Well it is Everest 2012 time! We are starting to see more information on blogs, interviews and through press releases as teams go into their final preparations. Many climbers will leave their home countries next week.
Everest Base Camp
IMG posted that their annual shipment of oxygen bottles and tons of supplies are already in Kathmandu and some already on its way to Everest Base Camp (EBC). As usual Sherpas have already gone to EBC to stake out their space on the moving glacier.
If you were to go there today, you would see rocks with painted team names and perhaps some piled up to mark their territory – all an annual tradition. Some teams want to be as close to the Icefall as possible to reduce the transit time in and out of the ‘fall and others want to be as far away as possible to ensure a quiet environment with less traffic from yaks, trekkers and other climbers.
In 2011, I found it interesting that Himex had their base camp as far away as possible, in fact actually on dirt, not the glacier yet has another small storage tent near Crampon Point where they stored their ice axes, helmets and crampons to make the short trek as convenient as possible for their clients.
The West Ridge Reenactment
The Eddie Bauer/First Ascent team will be there as usual this year. Since their launch several years ago, their marketing continues to be focused around their small, tight knit group of sponsored climbers including Dave Hahn, who will be going for his record 14th Everest summit in 2012.
In a press release today, they announced two different climbs, on different routes in a re-enactment of the 1963 feat. First will be a standard South Col effort with Hahn, Leif Whittaker and Melissa Arnot. Then a much more ambitious and rarely attempted, much less accomplished, climb of the West Ridge by Jake Norton, Brent Bishop, Charley Mace and David Morton. This is a pure professional team of experienced climbers however the risks are still real with the West Ridge representing some of the most difficult climbing on Everest.
For background on this route, Croatian mountaineer, Stipe Božić’s documented his 1979 climb of the West Ridge on this link. It is a great story with some amazing photos.
Walking with the Wounded
Another expedition that will receive a lot of press will be the British Walking with the Wounded team climbing with Himex. Their site has a nice series of interviews with the team, wounded servicemen. Their patron is UK’s Prince Harry who was rumored to climb with them but will only be there in spirit after going to the north pole with the team last year.
Of course these type of expeditions will get a lot of publicity, by design, but as always the individuals trying set their own records will provide the drama. The north side looks to be interesting with many teams returning now that it looks more politically stable and of course the south will resemble a beehive. I thought 2011 would have been a quiet year with the global economy suffering but there were 537 summits in 2011, 371 south, 166 north by 525 different climbers; so 2012 might surpass those totals with things looking up all over.
Gasherbrum I Update
On a very sad note, it is looking very discouraging for the three western climbers and the Pakistan porter now missing on Pakistan’s Gasherbrum I since Friday at noon. The weather has prevented launching helicopter search efforts. They were attempting a new route, in winter in the Karakourm. Their loss has overshadowed the success of a Polish team which did summit a few days earlier thus setting a record.
Memories are Everything