the Dome tent where we relaxed and tinkered with the Honda generator for the remainder of the day.

May 4, 2004 Ė May 5, 2004: Today was used as a rest day after attempting the North Col. Meggitt and I spent most of the day relaxing in the Dome tent and again attempting to repair the Honda generator. We seem to be able to squeeze twenty or thirty minutes of run time out of it but then it dies. At this point, we have officially deemed it a lost cause.

The following day, Meggitt and I did a day hike up to the stop off point where climbers put on their crampons and harnesses and then returned to ABC. Tomorrow we are planning to sleep at the North Col, depending on the weather situation.

6-May-04: Today, Meggitt and I climbed to the North Col to sleep for the night. By the time we finished breakfast, packed our gear and were on the trail, it was 10:00am. The weather was perfect during our approach to the fixed lines, being clear and calm. As we neared the foot of the North Col, Meggitt and I exchanged videotaping each other as part of our documentary we plan to make. Although it used up some time here and there, I believe it will pay off once we put together the video.

During our climb of the North Col, it was cold and windy from the foot of the North Col to the wall. However, once Meggitt and I scaled the wall, we seemed to have entered a sheltered area caused by the surrounding landscape because the wind subsided and it was much warmer. The last two stretches before reaching the top were exhausting but we completed them in sufficient time as the descending sun motivated us to push on as our bodies cooled off.

When we reached our tents, we unloaded our gear and setup the interior of our tent. Soon after, Meggitt fetched some snow and I fired up the stoves and made some hot water with the collected snow. For dinner, Meggitt had a freeze dried meal, while I chowed on the contents of an MRE that I received from a friend in the US Military.

Afterwards, both Meggitt and I called home on our satellite phone and then I retired to my sleeping bag while Meggitt read an issue of the Economist before calling it a night.

7-May-04: Meggitt and I didnít sleep much during the night due to the change in altitude. 5:30am arrived quickly as the unobstructed sun on the North Col brightly illuminated our tent. During the night, we noticed that Camp One is much warmer then ABC, which we enjoyed. Meggitt and I are also very pleased with the Himalayan 47 tent that the gracious folks over at North Face provided us.

Since we woke early this morning and could not return to sleep due to the bright light penetrating our tent, we had an early breakfast. I had some instant oatmeal and hot water and Meggitt had a few breakfast bars and orange drink mix with his water. After finishing, we rested in our sleeping bags until 8:00am, at which time we turned on our radio to speak with our Sherpa at ABC. We told them everything was going well and that we would return to ABC that afternoon.

After our scheduled radio contact with our Sherpa, the tent had warmed up enough from the sun that it became comfortable enough in the tent that we dozed off in our sleeping bags until 10:00am. This was the best quality sleep that we had all night since we spent most of the night tossing and turning.

By 10:15am, we finally got enough energy to depart our sleeping bags and put on our climbing gear. At this point, we agreed that we would take an acclimatization hike toward Camp Two for approximately thirty minutes and then return to our tent to descend to ABC.

Once Meggitt and I exited our tent and began moving, we felt much better. We discovered that lying around in a tent at 23,000 feet for an extended period of time is just unhealthy. Hiking, we got as far as the saddle, a dip between Camp One and the path towards Camp Two. The weather was so beautiful and the scenery from this location was so spectacular that we stopped here to rest and take in the beauty.

At the saddle, to oneís right, the entire North Face of Mount Everest could be seen, from its base to its peak, and what seemed to be Pumori and Cho-Oyu in the distance. To the left, one could see the region toward ABC and the surrounding mountains. Its difficult to describe this area, itís truly amazing. After thirty minutes of awe, Meggitt and I returned to our Camp One tent, packed up our gear and descended to ABC. We spent the remainder of the day relaxing at ABC and drinking lots of water.

8-May-04: Having returned from the North Col yesterday, we have budgeted two days for rest to recover and to eat mass quantities of food to restore our energy reserves. Meggitt and I were quite lazy getting up today and didnít head to the Mess tent until 8:00am.

The day was uneventful and here I must explain to the reader that during a Mount Everest expedition, there is much more lying around and resting then climbing. Everest can be climbed in a short period of time but only when one is fully acclimatized and the weather is right. The acclimatization process is what takes up the majority of the time. Once Meggitt and I are acclimatized, we should be able to climb Everest from ABC in four days.

After returning from the North Col for the first time, our bodies were drained. Itís difficult to explain. Itís not like we exerted ourselves that much but the altitude just took our energy away. This is the reason we take rest days to recover and rebuild our strength for the next push up the hill. I just hope that my body will perform above 23,000 feet as this is the extent of my altitude experience. Above this altitude, I will be in unchartered territory, however it is this and my curiosity that pushes me onward toward the unknown.

9-May-04: Today was another planned rest day. We leisurely woke around 7:30am and made our way to the Mess tent. After having the standard fried egg and pita, Dan and I headed to the Dome tent. We spent most of the day hanging out here, chatting with the other members and discussing our summit bid.

To complete our acclimatization schedule, Dan and I will head to the North Col again for one night, then climb to Camp Two (25,600 feet) the following day, either to tag the Camp and return to ABC or sleep at Camp Two and descend to ABC the next day. Whether we sleep at Camp Two will depend on how our bodies feel.

Once we reach Camp Two and return to ABC, we will patiently wait for our summit bid. From what I understand, a Greek national team will be heading for the summit on May 16, being the first to go to the summit. This team is carrying an Olympic flag which they plan to fly at the summit and then fly at the 2004 Olympic Games being held in Athens this summer. Meggitt and I are planning to attempt the summit after the Greeks, once the fixed lines have been laid from Camp Three (27,200 feet) to the summit and we have received some feedback from those who reached the summit.

During the afternoon, I felt abnormally tired so I retired to my tent for a while. I seem to have picked up a sinuous infection so I think this maybe the reason I feel drained combined with the affects of sustained living at 21,300 feet. An interesting fact is that there isnít another Base Camp in the World higher then ABC and if one attempted to live at ABC for an extended period, one would slowly die.

Meggitt spent most of his time during the latter part of the afternoon until dinner reading in his tent. I believe he is trying to finish up Krakauerís recent book on Mormonism.

Tomorrow, Meggitt and I have plans to return to the North Col to complete our acclimatization plan but it isnít looking optimistic due to the weather reports we have received. Tomorrow will tell the story.

10-May-04: As I had expected, the weather is not conducive for climbing today. The wind is blowing enough that a climb to the North Col is not warranted.

After waking up and having breakfast, I heard amazing news from George Dijmarescu regarding our Sherpa. Recently, many Sherpa headed up from ABC to make deposits at various camps. Out of 45 Sherpa, only eight were able to reach high camp, Camp Three[8300 meters]. Of these eight Sherpa that reached Camp Three, three were from our group, two being our personal Sherpa, Ang Mingma Sherpa and Man Bahadur Tamang. What is more amazing is that these two incredible men climbed direct from North Col to Camp Three in seven hours, a time that is impossible for any Westerner to match in my opinion.

We received news that Camp Three is not ideal for pitching tents, basically consisting of scree rock without much ability to anchor tents. There isnít much wind at Camp Three from what I hear too as it decreases after reaching 8000/8100 meters.

After breakfast, I congratulated Ang Mingma Sherpa and Man Bahadur Tamang on their impressive climb to Camp Three. However, as most Sherpa do, they both dismissed their accomplishment but thanked me for recognizing what they had done.

Later I discussed with Ang Mingma Sherpa what date would be ideal for our summit bid. He mentioned that May 15 to May 22 might be good for a summit, depending on weather. If all goes well, Meggitt and I will return to Camp One tomorrow, then Camp Two the following day to complete our acclimatization plan in preparation for our summit bid. Best regards from ABC.

 Dispatches

 
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