October 19, 2006 Bryce and Sherpas Resting Safely at Camp II / Skiers Return to Base
Congratulations Berg Adventures 2006 Everest Team, YOU DID IT!
This morning I began to work very early on the radio to communicate with Camp IV. After yesterday’s remarkable success with 14 of our team members standing on the summit together, I knew that the Sherpas and climbing team members would need an early start from the Col today. That is not an easy thing to do everything is frozen, it is windy and blustery, and your muscles and your nerves are worn from the night and a long day above 8000 meters.
Even though you need more than anything else in the world to go down it is hard to get moving.
But this team did get moving in a big way….
Of course much of my excitement was about Kit, Jimmy and Rob skiing the Lhotse Face. Would they be able to do it? I could only wonder if they would be able to get warm enough. As Jimmy told me after it was all done, “that was some ‘Breakfast of Champions” to start turning down 5000 feet of bullet proof ice first thing in the morning” I heard Ang Pemba report at about 9:45AM that he saw them enter the South Pillar side of the massive Lhotse Face, behind the Geneva Spur. At 10:42AM, he reported that they had skied over the bergshrund to the safety of the Western Cwm. I was relieved and a few minutes later Jimmy called me on the radio, “we all agreed that was the hardest skiing we’d ever done!” I knew that after yesterday’s climb and descent, and a start like that to their day; I would see this team before the day was over here at Base.
Meanwhile Dave, Bryce, and Mingma Ongel started down the fixed lines toward Camp III and on down to Camp II. The rest of those remarkable Sherpas on our team began to pack up Camp IV. Amazingly they cleared all the South Col, and packed up Camp III on the way down to boot.
After that tremendous carry, all the Sherpas are resting at Camp II tonight. Bryce is with them and reports that he looks forward a good night’s sleep and an early start back to Base tomorrow.
Dave caught his skiing team in the Icefall on the way down and I met them all out by the chorten just as the sun went down. We popped open some champagne to celebrate a remarkable expedition, one team, one mountain, Sherpas, Canadians, Americans, mountaineers, dreamers, and doers. This group reached high, learned about the thin margin between success and disaster above 8000 meters, made the right call in every case, and they were blessed by the mountain gods. Cause for celebration tonight.
We’ve begun to look at some of the images from these past two days on the monitor of Jimmy’s camera. Tomorrow we will send a few out just to give you a taste of the amazing days just past for this team.