Bernice Notenboom, Polartec Challenge winner, summits Everest!

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Bernice2Polartec sends a hearty congratulations to Bernice Notenboom, one of the recipients of a 2009 Polartec Challenge Grant, who just summitted Everest yesterday! Bernice posted a gripping satellite dispatch from Everest, complete with the story of a rescue, a white-out storm, a dead body and a 17-year sherpa’s first summit.  From Bernice’s satellite phone dispatch:

“Yesterday morning May 24th, at 7.30 AM I reached the summit of Everest. Only two of our team made it up and two sherpas, one who was only 17 years old and now the youngest sherpa to summit. The climb did not come easy. At 10 pm, it was extremely windy at 8000 m, at the souh col and in our tent and the sherpas refuse to go. Except two of our sherpas who were eager to get their summit bonus. So in 60 km/hr winds at 10 pm we set off, the first party to go for the night. Around 11 pm in the triangle, the wind suddenly stopped. Just before the balcony we found a half-dead American who had run out of oxygen, rapped off and fell. He did not know how long he had been there but he had taken off his gloves and down jacket, a sure sign of hypothermia. His frozen hands and feet were unusable. We radioed for a sherpa to get him down, gave him heat packs, food and hot drinks before we continued up to the summit.

On the way to the South Summit the weather changed, clouds moved in and the wind picked up. Are we losing our one day window already? For the next days bad weather was forecasted with 100 km/hr and worse conditions, perhaps the monsoon has arrived. At the south summit at 8700 m my oxygen mask froze up, the intake for fresh air did not work. Panic. I had less air in my mask then when I took my mask off at this elevation. The ice inside was so thick, it had to get hacked out with a ice axe and this I did not know till we were back at the balcony. I summited Everest in gasping for thin air, in a snow storm and wind. It was not a good day for summit photos! The descend was painful due to low visibility and tiredness; in one day from camp 3 to camp 4, rest a few hours and continue. After 30 hours, I collapsed and somewhere in the middle of the night my oxygen run out because I woke up empty at 8000m. Descending down in vicious wind, the weather changed and we got lucky. Sagarmatha gave us an opportunity and maybe Lhapka kept an eye on us! Despite the challenges, I am super stoked that I did it, perserve the challenges. We are in camp 2 now, one more time through the icefall and then safe in basecamp. I will update this tomorrow with some images.”

The South Col and South Summit of Everest

The South Col and South Summit of Everest

Read more here.

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