Everest Summit from South Summit
Everest Summit from South Summit

By Dave Hahn, a guide for RMI Expeditions and First Ascent; Photographs by Dave Hahn and Linden Mallory

More Everest: See more Everest photos, take our Everest quiz, or watch expedition videos.

Dispatch #14 – The Summit

Our hope was to make the summit bid short and sweet, not so much because going for the top of Mount Everest is an awful and onerous chore, but more because dragging it out can be. Besides, we believed we were shooting for a discreet patch of calm weather and forecasts for such a patch are generally only reliable a few days in advance. It was to our advantage to cover big chunks of the mountain in a relative hurry. Leaving base camp and relocating to ABC in one push was our first real test in this effort and that went quite well. Even so, we'd planned a full rest day at ABC in order to get recovered, rehydrated, and ready for the real test—all of the Lhotse Face in one shot—about a vertical mile which would take us to 26,000 feet.

Summit
Group shot at summit

Kaji and Tshherring
Kaji and Tshherring on top


The rest time was dull and frustrating though, to be honest. Most of our friends were already up poised for the summit and, in fact, a fair number had already made the top and were coming back down. Hanging a day at ABC required patience—and patience two months into an expedition required discipline. I drank absolutely as much water as I could and fretted over whether I'd be strong enough to keep up with my partners. Tshherring, Dawa, and Kaji would each be carrying a bit more than me. Linden would be venturing into new terrain, so perhaps I'd eke out advantages here and there. And if all of those advantages failed, I'd rely on an old guide trick: specifying that my pace was the only one that would get us to our goal with strength intact … only fools would go slower or faster.
Yellow-band
Yellow Band, 25,000 feet

The five of us got out of ABC at 2 a.m. and as usual, walking on a glacier in the dark cleansed my brain of concerns about competing with my partners. It was a perfect night with the peaks all lit by a giant moon. We all seemed to be climbing strong, making it to the base of the Lhotse Face in about an hour. Then we were across the bergschrund and moving steadily up the ropes with our headlights picking out steps worn into the ice. A few hours labor as the world got lighter and we cruised on into our Camp III site at close to 24,000 feet.

We each added a ten-pound oxygen bottle to our load at this point, but the big advantage was that we got to turn those bottles on and start breathing right. Linden and I joked during the next hour on steep ice, heading up toward the Yellow Band, that it was the easiest climbing of the entire trip due to the introduction of the Os. Sunrise on the face helped a little as well, pushing back the cold. We'd begun the Face with only a few other Sherpa teams out and about, but by the time we passed Camp III we were in full traffic as plenty of Western teams were getting out of their camps and heading up. Sure enough, we also began to see folks coming down from the South Col (the day before had been a big one for Everest summiting and this same day, the 20th of May, was going to be even bigger). Eventually, as we climbed through the Yellow Band, we ended up in less-busy space and we were able to stop for a little water, food, and photography. It was plain that we were enjoying perfect conditions and this made us pretty optimistic for the climb ahead. The Geneva Spur was to be our final obstacle of the day, guarding access to the South Col. Easy snow conditions and reliable fixed ropes on the Spur made it a cake walk.

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 1.52.58 PM
Linden and Tshherring topping out the Geneva Spur, 25,900 feet

We were excited to link up with friends and fellow guides at the South Col and to hear their stories. And then we were excited to dive in our tents and get eating and drinking and resting for the evening. Winds actually increased during our afternoon at the Col and clouds and snow moved in, but we were pretty sure things would ease by the time we were ready for climbing. Linden and I shared a tent and kept reminding one another of things we needed to pack or prepare for the climb. We touched base regularly with Mark Tucker down at 17,500 feet and tried to find out if he had any updates about the weather and the whereabouts of other climbers.

As it got dark, we pulled sleeping bags over our down suits and tried to shut our eyes, but it was pretty miserable rest. There were plenty of climbers around us on different schedules, coughing, moaning, yelling to one another, and testing their radios. There was our own anxiety and desire to get moving, and there was the cold and the noise of the wind. When Tshherring gave me a yell at about 9:40 p.m., I was happy to get out of the tent and look at the weather. There was already a great string of about 40 headlights moving up the Triangular Face below Everest's Balcony. I was pleased to see we were the only team shooting for a midnight start. The clouds had blown away and the wind was in the process of quitting. It was another beautiful night, and it was time to get after some strong cups of coffee.

Just before midnight, we wrestled ourselves into harnesses and crampons out in the cold and wedged Oxygen bottles into our packs. Kaji, Tchherring, Linden, and I said goodbye to Dawa, who'd remain at the Col in case of problems, and we checked each other over pretty good before turning toward Everest and the Triangular Face.

Kaji and Makalu
Kaji in front of Makalu

Kaji took the lead and set an easy but steady pace. In other years, I'd climbed over broken and loose rock on this steep and continuously difficult section of the climb, but this time we found good steps kicked in snow. Eventually we came upon other teams, but passed these without too much trouble since we were only four climbers and we were very capable of unclipping from the fixed ropes and putting things into "four wheel drive" with our crampons and ice axes.

Dave-hahn-nearing-summit
Dave Hahn nearing South Summit

We were at the Balcony (27,500 feet) in just about three hours and were by then ahead of all but about a dozen climbers. Now on the Southeast Ridge, we negotiated a narrow track on a crest of snow bordering the immense Kangshung Face. Winds came up, but not steady or greatly worrying winds… just irritating gusts that blew powder snow all over us for 30 seconds at a time. These quit a little after sunrise when we were coming to grips with the steep and rocky flanks of the South Summit. In the process, we passed a few more climbers and then got onto the South Summit by ourselves. This point allowed clear radio communication with Mark Tucker down in base camp and we took advantage, letting him know just how perfect everything was up top.

Summit-from-hilary-step
Summit seen from the Hillary Step

Then we got going on the thrilling traverse to the Hillary Step. The ropes were fixed perfectly, steps were well-kicked in the snow and the winds were non-existent… so when combined with the lack of traffic, it all had me thinking to more difficult and stressful times in these same places. We each felt lucky and happy to swing up and around the boulders of the Hillary Step. We made the top shortly after, at around 6:55 a.m. There were a number of climbers there when we arrived, but most had climbed from Tibet (via the Northeast Ridge). Temperatures were moderate and easy, and so we didn't rush our own summit celebration. Eventually we had the top to ourselves and enjoyed the quiet. After months of life in deep valleys or on steep mountain faces, it was a welcome novelty to experience gigantic and open 360 degree views.

South Summit from Hillary Step
View back along ridge to South Summit from Hillary Step

But not for long. We needed to climb down to safety. This turned out to be a snap with three strong and experienced partners. In fact, we were back shaking Dawa's hand at the South Col in just a couple of hours. We ate, drank, and broke down camp, getting ready to complete the last stage of our blitz. If we could get all the way down to ABC on this day, our bodies would be subjected to far less altitude related stress, and we'd recover from the climb a good deal faster. But ironically, we'd have to work much harder in the short term.
Linden-dave-base-camp
Linden Mallory and Dave Hahn back at base camp

We hoisted big and heavy packs and climbed down the vertical mile … sweating like crazy in our down suits (but now in cloud and new-falling snow). Our arms were getting tired from thousands of feet of rappelling; our toes were getting jammed forward in our boots; and our throats were getting parched from altitude and bottled oxygen. But we were getting lower and safer with every step. We rolled into ABC by mid-afternoon, glad to see Uberaj, and glad to see our tents. I was exhausted but confident that I was exhausted in the very place I wanted to be. We were safe and the monkey was going to be off our backs for just a little while.

Of course, the last trip down through the Khumbu Icefall would be in the morning… but worrying about that could wait until real sleep and real food had a chance to kick in and work their magic.

Comments

  1. erric
    May 24, 2011, 1:48 am

    amazing
    this is really a cool journey
    the mountains and the sky are so beautiful

  2. resorts
    May 24, 2011, 5:51 am

    These are great pictures. I likes adventure it us best place for the adventures. It will be a memorable journey.

  3. Laura McBride
    May 24, 2011, 6:40 am

    Quite amazing to see, from this armchair adventurer’s perspective. Thanks.

  4. dell laptops
    May 25, 2011, 2:29 am

    Our hope was to make the summit bid short and sweet — not so much because going for the top of Mount Everest is an awful and onerous chore, but more because dragging it out can be. Besides, we believed we were shooting for a discreet patch of calm weather and forecasts for such a patch are generally only reliable a few days in advance.
    http://www.delld610.com/

  5. Jeff Heimbuch
    May 25, 2011, 2:06 pm

    So happy you guys were able to reach the summit safe and sound. I’m still upset that Sarah & her dad couldn’t make it, but I’m glad you were able to complete the journey! Great work, guys!

  6. Coach Outlet
    May 27, 2011, 4:48 am

    http://www.coachfactoryoutletus.net very good post. i like that very much. thanks so much for sharing. hope u can post much more good articles for us to learn together. thanks for your time.

  7. vibram five fingers
    May 30, 2011, 9:59 pm

    It was to our advantage to cover big chunks of the mountain in a relative hurry.

  8. online casinos
    May 31, 2011, 1:28 am

    Wow, this all picture are so amazing and Everest looking so beautiful by covering with snow. It is really tough work that to climb on Everest by passing from so many dangerous situation.

  9. tee shirt abercrombie
    June 1, 2011, 3:46 am

    i think maybe i come here before!

  10. Harper Cosper
    June 1, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Now that’s literally cool! So how did it feel being on top of the world? It was fortunate you were able to climb on good weather; the chill must be a real drag up there! It would be wonderful to share the experience someday.

  11. coach outlet
    June 2, 2011, 4:19 am

    thanxcoach outlet

  12. Mekong tours
    June 3, 2011, 9:43 am

    It is like reaching the top of the world. Reaching the summit is the most remarkable experience a man can accomplish.

  13. water rafting Cagayan de Oro
    June 3, 2011, 9:52 am

    A man has numerous challenges to overcome in his life. Albeit he has to face those challenges and if climbing Mt. Everest is one that he must face and want to accomplish; it just shows that when faced with adversity you should never, never give up.

  14. elsanatları
    June 4, 2011, 6:08 pm

    It was to our advantage to cover big chunks of the mountain in a relative hurry.
    ismek spor elsanatları kursları.

  15. Anastacia15
    June 7, 2011, 9:20 am

    The mountains are so incredible on your photos. You are lucky to have seen it in reality.

  16. discounted dell laptops
    June 13, 2011, 7:38 am

    Dave Hahn is a professional mountain guide, ski patroller, journalist and lecturer. On May 20, 2011 he reached the summit of Mt. Everest for the 13th time – the most for a non-Sherpa climber.[1] Among Hahn’s other notable accomplishments are his 27 summits of Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest mountain. He has reached the summit of Mount McKinley (originally called Denali) in Alaska, North America’s highest peak, 20 times over the course of 27 expeditions in 25 years.
    http://www.delld620.com/

  17. dell discounted laptops
    June 17, 2011, 4:58 am

    I like your post and it is so informational and I am definitely going to save it. One thing to say the In depth analysis this article has is greatly remarkable.

  18. prom dresses
    June 19, 2011, 3:02 pm

    the article is so good

  19. longchamp
    July 21, 2011, 10:37 pm

    looking for see more

  20. discounted dell laptops
    August 1, 2011, 4:57 am

    They update everyday and user can get it for free for a year and then user can just register for another year spyware scan once a week or 2-3 times a month

  21. Mt. Everest is the most famous mountain in the world since it’s the tallest mountain across the globe. No doubt adventurer consider climbing at the top of Mt. Everest a dream come true.

  22. Find a Tutor
    August 19, 2011, 3:16 am

    I’m looking for anyone with aspirations to climb Mt Everest within the next 3 years. Of course you don’t have to be fit and ready right now, but you’d have to be willing to begin preparation.

  23. Employee Rewards Programs
    August 19, 2011, 4:41 am

    Tour du Mont Blanc
    This is one of the most popular trails in Europe; passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. Along the trail, you will pass through 7 valleys. There are also numerous stopping and starting areas, plus accommodations available along the trail. The trail also offers several options for hiking—different paths are available for those who want more of a challenge and for those who want to take it easy. This trail is definitely worth checking out if you ever find yourself in Europe.

  24. Based on a true story, NORTH FACE is a gripping adventure drama about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. In 1936, Nazi propaganda urges German Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif, the Eiger, bringing two reluctant climbers, Toni Kurz (BENNO FÜRMANN) and Andi Hinterstoisser (FLORIAN LUKAS), to begin their daring ascent and attempt to scale the infamous rock face, often called the Murder Wall.

  25. wedding
    September 8, 2011, 4:17 am

    Mother or a simple short wedding dress should compliment her figure slim. Flower girl bridal gown can cost less than vintage dresses prom gown and bride. However, they are sums of money. As a rule, parents florists pay these folwer girl.

  26. Earthworms
    September 10, 2011, 12:47 am

    Ah, to stand atop the world would be trully breathtaking.I give credit to the people who do these climbs as the fitness and endurance required is incredible.

  27. wedding
    October 5, 2011, 1:57 am

    横幅のウエディングドレスないスレンダーなドレスだと顔の大きさは目立ちますが、ボリュームのあるスカートを選ぶドレスで気にならなくなります。Vitabellaウエディングドレスは専門のタキシード消費サービスのウェブサイト、中級と高級のウェディングベールの礼服主に製品を経営し、タキシード、など伴娘装花童装なとがあります。1時には我々は深い水のパーティードレス緊急の場合には顧客とのスイマー/ダイバーを持っているタキシード。)HDビデオカメラ防水ポータブルビデオソニーの結婚式ドレスビデオライトあなたは極端行くと、危険にあなた自身とあなたの財産を投入するキャンペーンドレスと、ソルは言った。

  28. Lenovo IdeaPad S9
    November 15, 2011, 1:43 am

    As you put your computer through its paces installing and uninstalling software your System folder gathers a ton of DELL files. Over time, you’ll accumulate DELL files you no longer need hogging disk space and causing your system to run sluggishly. Clean System Directory scans your system looking for all references to DELL files in your System directory. When it finds DELL files that have no programs calling them,
    http://www.electrocomputerwarehouse.com/

  29. UGGs Cheap
    December 9, 2011, 12:14 am

    This site is very interesting and also great. I’m glad to find out this ste immediately. It’s very informative.

  30. replica handbags
    December 27, 2011, 10:33 am

    Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information.yer

  31. cheapest car insurance in florida
    January 22, 2012, 6:56 am

    And if all of those advantages failed, I’d rely on an old guide trick: specifying that my pace was the only one that would get us to our goal with strength intact ….

  32. cheap car insurance in michigan
    January 22, 2012, 7:53 am

    with its imminent redesign, says Lila King, Participation Director of CNN Digital, in this interview with Beet.TV.

  33. astronomy help
    January 25, 2012, 6:07 am

    it’s so beautiful and dangerous. i’d like to see mountains with my own eyes

  34. Premium Web Directory
    January 26, 2012, 9:36 am

    Leaving base camp and relocating to ABC in one push was our first real test in this effort and that went quite well.

  35. Land for sale UK
    January 28, 2012, 3:12 pm

    WOW I sat atop Snowmass and looked all around at the glorious mountains thanks for the reminder! the picture is gorgeous!

  36. maxburn
    February 9, 2012, 3:18 am

    The World Values Survey 1999-2007 provides data in a wide variety of societies to examine the distribution of public opinion towards secularism and democracy.

  37. tapetes promocionales
    February 10, 2012, 4:32 am

    This is a fantastic website and I can not recommend you guys enough. Full of useful resource and great layout very easy on the eyes. Please do keep up this great work.

  38. Cheap UGGs
    February 11, 2012, 3:52 am

    A nearly century-old hunting Cheap UGGs is catching on with a younger generation that sees the utilitarian footwear as hip.L.L Bean’s familiar duck UGG Bailey Button with leather uppers and rubber soles – designed for slogging through mud and snow – has become something of a statement owing to its newfound popularity on campuses, UGG Amberlee the company said. Another reason is new styles, UGG Tularosa including something Leon Leonwood Bean surely never envisioned in 1912: bright blue and pink leather, new for spring.Part of the success of the UGG Kensington is its versatility, in barnyards or in cities, in snow or rain.Defying a trend toward offshore production,UGG Bailey Button Triplet the outdoors retailer is adding 125 full-time employees to its Maine manufacturing operation to keep pace with orders.
    The well-known UGG Classic Short Sparkles appears to be benefiting from a retro trend, whether it’s penny loafers or Gap’s 1969 series blue jeans, said Candace Corlett, UGG Caspia president of WSL Strategic Retail in New York.Another factor that could be helping Bean: There’s been little that’s new and exciting in footwear in recent years beyond UGG Montclair boots and Crocs, said Alexander Geyman, editor of Focus on Fashion Retail. Trendy UGG Classic Cardy boots and the Timberland brand outstrip Bean’s in sales, he said.
    The duck UGG Classic Short carry the “Made in the USA” label, something that’s hard to find these days in footwear. Nationwide, the number of shoe-manufacturing jobs dropped from more than 200,000 in the 1970s to 12,500 this year, UGG Fox Fur according to the U.S. Labor Department. In Maine, shoe-manufacturing jobs peaked at more than 25,000 in the 1960s, UGG Delaine and last year there were 1,300 jobs, according to the Maine Department of LaborWell-known Maine brands like G.H. Bass, Cole Haan, UGG Knightsbridge Sebago and Dexter are now made abroad. But L.L. Bean has resisted the notion of making its Bean UGG Plumdale.As the story goes, L.L. Bean created the hunting UGG Classic Tall for himself after his feet got wet and cold on a hunting trip, and it was not an instant success. Ninety of the first 100 pairs sold in 1912 were returned after the leather separated; Bean had a satisfaction guarantee, UGG Annabelle so he returned customers’ money.These days, UGG Retro Cargo the original L.L. Bean Hunting Shoe is available unlined or with various linings, UGG Finnegan including Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and shearling. There are plenty of other variations, including quilted, canvas and plaid, UGG Sheepskin Cuff and even bright blue and pink leather. There are low-cut versions as well.All of them are still made by hand. The rubber soles are made by L.L. Bean workers in Lewiston, UGG Mayfaire and they’re sewn to the leather uppers at an L.L. Bean plant in Brunswick.All told, there are 320 workers at L.L. Bean’s factory in Brunswick, making UGG Highkoo, dog beds, canvas totes and other products.Each Gore-Tex liner is inflated and dunked in a tank to make sure it’s watertight before being dried and put in the UGG Roslynn.

  39. cash advance 1 hour
    February 12, 2012, 2:29 am

    I wanted to ask which website platform you are using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of Word press because I’ve had issues with hackers.

  40. Private Health Insurance
    February 13, 2012, 4:10 am

    Where To Find Cheap Health Insurance

    Health insurance commission are rising all the time. Many citizen´s feel they cannot have enough money health insurance. Others feel that they dont need it because they are beaming and have never had any major checkup problems. This is absolutel…

  41. Land For Sale
    February 14, 2012, 10:49 am

    Anyone who has a child diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma who has any useful information for us, please let me know.

  42. debt consolidation
    February 15, 2012, 9:24 am

    Confidentiality has its place, particularly when rabid polarization has poisoned so much of public discourse

  43. aprendizaje del ingles en niños
    February 19, 2012, 6:41 am

    It was to our advantage to cover big chunks of the mountain in a relative hurry. Leaving base camp and relocating to ABC in one push was our first real test in this effort and that went quite well…

  44. gel memory foam
    February 21, 2012, 10:50 am

    It is the most amazing article ever read on this earth. Guess what!!! Today for the first time I read your article and in one shot I liked your article and the way you write.

  45. vinyl loop mats
    February 23, 2012, 2:30 am

    I appreciated this Blog. The theme you are using is very simple and nice. I love this website and still have bookmarked .

  46. entrance floor mats
    February 23, 2012, 2:55 am

    We were excited to link up with friends and fellow guides at the South Col and to hear their stories.

  47. fr.casinogames-online.info
    February 25, 2012, 1:32 pm

    It is the most amazing article ever read on this earth. Guess what!!! Today for the first time I read your article and in one shot I liked your article and the way you write

  48. hcg drops reviews
    February 26, 2012, 7:41 am

    A few hours labor as the world got lighter and we cruised on into our Camp III site at close to 24,000 feet.