Climbers from Pune and Berg have summited in what must have been tough conditions. They should be starting their decent around 9:00AM local time. No details on numbers and names yet. Congratulations to all.
Well it looks like the mountain had other ideas tonight and teams are turning back due to tough conditions.
Eric Simonson, case IMG, just posted this:
Greg and Jangbu report from Base Camp that the South Col team started out for the summit, but that once they got up onto the Triangular Face, the mountain formed a cloud cap with rime ice and gusty wind that was not looking like good climbing weather. So, they turned and have descended back to the South Col, then headed back into their tents, where they will be taking a rest and making a new plan for tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted!
The Triangular Face is that part of Everest just above the South Col and the Balcony. Rime ice is white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects. So I assume the climbers were getting coated in ice. Think of it as frozen fog.
No formal word from the other teams who were headed up tonight including Pune and Berg but if IMG turned back, most likely the others already have or will soon.
It is too soon to worry too much as the forecast showed lessening winds through the May 25th. But the winds are clearly of concern. Some forecasts are now showing the winds not easing until Saturday May 18th so patience is the key. This is the time when the guides and Sherpas earn their money demonstrating their experience and knowledge of the mountain.
Winds have lessened but only a few teams left the South Col around 9:00PM Thursday May 16. No crowds were expected. Look for summits between 5AM – 10AM Friday May 17
After Wednesday night’s thwarted attempt due to high winds, Thursday is looking only slightly better. Read about last nights activities and my personal look at summit night on the post I put up early this morning.
Almost all the previous teams and climbers, estimated at 35, are still there plus a few more teams arrived throughout Thursday. My rough estimate is that there will be 75 people at the South Col who may be going for the summit tonight.
This is the second summit wave after the first one with the Sherpas fixing the rope and a couple of western climbers.
Mike Chambers, climbing with IMG, made an audio post from the South Col where you can hear the wind in the background. Several reports have the winds still high so once again those team who just arrived may select to stay put for the night and go tomorrow. Those who stayed last night will most likely go up or down.
That is not as strange as it sounds. Very few teams will spend more than one night waiting at the South Col due to the harsh conditions, extreme altitude and oxygen supplies. So they will either push for the summit, or descend to Camp 2 and wait for the next window. Of course, some will end their expedition all together knowing the weather had the last word.
The wind needs to be below 30 mph/48kph for climbers to have a better chance of avoiding frostbite. A bit of good news is that the temperatures seem to have improved slightly.
All this is to be expected as we move towards summer. By the way, this is one of the problems with climbing in the Fall, each day gets more windy, colder and shorter.
Looks like the ski attempt by Adrian Ballinger from the summit of Lhotse is in jeopardy. Monica Pries, Alpenglow, made this update:
Conditions on the mountain are good…for climbing; wind is gusty (as we were led to expect by the forecast) but temperatures are mild. Adrian has however made it quite clear that the terrain they have ascended so far, through The Yellow Band and to the Lhotse junction…is utterly un-skiable. Nothing but bullet proof ice and rocks. No snow … ANYWHERE! In fact, he was so despondent that he said they were both secretly hoping that their skis might just disappear over the next 24hours! and I know how much he loves his La Sportiva skis….so it must be looking pretty dire. Hmmmmm. One thing at a time…let’s get Everest done first and then think about the skiing. They should arrive at South Col in the next couple of hours.
Another update on the Lhotse conditions from the Giripremi team:
On 15th May 2013 Ashish Mane along with his Sherpas Lakpa Dorji and Pasang Sherpa reached summit camp of Mt. Lhotse 7800M at 12.30pm. Towards the evening the wind started blowing at very high speed. Hence they were in dilemma about the summit attempt. Finally the wind dropped at 2.00am midnight. It is exactly when Ashish along with his sherpas set out for the summit attempt. As they were moving up through a narrow couloirs towards the top of the ridge the wind again started blowing at 100km/hr making it very difficult to move ahead.
The danger of falling rocks and hard ice through colouir was very high at that point of time. But like a strong mountaineer Ashish showed big courage and continued ahead. At the dawn they were about to reach the exit of the colouir. At 7.00am they reached the top of the Lhotse ridge. From here onwards they continued on the ridge towards their left to reach the main summit of Mt. Lhotse (8516M).
Remember that the Lhotse Couloir is very steep and rocky and is not representative of the conditions on Everest where deep snow was experienced by the rope fixing team last week.
Don’t look for summits on the north for another day or so.
On a sad note, the body of Alexey Bolotov’s body has been recovered and is in Kathmandu. There are not a lot a lot of details on the accident but this is the article.
More summit updates on this post throughout the day
Memories are Everything