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  Mt. Everest 2004: Irish Expedition Update

Update 7: John Joyce is forced out of Everest climb
......news from Nepal and the Irish Wyeth Everest Expedition 2004

Dispatch Thursday April 15. Base Camp Wyeth

Irish mountaineer, John Joyce has been forced to abandon his attempt to climb the world's highest mountain. Joyce from Tuam, County Galway is suffering from exhaustion, following sleep deprevation and the effects of high altitude. He has been evacuated from his team's base camp on Everest to a medical post lower in Nepal's Khumbu valley from where he will be helicoptered back to Kathmandu. This morning on leaving the Irish Expedition's, Base Camp Wyeth, John wished the remainder of his team well but said "Everest has fairly beaten him". He will return to Ireland as soon as possible.

A month now since leaving Ireland and some two weeks after arriving at the base of Mount Everest, the team of mountaineers led by Pat Falvey have now firmly established themselves on the slopes of the mountain. Over the past number of days, the climbers have been involved in the vital but tedious acclimatisation to altitude while putting in place a safe route through the notorious Khumbu Icefall.

In the past week, a team comprising of: Joyce, Clare O'Leary and Pat Falvey along with Sherpa's Pemba and Tenzing frimly established the Expedition on the mountain slopes. Several days of dangerous work went into securing a safe route through the notorious Khumbu Icefall and moving equipment and food for use higher up on Everest to the team's first camp on the peak. The task involved proved extremely taxing as well as dangerous and an avalanche has already threatened the site of Camp One.

The enormous workload has however taken it's toll and today, Joyce's departure suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness is bringing to an end this climber's dream of reaching the summit. This has been John Joyce's first attempt on Everest though he served last year's Irish team under Falvey's leadership, as Base Camp Manager. He is a successful auctioneer in Tuam, County Galway and this morning's difficult decision was made after heart-wrenching consultancy with Pat Falvey, Doctor Clare O'Leary and his wife, Siobhan back in Ireland. Pat Falvey said." John's decision to withdraw, follows months of preparation for him and of course over the past week, he has made a tremendous contribution in establishing the team on the mountain. We wish him safe passage home as the remainder of us now turn our attention towards our goal"

Over the next three weeks or so now, Pat Falvey and Clare O'Leary will work at establishing a second and third camp on their climb before reaching the South Col of Everest and a high camp at 26000' / 7925m from which a summit bid will be made. Acclimated bodies to the rarefied atmosphere where oxygen levels on the summit are just one third of those at sea-level, are vital in order to attempt reach the highest point on Earth.

Last year, O'Leary withdrew from the mountain suffering a severe stomach bug. This year her experience and intense preparation under the advice of the Himalayan veteran, Falvey is a very promising factor as these two climbers seek to make history in Irish mountaineering. No Irish woman has yet succeeded on reaching the highest point on Earth. In 1995, Falvey summited Everest from the Tibetan side of the mountain. Success this year will mean an Irish climber joining the relative few who have summited twice and from the two countries who's frontiers meet on the top of Everest.

Dispatch 21 April 13th - Camp One : We had a restless night at Camp One. It snowed throughout most of the night, dumping over 10 inches of snow on the mountain.

At 5:30 am John woke with a terrible stomach-cramp.. While relieving himself in our make-shift toilet-cubicle (made from ice blocks), there was a massive explosion that literally rocked our camp. A great avalanche set off several thousand feet above us roared down over cliffs towards the valley. To our horror, it's massive snow-dust cloud seemed to come in our direction. I grabbed a camera and shot out the tent-door...only then did I think of John.

Joyce was caught with his trousers down and fearing the worst, the very worst, he abandoned his post and took flight from the squat for shelter! A great wave of icy dust, probably over a hundred feet in height, rushed us amidst John tearing for cover for his bare bottom. I prayed in an instant that we would be okay...I ducked my head inside my tent while the blast past over us. Seconds later amidst the spindrift, John appeared at the tent, looking like a snow-man, covered in white spin-drift and still fixing his pants!

We laughed hard though grateful that we escaped. After the kind of snowfall we had last night, avalanches around here can be huge and deadly. We have decided that after tomorrow, we will not use Camp One, opting instead now to go directly from Base Camp Wyeth to Camp Two. Tonight we are back at base happy with our success. We feel we now have a real foothold on Everest.

Avalanche over Camp One

Dispatch April 12th - Camp One

Today we spent a further day here at Camp 1 to give our bodies a chance to acclimatize.. It is an amazing place and our little tents are pitched right at the entrance to the awesome Western Cwm, this com also referred to by climbers here as; the oven. Ahead lies a long and gentle rise up the glacier now to the site of Camp Two. We stroll as far as we can, up a further 1,000 feet or so as part of the vital but tedious process of acclimatizing. We return to Camp 1 again to sleep and tomorrow we will return to Base again to rest for a few days before coming back up here again and onto Camp Two for a night. This game! Today, John is feeling exhausted from the labour of his efforts yesterday. He remains in camp.

Dark clouds bring in afternoon snow and the temperatures plummets to minus 8 degrees celsius in the oven!

The site of Camp One for the Irish Wyeth Everest Expedition at an altitude of 20,500 feet in the Western Cwm. The peak behind is Khumbutse.


Pat Falvey, veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational speaker.

To book Pat Falvey on his 'AGAINST THE SKY' LECTURE TOUR. e-mail us at

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