Weather stops Everest climber


From left, climbers Kevin Grant, Ron Farb, Nigel Clark and Tony Van Marken of the Alpine Ascents expedition pose for a last picture with the slopes of Mount Everest as a backdrop. Discouraged by continuing bad weather, Grant, Farb and Clark made the decision to give up their quest to reach the summit of the world's highest peak. Six members of the original 12 remain on the mountain, along with their guides.

Photo courtesy of Alpine Ascents
Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.

Facts

Welcome Ron Farb back to Gainesville

Terry Chester hosts a benefit for Ron and Dianne Farb's Climb for Cancer June 10 during the grand opening of TC's Smoke-free Jazz & Funk Dance Lounge.

  • Admission: $15; $5 goes to Climb for Cancer
  • TC's is located inside Steve's Café Americain, 12 W. University Ave.
  • Jazz pianist Zac Chester, Jacksonville band Beam.
  • More information: www.tcsmokefree.com or www.cfc-foundation.org

  • The final chapter of Gainesville resident Ron Farb's Mount Everest adventure has been written. It wasn't the ending he'd hoped for.
    On Saturday, Farb and several other members of the Alpine Ascents team began the climb down to base camp, while the last six of the original dozen team members chose to wait a day or two more in an attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest peak.
    Nineteen different teams had assembled on the mountain's Nepalese side this spring, plotting an ascent along the South Col route. Bad weather and high winds, plus two unexpected avalanches, had prevented anyone from reaching the summit by that route.
    Early Saturday morning, Dianne Farb received an e-mail from her husband. After weighing the weather forecasts and his commitments "back in the world," Farb had given up the battle to conquer Everest this season.
    "I now know how Barry Bonds feels when he's up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with two men on and the pitcher will not pitch to him," Farb reported. "Mother Nature will not give me anything to hit!"
    The mountaineer added that the native sherpas who assist the climbers and their guides say that this was the worst year for weather they'd seen on the face of Everest in more than 40 years.
    The winds on the summit approach have been blowing through like a freight train, and climbers who tried to reach the top had returned with terrible frostbite. Worse yet, some are still missing.
    As Farb's wife put it, "It doesn't count in my book if you summit Everest but never return to talk about it."
    Farb is on his way home via Kathmandu, and should be back in Florida this weekend.
    In a message to those who have supported his effort, he wrote, "I'm very proud of what I have accomplished. This is a long, tedious, difficult experience. . . . I did my best, but the weather was out of my control. I will never forget these two months."
    Any team trying to climb Mount Everest must have a government permit, and the climbing season officially ended Tuesday.
    Ironically, the treacherous weather finally broke on Monday, and at least 30 climbers were able to reach the summit at 29,035 feet. They were the first to scale the south side, although several climbers had reached the summit from the northern Chinese side in recent days.
    Among those who completed the climb were Alpine Ascents' senior guide Vernon Tejas and 26-year-old climber David Liano, along with two Nepalese sherpas.
    Leaving the highest camp shortly before midnight after the weather cleared and the wind dropped, they worked their way through a section of the mountain known as the "death zone," following fixed safety ropes and breathing in the thin air with the aid of oxygen tanks.
    By day's end, a reported 30 climbers had successfully reached the summit, finding themselves literally at the top of the world.
    "I have no doubt, had the weather cooperated, Ron would have summited Everest," Dianne Farb said Tuesday.
    Farb, who has successfully climbed four of the seven great peaks of the world, dedicated this attempt to Climb for Cancer, the not-for-profit foundation he and his wife started to raise funds for cancer research and education. The couple had set a goal of $200,000; to date, they have raised about $147,000.
    In his final e-mail from Nepal, Farb closed by saying, "Even though I didn't get to the summit, I hope I have given those affected by cancer some hope that anything is possible. I will continue to work hard on your behalf to ease the suffering and help find cures for this terrible disease."
    Another Gainesville resident, Terry Chester, has been following Farb's journey closely. Chester is the owner of a new jazz club downtown, and on June 10, will combine the club's grand opening with a "welcome home" party for the adventurer. Part of the proceeds will go to Climb for Cancer.
    Chester, a cancer survivor, said Tuesday, "I can't think of a better way to support Climb for Cancer than to throw a party and celebrate Ron's safe return."
    Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or chund@ gvillesun.com

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