Tuesday, May 24, 2011 10:36am PDT
By: Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com
In fact, Alpine Ascents International expedition members Garrett Madison, Tom Halliday and Michael Horst, all of whom climbed the 27,940-foot Lhotse from the South Col of Everest after attaining Everest’s summit, are the first climbers to stand atop two 8,000-meter peaks within a 24-hour period.
This might rank as the most notable achievement during what has become a circus-like season on the world’s tallest mountain (Everest stands at 29,035 feet), which has played host recently not only to climbers but skiers, paragliders, and even a 30-year-old Nepali guru who meditated on top of the world for 27 hours in support of world peace.
The Alpine Ascent climbers were in transit and unavailable for comment, according to a spokesman at the Seattle-based office. But renowned mountaineer Ed Viesturs, in a recent interview, talked about why an Everest-Lhotse same-day ascent had been so elusive.
“The key factor is the physical endurance,” he said. “I’ve pulled of a few doubles in my career [on other mountains], and everything has to fall into place — health, endurance, perfect conditions, etc. Take it one climb a time and see how it goes.”
Among the more visible mountaineers on Everest were Chris Davenport, Neal Beidleman and Ephi Gildor. That’s because Davenport and Beidleman brought skis.
They made tracks on Everest’s upper slopes during the acclimation period, when climbers ascend and descend from camp to camp to let their bodies become accustomed to high altitude.
Their most memorable run was carving symmetrical turns down Everest’s Lhotse Face — which has been done only a few times — as nearby climbers watched in amazement.
“Especially the Sherpas,” Davenport said, when reached via phone Monday night in Kathmandu. “They were just out of their minds, cheering us on. We kind of became known as the skiers … who skied the Lhotse Face.”
It was Davenport’s fourth trip to the Himalayas but his first time climbing Everest. Because the mountain is so busy and has been climbed so many times, he had never expressed a strong desire to make the climb.
But standing on the world’s highest peak changed his perspective. “I have a very intense feeling of personal satisfaction right now that we did that,” he said. “I’m kind of walking around in a little bit of a daze, like, ‘Oh my God, I just climbed Everest. Wow, OK, that’s really cool.’ ”
Davenport’s primary responsibility was serving as guide for Gildor, who is attempting to bag the Seven Summits, or the highest peak on each continent. (Gildor is pictured at lower right, standing on the summit of Everest on Friday morning.)
As every climber knows, an Everest expedition consists of the ascent and descent. Each is equally daunting and dangerous. But two locals locals on Saturday eliminated the ground-based descent by assembling a paraglider and launching from the summit.
Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tershing Sherpa soared in what must have seemed like the heavens on a 42-minute flight that ended safely in the village of Namche Bazaar.
It’s part of an ecologically-friendly adventure that also includes a kayaking and biking trip to Bangladesh.
Wrote Kraig Becker of Gadling.com: “I’m hoping that at some point we might see video footage though, as I’m sure the view was amazing. “I’m also guessing that there were more than a few climbers who were jealous of their method of descent after seeing them take off from the summit as well.”
Then there was Bhakta Kumar Rai, a Nepalese who perhaps is better known as “Supreme Master Godangel” and founder of the sect, Heavenly Path. On Saturday he broke the record for longest stay on the top of Everest.
He camped there for 32 hours, 27 of which were spent meditating. Nepal’s tourism ministry stated that Rai broke the previous record for longest stay by by more than 10 hours.
“He used oxygen only for 11 hours, Laxman Bhattari, spokesman for the ministry, is quoted byMangalorean.com. “It is an incredible feat that breaks the record of the longest stay on Everest.”
Asked if he saw Rai, Davenport said his group “walked right by him.”
Because the summit of Everest is so small and has to accommodate so many climbers, Davenport added that Rai wasn’t actually on the summit, but “about 50 yards down a ridge, camped next to a rock in a tent.”
Rai’s followers regard him as an angel delivered by God to bring about world peace and make other positive changes on earth.
— Top image showing Alpine Ascent climbers nearing the summit of Everest is courtesy of Alpine Ascents. Second image shows Chris Davenport scouting a route to ski down between camps on Everest’s upper slopes. Third image shows Aspen resident Ephi Gildor celebrating reaching the world’s highest peak. Both images are courtesy of Chris Davenport