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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!

Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page.  We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date.  We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”

Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours.  Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber.  Above all, have fun and dream big!

FINAL EVEREST DISPATCH FROM JACOB SCHMITZ

By: Mountain Trip

2015 everest flagsHello and thank you for following the 2015 Mountain Trip Everest Expedition. Unfortunately, the expedition ended on May 25th after a 7.9 earthquake hit Nepal.

I was sitting in my tent just before lunch when I felt the earthquake. I knew that there was a lot of avalanche hazard all around Everest Base Camp (EBC), so I quickly exited my tent to look around. Normally only small seracs and new snow comes off the ridges above EBC. However, this time there was a huge cloud layer above camp and I could only see a small percentage of the peaks and icefall around us. Everyone realized that the earthquake would trigger avalanches, and as I looked around I could hear the sound of the avalanches all around us. Immediately I looked towards the Icefall and I thought of the many teams at Camp One and Camp Two. I could see small avalanches coming off of the shoulder of Everest and Nuptse but nothing substantial. Looking towards Pumori, I could see a lot of snow activity on the ridges and face. Then all of the sudden I could make out the biggest avalanche I’ve ever dreamed of coming towards EBC. I ran about 30 meters and hid behind a large rock, about the size of a VW Bug. In that moment I thought about my girlfriend, Anne, who was working on the other side of EBC, my Family, and if I was going to be blown away or have to try to swim out of it….

After the initial blast, I realized that it was just a powder blast and that most of the debris was trapped in the moraine separating Pumori and EBC.
I was covered with a layer of ice crystals and had a hard time breathing during the blast, but I was OK…

The tents that Scott and I used were gone, blown to the side of a hill just outside of camp. Our dining/kitchen tent had minimal damage. After communicating by radio with Anne and my Sherpa team at Camp Two, and making sure everyone in my immediate vicinity was OK, I started down to HRA where a call went out for all doctors for assistance. I grabbed Mountain Trip and Alpine Accents’ large first aid kits and started down base camp to help. It became obvious very quickly that the middle of base camp was hit very hard by the blast and when I arrived there I observed that many of my fellow climbers and camp staff needed help badly…..
The rest of the day was spent moving the wounded to a field hospital established in the lower camps, as the lower camps were the least affected by the earthquake. Over twenty people had to be carried by makeshift stretchers and another sixty people were evaluated and treated in the field hospital.

At approximately 5:50 a.m. the next morning, the first helicopter arrived in EBC to begin the long process of ferrying the wounded out. The helicopter was capable of carrying three injured people per flight: two critically wounded laying on stretchers and one patient able to sit upright. A total of fifty wounded flew out of EBC, of which twenty-three were critical. Twenty others died and more are missing…

I stayed at Everest Base Camp for another thirteen days. During this time, I worked to try to help break down camp, and literally pick up the pieces. This also allowed the lower Khumbu time to recover after the terrible natural disaster that left many dead and many, many more homeless with dwindling supplies.

Over the years I’ve become quite fond of the Himalaya and of all of my friends living in Nepal. The people of Nepal are going through a hard time right now and they can use all of the support the world can give them. Specifically, the return of tourism in the Himalaya will help the Nepalese recover from this disaster. Tourists employ many Sherpas as porters, and tourist dollars support tea houses along the way to the mountains that we all love.
I’m looking forward to returning next year.

If you haven’t been to Nepal yet, you should go! If you have been, then you know the magic of the biggest mountains in the world, raging rivers, villages tucked into steep green foothills with some of the nicest, most hospitable people you will ever meet.

I hope to see you in the Mountains.

2015 everest stretcher  2015 everest heli 2015 Everest ferrying to hospital

 

 

 

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Denali Season!!

By: Mountain Trip

Denali season is upon us!  2015 marks the 40th year that Mountain Trip has been guiding on Denali.  No other guide service has guided continuously for so long on North America’s tallest peak.

Overview of the West Buttress route.  You can see the headwall above the basin camp at 14,200', which is the location of the fixed lines.

Overview of the West Buttress route on Denali.

We are looking at another busy season on the mountain, with 19 teams preparing to attempt what is arguably the most challenging of the world’s Seven Summits.  Of those teams, seven are private groups on custom climbs.  Including a couple of apprentice guides and a handful of liaison guides joining teams of international climbers to help translate and ease any cultural differences between US guides and those climbers, we will have 53 guides on the mountain this season.

Additionally, we are planning to work with a team of surveyors to use the latest mapping techniques to determine the real height of Denali.  The traditionally accepted 20,320′ elevation is based on antiquated techniques.  A couple of years ago, a team of surveyors used a laser mapping technology to determine the height and announced that the true height of the mountain is actually 20,237′.  Discussion of the efficacy of the techniques they used has reached a degree of fervor amongst the mapping intelligentsia and we were approached to assist with a more appropriate mapping effort, in an attempt to determine the true height of the summit.

Our guides completed a pre-season training last week, and we are meeting our first team of the season this morning!  We encourage you to follow the progress of our teams as they call in reports from the field and describe their experiences in their own words.  Please check back regularly and feel free to contact our office staff if you have any questions about what’s happening up in Alaska!

 

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Some Good News from Everest Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

It’s been a super challenging time for the entire country of Nepal, and our team who has been there and witnessed the destruction and suffering of the people have had a life experience they will never forget.   There has been a stream of bad news coming from Nepal, but there was a small bright spot in Everest Base Camp yesterday.  Jacob and his girlfriend of several years, Ann got engaged at EBC yesterday!!   They’ve been working together closely during the days since the earthquake and avalanche, and we are super excited to hear the news, and Jacob gave us permission to spread the word.

All Expeditions from the S. Side are officially off now for the season, and the climbers who remain at Everest Base Camp are working on packing up and cleaning up now.  Jacob and our Sherpa team plan to remain at base camp for a few more days to clean up our gear, and the gear that was spread around during the avalanche.  The villages in the Khumbu region below base camp are struggling right now, and many in base camp have decided to remain where they are for a few more days so as not to stress the already thin resources.   Helicopters, which sometimes are used to travel down valley and/or to Kathmandu, need to focus on the needs of the earthquake victims right now.  When they do leave, sometime in the next week, they’ll travel with whatever food they have and bring tents with them so they won’t impact or use resources needed by the local people.  All of our Sherpa crew has had a chance to talk with their families, and everyone is OK, but they are obviously anxious to get home very soon to begin to rebuild their lives.

Scott Holder is on his way home now after several very emotionally draining days in Kathmandu doing what he could to help with the enormous needs of the local people.

The Germers arrived back home in Alaska today, after an emotionally draining and surreal drive across the country from Pokhara to Kathmandu where they were witness to the suffering and devastation across Nepal.

We hope to have some first hand reports from David, Alisha, and Scott after they have a chance to settle in and adjust to home for a few days.

Earlier today we posted some links to some organizations that are in a position to help the people of Nepal.  Please look at that post and give generously, the needs of the people there are huge right now.

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Everest Update April 29 – Call from Jacob

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in another update from Everest Base Camp, where he has been helping clean up after the earthquake and avalanche of five days ago.  He describes the scene at Base Camp and what has been happening in recent days.  This transmission is quite clear and we appreciate his details.

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Everest Update Jacob Calls From EBC

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in twice from Everest Base Camp, but neither call was very clear.  I’ll post both, as it is nice to hear from him, regardless of how garbled the transmission.  He is planning to stay at EBC for a few more days, helping clean up and organize equipment and supplies.

David and Alisha Germer are stateside and almost home, after a challenging trip back to Kathmandu from Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city, which was severely damaged by the earthquake.  Our contacts were able to secure them seats on a bus back to Kathmandu, where they spent a couple days waiting for a flight out.  Their reports of the extensive devastation were very compelling.

Scott Holder is still in Kathmandu, where he is helping the efforts of local Red Cross teams.  He will board a plane for home tomorrow.

We will post information about organizations that we are supporting to help with the general relief effort in Nepal.  We have had numerous climbers contact us, asking for advice as to which organizations they might make donations.  Some of our past climbers have made donations directly to our Sherpa team members, and we appreciate and applaud any generosity to those whose lives have been so tragically disrupted.  More on this theme later today.

Here is Jacob:

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Jacob’s second call:

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Update From Nepal

By: Mountain Trip

The evening (local time) update from Nepal is that all of our staff have been flown off the mountain and are at Base Camp.  Three helicopters flew all climbers from Camp 1 back to Base Camp, as the route through the Icefall was rendered impassable due to the numerous aftershocks in the past 36 hours.

Scott Holder and the Germers are all back in Kathmandu and in the Yak and Yeti Hotel, which had been spared damage from the earthquake of two days ago.  Jacob is planning to remain at EBC for a few days to assist with the recovery efforts and organize equipment and supplies.  The situation lower in the Khumbu valley is difficult, with many trekkers and local residents making their way down valley.

Communications have improved somewhat, and the cell tower that connects the upper Khumbu has been repaired, so we can communicate better with Jacob and our EBC staff.  Many of our local staff have departed to check on their families lower in the valley, and we have little knowledge of how they fared, because our friends departed before the cell tower had been repaired.

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Everest Update – Phone Call from Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Our Lead Guide Jacob Schmitz called in a detailed post recapping the events of the past two days.  His report was cut off by a relatively poor satellite phone connection, but his description is sobering.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone so terribly affected by the earthquake and the following aftershocks.

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Helicopters Shuttling Climbers down From Camp 1

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called this morning from EBC with some updates.  The earthquakes/aftershocks of the 26th pretty much sealed off the icefall route, but this morning there are 3 B3 helicopters shuttling the 80 or so climbers down who are still above the Khumbu Icefall in Camp 1 and Camp 2.   Search and cleanup continues at Everest Base Camp today as the few who remain in EBC comb through the wreckage and debris looking for any other victims.  The number of missing climbers is unknown right now as so many have left for home and are unaccounted for.   There are 17 confirmed dead at EBC.

Good weather this morning is helping with the helicopter flights, but fuel and load limitations make it a lengthy process with each flight bringing only 2 climbers down.   The helicopters struggle in the thin air to fly to the top of the icefall at over 20,000 ft.   The helicopter pilots just put enough fuel on to make the short flight up to pick up climbers, and return, so they are light on fuel and need to fuel up frequently.

Jacob is doing well and plans to remain at base camp until all of our team is evacuated from above the icefall.  They may just wait a few more days in EBC, as reports from down the valley indicate that many villages have significant damage, including the largest village of Namche.   The small number of people who remain at EBC have enough food to wait up there for a bit.

Scott Holder is OK and still in Lukla, hoping to get to Kathmandu by plane or helicopter later today.

David and Alisha Germer have just hopped on a bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu and hope to be there late today.

 

 

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Morning at Everest Base Camp after the Earthquake (w/ update)

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in this morning from Everest Base Camp, we had a challenging time communicating with a poor satellite phone connection, but we were able to talk over the course of three phone calls.   Things began happening at base camp starting at dawn; helicopters were able to begin evacuating the most critically injured from EBC.

As of now, seven evacuation flights have come in and out of EBC.  There are 17 critically injured that the doctors and everyone at base camp watched over last night, and as weather has improved today they are hoping to be able to fly all out today.   Over 20 people are reported dead at base camp currently, with many more still missing.

Teams at Camp 1 and Camp 2 seem to be OK, but anxious to get down to base camp.  There have been only a couple of Sherpa who have descended through the icefall since the earthquake.  There are many climbers missing still, and they expect to find more victims at base camp and in the icefall before this is all through.  The Sherpa who descended through the icefall were able to hear some voices of trapped climbers on their way down.

Jacob and a guide from IMG (sorry I didn’t get the name due to bad reception) are going to attempt to go up into the icefall this morning to see if they can help anyone, and to assess what gear they may need to help establish a route for the more than 100 climbers who are above the icefall in Camp 1 and Camp 2.   Jacob said that the “Icefall Doctors” have left the mountain, so the rescue is up to the remaining climbers.

Scott H. is in Lukla and will return to Kathmandu as soon as they are able to fly, and return home.

David and Alisha Germer from our EBC trek/Island Peak climb are in Pokhara and trying to return to Kathmandu by bus today and return home soon.

Update 10:30am Nepal time:

Jacob is back in base camp after a trip up into the icefall this morning.  They were able to determine that the route was relatively in tact, and climbers were beginning to make their way down from the upper camps towards EBC.  There are some injured climbers from the upper mountain, and some with altitude illness that are being helped down through the icefall this morning.  The search will continue in basecamp and through the icefall for any other victims.   The Mountain Trip Sherpa team is planning to pack up what they can and come down to base camp today.  We’ll continue to update as we get any more details from EBC.

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Earthquake and Avalanche at Everest BC. Mountain Trip Team All OK

By: Mountain Trip

Just off the phone with Jacob from Everest Base Camp.  They felt a “large” earthquake at base camp just before 12:30 today April 26 followed by massive avalanches from surrounding peaks.   Jacob has lived in Southern California for many years and has felt many earthquakes and said “this was a big one.”  The earthquake has shook loose avalanches from surrounding peaks, including Pumori, which sits above Everest Base Camp.  The avalanche and powder blast came through base camp destroying many tents and putting a hole in our big dome.

It is currently snowing and hard to see up into the icefall, but Jacob reported active avalanches continuing from surrounding peaks minutes later while we were on the phone.   Our base camp team was able to talk to our team up at Camp 2 who reported they did not feel it as strong up there and they were all OK.

Update:

Jacob just called back at 12:45 Nepal time and said that there are reports of injuries from the avalanche amongst other teams at base camp.  He is going to see what he can do to help for now and will report in later.

All of the Mountain Trip team, Sherpa and Climbers are safe and accounted for.

Here’s Jacob:

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Update:

Also just hearing news that the earthquake shook Kathmandu and there has been significant damage in the city.  Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal today.

http://news.yahoo.com/strong-earthquake-felt-nepals-capital-063242616.html

 

update:

I spoke with Scott Holder who is in the village of Lukla.  He is OK but reports that there was significant damage there as well.

Our folks in Kathmandu are reporting significant damage, but so far they and their families are OK.  Communications to Nepal are pretty challenging right now with the phone networks damaged and what remains is maxed out with calls.

 

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Everest 2015 – Jacob calls in report of an earthquake

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob Schmitz just called in the frightening report of an avalanche that hit Everest Base Camp, following what felt like an earthquake.  His report is not very clear, due to the quality of the satellite transmission.

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Everest 2015 – Resting and Recovering

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in just now, but unfortunately, his post was very garbled.  There have been some challenges with cellular reception at Base Camp, and tonight’s post is barely understandable…

Scott has been dealing with an upper respiratory infection for the past couple of weeks, and when the team pushed up through the Khumbu Icefall yesterday, it seemed to really flare up.  Scott and Jacob returned to Base Camp, as the Khumbu is no place for a climber who is not 100%.  Scott took the prudent and very smart action of descending to Lukla, over 8,000′ lower, where the air is thick and humid, exactly what is needed to heal such an infection.

The plan is for Scott to spend a couple of days down low, letting his pipes heal, and then return to Base Camp to continue his ascent.  Jacob will continue to oversee the preparations of camps on the upper mountain and they will head high in the coming days.

Here’s Jacob:

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Everest 2015 Team – Skills Day at Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Unfortunately, the post called in from our guide Jacob Schmitz was a bit garbled, but the team is doing great.  They worked on skills today, climbing some ice faces near Base Camp and reviewing strategies for crossing ladders, efficiently passing running belays and other techniques they will employ when they head up through the tumultuous Khumbu Icefall tomorrow.

The plan is to climb up to Camp 1 above the Icefall early tomorrow morning, but they will ultimately make the decision based on how the weather and conditions look at the time.  All is well and Scott and Jacob are eager to head up the mountain!

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Everest 2015 – Acclimatization hike to 19,000 feet

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called in from Camp 1 on Pumori, a stunning 7000m peak next to Everest.  They hiked up to 19,000′ to help their bodies adjust to the thin air they will encounter when they begin their ascent of Mount Everest.

The team is doing great and enjoyed a beautiful day with views of a lifetime of incredible peaks.  Our Sherpa team carried loads of supplies up to Camp 1 on Everest to support Scott and Jacob when they head high.

Here’s Jacob:

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Everest 2015 – Packing for the Upper Mountain

By: Mountain Trip

Our Sherpa friends are preparing to head up to the upper camps!  The depth and breadth of the logistics necessary for orchestrating an Everest ascent are pretty huge.  It’s like a symphony with many instruments that all need to be in concert if you’re going to actually make a memorable tune.  Our Sherpa team are maestros and today they packed up some food and supplies to make a run up to Camps 3 and 4 in the coming days.

everest 2015

Scott looking over some of the food that will head up to Camps 3 and 4 in the coming days.

Posted in 2015 Everest Expedition, Everest, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

Everest 2015 – Update from Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Hello from 17,600 feet!

Scott and I arrived at the Mountain Trip Mount Everest Base Camp on the 14th of April after hiking up the Khumbu for nine days. We stayed in Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and Lukla for two nights each, taking advantage of doing some fun “casual” day hikes.  This not only helps with acclimatizing, but they enabled us to get amazing views of some of the Himalaya giants including Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu, as well as many other beautiful rugged peaks and hanging glaciers.
We had great weather until we reached Lobuche, where we woke up to a foot of new snow on a few inches of old rotten crud that is always fun to walk on..!  Since then, we’ve had light snow showers and a bit of wind in the afternoons. When the sun comes out in the morning, the snow quickly melts only to be replaced by fresh snow in the evening.

The snow has slowed the progress of rope and ladder fixing in the icefall and above Camp One.
Today the 18th of April is the one year anniversary of the tragic avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall that took 16 Sherpa lives, something about which we are all very conscious and respectful. Trying to avoid a similar accident, the Khumbu Ice Doctors (the Sherpas that maintain the fixed lines and ladders through the icefall) made a route on the right side of the icefall trying to avoid the seracs on the lower slopes of Everest, the side opposite of the one on which the avalanche hit last year.
Out of respect for the fallen Sherpas who worked hard to make it possible for many of us to achieve our dream of climbing Everest, no one is climbing above Base Camp today.

Tomorrow, only the Ice Doctors will climb up, as they affix ropes and replace ladders that might have broken due to the ever shifting ice in the icefall.  On the 20th, the plan is for our Sherpas to climb up, carrying loads to establish Camps One and Two.  On the 21st or 22nd, Scott and I will head up to spend three to four nights above 21,000 feet to acclimatize.  After that first rotation at Camp 1 and 2, we will rest at base camp for a few days before going up to Camp 2 once again before making a day trip to Camp 3 at 23,800 feet.

When not on the mountain, Scott and I spend the days walking around Base Camp socializing and meeting other climbers from around the world.  It’s truly an international crowd, with 300+ climbers from around the world. Some days we will climb up to Camp 1 on neighboring Pumori or work on our climbing skills in the lower icefall to prepare for the climb up to Camp 1.

Please check back as we will try to up date the blog as often as possible.

Cheers,

Jacob Schmitz, Everest Base Camp

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A couple of snowy days at base camp

By: Mountain Trip

The Island Peak climbers, David and Alisha, left base camp yesterday with Dawa Sherpa on their way to Dingboche, and after a night at our favorite lodge, the Snow Lion, they’ll head up to the Island Peak base camp.

Scott and Jacob have been spending their time settling in to base camp and acclimating to their 17,000 ft home before heading higher up the mountain.   They’ve practiced climbing ladders and are moving through the ice with their crampons on, so they should be pretty efficient by the time they are ready to move up to Camp 1 in a couple of days.

Jacob, Scott, and DaOngchhu at the Mountain Trip Everest Base Camp

Jacob, Scott, and DaOngchhu at the Mountain Trip Everest Base Camp

The Mountain Trip Team having their Puja Ceremony on a snowy morning at Everest BC

 

Our Sherpa team is carrying loads up to Camp 1 and Camp 2 today to establish those camps for the climbers.  Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa guides last season, so it will be a day to remember and our team will not be climbing tomorrow.

The route is established through the icefall and has been getting plenty of traffic by the early teams already.  There are more ladders and the terrain is slightly more technical this season as the route has moved out to the middle of the icefall a bit in an effort to avoid the more avalanche prone areas on the climbers left under the W. Shoulder of Everest.

Here’s a great image of the route and a comparison between where it has been in previous years.

Everest Route Photo

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Team Settling in to Everest Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

They spent the day at Everest Base Camp enjoying the comforts of tent living and going over some climbing/mountaineering skills in the ice nearby camp.   Tomorrow David and Alisha will start back down the valley and towards Island Peak for their climb, while Scott and Jacob acclimatize to the high altitude tent city they will base out of for the next month and a half.   They were welcomed into base camp by our amazing team of Sherpa who have been establishing the camp on the rocky moraines of the lower Khumbu glacier.  We have a big comfortable dome tent for dining and hanging out with carpeted floors, heat, solar powered lights and a coffee grinder for a fresh cup in the morning.   It’s been a bit snowy the last few days, and that is expected to continue for another day or so before the clear skies come back over the Himalaya.

Here’s Jacob from Base Camp!

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Everest Base Camp Today!

By: Mountain Trip

They arrived at Everest Base Camp today!  They have moved into their tents at Base Camp and are settling into the big dome tent for dinner tonight.   We should get a call with a dispatch from base camp later tonight, but spoke with Jacob earlier and they are doing great!

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Everest Team in the village of Lobuche

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob’s call today is pretty garbled due to the spotty phone service up there, but they are in the village of Lobuche and excited to be heading up to Everest Base Camp tomorrow!  They are all doing great and enjoying the journey through the beautiful Khumbu Valley.  We should get much better phone service tomorrow when they continue up the valley past the final village of Gorak Shep, and on to Everest Base Camp.

Here’s the garbled call from Jacob.

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