November 14 - Slippery Descent

This is Wally Berg calling on November 14. We awoke at Camp Three the morning after our Ama Dablam summit to a snow storm. Any time you have a snow storm at 21,000 feet on a mountain face in the Himalayas, it’s a very serious matter. I knew this entire group was up for it, however.

Wally Berg on the radioWe got ourselves organized at Camp Three and began down the lines. Remember I last described us rappelling off the summit of Ama Dablam in beautiful sunshine - that was a beautiful experience.

It's 3,000 feet from Camp Three to the relative security and flatness of Camp One. Virtually every step of the way on the fixed lines required attention and skill from the climbing members. But when you add fresh snow and rocks, it becomes much more interesting. We would stand as we switched past rappel anchors hanging from the rope above the anchor changing to the line below. Frequently we would switch from a mechanical ascender to a horizontal line moving across the face in the other direction.

All of this, remember, on icy, slippery rock from the new snowfall.

Ryland, Doug, Garry and of course David and Brent were up to this task. Eight hours later we arrived at Camp One tired from the constant attention of the ascent and descent but proud of our accomplishment.

At Camp One Ryland, Doug, Dave, Nima Tashi and Brent decided to continue on, knowing that they would be walking in the darkness part of the way down to Base Camp. They arrived there safely last night.

Myself, Garry and the climbing Sherpa Tami who’d come up to meet us decided we’d rather have a hot dinner and re-hydrate with hot drinks at Camp One.

Now I’m reporting from mid-way between Camp One and Advanced Base Camp. Via radio reports I’ve talked to Brent several times and I understand the entire first leg of the team is relaxing down at Base Camp. Garry and I and Tami enjoyed salami, coffee, tea and oatmeal at Camp One and now I’m watching Garry walk happily toward Base Camp below me.

We’re all moving down to Tangboche tonight. Remember, Ang Temba’s house is in Tangboche. So we’re reentering civilization.

This BAI climbing team has a lot to be grateful for and also a lot to be proud of for their success on this demanding route on a big mountain in the Himalayas.

Ama Dablam 2002
BAI team:

Wally Berg,
Canmore, Alberta
Brent Bishop,
Bozeman, Montana
David Burger,
Boulder, Colorado
Garry Porter
Olalla, Washington
Ryland Gardner
Edwards, Colorado
Doug Frost
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Our objective:

22,494 feet
6857 meters

First Ascent:

March 13, 1961
Barry Bishop
Wally Ramanes
Mike Gill
Mike Ward