A team of Sherpas and members from the Gurkha team summited Everest from the Nepal side between 1:00 and 2:00 pm Monday 15 May 2017. They fixed the final section from the Balcony to the summit opening the route, in theory, for other climbers.
The weather window is short and appears to close around noon on Tuesday 16 May when the Jet Stream moves back on top of Everest. But, and maybe I need to put this in every post title 🙄 when it comes to weather this year, if you must make a prediction, do so often!
Everest is a Beehive of Activity
It is challenging to summarize the activity on both sides of Everest today as team, press and climbers reports are extremely inconsistent. Even when I contact people actually there I get different stories. But this is certain – climbers are climbing Mt. Everest as you read this.
There is currently a tiny weather window on the south side that allowed around 25 people to summit 15 May. Another 40 are reported to be at the South Col to try tonight.
On the north, there have already been summits and more are trying tonight.
And, please let this sink in, there are hundred(s) of people sitting at base camp on both sides watching this first wave, content to see if history proves true and the winds calm, and a longer window opens as we approach the end of May.
Gurkhas Summits 10
It appears that seven Sherpas and three members reached the summit but details are scarce for an unknown reason.
More Summits on South?
With the ropes to the summit, it might be easy to think all is good, but hold on.
Adventure Consultants has been climbing Everest since 1992. Ang Dorje Sherpa their most Senior leader has been on most of them, so when AC talks, people should listen. This is what they posted today:
Congratulations to the Gurkha Team and their Sherpa collaborators who fixed ropes to the summit of Everest today. Great job guys. This paves the way for others. The gates are open. We’ll be tuning in the weather for our summit bid. I’m hoping lots of folks decide to take advantage of the coming ‘micro’ weather windows to relieve crowding pressure. It’s nice to think we might be moving soon, after all it is mid May.
But Ascent Himalaya said they expect to summit tonight 16 May – Nepal time. They have 8 members with 8 Sherpas:
The Everest team left from camp 3 to camp 4 this morning at 7:30am and they will be take around approx 6hrs to reach to camp 4 today.Their plan is to make a summit tomorrow morning(16th May 2017)and we will update about that later this evening when they make a decision.
North is Perfect, Forecast is Bad and Climbers Are Everywhere
Some teams report perfect base camp weather while others see a window too small to push and yet others are trying to thread the needle tonight.
Ricky Munday with Summit Climb posted:
On the weather front, we had some disappointing news from Dave last night that the anticipated weather window from 21st had moved out to the mid-20s of May. Our latest possible summit date due to logistics is likely to be 29th May or so, so it’s squeaky bum time at the moment.
Just to show there is no “group think” on the north side, Jon Gupta and Mollie Hughes with Lhakpa Sherpa and Lila are moving up looking to summit on 16 May:
Everest Update (from Camp 3, 8300m!!) // Here we go…SUMMIT ATTEMPT!!
Before you get to excited for us – we are trying in a small(ish) window which isn’t perfect. After MUCH umming & aahh’ing & studying of complex weather charts we are going to ‘give it a go’ on the very early morning of 16th May. This isn’t a rash decision & we could well turn back & return to Base Camp empty handed. If so we rest & wait again…but we will try.
Either side of us are some strong winds & a little precipitation. But, as a small strong team we might just be able to work with it & push through! We have had 4 really hard days to reach high camp 8300m where we are now & id be lying if I said we weren’t tired. The next 4 hours is all about drinking, eating & resting.
“Getting to the top is optimal, but getting back down is mandatory” Ed Viesturs Anyhow, we will see what the weather does for us & if it allows us to the top. You can follow us on the trackers all through the attempt here
Thanks so much for all the support so far – it’s been truly incredible. Please buckle up & hold tight & I will update as soon as I can either way!m (but it might be a few days!)
And the Transcend Indian team that made the first summit this year have their second team at Camp 2 on the north. They have 4 members and 6 Sherpas.
With this small window, the Lhotse climbers have their chance to share in the spotlight. By their schedules show summits perhaps as early as tonight, 17 May in Nepal and other teams on 19 May, but with this weather, it may be off by a day either way. Remember that Lhotse is 2,400 feet lower than Everest but shares the same exposure to direct westernly winds.
Ascent Himalayas is on the move with their Sherpas, Narendra Shahi & Pemba Nuru Sherpa,Tsering Pemba Sherpa and Ang Chhiring Sherpa and members John Snorri Sigurjónsson and Cian O’Brolchain. Also my K2 summit buddy, Al Hancock is heading up with teammates from Seven Summits Treks.
Weather Forecasting Accuracy and Source
Winds have been the major story on the south side this year. While the north had seen it’s share of winds, they have not been the impediment there as they have on the south.
Many teams, climbers and families back home are looking at the computer generated models easily found (and I link to on my tracking page) on the Internet.
With how fickle the weather is, in my opinion, those forecasts should not be used as for go/no go decisions. As Michael Fagin, of Everest Weather, explained before the season in my interview Everest 2017: Free vs. Paid Weather Forecasts human involvement is what makes a weather forecast more accurate.
This year we have seen excellent conditions on the north side and strong winds and snow on the south. As I have posted from Colorado Meteorologist, Chris Tomer, high pressure blocked the movement of clouds across the summit creating the disparity.
When we see the computer models for “Mt. Everest” it is unclear of the precise location they are using. My understanding of this is that the computer models take a known location with known weather, that could be hundreds of miles away from the location of interest, and build from there using formulas on drop in temperature as altitude increases, pressure changes, wind direction and speed, etc.
While it may show low winds at 28,000 feet, we really don’t know which side of Everest that is.
If there was ever a season to pay for weather forecasts, this may be it!
Let’s not forget about Kilian Jornet and his plan for a speed run up the north side. He is back at base camp after acclimatizing with a run up Cho Oyu, 26,907′. He reports:
Good feelings today! Climb from Advanced Base Camp to 8.400m in a bit less than 6 hours. Our acclimatization process continues! #OurEverest
Life and Death Decisions
Let’s wrap this up with a post from professional climber Yannick Grazani who wanted to climb via the Hornbein Couloir this year sans oxygen., He changed his plans after being the last person to see Ueli Steck alive. He wanted to summit last night or tonight:
“We went up with Ferran on the southern pass this morning, the weather was good but the weather was very cold, the summit was opened by the Sherpas, but the weather window on the 16th is too short. Evening and 6:00 am tomorrow morning, followed by wind at 50 km / h and snow up to 50 cm, too risky all alone, so we go down to C2 and wait for the next window.
“With Feran we reached the South Col this morning, the weather is very cold and the weather is very cold. : 00 AM Followed by strong wind + 50km / h and 50cm of snowfall Too risky as I should be alone.
Climbing Everest this year is proving to be one of the most tricky in decades. It is a time where patience, experienced leadership and good judgment could make the difference between life and death. While a bit dramatic, don’t be fooled by optimistic statements of “great weather days” or “perfect conditions”. While that is 100% accurate in that moment, we have seen this year how quickly things change.
Flexibility will be required as perhaps never before.
Memories are Everything
I hope they are all safe up there. These small windows of opportunity in terms of weather seem quite dangerous!
Any idea if anybody is trying to climb with any other route apart from the standard South/North routes? Anybody trying the Hornbein or the Norton Couloir? As you mentioned, Grazani & Steck wanted to try Hornbein but apart from that I also haven’t heard anything else.
Vladimir Strba was thinking of climbing Everest Hard Way, but his last post shows signs of resignation (he’ll probably take South Col route due to the weather). Well there were serious doubts he could do the Hard way anyway.