Daily Dispatches
Satellite phone updates from the 1998 American Everest Expedition

Wally Berg
Like A Freight Train
Monday, May 11, 1998 — Base Camp (17,500')

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Snow blown off upper Everest in the Jet Stream
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Hi Mountain Zone, it's Wally Berg calling you the evening May 11th. Weather is still the main report I'm giving you from base camp as it was 24 hours ago. I'd have to say things took a turn for the worse during the 24 hours since I last gave a dispatch. Once again, yet another sleepless night, really for all of us. It was sleepless for me. I rested well, but I was aware, laying in a tent at base camp of what Scott Fischer and I began calling in 1989 "the freight train." The freight train is the roar that you hear from base camp of the higher reaches of the mountain, the wind on the higher reaches of the mountain. So, I knew that it was going to be quite an eventful night. In fact, on the radio today, when I talked to Lakpa — you'll remember that Lakpa is the Camp II cook, the senior Sherpa at Camp II — now they had quite a sleepless night with tents to manage and very high winds.

At this point, every tent that our expeditions has at Camp II, except for one small tent, has been collapsed, and that small tent is just a two person tent really, but for four of our Sherpas now. Dorjee went up today to take Lakpa some cigarettes and some other essential supplies. Those guys are living out of that tent and trying... well, they're holding Camp II down for us tomorrow.

Things have settled down a bit this evening, just in the last hour, hour and half, and we're hoping to reestablish Camp II, meaning that the cook tent goes back up, and we dig out and build up a bit there after 24 hours of hard snow and very high winds. So my team can report no loses in this weather event, at least not at Camp II. Camp III we're not worried about for now. We'll take care of that when we move up higher, later. I'm sure our stuff is still tied down up there although I'm almost equally sure that we've had tents collapse up there. But, anyway, for now it's a matter of holding our own, watching the developments in the weather here, and at this stage of the game, just executing the patience that is necessary to pick the correct summit day.

You'll remember last year, the summit days, the good ones, the really good one was May 25th, and we chose a couple days later and had pretty bad weather, but we are still in the game. There is statistically, historically, there is a great deal of time; it's just a matter of exercising the patience to pick the right time to move up. I'll continue to keep you posted on this and I hope to continue to describe situations that are eventful and worth monitoring but have no bad consequences — certainly this storm has not for our team. We are all where we need to be; we have the support in places where we need, people are not alone, people have the supplies and the company and companionship to weather through this just fine. It's part of what executing a good expedition is all about. So, that's it for today. Certainly tomorrow you'll hear more about what the weather is doing and what our plans are for getting things back underway when we are allowed.

Wally Berg, Expedition Leader