Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Last Camp Before Summit

I was digging through the tons of tapes of this year's Kaya ng Pinay Everest coverge when I noticed a tape I hadn't watched before. Lucky that I did. It contained video the girls took at the last camp -- at 8,300 meters -- before they went for the summit of Mt. Everest.

It's amazing seeing Noelle, Carina and Janet looking so strong in the death zone, as if they were just at base camp. I've uploaded the video so you can see the (rare) footage of the girls shortly before the summit. They spent too little time at the summit to take out a video camera and were only able to take photos. Still.. grabe ang lakas ng mga 'to.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Everest Wallpaper

Finally had time to look at some pictures from the trip. Here's my desktop with a view of the north face of Everest.


I'm not sure if it will fit your screen resolution, but you can get a copy here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Kaya Ng Pinay Theme Song

The team doctor, Ted Esguarra composed the song "Kaya Ng Pinay" before they left for Everest in March. His band is hoping to release a full album by September. We've uploaded a low-fi version of the song here. Let us know what you think.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Busy Week for the Team

The past few days have been hectic for the the Everest Team who had just gotten back Thursday night.

Their flight got delayed, then they immediately had a presscon at the airport when they arrived.

Then.. they were whisked off to ABS-CBN for live interviews on DZMM, Studio 23's News Central and ANC's Hardball, a taped interview for The Correspondents and another interview for Marie Claire.

Friday was their motorcade around Manila and a courtesy call at the Manila City Hall. Then an awarding ceremony at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters were the girls got a much deserved promotion. They were able to rest for a few hours -- and Noelle was able to sneak in a haircut -- then dinner with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at Malacanan Palace.

Saturday, they were on DZMM again on the program of Former Senator Freddie Webb and Gretchen Fullido, then more interviews in the afternoon.

I think they were able to spend some much needed time with their families today (I hope!).

Tomorrow, they will be on Mornings @ ANC at about 9:00 a.m. Then they'll be on Wowowee. Sana manalo sila. More interviews in the afternoon, including one for Chalk Magazine.

Tuesday, they will be on Breakfast on Studio 23. Dami pang naka-schedule, sana huwag silang magsawa sa interviews.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pinays On The Summit

Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team with their Sherpas at Camp 2 Tibet side.


Noelle Wenceslao on the summit with Mt. Makalu in the background.


Noelle with Philippine flag.


Carina Dayondon on the summit.


Carina with a big smile on the summit.


Carina with High Altitude Guide Lakhpa Geljen Sherpa.


Janet Belarmino posing with another climber and High Altitude Guide Pasang Nuru Sherpa.


Janet with the Philippine Flag.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sun Star Cebu: A Wenceslao Atop Mt. Everest

reprinted from Sun Star Cebu

Friday, May 18, 2007
Wenceslao: A Wenceslao atop Mt. Everest

By Bong O. Wenceslao
Candid Thoughts

THE more popular Wenceslao when we were younger was director Jose "Pepe" Wenceslao. We didn't know who this man was and whether or not Wenceslao was but his showbiz name. But we joked about him often, especially because a cousin was called Pepe. In Tudela, Camotes meanwhile, Wenceslao, to some relatives was "Big W."


There's a certain pride in seeing one's family name linked to big achievements, more so with Wenceslao. No problem with my mother's maiden name Ortega, which is Spanish-sounding and common. But Wenceslao? That's why I would have wanted my cousin, long-time Sambag 2 Barangay Captain Noel Wenceslao to become city councilor.

I remember asking my father Tiyong what our relation was with the Wenceslaos of Santander. That was when the Abineses still ruled Santander town's politics and the Wenceslaos were content merely doing business there.

My father told me the Wenceslao patriarch was Chinese and only borrowed the family name Wenceslao. What a choice.

I am talking Wenceslao because a Wenceslao was one of three Filipinas who reached the Mt. Everest peak Wednesday morning. Noelle Wenceslao, Karina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino will now be referred to as the "first women of Southeast Asia to summit Mt. Everest." Did Noelle plant a flag with the Wenceslao name at the summit?

I actually don't know who Noelle is. My father is dead and the other Wenceslao elders are either in Mindanao or in Camotes. And I am no expert in tracing the family tree. I once jogged around the new Talisay City Hall and a policeman there introduced himself as a Wenceslao. He was from Luzon. Another Wenceslao is a politician in Leyte.

An Inquirer report said Noelle's father is Peewee Wenceslao. Don't know him, but that "Peewee" name sounds interesting. A controversial Metro Manila mayor is nicknamed Peewee. His first name? Wenceslao. I said first name, not family name. So is Peewee Wenceslao actually Wenceslao Wenceslao. Oops, that's the name of my brother.

Anyway, drama was not absent in Noelle's feat. Reports say she earlier suffered from AMS or acute mountain sickness and expedition team doctor Ted Esguerra had to take care of her every step of the way. What courage.

But that is what mountain climbing is all about, you don't just give up. You push the limits of your endurance to make it.

It's unfortunate that Wenceslao, Dayondon and Belarmino reached the summit of Mt. Everest at a time when this country is holding a political exercise whose practice we can never be proud of. And because we tend to gloss over real achievement for scandals and controversies (which incidentally our elections have a lot of), the feat got buried.

Of course, we have heard of people downplaying the achievement of reaching Mt. Everest's summit. The argument is that the climb is no longer challenging, like what Mt. Manunggal has become with a road traversing its peak. These critics are no trekkers. They are ignorant of the dangers posed by Mt. Everest, especially to those Pinays.

Between the three Pinays who reached Mt. Everest's summit and most winners in the last polls, I would pay homage to the former. Those Pinays showed us what the Filipinos can achieve, while many politicians can only show us how deep we can plunge into the muck. Besides, a Wenceslao atop Mt. Everest? Come on.

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ 0915-9228651/my blog: cebuano.wordpress.com)

Senate President Villar Commends Team

May 17, 2007

VILLAR FILES SENATE RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE KAYA NG PINAY EVEREST TEAM

Senate President Manny Villar filed Senate Resolution No. 629 commending the three women of the “Kaya ng Pinay” Everest Team for their historic feat of being the first ASEAN women to reach the Mount Everest summit.

The first Filipina to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain was Noelle Wenceslao, followed by Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino.

Villar said, “We celebrate and take pride in the audacity of our women who have conquered Mount Everest, marking another milestone in our accomplishments as a nation and race.”

“This feat clearly demonstrates the outstanding skill and strength of our Filipino women in the face of the fiercest adversities as they reach their goal. Likewise, it upholds the importance of women empowerment in our country,” he said.

“We congratulate Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino and the entire “Kaya ng Pinay” Everest Team for this record-setting achievement which elevates the distinct qualities of the women of our country,” said Villar.


Sen. Pangilinan Lauds Kaya Ng Pinay Everest Team

May 16, 2007

KIKO LAUDS KAYA NG PINAY EVEREST TEAM

Senate Majority Leader and Independent re-electionist Kiko Pangilinan commended the achievement of Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino for being the first ASEAN women to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

"I laud the efforts of the Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team in marking another glorious record for the Filipino people, for all Pinays and for all member countries of the ASEAN region," expressed Kiko.

"Lahat ng Pilipino ay humahanga at ipinagmamalaki ang kabayanihan ng tatlong dakilang Pilipina na nakaabot sa tuktok ng mundo. Ikinalulugod nating lahat ang kanilang nagawa at nagpapasalamat sa kanilang kabayanihan para sa sambayanang Pilipino," stressed Kiko.

"When the Philippine Senate resumes its session on June 4, I plan to file a resolution commending their bravery, will and resilience for victoriously making another historical record for our country and for the ASEAN region, as reaching the top of the world is no small feat," ended Kiko.

The Kathmandu Post: Mom of 5-month-old atop Everest

reprinted from The Kathmandu Post

Mom of 5-month-old atop Everest

BY KRISHNA REGMI

KATHMANDU, May 24 - Just three months after giving birth to her first child she set off to scale Mt Everest. Five months later and yet to fully recover from childbearing, Janet Belarmino, 28, has already conquered the world's highest mountain.

Not only did she emerge triumphant from her mission, she along with other two Filipinas-- Noelle Wenceslao, and Carina Dayondon-- set a record in Everest history last Wednesday, becoming the first ever women to cross over the peak of Mt Everest. They made it to the top from the north side and descended from the south.

Besides, the three Filipinas also set the record as the first Southeast Asian women to conquer the world's highest peak.

"It was an awesome experience. I got an immense amount of pleasure," said a visibly elated Belarmino on arrival at the capital.

Commenting on the ordeal of leaving her small son at home with her husband, she said it was emotionally a very difficult time, having to miss her baby.

"I decided to leave him, as I was too focused on the mountain. I believed there was a greater cause behind my decision," she said. She said determination, unity and team work were what made her succeed in her endeavor.

Crossing the mountain from Tibet to Nepal has been done only by a handful of mountaineers. The traverse posed a bigger challenge for the women as they passed an unfamiliar route during the descent. The other two Filipino women also could not hide their excitement. "Definitely, the climbing was tough. But getting success is an enthralling experience," said Wenceslao.

When asked how it felt while tackling the ascent, Dayondon said they were mentally and physically prepared to climb the tallest peak. "We have great respect for mountains. So, we believed that the mountain would allow us to climb it as well," she said.

Prior to her attempt this season, Belarmino had received mountaineering training in Nepal since 2004. She had climbed a few mountains, below 8,000 meters, like (Island) Peak.

She was so much enamored with mountains that she named her five-month old baby Himalaya. "Himalaya is deep-rooted in my mind. So I chose this name for my son," said she.

Sharing her experience, she said the journey was physically challenging. "We are not super-women. All we had was strong determination, and motivation," she said. She said the three years training helped in her success.

Over 200 climbers have reached the world's highest peak this spring season from the south col. The month of May is the best season for climbing. A total of 23 climbing expeditions are expecting to scale Mt Everest this season.

Hello from Noelle

Hello! We're back in Katmandu. I'll write more next time, ha, because I haven't quite gained back my original vocabulary.

I just want to take this chance na magpasalamat sa sambayanang Pilipino for all their prayers and support. Para sa inyo 'to! We ALL did it together.

We're all okay -- no damage whatsoever. We killed a few million brain cells, but we don't use those anyway.

Next time mas mahaba ang kuwento ko. Kitakits sa Pinas!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Press Conference in Kathmandu


The Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team had a press conference at Hotel Marshyangdi today to formally announce the women's achievement of traversing Mt. Everest from Tibet to Nepal.

Climbers Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino faced the media together with Expedition Leader Art Valdez, Mr. Sonam Sherpa of Thamserku Trekking and Mr. Henry Pariyar of International Adventure Treks and Expeditions.


Members of the Kathmandu Press asked the climbers what they saw on top of the world's highest mountain and what they were thinking about when they were on the summit.

Noelle with Tibet Base Camp Cook Gokul

We're hoping the girls will answer those questions and recount their experiences when they blog here tomorrow. We also hope to post some summit pictures of the girls soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Team Back In Kathmandu

The Pinay Everest Team is Back in Kathmandu. The flights from Lukla to the capital yesterday left later than usual because the weather wasn't so good, so the team arrived at about 2 in the afternoon.

The team was welcomed at the hotel by Mr Sonam Sherpa of Thamserku Trekking Agency. After a welcome ceremony at the hotel, they were brought to the residence of Mr. Baija, the Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Nepal, for an early dinner.

Then.. more (Filipino) food after that at another dinner hosted by Henry and emma Pariyar of International Adventure Treks and Expeditions with the Filipino community.

Early this morning, the women were already busy sorting their gear for their trip home. They are scheduled to arrive in Manila on May 31st.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MountEverest.net: Everest Traverses

From MountEverest.net

David Tait and Phurba Sherpa reached the summit on May 15 from Tibet, and traversed down to Nepal, reaching C2 that same day. Tait has decided not to retrace his steps back to the summit and down the north side. “There might be some supermen in this world, but I discovered that I am frankly not one of them,” he wrote on Friday.

All three Filipinas of the Pinay Mount Everest Expedition Team reached the summit on Wednesday from Tibet, and descended down the Nepal side. No female climber had traversed Everest before.

Gavin Bate hoped to attempt the summit of Everest from Tibet on Saturday and descend via Nepal.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

ABS-CBNNews.com: Filipinas reach Nepal base camp, set world record

reprinted from ABS-CBNNews.com

The first Filipino women to reach the summit of Mount Everest set another world record Friday by becoming the first women to traverse the two main routes to the world's highest mountain.

Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino reached Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal before 6 p.m. Manila time where they were welcomed by the Philippine support group.

Belarmino sobbed as she recounted the ordeal of climbing the mountain months after she gave birth to her first baby.

"Napakahirap kaya masaya ako na makakabalik na kami…. medyo pagod lang kasi mahaba ang trek namin pero OK lang kami. [Wala kaming] sakit. Wala namang problema (It was very difficult that is why I'm glad that we can now come back… it was tiring because the trail was quite long but we’re OK. We are not sick. There have been no problems)," she told radio DZMM.

Belarmino said that her feat also showed that motherhood does not prevent anyone from pursuing her dreams.

"Iyon din mensahe ko sa mga ina na tulad ko. Ang mga pangarap namin ay hindi natutulog sa apat na sulok ng kwarto. Iyong mga panaginip natin bilang ina, kailangan natin ipakita sa buong mundo na kaya din natin (It's also my message to mothers like me. Our dreams are not confined in four corners of the room. Let’s show the whole world that we can also do it)," she added.

For Dayondon, the support of fellow Filipinos inspired them even more to reach the top of the world’s tallest mountain. She added that she missed her family back in the Philippines but the other climbers and the support of the Filipinos there helped her.

Team leader Art Valdez said the three set two world records in Everest history. They are the first Filipinas and first ASEAN women to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the first women to cross the mountain from the north route in Tibet to the south route in Nepal.

Crossing the mountain from Tibet to Nepal has only been done by a handful of mountaineers – all of them men. The traverse posed a bigger challenge for the women as they passed an unfamiliar route to come down the mountain.

ABS-CBN Correspondent Abner Mercado said the Everest team will rest at EBC before they proceed to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Wenceslao was the first to reach the summit at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time (8:10 a.m. in Manila) on Wednesday followed by Carina Dayondon at 6:20 a.m. (8:20 a.m. in Manila). Belarmino reached the summit three hours later after she had to fall in line because a lot of people wanted to reach the summit.

First scaled in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the 29,035-foot peak has now been summitted 3,067 times.

This year, around 550 people will be attempting the peak from both Nepal - where a peace deal signed last year with Maoist rebels has brought an end to a decade of civil war - and via the northern flank in China.

In 2006, 11 people were killed, and already this year one sherpa has died while preparing for commercial expeditions.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Singing On The Summit

Ang lakas talaga ng Pinay!

Two hours before reaching the summit, the team radioed Advance Base Camp to give an update on their location. During that call, Carina Dayondon sang on the radio an excerpt from the song "Kaya Ng Pinay", which was composed by Team Doctor Ted Esguerra.

On hearing her singing, Everest Summiter Pastour Emata, who was at ABC radioed back, "Carina, I bet you're singing because you're scared."

Carina's response.. "Excuse Me!"

Ang taray ng lola mo.

On reaching the summit, Noelle Wenceslao's radio message was, "Naabot na ng Pinay ang tuktok ng Mundo!" (The Filipina has reached the top of the world!)

Her voice was strong and clear, and she wasn't even out of breath.

Carina also radioed to ABC, "I'm so tired, I'm so excited, I don't know what to do! I feel like going to the bathroom!"

Janet Belarmino climbed past the summit and went straight down the Nepal side. Her Sherpa didn't want to stop because there were too many people at the summit and it was getting cold.

On our way back from Tibet to the Nepal border, we were thinking of what other messages the women could have given at the summit. Expedition Leader Art Valdez said, why don't we ask readers of the blog to post what they think would have been a good summit message.
You never know, maybe someone could use it next year?

World Record For Pinays

News Agency Reuters called up Henry Pariyar of International Adventure Treks and Expeditions yesterday to get details of the Kaya ng Pinay Team's achievement. Henry's agency, together with the Thamserku Trekking Agency, helped organize last year's and this year's historic Everest climbs. Henry couldn't give details to Reuters just yet, as we hadn't gotten word about the girls early yesterday afternoon. But he did tell Reuters that the team will be having a press conference when they get back to Kathmandu.

We still have to confirm this with the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association and Nepal's Ministry of Culture -- but as far as we know, Janet Belarmino, Carina Dayondon and Noelle Wenceslao are the first women to ever traverse or cross Mt. Everest. This places the Philippines, and these Filipinas prominently in mountaineering history.

Kaya ng Pinay Team in The Kathmandu Post

The Kathmandu Post
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Apa Sherpa breaks his own record
by Krishna Regmi

For the sixth consecutive year, Apa Sherpa beat his own record by stepping atop Mt. Everest for the 17th time Wednesday. He reached the summit of the World's highest peak at 8:44 a.m. from the South Col, said Khadanand Dhakal, undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Along with him, Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, world record holder for the fastest climb, also scaled the 8,850-meter peak. They reached the top as part of the SuperSherpas team, the first ever all-Sherpa expedition. Five other high-altitude workers of the team also scaled Mt. Everest.

Altogether, 27 climbers of five different expeditions ascended the highest peak Wednesday from the Nepali Side. Setting another record in Everest history, Filipino women - Janet Belarmino, Noelle Wenceslao and Carina Dayondon - summitted the peak from Tibet. They are descending to the base camp in Nepal, according to Sonam Sherpa, managing director of Thamserku Trekking, the agency handling the expedition.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pinays Now At Base Camp

Thanks to all your prayers, Janet, Noelle and Carina are now at Nepal base camp. Not only are they the first Southeast Asian women to summit Everest, they are now also the first women in the world to traverse Everest. Now it's time to really CELEBRATE!

The women are scheduled to leave for Kathmandu tomorrow. They will trek for four days to the village of Lukla where they will get a flight on a 25-seater plane to the capital of Nepal.

Meantime, the women, who are members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), have been promoted one rank higher, from seawoman first to seawoman officer third class. The PCG is now preparing a heroes welcome for the three Pinays.

Will update again later...

Mission Accomplished!

The Kaya ng Pinay Team should be reaching Everest Base Camp in Nepal anytime now.

Last night, Janet, Carina and Noelle would have slept at Camp 2. They should have then left very early this morning to cross the Khumbu Icefall while everything was still frozen solid. After a six hour trek through the crevasses and rickety ladders of the Kumbu, they should reach EBC by 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

Expedition Leader Art Valdez and Team Physician Dr. Ted Esguerra took a chopper this morning from the Tibet-Nepal border to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal to meet the girls. They will need Dr. Ted to make sure they are ok and also help them recuperate from the climb.

I will no longer be able to give updates on the girls activities at EBC Nepal as I no longer have any communication with them. The ABS-CBN News team composed of Abner Mercado and Wilbert dela Cruz will be giving you live footage and interviews of the women when they arrive at EBC Nepal over ABS-CBN, ANC, DZMM and Studio 23. If you're overseas, do tune in to TFC.

I am now back in Kathmandu after a 15 hour drive from Tibet yesterday. I do hope to post some pictures as well as stories of what was going on the last few hours before the women summitted.

The team's tentative schedule beginning today will be as follows:

May 18 - Everest Base Camp (EBC) Nepal
May 19 - Periche
May 20 - Namche Bazaar
May 21 - Namche Bazaar (Rest Day)
May 22 - Lukla
May 23 - Kathmandu
May 28 - Kathmandu to Bangkok
May 29 - Manila

We do hope everyone's ready for the celebration when the team finally returns to the Philippines. The team is definitely looking forward to being back home.

Vince Rodriguez
Kathmandu, Nepal

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Philippine Star: Palace congratulates Pinay Mountaineers

reprinted from The Philippine Star
Thursday, May 17, 2007 11:43 AM

Malacañang lauded Wednesday the first three Filipino female mountaineers who successfully reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, Mt.Everest in Nepal.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita identified the three Filipinas in his weekly press briefing in Malacanang.

The three climbers topped the summit separately: Noelle Wenceslao reached the summit at 8:10 a.m., Carina Dayondon at 8:20 a.m. and Janet Belarmino at 9:45 a.m., all Manila times.

"We are congratulating the three Filipinas, women who reached the top of the highest mountain in the world," he said.

He noted that the three mountaineers were suitably and physically fit for mountain hiking because they were in the service of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Last year, three Filipinos -- Leo Oracion, Pastor Emata and Romeo Garduce -- reached the summit of Mt. Everest.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Philippine Daily Inquirer: 3 Filipinas reach Mount Everest Summit

reprinted from The Philippine Daily inquirer

By Alcuin Papa, Nikko Dizon
Last updated 08:44pm (Mla time) 05/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- A small window of good weather, a little good luck and a lot of determination gifted three Filipino women who belonged to a Philippine expedition the ultimate triumph of a mountaineer: the summit of Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain.


In a satellite phone call to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, expedition leader Art Valdez confirmed that Noelle Wenceslao, Karina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino all reached the summit from the North Side Wednesday morning.

Wenceslao, who earlier suffered from acute mountain sickness (AMS) reached the summit at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time (around 8:10 a.m. Philippine time) together with her Sherpa Lakpa Gyalzen. Dayondon arrived 10 minutes later with Pemba Choti. Belarmino arrived at around 7:45 a.m. Nepal time with Pasang Norbu.

“The girls are in good shape and the weather is very clear with winds in between 20 and 30 kilometers per hour. It’s a great moment. It symbolizes what we can do if we work together. It also shows the strength of the Filipina. Ang Pinay naabot ang tuktok, kaya ng Pinay [The Pinay has reached the top, the Pinay can],” said Valdez repeating their slogan.

He said expedition team doctor Ted Esguerra “took care” of Wenceslao. “Every step of the way, the doctor was monitoring her condition.”

Valdez said the Filipino women had to make an early push for the summit to avoid the “traffic jams” on the way down the South side.

The Filipinas had to push their summit targets forward after bad weather caused some delay. They were scheduled to push for the summit last week.

Aside from Esguerra, Valdez was also accompanied by Pastor Emata, one of the first Filipinos to summit Everest.

The girls were making their way down the mountain on the South Side for a traverse route on Everest as of Wednesday morning.

They hope to reach Camp 2 on the South Side (established at 6,500 meters or 21,300 feet) by today and Everest Base Camp (at 5,380 meters or 17,600 feet) by Friday.

Waiting for them at the South Side are Leo Oracion, another Filipino who reached the summit last year, John Fortes of the Philippine Air Lines Mountaineering Club (PALMC) and Peewee Wenceslao, Noelle’s father.

Wenceslao, Dayondon, and Belarmino are the first Filipino women to summit the Everest and the first women on top of Everest this climbing season. Valdez also said they had a lock on the title as the first women from Southeast Asia to summit Mt. Everest.

A Malaysian woman is on South Side this climbing season but the North Side has an earlier summit window. An Indonesian woman was reported to have summitted in the early 90s, but this feat was being disputed.

The North Side route is considered the more treacherous route as compared to the South side. Valdez, who was calling from the Tibet Advance Base Camp at 6,500 meters or 21,300 feet, lamented the conditions on the route. “Mas mahirap dito [It’s harder here]. The Tibet Advance Base Camp is higher than the South side Base Camp,” said a breathless and coughing Valdez.

Last year, Valdez was on Everest Base Camp on the South side as a member of the support team for Oracion and Emata, two of three Filipinos who reached the summit last year.

Also last year, mountaineer Romi Garduce reached the summit behind Emata and Oracion.

Another mountaineer Dale Abenojar also claimed to have reached the summit from the North Side but his feat was being disputed.


Three Filipinas Conquer Everest

Reprinted from the ABS-CBN News website.
May 16, 2007 (as of 12:52 p.m.)

Three Filipinas made history Wednesday by becoming the first ASEAN women to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain.

ABS-CBN Correspondent Vince Rodriguez said Noelle Wenceslao was the first to reach the summit at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time (8:10 a.m. in Manila) followed by Carina Dayondon at 6:20 a.m. (8:20 a.m. in Manila).

The third Filipina, Janet Belarmino, reached the summit at 11 a.m. Manila time.

"Naabot na ng Pinay ang tuktok ng mundo (The Filipina has reached the top of the world)," Rodriguez quoted Wenceslao as saying.

He said Wenceslao and Dayondon were descending on the south side of the mountain.

"The women were going at their own pace. They weren't all moving at the same time. What happened was - Noelle and Carina actually reached the summit earlier than expected. They reached it at 8 a.m. They were supposed to reach it at 10 a.m. so I think the two other girls were moving a bit faster than Belarmino," he said.

He added that Wenceslao sounded "like an overjoyed kid" when she radioed him about reaching the summit.

Rodriguez said the three members of the "Kaya ng Pinay" Everest Team reached Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,400 meters on Sunday. He said the three Filipinas started their final ascent from Camp 3 at 8 p.m. Manila time.

The Filipinas are also poised to set another record in Everest history by becoming the first women to have crossed the mountain from Tibet to Nepal. Rodriguez said the women climbed from the Tibetan side or the north route up the mountain instead of the Nepal side or southeast route used by Filipinos Leo Oracion, Pastour Emata and Romy Garduce to reach the summit last year.

The Nepal side is arguably the more dangerous route because landslides are more frequent on the Khumbu Icefall, a part of the glacier that climbers must cross to reach the summit.

Crossing the mountain from Tibet to Nepal has only been done by a handful of mountaineers – all of them men. The traverse poses a bigger challenge for the women as they will be passing an unfamiliar route to come down the mountain.

Rodriguez said Oracion will be stationed at Base Camp in Nepal to welcome the women and accompany them back to Kathmandu. He added that he expects all three women to reach Base Camp on May 18, Friday.

At 29,035 feet, Mount Everest looms as the ultimate challenge to human endurance. The mountain sits on the border of two countries, Nepal and the Tibetan region of China.

AT LAST, THE SUMMIT!

All three Filipinas of the Pinay Mount Everest Expedition Team have reached the summit of the world's highest peak.

We broke the story on ANC an hour after we confirmed news of the girls summitting. It was also carried by the ABS-CBN News website. We were also able to report live on DWRR, ABS-CBN's FM station. The story was also aired exclusively on ABS-CBN's radio station DZMM and TV Patrol World by correspondent Abner Mercado who reported from the Nepal base camp.

Noelle Wenceslao was the first to reach the summit at 8:10 am (Manila time); she was followed by Carina Dayondon, who reached the summit at 8:20 am.

The Philippine team at the Nepal Everest base camp earlier lost contact with Janet Belarmino.

Belarmino reached the summit 11:20 pm (Manila time).

The three Filipinas are now making their way down to the Nepal base camp and are expected to be there by Friday.

Do watch out for the story tonight, including the exclusive interview of reporter Nina Corpuz with the families of the three Pinays, on ABS-CBN's Bandila, 11 pm onwards, News Central on Studio 23, 10:15 pm onwards and tomorrow on Mornings @ ANC, 9 am onwards.

One of the highlights of Nina's report was her interview with Ricky Serdenia, husband of Janet Belarmino-Serdenia, who got very emotional especially when he talked about their five month old baby boy Himalaya. Janet left Himalaya when he was only 3 months old to go to Everest which also makes her the first woman to summit Everest just months after giving birth.

While the country celebrates the victory of the 3 Pinays reaching the summit of Everest, the challenge is not yet over as they face the daunting task of going down the mountain. Their families and friends are urging the nation to continue to pray for their safe return.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Almost There

Just had radio contact with the girls at 8300 meters. Their voices sound strong and confident. They start climbing tonight at 10 pm.

They are estimated to reach the summit tomorrow at 10-11 am Manila time.

They are already in radio contact with Nepal base camp. Let's continue to pray for them as they traverse down to the Nepal side which they are expected to reach Friday noon to complete the world record of being the first women to traverse Everest.

Everest Team Now at 8000 Meters

The Philippine All-Women Everest team is now at 8000 meters at camp 3. They will begin climbing to the summit 10 pm Manila time.

They should reach the top of the world from 8-10 am Manila time. They are already in radio contact with Nepal base camp.

Vince
EBC, Tibet

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pinay Everest Team Aiming for May 16 Summit

The latest forecast received by the Pinay Everest Team shows a window of good weather on Everest between May 14-16, when winds at the summit will be less than 40 kph.

Because of this, the team has moved quickly from Chinese base camp (CBC) to intermediate camp (5800m) yesterday, then advance base camp today.

If the women are feeling strong, they climb to the north col on Monday, camp 3 Tuesday, then the summit of Everest on Wednesday, May 16.

The women should reach base camp in Nepal on May 18. Janet Belarmino, Carina Dayondon and Noelle Wenceslao have had enough rest and recovery at CBC (5200m) the past four days and are in good health and spirits for their summit attempt.

The climbers are asking their families, friends and supporters to hold a mass/prayer vigil on the evening of the 15th when they will be making their way to the summit of Everest.

Vince Rodriguez
EBC Tibet

Monday, May 07, 2007

Weather May Delay Summit Attempt

Strong winds may delay the Filipina climbers' attempt to reach the summit. According to the latest weather report on Everest, there will be strong winds on the summit on May 12, which is also the date set by the climbers to summit Mt. Everest.

Because of this, the team is thinking of delaying their summit attempt to May 15 or 16. For now though, the dates are tentative as the team is still deciding on what is best for the climbers.

New World Record Attempt

This blog was supposed to be posted last May 3. It's actually a transcript of a live phone patch report aired on Studio 23's News Central. Sorry for the delay.

***

The Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team support group has reached Chinese Base Camp here in Tibet. We're all here preparing to go up to Advanced Base Camp to meet the women and the big buzz here is our Filipina climbers because of the record that they're about to set.

The women, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino and Noelle Wenceslao, will be traversing Mount Everest, meaning they will be climbing from Tibet and going down in Nepal. This has never been done by any woman so the three women will be setting a world record by doing just that. So a lot of people are talking about that here at base camp.

Another thing they're talking about is Janet Belarmino who's climbing after giving birth just five months ago to this week. So everyone is surprised that she's doing really well, she's very strong just after giving birth five months ago.

An update also on Noelle Wenceslao who was hit by altitude sickness a few days ago, she's doing really well and she's performing well at altitude so they're all set for their climb to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Right now, the women are at the North Col that's camp 1 on the Tibet side of Everest. Tomorrow, they will climb up to camp 2 and then go back down to Advanced Base Camp where they will rest for maybe three or four days. After which they will attempt to summit Mt. Everest so the tentative date for that is May 8 or May 9. They're looking at the May 8 or May 9 window because the weather at that time will be very good.

The girls say that they're psyched, they're ready to go and all that they're asking for is for all their countrymen to pray on that date and for people to pray that they be given support and guidance climbing up to the top of Mt. Everest.

If they start on May 9, their target to reach the summit of Mt. Everest is on May 11 and they should be down at the Everest Base Camp on May 13. Those are the dates that the girls are looking at and all they're asking for is prayers from their countrymen.

And that's the latest from the Everest Base Camp here in Tibet, Vince Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Only 2 Permits Given to Traverse Everest

The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) says it has given only two permits for the traverse of Everest. One is to an American climber and the second to the Philippine all-women team.

CTMA says there were other requests but it turned them down. This is one of the reasons why it is imposing an additional $3000 traverse fee per climber.

For the three women of the Philippine team, this means an additional $9000. But expedition leader Art Valdez says it may well be worth it. If the team succeeds, the members will be the first ever women to traverse Everest.

Valdez says the additional fee is a small price to put the Philippines in the climbing history books.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Reach for the Summit

ON MOUNT EVEREST'S NORTH SIDE BASE CAMP...4 UNITED STATES CITIZENS WERE ARRESTED BY CHINESE AUTHORITIES AS THEY PROTESTED LAST THURSDAY THE PLANNED 2008 BEIJING OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY ROUTE PASSING THROUGH MOUNT EVEREST...AND CALLED FOR TIBET'S INDEPENDENCE.

SHORTLY AFTER....KAZAKHSTAN CLIMBING TEAM MAXUT AND VASSILY MOUNTED THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO SUMMIT EVEREST THIS SEASON....

BUT RETREATED BACK DOWN TO ADVANCED BASE CAMP WHEN FACED BY BITTER WEATHER CONDITIONS.

OUR OWN 2007 KAYA NG PINAY EVEREST EXPEDITION HAS PROBLEMS OF ITS OWN...

AS TWO SUPPORT CAMPS SET UP ON BOTH THE NORTH AND SOUTH BASE CAMPS.

A 3,000 U-S DOLLAR ADDITIONAL CHARGE WAS SLAPPED ON THE GROUP BY THE CHINESE TIBET MOUNTAINEERING ASSOCIATION...FOR THE HISTORIC TRAVERSE PUSH.

The following is a transcript of my live report in Studio 23's News Central:

JOINING US LIVE FOR UPDATES FROM NYALAN, TIBET IS STUDIO 23 CORRESPONDENT VINCE RODRIGUEZ....

WHO TELLS US THE GIRLS HAVE SET THE DATE FOR THEIR SUMMIT ATTEMPT. VINCE?

Tricia Chiongbian: Hi Vince!

Vince Rodriguez: Hi Trish.

The Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team is done recuperating at the Chinese Base Camp tomorrow morning, May 1, the team will again go up to Advanced Base Camp which is at 6,400 meters which will be the launchpad for their climb to the summit of Mount Everest. From the Advanced Base Camp, the women will take 3 days to swing up and down the mountain and then rest again for a few more days. Then, on May 8, if conditions are good, the women will attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest. If everything goes according to plan, the women will wave the Philippine flag on the summit of Everest on May 11 so that is the target the team is working on.

Earlier, we also reported that one of the team members Noelle Wenceslao suffered from altitude sickness - this is normal even for seasoned climbers. After going down to Chinese Base Camp which is the only remedy for altitude sickness, she is now feeling well and is ready to go back up to abc. According to Dr. Ted Esguerra, because of Noelle's physique, she is much more, she is chunkier than the two other girls, so she has a lot more oxygen and that is why she is slower in acclimatizing. But now, the doctor is giving her the green light to go up and reach the summit of Mount Everest together with the two other girls hopefully on May 11. Trish?

Tricia C: Vince, can you clarify also the issue on the additional fees by the CTMA, is that $3,000 each of the climbers?

Vince: Ok, the Chinese Tibet Mountaineering Association imposed an additional $3,000 fee we still do not know whether this is for the team or per person. That fee is called a traverse fee, as the women will be crossing from tibet to nepal. Co-expedition leader Art Valdez flew to Lhasa yesterday, the capital of Tibet, to meet with the association and ask for reconsideration for the imposition of the new fees. Valdez is arguing that you know they're midway through the expedition and they didn't know that the fees would be charged so it was unexpected. But according to the CTMA, the fees were imposed by Beijing so they cannot do anything about it. Although the CTMA is committing that it will help in whatever way to make sure that the 3 women reach everest and come down safely. So they will do anything - they will help in any way they can. Trish.

Trish: Ok, thank you very much for the update, Vince. And we'll be praying for the three girls on their summit next week. And we'll be hearing more of the updates from you, I'm sure.


Monday, April 30, 2007

No Consideration on Tibet Traverse Fees

Here is an update from co-expedition leader Art Valdez who is in Lhasa:

I met with China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) this morning to seek clarification on the new $3000 fee for traversing Everest. CTMA explained that this is very recent, coming mid-April, which is why we were only informed April 18 while our expedition is already ongoing.

Mr. Tso Mo, CTMA vice secretary general, clarified that he cannot do anything as much as he would want to help because this guideline came from Beijing. He did promise that CTMA will assist in whatever way to help ensure success and safety of the three Filipina climbers.

Art Valdez

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Border Crossing

We are now in China. Stepping across the Nepal-Tibet border sends you two hours into the future as Tibet follows Beijing time.

We were quite nervous at customs as we had received several warnings to hide all our communications equipment. That's because China is strict in implementing fees for these equipment. But thanks to the arrangements made by our trekking agency, Thamserku, we got through without any problems.

We will now be driving to base camp. Just got word from co-expedition leader that he is now in Lhasa. We will rendezvous in four days then proceed to CBC. Will update when we hear from the team.

Business As Usual

Just wanted to clarify that those visiting Nepal have nothing to fear. The protest action was limited to a very small area, for only a few hours, and ended peacefully. Everything is back to Normal, for now.

The Everest Team in Tibet reports that everyone is in good health. They are just resting and recovering in Chinese Base Camp.

The Nepal side support group is already in Namche Bazaar. One member of the team complained of AMS symptoms but is now feeling better. Everest Summiter Leo Oracion is with them and will take care of the arrangements on the mountain to welcome the three girls.

ABS-CBN's Abner Mercado and Wilbert dela Cruz are in Kathmandu preparing their gear and making arrangements to follow to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. They're in great condition and raring to go.

Expedition Co-Leader Art Valdez flies to Lhasa tomorrow to negotiate with the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA). Let's hope the CTMA agrees to lower the traverse fees for the three women.

We will be taking a road trip tomorrow to the Nepal-Tibet border, and on to the Base Camp from there. We expect to meet up with Art in 3 days, and the Philippine Team in a week. The next update could be in a few days as we may not have communication. Will try my best to keep everyone posted.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Namaste, Welcome To Nepal!

I arrived in Nepal today at 1 p.m. local time. It was an hour-long queue at immigration, and then I was met by the Philippine Expedition Co-Leader Art Valdez. Trying to make it out of the airport in a rental, there was a long traffic jam. Apparently, a blockade had been put up by Maoists right outside the airport. It was reportedly in protest for some fighting that happened in a village west of Kathmandu, between the police and Maoists. Everyone who flew in had to walk for about a kilomter past the barricades so they could get a cab that charged 150 rupees to Thamel, the central tourist area. I wonder what happened to the poor souls trying to catch a plane out of Nepal.

Tomorrow, we are leaving at 5 a.m. for the Tibetan border. It will be a 7 day trip on jeeps to get to the Chinese Base Camp. I'm uncertain how our communications will be. Right now in Kathmandu, there is no SMART cellphone signal as the company does not have a tie-up with any local provider. GLOBE is supposed to have a signal, but I am having problems getting one.

I am asking a colleague to update the blog, and i hope I will be able to get in touch with her through satphone. Will try to keep everyone up to speed on what's happening to the girls.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tibet Politics

Here is the latest text from Noelle, "Dr. Ted is taking care of my health while I am watching his politics." This is in reference to Dr. Ted's emotional involvement in the incident involving Tibetan refugees at the Nangpa La Pass which took place during last year's Cho Oyu expedition.

A few days earlier, 4 climbers in Tibet EBC were arrested because of political acts. We are keeping Dr. Ted away from "politics" and will keep him focused on supporting the 3 Filipinas on the summi-traverse climb.

Support Teams Moving Into Place

E-mail update from Co-Expedition Leader Art Valdez.

04/27/2007
12:45 PM

At 8 a.m. today, Fred, Leo and Phemba Sherpa left for Lukla to set up support at Nepal Everest Base Camp (EBC). Earlier, Thamserku, our trekking agency had already settled in the crowded camp in anticipation of the "traverse" of our 3 Pinays and to set up support logistics.

Yesterday, another Nepal EBC support group also left by Yeti Airlines for Lukla headed by PALMC founder and co-expedition leader John Fortes. John will coordinate operations in Nepal. The Team is composed of Nepal Expedition Doctor Jodell Coates (MMS), Expedition Nurse Ralph Pilapil, Pewee Wenceslao (father of Noelle) and Larry Honoridez (PALMC). Altogether, they formed the initial batch of EBC support group.

On May 1, an 8-man PALMC group, headed by PALMC ex-President Banny Hermanos, will fly to Lukla to form a bigger EBC support and cheering group for the "traversing" Pinays.

Today, Abner Mercado of ABS-CBN's "The Correspondents" is arriving together with a cameraman and a satellite technician. He will set up shop at Nepal EBC to broadcast to our "kababayans" a blow-by-blow account of the "traverse" and descent to EBC.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Vince Rodriguez, veteran reporter of the "Kaya ng Pinoy" expedition of 2006 and Studio 23 will also blow into town. Together with Sha of Sandugo, they will leave the next day for Tibet to cover and broadcast the "summit" ascent of the 3 Pinays.

Early next week, ABS-CBN can start broadcasting from both sides of Mt Everest to Filipinos everywhere.

These coming and going keep us on our feet although the bigger task is really monitoring and coordinating the acclimatization training and receiving and operationalizing the weather reports coming from our weatherman.

Pastour just called (9:30 a.m., Nepal Time) to report that when they woke up at the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) in Tibet, snow piled up by 18 inches overnight. Carina and Janet are doing fine and easily recovered after descending from the North Col to CBC. I talked to the two girls and they sounded relaxed and well-rested after a night at CBC.

Noelle and Dr. Ted are in the Tea house at the lower end of CBC, a cluster of commercial structures set up by the Chinese to put order in the thriving business at Base Camp. I talked with Noelle yesterday and she sounds fully recovered and rested. Her initial ascent at higher altitude naturally caused mild symptoms of AMS. A couple more trip possibly reaching as high as Camp 3 (27,000 ft.), weather and time permits, will fully acclimatize her and the other girls.

Noelle is always the slowest to be acclimatized but once she gets going, she ends up the strongest. That is her track records in Denali and Cho Oyu.

Pastour and Lakpha Sherpa recommends that the summit attempt will commence once the South (Nepal) side has fixed ropes all the way to the Hillary Step. Fixed ropes have been set up already until Camp 3 on the Nepal side but have stalled since last week. This is always the natural problem in the South. Each expedition is "feeling its way" or watching who will start the initial work of fixing ropes to the South Col and beyond.
Delays in the fixing of ropes in Nepal is a major factor in timing the summit bid in the North for the "traverse."

As I reported earlier, I will be making a wide de-tour to Lhasa to talk to China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) for clarification and reconsideration of additional "traverse" charges they slapped on us. Since there are not many "traverse" attempts this year, we are the most affected. I communicated already with the Chinese Ambassador in the Philippines and talked with an Embassy officials this morning who promised assistance. Our Philippine Embassy in Beijing was also furnished copies of our official communications with CTMA.
The amount is no small penny, hence this trip to Lhasa is worth every cent.

I will be in Lhasa from April 29 to 30. then I will take a land trip to Tingri hoping to rejoin Vince and Sha at CBC no later than May 2. By this time, Pastour, Dr. Ted and the 3 Pinays will already be back in ABC as they are leaving a day earlier. Our contacts will only be through the radios but I will be reunited with them when they descend back from the North Col to ABC on May 5.

There are lots of variables in when to finally reach the decision to make a summit bid. But we hope that these are manageable to ensure the success and safe descent for the 3 Pinays.

For John Fortes - How was the trek to Namche Bazaar from Phakding? Hope you enjoyed the scenic and exotic beauty of Sherpa country.

Leo and Fred - I will arrange that the radios will reach you tomorrow after I talk with Sonam. Extend my regards to our friends along the route, especially in Namche.

I have not been to Tibet although I have heard so much about its beauty and mystery. I am excited and am looking forward to an unforgetable odyssey together with our 3 Pinay adventurers.


Art Valdez
Tibet Expedition Co-Leader

Heat Wave In Manila, Snow Storm In Tibet

While we're sweltering in Manila's summer heat, here's a friendly reminder from the Filipina Women Climbers who are freezing their bums off at Everest Base Camp in Tibet.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Effects Of Altitude?

Some pictures of the women having fun during their acclimatization training a few weeks ago...


Janet Belarmino and Noelle Wenceslao


Noelle


Carina Dayondon


Carina and Noelle

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Noelle Wenceslao Back At Base Camp

Noelle with Mt. Everest in the palm of her hand.

Finally got to talk to Pinay Everest Climber Noelle Wenceslao who is now at Chinese Base Camp. She had to go down after suffering from a severe headache and vomiting at Advanced Base Camp. She is now feeling a lot better in the relatively thicker air down the mountain.

Noelle says the two other Filipina women, Janet Belarmino and Carina Dayondon are probably making their way back to ABC after sleeping at the North Col or Camp 1. Noelle says the two are performing well at high altitude, and their next climb up in four or five days could already be a summit push for the two, if the conditions are right.

Noelle can now be reached by cellphone, but she will be charged when you call. Please e-mail me if you want her number to text or call her, especially if you're donating SMART ACES pre-paid cards for their satphone.

Update from Co-Expedition Leader

Just got this e-mail from last year's Expedition Leader and this year's Co-Expedition Leader on the Tibet side, Art Valdez.

---------------------

04/25/2007
01:38 PM

Hi All,


I am still holed up in Kathmandu waiting for the ABS-CBN Team to arrive so we can cover the last stage of acclimatization and the final push to the summit. Vince Rodriguez of Studio 23 will climb with me on the Tibet side to the Advance Base Camp (ABC - 6,500 meters, 21,300 ft). From Kathmandu, it will take them at least 7days. Assuming they will leave April 30, the earliest he and Sha of Sandugo can leave, they will reach ABC on May 5.

Abner Mercado of ABS-CBN's "The Correspondents" will trek to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side (EBC - 5,530 meters, 17,600 ft) to cover the descent of the three Pinays. The Nepal EBC Support Group will have John Fortes to coordinate all activities. Leo Oracion, Fred Jamili and a Pemba Sherpa will help set up upper base camp support on C-2 and C-4 to provide shelter and food for the descending Pinays.

I am really praying that the broadcast team of Vince and Abner will make it on Friday, April 27. There is no more time because the three Pinays will be leaving/arriving camps a day or two upon arrival at the respective Everest base camps.

Before proceeding to Tibet ABC, I will undertake a wide detour - fly to Lhasa, capital of Tibet to negotiate with China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) on the new Traverse charges of $3000/person they slapped on our Expedition. This is on top of the $1700/person climbing permit they imposed recently. I will negotiate with them why they imposed new traverse charges when we are already in the middle of our expedition. If this was presented earlier then we would have prepared and considered our options knowing that costs and charges just keep on going up.

I am flying April 28 and will stay in Lhasa for two days. Then I will travel by car and meet with Vince and Sha in Tingri on May 1. From Tingri we will proceed to Chinese Base Camp (CBC - 5,180 meters, 17,000 ft) to stay for 2 days. From CBC we will climb ABC and hope to make it there on May 5. At this time, the three Pinays will be coming down to ABC after they have slept at Camp 2 (7,775 meters, 25,500 ft). They will be resting for two days, May 6 and 7, and on May 8 will make the final push for the summit. Weather permitting and fixed rope in place at both rock faces of the mountain, they will be at the summit on May 11.

Pastour and Dr Ted called up at 5 p.m. (Nepal time) to report that the girls are sleeping at North Col or Camp 1 (7,010 meters, 23,000 ft.) and will descend today back to ABC. Everyone is afflicted with symptoms of AMS so they decided to go down to CBC tomorrow April 26 to rest and recuperate. The original plan of going down on April 23 at CBC was cancelled because the Pinays showed remarkable physical improvement. Instead, they pushed up higher and had gone up to the North Col. But they are not fully acclimatized yet, hence the decision to descend as low as CBC where they intend to rest for 3 to 4 days.

Then, the three Pinays will climb up to ABC on May 1, to Camp 1 on May 3 and Camp 2 on May 4. They will then descend back to ABC on May 5. Which is why I am looking forward to reach CBC by then together with Vince and Sha. The women will have a two rest on May 6 to 7. On May 8 they will make the final summit push. Weather permitting and wilth God giving them strength and protection, they will wave our flag at the summit on May 11.

They will be at Nepal Everest Base Camp on May 13 and to the warm embrace of the Nepal EBC Support Group.

The schedule here serves as a guide. There are no fast rules in an Everest climb but I hope this will serve as a guide for everyone.

We are nearing the most crucial stage of the climb and we seek prayers from everyone for a successful and safe summit and traverse of the three Pinays.


Art Valdez
Co-Expedition Leader, Tibet

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Team Still Going Up

A quick update on the team...

Two members of the Philippine All Women Everest Expedition are still climbing higher on the mountain. Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino have climbed to the North Col or Camp 1, which is at 7,100 meters, to spend the night there. Tomorrow, Wednesday, the two women will try to climb a bit higher, probably midway up to Camp 3, which is at 7,500 meters. They will then proceed all the way down to the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) to recover, maybe stopping at an intermediate camp if it gets too late.

Everest Summiter Erwin "Pastour" Emata is at Advanced Base Camp with the other team members Noelle Wenceslao and Dr. Ted Esguerra. Noelle and Dr. Ted will go down to CBC tomorrow as Noelle continues to experience symptoms of altitude sickness.

The whole team will regroup at CBC Thursday for some much needed rest the next two to three days. Pastour reports that it is extremely cold (of course they knew it would be cold, but he says it is really cold) at ABC aggravated by the strong winds. They are really looking forward to going down to CBC and be back in contact with the outside world through SMS and cellphones.

Members of the support team are now in Kathmandu preparing for their trip to Tibet. Last year's expedition leader, Art Valdez and one of the team's sponsors, Zsa Faminialagao of Sandugo are expected to leave Kathmandu Friday or at the latest Saturday to meet up with the team at CBC.

Everest Summiter Leo Oracion, Fred Jamili and John Fortes of PALMC are also expected to begin the trek to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side. They will set up the camp that will welcome the women after they cross Everest from Tibet to Nepal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving Down The Mountain

Pinoy Everest Summiter Erwin "Pastour" Emata was able to make a satphone call Saturday night from Advanced Base Camp. According to Pastour, it had been snowing heavily all evening. And two days afer reaching ABC, everyone is feeling symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) -- including the Sherpas. They are all experiencing mild headaches, coughing, loss of appetite, and in an extreme case, vomiting hit some members of the Team.

Upon team physician, Dr. Ted Esguerra's advise, the team will go back down to the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) to rest and recuperate after conducting a "puja" or Buddhist at ABC. Other foreign climbers who were also hit by AMS, had earlier gone down to CBC.
The team is estimated to reach CBC on April 24, giving them two to four days to recuperate. By April 28, they should be ready to start their climb back to ABC, reaching the camp on April 29 if they can acclimatize properly, or April 30 if they decide to take it slow.

This will allow the Philippine All Women Team to go up to the higher camps during the first week of May. Weather permiting, if the fixed ropes are in place at the most critical rock faces -- the 1st, 2nd & 3rd steps -- and if they are fully acclimatized, the three Pinays will have a shot for the summit and cross into Nepal on the second week of May.


Pastour had initially thought the team could make a summit bid on the first week of May, but AMS has taken its toll on the climbers. They are physically alright but not in top shape for a summit bid according to Dr Ted. Their rapid ascent from CBC to ABC climbing more than a thousand meters in two days last week caused these physical conditions.


The teams descent to CBC is timely, as weather forecasts show that Everest will be buffeted by strong and stormy weather the whole week. So the best thing for them to do really is to descend to CBC and rest.

According to their Climbing Sirdar, Lakhpa Jelgen Sherpa, they've received reports that someone from the Nepal side will try to make a summit bid next week. Maybe, he has not heard about the worsening weather condition next week during his summit push. But this is also good news because it means that most likely, the fixed ropes are now all in place in the South.

Once the team reaches CBC, communication will be much easier as they will have cellphone signals and access to SMS.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Climbers Hit By Acute Mountain Sickness

I was able to speak to Everest Summiter Erwin 'Pastour' Emata at around 6:00 p.m. yesterday via satellite phone. He said the team is now resting and acclimatizing at Advanced Base Camp. They have slight headaches because of the altitude, but everyone is well. He said they will do some trekking later today to keep themselves active and help speed up the acclimatization process.

According to Pastour, the more than a thousand meter climb to ABC took a toll on some climbers. The team met some climbers yesterday going back down to the Chinese Base Camp, which is at around 5,000 meters, after they were hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. The only remedy for AMS is to go down to the altitude you last felt well at. Diamox and other drugs can only prevent you from getting it, but when you're hit, that's it -- you have to go down.

Pastour was also able to talk to other climbing teams at ABC. The news is that the fixed ropes on the south or Nepalese side of Everest have been set until Camp 3, which is at 7,200 meters. On the north or Tibetan side, where the team is, the route has been fixed until Camp 1 or the North Col, at 7,000 meters.

He also recounted that there is a team of Sherpanis climbing on the north side with an International team. The Pinay climbers have met them and the women hit it off really well.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Weather Forecast in Everest Area

Here's a forecast from team member Voltaire Velacso who is an Environmental Physicist. Voltaire's forecasts will be crucial in guiding the team when they set their summit date. I'm trying to confirm this, but I think Voltaire works for NASA? Hi-tech! :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Weather Forecast 18 April 2007


Precipitation: up to 2-3 cm of snow per day prevailing until Saturday.
most precipitation expected around 6pm local time.

Partly cloudy to cloudy until the weekend.

Winds near ABC remain light.
Strongest of up to 20 km/h on Friday and Saturday evening near ABC.
Direction East.

Summit winds of more than 20 - 30km/h starting Friday, will remain until the weekend or early next week.
Direction: East.

Temperature:
ABC: steady -8°C to -11°C until the weekend.
Summit: -36°C until the weekend, warming up a bit to -32 to -34°C by next week.

More detailed forecast will follow soon.