Everest Daily Report
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We have added a number of summit pictures to our Picture Gallery page. Click here to view these.
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Vaughan on the Hillary Step (8760 m), 24 May 2006
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Chumbe Sherpa, Sean and Vaughan at the summit of Mount Everest (8848 m), 24th May 2006
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Sean awaiting his climbing partner, Vaughan, just before summiting
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Jangbu Sherpa with Sponsors' flag at South Col (7850 m), 23rd May 2006
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Approaching the South Summit (8750 m), 24th May 2006
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Date: Monday 5th June 2006

Final Wrap-up by Sean Disney

Hi All, It is great to be back after a long trip - we went to 72 days in total with approximately 58 days on Everest.   The season this year was fantastic, warm and the ice fall was in great condition with approximately 18 ladders.   All went according to plan and summit day was amazing, clear and everything I ever dreamed it would be and more - no book or photo can simulate it and the famous features like the Balcony, the South Summit and the Hillary step were each a special experience!   We stayed on top for 30 minutes and watched the sun rise before descending back to C4.  Climbing Everest is a strategy and every time I go there, the formula becomes more apparent.   You have to be patient, deal with the emotional highs and lows, and take the good with the bad (there's always a rumour of bad weather and doom and gloom).  To summit, you need a lucky day, good weather, good health and good logistics - sometimes you don't get all of these in one day!   Everest attracts the best guides in the world and it was great to meet some old friends from my decade of guiding.    Special thanks go to my climbing partners Vaughan and René, and our sherpas Pemba, Jangbu and Chumbe.   Also to Michael Hodges, my techno guru in San Francisco and especially to our wives Janet, Liz and Gail as well as Jenny at ADI for all the support and help.  To everyone who sent an SMS, you kept us going with your best wishes!  Also to everyone who was following our progress on the web - thanks for the loyalty and support - we know you were surfing and following us daily.   Adventure Dynamics will run their next guided ascent of Everest in 2008, let us know if you are interested and check out www.adventuredynamics.co.za for info and details.   Go well !  Adios, Sean

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The Team: René, Vaughan and Sean at Johannesburg International Airport, 2nd June 2006
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Date: Friday 2nd June 2006

News for the day: Welcome home! Our Everest summiteers, Sean and Vaughan, arrived in Johannesburg this afternoon looking a little leaner than usual, but otherwise very well, happy and extremely excited. They were greeted by a big crowd of family and friends, and spent the remainder of the afternoon at the airport exchanging news and filling everyone in with details of their expedition. They must have been extremely tired since it appears that their trip home was not as rosy as the picture painted below! On arrival at Kathmandu airport yesterday morning, they discovered that their 60-day visas had expired, and they were required to return to town to have the visas renewed. This resulted in a very big delay  and they were then only able to catch a plane out of Kathmandu yesterday evening. They spent the night at the airport with very little sleep and then boarded the Qatar Airlines plane home this morning. They will both sleep long and well tonight in their very own beds after an absence of 10 weeks.

Thank you to all our readers who have religiously followed this site day after day. We appreciate your continued interest and support. Sean will be doing a wrap-up of the trip on this website in a few day's time. We look forward to reading this and seeing some of the glorious pictures of the summit.

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Mount Everest
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Highest point reached: Sean and Vaughan - 8848 m (Everest Summit)
René - 6500 m (Camp II)
Congratulations to the team!

Date: Thursday 1st June 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan were due to leave Kathmandu for Doha, Qatar this morning. They were booked to stay overnight in Doha, courtesy of Qatar Airways, and would be taking the early morning flight, QR 584, to Johannesburg tomorrow. Their expected time of arrival is 16h00 tomorrow afternoon. If you are planning to meet the team at the airport, it is worth checking the actual arrival time as the plane could be delayed or, it could arrive earlier than expected. Call ACSA on 086-7277-888 for arrival information.

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Landing at Doha Airport
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Shopping Street in Kathmandu, 13 May 2006
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Date: Wednesday 31st May 2006

News for the day: Another tough day in Asia. Sean and Vaughan have not called in today with news so we can only assume that they have been very busy shopping for carpets, jewellery etc. Their flight out from Kathmandu to Doha-Johannesburg on Thursday has been confirmed, and we excitedly await their return on Friday at Johannesburg International Airport at 16h10.

Date: Tuesday 30th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan are very relieved to have arrived in Kathmandu. After yet another night at Lobuche awaiting the helicopter, they might just have had thoughts of walking out to Lukhla, which would have delayed their homecoming by another two or three days! They are still ecstatic about their achievement on Everest and they can hardly think of anything else at the moment! They spent the day in town shopping, and enjoying a little bit of civilisation once again. At this point, the first possible flight out of Kathmandu is Thursday. The team will stay overnight in Doha and take the connection to Johannesburg on Friday morning. They are expected to arrive at Johannesburg Airport at 16h10 on Friday afternoon. We all look forward to welcoming them home!

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Vaughan and Sean flying from Kathmandu to Lukhla
1st April 2006.
Did they know then that they would vanquish the mountain?
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Date: Monday 29th May 2006

News for the day: News has just come through from Sean that he and Vaughan are still at Lobuche. The helicopter has been unable to land at Lobuche on account of very misty conditions. The team members are hoping and praying that they will be able to leave the mountains tomorrow, in which case they will arrive in Johannesburg on Thursday morning, 1st June. We will let you know as soon as we have any further news.

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Lobuche, 10th May 2006
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 image of the Trekking Route to and from Base Camp
Date: Sunday 28th May 2006

News for the day: Unfortunately, due to bad weather, the helicopter was not able to fly to Lobuche (4930 m) today to take our team members to Kathmandu. They are therefore impatiently spending another day in this small trekking village, and are hoping to leave for Kathmandu at 6.30 tomorrow morning, weather permitting. Everest north side news is that the Australian summiteer and survivor, Lincoln Hall, left Advanced Base Camp (6400 m) today on a yak (see picture courtesy of Jamie McGuinness - ProjectHimalaya.com). http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=3315 reports today that at the start of the spring 2006 Everest season, the peak had been summited 2557 times. This season is expected to record up to 500 summits, a result of the excellent weather conditions. This must surely be a record!

Sean and Vaughan, very sunburnt, at the bottom of the Icefall after returning from their trip to Camps II and III, 9th May 2006
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The team in the dining tent.
From left: Vaughan, René, Dawa Junior (the cook's son), Démaris (Brown University researcher), Dawa (Base Camp cook), Sirdar Pemba Sherpa, Sean
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Date: Saturday 27th May 2006

News for the day: After completing all their packing up this morning, the team members began their four hour hike down to Lobuche (4930 m). They plan to spend the night in this small hamlet and then take a helicopter to Kathmandu in the morning. News from the north side of the mountain is that Australian climber, Lincoln Hall, has made a miraculous recovery. At 2 pm Nepalese time today, he managed to walk into Advanced Base Camp, 6400 m, "in reasonably good health" according to the news report on http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=3306. His doctor has, however, pronounced that he has 2nd to 3rd degree frostbite on his hands (on a scale of 1 to 4).

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Sean, one of the team's Sherpas, and René back in Base Camp after their trip to Camp II, 28th April 2006
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Base Camp, 5th May 2006: Our team's camp
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Date: Friday 26th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan arrived back at Base Camp (5360 m) today and reported that they were very happy indeed to be down. Sean could have made good use of his fishing rod on the return trip as the Icefall was thawing out very quickly. Tomorrow the team members will spend the morning packing up all their bags and barrels, and these will be transported down to Lukhla by the porters during the next two weeks. Pemba Sherpa has collected a number of rock samples for René from Camp IV and above, and these will be brought back to South Africa by the team. As soon as they are ready to leave tomorrow, the successful summiteers will bid farewell to their home for the last seven weeks, and hike down to Lobuche where they will be taking a helicopter to Kathmandu on Sunday. They will arrive home on Wednesday morning, 31st May, at 5.15 am (South African time). Incredible news from the north side of the mountain is that the Australian climber, Lincoln Hall, who was pronounced dead yesterday by his expedition leader, is alive and has been rescued after having  spent the night out on the mountain at 8700 m. The latest report is that Lincoln and the rescue party have reached North Col (7000 m), and although Lincoln has regained consciousness, he remains in an extremely serious condition (http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=3303).

South Col Climbing Route
Date: Thursday 25th May 2006

News for the day: At the time of reporting (3.45 pm Nepalese time), Sean, Vaughan and their three Sherpas had returned to Camp II (6500 m). Chumbe Sherpa was busy packing up the team's tents and equipment, and the dining tent would serve as sleeping quarters for the night. It is relatively warm at Camp II at the moment and the Icefall is expected to be very slushy when the team descends to Base Camp (5360 m) tomorrow. Sadly, the group came across the Czech climber, Pavel Kalny's body today on their way to Camp II. He was killed after a fall from the Lhotse Gulley on 10th May 2006. The number of deaths in the Everest region this season has now risen to eleven with the news of the deaths on the north side of the Russian climber, Igor Plyushkin, the French climber, Jacques-Hugues Letrange, and the German visually impaired climber, Thomas Weber.  On a more positive note, we salute the achievements of two fellow South African climbers: Selebelo Selamolela summited from the north side on 18th May and Ronnie Muhl reached a height of 8700 m, only 148 m short of the summit, on 21st May. Selebelo is the second African, and the 7th South African, to summit Everest. Sean and Vaughan are placed 8th and 9th in the ranking of South Africans who have climbed to the top of the world, and they have also both become members of the exclusive Seven Summits club, having climbed to the highest point on each of the 7 continents. Our congratulations! As a thank you gift for participating in the NASA Cognitive Test Programme, the team was given a bottle of Indian Blend Scotch Whiskey. They are looking forward to a small celebration on their return to Base Camp tomorrow.

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Mount Everest, elusive to some but not to all
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Date: Wednesday 24th May 2006

News for the day: Yes, they made it, in a record time of 8˝ hours. Congratulations to Sean, Vaughan, Pemba Sherpa and Chumbe Sherpa who arrived at the top of Everest (8848 m) at 5.30 am, Nepalese time (1.45 am South African time). Jangbu Sherpa was not feeling too well and turned back at The Balcony. Sean reports that the weather was absolutely perfect with not a breath of wind all the way up to the South Summit. Despite the hard slog, the difficult ridges, and some tough icy patches, both Sean and Vaughan felt very strong throughout the climb. The sun rose just as they arrived at South Summit, and the remainder of the climb to the true summit in the morning light was an indescribable experience. They felt privileged to be able to tread upon such hallowed ground as the Hillary Step, successfully negotiated 53 years ago by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Norgay Tenzing. The view from the top, with Makalu, and many of the other 8000 m surrounding peaks, was breathtaking. The teams'  flags were all placed at the top and pictures were taken. At the summit, the group met five or six Sherpas who had reached the top from the north side ten minutes previously. The trip back down to Camp IV took four hours and only once they had arrived, and were safely back in their tents, did the team members realise just how tired they were. They will remain in Camp IV for the next 20 hours before descending to Camp II where they will sleep tomorrow night. On Friday they will return to Base Camp, and then start making arrangements to return home. Again, our very best wishes and congratulations to the entire team.

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A Climber Traversing from the South Summit to the Hillary Step
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From the Hillary Step to the Top of Everest
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The Summit Bid

The team is ready. At 9 pm (5.15 pm South African time) on Tuesday 23rd May, Sean Disney, Vaughan De La Harpe, Sirdar Pemba Sherpa, Jangbu Sherpa and Chumbe Sherpa will begin their Everest summit attempt. They estimate that the trip up will take 11˝ hours. The route from Camp IV (7950 m) to the summit (8848 m) is via The Balcony (8400 m), the South Summit (8750 m), the exposed Cornice Traverse, the 12 m rock wall known as the Hillary Step (8760 m), and a final climb over a loose, rocky section which has moderately angled slopes but  enormous exposure on both sides. We wish the team a safe, successful journey and Godspeed.

Dawn from The Balcony (8400 m)
Permission to publish picture from Cathy O'Dowd at

Map showing the South-East Ridge Route from Camp IV as far as the South Summit

Date: Tuesday 23rd May 2006

News for the day: The team spent the day at South Col, conserving their energy for the big night ahead. They did however do a  45 minute walk-about to Huddle Rock, which serves as a reminder to all climbers of the 1996 disaster in which eight climbers lost their lives in a horrendous storm. From here, they had a magnificent view of Makalu (8462 m), the fifth highest mountain in the world. The weather forecast remains excellent with clear skies and winds of 10 knots (20 km/hr) predicted for tonight, and tomorrow morning and afternoon. Temperatures for tonight and tomorrow will be in the region of -26°C, reaching -35°C with the wind chill. Both climbers are feeling very well, and the Sherpas are extremely relieved that, finally, they have been given the go-ahead to move up to the top of their beloved "Chomo Lungma", Goddess Mother of the World.

South Col Tents

Date: Monday 22nd May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan reached South Col (Camp IV - 7950 m) in six hours today. This altitude is a new personal best for Vaughan,  and he is to be commended on this. Both team members feel extremely fit, and they are proud of the time it took them to climb to Camp IV. The wind speed was 5 to 7 knots (10 to 14 km/hr), and it was a calm and beautiful day. Today's lunch consisted of smoked beef and burritos. At the time of reporting (6 pm Nepalese time), the team was just watching the sun go down. Sean had been off oxygen for an hour and was feeling fine.  Tomorrow, the team is going for a 45 minute walk to the site of the "1953 Expedition Camp IV" for "a bit of exercise". The weather forecast for tomorrow night and Wednesday morning shows clear skies with winds of 10 and 5 knots respectively (20 and 10 km/hr). The summit bid will be going ahead as planned: The 2-man team and three Sherpas will leave Camp IV at approximately  9 pm tomorrow evening, and they hope to reach the top at approximately 8.30 am (4.45 am South African time).

Date: Sunday 21st May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan left Camp II (6500 m) today at 8 am, as planned, and reached Camp III (7450 m) after a six and a half hour journey. There was a little bit of cloud which made climbing very pleasant since it was not too hot. They climbed in their T-shirts. On arrival, they melted 6 litres of snow and enjoyed delicious soup for lunch. In order to ensure that they remain in peak condition, they will be using oxygen throughout the remainder of the day and night at 1 litre/min. They plan to leave for South Col (Camp IV - 7950 m) tomorrow morning at 6 am. They will continue to use oxygen for this part of the climb but will increase the flow rate to 2 litres/min. Sean reports that the three Sherpas are itching to get to the summit and have to be restrained on a leash! If the weather forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning remains as good as it is at present, we will see our team at the top of the world on Wednesday morning.

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The Lhotse face with Camp III approximately mid-way
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Date: Saturday 20th May 2006

News for the day:  Sean and Vaughan are feeling very well. The weather at Camp II (6500 m) this time has been very hot compared to the cold temperatures experienced on their previous visit on 5th May. They plan to leave for Camp III (7450 m) tomorrow morning at 8 am. The trip should take them no more than six hours. They will sleep on oxygen (1 litre/min) at Camp III for one night before proceeding to Camp IV (7950 m) on Monday 22nd May where they will again sleep on oxygen. All going well, they will leave Camp IV at approximately 10 pm on Tuesday night, headed for the top!  Their oxygen flow rate whilst moving from Camp IV to the summit will be approximately 2,5 litres/min. At present, the weather forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday is excellent. News from the mountain is that more than 300 climbers are expected to summit this year on account of the excellent conditions. On a far less positive note, www.mounteverest.net brings us the following two news items: (1) On 17th May, Brazilian climber, Vitor Negrete, reported from Camp III, as he was setting off for the summit: "I am going tonight, without O2, without a Sherpa and without a sat-phone, since the batteries of the one I have are almost gone. I am going completely on my own. I promise I’ll be careful." A day later, he achieved his goal, becoming the first Brazilian to summit Everest without oxygen.  Sadly, however, he died on his way down the mountain. (2) The Swedish climber, Tomas Olsson, who summited from the north side last Tuesday 16th May, is still missing on the mountain. He and his Norwegian climbing partner were attempting to ski down the north face after their successful summit attempt. At 8500 m, however, they encountered a steep 50 m rocky section, and whilst Tomas was rappelling down, the snow anchor broke, causing him to fall and to continue sliding down the wall. A helicopter has now been dispatched to assist in the ongoing search for the Swedish climber. Addendum 21st May: News has just come through that Sherpas found the body of Tomas Olsson at 6700 m yesterday evening. The body will be lowered 300 m down the face in order to avoid the avalanche zone, and will then be helicoptered out. This brings to eight the number of deaths in the Everest region this year.

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Sean & Vaughan in the Dining Tent at Camp II, 27 April 06
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Date: Friday 19th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan spent a quiet day at Camp II today. Tomorrow will be a rest day again, and they plan to move up to Camp III on Sunday. They will then wait for the perfect day before making their summit attempt (Wednesday 24th May could be the big day). They are expecting the next wave of summits to take place next week. Kaji's restaurant produced a good meal today, but not quite as fine as Brown's in Rivonia where a certain member of the team dined at lunch-time!

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Sean and Vaughan coming up to Camp II, 26 April 2006
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In the Western Cwm, 28th April 2006:
Everest in background at 7 o'clock to sun; Lhotse at 5 o'clock
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Date: Thursday 18th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughn reached Camp II (6500 m) after a 10 hour climb and a “picnic” in the Western Cwm (hence the slow time in reaching Camp II). Both are feeling well. At the time of reporting, Kaji, the Camp II cook, was preparing eggs and chips for Sean and fried rice for Vaughan. Kaji was also being accused of stealing all the oxygen from the dining tent with his kerosene stove (boy, does that stove stink, besides burn up oxygen like a jet engine!). Although there have been 42 south side summits over the last few days, wind speeds are forecast to increase to between 20 and 38 knots (40 to 76km/hr) over the next five days, and the teams at South Col will take a decision today whether to retreat or to go for the summit. Sean and Vaughan will sit out the next few days at Camp II if wind speeds do not abate. It is possible to summit in wind speeds of 30 knots (because of the thinner air at 8000 m and resulting lower pressure) but it is risky. At this stage it looks like our team could be making a summit attempt on Wednesday next week.

Today's report by René Hochreiter

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The Khumbu Icefall
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The Khumbu Icefall: Sean and Vaughan dodging crevasses
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Date: Wednesday 17th May 2006

News for the day: The team members spent another quiet day, conserving all their physical and mental energy for the days ahead when their summit push begins. They will be leaving Base Camp tomorrow morning at 3 am, and the climb to Camp II (6500 m) will take a good 9 hours. Once again, they will be crossing the perilous Khumbu Icefall during the first part of their journey; this will be their seventh time crossing this hazardous link to the upper reaches of the mountain. They shared a visitors' lunch with a fellow South African climber at Base Camp today, Philip Rainer. Meanwhile, back home, René is nursing his injured (not for the squeamish) toe back to health, and his cough is gradually improving. He ventured into the office today but was promptly sent home. Up on the south side summit, four members of the Jagged Globe team, plus two Sherpas, were the first summiteers of the season (from the south). Rhys Jones, who has just turned 20, is now the youngest Briton to have climbed the "7 Summits". A few hours later, members of the Korean team also summited from the south.  On the north side, James Hooper and Rob Gauntlett have become the youngest Britons to summit Everest ever. They both turned 19 during the current expedition. On a sadder note, a British climber, David Sharp, is the 6th this season to lose his life in the Everest area. He was attempting to summit from the north side, reportedly without Sherpa help. It is not known whether or not he reached the top.

Date: Tuesday 16th May 2006

News for the day: Friday 19th May has been forecast as the beginning of a good weather window, and it is therefore expected that a number of summits from the south side will occur on this day. Earlier today, the south side ropes had been fixed only as far as the Balcony. The Jagged Globe team, nonetheless, is set to try for the south summit tonight, hoping the Sherpas will have fixed the ropes all the way to the top by then! Sean and Vaughan will rest at Base Camp again tomorrow and will then move up to Camp II on Thursday where they will probably await the next weather window. They enjoyed fresh chicken and lamb for dinner which had recently been transported to Base Camp from Lobuche. They spent some time today checking out their oxygen equipment to ensure that it was functioning 100%. On the north side, double amputee and mountaineer, Mark Inglis from New Zealand, was lauded for "successfully scaling the world's highest peak". This achievement occurred on Mark's 46th birthday - what a birthday present!

Date: Monday 15th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan left Kathmandu this morning at 7 am and arrived at Lobuche an hour and a half later. They began their trek back to Base Camp (5360 m), stopping on the way at Gorak Shep for lunch. They arrived at Base Camp at 1.30 pm and were soon settled in to their familiar surroundings. Tomorrow will be a rest day and then they will start making plans for their summit bid. They are feeling fit, well and strong. They will need to wait for a good weather window, which is when the jet stream moves off the summit for a few days, creating a relatively wind-free, and warmer period (-20° as against -30° or -40°C) for the summiteers. René arrived at Johannesburg International Airport at 4.45 am and was joyfully reunited with his family. See below for his homecoming note.

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Vaughan and Sean beginning their trip up the Khumbu Icefall before sunrise on 17 April 2006
Top left is Mt Pumori whilst top right is the Lingtren1 peak
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René in his down jacket
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René's Homecoming Note: I arrived back in Johannesburg this morning, ending my current attempt on Everest. I wish to thank everyone who personally sent me messages of encouragement, especially my family who supported me all the way. Between my irritating toe and Khumbu Cough, and my unhappy state of mind after the three sherpas died in the Icefall, capped by the death of the Czech climber on the Lhotse face, I felt I could not continue. Sean has kindly agreed to take my sponsors’ flags to the summit, weather permitting. Our sherpas each have a camera and they will record the placing of the flags on the summit. Thank you, once again, to my generous sponsors for the opportunity given to me to experience the wonders of this mountain.

Note of thanks from René - I would like to acknowledge all my friends and family who sent messages to me during the seven weeks I was on the mountain:

(Amongst others): Mark and Sandy Rule; Dorian Emmett; Roeland van Kerckhoven; Richard and Wendy Lovell Greene; Sandy and Susan Green; James Allan; Gustav & Alex van Rensburg; Robyn & Pete Major; Richard Nevin; Leon and Rina Krynauw; Jon & Margie Dudas; Audrey & Vic Coetzee; The Lautenbach family; Bob Ilgner; Ken Greve; Isabelle Sinclair; Wally & Joann Ruffels; Gerry; Robinn, Matthew and Shannon Kearney; Amelia Soares; Loucas Pouroulis; Jonathan Clarke; many, many messages from my wife Gail, and the girls Kims and Jax; Bill and Sandy Murray; Robin and Janette Wallis;  Wayne Domnick; Helen Suzor; Gary Pearson; My father; Nieves, Pedro, Jonathan and Sabrina Sciulli; Greg and Judy Hunter; Christine Spargel; Joan Ryder; Kim Blanchard; Sharlene King; Deon Meiring; Emma von Klemperer; Stephen Arthur; Aletta Cronje and the Nedbank Capital Mining Team; Kevin Jacobs from New York; Bill Canuck; John Truter; Dawie le Roux for all the Weather info and JSE Market info; Irina Lynova; Judy Adams; Wendy van Elden; Ross Elliot; Yusuf Vorajee; Dave Russell; James Gubb; Mike Nahon; Nick van Rensburg; Nolan Menachemson from New York; Dave Pleming; Mike and  Doreen Pleming; Rhulani Lehong; Ilja Graulich; Dirk Kotze; Ronnie Muhl; Dr. Joe Teeger; Errol Gottlich; Alison Beck; Mike Hodges; The Bricteuxs from Madrid; Ken and Ruth Peake; Margaret and Brian Disney; The Ray family; Dawn Denton; Bill Belovay; Alan Rip; Helen Hoyle, Jenny Robertson, Rodney Douglas; Chris & Sally Moffat; Danie van Jaarsveld; Joan Honer; Staff at St Mary's School; Staff at Roedean School, Mike Holt, Colette Szymczak, Greg and Judy Hunter

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The Hyatt Hotel, Kathmandu
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Date: Sunday 14th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan spent their last day in Kathmandu relaxing at the hotel. Tomorrow morning, they will be taking the helicopter back to Lobuche, weather permitting. René took an early flight out of Kathmandu today to Doha in Qatar. He spent the day at the Marriott Hotel enjoying the excellent hospitality of Qatar airways, and was due to catch the plane to Johannesburg at 9.15 pm this evening. The 3-man team enjoyed a sumptuous farewell meal last night at Chez Caroline: Lamb chops and steak with trimmings, apple crumble and ice-cream, accompanied by the best wine they have tasted in years, a bottle of Brouilly 2001, a "full-bodied, fruity, rich red" wine from the Beaujolais region in South-East France.

Date: Saturday 13th May 2006

News for the day: This morning the team awoke at seven after a deep, restful sleep. They enjoyed a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs, an all-time favourite. It was raining heavily, but this did not prevent them from having a productive day. In the morning they journeyed to Thamel, a shopping district of Kathmandu with Internet Cafés, outstanding restaurants and excellent bookshops. René and Vaughan visited a bookshop and ordered, amongst other books, Everest and Other Big Mountains. These will be bound in pig-skin leather and shipped to South Africa as a reminder of this extraordinary time in their lives. Some other curio items were bought such as T-shirts and gifts. They spent a relaxing afternoon taking advantage of the many benefits the hotel has to offer: a stunning pool, soothing treatments such as massages, and comfortable rooms with DSTV, to name a few. The evening brought a wonderful dinner of farewell and thanks on René’s part, as a token of his appreciation for the support and friendship he has received from Sean and Vaughan over the past six weeks. René has managed to get a seat on tomorrow’s plane from Kathmandu and he will be arriving in Johannesburg early on Monday morning.

Today’s report by Jacqueline Hochreiter

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A bustling street in the Thamel District of Kathmandu
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Date: Friday 12th May 2006

News for the day: The team enjoyed a commitment free day today. René and Sean went into town and René took the opportunity to have a haircut. Vaughan spent time catching up on his sleep. Both Vaughan and Sean are feeling much better and are recovering quickly. For dinner, the team enjoyed pizzas at the Fire and Ice Pizzeria which boasts the "best pizzas in town". It is also (reportedly) the only place in the whole country which serves soft-serve ice-cream. At the time of reporting (9 pm Nepalese time), there was a full moon, the weather was clear, and the temperatures were in the region of 20°C. Earlier on in the day, temperatures had risen to 30°C, a far cry from the -32°C minimum temperature forecast at altitude 8848 m tonight! Up on the north side of the mountain, the 80 km/hr strong winds have forced climbers to abandon their immediate summit bids; on the south side, the Jagged Globe (UK) and Mallorca teams report that they are aiming to summit on the 17th May!

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Flying into the Kathmandu Valley
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Durbar Square, Kathmandu

Date: Thursday 11th May 2006

News for the day: The team enjoyed a 2 hour helicopter ride down to Kathmandu today in very good weather. They arrived in the capital city at 12 noon. Sean and Vaughan are still very tired and sunburnt, and spent the afternoon sleeping. René's chest is a little better but his toe is not looking too good. He is hoping to clear the infection with plenty of visits to the steam bath tomorrow. This is certainly a time of pampering before the next part of the epic begins for Sean and Vaughan. They will be flying back to Lobuche, weather permitting, on Monday 15th May. René is booked to return to Johannesburg on the same day. Many of the south side climbers are resting in villages below Base Camp whilst the Sherpas are fixing the ropes above South Col. Meanwhile, on the north side, it is reported that a Georgian climber summited Everest yesterday, and 2 Americans reached the top today. There is tragic news from Mount Elbrus where 7 Russian and Ukranian climbers have died, and 4 are still missing, after they were caught in temperatures of -50°C only 300 m from the summit. Mt Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, stands at 5600 m.

Date: Wednesday 10th May 2006

News for the day: The trek down to Lobuche (4930 m) this morning took only 3 hours. However, on arrival, the team found that the helicopter had been delayed in Lukhla due to bad weather. They are staying overnight at the Lobuche lodge, which, in contrast to just over a month ago, should be fairly empty at this stage of the season. They hope to leave for Kathmandu at 7 in the morning, weather permitting. Sean and Vaughan are still feeling the effects of their climb to Camp III in the searing heat when they got very sunburnt and dehydrated. No doubt, a few days at the Hyatt will put everything right! They should, however, resist the temptation to zip up their 5 star blankets before going to sleep! On a more serious note, there was another unfortunate accident on the mountain yesterday. A Czech climber, Pavel Kalny, who, it seems, was not roped in correctly, and who was climbing without the help of Sherpas, slipped on the ice of the Lhotse face and fell approximately 600 m, injuring himself badly. He was found by a group of Sherpas this morning suffering from severe frostbite and hypothermia, but died as he was being taken down. This "comes as a sad reminder of the 1996 tragedy which took the lives of eight people including guides Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, exactly 10 years ago today - making it one of the deadliest days in the mountain's history." (Extract from http://www.mounteverest.net/). On the north side of the mountain, climbers are moving past North Col aiming for the summit, and traffic jams at fixed ropes have been reported. The south side climbers will push for the top as soon as the Sherpas have completed the fixing of the route.

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Climbers approaching Lobuche Peak
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The Lhotse Face; Picture from the Polish Everest Team

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Base Camp at Night, taken by the Polish Everest Team
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Date: Tuesday 9th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan arrived back from Camp II at 1 pm today. An excited reception party consisting of Brown University researchers, personnel from the Base Camp clinic, and, of course, René, welcomed them back "home". To have achieved a height of 7450 m is no mean feat! Tomorrow they will all depart for Lobuche on foot, after which they will take a helicopter ride to Kathmandu. René has made a decision to return home from Kathmandu on account of his health. He also feels that he is now too far behind in the acclimatisation sequence to be able to attempt a summit push with his team in a few weeks' time. Sean has kindly offered to take the sponsors' flag up to the top for René. At this point, Sean, Vaughan and René wish to extend their sincere thanks to their wives for all the support they have received. They also wish to thank their many friends and family members who have sent so many encouraging and supportive SMS messages. Sean's secretary, Jenny, who has been constantly hard at work behind the scenes, is also sincerely thanked. Watch this space; we will continue to report and wish our climbers well.

Date: Monday 8th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan returned to Camp II (6500 m) today at noon and spent the afternoon catching up on their sleep. They were extremely tired after their night spent at Camp III (7450 m) since, without oxygen, it was very difficult to get any sleep. The Sherpas, once again, climbed to Camp IV (7950 m) today to drop off equipment in readiness for the planned summit, hopefully in approximately 2˝ weeks time! It has been said that there will be more "good weather windows" this season than usual and, as a result, more climbers will be summiting! For those climbers who have completed their acclimatisation rotations, there is a possibility that they could summit this weekend! Sean and Vaughan will return to Base Camp tomorrow and join up with René again. On Tuesday morning, they will begin their 4 hour trek down to Lobuche (4930 m), together with Pemba Sherpa, who will be stocking up with provisions in Lobuche and then returning to Base Camp. Once at Lobuche, the boys will take a helicopter to Kathmandu where they plan to spend the next 4 days, allowing their bodies time to recover. René spent some time again on the glacier nearby studying the rock formations with Elliott, a researcher from Brown University. The average temperature at Camp II tomorrow will be -12°C whilst at Lobuche, 1570 m lower, the average forecast temperature will be in the region of 4°C.

Date: Sunday 7th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan reached Camp III (7450 m) today after approximately 6˝ hours. This is a new personal best for Vaughan who is delighted to have passed his previous record of 7000 m. Both climbers are tired but well. The second part of the trip, on fixed rope, with a slope of not less than 60° for 400 vertical metres took them 4˝ hours, and this section was particularly difficult since the temperatures were very high (30°C), and they quickly became dehydrated. They plan to sleep without oxygen although they have taken a bottle and mask as a precautionary measure. Once they had settled in to Camp III, they were required to complete a cognitive test for the NASA speech impairment project in which they are involved. They will descend to Camp II tomorrow where they will sleep over once more before returning to Base Camp on Tuesday, and taking a well deserved 4-day "holiday" for the body to replenish itself. As planned, Jangbu Sherpa and Chumbe Sherpa ascended to the South Col (Camp IV, 7950 m) today to drop off gear for the team, and then returned to Camp II. Pemba Sherpa climbed from Base Camp to Camp III and, after checking that all was well with the 2-man team, he descended to Camp II where all 3 Sherpas are staying overnight. René spent 4 hours today in the Lingtren valley (a glacier nearby) photographing the rocks and drawing diagrams for his geology research. He reports that the glacial moraine was treacherous and extremely difficult to traverse.

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The Lhotse Face en route to Camp III
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Tents on a slope at Camp III, placed on a small shelf hacked into the ice
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Vaughan De La Harpe at the top of Mount Kosciusko, Australia

Date: Saturday 6th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan have been gearing up for their next hurdle, Camp III (7450 m). They are well, but a little apprehensive about tomorrow's trip. They will begin their ascent of the Lhotse face tomorrow morning in perfect weather. It will be sunny with some cloud but not a breath of wind. Jangbu Sherpa will accompany them to assist with the carrying of their sleeping bags and down suits. Thereafter, he and Chumbe Sherpa will climb to the South Col (Camp IV, 7950 m) to drop off tents and food in preparation for the team's summit attempt later in the month. René spent a quiet day at Base Camp reading, writing his mountain journal, and making notes for his geology project. The snow which fell yesterday has almost all melted on account of the fine weather today. Tomorrow he plans to make a short trip to the nearby Lingtren valley to take more pictures of the geological structures for his project.

Date: Friday 5th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan took it easy at Camp II today, resting in their tents. Temperatures were pretty cold throughout the day and evening (-15°C) with continuous snowfall (10 cm today). Their lead Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, returned to Base Camp this morning, leaving Chumbe Sherpa and Jangbu Sherpa at Camp II with the two-man team. René, Dawa the cook, and Dawa, the cook's son, are manning Base Camp, endeavouring to avoid the snow which has been falling continuously.

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Sean Disney, Expedition Leader
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Date: Thursday 4th May 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan left for Camp II (6500 m) at 5 am as planned. René felt it wiser to remain at Base Camp since his "Khumbu" cough has doggedly persisted for the past few weeks, not showing any signs of improvement despite two courses of antibiotics. In addition, his toe, which developed a touch of frostbite, is not healing as quickly as was hoped. The team of two, plus Sherpas, arrived at Camp II at 2 pm, exactly on schedule. They are feeling strong and well, and will take it easy for the next 2 days until their planned push for Camp III (7450 m) on Sunday morning 7th May. Temperatures at Camp II this morning were -11° and this evening they will drop to -20° Celsius. The afternoon snow showers at Camp II are forecast to continue right through until Saturday. Base Camp temperatures, on the other hand, are warming up rapidly with today's thermometer readings ranging from -5 to +6° Celsius. René has commented that he will soon have to swop from his -40° to his -20° Celsius sleeping bag! He spent the afternoon watching Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, a film depicting the early years of the career of aviator and director, Howard Hughes.

Climbers on the Lhotse face mid-way between Camp II and Camp III, 3 May 2006

Date: Wednesday 3rd May 2006

News for the day: Another quiet day was spent at Base Camp. Although a fair amount of the team's equipment was taken up to Camp II (6500 m) last Wednesday, they still needed to pack items such as oxygen masks, and down booties and mittens for Camp III (7450 m). They leave at 5 am tomorrow, and hope to reach Camp II in 9 hours. The treacherous Khumbu Icefall, with its series of 14 ladders has, once again, to be crossed. Light snow is forecast at 6500 m with winds of between 20 and 25 km/hr during the day. Temperatures will range from -17 to -11° Celsius at Camp II tomorrow.

Date: Tuesday 2nd May 2006

News for the day: Today was a long, slow day for the team. Rest periods such as this, however, are all part of the schedule, as the body needs to recuperate from the higher altitudes to which it has been exposed. They will spend tomorrow preparing their equipment and then leave for Camp II (6500 m) on Thursday morning. They plan to sleep here for 3 nights, move up to Camp III (7450 m) for 1 night, return to Camp II for a night, and then descend once again to Base Camp.

Date: Monday 1st May 2006

News for the day: The team took a 2 hour trip down to Gorak Shep (5160 m) today and enjoyed lunch there. Sean and Vaughan did not climb Kalar Patar, as planned, as it began to snow after lunch. It continued to snow throughout the afternoon and evening. Back at Base Camp, the boys relaxed, had dinner and then watched a few episodes of Jerry Seinfeld before retiring. Vaughan and René were delighted to receive their replacement iPods which had been sent via courier from Johannesburg to Kathmandu, and then transported up to Base Camp! Camp III is presently occupied by 5 tents belonging to Polish, Russian and Czech climbers. It has been reported that four Sherpas are the 1st climbers this season to summit Everest. This ascent was from the north side and was achieved whilst the Sherpas were fixing the route to the top.

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Mount Everest and Khumbu Glacier from Kalar Patar
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Sunset over Mount Everest
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Date: Sunday 30th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent a very quiet day at Base Camp (5360 m) today. The weather has warmed up a little and they estimate that temperatures this afternoon were +5° Celsius. Whilst not on the move, it seems that meal times are the highlight of the day; lunch consisted of tinned pork, toast, gherkins, tomatoes and corn. Tomorrow morning, the team plans to do the 4.3 km trip down to Gorak Shep (5160 m). Sean and Vaughan intend to climb Kalar Patar (5545 m) which is a short distance north-west of Gorak Shep.

Date: Saturday 29th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent a relaxing time at Base Camp today. They did their washing, visited neighbours, read and slept. Lunch consisted of toasted cheese sandwiches, coleslaw, potato and salami. Delicious fruit cake was on the menu for afternoon tea! There were light snow showers during the afternoon. René has built up a good collection of drawings and pictures for his geology project, and he continued to work on this today. The lines from Camp II to Camp III have now been put in to place and there are climbers who are pushing for the 7450 m mark on the Everest south side. On the north side, the ropes have already been set to the 8300 m mark. The race is on, it seems!

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View from Camp II of Western face of Lhotse
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Date: Friday 28th April 2006

News for the day: The team departed from Camp II (6500 m) at 7.30 am and arrived at Base Camp 5 hours later. Conditions were fine and clear for the return trip through the Western Cwm and the Khumbu Icefall. Some of the crevasses have now been fitted with 2 ladders side by side on account of the large numbers of climbers this year (150). On their return, the team enjoyed a shower and settled in to their Base Camp accommodation where they will remain for the next 4 or 5 days. After this, they plan to move up to Camp II again, stay there for 3 to 5 days, and then make a push for Camp III. A research team, testing for blood clots, took a small blood sample from each of our team members on their return (just a finger prick). The results showed no signs of clotting.

Date: Thursday 27th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent a comfortable night at Camp II (6500 m) and are acclimatising well. Taking it easy, is the name of the game, since any quick movements cause them to become breathless. In comparison to Camp I, which they found bleak and desolate, the position of Camp II in the Western Cwm is stunning. They are surrounded by magnificent peaks and, at the time of reporting (1 pm Nepalese time), the Geneva Spur was visible, the view of Lhotse was spectacular, and they could just get a glimpse of the "Balcony". The summit, however, was covered in cloud. The weather today was sunny although outside temperatures were still fairly cold (-5° Celsius). The geology of the area is quite distinctive: the dark black rocks at the top of Everest give way to the "Yellow Band" of sedimentary sandstone at about 7500 m, and then the granites appear below this. The team has completed two sets of tests for the NASA project on speech impairment at altitude. The first was at Base Camp and the second at Camp II. The tests measure and compare co-ordination, concentration, memory, comprehension and deduction at various altitudes, and the results will be used for the NASA Mars space shuttle project. Once the lines to Camp III (7450 m) have been put into place, climbers can then start moving up the Lhotse face. Our team, however, plans to return to Base Camp tomorrow. They hope to leave at 6 am and estimate that the trip "home" will take about 6 hours.

Date: Wednesday 26th April 2006

News for the day: The team left Camp I (6065 m) as planned at 5 am taking the well-known route to Camp II (6500 m) via the Western Cwm.  They arrived, frozen to the bone, four and a half hours later. Although there was only a gentle wind, this caused the chill factor to increase, and they estimate that temperatures were in the region of minus 30° Celsius. Despite using their hand and foot warmers, they could hardly feel their fingers and toes at times. Even their eyelids and beards showed signs of freezing! Once at Camp II, however, they thawed out and were more than satisfied with their luxurious dining facilities and outstanding cook. Drink of the day: Hot orange juice! They will spend a second night at Camp II tomorrow before descending to Base Camp once more on Friday morning, 28th April.

Camp II in the Central part of the Western Cwm

A climber crossing one of the (14) ladders in the Khumbu Icefall, 21 April 2006

Date: Tuesday 25th April 2006

News for the day: The team slept very well last night on the Khumbu glacier and then spent a lazy day at Camp I (6065 m) today. Although it was a beautiful day (30° Celsius inside the tent at noon), they decided to postpone the trip to Camp II after their 14-ladder, marathon trip yesterday. They are becoming experts at melting snow for tea, drinking water and for ablution purposes. Lunch was a scrumptious combination of tuna, smoked meat and biscuits. It started to snow again later in the afternoon causing temperatures to drop to -5° Celsius (inside the tent). Weather permitting, the team plans to climb to Camp II (6500 m) tomorrow. The trip is approximately 2 km (horizontally) and should take about 4 hours.

Date: Monday 24th April 2006

News for the day: As planned, the team left Base Camp at 5 am. The tragedy which had occurred three days previously was brought home to them fully as they passed the spot where the three Sherpas had died. They reached Camp I (6065 m) safely at noon after a strenuous 7 hour trip. The journey was made all the more difficult on account of the additional equipment which they were carrying. Whilst at Camp I, their culinary skills will be put to the test since their cook is presently stationed at Camp II (6500 m). They had no difficulty preparing a delicious lunch of burritos with smoked pork and cheese. It has begun to snow again, quite heavily, and the team is unsure whether they will be able to go ahead with the scheduled climb to Camp II (6500 m) tomorrow.

Date: Sunday 23rd April 2006

News for the day: Another quiet day was spent at Base Camp, gathering strength and courage to cross the Icefall once again to Camp I tomorrow. The weather today was perfect with 14° Celsius being recorded inside the tents at 5 pm. Although some of the snow has melted, Base Camp is still covered in a white blanket. Our team's Sherpas worked hard today ferrying equipment to Camps I & II in preparation for the 4 day stayover this week at higher altitudes. The team is looking forward to their 5 am start in the morning and they hope to reach Camp I by 11 am.

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Preparation of a safe crevasse crossing by the Ice Doctors
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Climbers descending to Base Camp through a snow packed Icefall, 21st April 2006
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Date: Saturday 22nd April 2006

News for the day: Base Camp was very quiet today as the climbers mourned the 3 Sherpas who had been killed in the Icefall yesterday. A number of Puja ceremonies was held in honour of these Sherpas. Tomorrow, the Sherpas from our team are climbing to Camp II (6500 m) to set up an Advanced Base Camp with kitchen/dining tent and sleeping tents. The team will cross the Icefall again to Camp I (6065 m) on Monday, sleep over, climb to Camp II on Tuesday, return to Camp I to sleep, and then climb to Camp II again on Wednesday where they hope to spend two nights before returning to Base Camp (5360 m). Although King Gyanendra has promised democracy to the people of Nepal, it seems that the protestors are "unmoved by his words". There is still much unrest in Kathmandu with day-time curfews still being imposed.

Date: Friday 21st April 2006

News for the day: It was cloudless and sunny at Base Camp today. A heavy air, however, hung over the camp after the news of the death of 3 Sherpas at around 7 am this morning in the Khumbu Icefall when several large towers of ice collapsed. Ang Phinjo Sherpa (50), who died in the avalanche, was on his 49th 8000 m expedition. Weather permitting, our team plans to climb to Camp I (6065 m) again on Monday 24th April. They will spend two nights there and then move up to Camp II (6500 m) where they hope to spend a further two nights.

Base Camp: Covered in snow at present

Date: Thursday 20th April 2006

News for the day: The weather was beautiful today and the snow began to melt a little. The Camp I climbers returned safely to Base Camp at 2 pm Nepalese time. Our team spent the morning with Pemba Sherpa assembling their oxygen units, working out flow rates and testing to see that the equipment functioned 100%. Sean's "World Space Radio" is now working and the group was able to tune in to the BBC and CNN world news programmes. They were even able to quote the current gold price and the Rand/Dollar exchange rate!

Date: Wednesday 19th April 2006

News for the day: It continued to snow today with Base Camp being transformed into a wonderland of snow. Some climbers, however, have been stranded at Camp I (6065 m) where approximately one and a half metres of snow have fallen.  They are unable to descend to Base Camp as the Icefall ropes have been buried in the snow. This evening, the stars appeared, hopefully heralding good weather for the next few days. Our team spent another quiet day, reading and sleeping. They enjoyed pasta for dinner and then watched Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Tomorrow, Pemba Sherpa will conduct an oxygen training session for the group and this will help to relieve the boredom which is being experienced at the moment!

Snowbound at Base Camp on 18th April 2006
Date: Tuesday 18th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent a very quiet day at Base Camp in order to give their bodies a chance to recover from the taxing trip to Camp 1 (6065 m) yesterday. It has been snowing continuously during the past 24 hours with a total of 18 inches (457 mm) having fallen so far. There are no plans to move from Base Camp at the moment on account of the weather. The temperature outside is at least -10° Celsius. After yesterday's difficult day, the team's appetites have returned and they enjoyed hot dogs wrapped in pastry for lunch, and pizza and trifle for dinner. They watched part of a DVD, American Pie, before the power supply for their DVD player ran out!

Camp I: Tents and Climbers

Date: Monday 17th April 2006

News for the day: The team departed Base Camp this morning at 4 am in temperatures of -15° Celsius.  After a gruelling and challenging climb, they reached Camp I (6065 m) at 10 am. The trip was particularly difficult since the group still needs to acclimatise to the lack of oxygen at this altitude. The descent took them four and a half hours. In total, they crossed 28 ladders which spanned crevasses which were between 10 and 15 m deep. Each ladder is a standard 3 m in length but in some parts, this length is doubled on account of the width of the crevasse.  Three ropes on each side are used to steady the climbers whilst crossing each crevasse.  On their return to Base Camp, they had cold showers to revive themselves and planned another early night. They will rest up at Base Camp for the next few days before the next leg, which will involve climbing to Camp I and sleeping there overnight.

Date: Sunday 16th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent most of the day reading and sleeping. Jangbu Sherpa and Chumbe Sherpa took between four and a half and five hours to do the trip from Base Camp (5360 m) to Camp I (6065 m) and back again (with a load of equipment: tents, poles etc). Our team will be leaving Base Camp at 4 am tomorrow morning, and hope to do the return trip to Camp I and back in 12 to 14 hours. They supped on soup, toast and popcorn this evening and will retire early in preparation for their long, arduous climb tomorrow.  It has been said that, at present,  the Khumbu Icefall is the safest it has been for years!

Ice blocks forming a bridge across a crevasse

Part of the Khumbu Icefall

Date:  Saturday 15th April 2006

News for the day: The Khumbu Icefall has now been equipped with all the necessary ladders and ropes to allow teams to move from Base Camp to Camp I. The team ventured up the icefall today and reached a height of 5585 m, approximately a third of the way towards Camp I.  It was unbearably hot in the Icefall due to the reflection of light off the ice.  They crossed 3 crevasses on their way up.  It is said by some that the crossing of the Icefall is one of the most dangerous sections of the entire climb.  Pemba, who is their Sirdar (lead Sherpa), accompanied them. He has completed five Everest summits.  The team reports that he is an outstanding guide.  They will rest tomorrow and then probably move up the Icefall again on Monday. The other Sherpas on the team are Chumbe (two summits) and Jangbu (two summits). 

Date: Friday 14th April 2006

News for the day: The team is beginning to acclimatise well.  The highlight of the day was the Puja ceremony this morning which lasted approximately three hours. No team ventures above Base Camp without having taken part in this ceremony.  The team and their staff of 9 were all blessed by the Lama, their crampons and ice axes were blessed, and they were each given necklaces which had been blessed. Rice and Chang (a type of wine) were thrown over all members of the party. The flag pole was erected, it stood firm (a sign of good luck), and a bird alighted atop the pole (also a sign of good luck).  Seven tendrils covered in prayer flags radiated from the pole, each about 200 m in length. After the ceremony, the team slept and read, and then had a meeting to discuss the NASA speech impairment project for which they have volunteered.

Flag Ceremony or "Puja"
Date: Thursday 13th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent the better part of the day tucked up in their sleeping bags in their tents. It was a very cold day with a great deal of wind. The temperatures during the day are generally between 0 and 5° Celsius but at night, they drop to about  -15° (the tents, however, are a little warmer than this).  They enjoyed pizza for dinner and then watched "Heat" with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro before retiring to bed. The Lama will be staying overnight at Base Camp tonight in preparation for the Puja ceremony in the morning.

Prayer flags

Date: Wednesday 12th April 2006

News for the day: The team enjoyed another quiet rest day today, reading during the day and watching a DVD after their dinner of soup and toast. Their cook has been serving gigantic portions and they felt they needed a break from this today. They have joined a NASA project which is conducting research on speech impairment at various altitudes. They made their 1st (and hopefully last) descent into a crevasse behind the dining tent today in order to retrieve René's T-shirt which had blown away in a strong gust of wind.

Date: Tuesday 11th April 2006

News for the day: The team is finding it a little difficult adjusting to the altitude, with some breathless periods occurring around 2 in the morning. The temperatures are fairly cold: 4° Celsius during the day and -4° at night (inside the tent).  The thick down suits and sleeping bags, however, are keeping our group warm and comfortable. On Friday morning at 10 am, the entire team of climbers, sherpas, porters and camp staff will take part in a Puja ceremony conducted by a Buddhist Lama. During the ceremony, flags are raised and the team is blessed. The "Ice Doctors" have not yet put the ladders and ropes in place for the climb to Camp I (6065 m), but it is hoped that this will be completed by the weekend. 

Date: Monday 10th April 2006

News for the day: The team spent a quiet day reading and watching DVDs. They will be doing this for a number of days in order to acclimatise before attempting to climb to Camp I (6065 m). They spent some time today putting up their communications aerial for their 144MHz radio links. There are approximately 200 tents at present at Base Camp. The climbers include famous names such as Henry Todd (expedition leader and Everest legend), Dave Hahn (guide extraordinaire and member of the team which discovered Mallory's body), and Apa Sherpa who holds the world record for the most number of Everest summits (15 in 15 years). He is hoping to go for his 16th summit this year. The weather is fairly cold (4° Celsius inside the tents). Today's dinner was Dal Baht, the Nepalese national dish: Rice with lentil soup and vegetable curry.

Base Camp Everest

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Click on the map above to view the enlarged
 image of the Trekking Route to Base Camp

Date: Sunday 9th April 2006

News for the day: The team arrived safely at Base Camp (5360 m) today.  Their camp has been well set up and looks directly up the Khumbu Icefall.  The Sherpas are competent and the cook is very good.  The group enjoyed a delicious dinner of spaghetti this evening in the heated dining tent and then treated themselves to a DVD after nine days on the road.  They are cosy and comfortable in their tents despite the cold weather.

Makalu (8462 m)

Kalar Patar

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Date: Saturday 8th April 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan took it easy this morning on their rest day. René climbed to the top of Kalar Patar (5545 m) and found the views of Everest, Makalu (8462 m) and the South Col breathtaking. Makalu, which is 22 km east of Everest, is the 5th highest mountain in the world.  It is an isolated peak in the shape of a 4-sided pyramid. René did some work for his geological project, drawing sketches and taking photos of the rock structures.  The landscape is barren and isolated with small patches of grass here and there. The weather is fine with some light snow falling.

Snowland Lodge at Gorak Shep

Date: Friday 7th April 2006

News for the day: The team was overjoyed today when they arrived at Gorak Shep (5160 m) - Everest was clearly visible and Base Camp, too, was in sight! The trip today took the group three and a half hours in fine, clear weather. René reports that the geology of the area is superb! They will spend the next two nights at Gorak Shep whilst their backstage crew puts the finishing touches to their Base Camp home. They hope to make a short trip to Kalar Patar tomorrow (5545 m) with its glorious views of Everest and the Khumbu Glacier.

Date: Thursday 6th April 2006

News for the day: The team has now arrived at Lobuche (4930 m). The altitude is still causing slight headaches but once they are settled into Base Camp, this should ease (i.e. until they start their climb up to Camp I). The lodge at Lobuche is overflowing with trekkers, all headed for Base Camp. There is a great deal of snow on the ground and the evening temperatures are in the region of -3° Celsius. Tomorrow they will move on to Gorak Shep (5160 m) where they will stay for two nights. They hope to arrive at Base Camp fairly early on Sunday morning.

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Lobuche Peak

Date: Wednesday 5th April 2006

News for the day: Before leaving Pang Boche this morning, the team spent an hour at the Monastery and received a blessing from the Lama. They then trekked for approximately 4 hours to Periche (4240 m). They are all feeling the effects of the altitude, otherwise, they are well. When not actually trekking, Sean takes every opportunity to catch up on his beauty sleep!  Tomorrow the team journeys to Lobuche (4930 m), a fairly challenging climb of 690 m

Date: Tuesday 4th April 2006

News for the day:  The team is happy and taking a well-earned rest in order to acclimatise. The more slowly they ascend, the better they will feel! Ama Dablam (6812 m) is right on their doorstep and they are also able to see Mount Everest from Pang Boche. It appears that there is a great deal of wind up on the top of Everest at the moment!

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The North Face of Ama Dablam (6812 m)
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The Monastery at Teng Boche

Date: Monday 3rd April 2006

News for the day: All is well with the team. They took a very slow, 8 hour walk today to Pang Boche (3958 m). On the way, they visited the monastery at Teng Boche. All three team members are acclimatising well. They have booked in to the Ama Dablam Lodge for two nights; tomorrow will be a rest day.  On Wednesday morning, they plan to visit one of the Dalai Lama's Monasteries nearby to receive a blessing for their expedition. They must certainly have a beautiful view of the exquisite Ama Dablam peak (6856 m) which is due east of Pang Boche.

Date: Sunday 2nd April 2006

News for the day: The team trekked to Namche Bazar (3440 m) today and certainly found the climb a little more strenuous towards the end of the day. They have booked in to the Khumbu Lodge (definitely not one of our Kruger Park Lodges). The walk today through the valleys was fairly warm, however, this evening it began snowing and the temperature dropped to below zero (Celsius). Tomorrow's journey takes the team to Pang Boche, 3958 m.

Khumbu Lodge, Namche Bazar

A large party of trekkers

Date: Saturday 1st April 2006

News for the day: The team left Kathmandu Airport as planned at 6 am and arrived at Lukhla an hour later.  The trek to Base Camp began with a 3 hour walk to Phakding (2500 m) in rainy conditions. The team enjoyed a good supper and are spending the night in a "lodge". Tomorrow they can look forward to a 5 hour walk to Namche Bazar (3440 m).

Date: Friday 31st March 2006

News for the day: Sean and René have been keeping themselves busy at the Internet Café since this is their last opportunity (until they return to Kathmandu) to communicate via e-mail. Vaughan went further afield today to get some good photographs. (We are looking forward to seeing his slide show on his return.) The team leaves Kathmandu Airport at 6 am tomorrow morning. The plane trip to Lukhla will take approximately an hour, and then the trek to Base Camp (5360 m) will begin: The trekking party will include 103 porters (each carrying 20 to 30 kgs), 3 climbing Sherpas, and 2 cooks, one of whom will remain permanently at Camp II (6500 m).  The large group of porters will go on ahead in order to set up camp for the team in advance. 

Date: Thursday 30th March 2006

News for the day: Sean has been busy making final arrangements for the trip. Saturday is fast approaching and the team members are anxious to leave Kathmandu and take the plane to Lukhla (see map of trekking route alongside: "Lukal" in the south). From here, they will begin their walk in to Base Camp. Vaughan has been capturing the evening sights of Kathmandu's Tamil area on film. René visited the Ministry of Mines and Geology again today to read up on the geology of the area between Lukhla and Base Camp.

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Click on the map above to view the enlarged
 image of the Trekking Route to Base Camp

A temple in Kathmandu

Date: Wednesday 29th March 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan have returned from their photographic trip to Chitwan.  Vaughan has now begun a series of photographs on temples in Kathmandu.  René visited the Ministry of Mines and Geology today and acquired a number of geological and topographical maps for the research he will be doing whilst trekking from Lukhla to Base Camp.

Date: Tuesday 28th March 2006

News for the day: René arrived safely in Kathmandu this morning. The team is enjoying the luxury of the 5 star Hyatt until Saturday morning when they fly to Lukhla and the trek to Base Camp begins. Sean and Vaughan have spent a few days away in Chitwan photographing tigers and Asian rhinos.

Colourful Kathmandu, 1400 m above sea level
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René at top of Mt Mera, Tanzania, in 2000
(Click picture to view enlarged version)

Date: Monday 27th March 2006

News for the day: Sean and Vaughan left Johannesburg for Kathmandu on Wednesday 22nd March. They collected the climbing permit and the barrels with much of the team's spare equipment. Vaughan has been spending a fair amount of time doing photography. René flew out today at lunch-time on Qatar Airlines for Doha, and then took the connection to Kathmandu. He is due to arrive there at approximately 4 am our time tomorrow morning. Then begins the long 70 km trek to Base Camp followed by the acclimatisation period (approximately 6 days).

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