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Wednesday, May 16, 2001

From: P.V. Scaturro
Expedition Leader
NFB 2001 Everest Expedition

5:25 PM Nepal Time, NFB Everest Base Camp

Erik carefully measures his jump across a crevasse. Photo by Didrik Johnck.
After remaining at Camp 2 for the last six nights waiting on a good weather window in which to attempt to summit Everest we have decided to climb back down to base Camp for a rest. The most recent weather forecasts do not look good for the next several days. Rather than sit at Camp 2 and lose strength we have decided that it would be better to climb down the 4,000 feet back to base Camp and get our batteries recharged. The forecasts call for very high winds at the summit of Everest and periodic snowstorms throughout the Everest region. As we were climbing through the Western cwm this morning, the lenticulars were already forming over both Everest and Lhotse. Winds appeared to be in excess of 100 kph.

Chris and Mike O' climbed down to Base Camp yesterday afternoon and spent the night safely at Base Camp. At 5:30 this morning Erik, Erie, Sherm and Brad started the climb to Base Camp. They made it from Camp 2 to Camp 1 in 1 hour and 10 minutes, which is an incredible time and illustrates how good a condition the entire team is in. Jeff, Didrik, Luis, Mike B., Charley, and I left at 7:30 AM for Base Camp. By 12:40 p.m. all of the climbers were safely back in Base Camp. Steve Gipe decided to remain in Camp 2 until our summit push this coming Saturday. I just spoke with him on the radio and he is doing well and actually enjoying his time alone.

To say that the team is impatient is an understatement. After almost two months on this expedition we want to get to the summit. Many of us have been through the Khumbu Icefall five times and are looking forward to our last time through it. With only two weeks left in the climbing season, the opportunity for more than one summit attempt is gone. We have at most one chance to get to the summit of Everest before we have to head for home. As I said in an earlier dispatch, all of our camps are completely set up and stocked. We have slept at Camp 3 at 24,000 feet and have spent over 14 nights at or above 22,000 feet. Originally we did not want to be the first team on the mountain and "lead" the route up to the summit of Everest. As things worked out, we are the largest and potentially strongest team on the mountain. It appears that when we leave for our final summit push this Saturday, we may well have to lead the route to the summit. No other team has attempted to push the final 3,000 feet of route from the South Col at 26,000 feet, to the summit at 29,035 feet. This means that we must lead. All of the fixed rope that our Sherpas fixed last week to just below the South Summit it now buried under many feet of new snow. It is useless and will have to be refixed prior to this coming week's summit attempt. Our current schedule is to climb to Camp 1 this coming Saturday, Camp 2 on May 20, rest day on May 21, Camp 3 on May 22, Camp 4 at the South Col on May 23 and Summit May 24, with the final push starting at 9:00 PM on May 23. In the event of bad weather we will not retreat, but merely remain in our high Camps until we either summit or run out of time.


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