The fixed ropes are a pacing factor for all Everest expeditions so the progress is watched closely. With the Icefall Doctors doing the hard work, team after team are making the journey either on foot in Nepal or by Toyota 4Runner in Tibet to their respective base camps.
It is extremely early in the season, but thus far no significant problems are being reported either with flights into Lukla or crossing the border into China from Nepal. However, the Kathmandu and lower Khumbu region seems to be experiencing unusually heavy rainfall.
Can you Hear me now?
There will be joy once they arrive at Everest Base Camp (EBC) on the Nepal side because it appears EverestLink is up and running. This means everyone will have access to wifi at a reasonable price of US$50 for 500 MB. I have not heard what the current price is but considering where you are, having instant access to high speed internet is pretty amazing. By the way, the signal does not go above base camp so satellite phones are still the most reliable way of communicating back home while up high.
The Icefall Doctors have the route open to Camp 1 today. This is excellent in that it will allow teams to start early on their acclimatization rotations, and to get the camps established. This should help with any potential crowds as it will spread out the activity. There are 20 crevasse crossings using ladder in the Icefall and follows a more central route.
There is a change in who is fixing the ropes above Camp 2 this year. Madison Mountaineering noted on their blog that they “secured an exclusive contract to fix the ropes from Camp 2 to the summit thus … By controlling the rope fixing we can control our climbing schedule better than before.” Previously the ropes were fixed by Sherpas selected from many teams and was consider an honor.
I really like this post from David Snow. David was instrumental in helping young Dawa Sange Sherpa after he suffered extreme frostbite near the summit of Everest last year. Sange was guiding a Pakistani client, Col Abdul Jabbar Bhatti on the Nepal side of Everest on 21st May 2017. Bhatti refused to turn back claiming he had spent too much money turn back even thought it was after 4:00 pm. The client went home happy, and welcome as a hero, and Sange, through the amazing generosity of many, eventually found his way to Vail, Colorado where some of the best doctors in the world had to amputate all of his fingers due to the damage. I recently saw Sange and he was in amazing spirits but going through a very difficult physical recovery. You can read more on this post I did last year on Sange.
David is returning to Everest this year and had this to say on his blog:
In 1953 Bourdillon and Evans (left) came within 300’ of being the first to summit Mt. Everest. 3 days later their climbing partners Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay finished the job.
Last year a few of our guides Pasang and Tashi (right) got us 300’ from the top before the mountain had other ideas.
In a few weeks we’re heading back to see if we can finish what we started. I have a few items to collect at the South Summit for Sange Sherpa and a few things I still need to place at the top. We’ve got another great expedition team as well as 19 friends to make the trek to base camp with us.
Another peak I’m watching closely this spring is the world’s seventh tallest, Dhaulagiri. Not only is one of my climbing partners here in Colorado, Ryan Kushner, there but also the inspiring 79 year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontan. He has the age record for several 8000ers and only two left: Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma.
Memories are Everything