Image: Sombre moments of reflection Sombre moments of reflection

Down and Out
29 May 2005    
On awakening this morning the atmosphere was pensive as today is decision day: do we go up or down? There was an acute awareness that our 'cut off' date was rapidly approaching. Over breakfast all members expressed their interest to continue our summit bid if safely possible. All folks were in great health.

However, an update of weather data revealed a consensus among four independent forecasting agencies that prohibitively strong winds would continue until at least June 3. The possibility of a lull in the winds had once again failed to materialise in the short term. On a more positive weather note, we were once again treated to a fantastic display of picturesque high-wind clouds.

To compound our problems with the weather, late today we learned that 'the icefall' would close on June 4. This means that the ladders and fixed ropes would be pulled. Access would become time-consuming, dangerous and a technically very difficult proposition. Given that it would take our strong climbing Sherpa team 5 or 6 days to clear the mountain of our oxygen and equipment, our time is essentially up.

We have been forced into making the only logical decision available to us; tomorrow we will descend.

All members are very disappointed not to summit. We have all put in months of preparation, so it's difficult to let go the dream. Friends, family and supporters will share our disappointment. But we are settling into the philosophy that 'the summit is optional, returning is compulsory'.

Fifty-five days have passed since we flew into Lukla and began our approach trek. During this time we have become a compatible and supportive team of friends sharing many funny and poignant moments.
Tomorrow we will get an early start and descend from Camp 2 to Base Camp. Members are already making return travel plans and shifting mental gears to the future. Our climbing Sherpas plan to begin clearing equipment from the South Col tomorrow. Ang Tsering, our expedition Sirdar, is ordering the 80 or so yaks necessary to return our expedition equipment.

If there were a whisky bottle at Camp 2 tonight, we would all be slugging from it. As it is I guess this will have to wait until tomorrow.

Mike for the AC Team

Previous Dispatches
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Licorice monster released    28 May 2005
Last night calm descended over camp two. For a number of hours before, we could hear the constant roar of wind swirling around the summit. Then the calm gave way to sheets of lightning, claps of thu

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Spectacular Clouds Enroute to Camp 2    27 May 2005
This morning at camp 1 we awoke to a spectacular SW surgence of the jet stream. An ever-changing cascade of high speed wind clouds danced and swirled over the summits of Lhotse and Everest. It really

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Summit Push Begins    26 May 2005
After ten days at base camp resting and bidding our time we are once again on the move. Our summit push has begun and today we traveled through to camp 1. The effects of recent hot temperatures are st

Later dispatches - Previous dispatches