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Apr 102017
Serac Release courtesy of James Brooman

Reports of a serac release in the Icefall are coming in. There are no injuries.

It appears a towering ice serac in the Khumbu Icefall just before the “Football Field” released burying the fixed ropes. The conditions were already tough on Monday, 10 April 2017 with very cold temps and high winds. There were around 30 Sherpas in the area who turned back due to the conditions then the route damage.

Serac Release courtesy of James Brooman

Serac Release courtesy of James Brooman

James Brooman, climbing with IMG, was doing his first rotation thru the Icefall when they were stopped. Visit his very well done site for more pictures and a nice write up. He posted:

Today was a trial run up to a relatively flat and shielded spot 2/3 the way up the icefall, called the ‘football field’ at 19,000ft. About 500ft short of this goal Ang Karma, my Sherpa companion, stopped.

‘No more rope’.

An avalanche or collapsed ice tower (called a serac) had buried the route ahead under thousands of tones of ice. A few hours earlier and maybe we would have been under it – a sober and very real reminder of the danger here. Nothing for it but to turn around. Our goal, to dust off the cobwebs, was done in any case.

While any serac release is concerning, it is also not unusual. The Icefall Doctors will repair the route and climbing will continue Tuesday or Wednesday.

Overall the season, while extremely early, has a very normal feel to it. Everest Base Camp is coming together and the Khumbu is filled with climbers headed that way.

See the Weekend Update: 9 April that  I posted yesterday.

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  3 Responses to “Everest 2017: Ice Serac Release Stalls Climbing”

  1. I recently watched queues on YouTube for another 8,000er and its crazy they have like a hundred people clipped in? It just seems like such a bastardization of the concept of early explorers and presents such herd mentality risk and old lines risk it seems unbelievable. How can one line really be safe for that many novices is beyond me as well? I get clipping in for crevasse risks and ice fields but if people get stuck in the queue at these heights that in itself is risk coupled with the unfair practice of using cheap locals for so much of the climbing itself seems hallow. I genuinely think Madison mountaineering climbing virgin peaks is infinitely more interesting for guided climbs than being the 7,000th on Everest but petals my sentiments are misplaced

    • Brian, As I replied to your similar comment on Facebook, for clarity, the fixed ropes are mostly used for safety over hidden crevasses and invisible snow bridges in the Icefall and Western Cwm. On the Lhotse Face and above they serve to protect climbers from falls on steep and icy terrain where a fall will result in sliding to your death.

      This is similar to traveling roped up on Rainier or Denali or analogous to using a rope and protection on a 5.4+ route. Few people free climb in dangerous terrain, regardless of being on a commercial trip, private or 2 person.

      I agree that 100 people clipped into the same 8mm rope is silly and a placebo at best, but it happens every year with no problem, so far ….

      The quest for unclimbed peaks is dangerous, expensive and few actually summit, but their ambition is certainly to be admired. But to be sure, for commercial operators, there is a lot more money in guiding Everest than first ascents.

      Times have changed from the days of Mallory, Tenzing, Hornbein. Some good, some not so good changes. More people today have access to peaks like Everest, K2 and Denali if they choose. While it may not be the same style as the early explorers, for those who dare, the excitement and satisfaction is similar for them.

      Climbing is a sport of unique satisfaction where there are few rules, limited competition and the judge of a successful experience often lies in the mind of the climber.

      Yes, the climbers of today can be criticized on many fronts from poor LNT ethics to bolts to using trade routes, but they put themselves out there nonetheless and for that I applaud their drive.

      Each Everest season this same discussion takes place with the same result, similar to the one around using supplemental oxygen. I usually do not engage as all sides seem to not move from their position. But like climbing, it’s a free world where comments that do not defame anyone individually, are thoughtful and polite are always welcome.