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On top of the world

HR climber Woolums waits out bad weather, summits Mt. Everest

Hood River mountaineer Scott Woolums stood at the top of the world on Thursday. Woolums, along with one of his three expedition clients, made it to the top of 29,035-foot Mt. Everest at approximately 12:30 p.m., Nepal time.

“He said it was blowing about 40 miles per hour,” said Yvette Blanchette, office manager for Woolums’ Hood River-based adventure travel company, Adventures International. Woolums called Blanchette on his satellite phone from the summit of the world’s highest mountain.

Woolums and his team had been waiting out bad weather for the past couple of weeks at Base Camp. High winds on the mountain had prevented any earlier attempts at the summit.

Earlier this week, based on favorable weather forecasts, the team began making its way up the mountain to its various camps situated increasingly higher up — positioning itself for a summit bid. On Wednesday, nearly 60 other climbers who were at Camp 4 — climbers’ last stop before going for the summit — began heading for the summit despite a forecast for high winds.

Woolums made the difficult decision to wait at Camp 4 for another day.

“It was a hard thing to do to make that decision when everyone else was going for it,” Blanchette said. The team members have been in Nepal readying themselves for reaching the summit of Everest for nearly two months. But Woolums’ decision paid off; all of the climbers who attempted the summit that day were turned back because of high winds.

Woolums and his three clients departed for the summit late Wednesday night. Two clients decided to turn back at mid-morning at the South Summit, which is at 28,800 feet. They returned safely to Camp 4.

Despite worsening weather conditions, Woolums and one client decided to go for the summit.

“They could see patches of blue sky in the clouds, so they decided to keep going,” Blanchette said. After 30 minutes at the summit, the climbers began a difficult descent in high winds and extremely cold conditions, finally returning to Camp 4 more than 20 hours after they left.

Woolums’ team is now on its way back to Base Camp. Adventures International had a successful season in Nepal. On May 20, guide John Rust, also from Hood River, and one of his clients successfully summited Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the world.

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