Everest team forced to delay final ascent

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The Independent Online
THE TOP of the world will have to wait. Bad weather and a lack of preparation have forced The Independent's Stephen Goodwin and other climbers on the Himalayan Kingdoms team to postpone their attempt on the summit of Mt Everest, originally planned for yesterday.

Instead, they have retreated from Camp 4, high on the mountain, to wait for better weather - expected at the weekend.

"They didn't manage to get to the summit, and they've come down from Camp 4 to Camp 2," said Rob Owen, head of the Himalayan Kingdoms expedition on a satellite phone from Everest Base Camp yesterday.

"The problem is that the ropes weren't fixed all the way up. But there's a weather window coming in a couple of days," he said.

Most climbers on Everest use "fixed" ropes to pull themselves up steep sections, because at high altitude it is both exhausting and highly risky to try to climb unaided.

But because no teams had reached the summit until yesterday there were no fixed ropes, particularly on the "Hillary Step", a 20m section of rock and ice near the 8,848m summit.

However, on Wednesday a team of four Iranians and their Sherpas and two American teams reached the summit, meaning fixed ropes will be there for later teams.

After their equipment and tents were almost blown off the mountain by a storm, the Himalayan Kingdoms team is again wrestling with technology. "All our radios have blown up but one, so we haven't had much contact with the team," said Owen.

One of the Americans who reached the summit yesterday planted a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver at the summit to find out just how big the lump of rock is, and whether it is getting any bigger.