Everest/First Ascents: Reader Q&A

Guides Seth Waterfall and Dave Hahn answer questions from curious readers following the climb

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This spring, superstar mountaineers Ed Viesturs, Dave Hahn, and Peter Whittaker will tackle Everest as the First Ascent team. Joined by some of climbing’s best and brightest young talent, this Eddie Bauer-sponsored group of all-stars will chronicle their trek to the top of the world right here on BACKPACKER.com with daily blog updates, videos, photos, and more.

Written by erstad17 on May 1, 2009

As a Nikon shooter myself, I’m proud to see the Nikon name at Everest. Is there a specific reason why you wouldn’t go full frame? Do you carry a backup to the D300? See original post

Answered by Jake Norton on May 11, 2009

Hi erstad17…good to hear from another Nikon shooter! As for the full frame issue, I’m not personally against full frame, but have not gone that direction for a couple of reasons. First, I personally do not see a huge benefit to full frame, it being a somewhat arbitrary size anyway; I find the DX format to take a little getting used to at first, but now quite familiar and good. But, more importantly, I use the D300 (and used the D200 previously, and the D100 before that) primarily because of size and weight. Both, of course, are major issues when shooting on Everest. The “prosumer” Nikon (digital) line has always treated me quite well, with exceptional performance in the extreme cold, with a great balance of weight and quality. I do have backup cameras with me – a D300, D200, and D100 in case I’m really in trouble – but do not carry them with me all the time. Again, finding the balance with weight, space, etc. Thanks for your questions, and keep shooting!


Written by Grizmtn on April 28, 2009

Thanks for all the great footage and comments. Allows folks like me in faraway Montana to get a glimpse at a fascinating other world through the eyes of experts. Question for Dave Hahn: Since you were involved in the search for evidence of the Mallory & Irvine expedition, and the finding of Mallory’s body, do you think the north route has been scoured enough (hopefully not by treasure hunters) to have discovered Irvine and the sought after camera if they were there, or is the area complex and difficult enough that Irvine’s remains may be hiding in some nook of the yellowband? See Original Post

Answered by Dave Hahn on May 11, 2009

Hi Grizmtn. There probably is still more to be found high on the north side regarding the Mallory and Irvine mystery. Just as you say, the area is complex and difficult enough to keep plenty hidden, including Andrew Irvine’s remains and whichever camera(s) he and George Mallory had with them on June 8, 1924. I trust you use the term “treasure hunters” as I do, with tongue-in-cheek when it comes to those exploring Everest’s North Face. A dumber way to get rich has yet to be conceived. I still feel that Irvine’s remains may be hidden on a ledge within the Yellow Band but I doubt I’ll risk my life again to confirm that. That said, it is hard for me to imagine a better season for searching than this dry one. Jake Norton and I covered some good ground (rock) in our 2004 Yellow Band search, but due to snowdrifts, we can’t categorically say that those same ledges didn’t still hold clues to the mystery. Best Regards, DH


Written by GB on April 25, 2009

It’s exciting following the climb through the dispatches and photos. Does the beauty of the mountains ever stop you in your tracks and make you want to look around in awe at your surroundings? How do you respond when climbing with a client or climbing partner? Safe climbing! See Original Post

Answered by Seth Waterfall on May 11, 2009

Hello GB. Thanks for following our expedition. I can safely speak for the team when I say… heck yeah, the beauty of the mountains stops us in our tracks! Fortunately, this style of mountaineering allows for plenty of time to soak up the surroundings. But in fact it is very necessary to be aware of what’s going on around you at all times when you’re in the mountains, especially while guiding. I regularly encourage my clients to avoid just looking down and following my boot prints. One needs to be aware of everything going on around you and a good team member is always looking out for everyone.


Written by T-Dawg on April 25, 2009

Quick question: do the Sherpas get acclimatized well before the expedition teams arrive? Also, after watching the video about waste collection, and yeah, this is a little gross, when at ABC or when you all reach HC, what happens when “nature calls”? Do the Sherpas bring up latrine tents or do you bust out the shovel? I’m sure some inquiring minds are wondering. See Original Post

Answered by Seth Waterfall on May 11, 2009

T-Dawg, the Sherpas on our team arrived about one to two weeks before us. That plus the fact that they, for the most part, live at a much higher altitude than us ‘westerners,’ gives them a head start on acclimatizing. That said, they are definitely predisposed to be more adaptable to altitude, but the mechanism there is poorly understood. There’s no doubt, however, that these guys are tough as nails.

Now to your question about ‘number two.’ In my experience, every popular mountain has its own rules regarding waste disposal. Here it is no different. The rules just change depending on where you are on the mountain. At base camp, the waste is removed and dealt with down the valley. Higher up on the mountain this is not practical, and the waste is deposited in a crevasse in the glacier.


Written by DrewEvansPhoto

What do you all do during downtime like this, besides heal and rest?

Answered by Seth Waterfall on May 11, 2009

Hi DEP. We all do different things to relieve the boredom of rest days. With the advent of video iPods, the game is totally different and movie watching is an indescribable pleasure. Of course, reading is great and we’ve got a little book exchange and tons of magazines. We also eat, play cards, fly our one kite, play Frisbee, and make fun of each other mercilessly. That’s all in addition to helping maintain the camp and taking care of ourselves. It’s just tons of fun at base camp.

The content of this blog has been provided by Born Out There, the First Ascents blog. For more on the expedition, go to http://blog.firstascent.com. And for more climber footage, watch our video interview with Viesturs, Hahn, Whittaker, and more.

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