Everest 2007 without oxygen

May 23

An exhausted Robert, after spending the night at Camp 2, headed down to Base Camp. "I have learnt something new about high-altitude mountaineering," he reflected.This will undoubtedly help in training and planning for future no-oxygen climbs.

May 22

Robert set off at about 9.30pm last night for the summit in good spirits as he moved up steadily. However because of the thin air above 8200m, he was breathing heavily. A couple of violent coughs just before the Balcony led to two cracked ribs. His chest was also experiencing painful respiratory cramps. Unsure of how this would develop at even higher altitudes, he reluctantly decided to turn round at the Balcony .

May 20

Robert arrived at Camp 3 today. The weather is holding, although there are signs a stronger winds ahead. Fingers crossed!

May 19

The weather has been mild at Camp 2. Robert is preparing to leave for Camp 3 tomorrow. Winds are at a gentle 5 knots to 15 knots, although wind chill is up to -35 at times. Other teams have been heading for the summit and the hope is that by May 22, there will be relatively few mountaineers at the summit.

May 17

Robert arrived at Camp 2 with Pemba Dorje this evening, on the first leg of the summit bid. The weather was "very good" which was a blessing.

May 16

Robert will start his summit bid tomorrow morning. The target summit day is May 22. The decision to set off is due to the current weather, with relatively mild winds of 10 to 20 knots, and the expectation of worsening weather later in the season.

"I have rested well at Base Camp since returning from Pangboche a week ago," he said."And I am looking forward to moving up."

May 13

The wait has begun for the ropes to be fixed to the Balcony. It's anyone's guess as to when that will be. The weather has taken a turn for the worse, chucking down a bad windstorm yesterday.Robert is sitting tight.

May 10

After a good rest, Robert set off this morning for EBC and arrived in the evening, taking just one day for the usual two-day trek!

Some cimbers started their summit bid today. Robert will wait for a day when there are fewer climbers so he won't have to queue for a long time to get to the top. Climbing without oxygen, he will be suffering more from the cold than those on oxygen. Standing around waiting to move can freeze one's digits and lead to frost bite.

May 6

Robert arrived at Pangboche this evening after a nine-hour trek from EBC. Mountaineers often descend to a lower altitude to rest and recover from the exertion suffered during their acclimatisation cycles. Pangboche is more than 1,000m lower than Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Robert will be able to eat better and breathe air that has a little more oxygen.

At Cho Oyu in 2004, a week-long rest at Nyalam, about 2,000m lower than the peak's Advanced Base Camp, Robert recovered from a chest infection and went on to summit Cho Oyu without oxygen. The current Pangboche rest period will help him similarly.

He will set off on May 10th for the two-day trek to EBC and prepare for the summit bid.

May 4

This morning, Robert returned to Base Camp, feeling very tired and dehydrated. But pleased that the acclimatisation cycle was over.

It is estimated that the ropes to the top will be fixed in 10 days' time. Weather permitting, the summit bid could begin then.

May 3

After a restless night's sleep, Robert amd his Sherpa Pemba Dorje climbed up the Lhotse Face, over the Yellow Band and reached the Geneva Spur, which is a rib of black rock named by a 1952 Swiss expedition. Climbers would normally be on oxygen after Camp 3 but Robert is climbing without oxygen.

Climbing over the Yellow Band.

From Geneva Spur, looking down on the Western Cwm.

"Pemba and I turned round at the Spur only because it started to snow," he said via satellite. "It was tiring and I was breathless, but it was not difficult."

The duo descended to Camp 2 for the night.

May 2

Robert arrived at Camp 3 today and will sleep there for the night.

May 1

Robert is at Camp 2, preparing to climb to Camp 3 tomorrow where he will spend the night. Unlike most of the other climbers who are using bottled oxygen, Robert will be sleeping without supplementary oxygen. At this altitude, sleep is light and restless, an additional challenge to a no-oxygen ascent.

April 29

With the improvement in the weather, Robert climbed to Camp 3 today and back to Camp 2. He will stay there for a couple of days or so before going back up to Camp 3 to spent the night. He is feeling as strong as in 2005 which is a good sign.

April 28

High winds and avalanches on the Lhotse Face thwarted Robert’s hopes of getting to Camp 3 (7,400m) today. It was at the foot of the Lhotse Face in 2005 that an avalanche amost killed him. Fortunately, the avalanches didn’t do any damage. Another night at Camp 2…

April 27

Bad weather today forced Robert to stay put in Camp 2, where he is waiting to ascend to Camp 3. At 6,500m, Camp 2 operates as a high camp, with a fully-operating kitchen tent with a couple of cooks to feed the climbers. But it is really too high to remain for too long, so let's hope the weather will improve soon.

April 26

Robert spent a restful night at Camp 2 but this morning, sad news came that a Sherpa from another team died when he fell and broke his neck at the foot of the Lhotse Face. A team of Sherpas brought his body down.

April 25

Up again to Camp 2, this time to spend the night. Robert reports feeling stronger than before.

April 24

Climbed to Camp 2 (6,500m) and back to Camp 1. This is the tried-and-tested way of acclimatising to increasing altitude -- climb high and sleep low. Another night at Camp 1.

April 23

Robert arrived at Camp 1 and spent the night. The infamous Khumbu Icefall was easier than in 2005.

Robert finds navigating the Khumbu Icefall easier this time than in 2005.

April 20

After resting a couple of days and getting re-acquainted with EBC, which changes every season, Robert is starting the acclimatisation cycles today.  He went up to Camp 1 (6,000m) this morning before dawn and returned to BC by mid afternoon. He was feeling good, moving at a good pace. The weather has been good in the mornings, but afternoon brought light snow as the sun slid behind the clouds.

April 18

Everest Base Camp this season feels different to Robert. Missing his other team mates, he is happy to see old friends Ang Jangbu of Great Escapes and Mike Tucker of IMG who are again running the IMG camp this year. Because most of the IMG clients are Americans, the diet is more Western than in 2005, when Robert was last at Everest.

Arriving at EBC felt like a homecoming, but Robert misses his climbing mates.

April 17

Robert and his personal Sherpa Pemba Dorje arrived at Everest Base Camp (5,200m) today, joining the other climbers with International Mountain Guides. IMG and their Nepalese partners Great Escapes Trekking had organised Robert's previous expeditions to Xixabangma (2002), Cho Oyu (2004) and Everest (2005). But this year is different as Robert is one of IMG's climbing clients, most of whom arrived at EBC earlier. The kitchen tents at Camp 2 are already up and running and ropes are being fixed to Camp 3.

April 13

An overnight stop at Thukla (4,450m) before heading for Luboche.

April 11

After a night at Tengboche (3,750m), Robert arrived at Pangboche where he visited the home of his friend Kami Ang Chirring Sherpa. Kami was already at Everest Base Camp, but his wife Lapagiri and their two daughters were there to give him a rousing welcome. Kami's second elder son was in India in a temple, studying to be a lama.

Kami and his family are special to the Singapore Mountaineers who, together with members of the NUS Everest Team members, sponsor Kami's youngest son, Mingama Dorje, at a school in Kathmandu.

Robert also visited the lama at the Pangboche monastry for his blessings, a tradition for Everest climbers.

The trek continued on to Dingboche (4,250m).

April 9

A rest day, spent trekking to 3,800m above Namche. "We had sun, high winds, some snow and some rain on the same day!" Robert reported in an email. "Everyone is feeling good."

April 8

Robert arrived at Namche Bazaar (3,440m) at 4pm local time (2 hrs 15 mins behind Singapore). Namche is a bustling market town with rural folk hawking their ware spread on large sheets on the ground, lining the trek-in path. It also has bakeries and cybercafes that trekkers and mountaineers flock to, to send and receive email.

April 7

This morning, Robert flew to Lukla where he was met by his Sherpa Pemba Dorje. They set off on the trek to Everest Base Camp, and arrived at Monjo (2,850m) in the evening.

April 5/6

Arriving in Kathmandu felt like a homecoming to Robert. After checking into Tibet Hotel, he visited some old haunts, had drinks at New Orleans, and mo mo (dumplings) at his favourite hole-in-the-wall Nepalese eating house. Friday was spent at the Great Escapes office sorting equipment which arrived earlier in boxes by air freight and had to be packed into duffles.


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Everest and K2 without Oxygen

Climbing big mountains above 8,000m without oxygen is a challenge taken on only by the very best climbers in the world. About 2,500 mountaineers have summited Everest but fewer than 10% did it without supplementary oxygen.

K2 is widely known to be far more dangerous than Everest. As of 2001,there were 207 successful summits, and 22 deaths.