Dave Hahn's Photo Gallery and Reflections from his 12th Successful Summit of Mt. Everest.
“It all worked out,” said Dave Hahn, with characteristic understatement on his arrival back in the United States after his twelfth successful summit of Mount Everest, this time leading Leif Whittaker, son of Jim Whittaker, the first American to reach the top of Everest.
But Hahn added that it wasn’t easy. A small, tight weather window, and a lot of people trying for the summit all at once made this one a memorable trip to the top.
"It was definitely kind of stressful,” he told GreatOutdoors.com on his way home to Taos, New Mexico. “For sure we went to bed that night at the South Col thinking the chances are we weren’t going to make it. I wouldn’t wish it that way, but it makes you value reaching the summit more when you don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Hahn and Whittaker actually spent 72 hours in the Death Zone around the South Col. The day they arrived a snowstorm prevented a summit attempt.
Then, the next night, the weather suddenly cleared sufficiently for Hahn and Whittaker to reach the top. (Hear all of Dave Hahn’s live satellite telephone calls during the summit attempt.)
Then, the pair decided to spend another night at the South Col, at Camp IV, before descending to Camp II and eventually base camp.
“The day we arrived at the Col,” said Hahn, “I absolutely didn’t like the conditions. And I didn’t look at it casually. I just felt very sure that we didn’t want to be up there in that snowstorm. Other people went for it, that’s fine, I was hoping that waiting another day would give us conditions that were more to my liking. It turned out I was right, but just barely.”
Hahn and Whittaker and the other members of the RMI team were among the last to summit for the 2010 pre Monsoon season. With an extra night at Camp IV, that meant Hahn and Whittaker descended a virtually empty mountain, with no tents remaining at Camp III on the Lhotse Face, or at Camp II, advance base camp.
“Aesthetically,” Hahn said, “it’s cool to have the mountain to myself, but there are other, more negative issues: it means our Sherpa team is still high on the mountain when there is not a lot of support available in the event something goes wrong, so it’s not something you want to do every time.”
As for the summit climb itself, Hahn reported that the late snow the mountain got made climbing the Hillary Step a bit easier, and the weather cleared just enough for the final attempt.
“It was a great team,” Hahn said of the RMI group." Leif, even though he hadn’t been that high before, was very strong, and easy to get along with. He fit in with that crowd very well. It was a nice, small strong team, we had a great Sherpa climbers with us. It was a relief when we finally did get that opportunity, I sure thought we might not get it this time, that we might have done everything right but been denied the summit because of weather. It all made this summit particularly sweet.
“We were down at the South Col, by noon, pretty good evidence that the summit bd went well, with no epics. We did have good resources, we did have a good Sherpa team, everybody had been eating and drinking and taking care of themselves. It all worked out.”
But Hahn noted too that the upper mountain has seemed to be drying out seriously during the past five years. “There is drastically less snow,” he reported, “and almost no accumulation in the past five years.”
And how does Dave Hahn feel about his twelfth trip to the top?
“You know,” he said, “it’s always great to be up there. But it’s impossible to rank one trip over another, they are each unique, with different teams, different people, different circumstances, if it every felt the same I wouldn’t keep doing it. But this one . . . this was a good one.”