Three Aspenites summit Everest
May 20, 2011
ASPEN – Three Roaring Fork Valley residents have reached the top of the world.
Renowned Snowmass big-mountain skier Chris Davenport and Aspenites Neal Beidleman and Ephi Gildor, part of a seven-man expedition team, summited 29,029-foot Mount Everest via the South Col on a clear, brisk Friday morning, according to a report posted on the blog mteverest2011.com.
The triumph came more than a month after the group reached base camp and one day after an initial summit bid was thwarted by high winds and snow.
“We just had a beautiful day,” said Bill Allen, an Ophir resident and co-owner of guiding outfit Mountain Trip, in an audio dispatch posted on the blog. “It’s wonderful up here on the summit. It’s a little cold, very light winds and we’re all just thrilled to be here and have gotten so lucky.”
This is the first trip to Everest for Davenport and Gildor, an amateur climber who has logged ascents on Denali, Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson, Elbrus and Carstensz Pyramid, among others.
Beidleman, meanwhile, has returned 15 years after experiencing calamity on the world’s tallest peak. In May 1996, the 51-year-old was helping guide one of two groups that were caught in a storm high on the mountain. Eight climbers perished.
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The incident – the “worst single loss of life” on Everest, according to a 1996 article in The New York Times – was the subject of Jon Krakauer’s novel “Into Thin Air.”
Wives Amy Beidleman and Jesse Davenport did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
Among those on the current expedition are: Polish climber Ireneusz Szpot, whose successful summit marks his completion of the Summit Summits; and Scott Woolums of Hood River, Ore., who is making his sixth ascent of Everest.
In November, Beidleman and Gildor were part of an expedition to 16,050-foot Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest peak located about 750 miles from the South Pole.