Climbers turn back in face of bad weather

Dispatches from the Himalayas

November 17, 1999

Bad weather kept climbers led by Maryland's Chris Warner from reaching the summit of Ama Dablam, a 22,584-foot peak in the Himalayas.

The weekend attempt had an online audience: Maryland schoolchildren who kept in touch with the climbers via the Internet and e-mail through Shared Summits, a nonprofit educational program of Earth Treks, the climbing center in Columbia.

Here is part of climber Jimmy Rockelman's report on Saturday's summit attempt, as filed on the Earth Treks Web site, earthtreks-climbing.com, this week.

"We encountered rock sections, ice climbing, crossing knife-edge ridges and the battles with being above 21,000 feet. Today it seemed like all the sun brought us was more intense wind and colder temperatures." " We lost one more member of the summit team. Geoff felt there was a major chance of frostbite on his toes This was a shame because Geoff was arguably climbing the strongest. " Now it was just Chris and myself staring at 500 feet of ice angled between 50 and 70 degrees. After Chris and I reached the top of the Dablam (a mammoth hanging glacier), Chris decided that the conditions were just too dangerous to continue and retreat was our only option if we wanted to return to Camp 2 without any frostbite or worse.

"As a team we just were very unlucky with the conditions that we had no control over. That's what happens in the mountains, and you have to respect them."

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