This season had more twists and intrigue than a U.S. Presidential election. While not completely over, this past week brought a strong end for almost all the teams on both sides of Everest.
Perhaps the strangest twist of the week, or season, came from the report of four bodies found at the South Col. Then it was said they made a mistake but came back and said there are bodies, just not from this year. The truth remains elusive.
While confusing, the deaths on Everest did prompt the annual discussion on how to make Everest safer, climbers more prepared and guide more competent.
Why this coverage?
Before I go further in the last weekend update of 2017 I want to thank you for all your great comments and questions plus your interest in my writings. This was my 15 year of covering all things Everest and you broke the traffic record with close to a million visits in April and May from virtually every country on the planet.
I’ll keep reporting on more summits and other stories from the spring season but will wrap it all up with my season summary in a couple of weeks.
Alos, I want 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 summits of Everest in 2011 and K2 in 2014, I use my site to share those experiences, demystify Everest each year and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease.
My mom, Ida, 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. Any amount that is meaningful to you is meaningful to me. Select your own Alzheimer’s organization or I have suggestions at this link.
This Past Week’s Summit Summary
There were lots of summit this week, well over 300 total on both sides taking the season total to over 600. It will take a while – months – to sort out the exact numbers. Many of the commercial teams and no O’s climbers kept their powder dry until the very end hoping for several days of good weather. And it paid off. Click on the links to read all the names as I noted some of them throughout the week but these teams made it to the top:
Transcend finished out an excellent season with young Indian climbers having 38 summits.
The wild Russian team of 7 Summits Club ran their shortest climb in 10 years at 39 days and also executed an unusual oxygen strategy. They won with 12 including Janusz Kochanski – world record of 128 days on all 7 summits, and Lhakpa Sherpa who set a female record for most summits at 8.
Also under the leadership of 7 Summits Club Director, Alexander Abramov, they covered up some of the many visible dead bodies on the north side including Tsewang Paljor aka “Green Boots”, which I thought had already been moved by the Chinese:
We also managed to cover the “famous” green boots. Everyone knows that at the level of 8 500 meters… (said with heavy breathing – approx. ed.)… Sorry, I now the air is not enough… In 1996 there died one Indian climber Tsewang Paljor, he just lay down to rest and froze to death. His body had frozen into stone. He had a green climbing boots. And all the climbers began to determine the height to talk about the green shoes. This is the mark of 8,500 meters.
update: 7 Summits Club told me that just said that for the press and didn’t cover Paljor’s body … “I think it’s not worth mentioning. Maybe they put a couple of stones. These words were more for the press to show it’s done more than one action. In reality they covered only one Marko.”
SummitClimb says they had summits but have not provided any details.
The Iowans for Everest, Andy and Andy, summited after a false start. They were on a small team with few frills and showed what can be done.
Alpenglow client team summits: Brooks Entwistle with guides Zeb Blais, Chad Peele, and Sherpas PaNuru, Dorji, Phurba, & Nawang
Rowaling Excursion summited 21/22 May Tibet including Benjamin Breckheimer becoming the 3rd Purple Heart recipient to summit Everest. Rounding out the international team was Swede Erik Akerberg and Pole Grazyna Dorota Machni
Arnold Coster Expeditions got most of his team up – 10 climbers and support
Adventure Peaks also saw summits with 6 total
And a shout out to Anita Devi, a sub-inspector in Haryana Police has become the first Indian woman to scale Mt Everest from the North Col route.
Note: it appears that Kilian Jornet is
done for the season … I think 🙂 He should be tired, he went from the Rongbuk Monastery to the summit in 26 hours – a FNT record. He stopped on the descent at ABC due to illness.
UPDATE: Well Kilian Jornet did run again, this time from ABC to summits and back in 29:30 on 27 May. He went from ABC to the summit in 17 hours. Amazing. This makes him the first person to summit twice in one week without oxygen – as if anyone ever thought of this before!!
Benegas Brothers were successful this week with all their clients, three, plus guides and Sherpas for 10 total. Willie reported “NO WIND”
Madison Mountaineering pushed in bad weather to put 29 up, including 13 members.
After three weeks of waiting for improved weather, Himex, got 3 members plus support for 9 summits.
Tim Mosedale summited with his clients for an estimated 10 summits.
US climber Roland Yearwood, 50, died climbing with SummitClimb. SummitClimb said they had south summits but have gone quiet.
Satori Adventures, a Nepali company, had another good season with 10 up there.
Seven Summits Treks said they had 60 people going to the summit, no word on specific results but there were many summits.
Ascent Himalayas had both Everest and Lhotse success well over 20 summits including some proud Irish!
Alpine Ascents – put their entire team on top early Saturday. Ben Jones has been posting some great photos this season so it is apt to put his summit pic up along with this update from AAI:
Hello everyone team just reported that whole team members (11) peoples made to the summit at 8:15 am. Congratulations to Ben jones, Eric Murphy, Malcom Alexander, John Peterson, Santiago Perez, John Zeckendrof, jangbu sherpa, kami rita sherpa, fur kancha sherpa, mingma tshering sherpa and Dawa nuru sherpa. Great job everyone and have safe descent.
Kami Rita Sherpa, with the AAI team, summited for the 21st time equaling the record along with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa for the world record. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I summited K2 with Kami Sherpa plus Kami Rita and saw first hand what a strong, kind, and gentle soul this man has. Heartfelt congratulations to Kami Rita.
Summiting Everest without supplemental oxygen is rare, dangerous and difficult. Thru June of 2016, 197 climbers had summited without supplemental oxygen but it is dangerous; of the 282 deaths, 109 died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen.
The past few days brought several climbers on both sides with the goal to join that rarified club.
Ralf Dujmovits trying for what he says was his last attempt on Everest wanted to complete his impressive climbing record of getting all 14 of the 8000ers without supplemental oxygen, Climbing from the north side, he turned back early Saturday 27 may at 8,500 m – 40 km/h wind and snow. He was losing feeling in his hands and feet. source
Yannik Graziani – the Frenchman climbing from the south side posted “Too much snowfall, too much wind, you freeze on the spot … I turned around at 8 500m, too risky without oxygen, now safe on the south pass.”
Ferran Latorre – made the summit with no Os but started using it on the descent say “It was too hard.” Similar to Dujmovits, Latorre has now completed all the 8000ers without oxygen except for Everest.
Adrian Ballinger summited without Os after turning back last year in a similar attempt while his climbing partner, Cory Richards started using Os near the summit this year instead of turning back. He summited last year without Os.
Hungarian David Klein, no O’s turned back on south side due to winds early 26 May morning.
Elisabeth Revol posted: “At 4h am, one stone of wind and snow. In a few seconds you are caught in a trap. Not so far from the summit, sad 😞. I felt good and altitude was not a problem. Grrrrr.”
There is a little ledge carved into the snow at the top big enough for one person or you will fall of to the other side, about two feet or three feet below there is another little ledge, I could have been there , we traded places to take summit photos. I pulled out my camera and took photos from different angles. This looks like maybe looking down into the couloir in that area ?
South Col “Deaths”
Deaths on Everest alway draw great interest from the mainstream media even though many mountains have more deaths annually, higher death rates and are significantly more dangerous. It seems that it is not the deaths per se but how they occurred that generates the buzz.
This week brought a classic case study further complicated by misinformation, contradictions, retractions and an overall general mess aroud the report of four bodies found in a tent at the South Col.
The story was first published in the Himalayan Times citing “confirmed” information from base camp and expedition leaders. I wrote about the deaths and speculated they died from carbon monoxide poisoning as it was reported the four bodies were in the same tent at the South Col when the winds had locked everyone down for the night.
But as more journalists asked harder questions, the story started to fall apart. A government official said they couldn’t find any missing climbers from the 2017 teams, and they had no idea of the identities.
I spoke directly with expedition leaders, the reporter who broke the story plus more logistics companies and they said the report was a mistake. That bodies were found, perhaps only one or two .. but definitely not from this year.
Willie Benegas, long time Everest climber and guide who has participated in more rescues than most anyone, told me he personally looked inside every tent at the South Col this past week and found no bodies.
So we are left with an unsatisfying conclusion to this story. Were there any bodies? Were they Vladimir Strba or Roland Yearwood who died this year and reportedly had their bodies returned to the South Col. The Sherpas who reported the four bodies were sent to bring Strba’s body back. Did they get confused?
Or did the Sherpas see 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.
The press and mountaineering officials seem willing to shrug this away and not find out why the story got out in the first place. As with many things in Nepal, the truth is shrouded under a thick layer of smog.
Update: The Ministry of Tourism issued this statement:
“Follow No Rules” Climbers
A couple of poor examples to anyone looking to the climbing community for inspiration came from South African Ryan Sean Davy, 43, and Polish climber Janusz Adam Adamski, 49. Both willing violated the climbing rules of Nepal and bragged about it.
Davy, went to Camp 2 without a legal permit saying he couldn’t afford it but knew he needed one. He escaped the $22,000 fine but is now banned from climbing in Nepal for 10 years
Adamski made an illegal traverse from Nepal to China, also knowing he needed a permit. He is also facing a $22,00 fine and banishment. He said that he believes there is no border on mountains. Amazingly his total disregard for rules was flaunted in this quote to the Himalayan Times:
“I am ready to face any legal challenge in Nepal to safeguard the greatest achievement of my life, I’ll never regret what I did. As there is no provision of issuing traverse permit in both countries, I had to traverse illegally for fulfilment of my lifetime dream,”
Wrapping up this section, there were thieves on Everest. While rare, it does happen. This can be an honest mistake or a premeditated act by a climber who choose not to provision properly for an Everest climb, or in their strange world, feels that everyone’s property is also theirs for the taking. Without understanding the why, Tim Mosedale posted about an incident at their high camp on Lhotse and again at the South Col this past week. This is quite serious as his climbers were expected to find their gear and arrived to find it missing i.e. stolen.
Is There Anyone Left?
Well actually there are. I am always surprised when you think the season is over, another one or two summits come out of nowhere.
One we know is still trying is Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki wanting to climb via the West Ridge, Hornbein Couloir then to the summit. He originally started on the north side but switched to the south after seeing blue ice on the North Wall, his preferred route. – looking at 30/31 May
Visit the location table page for ongoing updates.
I want to sincerely thank each and every reader, even the one who told me “You are the reason the world hates Yanks” 🙂
Your interest, and participation is what fuels me to spend the hours each day (and night) to bring you the latest curated stories.
Memories are Everything