Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 3.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge.

Previous story:

- Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

- Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

Today continuation of this story:

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 3.

Author : Anna Barańska

I am happy that I realized what I had planned, that is I became the first Polish female on Mount Everest ascending the North Face, especially as my professional career is not related to mountaineering at all. The most difficult preparation and work on that ascent took place in Warsaw and included working on relations with my family, finding time in my schedule as a professional (advisor in a corporate finance boutique) and a mother. The effort at the mountain was only a pleasure and satisfaction and additionally a proof that motivation is more important than the actual physical condition. I did not expect that the summit would be that accessible considering all my reservations. For me, Mount Everest was approximately 20,000 m high.

After all, my observation is that success of reaching the highest peak of the world is more and more dependent on financial resources. Himalayas commercialize every year and this is visible. So is the fact that you can almost buy the ascent regardless of obvious health problems. In this meaning Himalayas are lowering.

In my view, the climbing itself does is not a search for solitude (contrary to a common opinion that climbers look for it), it was rather a strategic game with many people around: a climbing partner, an agency team, Sherpas, multi-person groups on fixed ropes.
Moreover, the mountains have been stripped off their original mysticism since climbing became the work for some people; a trend which I regret. However, without such people my own activity in Himalayas would have been much more limited. Out of our 22-member group, the summit was reached by four people, including one who died on the descent and one with severe frostbites. It appears that the low success ratio results from the fact that especially Mount Everest is relatively frequently approached by people with fantasy and ambitions but lacking preparations in terms of climbing experience. Physical condition and sport results achieved in lowlands do not guarantee success and what really counts is the ability to acclimatize.

In addition, I wished that my few-week expedition had not caused such fierce resistance from my family resulting from exchanging the traditional role of mother and father – typically, it’s a father who leaves and mother waits for him and takes care of a baby. I would like it to be accepted normally. Regardless, I would like to dedicate my success to children of people who are passionate about extreme sports – their parents realize wonderful and ambitious plans, make their decisions in unpredictable conditions, but they still wish to be good parents. It is difficult to balance.

The most important experience is that so far I treated Himalayas as a way to prove my own strength, realize my ambitions, see my life from another perspective, but I ignored potential price of these experiences. Mount Everest brought me so close to death – Piotr Morawski at the beginning of the expedition, then Veslaw and Frank, whom I knew almost four years and who was about my brother’s age. During this expedition I spent relatively much time with him talking about plans, future, and family. All this disappeared with the news that he had not return to Camp III. Mount Everest’s North Face indeed proved to be the North one.

* Mount Everest – description of the North Side (www.alanalarnette.com):

From BC to ABC it is about 12 miles (22km) of rugged hiking on boulders, ice and snow. The route follows the Rongbuk Glacier until it merges with the Eastern Rongbuk Glacier. ABC is on the northwestern moraine of East Rongbuk Glacier, under the slopes of Changtse Mountain. It normally takes 2 days for the first trip to ABC, then 1 day after acclimatization. ABC is the primary base for North Ridge climbers during expeditions.
North Col (Camp I) is at 7,000m. The route starts on scree (loose rocks) then leads through snow followed by increasingly steep slopes up to 60 degrees. Climbers use crampons and fixed ropes from that point onwards. It takes between 4 to 7 hours to reach the North Col depending on acclimatization and weather.
Camp II at 7,650 m initiates the “high camps”. The route is usually in snow but can be rocky since this section is known for strong winds. At almost 8,000m, most climbers now sleep with supplemental oxygen. The climb is extremely windy and the tents are on small rock ledges due to limited area. Climbers will take about 3 to 5 hours to reach Camp II.
Camp III is a short rest stop on the way to the summit for most climbers. At 8,300m, you do not want to spend a lot of time here. Climbers will have some food and water, perhaps take a short nap and start for the summit around 10:00 pm. The Northeast Ridge is a few hundred feet above Camp III.
The Northeast Ridge represents the most difficult climbing section on this route. There are three “steps” or rock climbs along the way. The first Step is difficult at this altitude but the second Step is the most challenging and requires a 10-foot rock climb to a 30-foot vertical wall. This is where the famous Chinese ladder is located and helps climbers a lot. However, this often is the source of bottlenecks which can bring a summit push to a compete stop. The third Step is another straightforward rock climb which becomes challenging at this altitude (nothing is easy anymore). Climber now spends the next hour climbing the steep snowfields of the Summit Pyramid. The Summit Ridge is short (500′) but narrow with 10,000′ drop-offs on both sides leading directly to the Everest Summit. At this point climbers have spent 8 to 10 hours to summit.  It will take another 4 to 6 to return to Camp III.

The success ratio (summits to all climbers) is approximately 20%, while on the South Face it is around 50%. There are more fatal accidents as well.

In the Spring 2009 season, I was one of the only three women who reached the top of Mount Everest.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

- Anna Barańska on Facebook

- Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

- Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

- Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

- International Everest 8848m. North Face Expedition Spring 2009

* Previous story :

- Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

- Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

- Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

- Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

- The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

- Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

- March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

- Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

- Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

- Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

- The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

- Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge.

Previous story:

- Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

Today continuation of this story:

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

Author : Anna Barańska

Frank and I started the next trek early in the morning before the official breakfast, scheduled for 8 am and we walked on the Rongbuk glacier above Base Camp towards Middle Camp (5900 m). It is an approximately 14 km route through the rocky hills. The route starts from the plateau and then it turns sharply to the left after 45 minutes. We reached Middle Base Camp in a good time of 3 hours 45 minutes, had our packed lunch and tried to check a little bit of the route above. It turned out we were not well acclimatized at that time – Frank had a stomach ache, I was vomiting from being tired, for the first time in my life. In addition, I had a diarrhea since we left Katmandu, which I tried to treat on the way to Base Camp with Canadian and Czech medicines (my medicines were being transported in the main luggage directly to BC by omission; what’s more I did not have many of them, as I rarely have stomach problems). Czech medicines didn’t help a lot but didn’t hurt either, Canadian ones were more effective. After I had used those supplies, I asked our expedition manager for some additional medicines, but instead of stomach pills he gave me a very strong antibiotic. As a result, I felt very bad and I was not able to move to Middle Camp with the others. I stayed alone in the tent in Base Camp, writing desperate text messages home. I needed support from my family so much.

Mobile network coverage on the altitude of Base Camp was a surprise. It turned out later that the network coverage was probably available even at 6400 m, so the Columbians were able to write emails and receive the weather forecasts. Unfortunately, my mobile did not work there. I went to Middle Camp on the next day, April 24th, accompanied by Veslaw who was as slow as me that time. We were both in a bad shape that day. When we reached Middle Camp, a Sherpa called Pasang welcomed us with a multi-dish dinner. Apparently, Pasang himself for the last several years lived off only flour with hot tea, as he could not digest anything else.

Middle Camp is surrounded by spectacular penitents, which provoked Canadians to discuss the use of their technical axes. The penitents stretch towards the direction of Makalu, where the last turn to Advanced Base Camp (6,400 m) is located. The views were marvelous despite the fact that you can’t see Everest after the first turn to the left on the glacier. Passing the route for the first time may be irritating – the question is when Everest will be visible again?

When we finally got to ABC (6,400m), Frank and I planned further acclimatization together. Frank wanted to go up as often as possible because he felt strong and did not want to use supplemental oxygen. Looking at him at that time I was certain that he would be the first one in our group to make it to the summit, in particular when I compared his preparation to that of other people who were regularly disappearing from ABC to the lower camps to rest. While some people were suffering from edema, long lasting diarrheas and coughs so strong that they resulted in broken ribs, the only health problem Frank had was a hiccup : ). The first warning sign that he was not so superbly immune came to me when we planned to climb to Camp II (7,700m). I’ll come back to it later on.

I was passing 22 kilometers of the glacier route several more times up and down in various weather conditions, every time hoping that I had passed certain part of the route already and I was closer to the destination than I thought. Unfortunately, it always turned out that I passed by a damaged measurement triangle, a characteristic rock or through a glacier stream much later then I had reminded myself about their existence. The size and length of the glacier were the most visible when I had a chance to observe it from the above of 7,300m. Contrary to my experience, yaks had no problems with the distance and were passing it with the load within one day.
I would call the pace of hiking with Veslaw from Middle Camp to ABC on the next day, April 25th, contemplative. Frank ensured that I had my tent set up and in addition he showed a very nice gesture by descending below ABC to help the new-comers. He spotted Veslaw and me, took heavier Veslaw rucksack, Veslaw took mine, so I was lucky to walk only with the trekking poles.

After one day rest in ABC I left for Camp I situated on 7,000m. The route was passing through the base full of Chinese and Japanese tents, then through the horizontal rocks to the so-called Crampon Point where every climber attaches their crampons and sometimes leaves excess load. Then, wearing crampons, I followed the route leading through an icy plateau with several crevasses to icy, covered in snow and increasingly steep (up to 60 degrees) slopes. The route to Camp I ends with a little ice ladder on the wide crevasse, surrounded by threatening seracs. Some actually fell down in the beginning of May, luckily causing no casualties.

My first attempt to reach Camp I ended more or less after three fourths of the way to the destination – it was late and I listened to the Sherpas’ advice to go back. I reached the camp at the second attempt, but I didn’t sufficiently cover my face from the sun, so I got heavy sunburn by the evening. In addition, my face was swollen to almost twice the normal size as it was my natural response for the high altitude. I looked very bad, so Pemba asked me to go down as soon as possible. In the middle of the way, a Columbian doctor applied me an unidentified injection to reduce the swell. In order to compromise between my laziness and recommendations regarding my health, I decided that a descent to Middle BC would be sufficient. Looking at the photos from these days I think it was, but after two days Pemba looked into my tent asking me to go down with him to BC. We did it in a very good time of 2.5 hours. Since May 5th I spent time in BC with Marc-Andre, one of the three Mad Frogs, the one who came there to accompany the other two rather than for a real climbing. He admitted himself that he had neither sufficient experience, nor ambitions to climb Mount Everest. In addition, he suffered from different diseases, including a broken rib following a heavy cough, which resulted in him deciding to present to his employer these two months not as a holiday but as a sick leave. He had a medical book on altitude diseases and to some extent they created together a kind of perpetuum mobile.

The beginning of May, when my face was shrinking to its normal size, was actually a lesson of patience – the days differed from each other mainly by the menu and the wind strength. When we started feeling – or looking – better, we went up. It turned out that as for climbing we did not lose a lot, in terms of Amaretto brought by Alex – a half of the bottle ;). It is worth noticing that Sherpa cooks cared about us and tried to serve varying and tasty meals. We had fried and roasted chicken, chicken in curry sauce, yak meat, canned ham, steamed vegetables, fresh vegetables, potatoes in 100 varieties, pasta and rice. Pizza which was served on several occasions was always welcomed very enthusiastically. There was always something sweet for a desert, like canned fruit or vanilla pudding. Combinations for breakfast were much more limited, so by the end of the expedition everyone hated omelets and rice pudding.

Climbing during the next days was driven by our physical condition and changing weather. Due to bad weather Frank returned to BC as well. We both returned to ABC in the spreading fog and falling snow; I was doing my best not to lose him from my sight as otherwise losing the route on the glacier would be very likely.
Afterwards, again only Frank and I were thinking about moving up. We planned to spend two nights and a day in-between in Camp II (7,650 m). I reached Camp I much later than him but in the next morning I met Frank coming down, saying he had a bad night and needed some rest and decided to go back to BC again. Maybe then I first saw a warning sign in my head? So far he appeared to be in an excellent condition, the only problem he could find in the Canadian medical book was a hiccup. When I came back to ABC, he already had gone to the lower camp for a couple of days. Anyway, I ignored this fact because it seemed to be so common at that altitude.
The other members didn’t even try to go above ABC. In the tent in Camp II Pemba decided that spending the whole next day there would mean only losing energy, rather than improving acclimatization. He couldn’t understand why I cared so much about climbing as high as possible, while the others preferred to stay in ABC with good food and no effort. At the end, it turned out that at that stage only Pemba and I spent the night between May 13th and 14th in Camp II and reached that altitude.

Based on the weather forecast for the Columbians the summit day was planned for May 21st. While we were waiting for the summit push, it started to be extremely cold in ABC in the evenings. Frank initiated a trend of coming to the dining tent for the dinners in his down suit. On the other hand, he was the only one wearing shorts on the hot days at 6,400m.
On the last day before the start, Frank prepared a card for the summit photo. He told me about this plan on our first hike, in Nylam. He wanted a photo on the top with him holding a card: ‘Christina, will you marry me?’ I did not see the card after it was finished. He only showed it to me at the stage when the letters in every second line were colored with my black pen. He then went to the Sherpas for additional colors.
The summit push was planned for the days indicated as the best in terms of the weather. We climbed together on the May 18th to Camp I with the Czech and Canadian groups in a very good mood, full of expectations. Frank and Alex beat some speed records, getting there in about three hours. We spent the afternoon in a cheerful atmosphere, contemplating the sunset, cooking, visiting each others’ tents. These hours were actually the last happy ones. In the evening Veslaw got a heart attack and died despite a really professional resuscitation carried by Alex and Manuel. On the next morning, I helped in the talks between the local clerks and his family regarding leaving his body in the place of his death, in a deep crevasse close to Camp I. After this all or maybe despite this all we started our climb to Camp II. I wondered what else we could do? Would it have helped? On the way up, I carried a torch, down gloves and boots lent by Veslaw only a day before.

At the very beginning of the way to Camp II my thermos fell out of my backpack and I just managed to see it sliding down the slope at a speed of a rocket. My low pace on the way induced me to use supplemental oxygen in the higher parts of the mountain. During the next day, May 20th, we started our way to Camp III (8,300 m) through steep rocks and several snow fields.

I finally reached Camp II much later than the others in a very heavy snow and wind, so I met Frank and Alex only on the next day, when they passed me climbing on the ropes. Alex was faster using oxygen, while Frank remained about ten meters ahead of me. Alex told me later that Frank, due to exhaustion, was already ‘completely useless’ in setting up the tent there. It was windy and so high, that actually every breath, not mentioning every move, was exhausting even with supplemental oxygen. The location of this camp is characteristic; it is situated just between gray and orange rocks visible from the bottom. Pemba and I cooked some additional food, knowing that the next day would be long and exhausting.

The scale of tiredness at that altitude is illustrated by piles of garbage left by climbers – parts of tents, used oxygen bottles, cooking sets were almost everywhere; the wind was playing with them. We started our summit push around 10 pm, after a short nap, on the same day we reached Camp III. I had my mask, crampons and all necessary equipment, but I still did not believe that I was able to reach the summit. Anyway I tried, and my pace was enough to overtake the two other teams – Manuel and Jairo with their Sherpas. Frank and Alex could see our lights above them.

The route was steep up to the Mushroom Rock, then it was rather horizontal but exposed from the right side (the Kanshung side?). Step I and Step II were easier during the night as it was too dark to see how much they were exposed. They wouldn’t have been that challenging on lower altitudes, but the combination of technical difficulty with the altitude of above 8,600 m caused problems with catching a breath. We climbed Step III already in light of the rising sun.

What was left then to climb was the steep snow field, with the summit already visible. At this point it appeared that it was so close to the top, but the route followed through a surprising traverse, steep rocks and three snow hills to the summit dome. Reaching the last hill was surprising as well – the very top consisted of rocks covered with a steep glacier dome.

When I was walking there I was moved by the fact that my dreams came true so easily – before the expedition had started I felt that my Everest was 20,000 meters high. I reached the top of Mount Everest at 7.30 am local time. There were some more climbers from the South Face. Manuel appeared as well, overtaking me at the last rocks again, calling his family from a satellite phone[3]. I asked the closest person, a Japanese, to take a photo of me, but it turned out that using my camera was too difficult for him[4] – as a result I have only the photos of my daughter’s socks which I took myself with the view from each side including the North Face (our) climbing route. I hope I can show them to her at some time in the future. And I will always have an answer, in case she would like to climb Mount Everest: “Honey, you don’t have to, your socks were already there”. I took the roll of flags left close to the Buddha statue and started the descent. The wind was terrible but the views were marvelous.

At the bottom of the steep snow field I met Frank. He said he was cold and asked me for hand heaters. I said that he had maximum one and a half hour to the top and gave him my gloves (I had several pairs), gave him a hug and wished good luck. I did not notice how deteriorated his condition must have been at that time due to the length of the route and the lack of oxygen. I was so confident that he would succeed without any problems. He reached the summit, but the people seeing him there described him as extremely deteriorated and not fully conscious. Probably being not fully conscious, he did not agree to using supplemental oxygen proposed by a French climber or to going down together with a French team. The exact reason for those decisions will remain unexplained. On the next day Alex came to my tent saying that Frank did not return to their tent. I just started to cry. It was so cruel. It was not fair. Alex was waiting for him the whole next day with hot tea and a meal and he was not able to do anything more than this. Frank fell asleep and remained at the bottom of the Step III at the altitude of around 8,700 m.
My descent was full of dramatic moments. My eyelids were burned by the sun, I almost couldn’t see, so I moved to Camp II mainly thanks to the fixed ropes. When they ended I couldn’t locate the further route on the plateau in the rising snow storm. I was alone there and only thanks to another climber, probably the same one who talked with Frank on the previous day, I managed to reach Camp II.

In Camp II I took some rest in a French tent and I initially planned to stay there till the next day. Manuel found me there and asked me to go down with him because of the snow storm, heavy wind and our uncertain physical condition. I agreed and luckily the lower we descended the more stable the weather was. I was tired and I hoped that we would stay in Camp I for a night. It turned out that Manuel had different plans – he wanted to go down straight to ABC to avoid any negative consequences of staying another night at the altitude above 7,000 m. Eventually, we stayed in Camp I only for a tea given to us by a very nice Slovenian climber and went further down arguing whether to use or not my half ring bend. He preferred using figure of eight. During the night Veslaw helped us in a certain sense – his torch was the only one we had. Finally we made 1,900 m descent in one day after the exhausting summit day (climbing up and down for approximately 18 hours in total). At the base of the glacier leading to Camp I the Sherpas and two Mad Frogs were waiting for us with additional torches and hot tea. I was walking through an almost empty ABC in the darkness as Chinese and Japanese climbers occupying it had already left. I was accompanied by a Sherpa from our agency and the satisfaction that it was all over. In our camp we had an opportunity to use the comfortable Columbian dining tent, however, instead of a congratulatory cake like after Cho Oyu summit, we had only a cold dinner. I had blisters on my feet and I was not sure about my feelings at all.

The next days were spent on wrapping up the expedition. They did not taste like success, they were sad, and the most important moments were the telephone calls to Christina, Frank’s fiancée. We were preparing ourselves to go back to the reality of a horizontal world outside the mountains. In addition, there was a heavy snow-fall covering ABC with additional 1.5 m of snow. On May 27th I moved down, thinking that I was seeing these sights probably for the last time in my life. I reached BC just in time to take the bus and apply for the summit certificate. We celebrated in a bus drinking beer, but for me it was a bitter victory – actually I still can’t cope with Frank’s and Veslaw’s deaths. We stayed at Tingri for a meal, in Zangmu for a couple of hours of sleep. In Katmandu, Mad Frogs, Manuel and me stayed in the hotel recommended by Frank, probably to be closer to him just for a couple of hours more.

Mount Everest – summary and the facts:
Our expedition lasted nearly two months (April 6th – June 1th 2009). Difficulties with obtaining the Chinese visa resulted in crossing Nepali – Chinese border on April 15th. We were at BC on (5,200m) on April 19th. Climbing above ABC (6,400m) started at the beginning of May, including one push to Camp I and the second push to Camp II. The summit push was started on May 18th – climbing to Camp I (7,000m), on May 19th to Camp II (7,650m), Camp III (8,300m), the final part started before 10 pm with the sky full of stars and light wind.

I was a member of an international team organized by Monterosa agency (which proved itself during my earlier Cho Oyu expedition). I had an experienced Sherpa on my team. The technical climbing difficulties of which I had been so much afraid before the expedition appeared to be challenging but inspiring. I reached the top of the world at 7.30 am, May 21st. At the same day, there were three other climbers from my team who reached the top: Manuel Pizarro (Canada), Frank Ziebarth (Germany) and Jair Gonzalez (Ecuador).

This season was generally assessed to be a very unsuccessful and dangerous one. There were people from other agencies who passed away at that side of the mountain. Only a couple of days were qualified as possible for a summit attempt – the beginning of May when Chinese climbers were fixing ropes and May 21st – being of our summit push. The snow on the following days was too heavy to allow other climbers to attempt summit push; for us it made the descent much more difficult than expected.

[3] It was the second time for Manuel to successfully climb Mount Everest
[4] Probably the only Japanese guy, who didn’t know how to operate an easy camera – unbelievable

* The further fate of the expedition read in part 3.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

- Anna Barańska on Facebook

- Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

- Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

- Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

* Previous story :

- Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

- Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

- Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

- Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

- The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

- Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

- March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

- Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

- Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

- Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

- The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

- Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

AddThis Feed Button


Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge. Anna is twenty fourth Pole on the top of Mount Everest. It is worth noting that Mount Everest is the second 8,000er climbed by Anna – in autumn 2005 she reached the top of Cho Oyu (8201m). After that success the Mountain Magazine (Magazyn Gorski) published parts of a private diary written by Anna which presented interesting insights into expedition life in twenty first century. After nearly four years and a successful expedition to Mount Everest Anna created a similar material. After all, Everest is a true icon of commercial mountaineering.

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

Author : Anna Barańska

In the Spring 2009 season, I was one of the only three women who reached the top of Mount Everest.

From a comfortable armchair at my mother’s place in Warsaw, Everest seems to be a bit unrealistic, far-away memory. Actually only few weeks have passed since the end of the expedition. However, its start is less well defined – was it the moment when I started thinking what to do next for my mountaineering curriculum vitae after Cho Oyu, or the start of my training – jogging and biking in evenings and weekends in a nearby park and forest, i.e. autumn 2008. The training wasn’t easy as I had to combine it with my full time work and upbringing of my little daughter[1] . I often started jogging around 9 p.m., irrespective of bad weather and low temperatures. I was motivated only by the fact that it would not be easier on the route to Mount Everest.

The choice of the Everest’s North Face wasn’t obvious. I kept calling every top Polish mountaineer who had ever tried to climb there but their opinions were clearly negative: “You will not make it”. I took the final decision after a short email exchange with Frank[2] . Frank, after I had met him on Cho Oyu, managed to climb Shisha Pangma and Lhotse, with the latter being a plan B after the Chinese government’s decision to close Tibet in 2008. He wrote: „Let me tell you – YOU would not enjoy climbing Everest from the South. Crowds are crazy. The icefall is not a big problem. Camp IV on the South is at around 8,000m altitude and 8-10 hours from the summit. The route and conditions on the North Face are tougher; success rate is lower because of a tough and long summit day. Camp III is high; the ridge is difficult and exposed”. I didn’t ask anymore. Final preparation, including packing in order to meet the maximum of 20kg allowed by the Polish airlines, money exchange and air ticket purchase took me around one week. To complicate things further, USD to Polish zloty exchange was extremely unfavorable for me.

At Doha airport I unexpectedly spotted Krzysztof Wielicki on travelling to Katmandu with a group of people heading for trekking in the Himalaya. Since they appeared very fit and well prepared, I thought that they were joking and they were on a more serious mountaineering expedition. Thus, I also presented my plans as a trek around Everest. Only Krzysztof was a little suspicious, saying that Tibetan Plateau is rather boring for a trek… Anyway, he didn’t question further. In fact, my version about the trek was an official one for everybody else, so that I could avoid uncomfortable explanations in case of a failure.

I reached Katmandu late at night – and from the very beginning I was surrounded by the exactly same ambience I remembered – crowds of noisy natives asking for money. On the other hand, the guys from Moterosa mountaineering agency offered a pleasant surprise – they were waiting despite more than four-hour delay of my flight. It was after 10 pm when my rucksacks were finally placed in my hotel room but I could not resist a unique ambience of a warm, windless night. Swerving between noisy cars and rickshaws, I found the nearest little shop. I got a cold beer and sat alone in the garden of a same cosy hotel in which I had spent a couple of nights nearly four years ago just before my expedition to Cho Oyu.

During the next morning I felt like these four years haven’t passed – I met with Ganesh, boss of Moterosa, and the Czechs from Shisha Pangma expedition in 2005. Soon after, other expedition members started to appear in the hotel lobby. Our team consisted of five Czechs, three Canadians in a team called the Mad Frogs, Manuel and Andre – Canadians as well, Frank, Luigi from Italy, Jairo from Ecuador, two Spanish guys – a father and a son and the six Columbians who joined later as an almost independent team. I spent the day shopping for food with my Sherpa, Pemba – we took a taxi to a supermarket, where, as before the previous expedition, I overestimated the number of days above Base Camp and as a consequence the amount of necessary food. Pemba wasn’t helpful in this endavour – it turned out that his choices were quite sophisticated. As a result we had a shopping cart full of Chinese soups, Indian instant food, canned tuna and ham, very popular Tang drink, canned mango and ginger tea. With hindsight, it was twice as much as we needed, especially since I also had instant baby porridge and soy cutlets, which I brought from Poland as a hand luggage, pretending that they – together with Millet Everest boots – have almost no weight. Pemba also turned out to be a fan of Polish instant jelly (kisiel), which he knew from the prior year’s South Face expedition with my Polish friend, Slawek Krok.

We spent the second day purchasing and renting equipment. Pemba was the one to select masks, regulators, oxygen bottles and snow pickets (it gets very windy in Camp II), cooking sets and gas jets. In the meantime I agreed with Ganesh the scope of agency services, including rental of three tents. After two barrels full of mountaineering equipment and food were finally locked in my hotel room, the only thing remaining was the Chinese visa. Unfortunately, it turned out this would be a problem stopping us for a few next days in Nepal. The expedition members became frustrated as the passing days brought no change of the situation. On April 9th Frank finally arrived to the hotel, returning from his previous trek by a helicopter, which was an unnecessary expense for him given our delay.

The beginning of any expedition is an exciting moment and everyone is full of energy. Despite initial setbacks, it was the case this time as well. I spent several evenings on social activities, going out with members of Wielicki’s group. Veslaw from the Czech group attempted to convince me to try climbing without supplemental oxygen. By chance, I met Darek, the only Pole on the North Side of the mountain. Despite those nice episodes, I remained rather pessimistic. Uncertainty about obtaining the Chinese visa (analogical situation took place a year before, when the Chinese government decided finally that Tibet would not be opened for tourists and therefore they could have a try from the South side or not try at all), sense of guilt because I left my family and the sadness of the Easter spent alone were all contributing. In addition, I had heard the news about an accidental death of Piotr Morawski, one of talented Polish young climbers, only a few days ago.

I treated oxygen bottles as a backup plan. I discussed the topic for a long time with Frank and Veslaw. In particular, Frank was a purist and recognized climbing only without supplemental oxygen and Sherpas. However, I relied the most on Sherpas’ opinions. They suggested that I was able to reach the summit but only with oxygen and I followed their recommendation. Additional argument was given by Manuel, who said that my daughter would not remember how I got to the summit but whether I came back to her. I finally decided to use supplemental oxygen after my climb to Camp II during the summit push took me two hours more than on the first attempt. Even though I shared Frank’s opinion by heart and we both climbed Cho Oyu without oxygen and without Sherpas’ support, I just wasn’t able to follow it on Everest.

The problems with the Chinese visa delayed our departure from Nepal and on April 11th we left its capital city only to calm down the expedition members and give an impression of progress. However, in reality there was no development with the administrative issues. We spent the next few days in a beautiful hotel located two hours away from Kathmandu on a single hill (which meant we couldn’t acclimatize) with delicious food, which taste was spoiled only by the uncertainty about our future. The mood among expedition members became so intense that Rishi, our young expedition manager, was afraid to go back to the hotel without good news and he was spending hours with a cell phone on a sandy road in a nearby village. At certain point I was very close to a desperate decision to give up and go back home. Finally, after Mad Frogs’ numerous interventions in Kathmandu, we started moving to the border. We met the Canadians in Kodari pass, where we spent the last night in Nepal and made a short acclimatization hike in heavy rain. Frank spent his 29th birthday there, saying that he had hoped to be already on the Rongbuk glacier visiting the famous monastery there.

At the border we also had to wait – first for its opening, then for a completion of customs procedures for local traders with various goods. Our names were difficult for clerks, so we were reshuffled several times in order to ease the procedure. Finally we arrived to China on April 15th. When we were crossing the border, a moment of reflection came – we were asked to write down contact details in case of our death. I had problems with the choice because in that case I’d better inform nobody. I eventually chose my Dad.

In Chinese border town Zangmu, ugly and disgusting as usual, we had a meal, few minutes of free time and we left for Nylam. On the next day we were finally able to start acclimatization. Frank and I took packed lunches, which including undercooked boiled eggs, and reached the altitude of Mount Blanc in a good time, talking about our families and plans for the future. Frank was about to finish or at least to suspend his adventures in the Himalayas in order to marry Christina, his fiancée for 6 years and to start a family. Later on he asked me – as an experienced :) mother – many questions about children and it appeared obvious that it was an important topic to him. During the next consecutive days our treks in vicinity of Tingri (up to this village the route was the same as to Cho Oyu) were the most ambitious when compared to those of the rest of our group – I believe we were the most focused on the good preparation. We had very good hiking pace then. In Tingri’s hotel, which was a barrack-like building with a large court in the middle used as a vehicle parking, nothing had changed since my Cho Oyu expedition – Chinese menu (mainly a mix of various stewed vegetables, including cucumbers, meat, rice and obligatory scrambled eggs), pile of empty beer bottles at the entrance, hot water available only from thermoses, Chinese soldiers sitting in the back office and pink wallpaper with flowers. And the sky full of stars and shining full moon. During the first night there were crowds of barking dogs – the silence during the next one made us suspicious about our menu.

We spent the next day shaking in a bus on a bumpy and twisted road on the Tibetan Plateau to the Rongbuk glacier and the lower base camp (5,200m). I regretted not having an iPod with me. Base Camp was located on a rocky plateau between two lines of higher hills. One of these hills reminded me Matterhorn in structure (loose stones close to the top).
The wonderful silence and calmness, when we sat in a place which we decided to be the highest point of our daily trek, were the one of those beautiful moments which I will always keep in memory. Frank told me a story about his descent from Lhotse, when he had been so exhausted that he had confused a bottle for drinking water with that for urinating and when he had asked another mountaineer for some more water he had handed the latter for the refill.

Base Camp itself has its uniqueness – since it is the highest place you can reach by bus from that side of the mountain, tourists were coming there every day craving sights of Everest and wanting to see the real mountaineers with their own eyes. As a result, when I was going to a building with two holes in the floor (a local toilet) at 6 am, I wasn’t sure whether I was not photographed by one of them standing on a nearby hill. There were some others, opening tents without permission and looking for climbers inside. Base Camp was also the last place for two activities: taking shower and almost unlimited beer drinking. The latter was exercised by the Czechs, who were sitting for the whole days in the dining tent, discussing various sports and the influence of beer on acclimatization process. They brought a considerable amount of chocolate bars from Orion, their local sponsor, initially planning to share them with the expedition members; however at the end most of the sweet stuff was eaten by them.

[1] Kate was two years old then.

[2] Frank Ziebarth

* The further fate of the expedition read in part 2.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

- Anna Barańska on Facebook

- Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

- Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

- Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

* Previous story :

- Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

- Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

- Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

- Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

- The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

- Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

- March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

- Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

- Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

- Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

- The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

- Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009. She was born and currently lives in Warsaw. She obtained her Masters degrees from the Warsaw School of Economics and works in financial advisory (M&A, corporate finance). She is not a member o any mountain organization and she does not perceive herself as an alpinist. She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 2002 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

High mountains expeditions:
In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th. Then in 2009 she took a part in Mount Everest North Face international expedition and summited as the first Polish woman on the North, Tibetan Face. The expedition, successful to her, was full of dramatic moments – one of the members died from the heart attack in CI, another did not make it down from the summit and remained below the 3rd Step.

Education:
2004 – FCCA (Fellowship of Asociation of Certified Chartered Accountants)
2000 – Master’s degree with distinction (Finance and Banking), Warsaw School of Economics, 2000 – Master’s degree with distinction (Management and Marketing), Warsaw School of Economics

Professional experience:
2008 – vice director in Access, the investment boutique, corporate finance and M&A area
2003 – 2007 – consultant in PwC primarily in transaction advisory services (due diligence)
1999 – 2003 – consultant in the „Big Four” (KPMG, PwC) and BDO in financial statements’ audit

* see:

- Anna Barańska on Facebook

Anna Barańska (ur. 8 września 1976 r.) polska himalaistka, zdobywczyni dwóch ośmiotysięczników. Pierwsza Polka na szczycie Everestu od strony północnej, który zdobyła 21 maja 2009. Od urodzenia jest Warszawianką, z wykształcenia jest ekonomistką, pracuje w doradztwie finansowym/inwestycyjnym (głównie przejęcia firm), nie należy do żadnego klubu. Właściwie nie jest (a przynajmniej tak o sobie mówi) alpinistką, po górach chodzi okazjonalnie od 2000 roku. Swoją przygodę z górami rozpoczęła od wejścia na Rysy od strony słowackiej w czerwcu 2000. Kolejne wspinaczki to : Gerlach 2650 m – czerwiec 2000; Triglav 2864 m – wrzesień 2001; Mount Blanc 4807 – sierpień 2002; Elbrus 5642 m– nieudana próba wejścia sierpień 2003; Pik Lenina 7210 m drogą normalną – lipiec 2004.

Wyprawy wysokogórskie :
W 2005 r. stanęła na szczycie ośmiotysięcznika – był to Cho Oyu 8201 m w Tybecie, który zdobyła w zespole z Piotrem Barabasiem drogą normalną dnia 28 września. Następnie brała udział w 2009 w wyprawie międzynarodowej na Everest North Face i jako pierwsza Polka zdobyła Everest od północnej, tybetańskiej strony w zespole z Szerpą Pemba Chotti dnia 21 maja 2009. Wyprawę tę zapamięta również z powodu tragedii – jeden z członków zespołu zmarł na atak serca podczas ataku szczytowego, inny członek wyprawy zmarł w zejściu na wysokości ok. 8700 m.

Wykształcenie:
2004 – dyplom FCCA (fellowship in Association of Certified Chartered Accountants)
2000 – Tytuł magistra (z wyróżnieniem) na kierunku Finanse i Bankowość, SGH
2000 – Tytuł magistra (z wyróżnieniem) na kierunku Zarządzanie i Marketing, SGH

Praca zawodowa:
2008 – wicedyrektor w butiku inwestycyjnym Access w zakresie corporate finance, fuzji i przejęć
2003 – 2007 – doradca w PwC głównie w zakresie transakcji kapitałowych (due diligence)
1999 – 2003 – doradca w firmach tzw. Wielkiej Czwórki (KPMG, PwC) oraz BDO w zakresie audytu sprawozdań finansowych

* Należy też przypomnieć, że wszystkie cztery jej poprzedniczki – Wanda Rutkiewicz (1978), Anna Czerwińska (2000), Martyna Wojciechowska (2006, news) i Agnieszka Kiela-Pałys (2008, 23 maja) wchodziły na Everest (teoretycznie łatwiejszą) krótszą drogą od strony południowej.

* Zobacz też:

- Anna Barańska on Facebook

* Related Links:

- Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

- Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

- Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

- Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

* Previous story :

- Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

- Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

- Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

- Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

- The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

- Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

- March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

- Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

- Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

- Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

- The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

- Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

goryonline.com

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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