Daily Dispatches
Satellite phone updates from the 1998 American Everest Expedition

An Excellent Day On Everest
Wednesday, May 20, 1998 — 2:30am PST
Wednesday, May 20, 1998 — 3:15pm Nepal Time

Hear Dave Mencin's call from Base Camp
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South Col, 26,300'
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Zoners, It's Dave Mencin again with of course the best news possible: Wally Berg has returned to the South Col a little after 3 o'clock this afternoon, just a few moments ago. Of course, it makes everybody happy; Wally is safe and sound and drinking tea in his tent with Tenzing.

Eric, Charles, and Greg are still re-hydrating and eating food down in Camp II and are planning a return to base camp tomorrow. The expedition at this point is pretty much considered successful. Wally did successfully put a semi-permanent GPS station on the top of Mount Everest, or near the top, at Bishop rock, which was the primary focus of the expedition. Also two weather probes were placed high on the mountain at the South Col and above, and they are transmitting weather data back to the United States. You can check this weather data out at www.everest.org. There will not be another summit attempt [by the '98 American Everest Expedition] since Wally was successful. I know some people were thinking about that. We do not have the resources to do this, and the weather looks like it probably will not cooperate, but you never know about these things.

I have a little excerpt here from Wally talking about one of his thoughts about summiting, or at least this morning when he was on the South Summit; of course, passing all the Sherpas on the way up and having a half hour to himself in one of the highest and loneliest places in the world. I will get information about who else summited today. I know exactly five members of Bob Hoffman's team summitted, four Iranians, possibly two others who we've been asked not to release their names until they release these names to the Nepalese government, so it will be a couple hours still. I will come back with an updated list. Here's Wally:

[Radio conversation between Wally Berg on the South Summit (28,700') and Dave Mencin in base camp. Berg's team was among the last to summit by this route last year and the first this year.]
I was on the summit with the Sherpas.... and I'm going with our team to the summit [a year and] a day or two later... and no one has been to the summit since. It's kind of interesting to go back there a year later and think about the fact that no one had been back there since... I left a thermos bottle full of coffee... on the South Summit, and it was still sitting there this morning. I had to laugh and picked it up and brought down the coffee... Kind of interesting because normally that would have been picked up by a Sherpa or someone long ago. I guess that is one of the unique things about going to the summit that virtually no one had been up there...
As you can tell, the mountain has been in pretty bad condition for a year, with Wally describing the fact that the coffee thermos that he left there last year was still in place, and he brought back down his cold coffee today. That's all for now. I'll check in probably in a couple of hours with the names of the other summiters. [See below.] Virtually everybody is off the mountain at this point. There are a couple of people still straggling their way down, and there have been no fatalities to this point; a couple of minor injuries, but very minor, everybody is ambulatory. All in all, an incredibly excellent day on Everest.

David Mencin, Expedition Scientist

19 Summit Everest on May 20, 1998