With the good weather continuing, Everest is seeing a steady stream of climbers. A reported 135 climbers are pushing on Monday night and hoping to summit on Tuesday morning just from the South
This long window had been predicted for quite a while so it is nice to see it develop. May 21st has been targeted as the day for over a week.
This weather pattern has allowed a rather orderly stream of climbers with little to no summit delays reported at any of the bottlenecks on the South. The dual ropes on the Hillary Step seem to have also alleviated delays.
One of the strategies used by the larger teams was to split them into sub teams. IMG actually had three teams and Summit Climb, 7 Summits Club, Himex and others also had multiple teams. This allowed them to reduce the traffic. I cannot tell if some of the other large teams did the same such as the Indian Army.
In reality, Everest is a huge mountain, obviously, and can easily handle a summit push of 100 climbers as long as they are spread out. This happens normally as different people climb at different speeds. But if a team bunches together and climbs slows (think centipede) then it can cause everyone behind them to bunch up.
Envision an 85 year-old man driving slowly in the fast line on the highway. The only problem is you cannot pass the geezer because it means unclipping from the fixed line thus putting your safety at risk. In some cases, a slow climber or two will step aside and let others pass, that is a bit of mountain courtesy, but it does not happen especially if that slow person is already struggling.
I remember leaving the South Col with Kami Sherpa and seeing a line in front of us. We were clipped in but as Kami saw the slow climbers he unclipped, stepped to the side looked back giving me a ‘Bigfoot’ sideways look’ motioned with his hand, down shifted and we passed 20 to 30 people. Once clear, I was gasping for air. I was only 20 minutes out of camp with 7 hours to go! But this move allowed us to climb fast and be the third and fourth climbers on the summit that day out of 100. My lesson was to get out early, and climb fast to avoid the crowds
On the North, it has been reported cold and windy, but that is absolutely normal for the north side of Everest. It is amazing how different the weather can be on that side. Altitude Junkies made this post today from the extreme conditions at Camp 2:
The team is remaining at Camp 2 and will proceed to Camp 3 tomorrow. The wind speeds were double what were predicted, making it a risk for frostbite. This means the target summit date is now May 22.
Wave 5 recap
Over 75 made it on Monday morning with Jagged Globe, IMG and others reporting summits. The US Air Force 7 Summits Challenge team finished their project with climbers on the summit. Kenton Cool summited Lhotse completing his Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse swing, the first ever. Also, a first was Ellen Miller who climbed all three of these peaks, although at different season. She posted on Facebook:
Gratitude to the Mountain Gods! On 5/16 I reached the summit of Nuptse, becoming the 2nd woman and 1st American woman to climb this peak and to complete the Everest Trilogy: Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse. I am now retiring from the world of extreme high altitude climbing, leaving life above 23,000 feet to the younger climbers!!
On the North, 7 Summits Club put their second team on top as did Asian Trekking in what might have been tough conditions.
There have been reports of climbers needing help but there are no details. This is part of climbing Everest as some people push themselves too hard or have unexpected health issues. There are no reports of any more deaths which is good news as we have seen six already this year.
One nice point over the weekend was the summit of Pakistani Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to summit, along with the twin Indian sisters, Tashi and Nugshi. They hope to inspire their countries by with photos of them raising their respective flags side by side on the summit. Samina’s brother, Mirza Ali did not summit.
Finally, Dan Hughes with Jagged Globe summited on Sunday morning and did a live interview with the BBC from the summit. Now this report has the Nepal Government is questioning if he had the correct filming permit. I guess climbing the mountain was not enough of a challenge!
Memories are Everything