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Dateline: 27 May 1996

South Africans reach Everest summit.

Early Saturday morning, a team consisting of Ian Woodall, Cathy O'Dowd and four experienced sherpas successfully reached the top of Mount Everest.

702 Eyewitness News spoke to both Cathy and Ian on the top of the mountain, congratulating them on being the first official South African team to climb Everest and place the new South African flag on the summit.

Cathy O'Dowd, in a breathless interview from the mountain, confirmed that the new flag was flapping in the wind on the highest mountain in the world.

Celebrations, however, were forgotten with the tragic disappearance of Bruce Herrod, the expedition photographer. Bruce was some distance behind the other climbers when they reached the summit and decided to continue on his own to complete the climb. He did reach the summit and spoke to his girlfriend, Sue Thompson, from the top of the mountain. That was the last radio contact with Herrod, and he has now been declared officially missing.

Veteran Everest climber, Chris Bonnington, in an interview with 702 Eyewitness News from London, confirmed that the chances of Herrod surviving for that amount of time alone on the mountain were slim.

After Herrod's disappearance, Woodall remained in Camp 4 alone for as long as it was safe, in case Bruce found his way back. After some time, however, Ian became dangerously low on oxygen, and was forced to begin his descent to Camp 2. The team consisting of Ian, Cathy and the sherpas are expected to reach the safety of basecamp on Tuesday.

There will be no further contact with the team at Everest until Ian Woodall returns to basecamp.



News from base camp this morning is that the weather looks good. The team comprising Cathy O'Dowd, Bruce Herrod and Ian Woodall, are currently walking in to Camp 4. They will leave Camp 4 for the summit around 8PM (South African Time) this evening. Pictured here are Ian, Bruce, Cathy and Ang Sirke at Camp 2 with Lohtse in the background and the route up to Everest above the ice on the left.

Apple Computer have released the first QuickTime Virtual Reality scenes sent from Everest. For the first time you can stand on the mountain and feel as though you are there!

The Sunday Times has withdrawn its name from the Everest expedition as of 25 April 1996. The Sunday Times' dramatic move comes after several weeks of mounting tension between the paper and Woodall, culminating in a fierce row on the slopes of Everest between editor Ken Owen and Woodall.

Woodall disputed the paper's version of the events that lead up to the split. However, acting editor Brian Pottinger said that the paper was forced to withdraw its sponsorship in order to retain its credibility.

The Sunday Times will continue to cover the expedition and wished it luck, Pottinger said. The Everest Web site will continue to function, utilising the newly established satellite link to base camp.

The Everest Expedition has joined hands with the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund to raise money for the nation's youth, with the team sponsored for each metre they ascend the slopes of Everest.

Welcome to the first truly high-tech ascent of Mount Everest. For the first time, the Internet will combine with digital photography and satellite telephony to bring you up-to-the-minute drama from the highest point on planet earth.

Join us here daily to speak directly with the climbers as they tackle the treacherous slopes of the greatest mountain of them all.

For three months, a team of top journalists will report daily from a specially equipped base camp at 5,800m, bringing you the thrills, the chills and the dangers of Everest. For the first time ever, the climbing team will be able to communicate with the world as they ascend to Camp 2 on the perilous Khumbu Icefall.

This Everest expedition is the first to be undertaken by South African climbers. Every year, the Nepalese Government grants one country the right to an official expedition up the legendary Mount Everest. After years of isolation, South Africa now has its chance to scale these awesome peaks, just as it scaled the heights to democracy.



- Details the birth of the expedition. It contains Sunday Times articles and reports about the formation of the climbing team, the dangers they face, and the goals and objectives of the expedition.


- Gives details about the team, their previous experience, and their thoughts on being the first South Africans to scale the daunting Mount Everest.


- your chance to voice your opinions, questions and comments throughout the world.


- Apple Quicktime brings you video direct from the Himalayas.


- Your mail will travel directly to the climbers as they attempt Everest.


- Will be supplied by top Sunday Times journalists and photographers direct from the base camp. For the first time, the world can follow an expedition with up-to-the-minute reports.


- Highlights previous expeditions, Everest records, the growing issue of the environmental impact of climbers, as well information about the climate and geography of Mount Everest. You will also be able to find articles about previous expeditions.

The outdoor adventure magazine for the wild at heart brings you the nation-wide search for the first South African women to scale Everest. These pages include profiles of the finalists, their ascent of Kilimanjaro and diaries of the expedition. Look for OutThere online - coming soon.


A direct link to other expedition sites on the Net, as well as Everest-related information.


Information about our sponsors, the people who made this expedition possible.

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