Aspen’s Mahon summits Mt. Everest
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen resident Ted Mahon and Gunnison’s Jesse Rickert summitted Mount Everest this morning, Tibet time, and were reportedly on the way down with teammates.
Mahon and Rickert, the two remaining finalists on the Global Extremes TV Everest Expedition, set out from Camp 4 on Everest’s northeast ridge at 1:45 a.m., Tibet time, exactly 12 hours ahead of Aspen time, and reached the roof about 9:15 a.m., Tibet time.
Veteran New Zealander mountain guide Mark Whetu, originally a cameraman for the team, led the team out of its 27,200-foot camp, joined by Boulder’s Mike Brown, another cameraman and two-time summitteer, and Jake Norton, a mountain guide/photographer for the team.
Accompanied by five Sherpas – Loppasang, Chhuldim, Karssang, Phuru and Lakpa – the team totaled 10.
It was not clear Thursday night how many members of the team summitted, but an earlier dispatch from a team of eight summitteers who climbed from the south side reported no wind and comfortable climbing conditions.
“I just got word that Ted and Jesse had a safe and successful summit, and they made it to the top around 9:15 [p.m.] our time,” May Eynon, a producer for Aspen-based American Adventure Productions, said in a voice-mail about 10:20 last night. “Keiron [of AAP] called base camp and got word from base camp, so I’m relaying it from that …
“Great news. They’re on their way down. They were really strong and they blasted past the cameramen and they were up above them, up on the summit, by about 20 minutes. So everything’s great and a lot of smiles and everyone’s happy.”
The climb was originally planned to be broadcast live on the Outdoor Life Network last Thursday. That summit bid was called off when Global Extremes climbers helped in a rescue at 26,000-plus feet. The bid was aborted, and the team retreated to advanced base camp, watching most expeditions – a record number for the 50th anniversary ascent – call it quits and go home.
A Russian team sent one lone climber to the top yesterday, the anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s inaugural ascent, while Global Extremes and the IMG team from the south waited it out for the one final window of fair weather before the June monsoon season. And the window came.
But while Global Extremes waited, the team’s satellite permit for the live broadcast expired with the Chinese government, said Aspen’s John Wilcox, Global Extremes executive producer, founder and owner of AAP.
The climb will still air in its entirety, eight hours or more, starting at 1 p.m. Sunday on the Outdoor Life Network.
The Global Extremes summit push started from Camp 4, at about 27,200 feet. The summit – at 29,035-feet – is guarded by the notorious First, Second and Third steps, all airily exposed to the 10,000-foot true North Face. The ridgetop round trip is three to four hours, nearly two miles, at 28,000-plus feet.
The Aspen-based Ski Everest Expedition, with the exception of Dr. Jon Gibans of Aspen, can be counted among the teams coming home intact but without a summit.
Gibans was reportedly trying to climb in the same window the Global Extremes team was following.
Earlier reports from a team of eight from the south side told of ideal conditions and, most notably, no wind. The entire spring climbing season had yielded only one earlier window to summit, and then routes were cold and crowded.
“Ted’s on his way,” read the subject line of an e-mail from Mahon’s girlfriend, Christy Sauer of Aspen, yesterday afternoon.
“Ted left today for the home stretch! He left camp 4 at 1:45 p.m. (mtn. time) and will make it to the summit around 8-10 tonight (mtn. time). That would be 8-10 a.m. Tibet time. I think they will hike down to camp 3 tonight, spend the night, and then hike down to ABC [advanced base camp] the next day and continue down!” Sauer wrote in the dispatch to Mahon’s friends and family.
[Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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Aspen is set to add to its Olympic heritage next month as three local athletes head to the Beijing Games. Halfpipe skiers Alex Ferreira and Hanna Faulhaber, as well as cross-country skier Hailey Swirbul, will head over soon, but before that a send-off party is set for Wednesday.