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.


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.

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