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  South-West Face of Shishapangma 2004 Expedition: Dispatch Three

Dispatch Three: We are climbing so hard that I almost forgot to write...

Things are fine, could be better but certainly could be much worse.

On September 25, 05 we left for our first acclimatization trip. I already mentioned that this is very nice Base Camp with sun from 8am till the very late afternoon. And the mountains around us look very peaceful. There is no need to get us early because everything is handy.

One of the mountain is called Ice Tooth and reaches 6200m (about). There are no maps of Tibet and different sources show different altitude of every mountain over here. We climbed ice ridge under excellent conditions and spent the night on the ridge a short distance from the col under the Ice Tooth. The night was OK (we all forgot pain killers against headache) and the view was just gorgeous. Everest group was blocked by Ice Tooth but all the great ranges to the west were like on our hands.

The next morning, we quickly reached the top of Ice Tooth. First surprised came as we descended back to the col. Ravens ( whatever their local name is) got into our packs and without any problem ate all eatable. More surprise came as we descended to our Base Camp. They seriously damaged our tents, opened different containers (with medicine, warm bags, tooth paste).

We prescribed to us only one full day of rest before heading up again. This time, our goal was the ridge (possibly summit) of Pungpa-Ri. Summit was not necessary the object, this was just another acclimatization climb. There is not need to risk more than enough and trash ourselves on just a ordinary training climb. Everything looks very close in thin air - and everything is very far in the thin air. It took us good 6 hours, fully loaded to the camp called Castle Camp which is at the very end of moraine ridge under the face of Shishapangma and Pungpa-Ri. If this is medieval castle, the residents would not survive one single attack. There are couple spots for sleeping under the 30 meter rock which "roof" is covered by free rocks. Nothing felt down the night we had to spend there.

I already mentioned that we are not "early morning birds". After the previous day haul, we took long breakfast and left no earlier than at noon. We were one hour late to reach the ridge since in the fog we climbed directly up versus to the left. We were awarded. 4 hours of chopping in 55% ice slope and the night spent on the ledge barely enough to put the sleeping bag on. Radek and Miska managed to make the ledge little bit bigger so they could erect the Bibler tent. I do not have to deal with details of such a night. Those who know - they know and those who do not know - they would not understand either. The most difficult part to get from such a nest is the morning. Everything (including our bodies) has to be tight to couple ice screws and anything what falls down is GONE.

Fortunately for us, the night was calm and we were truly awarded by fantastic view of Jugal Himal, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu and Annapurna group. Manaslu reminded personally of my very first Himalayan adventure. Both sunset and sunrise were great, sunrise much nicer since we knew the night is over :) 

In the morning, we were not sure "should I stay or should I go". The weather was changing and huge clouds were forming over the south side of Himalaya along the whole range. We decided to go down. It was not without effort, it is very slow job to climb down on such a slope. Protection would make things even slower and the safest is if each man takes good care of himself. Not less and not more. As MacIntyre says in his book - a charity ends up with 5000m.

We reached Castle Camp around noon, packed the huge loads and moved stuff closer to the South Face of Shishapangma. This time, the place for camp surprised us nicely. Pretty glacier lake, sandy beach with the million dollars view, a very inviting place for lovers. We had little time to sort the gear and cover everything by the rocks against our "communists friends" the ravens. if we did good job, we will see in the few days.

It took us a bit more then three ours to return to our Base Camp to good hands of our cooks - Sherpa friends Temba and Phurba. We came just before dark and crashed another round of Pilsner Urquell.


Are we ready yet or not. Who knows. But the fresh memorial for Alex Lowe and others clearly says that we are not under control of absolutely everything.

Base Camp

October 1, 04

Martin Minarik


Background: On September 17, 2004 a group of 4 climbers from Czech Republic plans to arrive to Kathmandu and leave shortly for Nyalam. From Nyalam, we intend to reach Base Camp under South-West Face and repeat British Route ( Scott - MacIntyre). 

List of climbers :

Zdenek Hruby

Radek Jaros

Petr Masek

Martin Minarik

Altitech2: Digital Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. Time/Date/Alarms. Chronograph with 24 hour working range. Timer with stop, repeat and up function. Rotating Bezel. Leveling bubble. Carabiner latch. E.L. 3 second backlight. Water resistant. 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4" 2 oz. Requires 1 CR2032 battery. See more here.



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