The first Sherpa team arrived at the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) on Tibet side for #Everest2018. Meanwhile more teams are arriving at Everest Base Camp (EBC) on the Nepal side. Everything seems to be on schedule thus far for the season.
The Big Picture
This past week on Everest has been busy with no surprises, just like it should be in early April. The weather is bit cloudy with rain down low and snow up high. In fact there are reports of heavy snowfall at EBC – but again this is fairly normal for early May.
The Himalayan Times reported that the Ministry of Tourism has already issued climbing permits to 30 expedition teams for different mountains and over 140 climbers representing 15 teams for Mt Everest. I fully expect over 400 summits, foreign and local, from the Nepal side and 200 from the Tibet side this spring season.
The first teams arrived at Everest Base Camp (EBC) on the Nepal side and the Icefall Doctors have the route put in all the way to Camp 1. Overall, it does not get better than this. The daily high temperature is in the 20’sF, at night it drops to single digits Fahrenheit. The winds pick up in the afternoon to 20 mph. Some posts are commenting that EBC is a bit cold. This is normal for early April but will warm up as the season moves towards summer.
Many are still on their way to the base camps but a few are already posting updates. On a disappointing note, Ben Jones, leader for Alpine Ascents, posted a reward for his lost or stolen computer:
$500 USD reward for my stolen MacBook Pro in the Khumbu either at Khumjung or Deboche. Bring or send to Alpine Ascents Basecamp and I will pay you no questions asked.
The Jagged Globe team is making good progress:
All the members of the climbing team and the trek team are now in Lobuje (4,910m). Two of the trekkers made the hike from Dingboche in five and a half hours with a Sherpa guide. The other team of 8 with two Sherpas made the 13.9km hike over the 5,535m Kongma La pass. The weather was perfect with clear skies and bright sunshine when the team set off at 07.00. As the morning progressed conditions became more overcast and the clouds increased. There was a bit of a view of surrounding peaks from the top of the pass but it started to snow heavily as the team descended. Navigating the crossing of the lower Khumbu glacier in a white out proved to be quite challenging, but the team reached the comfort of the Lodge at Lobuje at 14.30 after seven and a half hours of effort. Special mention goes to the three members of the trek team who set personal altitude records on the pass and coped admirably with the slippery snow on the descent
Icefall Route Back Center
The biggest news this week was that the Icefall doctors got the route in to Camp 1 in the lower Western Cwm. As I’ve noted this is good news as it allows the Sherpas to begin ferrying loads to establish camps. It appears the rope and anchor gear for fixing the rope above Camp 2 will be transported by helicopter this season thus eliminating many carries through the Icefall. In 2016, the Icefall route didn’t open until 11 April and in 2017, 2 April, so everything is right on schedule if not a bit early.
According to an article in The Himalayan Times, the Icefall Doctors used 20 ladders to cross multiple crevasses. It’s unclear if there are 20 crevasses or they used 20 ladders. In any event this is about normal. Of more significance, Ang Dorjee Sherpa, who runs the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) said, “The newly opened route is the safest one compared to the past seasons.” He said the 2018 route follows the central traditional route with more blue ice but less hanging glacier. They also replaced the old Korean ropes with new Black Diamond static ropes. Again, it is normal to put new ropes in each year but good news that they improved the quality by using BD. He went on to claim “This route is the safest ever.”
I will be interested in hearing from the long time expedition leaders as to their opinion of this year’s route. The Doctors have been criticized in the past for taking the easiest route thus putting it closer to the West Shoulder of Everest. This location is directly underneath the hanging serac that releases often. It was this serac that released in 2014 killing 16 Sherpas. They moved it more to the climbers right to minimize this objective danger as you can see in this diagram of the 2017 route. But to be clear, the work of the Icefall Doctors is difficult and dangerous and everyone appreciates their work.
Teams arrive on Tibet side
7 Summits Club posted a nice video of a barren base camp on the Tibet side. Their Sherpas were the first to arrive and stake out their site. Note how different that side is from Nepal where EBC is on the Khumbu Glacier.
As usual there are climbers hoping to set age records. You have to be 16 or older to climb from the Nepal side and between 18 and 70 on the Chinese side. This year, Indian Shivangi Pathak at age 16 is the youngest on the Nepal side. She is quoted saying “I am here to fulfill my childhood dream.” She is with Seven Summits Treks.
On the Tibet side, Transcend Adventures has specialized in taking teenagers to the summit. This year they have 36 clients supported by 55 Sherpas. They took the youngest female to the summit, Indian Malavath Poorna, 13 years 11 months on May 25, 2014 from the north side. The youngest person ever to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13 years 11 months, on May 23, 2010 from the North side. China established age limits after Poorna’s summit as a trend was developing.
As for the oldest person, Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013 holds that record. This year, Japanese female Funahashi Eiko, 79, is climbing from the Nepal side. There is no upper age limit on the Nepal side. The oldest woman ever to summit was Japanese Tamae Watanabe, age 73, in 2012 from the North.
My good friend David Liaño has set an incredibly ambitious goal of summiting four 8000ers this spring and summer. He is aiming for Everest, K2, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse. His goal is to raise funds and awareness around mental health issues in India. He is working with the Indian actor Deepika Padukone’s Live Love Laugh Foundation. You can follow David on Instagram. His first climb will be on Kanchenjunga.
Also, as I previously mentioned Romanian Horia Colibasanu and Slovak mountaineer Peter Hámor have a huge plan. On Hamor’s site he discusses the plan to climb Everest from the northwest, descend to the South Col then climb Lhotse. This is similar to what Ueli Steck was planning last year.
Best of luck to all the teams and climbers this year. It’s time to get excited!
Memories are Everything
Why this coverage?
I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I’m just one guy who loves climbing. With 35 serious climbing expeditions including four Everest trips under my belt and a summit in 2011, I use my site to share those experiences, demystify Everest each year and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease. My mom, Ida Arnette, 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 ever to me.