Everest fast facts Elevation: 29,035 feet
Named for: Sir George Everest, who surveyed India for the British government, 1806-1843
Also known as: Chomolunga (goddess-mother) in Tibet and Sagarmatha (goddess of the sky) in Nepal
Population: More than 400 climbers and support staff during the May climbing season
Average residency: five to eight weeks
First ascent: 1953, Tenzing Norgay of Nepal and Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand
First American ascent: 1963, James Whittaker
First ascent by a woman: 1975, Junko Tabei of Japan
First ascent without bottled oxygen: 1978, Reinhold Messner of Italy and Peter Habeler of Austria
First solo ascent: 1980, Messner
First American woman: 1988, Stacey Allison
Most ascents: 10 - Ang Rita Sherpa, Appa Sherpa
Most dangerous year: 1996, 15 deaths
Most successful year: 1993, 129 summitted
Oldest summitter: 61, Lev Sarkisov (61) of Georgia (Russia) in 1999
Youngest summitter: 16, Shambu Tamang (16) of Nepal in 1973
The night at the North Col had been relatively windless but the snow had fallen several feet deep. We awoke at 5 am to check out the conditions. We hung on for a couple of hours to see if it stopped. It was falling thick and fast and the decision to bail out back to advanced base camp was obvious. We needed to make the descent quite quickly since although the risk of avalanche was slight it was no place to hang about.
Meantime the crew back at ABC, Kieron, Ivan, Dave, Chung, in addition to a planned departure to base camp for a rest had cooked up a plan to pull out further than base camp and try and organise a 4-by-4 to Xigatse to get some nights in a comfortable hotel.
It's snowing heavily at advanced base camp and likely to be snowing at base camp. The team that has just come off the mountain may well go down to base camp since the next four days are forecasting bad weather. However the way the weather is looking the heavy snow may well pin us in advanced base camp. The decision of some of the guys to try and get out to Xigatse (assuming they can organize the jeep for the 12-hour journey, which won't be easy) has caused some internal debate in the team regarding style, attitude, focus, committment and rationale since although a warm bath and bed may be available it is no significant reduction in altitude which should be the primary driver for any retreat from advanced base camp. Needless to say there are two distinctly polarized views of this move.
We have been working closely from the start of the expedition with our good friends on the UK Terratorial Army Expediton Ian Andersen and Dan White and remarkably it turns out that Anna Powell (a Cap Gemini staff member) is intimately involved with Dan's brother-in-law. Even more remarkable is that the TA Expedition would like to record its indebtedness for technical advice on high altitude mountaineering to Anna who is an expert in this field having recently returned from scaling Machupichari.
Close of play today is heavily falling snow at ABC. Russell recalls from his nine expeditions to the North side of Mount Everest that these are the coldest conditions he can remember. The small team remaining at ABC of Russell, Andy, Chris Warner, Mark, Tony, Graham and Daniel enjoy a good meal cooked by Latchu who is back from a spell at base camp to recover from a chest infection.
We all retire to our sub-zero bedrooms to dive into sleeping bags shared with anything we don't want to freeze with at least our tummies happy - Christmas pudding and Custard was the desert - mmmm, yummy.
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