Sunday, April 30, 2017

Anders update: Safely climbed up the Lhotse Face

I'm very happy to report that Anders called me earlier today from Camp 2 after a very successful, yet taxing climb up the Lhotse face to Camp 3.  He was feeling good, said that the climb went very well for them as they made it up the face in about 3 hours, passing quite a few other climbers.  He said Lhotse is definitely very steep, very demanding, but he felt strong and moved efficiently keeping a controlled heart rate up this icy wall. Significantly, Camp 3 at 23,500 feet is Anders' new high point in climbing.  He has climbed 5 of the 7 summits, the highest of which was Aconcagua in Argentina at 22,800 feet. So this new highest point in itself is quite an accomplishment for him. They did not linger for a long time up there in the very sparse air, where Anders said it was "not that pleasant".  I asked him if it was hard to breathe up there, and he said it mainly made him feel just very fatigued. So, they were happy to get on their way after only 20 minutes.  The descent went more quickly since they basically repelled backwards down much of the face. Although very steep and an extremely long way straight down, Anders felt secure clipped into those thankfully very sturdy fixed lines. As usual he said I would not have liked all the exposure, but that he felt safe.

As I spoke with Anders today, snow started falling so we were cut off several times since a satellite phone works much better with a clear sky.  He was about to eat dinner and then I'm sure hit the sleeping bag early after the big day. Anders is very much looking forward to getting back to Base Camp tomorrow to rest, have some great meals, and be with the rest of his team.

I can't sign off with commenting on the very sad news about the renowned Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, who died today while solo climbing on the North Face of Nuptse, a 25,000+ peak near Everest.  The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known, but he fell while doing an acclimatizing ascent in preparation for his planned climb of Everest and the nearby Lhotse without oxygen. This is quite a shock to all the climbers there as Ueli is much loved and respected by the whole Everest community and by the mountaineering world at large.  Anders and his team are very saddened by this devastating accident. Ueli approached mountain climbing in an unorthodox "fast and light" manner: solo climbing without much support or gear at amazing speeds up steep mountains without fixed ropes.  It is amazing what he has accomplished and the records he's set. Anders was very lucky to have met Ueli a couple weeks ago when he came to have lunch with Anders' team.  We all send our deepest condolences to his family and his many friends at this very sad and difficult time.

Now let's all continue to focus our positive energy and prayers towards Anders and his team staying safe, healthy and strong while continuing their journey to ascend this formidable mountain.

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