Bluebird day on Mt. Everest for some locals

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

From Jake Norton’s point of view, it was a bluebird day on Mount Everest.

Norton, of Boulder and a mountaineer/photographer with the Global Extremes Mt. Everest team, delivered much of the climbing footage from his “POV” camera on the way up Everest Northeast Ridge last Friday morning, Everest time.

The “recorded live” version debuted on the Outdoor Life Network last night. And though it was not disclosed, all 10 of Aspen resident Ted Mahon’s Global Extremes teammates did make it to the top – and down. Dr. Jon Gibans, of the Snowmass Clinic and Aspen-based Ski Everest Expedition, also reached the summit, according to an Internet report.

In idyllic conditions by all accounts – clear, calm and relatively climber free – at least 20 mountaineers reached the 29,035-foot top of the world on May 30. The first eight were the Washington-based International Mountain Guides (IMG) team, climbing from the South Col route.

A long-range zoom camera from base camp – the OLN climbing footage second to Norton’s – showed several humans waiting at the very summit. Some other dots were moving across the snow- and rock-edged skyline toward those humans. The individual dots were moving rapidly, traversing above the 10,000-foot north face.

“These guys are going fast. They’re impressing me,” said commentator Conrad Anker, a respected climber and Everest summitteer, in narrating the climb from a studio at the 17,000-foot base camp. “They’ve just been go, go, go.”

Mahon and Jesse Rickert of Gunnison were the two remaining finalists on the Global Extremes TV Everest Expedition. Both seemed to storm up the mountain with ease judging from the Norton footage on the mountain, and conditions were clear for hundreds of miles in every direction. There was hardly any wind. Veteran guide Russell Brice of New Zealand called it a “magical day.”

Once at the top, Mahon and Rickert, with oxygen masks off to the side, high-fived and hugged.

“I can’t believe we’re up here still,” said Mahon in a few intelligible words on OLN from the top, “facing so many hurdles. A week ago it seemed like we’d be home. … I’m still kinda in shock.”

The Global Extremes team 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, according to the latest reports.

Veteran New Zealander mountain guide Mark Whetu, originally a cameraman for the team, led the team out of it’s 8,300-meter, 27,200-foot camp, along with Boulder’s Mike Brown, another cameraman and two-time summitteer, and Norton.

All five of the team’s Sherpas made the summit, and it can only be assumed that either Loppasang, 32, the sirdar or head climbing Sherpa, or Karssang, 32, five-time summitteer of Everest and Cho Oyo, was the lone dot out in front of Rickert, Mahon and Norton, leading the team.

Chhuldim, 39, Phuru, 34, and Lakpa, 36, rounded out the team of 10.

Two climbers from the Northern Irish expedition (one Irishman, one Kiwi), reached the summit the next day, May 31, tying a record for “last summit day” previously owned solo-ly by Aspen’s own Bob Sloezen.

Gibans, 44, reportedly climbed behind the Global Extremes team, according to a dispatch from Aspen’s Mike Marolt. In a later report on, Marolt said Gibans was safely retreating off the mountain toward home.