May 2nd:: Everest Basecamp, Nepal, 17,600 feet
Skies were clear at 17,600 feet this morning, but brisk winds forced a brief delay of the first annual Women’s Low Pressure Golf Association Khumbu Open. At the foot of Mt Everest, this historic event marked a milestone in high altitude golf competition, and by noon the glacier’s edge was packed with an international crowd. Nine warmly clad contenders faced off at the tee, each vying for this years grand prize: a “fresh” salad.
Sheila, thought to be a duffer from the Irish team, took the lead on the front two with a birdy after an impressive tee shot on the first hole. Jenny, favored from Mr. Breashear’s team, played a disappointing start with a double bogey after a chip near the dogleg. Bad luck caught her on the fairway when she tripped over a fixed line and punched through the ice, a common handicap at LPGA tournaments.
Water hazards on the signature second hole caused problems for Dr. Luanne, a regular on the women’s Low Pressure tour. Plagued by a recent oxygen doping scandal, Luanne has become a controversial player among high altitude golfers. After a solid drive off the tee she hooked into a sun cup and almost knocked a small serac onto the crowd. Blaming her problems on the tournament’s “one damn club,” Luanne stormed off the fairway to pursue her talents at high altitude ping pong.
By the third hole conditions had worsened and field officials questioned the “totally sketchy” final ice bridge. Denise, underdog from the start, was exhausted, dehydrated, hypothermic, frostbitten, and had just used her last ice screw. By all accounts her high altitude golf career was over, but in a passionate comeback she pulled off a spectacular three foot slicing chip shot to win the tournament twenty-seven over par.
Unfortunately, in the final minutes of this year’s play the field degenerated into a violent game of High Altitude Nerf Football and Tackle Frisbee. Despite this lapse in professionalism, course officials called the event a raging success and hope next year’s tournament will attract all seventeen of Base Camp’s women.
For a bunch of climbers, we sure seem to avoid climbing as much as possible. Pray for good weather… Pray for good weather…
- Dispatch originally written in 2004, while working on “Everest ER,” a Discovery Channel project about the Medical Clinic at Everest Base Camp. -