November 30 - Heading Back to Kathmandu

This is Leila Silveira reporting for the Ama Dablam expedition. We had a really exciting summit day, as you know with Jennifer and Nima Tashi’s successful summit. Nima Tashi called on the radio to report they were on the very top at 11:55 AM . Another account had them stepping onto the summit at 12:03 PM : Jennifer’s husband, Greg Seivers reported that was when he watched them step right to the top through his binoculars along the trail between Pangboche and Tangboche! She would have been easy to spot in her one piece yellow climbing suit, although she and Nima Tashi were very tiny and far away.

Grant and Don turned back about 3 hours into the climb or 1/2 the vertical between our Camp III and the summit. Don was reporting that he was "out of gas" and he knew they still had a long way to go. This was a difficult decision, but one that was clearly the correct one. When Don and Grant returned to Camp III they found Wally, Joe and Da Sona waiting. Consideration was given that afternoon to another summit attempt the following day, but at 4:00 PM on the 26th, it was decided that the team would descend together from Camp III to Camp I on the 27th. Jeff Mazar of course was still waiting for the rest of his team at Base camp. As the weather started to deteriorate they all decided to climb down having felt really satisfied that they have given their best shot.

Descending from Camp III to Camp I with Camp II in sight.

The descent from Camp III to Camp I is not to be underestimated. It is downhill, but very technical. It took all day. The stop at the tents at Camp II to take tea felt like it was at the end of very full and demanding mountaineering day on its own and it was! Maegan had come up to Camp I to meet the group, but found that she did not have enough clothes to wait for their late day arrival, so she told them on the radio that she would see them when they made it to Base. A determined Jennifer finally reached Base Camp at 5:00 PM . She described being completely exhausted, but she made it. At about the same time, Joe, Don, Grant and arrived at Camp I and made a request for a Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. Wally, Da Sona and Phu Tashi got back in to Camp 1 after dark.

At that point Wally was coughing too hard to eat Macaroni, so he and Grant sat through the night talking and waiting for morning. Ang Temba, Min and several of the other Sherpas arrived in the pre-dawn to send him down on oxygen and have a helicopter take him to Kathmandu to avoid any complications.

We all worked together as a team and by the time Wally arrived in base camp the chopper was already standing by waiting form him and took him to Kathmandu immediately where he was checked by doctor Johnnie Yates and sent to the hotel Yak and Yeti to rest. He is fine, although very tired and now in Kathmandu waiting for the rest of the team.

The trek back through the familiar villages of Pangboche, Namche, Phakding and Lukla has been tiring on sore muscles, but the group called me from Lukla last night. Everyone was changing flights to leave for Bangkok and on to home as soon as possible. We have all their requests at the office in Kathmandu and the airlines have options for everyone to leave Kathmandu on December 2 if they want. Now it hinges on good flying weather from Lukla this morning…. It should not be a problem this time of year, but it is always a good feeling to be off from the Lukla airstrip. We will know in a few hours time.

It will be interesting to see how everyone feels with the stimulation of city life in Kathmandu . Wally just told me on the telephone that Elizibeth Hawley, Kathmandu ’s legendary mountaineering journalist, will be waiting to meet the group at 10:00 AM this morning at the Yak and Yeti.

A "Liz Hawley" interview is always a part of a climbing expedition to Nepal . It is perhaps best described as a proud obligation that a climber meets with Liz so that she can check for correct spellings of names, times and dates of camps and other details. It will be interesting to see, assuming the flight comes from Lukla, how this rates against showers and the breakfast buffet at the hotel for our group this morning!

Our objective:

Ama Dablam
Nepal Himalaya

22,494 feet
6857 meters

First Ascent:

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