The push is on with multiple teams reporting their initial moves to Camp 1 or 2 on the South or ABC on the North. All are looking at a weekend summit – weather depending.
This is the first of at least two expected summit windows with the second around May 25; but this could quickly change. If the weather holds, we could see over 300 summits combined from both sides by Sunday when the winds are expected to intensify. Teams are highly motivated to get up and off.
I spoke with Eric Simonson of IMG and he confirmed that the teams are working well together to fix the lines to the summit. With all the pressure of a shortened summit window, it is critical that the route be fixed quickly and securely. Eric mentioned the winds were still strong Monday but should ease Tuesday and added:
Meanwhile, the Sherpa fixing team is ready to finish the route to the summit! We have Sherpas from IMG, Jagged Globe, Patagonia Bros, Rimo, AAI, Chilean, North Face, Peak Freaks, Adventure Consultants, 7 Summits, and Asian Trek ready to move up to Camp 2 early tomorrow morning, with the plan to fix above the Col on the 17th and 18th . AAI’s Lhakpa Rita and IMG’s Karma Rita are up at Camp 2 and will be helping to organize. This is a strong crew of Sherpas and with a little luck with the weather we are hoping they will get the route well prepared.
Pushing Beyond the Limits
There seem to be several reports of teams pushing so aggressively that I wonder about safety. The Chilean team is rushing to climb without the ropes being installed. Paul Goughy climbing with Gabriel Filippi said this:
Well, the moment of truth has arrived. We leave for Camp 2 at 2am to begin our summit bid! We need a lot of stars to align as the ropes to the summit have yet to be fixed, the ice fall needs to be maintained and we are relying on a weather window of only 48 hours (predicted using a long range forecast). Just to top off all the other troubles on Everest this year, the even longer range forecast suggests that this may be the only window of the season. As a result, we have no choice but to give it a shot now. The good news is that, one way or another, we should be back down the mountain within a week and on our way to cocktails and sunbeds (and real beds).
Young and Old Updates
The oldest climbers seem to be clustered on the North this season and the young on the South. All are climbing higher as we speak. They will attempt the summit this weekend.
Bill Burke, 70, who stopped his south side attempt due to the uncertainty and is now at Advanced Base Camp on the North. If time allows, he may try to return to the South if he is successful. Japanese Tamae Watanabe, 73, is the oldest climber this season and holds the record for the oldest woman to summit Everest back in 2002 at age 63. She and Bill are both using logistics from Asian Trekking. Another notable is 62 year old Australian Margaret Watroba climbing with Altitude Junkies. This is her third attempt.
Matt Thorton, 21 from the UK, reported he is preparing to leave for his summit attempt. He is climbing with Rob Casserely under logistics arranged by Henry Todd.
My focus now is firmly on the job in hand, that being summiting and returning safely to Base Camp. It will be difficult to stay in contact for the next few days but I am trying my hardest to be able to report from the summit.
And 18 year old Leannna Shuttleworth climbing with her father through Alpine Ascents (AAI) posted:
So this will probably be the last written post I do before our summit attempt (unless something drastically changes in the next 12 hours or so). We’re off tomorrow morning for our final foray up the Ice Fall, starting at 4am! It’s incredibly exciting but also very nerve racking; not in particular this first part, having done it a couple of times now, but going back up the Lhotse Face I think will be a big mental challenge from having not been on top form last time we climbed it, and therefore remembering how difficult I found it.
Busy Doctors at Everest+ER
The doctors at the EverestER medial clinic located on the south at Everest Base Camp report over 400 patients thus far.
Back in 2003, Luanne Freer had an idea – provide medical support to the Everest climbing community by putting a clinic at base camp. Teams pay USD$100 per western climber for unlimited medical support from the clinic physicians and their Sherpas and staff get free health care. Today almost every team takes advantage of this excellent service. It survives on donations from individuals and companies plus volunteer physicians staff the clinic each season.
I interviewed her in 2009. Today they gave us this update on 2012:
We have registered just over 400 patient visits to our clinic so far this season, but it’s slowed down a bit in the past few days … We’ve seen 5 cases of relatively superficial (1st and 2nd degree) frostbite so far, most injuries occuring in windy cold spots lower down on the mountain. And most of our patients have had nearly identical injuries in the past. We know all to well that PAST frostbite predicts future frostbite, unfortunately.
West Ridge Update
Various reports have the climbers from both NatGeo and Eddie Bauer re-evaluating their attempt. The NatGeo team has been reduced by health issues and Simone Moro is considering joining Conrad Anker. But reports from the Eddie Bauer team is of difficult, icy conditions so no team may attempt this ridge climb this year. Their respective South Col teams seem to be in good shape and content to wait out the crowds. A good update was posted today on the NatGeo effort.
My Personal Experience
If you have been following my coverage this year, you know I often intersperse my own personal experiences of four Everest climbs into my coverage. While we patiently wait for the teams to climb higher, I invite you to read my 2011 report, well OK almost a book, Everest 2011: Summit of Memories. It is a free PDF you can download from this link. It may take a moment to download. I hope you enjoy it.
Memories are Everything