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Apr 242014
 
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Note and Update 4: Changed the headline of this post to be more accurate as the mountain is not “officially” closed whatever that means. That said, all the major teams  have left leaving a few tiny ones and perhaps the Russians but who knows how they will climb with no support in the Icefall. Not impossible but very, incredibly difficult and time is running out with the monsoon season approach at the end of May. Not  a lot of time to acclimatize.

This situation has been the most difficult I have ever covered about Everest sine 2002. There are lies, manipulation, misdirection, confusion … I did my best to keep track of it and apologize when I got it wrong, but corrected it as soon I found out.

I have updated this post by striking through the incorrect parts as of April 27, 2014. Also, I have added emphasis on the subtle points that deserve more attention. But this statement I stand by:

My view is Everest is like an airport with the terminal open but the runways closed.

Update 3: The final large #Everest2014 teams that might have climbed declare the end: Himex and Altitude Junkies.

Update2: I knew this would happen and I apologize. The Ministry of Tourism issued a press release saying the mountain is open and everyone is welcome to climb. (see at bottom of this post).

Teams are packing even after this release. The future climbing plans all have to do with the Icefall Doctors and if they will stay and mange the route through the icefall. They have been threatened, their families have been threatened if they stay and they have told other teams they are leaving. This could change if the military comes in but it still leaves their families at risk.

I have heard of no teams planning to climb and at least 10 have said they are leaving officially including: AC, AAI, IMG, JG, AT – these are the largest teams with the most Sherpa who do all the real work, without them, the season is over. The remaining wild card is Himex and Altitude Junkies who have not said anything official but it would be tough for them to go on their own, but not impossible.

Update 1: Of note, just as I published this, a few people said the mountain had not been closed and we still have not seen official statements from some remaining teams including Himex, Altitude Junkies and Asian Trekking.  I guess there is always a tiny chance something might change … this is how it goes on Everest.


Original Post:

A representative from Nepal’s Ministry finally came to Everest Base Camp on Thursday April 24, 2014 after several teams announced they were ending their seasons to officially close say Everest is open and everyone is welcome climbing from Nepal. He made an offer to honor climbing permits for five years.

Even without this ‘official’ closure, the mountain was effectively shut down anyway. The reasons are a bit more complicated than a sound bite or headline.  And the long term implications are unknown, real and frankly disturbing for mountaineering in general.

In this post, I’ll try to provide the big picture based on my knowledge of the situation at Everest, my own experiences and my own judgment. These are my opinions and no one else’s.

There are three reasons that brought a halt to the Everest 2014 season from Nepal: safety, respect and money. Let’s look at them individually before looking at the future.

Safety

The ice serac that collapsed on April 18 had been identified as an objective hazard for years. In fact it has released ice into the Khumbu Icefall almost every season in recent memory. In 2012 it narrowly missed many climbers. But knowing about it and doing something about are two different things. It is simply impossible to ‘remove’ the danger so all you can do is try to avoid it.

This year, the Icefall Doctors took the route more to the center than they had for years tying to anticipate a collapse. Sadly it was not far enough. This is also difficult as taking it too far away from the West Shoulder moves the route closer to Nuptse which also has seracs and avalanche danger. Plus that side of the Icefall has very deep and dangerous crevasses. So no good solution exist.

The Icefall itself seems to be more unstable, especially the upper part where it tips over from the Western Cwm. In this area, the ice blocks are huge, teetering and ready to collapse at any moment without notice. Again, there is little to do about this only to get through the area as fast as possible.

So when you put all of this together, given the recent collapse, it was reasonable for everyone to be wary of returning to this area right now. In the end, many people , but not all, felt it was simply too dangerous to keep climbing and there are no real alternatives this late in the season such as using helicopters to bypass the Icefall.

Respect

Mount Everest is a sacred mountain to the people of Tibet and Nepal, with special significance to the Sherpa people. The Tibetans call Everest, Chomolungma or mother goddess of the universe. The Nepalese call Everest, Sagarmatha,  goddess of the sky. When you summit Everest you do not stand on the very top as it would be disrespectful so you claim the summit a couple of steps lower.

Many in the Sherpa community feel Chomolungma is angry and saying not to climb this year.

With 16 Sherpa deaths in an area every person would have to pass through to reach the Western Cwm, there is a matter of respect for the fallen. There are still missing Sherpa who have not been found in that area, presumably.

Out of respect for the mountain and for their fellow Sherpa, some in the community felt it would be disrespectful to continue climbing this year.

Money

This is probably the most distasteful part of this season. The Sherpas from porters to cooks to climbing Sherpa to Sidars often felt their pay was not commensurate with their risk. They had made this case to operators and Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism for years.

As the skills of the climbing Sherpa have increased through efforts like the Khumbu Climbing Center and simply climbing for years beside certified professional western guides, some of the climbing Sherpa have earned International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) certification after personal investments and years of tests. Many felt they should be paid the same as guides working for western companies.

The issue of life insurance has also been around for years with an uneven application by some western and Nepalese guide services. Previously the benefit was $4000, barley enough to cover burial costs and the annual remembrance ceremony that are customary in Nepal. It left families without their primary earner to depend on others to survive in an already difficult part of the world. For 2014 it was increased to $10,000, still insufficient for the remaining family.

Overall, the issue of compensation took center stage with the deaths of so many. To add to the situation, the Nepal government takes in over $3 million in permit fees each year for Everest and little to none of that money makes it way to the people and villages in the Khumbu.

Summarizing all this, some in the Sherpa community felt this was the time to take a stand to get the attention of operators, the government and the world. They gave the government a list of demands, the government agreed but the Sherpa didn’t believe them. After a heated series of meetings in Kathmandu, the government agreed to send a representative to base camp presumably to negotiate. He arrived and promptly shut down the mountain.

Impact

Independent and well before the government closure, looking at all three of these areas, apparently a few vocal leaders in the Sherpa community felt they had no choice but to stop climbing. During meetings, it got ugly with hot debates on both sides. Some worried about their future if the climbing stopped, others worried they would never make progress if the climbing continued.

Threats were made to Sherpas who didn’t agree to stop climbing – threats against them and their families. This has happened before when the Maoists were more visible in Nepal threatening those who didn’t make payments for protection or to do what they were told. This history is real and recent.

Once again the Nepal government responded too late by trying to send the military to maintain control. They tried but were stopped by altitude issues. Missing in all this was the government office the Ministry told the world they would set up to maintain control from the start of the season. A continuing trend from previous years, few officials and liaison officers were present to do their job.

Looking at threats, safety, respect and money; many Sherpa felt they had no choice but to stop climbing.

The commercial teams are 100% dependent on the Sherpa to fix the route through the icefall, to carry loads to the high camps and support the foreign climbers on their summit pushes. In the end, the commercial operators were left with no choice. Even the couple of independent teams assumed the Icefall would be fixed with ladders thus were also thwarted in their attempts.

Future

Climbing in Nepal has changed forever. Some western guides are questioning if they will ever return to Everest based on safety. Others are wondering if they can trust the political environment ever again. I have not heard one operator question the loyalty of their Sherpa as almost anyone looking at this situation feel they are the loser with lost work and income.

Without a doubt, climbing Everest can be made safer but it will change the way the mountain is climbed. Using helicopters to ferry gear above the Khumbu Icefall is one way. Previously the Ministry refused to allow this but now are considering it.

Guides will have to dig deep in reviewing their programs as to who they take on as clients, their experience, and skills. The price will almost definitely go up, perhaps significantly thus further reducing the number of climbers on Everest, not a bad thing.

I don’t know what will happen, obviously. 2015 will be a milestone year. Will we see more talk and no action? Will the changes be real to improve safety and reduce crowds? Will Everest lose it’s magic?

Personally, I don’t think Everest will ever lose it’s magic or it’s magnetism. It is the world’s highest mountain deserving all the respect she demands. The question is how and if the climbing world can meet those demands.

I’ll keep working hard to update everyone on the continuing story plus follow the climbers on the North side. So stay with me, it’s not over.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

Personal Update – Climbing K2

At the end of each Everest season, many of my regular followers ask if I will cover the climbing season in the Karakorum. Well, I’m going to do better than just cover it for 2014, I’m going to attempt to summit K2 this summer. I plan on covering like it’s never been covered by being there myself, and invite you to join me in a unique, fun and rewarding way.

As many of you know, my passion is climbing and my purpose is Alzheimer’s. So with that cause, I will climb the world’s hardest mountain to raise awareness and funds to fight the world’s hardest disease.  Be my hero and join the climb, join the fight. K2 as you’ve never seen it. More details on May 1.

 

Nepal Press Release

English press Release 001

NIH only spends on Alzheimer’s research around $90 per person living with the disease (source: UsAgainstAlzheimer's)
Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed

  198 Responses to “Everest 2014: Everest Nepal Functionally Closed: The Big Picture – Update 4”

  1. Your means of explaining all in this piece
    of writing is genuinely nice, all be capable of simply
    understand it, Thanks a lot.

  2. Blast the mountain as to change the topography?? Quit treating the sherpa as slaves and stop letting amateurs summit. People also die on mountains in the us every year….and mount Washington is under 7000 ft.

  3. Many thanks for your blog, I was at EBC last November and passed through Sherpa villages, brilliant people. Seeing the Khumbu made me realise what brave people the Ice Doctors are, I wouldn’t put one foot in there. Sympathy and prayers to the families of the Sherpa who died in the tragedy.
    Good luck on K2 I flew into Islamabad a few years ago and got a chance to see K2 from the air – looks steep

  4. Exceptional job on CNN this morning Alan. Godspeed on K2 this summer.

  5. Nice Job on CNN Alan!

  6. While it may seem fair to say that a sherpa guide should earn the same as the western guide, I think the reality would cause a huge rift in their social structure. Already they earn 10 times the average national wage. Can you imagine what would happen if this amount suddenly became 71 times? Times that by a few years as a guide. I certainly don’t think it would lead to anyone’s happiness in the community. They would just end up with a westernised capitalist social structure, pitting one against the other. Money being the basic problem in this current situation.

    I think the government should be asking for more money from westerners and subsequently putting more money back into the community.

  7. Hi Alan. I have a friend who is due to go on a hiking tour only as far as Base Camp (southern side) in early May. They are tourists, not climbers and won’t be trying to summit. Do you think the Sherpas pulling out will affect their group ? ?

  8. Just very very sad, from the tragic loss of Sherpa life in the avalanche to the cancellations of expeditions :( . This has given my younger brother (who is dead against me attempting Everest in 2017 only more ammo! I feel for all the guys who have saved huge amounts of money and put in hours of training, only to lose everything. It’s one thing failing to summit due to personal endurance, health or other things but another to not even be able to make an attempt

    • Dear Divyesh,

      The people who “saved huge amounts of money and put in hours of training, only to lose everything” did not lose their lives, only an Everest bid.

      There’s always the risk of a climb getting cancelled which includes the mountain’s own weather. Mountaineers know this and the loss of money is factored in as part of the risk. I would think the clients know this too.

      There is no price (really) for the impact on the sherpa community who lost fathers, husbands, sons, cousins & friends.

      Best of luck to you in life and to Alan on K2.

      Sincerely,
      Mary Ellen

  9. Nicely written Alan – Rob Chang here from he 2005 Climbingforacure team- I eerily now recollect the article/dispatch I had written in 2005 when teams then thought there may be no summits that season- I remember Apa Sherpa saying maybe the mountain wants a rest and none of us may get to the top- it looks like that season has finally come- just wanted to say hello and thanks for your continued efforts- RIP our good Sherpa friends–good luck on K2 and be safe- Godspeed-
    Robert Chang

  10. Alan

    Good luck on K2 I can not wait for more news to come

    Ed Buck

  11. Minor little nit pick but “Sagarmatha” isn’t “goddess of the sky”. Literally the word means ocean churn from “sagar” – ocean and “matha” – churn. Goes back to the old Hindu legend of the Gods and Demons churning the ocean using a mountain as the churn and a snake as the rope that turned the churn (sort of like the old butter churns). According to myth the churn was a huge mountain (as in Everest) in the middle of the primeval ocean.

    The interesting thing of course is that current geological theory holds that the Himalayas as we now know them lay at the bottom of a sea (the Tethys Sea). The coming together of the southern landmass (Panagea) and the northern mass is what raised the Himalayas (which continue to rise even today). So the myths of old seem to have some sort of founding in what is today accepted as fact, even though this may have happened hundreds of millions of years ago!

    Good luck on K2.

  12. http://alpinist.com/doc/web14s/wfeature-three-springs-everest
    Hi Alan I found this beautiful article from a young Nepali woman on the aebsite of the alpinist and thought it might provide food for thoughts reflection away from the media brawl. Hope you and others might enjoy it.

  13. As far as I am concerned if Everest gets harder to get to its a good thing. Hopefully this will be resolved next year and deserving (experienced) climbers aren’t kept away permanently.

    I dream of going to K2, good luck and come home safe. Alas, I will be lucky if I make it to Mt Washington this summer, but this will take me closer to my goal of getting in as many U.S. State High Points as possible.

  14. This horrible event makes me wonder. Can they fly up a small cannon and blast the most dangerous ice seracs before the season even gets into full swing? Something similar to what ski resorts do. I imagine they could load a custom powder charge just strong enough to knock down overhanging ice in March or something before Sherpas arrive. I know the Himalaya are sacred mountains, but in the name of using science to mitigate the dangers of avalanches and deaths, why not?

    • Hey Jared, Why not just blow the top 1000 ft off the mountain to make it easier? Create that heliport above the icefall or maybe even better on the south summit. Then build a catwalk with heating to the summit? Technology has proved it can tame just about everything. The whole point of Everest is to climb the natural feature. The big expeditions have already debased it with huge comfortable camps insulating their clients from reality.

      • Wow..those are all great points! I do think there is the technology to lower the mountain 1000 ft! I doubt the Sherpas or operators would be too offended if a very obvious, super dangerous piece of ice was mechanically knocked down to prevent it crushing 16 people. Since this would have little change on the natural feature of the mountain (assuming it worked), you could probably stop crying about it. If you’re capable.

    • t h e m o u n t a i n i s s a c r e d
      what part of your own adjective do you not understand?

    • Finally someone who thinks like I do. I could not understand why it would not be possible to set off charges that were dropped by helicopter….thus eliminating the dangerous avalanches that occur in the falls…

  15. Great coverage as always Alan. I am thrilled to hear you are going to try K2! Way to crank it up big time!

  16. Why not try Mount Annapurna?

    • Too dangerous and I’m not good enough! I think K2 will be just fine David :)

      • Alan, I admire your attempting K2. Are you saying Annapurna is more dangerous/harder than K2? I thought everyone agreed K2 was the toughest. What are your thought?

        • A lot depends on the route. K2 is widely accepted as “difficult” as is Annapurna. In terms of stats, the death per summit % for Annapurna is 35% and 26% for K2. By the way, Everest is 3.8%

  17. a beautiful post about respecting the Kumbu and straying off the highway to lesser known but just as forboding territory.
    http://benmarkhart.wordpress.com/words/other-work/5353m-no-trail-and-no-backup-dangerous-or-reckless/

  18. First of all, thank you for the great coverage of this tragic Everest season, Alan!

    I just came across this message on the website of Arnold Coster Expeditions:

    “Team Meeting In Base Camp
    Our team is ready to climb and none of our Sherpa’s or Members want to quit. Only a decision from Ministery level can stop us!”

    http://www.arnoldcosterexpeditions.com/blog/team-meeting-in-base-camp

    Wow! K2! I wish you all the best!

  19. Thanks for all the updates. I love your coverage every year. Are teams still going forward on the North Face Routes? Is this affecting their climb?

  20. I hear there is a Russian team that is not leaving and will carry on unsupported. Alan, you will still be covering Everest north side and possibly these Russians, yes?

    • Yes Randy as much as I can. Traditionally Russian climbers don’t talk much about what they are planning or doing – they just do it! Yes, covering the north until they summit

  21. Alan,
    Tourism Minister was into Everest Base Camp and there was gathering and discussion there…
    Hope they solved it……

  22. Alan – I have enjoyed your Everest blog over the last few years and appreciate the updated info and your insight into this tragedy. Best wishes on your K2 adventure – I donated in your honor. Looking forward to your posts on the climb!

  23. good luck on your K2 climb sir Alan…. keep safe always…

  24. Good luck on K2 Alan, you’ll have to dust off that second axe for this one!! I admired the ambition and look forward to being inspired by your stories.

  25. Alan,
    Do you think large commercial organizations (fearing the loss of revenues and sustainability if their business) could/would come together to hire a non-local crew to be new “ice fall doctors”?

  26. Thanks for your brilliant coverage of events on Everest this season, Alan; it is a sad state of affairs on and off the mountain in Nepal. Let us hope for more positive news from K2 – best of luck!

  27. Thank you for your write-ups, keeps us in touch with what is going on up there, very interesting and informative. It is however very sad that although I empathise with the sherpa, not many spare a thought for the climbers that are being punished for political agendas. My sister is on the mountain and hoped to summit this season. The amount of money, time and effort it takes to get there is unbelievable. It is a once in a lifetime thing for most (I know how hard she worked to save up this money and all the training that was put in) and this seems to be overlooked due to the politics. According to the groups that are the last to leave it is not about the safety of the mountain, hence the announcement from the ministry that the mountain is still open.

  28. First of all, thank you for the great coverage of this tragic Everest season, Alan!

    I just came across this message on the website of Arnold Coster Expeditions:

    “Team Meeting In Base Camp
    Our team is ready to climb and none of our Sherpa’s or Members want to quit. Only a decision from Ministery level can stop us!”

    http://www.arnoldcosterexpeditions.com/blog/team-meeting-in-base-camp

    Wow! K2! I wish you all the best!

  29. Best of luck on K2! This armchair climber will be following your adventures as reported on your blog. Be safe!

  30. Alan,

    Which guide service do you plan to climb with on K2? Adventure Peaks or Field Touring Alpine?

    All the best,
    Ken

  31. Alan, have just discovered your blog, through one of the many articles I’ve read this past week about the recent tragic loss of life on Everest. Sad and bittersweet on so many levels. Thank you for your on-site reporting and knowledge. Hoping that much good will come from this tragedy, especially for the sherpas. Meanwhile, like others … K2!!! Wow!! Will look forward to following your expedition! Blessings and be safe.

  32. Great to hear of your upcoming expedition to K2, the mountaineers mountain. I wish you the very best !!

  33. Phurba will not be rising above the tie this year.

    What will Russell Brice do next year? Try Tibet again? The South Side has not been good for his business.

  34. Nice write up Alan.

  35. Alan,

    First I want to thank you for the effort you put into your blog… I’ve been lurking here for years now and read your posts religiously… I’m not a climber myself, but am completely riveted by the idea of it and read everything related to it… but, your blog is my absolute FAVORITE… so thank you for your well balanced and passionate words… they have moved me to joy & tears on more occasions then you can imagine
    .
    I’m completely broken hearted by the tragic nature of this season.. First the accident, and then everything that has gone on since… my heart and prayers go out to all involved and their families.

    Your news about K2!!!!.. Thank you for giving us a preamble about the good(?) news on your next adventure… I am both excited and frightened for you… such a big mountain… such a huge goal.. I can’t wait to read all about it and wish you well…

    The main reason I’m writing (as opposed to the lurking I usually do) is that YOU have moved me to make a donation in your name to your Alzheimer research… I’ve also been affected by this tragic disease and give other money to this cure as much as I can.

    This time I’m going to do it in your name… Usually I donate to worthy charities in private… but this time I’m putting it out there… loud and proud… to all you other lurkers and climbers as a challenge
    Come on everyone… Alan does so much for us… Let’s do something for him to show our appreciation…

    I’ve just donated $500 in his name to Alzheimer research and will donate another $500 after his K2 trip (as I need time to save the $ for the second donation)… so there it is… Let’s do something for a really incredible man that is doing something amazing for us… I challenge everyone who reads this note and his blog to dig deep for your their first donation and sacrifice to get to your match goal… Alan’s climbing mountains for us…

    we can skip a few lattes (or meals) for him… let’s show him how much we care and appreciate him

    Nancy

    • Nancy, you made my day and gave me strength to go tomorrow. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • crying now.. such a little thing I did.. but such a large thing you do… love you for it… and God speed… my thoughts will be with you always.. every step.. never doubt that there are lurkers out there that care and wish you well

        Love
        Nancy

  36. Here’s a great read from the Everest base camp for those interested.
    http://keswick-bed-and-breakfast.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/intimidation-lies-and-deceit-on-everest.html?m=1

    And apologies if I’m “spamming” on the comment section, but thought this might interest many of you. Just picked this up from twitter.

    • Mickey, thanks. Great read. If those local folks revving this up are the same ones throwing punches last season we should at least know their names to stop smearing the other hard working folks there trying to earn their way. Contemptible unionised tactics in the midst of tragedy, even when it is from potentially less sophisticated participants annoys me greatly. Peace to those affected by your recent loss.

      • Craig and Randy, You both are making a great point. Never thought of that myself but now when I think about it, it could be there’s a connection indeed.

        When it comes to Ueli and Simone and fight last year, I do not see a reason why those guys would have lied about it. Seems that something’s happening in younger Sherpa community, maybe they just have enough of seeing everyone else taking the big bucks home and they want to take over no matter what. My thoughts only though, I am in no position to criticize anyone and I will keep looking into it with an open mind. Yet I feel that from now on Everest is going to be very different place for years to come. So much has changed and happened in the past week.

    • Craig, I have been thinking about simone and ueli a lot in the last few days. I am now convinced their version of the story was the truth and that they were assaulted for no good reason. If last year they had properly dealt with that fight and expelled the violent individuals from the mountain instead of brushing it under the rug, this year’s situation may not have deteriorated to such a low point.

      I think senior sherpas, the Nepali government, and the commercial expeditions all share the blame for not nipping the violence in the bud last year.

      • Can take a lot for things to go from what may be considered a generally appropriate response to way outta line, even up there. Stress, tiredness, frustrations, resentment, emotional immaturity, personality type, jealously, cultural differences, age, not knowing your place, or the facts are just a few of the multitude. But if you get bent outta shape you are responsible for your actions, as I think those guys were; partially or fully, who knows?. But I was always surprised those violent folks weren’t at least sacked and sent from the time last year, and not back without supervision this year, if at all. Can someone tell me how these guys are there still, if in fact they are the same few? Would have thought they were in the employ of someone. If so, who and what responsibility for their staff do they have? Sounds like its a mute point now anyways but never liked it last year when the nameless few tarnished the rest. Cheers, C.

  37. Thanks for excellent blog, dialog on the issues with a minimum of drama. I respect your opinion and look forward to your reports from K2!

  38. I would like to say Mr. Arnette, your blog on April 22 contains some good words of wisdom. I have enjoyed your site for years. Thank you.

  39. I have never ever climbed and I’m most likely never going to climb either. Therefore I have absolutely no right to criticize and this post of mine has absolutely nothing to do with criticizing anyone.

    But.. I guess I start to understand the meaning of term summit fever even here from my home, far away from those mountains. The disappointment that I have in a way that I can’t follow these men and women getting up the mountain and summit, it’s a strange one. Now if I imagine myself being in that base camp wanting to get up ..man, just gives me so much more respect for the guys like Ed Viesturs and so many others who turn back just below the summit.

    Now that being said. Decision to go home is 100% the right call to do from my humble opinion, said here from the comfort of my home.

  40. Thanks for all of the updates, Alan. Looking forward to following your K2 adventure.

  41. The final large #Everest2014 teams that might have climbed declare the end: Himex and Altitude Junkies.

  42. Any word on the feelings and/or opinions of the north face Sherpa?

  43. Alan – Congratulations on making the decision to climb K2 and best of luck! I can’t help but think of those 18 summits in both 2007 and 2008 and that with the right team, training, knowledge and mental determination that this mountain is doable. Yes, I know the death to summit ratios don’t look very appealing and I know about the death last year and the previous no summits the year(s) before. But you are an experienced climber and should be able to read ‘the signs’ if conditions and/or timing is not right. I believe Garrett Madison is going this year as well. Go early. Enjoy and I can’t wait to follow along!

  44. I respect the sherpas choice. And no no no please don’t attempt K2! Killer mountain Alan…killer!

  45. Great news about K2 Alan really excited,about the only good news to come out of the last few weeks.

  46. All the best Alan for your K2 trip

  47. Thanks very much for your excellent reporting at this very difficult time Alan.
    it’s great to have a constant reliable source of information amongst the rumours coming from the mainstream media

  48. Alan, I haven’t heard from the Monizes. Have you? Triple 8? Last I heard, they were going to see what they could do about the north side, as they are already in Tibet.

  49. Best of luck on K2 Alan!

  50. Best of luck on K2 Alan!

  51. Thanks for keeping us posted. Your coverage has been really helpful in following things.

  52. Thanks for keeping us posted. Your coverage has been really helpful in following things.

  53. Not reliable information about Everest Official Closed, too much gossip and self promotion on I KNEW IT. Well it is NOT officialy closed yet

  54. Alan, the official statement of the Ministry of Culture of Nepal says that “the minister urged all team leaders and members to continue expedition activities and fix ladder and rope.” According to the ministry the “supporting climbers” also agreed to support expedition activities. So it seems that the season is not officially over yet. Can you comment on this?

  55. I knew this would happen, just as I posted the attached post, the Ministry did a press release saying the mountain open and everyone is welcome. I think this is a face saving move. Teams are packing even after this release. It all has to do with the Icefall Doctors and if they will stay and mange the route through the icefall. They have been threatened, their families have been threatened if they stay and they have told other teams they are leaving. This could change if the military comes in but it still leaves their families at risk.

    I have heard of no teams planning to climb and at least 10 have said they are leaving officially including: AC, AAI, IMG, JG, AT – these are the largest teams with the most Sherpa who do all the real work, without them, these season is over. The remaining wild card is Himex and Altitude Junkies who have not said anything official but it would be tough for them to go on their own, but not impossible. See the linked post for the press release.

    My view is Everest is like an airport with the terminal open but the runways closed.

  56. ….awesome. Your reporting is honest and comprehensive. Your writing is exceptional and your heart is as big as Montana. Thank you for your coverage. Best of luck on K2…..

  57. Hi Alan,
    many greetings from Germany. Thank you very much for your phantastic climbing coverage. K2 sounds great. Wish you the best and looking forward to your blogs. Happy “bottlenecking” and take care for the seracs above it!!

    Will there be also videos about your climb? I’d like to see the black pyramide alive! Which route are you going to take? Abruzzi spur?

    Happy climbing

    Tobi

  58. Thanks for the great coverage, as usual. Indeed, a sad situation for everyone.

    I have also wondered about IMG’s group that was up at Camp 1. According to their page, that team made it to Camp 2 before descending to Base Camp but no mention of how, the route, etc. They did note that it was a solemn and unusually quiet experience.

    K2?!?! Will follow you in spirit, with pleasure.

    Namaste.
    Susan.

  59. Highly informative and thoughtful blogging as usual Alan. Much appreciated.

    K2 . . . WOW

    When do you leave?

  60. All the best for K2

  61. Everest officially NOT closed. Exporer’s web has published the press release by Miistry of Tourism which urges the climb to go on. Of course with Ice Fall Doctors and sherpas, and operators quitting the season is over anyways.

    http://www.explorersweb.com/everest_k2/news.php?url=nepal-minister-urge-everest-expeditions-_139835064

    • Correct Randy, I just posted an update to my post. Sorry for the premature proclamation. I believe Everest is now like an airport with the terminal open but the runway closed.

      • Apt anology! And thank you for running the best Everest coverage site and your impartial commentary.

  62. Alan, one question that I have not seen addressed was the status of the sherpa/climbers/groups caught above the icefall when the sera collapsed. I presume that they have made their way down, but do you have details on how and when?

    Thanks for the great coverage and I look forward to hearing in detail about your attempt at K2.

  63. Ok Alan, I’m going to put this out there. But, could you imagine how amazing it would be to climb Everest with nobody around?!

  64. Asian Trekking has ended their season according to @isaiahjanzen

  65. Alan
    First, I wanted you to know that the minute I heard about this year’s Everest events, I thought of you, wondering if you were nearby and of course, safe. So I can sleep better after reading this post.

    Second – I thought of you as others did – a genuine and authoritative commentator on the mountaineering scene… So I had to come to this website first for the scoop.

    Thanks and so glad to hear your passion and purpose continues with great support!

    All my best
    Morris

  66. Alan – I’ve really appreciated your balanced, detailed coverage of the tragic events that have been unfolding on Everest – thank you for sharing them with us. I’m really excited for you for the K2 climb – I wish you all the best as you prepare physically and mentally, and I’m looking forward to following the expedition as it gets under way!

  67. Thanks Alan for the update. Excited to hear your going for K2. I wish I were ready, I’d go with you! :)

  68. Thank you for your in-depth reports. My heart goes out to everyone suffering right now from these losses. You will have many folks following you on your K2 adventures!

  69. You can’t like a post when it has the negatives of Everest. However, I like this post – A/ because it’s factual, painfully honest and very well written (the reason why the media calls it a well respected website) B/ because you are climbing K2 this season. Now that’s something to look forward to. In advance….All the best and keep safe Alan. I will certainly be following your progress.

  70. Go get them on K2 Alan!! If you’re out climbing and need a training partner to tag along always happy to help.

  71. As far as I’m concerned the debate is over you are Colorado’s top mountaineer even though you use O’s.

  72. Wow Alan,as usual tremendous reporting.As a climber who has now to be content to do it all from my armchair I have waited eagerly each year for The Everest Season to begin.I have made many friends who through Everest blogging have taken me along as they fulfilled their dream of a lifetime. I know personally two who were hoping to achieve their dreams this season only to see all their efforts and money they can Ill afford dashed away. To compare their disappointments to the shattered lives of the Sherpa families is wrong and unfair and it is only a small minority that have done this. Your report was factual and as correct as it could possibly be, information not always available.I am sure the true mountaineers are behind the Sherpa community in whatever they decide to do. It is a very complex situation especially where finance is concerned and all the hassle and angry confrontations takes away some of the Everest magic built up over many many years.I must be one of the oldest Everest followers and was around when man was trying to conquer Everest and marvel at the progress made. I was always a little uncomfortable at the commercial aspect that had evolved and felt some of the climbers should not have been on the mountain at all. I contented myself with thoughts that the extra funds earned helped the Sherpa community to give their future generations schooling and other benefits that were not available before it’s popularity.I just hope everything can be resolved and that the deaths of so many Sherpas has not been in vain.

    Climb on – Memories are Everything, this being your motto we should have guessed you had something up your sleeve ! K2 is a big task to tackle and of course I shall be out there with you, step by step.It will certainly keep your beloved charity in the public eye.i wish you well & look forward to your postings. God speed, stay safe Cheers Kate ( uK )

  73. Alan, we get so much more and truthful news from you than any other website or press that I know of. Am very grateful to you for that. Its still hard to take in the heartache this has caused for the Sherpa families. I cannot help feeling, and I may be wrong, but if 14 Western climbers were killed on Everest, there would be so much more media and press about it. Its wrong as in the newspapers, there is not much at all. Its awful.

    K2 – another very majestic mountain indeed. Will be following you all the way. Terrific.

  74. I’m sad the Everest season with such disappointment for all involved. At least we now know the Nepali military can’t interrupt anything at base camp without proper acclimitization. I’m hoping there are some positive changes on the mountains for all involved next year or even as soon as this fall.

    Alan, I am super excited to follow your K2 adventure! As an armchair enthusiast, I have read quite a bit about it and look forward to your take on it. Are you going without O’s?

  75. K2..Cool. keep us posted.

  76. K2?!?!? Super excited to see your coverage of this climb and mountain. Will be following you for sure.

    Thank you for your excellent and objective coverage of Everest so far this season. I’m sure the story is not over yet.

  77. Great (y). Climb on

  78. I would think this is just going to put more pressure on the North Side? No way to bring the more dangerous ice seracs down?

  79. Thanks for your continuing coverage Alan. An absolute tragedy all round. Looking forward to hearing more about K2.

  80. What a sad situation all the way around. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved; those that lost lives, those that lost loved ones, those that lost their income and those that lost their shot at a dream. Your coverage of the Everest tragedy was very heartfelt and without a doubt helped educate a lot of people on more than just another ‘tragic event’ in this world. Will be looking forward to following you as you climb K2!

  81. K2??? Godspeed! You can bet I’ll be following your climb!

  82. Sounds like the second year violence has raised its head on the mountain. Best of luck on K2. I believe Garrett is heading over there also.

  83. Thank you for your posts over the past days, Alan, I’ve only recently begun following your coverage after being an avid armchair mountaineer for years!!

    I’ve been following the blogs on the right of the page also, and have been shocked and angered at the speed at which some of the climbers have wanted to get back on the mountain (admittedly after offering condolences). I think some people have lost sight of what is important. Even barring the safety issue, surely out the respect for the dead and unfound bodies, the right decision is not to climb further this year?

    I realise there are lifelong dreams at stake here, but crikey, people have lost multiple family members and livelihoods. Pay the sherpas their fees for the year, get off the mountain, and review sherpa wages for the future.

    Good luck on K2 – and thanks again for the great coverage.

  84. K2…WOW Best of Luck!

  85. Lots of face saving going on re the #Everest 2014 closure. Some say mountain still open but more teams are announcing ending their climb. Jagged Globe is latest. Don’t underestimate how much the threats of violence against the Sherpa and climbers played in the final decision.

  86. I am sooo excited !!! Thank you Alan Arnette for K2 this Summer, and thank you for all your Everest coverage this tragic season.

  87. Thank you for such a comprehensive and intelligent review of the situation.

  88. Thanks all. I’m beyond excited about K2. Much more soon.

  89. All good luck on your climb on K2. Your support for Alzheimer’s awareness is fabulous ! I work with many people who live this daily.

  90. Nicely done all season Alan.

  91. Raising the cost of an Everest climb? All that does is take real climbers out of the equation and insert those that can afford it. That’s not a fair outcome.

  92. Holy Hell! K2?! I’m so excited for you, Alan, and for me as a rabid reader of your blog!

    Holy Hell!

  93. Is there any indication that global warming is contributing to the instability of the snow and ice on Everest?

    Best of luck on K2. Be careful out there.

  94. Nice article Alan, as always.

  95. I think you are an outstanding individual Alan Arnette. Thanks for the Everest updates!

  96. Best of luck for k2.

  97. Wow – K2! That mountain is my real passion and I know you don’t underestimate the challenge you are setting yourself. Do be cautious.

  98. Alan thank you for the update. It saddens me beyond measure. I willbe following evey step up K2!

  99. Thanks again Alan. Your blog seems to be the only source of genuine information despite me being sat right in the middle of it at BC. Was at the meeting this am and did make out the 5 yr permit bit from the official but nothing of the sort that mountain is now closed. Its sad to see how the season has turned out to be a disaster for all involved. I am still surprised that we have some ill-informed readers commenting on your posts thinking clients are carried upto summit on Sherpa back’s! Most people who come here have prepared hard for years, worked even harder to save for this ultimate adventure & lifelong dream. Not all up here are drinking champagne & eating sushi in their tents! Sherpa support will always be needed on these mountains whether it was back at the time of first ascent or in coming years whether its professional mouintaneers or otherwise. It seems its time for me to pack again. Good luck for K2…will be following you.

  100. Great post, again. Well, K2 updates would be treat to read. Are you taking the Albruzzi Ridge route?

  101. Always appreciate your keen insight and thorough coverage of the facts regarding the Big E, especially this year’s sad fate, Alan.

    Changing subjects: After reading Epstein’s THE SPORT GENE: THE SCIENCE UNDERLYING EXTRAORDINARY HUMAN PERFORMANCE and learning about the physiologic differences between sherpas and the rest of us lowlanders and seeing the porters carry impossible loads while trekking to EBC I pondered what western sport, besides extreme mountaineering, could they excel at, and most likely dominate. I don’t have an answer but am wondering if perhaps you might.

    RE: K2! Geesh, I’ve barely finished my lit review of Everest. Now, I’ve got to study an entirely different mountain. If you have a favorite book on K2 please share its title and thanks. Train hard, train smart and good luck!
    RE: Regarding your Alzheimer’s cause I’m wondering if perhaps we’ll see you on Good Morning America or other morning venues when you return from K2. That’d be a way to reach a large audience.

  102. I support you in your attempt to summit K2!

  103. Despite how wonderful the Yak and Yeti is, I would still rather be sleeping in my tent at EBC. Interesting time, history really, we saw this year. I go home soon to my comfortable life; hoping that constructive change comes from chaos, deaths, and quite frankly (from a selfish perspective) shattered dreams……

  104. Your insight on Everest is spot on!

    Your goal of K2 is insane, yet I will read every word of the journey.

    Prayers for safety always—my crazy friend!!!!

  105. Great that you dream big; best of luck on K2!

  106. Alan,your Everest coverage was fantastic for us the armchair mountaineers.A tragic year no doubt,but Everest will always be there and mountaineering will continue.The Sherpas will definitely come out stronger from this tragedy as they have done in the past. Great to hear that you are going to attempt K2.Wishing you all the best and looking forward to your maiden K2 coverage.

  107. This is really the pangs of “Labor Organization” it seems. Especially when other Sherpa threaten others for climbing. I get their point. Tough situation. Man….

  108. Alan, I’ve been reading your blog for years. I appreciate your attitude toward the Sherpa, which isn’t found on some other Everest sites.

    I’ve never climbed Everest and have no desire to, but I’ve climbed other mountains. I carried food and camping supplies on my back. I wasn’t strong enough to carry more than I was already carrying, so I didn’t climb higher. I didn’t climb mountains that required oxygen. I was already at my physical limit without hauling oxygen canisters around. Climbing the highest peaks is for people stronger than me. That’s reality.

    Like most longtime Everest watchers, I was expecting a disaster for years. That the disaster, when it came, didn’t kill or injure a single paying client is very telling.

    If in the future Everest returns to being a mountain climbed by people strong enough to haul their own gear… no, that won’t be a bad thing.

    There seems no reason why Everest should be the destiny of the Sherpa people. Their future is for them to work out and they seem wholly capable of doing it. There is no reason it should be limited to hauling heavy loads in deadly conditions in return for less money than some of us spend on a car repair.

    Good luck on K2! That’s a dangerous mountain. Stay safe.

  109. I can’t wait to read about your experience on K2! Best of luck to you!

  110. You are my hero! You train hard and set exciting goals. Cannot wait to read your updates.

  111. K2? Are you crazy?

  112. I was wondering what will be next for you. Love how you dream big! Best of luck with K2!!!

  113. Wow! Alan, K2! That is huge news. I was thinking of actually going to K2 basecamp but with the news last year of the Taliban killing climbers I decided against it. How is the current safety situation? No wonder you are climbing 14ers in Colorado so much. I should have guessed something was up.

  114. Sociologists, psychologists etc can have a field day with the history of climbing Everest since the first use of Sherpas. For all of the good things brought to the Sherpa people via expeditions from the rest of the world, has the “tainting of the Sherpa” really been a good thing in the long run?
    Wow, on your K2 adventure! Climb on!

  115. Sharon Moss Megan Epper Patricia Morgan Marie Mercer

  116. I was just windering if you would do K2!!! I am currently reading about the Sherpa on the mt in 2008!! Wow!!!!! And just watched The Summit!

  117. That sounds bit scary considering the recent events but very adventurous too. Hats off. Have the safe and successful expedition !

  118. Thanks again for a very insightful update, Alan, and wishing you all the best for a safe and successful expedition to K2!

  119. Wow! K2 – I’m very impressed!

    On the subject of Everest the permits may be valid for 5 years but that is such a small proportion of the overall cost to a climber. Those wishing to attempt in the Autumn or in 2015 will still have to find the funds for the expedition again. I assume the Operators will not be refunding any of this years fees as they have had to outlay most of their costs upfront? I’d be surprised if it were congested next year because of higher costs & the safety concerns – the icefall always is/will be very dangerous.

    Great piece again Alan & look forward to K2 updates.

  120. I do love mountains and I climb them as often as I can. I am a very average alpinist and half of my heart would immediately have me engaging in one of those expeditions in I which you pay and you are basically carried on to the top of Everest. The other half of my heart and my brain is reminding me how this mountain, together with the other 8.000, is the non plus ultra, the top end of all. To me this mountain should be left to the climbers that really have the skills to climb it, to the ones that need the help and support of Sherpa without exposing them to high risks only to be babysitted till the top.
    With so many mountains in this area, why can’t a lower level alpinist activity be offered to the common people that today fool themselves up the Everest side? I see nothing bad in it, other than giving work to the locals and offering a great opportunity to reach the top of those great mountains….in respect of the local religion of course!
    I feel so sad thinking about the Sherpas that lost their life and their families. I really hope that this tragic event will at least help the Sherpas seeing their rights recognized, both by the government and by the expeditions that engage them.

  121. Don’t blame the Sherpas for shutting down the mountain. It will be interesting to see what RMI, IMG and AAI ( the big three US commercial guiding companies) do for their clients and the Sherpa. They hold a lot of wait on the mountain. Also, I believe AAI lost 3 Sherpa in the accident.

  122. Alan, thanks very much for they thorough coverage of Everest. MUCH better than the regular news outlets that have no real idea.

  123. I’m one of the ones who has asked about K2 coverage—how exciting! I will be following every post, every day. I hope all goes well with preparations, planning, travel and climbing!

    Good for you. Many Blessings!

  124. I wish you all the best for a safe and successful expedition Alan. Amazing ambition and I hope all of your hard training pays off!

  125. Wow all the best for K2. That’s some challenge. I’ll be watching and sending all my best wishes!!

  126. Alan I am a newcomer to your blog (but not new to Nepal) and really enjoyed your coverage of these years short Everest climbing season and your expert précis of what happened, what is happening and next steps for Everest climbing explains it all to me. Getting to the end of todays post (24/04) I am also heartened that you will be climbing K2 and will follow your exploits avidly JRA

  127. Thank you for your coverage. Good luck on K2 Alan!

  128. Alan: as usual great coverage and fair and even-handed reporting; especially given the emotionally charged sitaution that developed this year. I noticed on one report the Nepal government said the Spring climbing season was closed — making me wonder if they’re going to try to push for a more robust Fall climbing season.

    I also wonder, if the government is going to honour all permits for next year (and the next four after that), whether we’ll see almost a double cohort for 2015 — since many who were thwarted this season will likely try to come back sooner rather than later — this could cause a significant overcrowding issue on the mountain next year.

    Finally, best of luck on K2, that’s very impressive. I’m interested to know who you’re climbing with. I guess you’ll make that info public on May 1st.

  129. I’ll be following your K2 updates avidly.

  130. I’ll be following your K2 updates avidly.

  131. I’ll be following your K2 updates avidly.

  132. my first thought Alan is what do they do if the western climbers want to climb again in 2015? I know of some people that have earmarked 2015 but if an already crowded mountain becomes ridiculously crowded with the 2014 climbers in addition who, quite rightly, want to exercise their right to climb then 2015 will indeed be a watershed year. Either a) the mountain will become dangerous at the top as an insurmountable number of climbers attempt the reach the summit, or b) 2015 climbers may be put off due to the additional climbers, or c) the costs, as you point out will sky rocket and only the climbers with deeper pockets can go – doesn’t always mean that they are the best suited though – but I think we have had that issue for years.

    I wish you well with K2 Alan and I cant wait to hear more in May.

  133. K2 Mountain of the mountains ! Beautiful goal !

  134. K2 Mountain of the mountains ! Beautiful goal !

  135. K2 Mountain of the mountains ! Beautiful goal !

  136. This is just devastating. I really feel for the climbers, after all their investment in this, but safety is important. It is a real pity that they are in some ways punished for the lack of efforts by the Nepal government.

  137. Holy Moly. K2. I admire your spirit.

  138. Holy Moly. K2. I admire your spirit.

  139. Holy Moly. K2. I admire your spirit.

  140. K2…two small letters which make me shudder! Best of luck, and thanks for the updates.

  141. K2…two small letters which make me shudder! Best of luck, and thanks for the updates.

  142. K2…two small letters which make me shudder! Best of luck, and thanks for the updates.

  143. Thank you for the prompt updates on Everest and the best of luck on K2, Alan!

  144. K2….you are officially nuts but Maximum Respect! Wishing you all the very best of luck with the mountain, will be with you all the way Alan Arnette x

  145. K2….you are officially nuts but Maximum Respect! Wishing you all the very best of luck with the mountain, will be with you all the way Alan Arnette x

  146. This is heartbreaking news for all but the lives of everyone on the mountain is so much more valuable than any mountain summit. Praying all those affected by this tragedy, find peace.

  147. Wow, stepping up a notch with K2. Looking fwd to following your climb

    • Alan, Thank You so much for your thorough, fair & balanced reporting, your updates were by far the most comprehensive & accurate news coverage to be found anywhere on the net. Some international reporting was very distressing. A “Comment” article yesterday in the UK Guardian Newspaper was truly appalling & offensive to anybody who knows and respects mountains, climbers & especially Sherpa’s.

      Sincere thoughts to everyone who has not just lost loved ones but who have lost their dream of summiting Everest for charity, research or for the culmination of a personal goal. Good Luck on K2