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7 May: Plans for Summit Push

Just heard via SATphone from Rob, who was up early at Everest Base Camp before the sun even hit his tent. The team is all safely back at EBC, and resting up for their summit push. Kyle Martin developed a blood blister on his toe during his descent on the Lhotse face, but PJ Nick Gibson was able to lance it and patch it up in short order. Kyle’s toe was simple compared to some of the other great work “Gibby” has been doing lately…he’s quickly earned a reputation as the go-to medic for everybody within earshot, especially at the higher camps where medical support is much harder to come by. In addition to treating cuts and abrasions, Gibby has administered potentially life-saving treatments to climbers suffering symptoms of HAPE and HACE. This no doubt establishes some kind of record for the highest altitude work ever done by a USAF PJ. We are super proud to have him on the team!

A few of our climbers are still battling the Khumbu cough, but nothing that will slow them down too badly. Yesterday the winds over the South Col were sounding like a freight train all the way down at Camp 2, but as soon as the winds die down, other teams will be making summit bids. Our team will be watching closely to learn everything they can from the other climbers. Of special note is the plan to fix extra ropes at the famed Hillary Step, a 40 foot vertical rock outcropping at 28,750′. The planned second set of ropes will help alleviate the bottleneck that often occurs on summit days, when some climbers descending from the summit must wait for other climbers still ascending the Hillary Step, before they can rappel down the ropes.

The long range weather forecast for the moment makes 18 May the most likely summit day for the USAF team, which means heading back up the mountain about 13 May. In the meantime, they’ll be resting up, checking gear, studying the route, and doing everything possible to mitigate the risks high on the mountain. Tomorrow they plan to hike down to the thicker air at Gorak Shep, and make use of the wifi there to post new pictures, so check back here or our Facebook page to see those eagerly awaited views. (Just for a sneak preview, check out the accompanying picture from camp 3 by one of the IMG guides.)

We are closing in on the big event….putting the first US military team on the highest mountain on Earth…and we want to spread the word to everyone we can. Please take a minute to Share this post on your FB page, Twitter account, or whatever. Tell your coworkers about the team, too. The USAF can use some good news, and this is it. Spread the word about USAF 7 Summits!

The view from Camp 3, looking back toward Camp 2 and the Khumbu Icefall.  (Photo by Justin Merle, IMG)

The view from Camp 3, looking back toward Camp 2 and the Khumbu Icefall. (Photo by Justin Merle, IMG)

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