American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Everest Survey

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

Everest Survey. Vernon Tejas and Skip Horner accompanied Louis Bowen to the summit of Everest on May 12 with the assistance of Sherpas Ang Gyalzen and Dawa Temba, who carried up the stand, the housing and the tubing for the laser prisms. Vern assembled these and the 90 inches (2.3 meters) of aluminum tubing sections on which they sat. It had been planned to have the stand and housing erected on the tubing, which would be driven into the snow until it hit bedrock. However, everywhere the snow was too deep to have the aluminum tubing sections reach bedrock on the summit. The stand and housing were anchored by the tube and rested on the surface. When Vern looked for the prisms, he found that they had been left in a stuff sack on the South Summit with the oxygen equipment. They then descended upon what was an Everest record summit day when no less than 32 climbers found success on the rooftop of the world. On May 15, the weather looked dubious but improving. Todd Burleson and I sounded the call to arms and Sherpa leader Lhakpa Rita readied the team for departure. Dorje Sherpa and Gopal Man Bahadur Tamang plus American Hugh Morton and Briton Keith Kerr (who would finish the ascent of the seven summits of the continents that day with his ascent of Everest) also climbed with Todd, Lhakpa and me. Two hours after departure, the weather cleared beautifully and the winds became light. By ten A.M. Lhakpa and I were on the summit, having picked up the prisms, and found the erected stand and housing that Vem had placed. We tried again to put it in different positions along the summit promontory but were unable to find a place where the bottom of the aluminum tubing rested on bedrock. This showed that there was a minimum of 90 inches or 2.3 meters of snow on the summit. With Lhakpa’s assistance, I aimed the housing over the Nuptse ridge and slightly right of the Thamserku north face. Lhakpa confirmed it and then we inserted the prisms into the top and bottom of the three mounts. Fortunately it was extremely mild (20°F) and nearly windless. Keith, Todd, Hugh, Gopal and Dorje arrived and we celebrated by taking innumerable photographs. On the day that Brad Washburn and competent geodisists from the Survey of Nepal made the laser sightings of the prisms on the summit from Thangboche, we were all back in Base Camp and unfortunately missed the dramatic moment. These laser sightings give the exact distance from the Thangboche station, but further GPS work is needed to complete the survey.

Peter Athans

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