It is that time of year to start looking at the spring 2011 Everest season. I will cover the shenanigans as usual but with a huge twist this year. I will actually be there climbing from the south side with International Mountain Guides (IMG) so the coverage will be a bit different – mostly my personal perspective on my own climb.
This will be the third of The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s: Memories are Everything.
But between now and then I will do my best to introduce the season and highlight some interesting plans. Also I will share my own preparation including gear, click training and other areas of interest. Let’s get started with a look at some teams and climbers who have made their plans public. This Blog will be the source for Everest 2011 coverage.
First off is the news that David Tait of the Discovery Channel’s Everest Beyond the Limits series fame is returning for his 5th climb. His goal is to acclimitize on Lhotse by using a new route not yet disclosed and then to make a summit bid without supplemental oxygen. David’s dispatches are unusually candid and revealing so we can look forward to reading them on his site. All of his climbs are for his charities and foundation for abused children.
David’s Everest climbs seem to always break the mold. In 2007 he wanted to do a double traverse where he climbed from the north to the south base camp and then return via the same route. He made it one way before feeling it was enough. In 2009 he was the first westerner to summit when the British climber tagged along with the Sherpas as they fixed the line to the summit – all captured on the Discovery’s cameras.
It will be interesting to see if the Chinese approve permits for a traverse this year. Australian Andrew Lock wanted to do a no O’s traverse in 2010 but was denied a permit.
Speaking of denied efforts, illness in 2010 we saw several efforts to find the infamous lost camera of Mallory and Irvine in 1924. A clandestine search by Jochen Hemmleb lead a team from Austria without success. Australian Duncan Chessell told the world he was also looking and had a good idea where it was but was stopped by the weather. We will not know if Hemmleb will return since he tries to stay under the radar, treat Chessell has switched to looking for gold instead of cameras and long time M&I expert Tom Holzen is till looking for that Saudi Prince to fund his $250,000 search expedition.
Another interesting effort will be by David Liano and Bill Burke according to an email from David. They will attempt a double summit where they will summit from one side, travel to the other and then attempt a second summit all within the same season – never has been done before. They wanted to do this in 2010 but David became ill as they were climbing from the north, returned to Kathmandu for treatment and then returned to summit from the south! Amazing. Bill made a valiant effort but turned back on his summit bid. Both have summited Everest before as well as the 7 Summits.
One developing story is whether Sherpa Pemba Dorje will actually try to take his 10 year-old son Seten Sherpa on a summit attempt. Pemba Dorje is motivated to supplant Jordan Romero’s youngest summit record set last season. You can read all the details in this post but the odds (and Nepalese authorities) are against this ever happening.
Technology may be the primary storyline for 2011 with the announcement that 3G cell phone coverage is now available throughout the Khumbu and perhaps even from the summit itself. After a huge publicity push however, officials began to dampen expectations that this would replace satellite phones due to various constraints. I hope to try it out myself but will still take my sat phone. That said, I expect to see many phones and overhear too many conversations at Base Camp! You can read more in this prior post.
I will do a complete update on prices for 2010 but a quick review shows that prices are increasing on both sides. A concern expressed by some operators lat season was that their low prices prevented them from supplying sufficient supplies for safe and successfully expeditions. Also, there has been a concerted effort to increase the salaries of the Sherpas who make almost every Everest summit possible in these modern times. So prices have gone up.
Summits and deaths always capture our attention. In 2011 we saw 4 deaths – all on the north and over 500 summits. This was about normal for the past few years. 157 foreigners summited along with 190 Sherpas on the south and an estimated 165 on the north side. Ms. Elizabeth Hawley who tracks all things Himalaya with her Himalayan Database reported that 5070 people have now summited Everest since 1953 and about 3431 of those are single summits with the rest being multiple summits. There were 268 new summits in 2010.
Given that both Tibet and Nepal are as stable as they ever are at the moment, I expect to see similar numbers for 2011 but always expect surprises!
That’s all for now. More as we get closer to the season. But for me, next up is Aconcagua in about two weeks.
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Memories are Everything