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Asia, Nepal, Everest

Everest. Our expedition consisted of Robert Link and me as co-leaders, Steve Gall, Dave Carter, Darrin Goff, Hall and Amy Wendel, Dr. Kurt Pappenfus, five high-altitude Sherpas and three cooks. We established Base Camp on March 20. Once Sherpas had established the route through the Khumbu Icefall, we were able to place Camp I at 20,000 feet on April 1. All expeditions on the South Col route paid a fee to Sherpas to fix and maintain the icefall and Lhotse Face. Camps II and III were set up at 21,500 and 24,500 feet on April 7 and 17. High winds plagued us and made carries on the face difficult. The 1991 pre-monsoon weather was very unsettled and we never experienced the typical 7-to 14-day calm which usually occurs in May. Our first summit attempt began at Base Camp on May 6 but was cancelled on May 11 after two windy nights at Camp III. On May 13, we made our second attempt from Camp II. After a night at Camp III, Amy Wendel and Carter descended while Hall Wendell, Goff, Wongchu Sherpa and I climbed to occupy Camp IV on the South Col. At 2:30 A.M. on May 15, only Goff and I left the col for the summit in calm, clear weather, using oxygen. We followed in the Wilcox team’s footsteps. After an hour, Goff turned back due to fatigue and cold feet. I continued up snow gullies to the south ridge where I abandoned my malfunctioning oxygen system. The snow conditions were horrible — inconsistent, loose, dry powder snow. The weather began to deteriorate. I met the Wilcox team on their descent just below the South Summit. I finally reached the summit at 2:30 P.M. in a howling blizzard. There I met Andy Politz, who had climbed via the north ridge. After five minutes I descended to the South Col, which I reached at 6:30. I was back in Base Camp on May 17 and we left the mountain on the 18th. This was my second ascent of Everest. On May 8, 1990, I climbed the north ridge without oxygen.

Ed Viesturs