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Bad Weather May Bring Abrupt End to 2009 Everest Climbing Season
Posted on May 25, 2009

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Everest Dispatch #88
May 25, 2009
Everest Basecamp

By Dave Hahn

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Everest season end so early or so abruptly. It began snowing hard at basecamp at around 6 a.m., and that has continued without pause for the entire day. Cyclone 02B out of the Bay of Bengal is the likely culprit. That was the same “depression” that prompted my summit squad to speed up our attempt, and in fact to go a day earlier than we’d originally planned. That all worked out, just barely, but I must admit that as we walked down the Western Cwm early yesterday morning under temporarily clear skies, I wondered what all the rush had been for. No wonder anymore. This is a big storm, and our forecasts say it hasn’t actually arrived yet. The whole cyclone may track right over Everest in the next few days.

Due to the hard and smart work of our Sherpa team, we are sitting pretty. They managed–during our summit push—to take down every non-essential piece of gear from the Lhotse Face to the Khumbu Icefall.

After the summit, when Seth, Melissa, Kent, and I thought we had a big chore in getting our tired, coughing bodies down to ABC for the night, the Sherpas we’d gone to the summit with began tearing down Camp IV and putting it on their backs. They put in a huge, and with the value of hindsight, essential contribution in getting everything off the South Col before the bigger storm.

This allowed our entire team, members and Sherpas alike, to be off the mountain and safely in basecamp by yesterday afternoon. According to Lam Babu and Tendi, just a handful of loads remain at ABC. While in logistical terms, this means that the expedition isn’t quite finished, and some of the guys will have to brave the Icefall for a final roundtrip, in the greater scheme of things … as I say, we are sitting pretty. If it intends to snow and snow and snow, then the Western Cwm could get extremely hazardous from an avalanche perspective. It is far better to have a team at the bottom of the mountain waiting until things are safe enough to go up rather than to have a team halfway up the mountain waiting until things are safe enough to come down.

This doesn’t mean that we aren’t worried and concerned for our friends on neighboring teams who were caught in a less advantageous position. But yesterday evening, we were simply elated to be all in one safe place ourselves and to be newly successful. As we finished up dinner, happily comparing notes on the trip’s two summit days, it was clear that the Sherpa dining tent next door was the more happening venue. The cheers were getting louder and louder, the singing and stomping of feet more enthusiastic.

One by one, the team members found excuses to leave the dull tent and flee to the festive one. Since I’d put in about three hard days at altitude without significant sleep, I snuck past what was surely the best party in the entire valley and made for my own little hovel of a sleeping tent. I was not bothered in the least to hear the celebration go on for hours as I lay comfortably dozing in the dark.

Nobody seemed the worse for wear in the morning as we huddled near a propane heater for our snowy breakfast. Not a lot got done today as we mostly took shelter and tried to catch up on food and drink. Linden Mallory, our hardworking basecamp manager, kept plenty busy with inventories and packing lists. The afternoon showing of “The Bourne Identity” on laptop had the dining tent jam-packed and silent. If the entire team is ready for beaches and jets and home, one couldn’t quite see that today.

We’ll pack up and get walking soon enough. The gang is just happy to be together … and very aware that, while a cyclone spins overhead, none of the other teams that left BC so urgently in recent days are flying out of the Khumbu Valley.

Author: - Monday, May 25th, 2009
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  1. joegriffith

    Dave,

    Thanks for keeping up with the postings. It’s fascinating to hear about the storm, what else is happening on the mountain, and how you all are recovering. It also fills in the blanks about the whole trip. And the truth is, we’ve really gotten addicted to following your adventures, and hate to see the reports end. Cheers to Seth.

  2. liquidsky

    Dave, I’ve enjoyed your posts very much during the expedition.

    I wanted to congratulate you on the great job you did with Erica. It’s exceptional that a person of that age would take on the challenge. It’s clear from your posts that you were able to mentor her into a position of decision. Sometimes thoroughly understanding the challenge at hand is most important to consistently achieving goals over a period of time. I think you’ve positioned her for some great achievements because of this.

  3. geodesy

    Great postings Dave! Keep it coming. This kind of coverage really from all on the team give a fuller sense of the experience. The summit news is great but the background stuff and follow through really have set the First Ascent dispatches apart. It’s especially important since some teams – especially the Kazak Everest-Lhotse Traverse teams, are still high on the mountain(s). Keep up the great work!

  4. nancy.janosko

    Ok…so this has been a wonderful experience for me to follow the teams ascents…each night i print them out and read them as a bedtime story…they spur my own dreams of adventure nightly…thanks so much for all the posts…the technology seems amazing for us to be able to feel as though we are part of the adventure…Big props to the expedition management team….and i prayed each nite to the universe that each of you returned safely…was wondering too if y’all ever venture to sea level, as in the beach?…I see that Dave Hahn posted something about that…y’all deserve it…SPECIAL shout out to Dave Hahn!!!From an admirer here Taos, NM…Love to you all…and Congratulations all! And Team Hahn – I am impressed!!!!

  5. 2stepbay

    Usually, I hear “they reached the summit” and that’s the end of the story. Nice to understand what it takes to complete the circle. The organizational details from A to Z seem quite daunting, especially that lives are at stake.

    How many other groups are/were awaiting a summit climb?

    Thanks for the update, congrats, and safe journey home.

  6. Grizmtn

    An incredible journey that kept me on the edge of my seat. Dave – an awesome job reporting and your marathon climb. Thank you all for sharing this experience in its entireness and we hope everyone ends the season safely, especially the awesome sherpas. Made my every morning to read and view your updates. Congratulations Melissa – first lady to summit twice? Maybe we can get you to Missoula or even MNRYC to share your experience?

  7. amyengler

    Congratulations to the First Ascent team for your successful 2009 Everest expidition! It’s been incredible to follow your climbing adventure this year. The whole team is an inspiration to all. Your hard work, drive, determination, teamwork, attention to detail/safety, and passion for what you do is remarkable, and a great reminder as to how we can all face the ‘Everests’ of our own lives. The daily blogs and video dispatches were captivating. Thanks for all of your efforts – truly inspirational! Wishing you all a safe return home.
    Amy

  8. returntotheoutdoors

    Ho Dave,

    “If the herc’ don’t come on time there will be no grislock for the wee ones!”

    Quote by old Antarctic explorer.

    Is it time for the herc’? Sounds like it is.

    Kudos on a great ascent – I wish I was there with you Pete, Ed, Jake “The Coulior” Norton, “Clark” Kent Harvey and the smiling Sherpas. You guys rock!

    Hurry down, sign your foot in the Rum Doodle and get back home.

    The Bulgarian Wheelbarrow Artist, The Most Eligeble Bachelor and I have a plan….

    Best,

    Conrad

  9. DD

    Any update on the team would be greatly appreciated.
    Anyone know if they have left the Khumbu Valley, yet?

    GL & GS

  10. Erika Whittaker

    Even though Peter is on an airplane on his way back to us, I am still checking the website numerous times daily, hoping to hear how everybody is doing. Please continue the blogs until everybody is back in Katmandu. There are so many people who care about you all and want to know how things are going on your way back from Basecamp.
    Besides, this expedition has become part of our lives.. I will miss your stories.
    Please be Safe.

  11. DD

    Fantastic! And we wish all those who are on their way home, safe travels, and those whose home is on the mountain, we pray that she watches over you.

    How bitter sweet, the journey is nearly over, the blog is wrapping up and everyone seems to be safe and sound, it has been an incredible couple of weeks. My teachers would have paid money for me to be so interested in reading.

    All kidding aside, a last thank you to everyone involved that made this site, this climb and this experience possible. It truly has been a once in a life time opportunity.

    Best of luck to all in all endeavors that you may take on.

    It has been a blast!

    Good Luck & God Speed

  12. ellmatsie

    Hi guys , i too will miss your stories as they have been by far the most interesting and breathtaking ive ever read and seen,fantastic climb to you all and happy you are all safe.BC brought back memories of my visit last october 08 for my island peak climb that have and will stay etched into my brain forever and ever.Also a special thank you to Alan Arnette for his brilliant updated on all expedition groups , keep blogging till Kathmandu if possible guys , and thanks for such an experience that not many poeple will ever get to know, what a shame !!!!
    have a safe trip to your loved ones .
    nik – sydney aus

  13. suemh

    For some reason, I went out and bought prayer flags @ the Folk Life festival this weekend to hang outside my window. They remind me of what a fantastic ride this has been – whether you work in Bellevue delivering First Ascent product to stores, professionally manage the basecamp and man the radio 24/7 or step by step climb to the top of the world to bring this message of EB returning to Everest to everyone. The blogs have been incredible, the photography awe-inspiring, and the spirit of the journey will remain in my head for a long time to come. Thanks to all and we look forward to being able to applaud your success when everyone is back home safe and sound.

  14. Casimira

    I seriously love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m trying to create my own website and would love to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Kudos!


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