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  Mt. Everest 2004: Irish Expedition Update

Update 8: April 18 Base Camp Wyeth snowbound: another day of frustration

The sound of the alarm clock rings in my ear. Its 3am again and  time to get a move on the ice fall. I know before I even dress, that the probability is that we will once again have to cancel our trip. As I move to get ready, I hit the side of my tent and an avalanche of snow cascades off its sides; a sure sign that conditions are not good for today.

I can hear Clare and the Sherpa team readying for our rendezvous meeting in the mess tent at 3:30am. I feel like roaring to them to go
back to bed, but they would just think I am lazy. No other alternative but to put on all my warm cloths and move.

Dawa and Tenzing, our cooks, have breakfast ready for us and as always ensure that it's a healthy one, enabling us to have strength for the task ahead. Dawa believes a good breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Today's delight is two boiled eggs each and rice pudding.

A general discussion about conditions over breakfast with the rest of the team has us all thinking the same way. It's too dangerous, too risky; it would be better and safer for everyone to wait another day for the weather to improve. After breakfast, everyone retires to their tent; no hurry in the morning - we can all sleep in. This type of situation is always a little frustrating, but climbing Everest is about making safe decisions, no matter how enthusiastic you may feel. There are too many things outside of our control that can go wrong.

The rest of the day was spent tiding up the mess tent and the kitchen tent. The weather forecast looks better for tomorrow so we are quietly optimistic that tomorrow will allow us to get to Camp 2.

Dispatch 24 - April 17th: Ready to go at 4am for Camp 2, 'Lowe Alpine'. The early start is to ensure we make it through the ice fall before the heat of the day makes it too unstable, - not that it is ever very stable, as it is constantly moving.

Two hours into the climb we get news from higher on the glacier that a massive serac fall has taken out 150 meters of the route to Camp 2. There was no use in trying to force our way through; it would just be too dangerous to move through this section of unstable ice.

All climbers and Sherpas were cut off from ascending or descending the mountain. Those below and above the break were trapped, unable to move from their respective camps until such a time as the route would be re-fixed. This is a job for the ice fall doctors. Each team on the mountain has agreed to pay a local group of Sherpas to fix and maintain the route from Base Camp to Camp two in the best interest of group peace between the different teams on the mountain.

In late morning, the weather deteriorated; a low front descended on Base Camp and it began to snow. Our intention is to try for Camp 2 again in the morning. This will depend on the route being re-fixed and weather conditions improving. Fingers crossed we'll be able to move.

As light entertainment for the afternoon, we set up the computer in the mess tent and played the Imax Everest film and Caravan for the Sherpas and ourselves just to while away a few hours.

Whiling away the hours in the mess tent

Text from Pat - April 17th ;Pat and Clare's attempt to move up onto the mountain to reach Camp 2 was thwarted today by a serac fall within the Khumbu Icefall which has blocked the way to Camp 1 and beyond. The team is back at Base Camp Wyeth and a new way around the collapse will be attempted tomorrow.

April 16th: Good news from Kathmandu, John has been checked out medically in one of the top high altitude clinics in the country. They confirm that John will make a full recovery and should be able to return to Ireland in the next few days. This, as you can imagine, is a great relief to Clare, the Sherpas and myself here at Base Camp. He is now being looked after in Kathmandu by my good friends Ang-Rita Sherpa and Sumba Sherpa; he couldn't be in better hands.

Well, the expedition continues here at Base Camp Wyeth as we prepare to make a further foot hold on Everest in the next few days. After hearing the good news from Kathmandu, we have made ready all of the gear we require to establish Camp 2, Lowe Alpine at 21,500ft tomorrow. We are looking forward to putting the Irish team higher on the mountain but do not relish the thought of having to once again to go through the ice fall.


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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