Chief Scout's Commissioner Andre Bredenkamp summits Mount Everest

Andre Bredenkamp holding the South African and World Scouting flags on Mount Everest.
Picture: SA Scout Association. Not to be redistributed without permission.

It's Lonely at the Top

The Witness, 12 June 2004

"You get to the top, you feel particularly lonely. There is snow everywhere. It's a blizzard. You have this mask on your nose and your face, and a big hood over your ears. You can't hear anything. It is completely silent, you can just hear yourself breathing. You have such sensory deprivation. You see people gesticulating to each other. You shake hands, pat each other on the back.

"You take off your mask, you have no oxygen, you want to fall asleep. You don't have the capacity to feel much, you aren't thinking straight.

"Then you realise you have a job to do. You think about putting up the flags. There is a country you are standing up for, this flag of democracy. You really have to concentrate. You have a strong bond with the nation whose flag you are putting up there. You feel solidarity, patriotism. I have done this for my country. You drink some water, put your mask back on and turn around to go down."

This was how Maritzburg-raised Andre Bredenkamp described how it feels to be at the top of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. Bredenkamp, who cut his mountaineering teeth in the Drakensberg, recently became the first South African to summit Everest from the Tibetan side. He and 15 other climbers made it to the top during a heavy blizzard, on the same day that three other climbers died in their attempts.

Interviewed over coffee on his return, Bredenkamp described how, having made it to the top, he turned around and walked another seven hours back to his base, feeling "more physically drained than I had ever felt in my life". But, said Bredenkamp, it is at times like this that you see God "loudly and clearly" and it is at times like this that the soul leaps with rejuvenation.

The softly-spoken 46-year-old Cape Town property developer - who is the son of retired Maritzburg Varsity Professor of Religion, Vic Bredenkamp and his wife Marie - spoke with emotion about the 15 minutes he spent at the summit.

"I didn't cry at the top because my eyelashes were stuck together. I took off my glasses and my eyelashes froze together. I was trying to get them apart," he said.

During the interview, Bredenkamp described the close bond he formed with his sherpa, Lakpa Chir, the wretchedness he felt at having to leave an injured Korean climber to die on the way down and the emotion he felt when he found that his friend and fellow climber, Chris Drummond, who turned back just before the summit because of frost-bite, had waited for him at the 8 300 metre high camp from which they made their bid for the summit, despite the fact that the camp had been abandoned due to an avalanche warning.

Bredenkamp also described his pride at being a South African on this trip, his commitment to a "life of service" in the country and his passion to make the most of each day and to fill his life with adventure.

A boy scout from an early age and now South Africa's Chief Scouts Commissioner, Bredenkamp left two flags, one incorporating the South African Scouts logo and the emblem of the International Scouts movement, in addition to the South African flag at the top of Everest.

He is passionate about the scouts and ascribes many of his personal qualities and strengths to what he learned as a young scout in Pietermaritzburg. Bredenkamp was largely responsible for changing the rules a few years ago to open its membership to girls. As the chief scouts commissioner, he voluntarily spends about two hours a day of his busy life working for the movement and can be found regularly walking with a group of scouts on Table Mountain.

Bredenkamp's dream to summit Everest was born about four years ago while he was trekking with two friends in Nepal. They were Chris Drummond and Mike Nixon, both fellow property developers in Cape Town.

"That was when we first saw Everest. It is such a beautiful mountain and it was a moving experience. The three of us had walked ahead of our group. As we stood looking at the mountain, we told each other we would all be back to have a crack at the peak."

Having articulated their dream, the three then "read all the books". They later joined up to climb the Acconcagua summit on the border of Argentina and Chile - the highest mountain on the South American continent and then, about nine months ago, to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia. They had all previously climbed Kilimanjaro.

Now, with Everest under his belt, it is a case of "four down, three to go"', for Bredenkamp, who wishes to climb the highest summits on each of the seven continents, a feat that only one South African, Sean Wisedale, has accomplished to date.

Explaining why he decided to go up from the Tibetan side, Bredenkamp said: "About 70% of ascents are done from the south, from Nepal. People tend to choose the easiest route when climbing the hardest mountain. The north side generally gets the worst weather. We chose to ascend from the north because we had seen it from the south on our trip to Nepal and enjoy travelling to new places. Secondly, we wanted to get away from the hundreds of climbers who ascend from the south. Thirdly, the cost of a permit for the north is considerably cheaper. Nepal charges $10 000 a person from the south and it is about half the price from Tibet. As it was, this trip cost us R250 000 each, including the costs of flights, hiring sherpas, yaks for transport, food and oxygen bottles.''

The trio left at the beginning of April this year on their two month journey. After weeks of acclimatisation, Nixon had to turn back after developing a lung infection. It was only Bredenkamp and Drummond who made it to the 8 300 metre top camp from which they made their summit attempt.

"We reached the camp at about 5 pm together with about 70 other climbers all hoping to take advantage of the good weather forecast for the next day. After melting snow for some tea, we went to sleep, only to be woken by our sherpa at 11 pm to prepare to depart. It took at least an hour to do the most mundane things, like putting on boots, because of the cold and the shortage of oxygen. Every time you do something, you have to stop and breathe for a minute or two. Just tying your shoelaces is exhausting.''

They started their ascent just after midnight on May 19. "We put on our crampons and started walking with torches on our heads. We climbed for about seven hours in the dark. Chris was still with us at this stage. Then we got to a section at the top of a ridge, when a big gust of wind flung Chris about 20 metres down the side. He was stopped by a wedge in between two boulders and, in the process, he lost his ice axe.

"When he recovered and got back on the path, he was very shaken and had lost his nerve. We realised that, with another seven hours to go without an ice axe, he would not be able to climb the final slopes of ice - and then turn around and walk for another seven hours back to the camp."

So Drummond turned back and left Bredenkamp to continue. He reached the summit at about 2.30 pm - becoming one of 15 out of 70 to make it to the top.

After experiencing the exhilaration at the top, an exhausted Bredenkamp turned around - only to be confronted by the most traumatic event yet.

"A Korean man had made it to the top and was walking down just in front of me. I noticed at a particularly difficult climbing section that there was a big delay - and discovered that he had fallen and broken his leg.

"He was lying in the snow with people around him and he was begging them not to leave him. We looked at him and we had to leave him and walk on. We simply did not have the capacity to carry him or drag him. We could hardly keep upright ourselves. Some people took out their spare jackets and covered him and we told him to relax. He stayed there, nobody tried to carry him down. Nobody was capable. It was ice cold, there was little oxygen. They were really urging him to go to sleep and die peacefully.

"You try to distance yourself. You tell yourself I must just walk on, but you know that someone has just called out for help and you have been incapable. I could do nothing, I could barely stand up myself. You realise this is a vicious mountain."

After a gruelling climb down, Bredenkamp returned to the camp at about 10 pm in the dark. "If I had been any more tired, I would have died. When I arrived at the camp, I realised that the entire camp was deserted. There had been a big build-up of snow that day on the cliff above the campsite and it had been evacuated because of an avalanche warning."

The only person who had remained behind was the frostbitten Chris Drummond. "He had stayed to be with me," Bredenkamp said. "I called out to him, 'I am back, but you are going to have to put me to bed.' He undressed me, took off my boots, hat and wet jacket and laid down a sleeping bag. He put me into bed, made me tea, and fed me while I was shaking and freezing in my sleeping bag. He acted as my nurse. Then he lay next to me to keep me warm."

Clearly touched by his friend's brave act of loyalty, Bredenkamp continued: "There is not much morality on Everest. You come back thinking you should maybe stick to gentle hikes in Newlands Forest."

Now that he is back home with his girlfriend, Bredenkamp is still in recovery mode and is nursing a cracked rib.

"My recovery has been a lot slower than usual, both physically and mentally. I am finding it difficult to concentrate, and sleep. When we departed we were as strong as lions, but we returned as weak as the Zimbabwe currency."

Asked who it was that helped instill a love of the mountains in him, Bredenkamp did not hesitate to name Colin Inglis, his former scout leader, who lives in Pietermaritzburg.

"He was a Cambridge graduate and a World War 2 pilot in the SA Air Force. He was chairman of the Mountain Club of SA and a great climber who did many first ascents of mountains. He also became Chief Scout of South Africa. Every year, he would arrange for our troop to camp in the Cape. I had the opportunity at an early and impressionable age to climb in the Cape mountains with him. He was a hero and I aspired to do what he did."

Another person he admires is Ed February, "the first black climber of international stature in South Africa", who was part of the disastrous 1996 Sunday Times expedition up Everest. "Ed is one of the most accomplished climbers in the country and I have great admiration for him."

Bredenkamp's interest in mountains was further nurtured when he was a boy scout. "I was a scout throughout high school and ended up as a Springbok scout.

"Scouting teaches people skills they generally do not learn at school, like leadership, the environment and good citizenship.

"I am passionate about the movement. Formal education lacks a great deal. I suppose that if family structures were better, kids would learn more from their parents. But we are a nation of many single parents and grandparents raising children.

"70% of our scouts are in black rural areas, so we are somewhat faceless. In the past, we were very visible in urban areas, but that is not the case any more. The growth is in black rural areas. In KwaZulu-Natal, Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been very supportive of the growth of the movement.

"The life skills I learned through my scouting days have been more valuable to me than my formal education. In my business, I am able to lead my staff because of the skills I learned. They also taught us imagination and problem solving."

One of his favourite memories is a hike he did with two scouts in the Drakensberg when he was 18 from the Mont aux Sources amphitheatre along the escarpment to Giants Castle. "It took 13 days and we carried our food from top to bottom without any help."

Although he plans to get the seven summits under his belt and would still like to summit Everest without oxygen, Bredenkamp insisted that mountaineering is not an obsession.

"It is not all-consuming. I have a passion for life, with many interests. Climbing mountains is just one of them. I do a lot of sports. I cycle and have done a few Argus Cycle tours in under three hours; I run a bit and have a silver medal for the Comrades Marathon and I have done three-and-a-half Duzi canoe marathons. In the fourth, we broke the boat in the middle of the event.''

He is also a keen photographer and enjoys reading, particularly biographies. Although he spends time with young scouts, he does not have any children of his own. "That opportunity passed me by," he said.

While at base camp, Bredenkamp and the other South Africans took part quite a few political discussions. "We were fascinated by the American contingent that was with us. None of them seems to have understood that their country has invaded a sovereign nation.

"One of the climbers on our team was a man from upstate New York who was on the mountain the fatal day in 1996 when Ian Woodall and the South African Sunday Times expedition climbed. He had been in the base camp when the South Africans were there. When he first met us, he said to us, 'I hope you are not like the other South Africans we met.'

"But we were so proud to be South African to sit around the dinner table in the tent and talk about how we have grown together as a country in the past last 10 years. It gave us pride to relay to people the spirit of forgiveness that exists and the desire to break down racial barriers.

"I know the people we met were impressed by our performance of working as a team. I believe we left the mountain leaving behind a trail of goodwill. The British climbers we met, the French, the Canadian, the Irish; they will all be coming to South Africa to visit."

Bredenkamp places a deep value in being a servant of his community - something he learned from, among other people, his father and from the scout movement. "My father, being a Methodist minister, was always working for no pay and is the happiest person I know. I believe that doing volunteer work is much more fulfilling than working for a salary. The level of community involvement by citizens is a measure of the level of civilisation of that community.

"For as long as I am in SA, I must contribute to the growth and betterment of society and the environment."

Although as a child Bredenkamp was to be found sitting in the pews of the Methodist Church, he is not an avid churchgoer. "But I have a deep sense of religion. I find getting out into nature and into mountains tremendously inspiring and rewarding. God is not very visible in the city. But you certainly see Him in the mountains. Being out there rejuvenates my soul and it reorders my priorities."

Cape Times - 3 June 2004

On top of it: Andre Bredenkamp, the first South African man to climb Mount Everest from the Tibetan side, is held aloft by members of the South African Scout Association at Cape Town International Airport. Full story Photo: Leon Muller, Cape Argus

Capetonian André Bredenkamp helped cover an injured climber with snow near the summit of Mount Everest where he and fellow climbers had to leave the man to die.

Bredenkamp, who arrived back in the city on Wednesday, said on the same day that he summited, three climbers died in their attempt to scale the world's highest mountain of 8 848m.

"One of them, a Korean, fell and broke his leg. No one was able to move him or do anything. We covered him up with snow and he just went to sleep," he said on Wednesday.

It was one of Bredenkamp's more harrowing experiences on his successful climb of the north face of Everest from Tibet last month

"It's difficult to try to help anyone at that altitude because you're just trying to keep yourself alive." He summited in almost a complete white-out of driven snow.

"You're just trying to survive, trying to balance and concentrate on getting to the top. I just wanted to sleep and for 10 or 15 minutes I lay down in the snow and slept until the Sherpa woke me up. It was a very bad season. Nine people died on the north face," Bredenkamp said.

"You get completely disorientated. I had to keep reminding myself I was climbing a mountain. Every step of the way I had to try to motivate myself. At that altitude I took at least 10 to 15 breaths each time I moved one foot."

When he reached the top, he had unfurled the South African flag and the Boy Scout flag, an organisation to which he has belonged since he was a boy.

Fellow Capetonians, Mike Nixon and Chris Drummond, did not reach the summit. Nixon developed a serious lung infection and was forced to turn back at 7 500m - higher than any mountain in the southern hemisphere.

Bredenkamp and Drummond pushed on to the top camp.

"Those three days were hell. You'd wake up with your sleeping bag covered in snow and ice and icicles stuck to your face.

"Then you'd pack up your wet sleeping bag and have tea and porridge and walk all day."

"It took 45 minutes to climb 100m. It was absolutely awful."

"When we arrived at top camp we had to collect ice in a black bag and melt it in a cup on the stove. We spent several hours just melting ice to make soup and tea."

The two set out for the summit at midnight wearing torches on their heads.

Said Drummond: "It was a lot more difficult than I anticipated and we came close to death on more than one occasion."

"On summit ridge there was a huge gust of wind and I took off backwards like Mary Poppins. I hit a rock."

"I fell about 13m and landed on my backpack, which probably saved my life. By that stage I lost my nerve. It would take another seven hours to do the last 200m and I knew I couldn't make it."

Drummond is still in pain from severe frostbite on his toes.

Nixon, back at advanced base camp, spoke of the harrowing time they had watching the weather closing in over the summit.

Nixon said: "We were surrounded by groups from Bulgaria and Korea. The Bulgarians lost one guy and the Koreans lost two. So when we heard André had made the summit there were huge celebrations."

This article was originally published on page 5 of The Cape Times on June 03, 2004

Local Mount Everest conqueror back in town

2 June 2004

Andre Bredenkamp, the South African chief scout commissioner, arrived in Cape Town today after climbing Mount Everest from the most difficult route, the northern side of the mountain. Bredenkamp was part of a three man South African team amongst a larger international team.

Cathy O'Dowd was the first SA to summit Everest from Tibet and Bredenkamp became the first South African man to do so. Since 1922 almost 200 people have died attempting this feat.

A group from the South African Scout Association welcomed Andre Bredenkamp at Cape Town International Airport after his gruelling and difficult feat. He arrived with two other South Africans, Chris Drummond and Mike Nixon, who could not reach the summit due to illness and injury. Bredenkamp described the climb as more difficult than anticipated.

Andre Bredenkamp, a Mount Everest conqueror, said: "...There have been a number of fatalities, thankful to have made it through the skills I have learnt over years as a scout. Its just a South African who doesn't say no and all of those things were necessary to get me to the top."

The three left for Tibet in April and are the only South Africans to have been given permits to climb the mountain this year. The trio had hoped to reach the summit, but Mike Nixon came down with lung problems and Chris Drummond with frost bitten toes fell and turned back.

At the end, Bredenkamp and 15 others were successful in achieving the ultimate goal. He planted the Ten Years of Democracy flag on Mount Everest after becoming the first South African male to summit the mountain from the North side.

South African scales the North face

1 June 2004

Mr. Andre Bredenkamp, the fifth South African to reach the summit of Mount Everest and first to successfully scale the North Face of the world's highest mountain, arrives at Cape Town International Airport (domestic arrivals) at 11am on Wednesday, 2 June 2004. Andre, who fractured a rib in the attempt, experienced four deaths from other expeditions on the same day as his summit.

Andre is the Chief Scout's Commissioner (second most senior official in the movement) of the South African Scout Association. The Chief Scout, Mr. Nkwenkwe Nkomo, will meet Andre in JHB upon his arrival there. Andre flew the national flag, the South African Scout flag and the ten years of democracy flag on the summit.

This is indeed another great achievement for South Africa as it is reported that the conditions during the assault on the summit were extremely hazardous.

Luke van der Laan

31 May 2004

I have just been informed by the National Office that Andre will be arriving in Cape Town on Wednesday (2 June 2004) morning at 11h00. We would like to give him a great scouting welcome and would like to have as many scouts and scouters present in uniform.

If you are able to assist by getting time off or arranging for some of your scouts to be there please let me know by tomorrow afternoon.

Luke van de Laan will be taking care of the press. This an opportunity for us to tell the world that our Everest Conqueror is a Scout.

Brian February

Everest triumph

The Witness, 25 May 2004

PIETERMARITZBURG can be proud of one of its sons, Andre Bredenkamp, for his achievements in scaling Mount Everest last week. He is only the third South African to have accomplished the feat and certainly the first to have conquered the world's highest peak from the northern, Tibetan side

Thousands of climbers have conquered Everest since the epic 1953 achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, over 100 this month alone. But the mountain remains as forbidding and unforgiving as ever - on the day of Bredenkamp's achievement, a Japanese climber and three South Koreans lost their lives. The challenge and the dangers are in no whit reduced by the frequency of conquest.

23 May 2004

Dear EverestNews, Here is the story of the first South African man to reach the summit of Everest from Tibet (Andre is the fifth South African to reach the summit of Everest, in total.

As anticipated life has been exciting. The three of us started our summit bid about 10 days ago. On the first day above ABC (Advanced Base Camp) we discovered that Mike's cough was a serious lung infection. He generously decided to turn back to allow us the best opportunity. We made the North Col on the 16th of May. The following day we proceeded to the next camp at 7,600 meters, which was the most difficult day experienced yet. Lots of snow the whole way. We found that the tents were pitched on very steep ground and even getting in and out of the tents was a difficult undertaking. We spent a few hours melting snow to create water and boiled up a hot packet of dehydrated food.

The next day we proceeded to the highest camp in the world located at 8,300 meters and predictably not a place for the faint hearted! We arrived at camp at 1700 hours and left for our summit bid at midnight. All the climbers attempting to summit on this day probably numbered 70.At the end of the day Andre and 15 others were successful in achieving the ultimate summit goal. Unfortunately three lives were lost on the same day. Summit day started at 12:00 midnight local time. It was tough but progress was made until just before dawn when Chris had a fall which left him some 20 ft below the fixed lines. In the process he lost his Ice Axe. Although no bones were broken his normally abundant confidence was shaken. Following a group discussion, and although a mere 250vertical meters from the summit the Sherpa indicated there was still a further 7 hours to go, Chris elected to terminate his bid and return to camp. Andre proceeded with Lakpa the Sherpa and managed to summit at 1410 hours on Thursday, May 20th. After 20 minutes on the top in appalling blizzard conditions , they returned to the 8,300 meter camp which they finally reached at 2230 hours, predictably absolutely exhausted. Chris had remained in the camp although everyone else had left due to an avalanche threat.

Andre and Chris then proceeded to rapidly descend back to Advanced Base Camp over the next 2 days and arrived exhausted. Chris has first degree frostbite on his feet which will take many months to heal. Andre has a cracked rib together with various bruises from numerous tumbles.

Mike has just started a summit bid as it is predicted that the weather will provide a window. He is going with a group of 8 climbers from our party who have all been waiting for this opportunity. Chris had wanted to return with Mike, however the frostbite prohibited this chance.

We have discovered this mountain is very challenging with a great number of factors beyond one's control. Looking forward to seeing everyone back home soon and if possible logistically we hope to home 1 or 2 days sooner than anticipated.

Written By Chris Drummond and Andre Bredenkamp, Cape Town, South Africa

SA man reaches Everest summit

21 May 2004

Carel van Dyk

Cape Town - One of three Capetonians who have spent the past month on the rockfaces of Mount Everest reached the summit this week.

André Bredenkamp reached the peak on Thursday after a gruelling 20-hour climb.

Initially, Bredenkamp had hoped reach the summit on Sunday with Chris Drummond and Mike Nixon, but their plans were scuppered when Nixon came down with food poisoning.

The trio decided that Bredenkamp and Drummond would tackle the summit. However, during this attempt, Drummond fell and lost his backpack. He was not injured, but turned back.

The three property developers left for Tibet in April and they have attempted the northern approach to Everest. They are the only South Africans to have been given permits to climb the mountain this year.

But, all is not lost for Nixon, who will attempt the peak this weekend. If everything goes to plan, he should reach the summit by Tuesday.

21 May 2004

Dear Thanks for all of the great work you are doing in telling the story of climbing Everest.

Here are the dates, names, and local origins of the summiters in our two succesful teams (so far, as we plan to continue trying):

18 May, 2004:

  • Thomas Haines, Colorado, USA.
  • Ryan Waters, Georgia, USA.
  • Franck Pitula, Lyon, France.
  • John Mislow, Chicago, USA.
  • Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Kulima, Nepal.
  • Nurbu Tsipe, Tashi Tsom, Tibet
  • Dorje Kasang, Old Tingri, Tibet

20 May, 2004

  • Andre Bredenkamp, Capetown, South Africa.
  • Lakpa Chiri Sherpa, Kulima, Nepal.

The last few days have been filled with many challenges and achievements. After a number of days of patient waiting at 6400m, a group of us made an all-out summit sprint to take advantage of a brief weather window. The team departed at 0130h on May 18 - brisk winds, pitch black, and nothing but our headlamps to guide our way up from 8300m to the Yellow Band. Daniel Mazur stayed in the high camp to help the team on their way and coordinate the crucial Tibetan part of the team. After negotiating the slick limestone of the Yellow Band, we gained the summit ridge after the first step. The Ridge is very exposed with cornices dropping off 3000m to the left and 2000m on the right. Not a good time to slip, and especially challenging since we were wearing crampons (skittering across icy limestone in utter darkness is a very sobering experience). Onward we pushed, up to the mildly technical but quickly overcome second step. After picking our lines carefully, we were standing on the top of the second step and trotting quickly towards the third step. A few hours later we (John, Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Frank, Ryan, Thomas) were standing on top of the highest peak in the world; great views, exhaustion, and elation. Nurbu Tsipe and Dorje Kasang followed a few hours later.

A quick stay at the top and we were ready to descend. As we downclimbed the summit pyramid dihedral, we ran into a number of climbers that were still making their way up to the summit. We found out later that these climbers were members of the unfortunate Korean team that tragically lost two of their members that day. Our deepest sympathies go out to the fallen climbers' loved ones. Soon after we descended to safety at the North Col and ABC we were informed of another loss; a Japanese climber. It is a sobering reminder of how ruthless the mountain can be.

The second wave of climbers was not as fortunate with the weather as the first - gale force winds, whiteout conditions, subzero temperatures, and hostile surface conditions conspired to make further attempts highly difficult and hazardous. However, despite fierce weather, our Andre Bredenkamp from South Africa became the first South African male to summit from the North Face. Braving untoward conditions with the help of Lakpa Chiri Sherpa, Andre has made it into the record books - and is currently making his way down to ABC safely. Hats off to you!

The final summit assault teams are planning on making their attack at the earliest sign of fair weather, perhaps in the next day or two. Oxygen and other essentials are moving into place and we send our very best wishes for a safe successful summit bid.

Thank You Very Much, Cheers, Yours Sincerely,
from John Mislow, Thomas Haines, Duane Morrison, and all of us at

21 May 2004

Latest news from the mountain. I received a SAT call from Mike at 8.00 am this morning (Friday 21st May) and Andre, Chris and Mike are all well.

Andre summitted yesterday after a extremely long day of about 20 hours of climbing. Chris had a fall and lost his backpack, and is alright but decided to turn back. The weather was windy and overcast with snow falling at certain elevations. Chris and Andre were both together overnight at a high camp on returning and spoke to Mike by radio (Mike is still at ABC) and are both descending today.

They are all very excited about Andre's summit and Mike heads off tomorrow for a possible summit on Tuesday. The weather turned bad with unexpected storms, however the summit winds are expected to remain relatively low for further attempts at the summit.

Mike is recovering from being ill and is feeling somewhat better, but he is unable to really improve while remaining at ABC elevation. He will see how he feels while climbing to the higher camps over the weekend.

There have been reports of fatalities on the North Side yesterday involving a Korean team and a Japanese lady, as reported on the and as well as rescue of the Ladies of Everest Team on the North side where the Italian team went to their assistance and ensured their safe return.

Our thoughts are with them all and thanks to all of you for your support.

21 May 2004

The Chief Scout's Commissioner, Andre Bredenkamp summitted Mount Everest yesterday. He is the only one from the South African group of three in the expedition so far to have made it. Mike Nixon will be attempting the last climb on the weekend.

I am sure you will all join me in sending out a huge "Bravo" for Andre. Well done Andre, the Association is proud of you!

19 May 2004

We received the following message from Andre's Office

Today 5 Americans in Andre's party submitted. The weather at the top is good and it is possible that the guys may summit tomorrow.

The most up-tp-date news is coming from the following websites:

(The expedition goes by the name of Summit Climb Everest 2004.)

Please hold them in your thoughts and prayers as we will be.

3 SA men on top of the world
Ziegfried Ekron

14 May 2004

Cape Town - Three Cape Town property developers will try to stake their claim to the world's highest summit on Sunday.

Chris Drummond, André Bredenkamp and Mike Nixon will try to reach the summit of Mount Everest with six others from an international team if the weather permits.

They are the only South Africans to have got permits this year to climb the mountain. Only four other South Africans have seen the view from this mountain summit.

The three men left for Tibet early in April. From there, they ventured up on the northern precipice of the mountain peak.

Over and above a stomach bug that left Drummond 8kg lighter, the climbers withstood weather conditions during which temperatures dipped to -10°C.

The group sent news about their progress via e-mail, but the messages dried up when their laptop fell from the back of a yack. They ordered a new one via satellite phone.

By the time they reached the base camp about 5 200m above sea level, they had only 80% of the normal oxygen level in their blood.

Two forced to abandon attempt

"If you pitch up in this state at your doctor, he'd probably have you thrown into an oxygen tent," said Bredenkamp.

The lack of oxygen forced two of the international team members to withdraw from the attempt.

The three Capetonians have climbed to about 500m beneath the summit, and hope to climb to the top on Saturday.

They will plant a South African flag they received from Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who was premier of the Western Cape at the time. He is now the new minister of tourism and environmental affairs.

May 2004

The Chief Scout’s Commissioner, Andre Bredenkamp, who left early in April to climb Mount Everest, epitomizes the adventure of Scouting. He is part of a three man South African team amongst a larger international team led by Dan Mazur. As Andre writes:

“We have finally met Dan Mazur, our leader. He didn’t look anything like the athletic/mad mountain/bearded type we had imagined. Chris aptly describes him as a “balding, slightly messy, typical history school teacher caricature”. Dan first burst onto the alpine scene about 15 years ago, when in his early twenty’s he arrived in Katmandu and talked his way onto a Russian expedition, heading for Everest. Four weeks later he was on the summit! Since then he has climbed nine of the 14 peaks that are over 8000 meters in the world, including K2, which is perhaps the most difficult.”

So it seems that Andre is in a team that is sure to succeed. He was presented with the Association’s flag and our well wishes upon his departure. We also congratulate Mr. C Reddy, the KwaZulu Natal Area Finance Chairperson, on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

From Scouting About, May 2004

16 April 2004

News from Everest

Andre Bredenkamp and his two companions left Cape Town on 1 April armed with a Scouting flag, which we hope he will plant on top of Everest. They spent the first two weeks in Nepal where they have met with up with their expedition leader and the rest of the team numbering about 25. The first few weeks were spent getting their necessary permits in order and checking their gear. They encountered some problems with strikes in Nepal, which caused a delay in their programme, and this has resulted in them being three days behind schedule.

The latest news received (16/04/04) was that they had left Kathmandu by helicopter and reached base camp (BC) at 5200m and the temperature was -10 degrees C. They are all still well. Once BC has been set up they will set of for advance base camp (ABC) at 6200m which will take two days. The next two and a half weeks they will spend acclimatising moving up and down from ABC to BC and attempt to summit on 16 May. If is not possible they will attempt a summit between 26 - 28 May.

If you wish to find out what his team is doing, log on to ;

From Cape Western Scouter

Three Capetonians to carry SA pride on Everest

25 March 2004

Three Cape Town mountaineers will carry the South African pride to the world's highest peak, Mount Everest next Friday. André Bredenkamp, Chris Drummond and Mike Nixon were this morning presented with a "Ten Years of Democracy" flag by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Western Cape premier.

The mountaineers are the only South Africans to be given permits to climb Mount Everest this year. The three have already been to the summit of two of the highest peaks in the world, South America's Aconcagua and the 7 000m high Mount Elbrus in Europe.

"In terms of preparedness, the three of us have (participated) in the Oceans marathon, the Argus cycle tour, which will be to our advantage," said Drummond.

The three, who were given the flags to carry with them to the summit to celebrate the country's decade long freedom, will endure the toughest conditions in their attempt - a lack of oxygen, winds and cold. "You can never be prepared for the unforeseen, for the extreme conditions of cold and wind and isolation and the ice slopes are very severe," said Bredenkamp.

The three will join a team of seven international mountaineers and spend six weeks on the slopes of Mount Everest preparing to reach the summit in May. Sibusiso Vilane, who made it last year, is the fourth South African to ever get to the summit.

be prepared...