Top of the world today? | AspenTimes.com

Top of the world today?

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

“The damn’s been broken.

“And once one group reaches the summit everyone seems to go for it, and we seem to be on the tail end of that.”

That was the report yesterday from Global Extremes Team guide Chris Warner in a Mount Everest dispatch posted at http://www.sports.yahoo.com.

In an audio message relayed from 26,100 feet via satellite phone, at Camp 3 on the Northeast Ridge, Warner reported his team – subject of the live TV event today on OLN from 1:30 p.m. on, Aspen time – was “feeling good about the next bit of our journey. …

“Just below the summit … which firmly establishes us in what some poetic doctor termed as the `death zone.'”

Warner reported seeing climbers coming down from the summit – 13, in fact, including Chinese (in live broadcast, too), South Koreans and Americans, including the father-son Spokane, Wash., team of John and Jess Roskelley, age 20.

The Associated Press reported that relentless winds forced more than 100 climbers to retreat from high on the South Col route, which is opposite the North Col/Northeast Ridge route taken by the season’s first summiteers, and the one being plied by the Global Extremes team and the Aspen-based Ski Everest Expedition, among others.

Led by Aspen twins Steve and Mike Marolt, 38, all nine members of the Ski Everest Expedition reached Camp 2 at 25,000-feet yesterday, according to a dispatch posted at http://www.everestnews.com. Mike and Steve, accountants who share an office in Aspen, and their cousin Jeremie Oates, 33, a captain with U.S. Army Special Forces who also grew up in Aspen, also hauled skis up with them.

Naturally, they skied back down to advanced base camp at 20,500, through 6 inches of fresh snow in places, frightful ice elsewhere.

“A huge part of the goal was a ski descent from the summit,” Mike Marolt said in a transcribed report on everestnews.com, “but it is just not to be done this year. Just not enough snow. …

“We worked our butts off. We are proud of the style that we did it, no Sherpas, no oxygen, no nothing. …

“Conditions up high were extremely tense, pretty frightful actually,” Mike continued. “It was pretty much ice and we were able to slither down 100 meters and actually found some good snow on the North Ridge and then dropped into the North Col, with an initial ski rappel.”

Marolt said the team will rest at ABC a few days, then look for the summit between May 24-27.

A record number of climbers are on the mountain this season – widely reported as a tribute to the inaugural conquest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – but the season had not yet yielded opportunities for summit attempts, until yesterday. The window now appears to be open. RIGHT NOW.

Global Extreme Team guide Warner said his team would settle into its first sips of bottled oxygen for the overnight. Then it was up to Camp 4, and presumably, by 1:30 p.m. today, approaching the one-mile-long traverse (one way) over the 10,000-foot North Face, a three- or four-hour odyssey at 28,000-plus feet.

Warner said the team faced 40-mph winds during the climb to 26,100-feet.

“Wasn’t very pleasant, but we’re making good progress,” he said on http://www.sports.yahoo.com.

The Global Extreme Team, including Aspen local Ted Mahon, two fellow Coloradans Jesse Rickert and Colleen Ihnken, and Petit Pinson of California, are the four amateur athletes selected through a qualifying process that took them to Moab, Aspen, Costa Rica, the African Sahara and Iceland until only five remained for a shot at Everest. One has since dropped out.

Mahon (pronounced `man’) will be joined in the climb by three cameramen/guides (Mark Whetu, Jake Norton and Mike Brown) and lead guide Warner. It’s not clear whether Sherpa guides will also be accompanying the team, but we shall see as they push for 29,035-foot watershed.

“People are managing to get up there,” said Mike Marolt in closing in a May 21 report at http://www.everestnews.com. “We got the supplies and everything in place. We need to get a few days rest, and check the weather forecast and then give it 110 percent and see what can happen. We have smiles on our faces, [and] this is a pretty rough place to be as it is this year.”


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