Everest 2018 Expedition Dispatches

Dispatch #10 – May 24, 2018 – Base Camp

We arrived back at base camp yesterday, the 23rd, but we were too busy enjoying alcoholic beverages and swapping summit day stories to be bothered to post an update.

Our Sherpa crew will return to base camp today with our yak loads.

The majority of our team members and Sherpa will post photos and stories from their summit day on their respective social media websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Those who know me, know that I am not too tech savvy and shy away from social media. I also like to give our Everest climbers some anonymity as there are too many Everest haters out there these days.

We last consulted our weather forecast at Advanced Base Camp on the 19th, just before heading back up to the North Col, looking to reach the summit on the 22nd. Our forecast predicted low winds and warm temperatures, exactly what we were looking for. The upside was that we were most likely going to be the only team on the mountain going for the top. The downside was that the computer models showed the possibility of snow late on the 22nd, our summit day, and the European models were showing significant precipitation on the 23rd. This meant that if we were to summit and descend in good conditions and allow our climbing Sherpa to clear the mountain safely, we would have to make an early start and get back to ABC as quick as possible.

Our team members along with their respective climbing Sherpa made the climbs to camp one, two and three respectively all in good times as expected. What was not expected, was that they all switched on their turbo switches at camp three before departing for the summit.

Seeing as we were the only team on the mountain going for the top on the 22nd, we had some flexibility with our departure time. We all arrived at camp three between 10am and 1pm, so we had plenty of time to rest before leaving for the summit. Around 2pm in the afternoon the Nepalese side of the mountain started to fill with high clouds and this started to alarm me somewhat, based on what the weather forecast models said could happen. Our original plan was to depart at 10pm, allowing the slower members of the group to reach the summit at sunrise and the faster members at first light, as it’s light near the summit at 4am, but with the increased clouds we decided to leave a couple of hours early to get a head start on the departure to ABC. We did not want to spend the night on the Col if there was going to be significant snowfall in the evening.

What happened on our summit day I have never experienced before. All our team members and Sherpa were focused, departed on time, and reached the summit in mad crazy fast times, all before the sun had rose. The first climbers reached the summit in just over three hours and were back at high camp in five hours round trip. The other climbers were close behind and we all reached the summit and descended to advanced base camp throughout the day. The last Sherpa to clear the mountain and descend reported some light snow in the afternoon, just as we had expected. As it turned out, the European model was way off with its prediction, but we were cautious enough to consult both forecasts and make the appropriate summit plans.

I like to think that a lot of our success was down to the amazing supplementary oxygen system we use designed and manufactured by Summit Oxygen. We had absolutely no problems with their masks, regulators and bottles on our summit day and have never had any problems with their system for the past six years we have been using it. It’s very unfortunate to hear that a few teams have had problems with this system this season and I think after thorough investigation the problems will be resolved.

Our summit day had absolute zero winds for the majority of the climb and there was only a slight breeze on the summit. The temperatures had to be over 0 degrees Fahrenheit but I would say it felt closer to 5-10 degrees. It was probably the warmest summit day I have ever experienced on Everest.

So the plan now is for the team members to rest, shower, catch up on emails, and finalize packing today. We hope to take an early jeep to the border tomorrow and then take helicopters from the border directly to Kathmandu.

Our team met in Kathmandu on April 23rd, we obtained our Tibet group visa the following day and entered Tibet on the 25th. We hope to exit Tibet tomorrow and be back in Kathmandu 31 days after departing. Below are a few points, which enable us to climb Everest in 30 odd days instead of the traditional 60-70 days.

We do not advertise our expeditions as “Everest Express” or “Everest Flash” but just plain old boring “Everest Expedition”.

We have realized over the years that entering Tibet at the start of April will not change the fact that the ropes will not usually be fixed to the summit until around May 15th.

We do not have well-known, highly publicized, sponsored guides leading our trips but a single expedition expediter. Therefore there is less pressure to rush our schedule based on social media, tight schedule deadlines, live Internet interviews, etc. Our expediter is old and grumpy but is always looking to be sponsored with gear for himself and his Sherpa.

We spend a lot of time at base camp allowing our bodies to recover rather than rushing up to Advanced Base Camp and making folks sleep several nights on the North Col, depleting them of all their energy reserves and reducing their hard earned muscle mass. Climb high sleep low is the old adage.

We do not make our team members sleep in plastic tents over their beds at home. Really! The majority of the Everest industry folks know this does not work. I do not want to be the reason for unhappy husbands and wives sleeping on the sofa. Red blood cells need real altitude to reproduce, not a gimmicky tent at home.

I’m a fan of hydration but not too much water. Beer and wine is always available at the Junkies base camp.

Phil Crampton

Quick Update May 22, 2018 - Kathmandu

Summits! Everyone is well and descending to ABC.The computer battery at ABC is depleted, so there will be a more detailed update upon the team's return to Base Camp.

Dispatch #9 – May 18, 2018 – Advanced Base Camp

The team members and Sherpas are all now in position at advanced base camp. Based on our weather forecast showing some the weakest summit wind speeds of May on the 22nd, we will leave for the North Col tomorrow and climb to camp two and three respectively, before hopefully topping out on the 22nd.

We believe we will be the only team on the hill on the 22nd as most of the other groups have already made their summit attempts and are departing advanced base camp.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #8 – May 16, 2018 – Base Camp

We are all now down in base camp enjoying a few days rest before heading back up the hill for our summit push. Our Sherpas have now stocked camp one, two and three respectively and all for us to do now is to let the earlier teams reach the summit and reduce the number of climbers on the hill. The team members made another tag of the North Col the other day in snowy conditions and are all looking forward the chance to reach the top of the world.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #7 – May 11, 2018 – Base Camp

We had hoped to return to ABC today with the intention of tagging the North Col tomorrow, but after consulting our weather forecast, we decided to delay our departure by another day to take advantage of the better weather conditions.

Several of the teams who arrived at base camp earlier are now waiting for their weather window to appear for their summit push. The rope fixers from the Tibet Guide School are hoping to fix the ropes to the summit in the next few days if the weather allows.

Our Sherpa are now back at ABC and will make two carries to the high camp at 8,300 meters over the next few days when the wind speeds are supposed to be very low. Even with some winds, our boys will be able to carry, since they will be using supplementary oxygen as always, to carry loads.

The team members are all doing well except for the odd cough here and there and are all keeping active with daily walks around base camp and up the valley.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #6 – May 8, 2018 – Base Camp

All the team members and Sherpas are now back at base camp. We had spent three nights at advanced base camp whilst our Sherpas had been there for nearly a week and completed two carries to the North Col. The jet stream has decided to move closer to the mountain, hence the reason we were unable to tag the col on the 8th as planned.

We will now spend a few days at base camp and when the weather forecast tells us the jet stream is moving away, we will all head back up to ABC. The Sherpas will carry all the loads to camp two and three respectively whilst the team members will spend a few more days at ABC and hopefully tag the col.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #5 – May 1, 2018 – Base Camp

We have been at base camp for four days and will spend a few more here before making our walk to interim camp and then on to advanced base camp.

Our Sherpa crew are now on their way to ABC with the yak loads and will make several carries to the North Col over the next few days. When the team members have arrived and spent a few days resting at ABC, the Sherpa and team members will make a tag of the North Col.

The weather at base camp has been windy and seen some considerable snow that melts off quickly as the day progresses. The team members are doing very well with their acclimatization and are all looking forward to moving higher up the hill.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #4 – April 28, 2018 – Base Camp

We have now arrived at base camp which will be home for the next five weeks. Our Sherpas have done a great job or establishing camp and we will do some fine tweaking over the next few days to make sure everything is dialed in before we head on our acclimatization rotation.

Our camp is comfortable but not as dramatic as some of the more expensive Everest expeditions here this season. Everest is a long expedition, even a six week one, so we like to create as many private spaces as possible in the camp to allow climbers to escape each other and relax.

We have a silent dome where talking is not allowed, with recliner chairs for the readers, and a recreational room for those who like to chat and play the selection of board games we have brought with us. Our dining room is heated but we do not bring a flat screen TV.

Our next order of business will be to have a Lama and some monks come up from the Rongbuk Monastery to conduct our Puja ceremony when the Lama has decided which is the most auspicious day to hold it.

The team embers are well and glad to be off the road, in their personal sleeping tents, and enjoying the cooking of Da Pasang Sherpa and his kitchen assistants.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #3 – April 27, 2018 – Tingri

Our border crossing in Tibet went without a hitch and the first evening on the road was spent in Kyirong. This is a new stop for teams travelling overland from Kathmandu and it was a huge improvement over the town of Nyalam, where we used to stay. Kyirong has a lower elevation than Nyalam so it's not so beneficial to spend a second evening there due to its 2,700-meter height.

The plan was to spend the second evening in Tibet at Kyirong Sheng, but once we arrived and discovered the elevation was similar to that of Tingri, the team, whom were all feeling great decided to press on to Tingri which lies only 100 meters higher.

The team are doing well with the altitude gain and if this continues, tomorrow we will arrive at base camp and meet our Sherpa crew, whom are establishing our camp. We plan to spend at least a week at base camp before venturing higher.

With us climbing on the north side this season, we are able to start our expedition two weeks later than we would have started if we were climbing on the south side of Everest. Having no Khumbu Icefall to navigate allows us to make a late May summit attempt, when the strong winds have abated and the summit temperatures are warmer. Even when the weather is perfect on the south side of the hill, the north can still be receiving very strong winds, making tough summit day conditions.

Hopefully we will have our internet up and running from base camp in the next few days and will post some photos from our camp.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #2 – April 24, 2018 – Kathmandu

Our last team members arrived in Kathmandu Sunday evening and we are pleased to say that we recieved our Tibet group visa today. Our plan is to drive to the Nepal/China border and cross into Tibet around lunchtime tomorrow.

We have had a scare with two missing bags for a few days but it seems as if they will finally arrive this evening, much to the relief of their owner. We had even contemplated taking helicopters to the border in case the bags arrived on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday evening, but some quick thinking team members jumped into action and helped secure some replacement gear, just in case the bags do not show up on this evening's flight.

We have requested with the CTMA a slightly different schedule from the previous groups for the drive to base camp to allow for some extra cautious acclimatization. If all goes well, we should be at base camp by the 29th. Our large Sherpa crew are already on their way and will hopefully have base camp fully established when we arrive.

It seems to be a normal year on the north side of Everest in regards to numbers of climbers present and our team are excited to get the expedition underway. We have had some very enjoyable evenings in town with old Junkies catching up and making friends with some new team members.

If all goes to plan we will be in Tibet tomorrow and most likely we may not post any updates until we reach base camp.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #1 – April 20, 2018 – Kathmandu

Our team members are now arriving in Kathmandu and in a few days, after having our Tibet visa processed, we will head to Tibet and start our drive to base camp.

I am personally looking forward to returning to the Tibet side of Everest as we last ran expeditions here in 2012 and 2013. This year will be my 8th time on the north side of Everest and my 15th expedition to this majestic peak. I hope to catch up with many of my old students from the Tibet Guide School whom now work for Himalaya Expedition Company, based out of Lhasa, and who will be fixing the ropes once again this season.

The majority of climbers, both the Chinese and western teams have already arrived at base camp and there are still three more teams, ourselves included, whom will start their journey to base camp next week.

We have been informed by the CTMA that there are 150 climbers with permits for the north side this season.

Phil Crampton

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