Everest 2017: Wind Returns with Vengeance, Costly Body Retrievals

George Kashouh on Everest 2017

There were summits early morning of 23 May, but it may not have been the best choice to push it. Teams turned back, some never left camp and those who made said it was difficult.

Meteorologist Chris Tomer told me “full on Jet Stream on the summit”. He advised his member, Ricardo Pena, to stay at the South Col, which he did on 23 May.

Meanwhile the family of a climber who died over the weekend are willing to put more lives at risk to get their loved one home. And the admired traverse is not what was advertised.

North Gets Hit

Big winds hit the north side around midnight on 23 May. This is a startling report from George Kashouh with SummitClimb:

George Kashouh on Everest 2017
George Kashouh on Everest 2017

Jet stream has hit the summit. Woke up to 100kph winds. I thought I was dreaming but my tent ceiling was nearly on my chest. Tent poles snapped and tent itself is shredded. I seriously thought I’d be blown off the mountain inside the remains. The door was on the ground and I was able to unzip it and slide my oxygen bottle out. Next I escaped myself with a mitt on a me hand and a glove liner on the other while some of my gear blew out into the sky. I tried to sit on my tent to keep whatever gear remained inside but was losing feeling in my fingers. I called for help and my friend Les saw me sprawled over the remains of my tent and threw me a rope. I was able to get into his tent along with Ian.

Winds continued to get worse. After the sun came our expedition leader must have seen my tent which looked more like a prayer flag in the wind and checked on us. He was two feet in front of us but we couldn’t hear a word he was saying. He motioned for us to leave our tent and go to his. A short time later the second tent I was in was destroyed. I had left mine tent with my sleeping bag, harness, water, food, and backpack. Not sure if any of that is still there.

Our leader who has been a mountain guide for decades including seven times on Everest said he has never seen winds like this before in his life. Currently we are taking turns sleeping and sitting against the wall of the tent to try to maintain this one which already has tears. All members are safe.Danish Everest solo, No Os  climber Rasmus Kraghat, calling for help from 7700m on North side

There is no update on George but Danish climber Rasmus Kragh was reported in trouble. His home team told me:

There are some worrying news about Rasmus. He arrived back at 7.700 last night after a long day out without oxygen. He says he had to abandon his attempt at 8.500m due to high winds.

South Side Hit As Well, But Summits

Garrett Madison put over 20 on the summit with the winds:

Today at the top of the world it was clear but very windy, we had to work hard for this summit. Feeling grateful our whole team of 20+ climbers, made the top.

Other teams never risked going up in the winds.

Rare North-South Traverse Claims in Question

Janusz Adamski named his Everest attempt “No Oxygen Solo Everest 2017 – First Polish Traverse of Mount Everest Expedition.” So when it was announced that he was successful with this Facebook post on 21 May, it was assumed he didn’t use supplemental oxygen and had no Sherpa support:

TODAY MORNING TIME NEPALESE JANUSZ CONQUERED MT. Everest from the north, and then he went down on the south side first and the fifteenth of the polish world traverse mountains. At the moment, JANUSZ IS ALREADY SAFE AT CAMP 3 Nepalskiej side.

Tomorrow night will occur at the level of Janusz Takeover by Andrew CB Ziółkowskiego and attempt to get through to Kathmandu.

Janusz Adamski on Everest 2017
Janusz Adamski on Everest 2016

The Polish mountaineering media and community were correctly proud, but there were problems  The media started making corrections:

[Update] Initially, we administered the Janusz climbing without the use of oxygen from the cylinder. This information proved to be false.

The Problems

So first, he used supplemental oxygen, 2) he hired a Sherpa to carry gear and 3) he, apparently, didn’t have a permit that allowed him to cross from China into Tibet over the summit of Mt. Everest.

In summary his “No Oxygen Solo Everest 2017 – First Polish Traverse of Mount Everest Expedition.” was illegal, supported and used supplemental oxygen.

But his announcement said it was as advertised and very successful hailing him as the first Pole to accomplish such a climb. However, upon questioning, he is backed off his claim with these additional comments:

 Due to the time required for peaceful acclimatization, I need help carrying tents “booking” space in C1/C2. The rest of equipment + mountaieering activity and summit push solo.


With Andrew we met yesterday and we are coming down slowly to lukli. With Kronikarskiego Duty I’ll clarify that the traverse I made alone with oxygen from camp 3 (8250 M), which was necessary to transfer the 20 pounds of gear needed to safely continue the action on the south side of the mountain.

His Kathmandu agency told me he did not have a legal permit to cross into Nepal from China and was briefed in Kathmandu before receiving his permit to climb from Tibet. There was no mention of a traverse.

It appears his plans changed for good reasons but I am a bit confused as to why the post on 21 May failed to mention all those details.

But the big issue is the permit. I hope he can explain that We will see where this goes.

Body Retrievals – Risky and Costly

The family of Indian climber Ravi Kumar, 27, wants his body retrieved “The bereaved family wants the body at any cost,” said Chowang Sherpa, managing director of Arun Treks and Expedition, the agency handling Kumar’s expedition.

Apparently this means even at the risks of the 8-12 Sherpas would be asked to perform the tasks. His body is reported to be in a 200m/656′ crevasse  near the Balcony, about around 27,600’/8412 meters. It is estimated to cost over $60,000. source

The family was told:

“Going down into a crevasse 200 metres deep at an altitude of 8,400 metres to retrieve the body will be the most complex rescue ever executed on Everest,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). “That’s why there is a 50/50 chance of survival for the rescuers.”

It was reported that Kumar had reached the summit with his guide at 1:28pm on Saturday and collapsed during the descent at 8pm due to low level of energy and oxygen.

Another retrieval is underway costing $40,000 for an Indian climber, Gautam Ghosh, who died in 2016. His body was reported seen by Alex Txikon during his winter attempt in March at the South Col.

In both of these cases, the Indian government is reportedly underwriting the costs.

Next Summits – 27/28

Many teams that were sitting tight are preparing to or already started up aiming for end of week summits.   Adrian Ballinger, no Os,  told me he and Cory Richards plus Zeb Blais with his member Brooks Entwistle are heading now:

Hey Alan! We leave abc tonight for summit push. 27th morning summit planned for all Alpenglow

Ben Jones with Alpine Ascents is also targeting the 27/28

Tomorrow morning at 6am we will be heading up to Camp 3! Our team is excited. We feel strong, most of the crowds are gone, and we feel good about a good weather window coming up on the 27th-28th.

IMG is looking at the 25th for putting their remaining 20+ climbers on top

Himex’s 3 members with guide Bruce Hasler and strong Shepra team is looking at the 26, but may slip a day.

Nepal side no O’s Climbers Ferran Latorre and Yannick Graziani are targeting the 27

Nobukazu Kuriki “Sharing the Dream” is at 7200 metere on the West Ridge. He posted this video that shows what climbers are fighting:

Season Not Over

The season continues, and so does the wind. – even on the Tibet side. A word of caution, with the weather so wild and nearing the end of May, surprises are always in the cards.

I think we will see a flurry of summits this weekend and then it will mostly be over. There are always a few stragglers but the monsoons look to be on time this year – early June – so this last window may be the last chance.

Best luck to all.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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10 thoughts on “Everest 2017: Wind Returns with Vengeance, Costly Body Retrievals

  1. I believe the elasticity of ice under pressure prevents the formation of crevasses much more than 50m in depth. I wonder is the body 200m from the main route in a small crevasse. In any case a 200 metre crevasse at that height on the mountain seems highly unlikely.

  2. Alan, how do the “rope fixers” climb when they are fixing the ropes at the start of the season? Do they use the ropes from the previous season or do they climb “alpine style”? Would the ropes and anchors survive from the previous season?

  3. I’m curious but does the climbing community not think it is a bit selfish to put the lives of 10-12+ men at risk to rescue a body?

    I have the greatest sympathy for the families of men who lost their lives, but risking and possibly killing more people will not alleviate their grief.

    1. Seems this is where Money over comes Humanity, sadly.
      I agree with you!

  4. Why should the Indian government spend tax payers money to retrieve the Indian’s body? I am a tax paying Indian citizen and India is a poor country. The government should not spend the tax payers money frivolously.

    Millions of Indians are starving and the government thinks nothing of spending 70000 USD to retrieve a body. Sheer waste of money and wrong priorities.

  5. I was on the north side with SummitClimb but quit the expedition due to medical issues, having reached just over 6000m in April. Very sad to hear that they have to endure these nightmarish winds. I know how it feels to be almost swept away in the tent because a had a similar experience on Peak Lenin once. All summit ambitions were gone and I just wanted to survive the storm. Hopefully they will make the right decisions, like Ricky Munday did, and dont´t put summit over safety. I didn´t have the impression that there are daredevils in the group – even if some guys like Vin Diesel…

    And of course I really hope that the winds will calm, mental and physical resources will be reestablished and there will still be a chance to go to the top.
    Stay safe,

    PS: I never heard about a crevasse 200m deep…

  6. I hope people will make the choice to come down from the mountain as soon as it possible or many lives will be losted. GOD BLESS THEM!

  7. Alan: How is it possible to get a body from a deep cravasse without killing everyone? It sounds logistically impossible any place but at that altitude it seems not even worth the attempt.

    I hope the rescuers get paid upfront and get paid whether they are successful.
    I understand not wanting to leave the body visible on the mountain and I have great sympathy for the families grief. I’m so sorry this happened

    Perhaps this request is coming from the government of India as they are covering the cost. That would be harder to ignore than a family plea for aid.

    1. Also I wanted to say that I have deep concern for George and his group trying to hold off the wind as well as for Rasmus alone and needing aid.

  8. One word: monsoonal rains that equates to tons of snow on Everest. I think out of close to now 8000 Everest summits, something like 4 have been in the summer. I’ll check and correct this but it is tiny.

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