Episode 050: May 22nd, Summit Day

THE TOP. Everyone, it is with great pleasure and slightly misty eyes that I get to tell you that the team has made it to the top of Mount Everest and has safely descended to the comfort of their tent at Camp 4 (8300 meters)!!!!!

They finally did it!

It has taken so long to tell all of you this because the weather on the summit was so bad they couldn’t take out the radio.
I have just gotten off the radio with Ben and he is doing very well, they made the summit at around 9am Nepalese time today (9pm in Colorado).
The three of them (Ben, Lhawang and Lhakpa) are healthy and resting up for tomorrow’s descent down to ABC.

Thank you, everyone for all of the emails, thoughts, and prayers.

Jon Miller (a much relieved Base Camp inhabitant!)

Total Running Time: 36:52

Dispatch 37, May 21st, 2003: Mount Everest Base-camp
Hello everyone,I’ve just returned from the British Royal Navy camp where I’ve been passing the time and trying to reach Ben on the radio. No success reaching Ben, but I do have some more information to pass on. Apparently this morning a climber (definitely NOT Ben) fell and broke his Femur between the First and Second Steps. I know from talking with the royal Navy folks that some of their support climbers will be heading up to fix extra ropes to try and get this climber down. I have not confirmed who the climber is, but a Femur fracture is a very serious, dangerous situation to be involved in. They say that if he survives the descent, they will stabilize him at ABC and then load him onto a Yak for the 22km trip down to Base Camp.
I am telling you all of this because of the potential for a rescue to slow the other climbers down. They will either have to wait for the route to clear, or will join in the rescue themselves. So, by looking at the weather up on the mountain, what you can see of the mountain that is, it’s really anybody’s guess as to what’s going on up there.
Hopefully I can still reach Ben later today to see where he is…it’s getting late in the day for the summit so I’m guessing he’ll stay put at Camp 6 tonight and try for the summit tomorrow. Again, all speculation. Anyway, I’ve got my camera pointed at the Mountain, and with the next dispatch I’ll send some video stills to show everyone what you can see from Base Camp, where it is now snowing lightly.Hang in there,Jon

Dispatch 38, May 22nd, 2003: Mount Everest Base-camp

Hello everyone!After a short lapse in coverage (there really wasn’t anything to report…just sitting around being anxious) I’m back with some new information. After a radio call placed last evening by one of our Sherpas, Boca Lama,
Ben was at Camp 6. I missed the call…I was at another camp and in the excitement failed to say which one so I could not be found by the guys here. According to Boca, Lhawang said that they had just had something hot to drink and that Ben was fast asleep wearing his oxygen regulator. Camp 6 is at 8,300 meters and this is at an altitude that only commercial jets fly in.So, the information that they were all in oxygen gear is really positive, because it means that they will remain strong for their summit push today. This morning has been very clear, the Mountain has been shining in the bright sun, but clouds are beginning to roll inn over the summit. Not to worry, if the plan has held, then Ben & Co. have been walking for many hours up the long North East Ridge towards the summit. It’s always hard to tell about these things, but if the schedule is held, then they could summit from anywhere between now and the next 2 or 3 hours. Again, as I’ve always told you, this is at best speculation. However, there were actually quite a few climbers who were able to summit yesterday (including Boca Lama’s younger brother, with the HMI team from India!). Most of them summitted within a band of hours in the late morning, so we can figure it will be a similar situation today. The injured climber I told you about yesterday was apparently able to make it to Camp 6 for the night, so the route should be clear today.That’s all the info I have at this moment, but I’ve got a few seconds of video to send out in just a moment.
Stay tuned! Jon

Dispatch 40, May 22nd, 2003: Base-camp 10:40am
Hey everyone,I was just talking to Boca and Dawa. They have been trying to contact the climbers all morning. They are not concerned that they have not reached the guys. See, they say that in order to keep the radio batteries from freezing, the radio MUST be kept inside of one of the guy’s down suits. Preferably pressed against an undershirt layer, if possible.
So, it’s probable that they simply can’t hear the radio if it’s turned on. Also, it is somewhere around -30 degrees Celsius up on the Ridge at this moment, and in order to use the radio, you have to take off the enormous down gloves the group is all wearing. So, they’re probably also waiting for the summit before they establish radio contact.
Comfort is important, even at 28,000 feet on The North East Ridge of Everest.Just wanted everyone to know,Jon

Dispatch 41, May 22nd, 2003: Base-camp 11:10am
Here’s the latest:I just met with my friend Dimitri, the doctor from the St Petersburg, Russia team. He has just gotten off the radio with his team. They say that they are at the Second Step waiting for a turn to ascend the aluminum ladder placed there decades ago. They say there are many climbers waiting for their turn to go up the ladder, so it is possible that Ben and his Sherpas are waiting in line. The Second Step is at an altitude of about 8,700 meters. Not far from the 8,848 meter summit!If we cannot contact Ben, at 12pm (noon) Dimitri and I will try to contact his team again and ask if they see Ben.Hang in there,Jon

Dispatch 42, May 22nd, 2003: Base-camp 12:15pm
Here’s the latest: We’re still waiting. Dimitri just finished a radio call with his friend and teammate Nicolaiy Totmiyanin. There is no information to be had about Ben. “Koliya” is only about 1 hour from the summit and he is not using oxygen. Climbing the peak WITH oxygen is quite an ordeal, so I certainly don’t blame Koliya for not taking the time to look around for Ben! It’s possible that Koliya will be the first climber to summit without oxygen this year. He’s a good friend, and I’ve got my fingers crossed.The day has already seen a few teams summit, though, so the weather is not keeping people off the top. I just got back from a friend’s camp and they said one of their climbers is on the top right at this moment! I’ll let them inform all of their people before I let everyone on Ben’s guest book know what team. These dispatches are picked up by other news sources and it’s only fair. Anyway, I’m quite excited, and can’t wait to tell people, myself, that MY climber is on the top. Soon, soon.Stay with me, he’s almost there! Jon Miller

Dispatch 45, May 22nd, 2003: Base-camp 3:15pm
I just wanted everyone to know that our Russian friend I spoke of earlier, Nicolaiy Totmiyanin, is standing on the summit as I type this!Dimitri and I just contacted him via radio and he has made it without oxygen. Also, he has not seen Ben, but he said that the summit was actually crowded with people! Kolia will wait on the summit for 30 minutes so he can welcome his other teammates, Vladimir and Andre who are just behind him, to the top of the world.