The saying goes that no news is good news, well today is kind of like that. All the teams and individual climbers are reporting business as usual on Everest. This means, cold temps, high winds, heavy breathing and lots of red blood cells in the making.
Fixing the Face
On the south the Sherpas are preparing to set the fixed rope to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. This is a massive effort to set two separate lines from Camp 2 to Camp 3. There are two lines to prevent bottlenecks – an up and a down line requiring over 4,000′ of rope. The ropes are anchored into the frozen surface with aluminum pickets, ice screws and carabiners. All of this is heavy and must be hauled up the frozen and steep face before it can be set. The Sherpas are hoping to set it in one tremendous push.
Once set, the route is open to the other teams. Sometimes very aggressive teams will actually follow the Sherpas as close as they can but this discouraged to allow them to get the work completed. But look for a few teams to spend the night at C3 this week.
Before I get into weather, remember this is about w e a t h e r ! And everyone is an expert and no one is an expert.
Climbers and teams spend months, years, decades honing their skills to climb Everest. They try their best to control everything, but one area is out of anyone’s control – the weather. The best anyone can do is to understand the historic weather patterns and utilize the best prediction technology available.
This boils down to a few world-class weather forecasters who monitor the conditions and relay their best estimates to paid subscribers each season. The leading suppliers include Everest Weather, Expedition Weather, and Metroexploration.
Teams receive forecasts via email, text, phone calls and private websites. They combine their raw data with their own observations and experiences to make the real time decisions. This is hard, thankless stuff.
In general wind, not cold, is the biggest concern for teams and most teams will not climb in winds higher than 25 mph/40 kph. it is a deadly combination for frostbite in those conditions and even with the best clothing technology, it is safer to stay in your tent.
Complicating matters is that Everest is a huge massif creating its own weather and can have “micro zones” of high winds and even snow squalls. So while it may be fine at base camp and the summit, it can be deadly at an intermediate high camp. Finally, as we all know, storms can develop quickly further confounding forecasters and climbers.
For us observers, there are some public domain forecasts based on computer models which give an approximation of the conditions but not the fine details many leaders demand in order to make life and death decisions of when to send their teams higher or lower. This table courtesy of Meteoexploration is a good overview of the next few days for the summit of Everest:
[iframe http://www.meteoexploration.com/mountain/readpeaks.php?lang=en&site=ME50004&map=no 800 375]
Webcams and Stations
These next images are live links from the Italian research station established in 1996 to study pollution and is located between the villages of Lobuche and Gorak Shep, about a days walk from Everest Base Camp. Today it is available to any scientist.
They have a weather station and webcam available online. The webcam is updated every 5 minutes during daylight and the weather station is from Kala Patar. Please click on the links to see these pages displayed fully but these following images are live if it daylight in Nepal! The best webcam shots are in the morning hours when there are usually fewer clouds.
[iframe http://www.evk2cnr.org/WebCams/PyramidOne/everest-webcam.html 800 600]
[iframe http://share-everest.it/SHAREEverest2011MeteoData/KalaPattar/sensorKalaPattar.html 800 600]
Finally, weather on Everest is difficult for the experts, so all this information is for fun and not for climbing decisions. That is up to the climbers, leaders and experts.
Memories are Everything