A Nod to History
The new route up the Lhotse Face follows the track established in 1953, Eric Simonson of IMG reminded us today. But more importantly the ropes are now fixed to the South Col opening up the opportunity to stock that high camp with tents and oxygen bottles for the summit attempts.
Greg and Jangbu report that the IMG fixing sherpas Nima Karma and Karma Gyalgen (with the help of the AAI, Himalayan Guides, North Face, Chilean, and Benegas teams) left Camp 2 today at 4:30am and finished fixing to South Col at 2:35pm and were back to Camp 2 about 6pm. Sounds like the recent snowfall has improved the conditions on the route. Great job you guys!
With many climbers finishing their acclimatization rotation to Camp 3 on the South or above the North Col on the North, their attention turns to rest and the weather.
The big event on the watch list is a week of low winds on the summit itself. By now every Everest devote knows that the jet stream hangs around Everest throughout the year generating winds over 150 to 200 mph (240-340kph). Climbers want to see winds under 30 mph.
So the weather watchers turn their attention to the Bay of Bengal. As Spring turns to Summer, the annual monsoons start up generating waves of pressure moving the jet stream north into Tibet. The harsh summit winds go along for the ride, so to speak.
The teams need a minimum of 5 days for a summit push – 1 day to Camp 2 or ABC on the North, 1 rest day, a day to Camp 3 or the North Col, then a 24 – 36 hour summit push including 12 hours stop at the South Col or Camp 2 on the North. The return to Camp 2 or ABC takes another half day and then back to base camp.
This is a long time in weather forecasting terms. Most forecasts look about 2 to 3 days out. It is not uncommon for climbers to reach a high camp only to be brought back when something unexpected occurs.
With this in mind, the team leaders are making plans and assuming the snow will bond the loose rocks up high. However, let’s be clear, I am 1000% certain if the Sherpas setting the line to summit feel it is unsafe,the entire season will come to a dramatic and immediate halt.
Tim Ripple of Peak Freaks made this post, planning for success:
Things are looking good up on the mountain so I was all over base camp today with Greg Vernovage from IMG trying to get Sherpa staff organized to get the rest of this climb underway. The new route to Camp 3 seems to be working out with no rock fall and the route to the South Col from there is straightforward and considered normal conditions.
What’s next? We are looking to have 10 climbing Sherpas plus their oxygen supplements for fixing the route to the summit, at current we have two from each of the following teams; Peak Freaks, Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents and IMG, we are hoping to find two more from other teams who are here to make a complete team to get the job done- at the end of the day we are left still looking. We have a pretty good weather window right now to push through to the summit but we are expecting extreme high winds to move in as yearly as the 12th and backing off around the 17th. Our Sherpas are stoked and want to give it their best shot as well as all of our team members. Though our weather insight does not go too far in advance, it’s hopeful it will follow the norm – if so we may start getting some summits starting around the 20th or 21st.
The Emotions of Everest 2012
Bandar, climbing with IMG, posted a introspective blog today, the Blog of the Day, where he describes climbers leaving their climbs in tears – the stress of the experience. Not unusual. every year almost every team has someone say enough is enough and leave early. This is a good read:
We have seen a lot of people go home from various teams the past few days. People have broken down in tears from some of the more grimm events that have happened and others broken down from fear given some of the realities of the mountain. We are all having each and every fiber of our being tested and only the most resilient and robust can make it through. It is tough. Tougher than anything I have ever done in my life, but that’s why I’m here. I don’t climb because it is easy, I climb because it tests me, makes me stronger and helps me draw a map of who I am. I am lucky that I have the support of those at home and also of the hybrid team. So far, none of us are even thinking about leaving. That group cohesion, our aggregate strength and unity is very important. We are now behaving like an 8 legged table, each of us helping to hold up the weight of the situation.
For some, time is running out. Bill Burke, the 70 year old attempting a double summit had to pull the plug on his south climb due the delays. He is now in the process of moving to the north side for an attempt. Bill had summited the south but not the north so if he could not get both, the north became his priority.
For these reasons, I have decided to flip my expedition to the North side. I will depart Base Camp on May 7 and move down to the village of Lobuche. On May 8, I will take a helicopter to Lukla and from Lukla I will fly to Kathmandu. I will stay in Kathmandu until May 12. On May 12, I will be transported by land rover across the border into Tibet. I will stay in the village of Nyalam on May 12 and drive to Chinese Base Camp on May 13. I plan to rest in Chinese Base Camp on May 13-14, trek to Intermediate Base Camp on May 15 and then trek to Advance Base Camp on May 16 where I will join the North side team. If I am fortunate enough to summit early on the North side, I will consider a return to the South side for a South side summit.
Reports are coming in that the North side has experienced quite a bit of fresh snow and appears to be in good condition. The ropes are in just below the summit ridge at 7900M
Uber, ultra speed climber Ueli Steck was spotted on Everest and in fact had his picture taken with AAI climber Leanna Shuttleworth! Teams are intending to fix the line to the summit of Lhotse. While I don’t cover them specifically due to lack of information, Everest is very international with over 100 climbers from India, a large Korean team and more.
Memories are Everything