This past week on Everest has been busy with no surprises. Just like it should be in early April. And have no doubt, Everest will see record summits the spring of 2017.
Excellent reporter Rajan Pokhrel of The Himalayan Times in Kathmandu reported that the Ministry of Tourism has already issued 250 permits for Everest to 27 teams representing 28 nationalities. This represents almost $2 million in revenue for Nepal thus far. They are still expecting 500 foreigners. 70 Everest climbers used their 2015 permits that were extended due to the earthquake.
The first teams arrived at Everest Base Camp (EBC) on the Nepal side and the Icefall Doctors have the route put in all the way to Camp 2. Overall, it does not get better than this.
The daily high temperature is in the 20’sF, at night it drops to single digits Fahrenheit. The winds pick up in the afternoon to 20 mph. Some posts are commenting that EBC is a bit cold. This is normal for early April but will warm up as the season moves towards summer.
Base Camp Arrivals
IMG, with three different teams to accommodate their large number of climbers and Sherpas, reported in at EBC, Lobuche Base Camp and Kathmandu. How do they keep track of everyone? 🙂 Their home team in the US posted:
… Team 1 is now at Everest Base Camp. Greg reports that the dining and kitchen tents are up, the climber/trekker tents are up, the comms tent is up, the helipad is built, the water is sourced and the showers and bathrooms are up and running. “We’re ready!”
The other long time commercial teams are also well on their way including Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents and Himex.
James Brooman climbing with IMG was early to base camp and posted a good update. He is aiming to attempt the summit without using supplemental oxygen. James is doing a nice job of posting pictures on his blog.
Things are now in the base camp groove. Wake up at first light because you went to bed so early, and face the first decision of the morning. Stay in your sleeping bag until the sun rises above the mountains to hit your tent and rapidly heat it, or brave the -10C to -15C and get up, the reward being a lovely view of the mountain sunrise and a cup of hot sweet milk tea in the Sherpa kitchen. Decisions decisions. I usually opt for the tea.
Jim Davidson took the route thru Goyko instead of the Khumbu and made this report on his excellent blog post. It is the Blog of the Day.
Trekking to Gokyo is like turning back the clock 25 or more years. Yes, there is wifi and electricity now. But the lodges are simpler, smaller and we all huddle around the yak dung fire to stay warm in the evening. Lodges are run by families, so their kids run around and we all practice different languages a bit, usually with mixed results, but always with mutual smiles. Acrid smoke from the yak dung fire pulls you back through the centuries.
For almost all climbers, one of the highlights, and benefits, from trekking to Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu is the opportunity to receive a blessing from Lama Geshi. I particularly enjoyed this short post from the Adventure Consultants team:
Another day of perfect weather passing through stunning scenery, as we progress up the Khumbu Valley. Leaving Deboche amidst rhododendron and Himalayan birch, we gained height to Upper Pangboche to visit the home of Lama Geshi.
A blessing from Lama Geshi is one of the most memorable parts of the journey to Everest Base Camp, as the ceremony differs from our cultures so much. In Buddhist philosophy “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the most. During that period, we must try to do something good. Something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.” Dalai Lama.
The blessing helps us to prepare for the challenges of the climb ahead, while we wear the sungdi and rungda given to us today for the rest of the expedition.
We often hear about the Khumbu Cough. This can be quite serious. Basically the cold dry air inflames the avoelie in the lungs, creating a dry, persistent cough. In extreme cases, these coughs can become so violent that ribs are broken. Once anyone begins to feel the symptoms, they try to treat it by staying hydrated, resting, using throat lozenges and wearing some kind of Buff or mask to warm the air before it enters the lungs.
Mathieu Durand just arrived at base camp and posted:
First night at EBC was Strange. Somehow, it felt like home: great food, plenty of space in my tent, all my clothes to stay warm and the great feeling of simply be at EBC. We have a moraine glacier: rock falls, avalanches, cold dry air and the noise of the “locomotive” (the rumble of the high winds on Everest). My cough got worse as I’m trying to get rid of it. I drank about 1L of water overnight – thankfully I had my pee bottle not too far. Life is hard at 5365M.Laundry, shower and stay hydrated. Tomorrow is our Puja.
Not all the action is in Nepal. Ricky Munday posted about visiting the Potala Palace in Lhasa as they prepare to drive to base camp on the Tibet side:
The amazing and mythical Potala Palace, former home of Dalia Lama and an imposing sight in Lhasa. I’ve always dreamed of visiting this place, and I was blown away by the majesty of the place.
Other north side teams are in Kathmandu awaiting approvals of their visas for entry into China.
OK, as I said, so far so good … and it is extremely early.
In general look for the route to be fixed to the summit by 1 May on the South and 10 May on the North. First foreigner summits should start shortly thereafter but the main push traditionally occurs between 15 to 25 May on the south and a week later on the north. But if there is a period of calm weather, look for a massive amount of climbers pushing hard on both sides.
Another early summit might come from Kilian Jornet with his speed climb from the Tibet side.
I am hearing comments about dry conditions but we will have to wait to see what the Sherpas report once they fix the lines above Camp 2 up the Lhotse Face. Let’s hope for a somewhat normal snow conditions as that will reduce rock fall by freezing loose rocks to the slopes.
On the other end of timing, Ueli Steck said he will most likely go late, after all the summits and when the conditions are warmer. He is on the south where is is attempting the Everest-Lhotse traverse and perhaps even adding Nuptse in the mix. No one has ever truly climbed the horseshoe defining the Western Cwm via the ridge lines proper.
This next week will be very busy and more and more teams arrive at base camp in Nepal and a few will arrive on the north side. Once at camps, many teams will go thru the basics of climbing with a fixed rope, crossing ladders and some basic ice climbing skill review. All of this is designed to minimize surprises once they start climbing in the Icefall.
On all the other Himalayan peaks (see my recent post reviewing all that activity), there is a similar model with climbers travelling to base camp or for a few already there, beginning to fix the route to the lower camps.
Let the climbing begin!
Memories are Everything
Question of the Day:Would you pay $6,000 to eat a croissant at Everest Base Camp?
You only spend 15 minutes, but you get champaign! 🙂 Several Nepali helicopter companies are offering a quick flight to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side for a nice breakfast plus champagne. But you only stay at EBC for 15 minutes because you are not acclimatized. Click for the details
Why this coverage?
I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I am just one guy who loves climbing. With 35 serious climbing expeditions including four Everest trips under my belt and a summit in 2011, I use my site to share those experiences, demystify Everest each year and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease. My mom died from this disease in 2009 as have four of my aunts. It was a heartbreaking experience that I never want anyone to go through thus my ask for donations to non-profits where 100% goes to them, and nothing to me.