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Garduce on top of the world:

May 19, 2006 1:40pm
Filipino mountaineer Romeo “Romi" Garduce realized a dream on Friday by reaching the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the third Filipino to do so in as many days.

Garduce accomplished his mission of reaching the summit at 11:20 a.m. (Nepal time). He arrived at the summit 10 days before the 53rd anniversary of the historic May 29, 1953 climb of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Garduce, 37, followed fellow Filipino mountaineer Heracleo “Leo" Oracion, 32, who became the first Filipino to reach the top of the world's highest peak on Wednesday, and Oracion's 32-year-old teammate Erwin Emata, who summited on Thursday.

GMA 7 reported Jiggy Manicad, reporting from the Everest Base Camp, said his team was worried for Garduce Thursday night because of the heavy snowfall.

Manicad said the bad weather made communication difficult and could have slowed down Garduce’s summit ascent.

Manicad said he received a radio call from Garduce’s sherpa who said Garduce had arrived at the summit. A Malaysian team at the Base Camp lent Manicad a radio to talk with Garduce.

In a video of Manicad’s conversation with Garduce, the reporter did most of the talking as Garduce’s responses were garbled.

“Kumusta ka? Kumusta oxygen supply? Mag-ingat ka (How are you? How is your oxygen supply? Take care)," Manicad told Garduce.

GMA Network also showed footage of Garduce’s family and friends in his hometown in Bataan province breaking into cheers when they learned of the mountaineer’s feat.

RESTING AT CAMP 4

Garduce was already in Camp 4 Friday evening, Philippine time.

In satellite phone interview over GMA 7’s “24 Oras" Garduce said he was resting with his guides to regain strength before returning to Base Camp.

Reporting earlier from Base Camp, Manicad said Garduce is expected to return to the camp Sunday.

One of Garduce's guides, Sherpa Pasang, sent photographs to the Base Camp that captured the Filipino climber's historic moment at the summit.

Garduce's two other guides are Sherpa Lhakpa Norbu, the "video sherpa," and Sherpa Randou, who went ahead of Garduce last Tuesday to pave the snow-covered route from Camp 4 to the Balcony.

Snow and strong winds made Garduce’s climb difficult.

“Since 9:30 (last night), malakas ang hangin at tuluy-tuloy ng eight to nine hours," Garduce said.

The “waiting game" at Camp 4 before the climb was the most difficult, Garduce said.

Garduce offered his success to the Filipino people. He said his Everest climb is a “temporary triumph." In two or three months he will start planning for his next adventure either in the Sahara desert or in the North Pole.

Garduce was able to talk to his mother over the phone through GMA 7’s “24 Oras." Mrs. Flaviana Garduce congratulated her son and wished him a safe trip home.

The surprised Garduce assured his mother of his good condition.

Before taking on the world's highest mountain, Garduce also summited famous Philippine mountains such as Mounts Pulag in Benguet and Apo in Davao. He also made it to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, in 2002. In 2003, Garduce scaled Everest's neighboring summits in the Himalayan Range and Mount Elbrus, the tallest in Europe.

In January 2005, he summited the highest mountain in the western hemishpere, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina. It was followed in September 2005 by another record-breaking feat in Mt. Cho Oyu, making Garduce the first Filipino to reach the world's 6th highest peak.

Garduce summited Mt. Everest two months after he arrived in Nepal and underwent several weeks of acclimatization for the climb.

Garduce began his final push toward the summit when he left the Base Camp May 15. He reached Camp 4, the last of the numbered camps en route to the summit, on Thursday.

In the first two weeks of May, he trekked to Khumbu Icefall then to Camps 1 to 3, and back again to Base Camp to prepare for the high altitude and extreme cold.

"It's a pressure and a heavy load to carry, to be the first to attempt the big-E. I was hoping that somebody attempts it before I do...(but) it's not a choice anymore. I have to climb," Garduce wrote in a March blog entry.

TIMELINE
(Based on Garduce’s blog entries and phone conversations)

Saturday, March 4

Hello from Kathmandu

Just got back in Kathmandu (after 5months), the season is 'better' now, temperature is around 20 degrees C, and city is a bit quiet - not so many tourist (yet).

I met with my Sherpa team today and discussed our battle plans. I still need to do some shopping today and tomorrow, then sort out my gears as well and re-pack.

Tomorrow is my last prep day, then I leave for Lukla (jump-off pt) on March 7, Tuesday. I'll be climbing with another Pinoy during the first stage...then from April to May for the main objective.

March is dedicated to my acclimatization and training climb. I'll try to hit a 6,100m peak in Khumbu, 5- 6days away from Everest Base Camp.

Wednesday, March 8,

Namaste from Namche!

Hi and Hello from Namche Bazaar (3,500m/11,500ft).

Now getting cold, this morning was 5 degrees C. It will be colder as we go up--we're estimating our high camp in the first climb to be at -15 degrees C.

We did a short acclimatization hike today (spending another nigh there), then we will move to Tengboche tomorrow. We expect to summit the 21,000-foot high snow mountain around March 16, depending on the weather and health condition.

Monday, March 27

Off to Basecamp!

Hi folks, today is my last day of rest, and tomorrow, we'll start trek to Everes Base Camp (BC). Our supply caravan is already on the way to BC and our advance party will soon setup our camp - this will be our homebase, our 'home sweet home' for the next 2 months. This year in Everest BC, we're expecting more than 300 climbers on-site.

We expect the Khumbu Icefall (the way to Camp 1) to be 'passable' sometime between end of week one of April (if lucky) to mid-April, depending on formation of the seracs, iceblocks and size of the crevasses. The so-called 'Icefall Doctors' (Sherpa employees of
Sagarmatha Park) left Namche 2 days ago, and are expected to start work on the safety lines and ladders in the Icefall sometime 1st week of April.

Wednesday, March 29

Thoughts on the E attempt

Ideally, I would prefer to just climb on my own, quietly, rather than 'advertise' or announce my plans to public. It's a pressure and a heavy load to carry, to be the first to attempt the big-E. Imagine the whole nation is watching you, expecting something. I was hoping that somebody attempts it before I do, but - - it's been 52 long years and nobody has attempted it yet, nor even got sufficiently ready to try, somebody has to, and now... I'm already in position to try it. It's the ripe time, and I have to climb it, it's like - it's not my choice anymore.. I must climb it!

Thursday, April 13

Update from Base Camp

(The following post is based on a transcript of a recent phone conversation with Romi Graduce)

Romi has been at the Everest Base Camp for the last 10 days. A couple of days ago he took part in a Puja Ceremony - which is a ritual where teams asked for blessing and protection.

Two days ago Romi did a survey of the Khumbu Ice Fall where the ropes and ladders were still being set up by the "ice fall doctors".

He was able to survey about a third of this area and will be going back for preparatory climbs once everything is in place.

Saturday, April 29

Romi reaches Camp 2

(From a transcript of a recent phone conversation with Romi Garduce)

At around 2:30pm (4:45pm Manila) of April 28, Romi arrived back at Base Camp after his Camp 2 acclimatization climb. His trip took 4 days including two nights at Camp 2.

Romi says he was pleased to have finally seen in person some of the images that he had once seen only pictures, such as the Yellow rockband and Geneva Spur. His second day at Camp 2 was spent trekking towards the end of the Khumbu Glacier, which is part of the trail to Camp 3.

So far he had passed the deadly Khumbu Ice Fall 4 times. The first time was when he visited Camp 1 last April 15.

Monday, May 8

Camp 3 Update

Here's an update from Romi who just arrived at Base Camp after his final acclimatization climb that took him all the way up to Camp 3 (24,000 ft).

After spending a night at Camp 1, then 2 nights at Camp 2, Romi arrived at Camp 3 last Saturday, May 6 at about six in the evening.

The weather, he said, was actually "quite good, not windy, not cloudy".

However, Romi said this was the toughest day so far of his expedition. This is because Camp 3 is located along the edges of the Lhotse Face - a steep glacial wall that many consider to be the next hurdle after the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Monday, May 15

Off to final trek

Romi left Base Camp to begin his ascend to the four camps and finally to the final sections of the mountain--the Balcony, South ridge and Hillary Step.

Thursday, May 18

At Camp 4

Romi arrived at the last of the camps--Camp 4--2 p.m. Nepal time. He will rest here for two hours or so before he makes the final push upwards. The following sections are the most dangerous and have been called the points-of-no-return.

Through the satellite phone, he expressed his happiness over the achievements of fellow Filipino climbers Leo Oracion and Erwin Emata, the first and second Filipinos to summit respectively.

He also said the Everest climb has always been a journey for him and not a race.

Friday, May 19

On top of the world!

Romi fulfills his dream on the 29,035-foot high summit of the world's highest mountain! -GMANews.TV