Himex posted on May 7, 2012, the official announcement of their climbs cancellation today, Monday May 7. Many other teams and climbers are talking about their pullout and report that the Himex Camp 2 is being taken down. The update mentions they are offering Camp 2 supplies to other teams to minimize Sherpa travel through the Icefall. Climbers note that while they respect Brice’s decision and acknowledge the difficulty, they remain fully committed to a safe and hopefully successful summit attempt. Of note, Himex stated they will return to the Himalaya in the Fall of 2013 (Manaslu?) and Everest in spring 2013.
On May 9, Himex posted an update on their website citing the reasons Brice felt it was too dangerous for Himex to continue and addresses their future on Everest. Read it here.
Russell Brice’s Himalayan Experience (Himex) 2012 expedition is officially over. He announced on Saturday to all of his client climbers including Everest, Lhotse and Nutpse. At the root of the cancellation was the danger in the Khumbu Icefall.
Some of his western clients had posted the news starting with a short note from Joe Martinet’s home team saying the expedition was over. Today further details were posted on Greg Paul blog with these details. I encourage you to read his entire post.
Russell laid out all the reasons for his decision….many of which we were already aware of from past discussions. However, we thought time would cure the problems on the mountain. The summit window usually does not open until May 20th so we had time on our side. Knowing this we were all wondering why Russell pulled the plug so soon. He explained that never in his life as an Everest operator had he seen worse conditions than this year. It was not just the dry windy upper mountain but especially the Khumba Icefall.
The clincher for Russ was the fact that his experienced Sherpas were scared to death of the Icefall. In fact, in a rare display from folks that don’t talk much and usually just follow instructions, three head Sherpas spoke up and expressed the concern about the mountain and how dangerous it is this year. They were truly concerned about exposing their Sherpa team to further danger that taking more loads up the mountain would do. One of the most experienced Sherpas on Everest broke down in tears apologizing to us but at the same time not backing off one iota from his concerns. Russell expects an accident of catastrophic proportions to possible hit the icefall. Even if it is a remote possibility our safety not our summiting is his primary concern. It is still very hard to hear this and swallow it.
This year’s Himex clients included the well publicized Walking with the Wounded, a team of disabled UK war veterans.
In addition to the cancellation, one of Himex’s Sherpas, Dawa Tensing Sherpa, suffered a stroke and is not expected to live.
Now the team is retrieving gear, breaking down tents and preparing to return home. A few might try to tag one of the trekking peaks.
As for the impact on the other teams, reports today, Sunday, came in that climbers safely climbed the Lhotse Face and slept at Camp 3. No other team has announced plans to cancel as of now. I will post more details tomorrow.
As you can imagine, this is the most difficult decision an expedition operator has to make. He has the expectations of his clients – their investments in time, money, training, support from family; for many this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, it is what you agree to when you sign up – you abide by the decisions made.
I hope no one second guesses Russell. I know this man personally and can only imagine that he has not slept for days. Spending his free time pouring over weather maps, reviewing logistics, talking to his Sherpas and other team’s leaders; calling trusted advisors. But in the end, he is responsible for almost 100 lives on Everest- a responsibility he takes personally.
Is his decision correct? This is not for anyone other than Russell and his team to answer regardless of the outcome of Everest 2012. For now, I wish them all safe travels home.
Memories are everything