Chess at the top of the world

5/12/2003 – What do you do at 17,000 feet above sea level, when the weather is inclement and you cannot climb to the peak? Rest and recuperate, wait until conditions improve. "Today was filled with chess battles between the French and American team," report MountainZone in their 50th Anniversary coverage the historic first ascent of Mount Everest. In general there seems to be a lot of chess activity going on in the snow-filled areas of the world.

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Snow, Music, Chess & Rest

Vern Tejas with the Alpine Ascents Mount Everest expedition reports. "We're here in Base Camp and having a great time at 17,143 feet above sea level. It's been snowing and the weather has been rather inclement and that's the way we like to plan things, take our rest and recuperation when the weather is miserable and then climb when it's beautiful.

But for now, Vern is on the fiddle, Willi is still desperately trying to hold his own with James at chess, Bob just finished the last of the smoked salmon (damn!) and I am content to be up here back among friends, and among these mountains that I hold so dear, so until later, this is Luis and Ellie who just walked in to help me send this off, wishing everyone back home a pleasant day, (and a warm night, considering the dropping temps here!)

Today was filled with chess battles between the French and American team. And goodness gracious it's been a tight race and the board has been a flurry of black and white chess pieces and everybody has been enjoying the entertainment. It was also a day of music. Guitars and playing of the CD¹s, everybody's enjoyed that a lot; it's one of the things that our team is known for. We have musicians coming in from around Camp to jam with us and play harmonicas, guitars, and a Bodhran, which is an Irish traditional drum. So we're looking forward to more of that it keeps us occupied on these rather miserable days with the snow coming down all day long and very little sunlight."

Luis Benitez writes: "Vern is on the fiddle, Willi is still desperately trying to hold his own with James at chess, Bob just finished the last of the smoked salmon (damn!) and I am content to be up here back among friends, and among these mountains that I hold so dear, so until later, this is Luis and Ellie who just walked in to help me send this off, wishing everyone back home a pleasant day, (and a warm night, considering the dropping temps here!)"

Doug Coombs from the Antarctic '99 trip, reports from Patagonia on Sunday. "The weather conditions look pretty good in Antarctica. It's minus 11 Celsius down there right now at Patriot Hills, which is low elevation and we hope to get over to Vinson in the next day. This morning I watched one person play a 20-person chess match in the central square in Punta Arenas. It was pretty fascinating. It was one guy running from chess match to chess match as fast as he could, playing 20 different people in 20 different games."

Rick Armstrong writes: "Oh yeah, our first turns on Antarctica! For years now I have tried to get to this place and finally my dream is a reality. What makes me want to come to distant places? To that I answer Just so I know what's here. Also I want to be able to pull out my photos and videos when I'm an old man, show the grandkids what I was doing when I was young, and hopefully motivate them to strive for adventure and set and achieve their wildest goals. Now I am sitting in our floating hotel listening to the reggae sounds of Lee Scratch Perry, playing chess and waiting anxiously to see what tomorrow brings."

Wade McKoy of the Antarctica Ski and Snowboard Expedition reports: "The storm of the century continues today and 18 inches of new snow has accumulated at our 10,000-foot elevation Camp II over the past 48 hours. We've been stuck in our tents for three days passing the time with the usual reading, card games and journal entries. Coombs brought a chess set and Koch and Stoup are talking [unintelligible] and not having much luck because that time is much coveted by Coombs and Collins who are having a rivaling chess match." You can listen to the report in RealPlayer or Windows Media format.

Hans Saari sent in the following Antarctic advice:

  • Sharpen your edges on your skis often and wax more than once a year.
  • Objects in Antarctica are bigger than they appear.
  • Elephant seals can weigh up to four tons.
  • Don't move your queen into the middle of the board early in a chess game.
  • When reaching for a wine glass, turn your thumb up to decrease the chances of a spill.

  Ellie Henke sends in a very nice Sherpa potato pancake recipe. But we digress...



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