MT. EVEREST BASE CAMP, APRIL 28, 2006 (STAR) The below-zero temperature has done nothing to deter First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition team members Leo Oracion and Erwin "Pastor" Emata from their bid to reach Mt. Everest’s summit on a 2006 reconnaissance climb.

In a phone call conducted Monday afternoon, expedition leader Art Valdez said the whole team, including the support group, has been at base camp for two weeks already.

"Leo and Pastor have set up tents at camp 1 and 2; they’ll be climbing down from Khumbu Icefall tonight then back up again."

Base camp is the first stop before proceeding to camps 1 to 4 and onwards to the summit. Climbers cross the Khumbu Icefall which is just above base camp to get to camp 1; it is vast and unstable, having claimed more lives than any other part of the southeast ridge approach to Mt. Everest.

Valdez explained that going up then back down again is part of acclimatization, a preventive measure against altitude sickness.

"We ascribe to the age-old climber’s maxim of ‘climb high, sleep low’. Leo and Pastor can climb even more that 1,000 feet a day, as long as they come back down and sleep or rest at a lower altitude."

Meanwhile, the rest of the team members serving as support group — Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili and Levi Nahangayan and Noelle Wenceslao — have set up tents on top of an icefall at base camp. Valdez said "it’s like being inside an ice plant 24/7."

He added that the movement of the two-man team, as well as the other expeditions from various countries, has been hampered by the unbelievably cold, harsh weather.

"The first weeks of April saw days and days of hard snow fall."

In fact, based on information from websites of 2006 Everest climbers, some saw the avalanche that swept the Khumbu Icefall, causing the delay in climbing. Many turned back to base camp because their yaks could not go further with snow reaching up to the knees.

On the other hand, the other team members composed of Regie Pablo, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino, Jong Narciso and Larry Honoridez are training on nearby Island Peak, which is roughly 20,000 feet above sea level. "They are doing a traverse climb; climbing up on one side and going down from the other," said Valdez. These team members are expected to be back from Island Peak before the week ends.

Valdez likewise related that the fixed ropes and safety lines for camp 3 and 4 will likely be set up by this week. "If this happens as scheduled, Leo and Pastor will be climbing up to camp 3 by the second week of May and onwards to Camp 4 which is the last stop before the summit."

He said the two-man team was part of the group that worked on creating a helicopter pad for rescue efforts following the icefall collapse which injured three sherpas (Nepali guides) and claimed the lives of three others last week.

DLSU seeks clarification, mulls pullout By Joey Villar The Philippine Star 04/28/2006

De La Salle University yesterday questioned the UAAP board decision barring it from participating in all sporting events of the league’s Season 69, breaking its silence but extending the controversy many thought had been solved last week.

Representatives from all sectors of La Salle gathered at Taft Campus’ North Conservatory as System president Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, read out the De La Salle’s plan of action in the aftermath of the suspension slapped on the school.

"Let me clarify that it’s not an appeal but a clarification letter," said Luistro, referring to their letter to outgoing league president Fr. Max Rendon, OP, of Adamson

The four-page letter tackled issues concerning negligence, due process, and the gravity or severity of sanction.

"We do not deserve suspension. We forfeited the games we played the past two seasons. We requested a leave of absence from men’s basketball for the forthcoming season. We addressed the gaps in our sports program. But the (UAAP) board dismissed all these," Luistro said.

He also broached the idea of taking their case up to the Supreme Court.

"They can call us names, but they can’t take the integrity away from this institution. All our options are open including that one," he said.

Or, La Salle might consider a possible pullout.

"There is life beyond the UAAP," Luistro said.

But he explained that the school’s next action would hinge on how the UAAP board would react to their letter.

"We deserve nothing less than a forthright clarification from the UAAP. We are more than willing to submit ourselves to the decision of a body that upholds justice, respects due process and values honesty and fairness. We have sent to the UAAP today (yesterday) a letter seeking clarification on these issues. We will deliberate on our options after we have received their response," it added.

The (UAAP) board is expected to meet today to discuss La Salle’s letter.

"DLSU is aware of and is not running away from its responsibilities as a member of the UAAP and the issues at hand. However, DLSU would like to get clarification and explanation from the UAAP Board on issues mentioned," he added.

At the same time, La Salle said the verdict was "vague," "arbitrary" and "censured all the athletes of DLSU, from the juniors and seniors level, for an offense that arguably was out of honest omission and which was brought to the attention of the UAAP Board by the University itself."

"The issue goes beyond the realm of interschool sports competition. It touches on our integrity as an educational institution and strikes at the heart of our cherished traditions. On what basis were we considered negligent? Was there due process arriving at this decision? How grave was our offense, if any, to deserve a one-year suspension from all events? The decision of the UAAP Board raises more questions than it provides answers," said La Salle in a statement red by Bro. Edmundo Fernandez, FSC, who heads all the brothers of La Salle in the country.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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