Friday night, May 25 into Saturday morning, May 26 could have been the best night of the Everest 2012 season. Almost 100 climbers summited as early as 3:30AM in conditions rarely seen on Everest – clear skies, no winds and mild (for 29,000′) temperatures. Incredibly some even missed the sunrise from the summit by arriving a bit too early!
These teams had waited patiently through more drama than any climber should endure but choose to take the last summit window of the season. There was a constant risk it would not emerge, especially as the monsoons started on schedule in Southern India. They knew the clock was winding down.
But their patience paid off as my estimate of around 100 summited on the South. There were summits on the North but I cannot confirm any total numbers.
These teams reported in:
- International Mountain Guides Classic team: 12 climber, 14 Sherpas
- Mountain Trip: 5 climber, 10 Sherpas
- SummitClimb: 3 climber, 3 Sherpas
- Asian Trekking Eco Everest and Everest Youth: 12 climbers, 12 Sherpas
- Indian Army: 3 climbers, ? Sherpas
- RMI (Dave Hahn): 2+ climbers, ? Sherpas
- NatGeo: 6 Climbers, ? Sherpas
Of note, Rajendra Singh with the Eco Everest team reportedly became the first Indian to summit without supplemental oxygen. He has four previous no O’s 8000m summits.
For those following Chad Kellogg, his SPOT tracker indicates he did not summit and turned around just below the South Summit. He was climbing without supplemental oxygen but did have a Sherpa in support with oxygen trailing him. These are my interpretations and there is no further information I could find. Update: Very strange that Outdoor Research used Twitter to update his attempt instead of the websites people were used to following. In any event, they posted this today: “8600m. Things werent going well. Chad made tough decision to turn back. Is at S Col now. Kudos on great effort & a brave decision.”
David Klein climbing the north without supplemental oxygen did not summit last night according to his site.
Everest and Lhotse within 24 hours
Mike Moniz who summited this morning with IMG is now on his attempt to summit nearby Lhotse. Eric Simonson reports in on Mike:
Mike is heading over to Lhotse Camp 4, with Chewang (6-time Lhotse summiter). We set the Lhotse Camp 4 a couple days ago, and we have additional oxygen and gear all ready to go over there. The plan is for Mike and Chewang to head to the summit of Lhotse in the early morning, and we have two more sherpas moving up to Lhotse Camp 4 in the morning to support their bid.
This was successfully accomplished last year by AAI Guide Michael Horst summited both within 21 hours, an assumed record being the first time two 8000m mountains have been summit so quickly.
It is an incredibly difficult physical feat. It took them a couple of hours to descend to the midway point between the top of the Geneva Spur and Camp 3 where they began to regain altitude towards the summit of Lhotse. There at the IMG Lhotse High Camp they should have taken a healthy food and water break before climbing to the rock gully to the summit. There have been multiple summits of Lhotse already this year so the fixed line is in place. There have been no reports of rock fall more than normal.
Cleaning the Mountain
Teams will now begin taking every single item brought up to the High Camps back down including all the trash. Each team puts up a $12,000 trash deposit that is not returned unless they prove they brought everything down including every single oxygen bottle. Jagged Globe cleared their Camp 4 and 3 and are down to the Western Cwm
One of the regular concerns is the state of the Icefall as we enter late May and the temperatures increase. Adventure Consultants reported an avalanche but no injures in the Icefall:
Meanwhile, for those of us waiting expectantly at Base Camp a large ice avalanche crashed it’s way into the icefall ripping ladders apart and wreaking havoc. Fortunately, the ‘Ice Fall Doctors’ were quickly on the case in making repairs. Victor and Jacob were forced to find at alternative route at one damaged section and at another waited for half an hour as repairs were done. Our Sherpas ‘cruised through’, as they do with their ‘super-human genes’ derived from centuries of living in the Khumbu.
Carrying huge loads, some as big as quadruple normal loads, our Sherpas were able to get the mountain cleared today. There is a huge incentive for them to do this; it means they do not need to go back up the icefall again. For me as expedition leader this is a huge relief. We are done with the Icefall, and this in itself symbolizes the expedition is over. Our prayers are answered; we have all returned safely from this most intimidating and dangerous section of the route. The dragon breathed fire, moved angrily and was ready to pounce but ultimately we walked free.
I am not aware of any more summit attempts but am always surprised by last minute pushes on both sides – more often on the North so will keep you informed. This far we have 389 summits on the South and 148 on the North for a total of 537 on the north using my very unscientific estimates. It will take many months to get the correct final numbers. According to 8000ers.com, the record year was in 2007 with 633 total summits.
My next post will be the weekend update looking at this week and then my annual summary of the entire season including my thoughts on the Himex pullout, the deaths and more.
Thanks for following and a sincere thank you for everyone who made a donation to Alzheimer’s – there is still time if you appreciated all my updates over this season.
Memories are Everything