[Hear Todd Burleson's Welcoming Statement]
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The Mountain Zone on Everest

The Mountain Zone returns to Everest with two world-renowned climbers leading two separate, simultaneous expeditions: Eric Simonson leads the North Ridge Route in Tibet and Pete Athans leads the South Col Route in Nepal.

The Mountain Zone joins Wally Berg on his fourth summit of Mount Everest as he leads a scientific expedition with climbers Eric Simonson, Greg Wilson, and Charles Corfield on the South Col Route.

Below are the archived, fully transcribed audio dispatches from the Alpine Ascents 1997 Expedition

Friday, May 30, 1997: The expedition is over. Todd Burleson is enroute back to the US. Eric Simonson, Greg Wilson, and Charles Corfield have taken a helicopter to Kathmandu. Freddy Blume is walking out, and Wally Berg is packing up the last of their Base Camp -- now covered in snow -- and on his way out with a prgression of 70 yaks, 16 Sherpas and their families. [Click to hear Wally Berg's end of the expedition call.] You can review the fully archived Expedition Dispatches below.

The Summit Climb
Wally Berg Tells the Story of the Windy Climb
Tuesday, May 27, 1997 (Base Camp)

Wally Berg describes his third time on the summit of Everest; retrieving GPS gear blown down the southwest face; watching weather deteriorate on the summit; and the loss of Tenzing Norbu. Full audio and transcript available.
-- Wally Berg, Climbing Guide

"You Are Always Facing the Great Unknown"
Burleson's Story of the AAI Summit Attempt
Monday, May 26, 1997 US; Tuesday, May 27, 1997 Nepal

"Then the clouds moved in, and the wind started blowing, and it hit us hard, fast... Everest gave us the summit. It gave us this tremendous challenge. It took life from us." Full audio and transcript available.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

The Wrap-up on Measuring Everest
Monday, May 26, 1997 (Base Camp)

All the planned GPS summit work didn't get done in the deteriorating weather, but what measurements were accomplished may give a more accurate value for the true height of Everest.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Special from Everest
High Altitude Physiology
Charles Corfield examines what happens to the human body at altitude. Includes a discussion of Acute Mountain Sickness, Cerebral and Pulmonary Edemas, as well as symptoms, treatments, and tips for acclimating from Stephen Bezrucha.

BULLETIN: Russian Climber Dies on Descent from Lhotse Summit; Pioneering Traverse Officially Cancelled
Monday, May 26, 1997 -- 9pm PST
Tuesday, May 27, 1997 -- 9:45am Nepal

Vladimir Bashkirov, one of ten climbers who summitted Lhotse without oxygen yesterday, died just above high camp on the descent. The Russians are definitely done attempting the Lhotse to Middle to Shar Traverse. Climbing with the Russians were Anatoli Boukreev and Simon Moro attempting a speed traverse of Lhotse-Everest.

BULLETIN: Sherpa Fell to his Death on Descent from Summit
Monday, May 26, 1997 -- 11am PST

Todd Burleson officially reported from Base Camp this morning that a climbing Sherpa on his team, Tenzing Norbu, 31, fell to his death while returning from the summit of Everest. He had gotten permission to summit with two other Sherpas for their own mountaineering purposes after the team turned around. As they were descending in high winds, the two other Sherpa reported moving down an exposed traverse to the South Summit when they looked back and found him gone. Wally Berg and Greg Wilson spent the night at the South Col as a symbolic vigil, but all agree Tenzing is dead. All except Burleson are now taking a rest-day in Camp II and will return to Base Camp tomorrow. Click for [Burleson's account of the team's summit bid and the mixed blessing's of Everest.] [Berg's story of his summit climb and the loss of Tenzing.]

BULLETIN: Team Descending
Sunday, May 25, 1997 -- 10pm PST

Todd Burleson is now in Base Camp. Wally Berg and Greg Wilson are planning to descend to Camp II today where they will meet the rest of the team and all will return to Base Camp the following day.

BULLETIN: Descending to Camp II
Sunday, May 25, 1997 -- 2pm PST

As of 7am PST (8:15pm local time), Todd Burleson, Charles Corfield, and Eric Simonson had descended to Camp II. Wally Berg and Greg Wilson are spending the night at the South Col and are planning to descend to Camp II in the morning.

BULLETIN: Team Reported to be at the South Col
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 11:30pm PST

No direct communication from Burleson or the Alpine Ascents team to Base Camp, but Camp II manager Dawa Sherpa says team Sherpas on the South Col report that the team has apparently returned to high-camp on the South Col. Eric Simonson has continued his descent to Camp II and other member are also considering moving lower for the night.

Wally Berg and Sherpas Summit Mount Everest
Rest of Team Turns Around in Deteriorating Weather

Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 4:58pm PST
Sunday, May 25, 1997 -- 6:13am Nepal

Berg and team Sherpas are on the summit of Everest; dangerously increasing winds and whiteout have forced the rest of the team to turn around. Hear Wally Berg's radio call from the summit.
-- Wally Berg, AAI Climbing Guide

Guide Wally Berg on the South Summit at 28,700'
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 3:30pm PST
Sunday, May 25, 1997 -- 4:45am Nepal

"We're all moving well, obviously... I am concerned about visibility and wind a little bit...."
-- Wally Berg, AAI Climbing Guide

AAI now Climbing Just Below the Balcony
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 1:45pm
Sunday, May 25, 1997 -- 3am Nepal

"Everybody's great, weather's great, full steam ahead...."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Team AAI on Their Second Summit Bid
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 9:45am PST; 11pm Nepal

"Under clear, moonlit skies, with winds absolutely calm, the five members and eight Sherpas of the Alpine Ascents team, left the South Col at 8,000 meters..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

ABC Everest Boots Come Through Again
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 7:30am PST; 8:45pm Nepal

"Both Rodriguez and Beck Weathers are now poster boys for ABC's Everest Boots, having sustained frostbite on their hands... but none on their feet after extreme exposure..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

News from the South Col
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 3:15am PST; 4:30pm Nepal

"I don't know, in the last couple years, it's amazing what people will endure to survive..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 11:00pm PST
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 12:15pm Nepal

A climber who did not return from yesterday's summit bid and was presumed to be dead after spending the night at 28,700', walked down to the South Col this morning under his own power. Hear the radio calls from the South Col to Base Camp.

BULLETIN: Summit Bid Aborted in Sudden Bad Weather
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 1pm PST
Saturday, May 24, 1997 -- 2:15am Nepal

"At 26,900', the wind suddenly increased to 40-50 knots and visibility dropped to near zero..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Alpine Ascents Team Leaving for Their Summit Bid
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 10am PST, 11:15pm (South Col)

Hear Burlseson's calls from the South Col: "I'm very excited. I've never seen it so warm in my life up here... Oxygen is thin. Weather looks very good..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

High Traffic Day on Everest -- Estimated 30 Summiters
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 7am PST; 8:15pm Nepal

"It's as early a summit time as we've heard of, and while the teams encountered extreme cold at the summit at that time of day, they had barely any wind and successfully avoided a traffic jam on the fixed lines...."

BULLETIN: AAI at South Col; Full Summit Report on the Way
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 2am PST; 3:15pm Nepal

Todd Burleson and the whole AAI team have arrived at the South Col feeling strong and planning to make their summit bid late tonight or early on the 24th. This morning's teams continued to summit, including Dave Breashears with the NOVA team, and the Malaysians who are the first from their country to do so. A full report will be available in the morning.

BULLETIN: Ed Viesturs, Guy Cotter and Canadians Summit
Thursday, May 22, 1997 -- 8pm PST
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 9:15am Nepal

Climbers are beginning to summit Everest with no reported problems due to the number of people making summit bids today.

Over Forty Climbers Begin Their Summit Attempts
Thursday, May 22, 1997 -- 11:30am PST
Friday, May 23, 1997 -- 12:45am Nepal

"Right now there are somewhere between 40 and 47 people on their way from the South Col to the Summit..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Science Update: GPS but not Radar Measurements to be Attempted at the Summit
Thursday, May 22, 1997 (Base Camp)

"We've decided to sacrifice the... radar equipment and go with the lighter and easier to operate GPS equipment..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

AAI Team at Camp III; New Summit Waves Planned
Thursday, May 22, 1997 -- 6:45am PST; 8pm Nepal

"Our climbers safely and strongly reached Camp III... five teams at the South Col tonight... have decisions to make on whether to start their summit attempt around midnight..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but we can't go any higher." (Icelanders and Team Safe at Col.)
Wednesday, May 21, 1997 -- 9pm (Base Camp)

After summiting to much excitement throughout Base Camp and the world, the team safely descended to high camp in five hours and are now resting there.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Resting in Camp II and Watching the Icelanders Descend
Wednesday, May 21, 1997 -- 4:30pm (Camp II)

"We plan to move up to Camp III tomorrow... all we're looking for is a good spell of weather and good health...."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Icelanders Reach the Summit of Everest!
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 11:43pm PST

All seven climbers reached the summit by 12:58pm Nepal time.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Icelanders Fixing Ropes on South Summit
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 9:15pm PST

"They report calm winds, and there isn't a cloud in the sky..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Special from Everest
Through the Khumbu Ice Fall
Climbers describe their experience in the legendary Ice Fall. Universally terrifying, it is the most dangerous part of the southern route on Everest.

Icelanders Planning Another Attempt
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 12:30pm PST

"The same team will be headed up in the next hour or two from the Col..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Late May Sun Affects the Route
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 3pm (Camp II)

"This is as late as I've ever been on the mountain, and things are definitely different with the warmer temperatures really moving things around each day..."
-- Wally Berg, Climbing Guide

Teams Line Up in Camp II
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 3pm (Camp II)

"We will just all follow each other up to the summit in the next few days... The Ice Fall in my opinion was very scary..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Early Morning Departure From Base Camp
Tuesday, May 20, 1997 -- 5:45am (Base Camp)

"We took Puja from the sacred fire and rice offerings for safe passages and spiritual wisdom..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

BULLETIN: Whiteout Stops First Summit Bid
Monday, May 19, 1997 -- 2:30pm PST

"They reported less than 10 meters visibility, and they had no choice but to turn around..."
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

BULLETIN: Icelanders, British, and Nepali Have Just Left the South Col for the Summit
Monday, May 19, 1997 -- 12:30pm PST

Climbers begin the first summit bid on the south side after weeks of bad weather.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Cybercasting the Summit Attempt
Monday, May 19, 1997 -- 8pm (Base Camp)

"I guess it's kind of the moment of truth... we're leaving for summit attempt tomorrow morning... We hope that on our summit day... we are literally live on The Mountain Zone..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Planning a Summit Attempt
Sunday, May 19, 1997 -- 10am (Base Camp)

"We are slightly encouraged by a weather report as of yesterday. Promise that there might be some improvement in the high winds... We spent the morning packing our packs..."
-- Greg Wilson, Climbing Guide

Special from Everest
Cleaning Up Everest
"What's happened is over the last 10 to 20 years... oxygen bottles have been left in high-camp..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Wind-Storm Destroys Tents at Camp II
Friday, May 16, 1997 -- 9:30pm (Base Camp)

"They even look like they're moving 150 miles per hour... it's like fast-motion tv the way the clouds just fly across the sky..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Waiting and Watching
Thursday, May 15, 1997 -- 9pm (Base Camp)

"Hoping to climb this mountain very soon so we can all come home..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Guide Eric Simonson Describes the North Side of Everest
Wednesday, May 14, 1997 -- 8pm (Base Camp)

"You want to put in earplugs and turn up your walkman so you can sleep in the wind, but then you won't hear the tent ripping if all hell breaks loose during the night..."
-- Eric Simonson, Climbing Guide

Forecast for Continuing Wind Delays Climbing Again
Wednesday, May 14, 1997 -- 8pm (Base Camp)

"We have clear, sunny days down here. It's just blowing like mad up top..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Five Climbers Confirmed Dead on the North Side; Weather Forecast Promises Summit Attempt on the South
Tuesday, May 13, 1997 -- 9:30pm (Base Camp)

"There is still the issue of overcrowding and how many people will be going to the summit. I'm guessing there's 60 climbers here and close to 100 sherpa that will want to attempt the summit..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Little News from North Side; Indonesians Believed Frost-Bitten but Safe
Monday, May 12, 1997 -- 9pm (Base Camp)

"Hopefully people are going to start heeding this warning -- realizing that Everest is a very dangerous mountain, and it's also a very great mountain and needs to be treated with tremendous respect..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Climbers Die on the North Side of Everest
Sunday, May 11, 1997 -- 10pm (Base Camp)

A Khazakstan team was caught in a severe storm 200 meters below the summit on the north side of Everest last night. Several are dead or missing and presumed dead. (Update: Later Reports Confirmed Five Dead -- see update from May 13 for more information.)
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

High Winds on Upper Everest Rule Out Summit Attempts
Friday, May 9, 1997 -- 11 am (Base Camp)

The Malaysians at Camp III and John Tinker's group at Camp II are waiting for a break in the weather to descend to base. All summit attempts are out of the question.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

The Five-Day Weather Forecast
Friday, May 9, 1997 (Base Camp)

Extreme winds are the word of the week.

Enjoying the Thick Air at 14,700'
Thursday, May 8, 1997 -- 9am (Pheriche)

"We all feel really good, and the air is extremely thick down here -- you almost feel like you're swimming in it..."
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

High Winds Delay Summit Attempts; Team Resting; Buckland Reaches High-Point
Wednesday, May 7, 1997 -- 10:30pm (Base Camp)

High winds have driven most teams off the mountain creating the likelihood of big traffic moving up once the weather breaks. Burleson's team plans to rest at lower altitude; Leslie Buckland ends his climb.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Sherpa on the Malaysian Team Falls to His Death
Tuesday, May 6, 1997 -- 9pm (Base Camp)

Burleson's team returns from Camp II; a sherpa from the Malaysian team fell from bellow the Yellow Band down the Lhotse Face to his death.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Nickolai Cherni on the Russian Lhotse Traverse
Monday, May 5, 1997 (Base Camp)

Nickolai Cherni of the Russian climbing team talks to Freddy Blume about the new route they will attempt to put up from Lhotse to Lhotse Middle to Lhotse Shar.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Guy Cotter on the New Zealand Expedition
Monday, May 5, 1997 (Base Camp)

Guy Cotter, leader of the New Zealand expedition, talked to Freddy Blume before his Adventure Consultants group left for their summit bid.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

John Tinker of the British Expedition
Monday, May 5, 1997 (Base Camp)

John Tinker, leader of a British team, talked to Freddy Blume about their plans.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

The Five-Day Weather Forecast
Monday, May 5, 1997 -- 10am (Base Camp)

Weather forecast predicts that May 8th will be the best day to attempt the summit for teams now poised on the mountain.

Burleson Descends; Team at Camp III; Summit Bids Begin
Sunday, May 4, 1997 -- 5pm (Base Camp)

Burleson is in base recovering from a virus while the rest of the team continues on to Camp III for a night of acclimatization before descending again. Other teams begin leaving for summit.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Some Thoughts on Climbing Everest
Saturday, May 3, 1997

"And the personal insight that came to me at that point was... you know... I don't have to prove anything..."
-- Leslie Buckland, Climber

Preparing for Camp III
Friday, May 2, 1997 -- 9:30am (Camp II)

Burleson's team rests at Camp II before making an acclimating climb to Camp III; Simonson's group moving from Camp I to II.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Climbing Again
Thursday, May 1, 1997 -- 3pm (Base Camp)

Climbing resumes with Burleson's team going to Camp II and Eric Simonson's to Camp I.
-- Freddy Blume, Team Scientist

Ice Fall Collapse; Boukreev Talks About the Climb
Wednesday, April 30, 1997 -- 8:30am (Base Camp)

Major collapse in Ice Fall destroys existing route; Anatoli Boukreev, who lead the Indonesian team to the summit, talks to Burleson about the climb, refutes some earlier accounts of the descent, and shares grim discoveries.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

Special from Everest
Exclusive Interview with Anatoli Boukreev

Just days before he lead the Indonesian team to the summit of Everest, world famous Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev talked about climbing, guiding, and the 1996 tragedy with Mountain Zone correspondent Peter Potterfield.

BULLETIN: Indonesians at Camp II and Heading Down
Monday, April 28, 1997 -- 9:30pm PST

Todd Burleson called from Everest Base Camp to say that the Indonesian team has been confirmed at Camp II and are on their way to Base Camp.

BULLETIN: Indonesians Believed to be at South Col
Sunday, April 27, 1997 -- 9:30pm PST

All members of the Indonesian team that were forced to spend the night at an emergency camp high on the mountain after summiting late are believed to have safely descended to the South Col.

BULLETIN: Indonesians Waiting for More Oxygen at an Emergency Camp V at 27,500'
Saturday, April 26, 1997 -- 9pm PST

Members of the Indonesian team summited as late as 3:45pm and were forced to spend the night at an impromptu camp high on the mountain. Sherpas are apparently attempting to bring them oxygen for the descent.

Indonesians Summit Late in the Afternoon
Saturday, April 26, 1997 -- 3pm (Base Camp)

Indonesian Team claims the first Everest summit of the season at 2:40pm; Burleson's team resting in Base Camp.
-- Todd Burleson, Expedition Leader

[Click for the Previous Dispatches.]

Photos by Todd Burleson, Peter Potterfield, Wally Berg, and Frederick Blume