Dispatch—Day 54: May 19, 2009
Celebrating Summit Success!
Photo: Whittaker and Tendi approaching Everest summit
By Dave Hahn
Photograph by Jake Norton

Everest Base Camp—17,530 feet (5,343 meters)
N 28º 00.336' E 086º 51.504'

Click here to zoom in on the route to the summit »

Lots of Puja smoke in the air this morning at Base Camp, lots of banging pots and cheering. Lots of people walking around with radio antennae held high. Lots of people smiling but bleary-eyed at having monitored climbers through a long night. I guess it was an exciting day for everyone in Base Camp... the estimate being that at least a hundred climbers from perhaps ten teams had gone for the summit overnight, but of course I know for certain that it was an exciting day for those of us on the First Ascent team.

Not only were we ecstatic to hear each of our climbers check in from the South Summit, the Hillary Step, and the Summit in good time and in good strength, we are now more fired up than ever for our own attempt on the top. It was a day of meeting with the Sherpa climbers that will accompany us; taking a final close look at the extended forecasts and a day of getting packs rigged for climbing once again. In between all of that, my team kept listening in to make sure the summit gang was descending safely. Before lunch, we managed to put everybody through the shower one more time and got a little fluff back in the hairdos. I scraped off my fourth beard of the trip... not sure which number Seth and Kent were scraping off, but they were looking sharp and clean and ready to go. Melissa and Erica are also eager, healthy, and packed for an early morning Icefall transit.

The entire summit team is safely tucked away back at high camp now. They’ll spend the night there before resuming the descent. We’ll meet them at Advanced Base Camp [ABC] tomorrow at midday. Ours is the normal up-at-3-breakfast-at-3:30-walk-at-4 plan... climbing straight through to Camp 2 with only a pause for rest at Camp 1. I expect we’ll get some good stories out of the summit team as we share ABC for the night. The following day, they will undoubtedly be down in Base Camp while we take our single rest day at ABC. Then we move to Camp 3 and on the 23rd of May up to Camp 4... making us ready for a shot at the top on May 24.

We discussed our priorities today, along with our perceived strengths and weaknesses. We each know the points in the next week at which we’ll need nothing but good luck to achieve our goals. We know who is guiding, who is filming, and who is climbing and we all are aware that this climb will push all of us to our limits. But we are ready. We want to try to climb the highest mountain in the world.

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