Carbondale man visits top of world – Everest |

Carbondale man visits top of world – Everest

Tim Mutrie

A Carbondale man became the second person this year to reach the summit of 29,028-foot Mount Everest Wednesday, as part of the 1999 Everest Millennium Expedition.

Bill Crouse, 35, a regional sales manager for The North Face and recent transplant to Carbondale, conquered the summit for the first time about 45 minutes behind expedition leader Pete Athans.

Athans, also a North Face employee and climber, became the only westerner to summit Everest six times at 10:31 a.m. Nepal Standard Time, according to team member Matt Lau’s report posted on the website. Crouse and Athans were among six westerners to summit yesterday; about 14 Sherpas also accomplished the feat, according to Lau’s entry.

The aim of the 1999 Everest Millennium Expedition, besides reaching the summit of the highest peak in the world, was to fulfill a set of longstanding goals outlined by Dr. Brad Washburn of Boston’s Museum of Science.

“This year, it appears that the Everest Millennium Expedition has successfully completed all of the major goals set forth by Dr. Washburn,” Lau wrote.

The team’s accomplishments included: installation of permanent GPS (Global Positioning System) survey points at the South Col and on the highest bedrock on the mountain; simultaneous GPS measurement of the summit, South Col, and Kala Pattar; and the installation of weather-monitoring devices at various places on the mountain.

By pinpointing the exact height of Everest using a GPS, the time-honored debate concerning the exact height of the mountain will likely be put to rest. And, the weather-monitoring devices will allow scientists to monitor Everest’s weather year-round. Presently, little is known about Everest’s climate because it is only accessible to people a few weeks per year.

“The weather [yesterday on Everest] could not have been more perfect,” Lau wrote. “Until last night, the conditions high on the mountain had not been favorable for a summit attempt, but around 10 p.m., the winds miraculously died down, and the skies remained clear all through the night and [yesterday].

“Bill Crouse reported the winds from the summit as `almost nonexistent.’ He said there were a few gusts, but because of the low wind, Pete and Bill were able to spend nearly two hours on the summit, performing scientific work.

“Making Peter’s feat more impressive, he `broke trail’ – that is, he led the pack of climbers through the thick, unbroken snow on the mountain – throughout the night (the climbers departed from the high camp [at 26,300 feet] at 10:30 p.m.), and fixed rope (climbed solo, and attached safety lines) on the Hillary Step, a job usually done by Sherpa climbers.”

According to Lau’s entry, Athans, Crouse and most of the expedition will remain in the region, hoping to “finish the trilogy” – that is, to climb the nearby Himalayan peaks of Lhotse and Nuptse.

At least nine more teams are racing to climb Everest before the spring mountaineering season ends May 31. The season began in March, and ends when monsoon rains prohibit attempts at the tall mountains.

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