All is well on Everest, except for the normal issues associated with acclimatizing. I’m seeing a lot of talk about the weather so this post looks at what they may expect across the Himalaya and whats happening on the other peaks.
Ropes to C3!
On the Nepal side, great news with the ropes now set all the way to C3. This is quite early. There is a lot of activity now with team after team climbing to Camps 1 and 2 in the Western Cwm. Adventure Consultants notes the wind is tough:
Lydia, Brad, Robin and Mike D. had a good night at Camp 1, but awoke to windy conditions. It’s very windy higher up the mountain and some of the gusts are funnelling down to lower levels. Undeterred the team set out on a climb above Camp 1, tackling some steep ground that leads into the more even Western Cwm.
Garrett Madison and their local logistics company Himalayan Guides who “secured the exclusive rights to fix the ropes from Camp 2 to the summit” reports that his expert team has reached Camp 3 with two lines – up and down. This is the normal configuration and helps reduce bottle necks on the Lhotse Face as it can be slow going for members, especially the first time up. Sherpas will use the safety lines as they ferry gear to Camp3 and the South Col. Garrett adds:
Our expert team of Nepal Climbing Sherpas are very skilled technical climbers and their job is to ‘fix’ the lines from Camp 2 all the way up the mountain to the summit of Everest. They have been working very hard since beginning their work fixing ropes above Camp 2 on April 19th, and have now succeeded in fixing lines from the base of the Lhotse face all the way up to Camp 3. They have installed 2 lines, an ‘up’ line and a ‘down’ line for climbers. Camp 3 is now ‘open’ for climbers wishing to climb the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 to acclimatize, to secure a camp place, or to carry loads of supplies to Camp 3. Our expert Sherpa team will rest and then continue working on the next stage to fix the ropes up towards the Yellow Band, Geneva Spur, and to the South Col known as Camp 4 on Mount Everest. We hope for good weather!
Weather: “A shift to snowy and colder is coming for the remainder of April into early May”
As I mentioned in the Weekend Update, the weather has been pretty good and usual for mid April, but a change may be coming. I reached out to Colorado meteorologist, Chris Tomer, who provides weather forecast for climbers around the world through Tomer Weather Solutions. He is currently supporting a team on Dhaulagiri. I asked him to look into his crystal ball for not only what the Everest climbers may experience over the few weeks but also for those on the other 8000ers. Of course, as the saying goes, if you must predict the future – do it often! This is Chris’ take:
Overview: A shift to snowy and colder is coming for the remainder of April into early May. We’ve seen a normal start to the climbing season, but i’m forecasting a drop in atmospheric pressure over India and the Himalaya starting this week. The jet stream weakens opening the door for moisture to flush the high peaks. Some of this can be attributed to the Madden-Julian Oscillation that swept through the Indian Ocean earlier this month.
Remainder of April: Temperature decreases and precipitation increases from Dhaulagiri to Everest. But, Pakistan appears to stay significantly drier. The summit temperature on Everest bottoms out at minus 40C for a short time. With this pattern comes abnormally light summit wind.
May: The month starts colder and snowier than normal with abnormally light summit wind. Then we have to look at other atmospheric counterweights like La Nina/El Nino (ENSO) for guidance. The latest data suggests a Neutral ENSO cycle by mid May. To me that suggests a rather normal weather pattern for the Himalaya.
Monsoon: If a Neutral phase of ENSO holds then we’ll see a normal onset of the Monsoon over India and the Himalaya. That would also suggest normal summit wind and temperature pattern although there can be significant day to day variations. So bottom line, progress on many Himalayan peaks could slow for the next 1-2 weeks (possibly 3) as unsettled weather moves in. Then we’ll get to back to business as usual.
If this forecast proves accurate its imperative the teams get as high as they can now for their acclimation without pushing to far too fast. This is always a puzzle and plays out differently each year. AND there is still a long time to go before June 1st, the usual end of the season, so certainly not time to panic.
Lhotse – 88 climbers
One of the “other” 8000 meter peaks is Lhotse, situated adjacent to Everest. For 2018, there have been 88 permits issued with a fair number of those being climbers seeing to nab both Lhotse and Everest in the same push. Thus far the Nepal Ministry and the Himalayan Database recognize a summit of Lhotse when starting at the Lhotse Y immediately after an Everest summit. Some feel the climber needs to start lower, perhaps Camp 2 or even base camp to make it a true summit climb, but that is a detail that mostly only those seeking summits of 14 of the 8000ers find relevant.
With this in mind, lets take a look at the activity on the other 8000ers currently being climbed:
Cho Oyu – 15 or less climbers
As usual, there are few teams on Cho in the spring season since most guides focus on Everest. We can expect to see Alpenglow as part of their Cho/Everest Flash combo, Kobler & Partner, perhaps Summit Climb and a couple of private teams including the Bulgarian Atanas Skatov.
Rolfe Oostra with 360 Expeditions updates today:
Arrvd abc (5800) after a long day feeling like icicles. A cold wind kept the temp very low and we could only regroup when we found a boulder large enough for 5 to huddle behind. The 23 yak and our tiny sherpa team arrived only 30 minutes before us at ABC (advanced base camp) so it was all hands to the pump to get up tents and kitchen sorted in the icy wind. Above us intimidating as hell soars the bulk of Cho.Today we rest and help the crew turn camp facilities into the Taj Mahal. Love being in this awesome place again and can’t wait to see what the turquoise goddess has in store for us above abc”
And from yesterday:
There has been very little snowfall for 2 months and the mountain is looking far more barren and icy than it did in 2016 making it easier to fix ropes and to climb. The jet stream is still clearly visible over the summit of Cho Oyu and huge winds blast the summit with a plume reminiscent of Everest forming each day.
The team are in great shape having spent time resting and making climbing sorties to 5600 and 5900 while enjoying base camp. This BC at the lower altitude brings warm still mornings before the winds pick up like clockwork at midday. At this base named “Chinese Base Camp”, we are under the constant watchful eye of the soldiers reminding us of the control they hold over us and the Tibetans.
Our Sherpa crew, cook and kitchen boy are now helping our team load 23 yaks in preparation to move. Its time to hoist anchor and head higher up the mountain to mid-camp (5300). Tomorrow we will be at ABC at 5700m
Makalu – 27 climbers
This peak is popular with serious mountaineers as it present a real challenge to summit in the best of conditions. In spring, 2018 German Thomas Lammle is there along with a three person Chinese team, and Peruvian Richard Hidalgo.
Carina Ahlqvist has arrived at base camp but posted this as she left Kathmandu:
Our team have now left Kathmandu, so we are 11 members, two Nepale guides, three sherpas, two cooks, two kitchen boys and 28 porters and me. Altogether we are almost 50 persons. Researchers in climate change and Executive Director for the Himalayan Stove Project on board. Im very serious not to leave any garbage and respect nature and locals. Also glad to give jobs to our brave crew. Target 50 smiles to go up to Makalu base camp. ESA made this logo for The Makalu Climate Climb 🤗 Makalu Climate Climb, now go! 🙏
Dhaulagiri – 26 climbers
Carlos Soria Fontán at age 79 is at base camp and ready to climb. Nick Rice and my fellow Colorado Ryan Kushner have also arrived at base camp. They had a series of unexpected events with their outfitter plus seeing porters abandon them on an acclimatization climb so they have already had their share of issues but remain positve. Rice is updating daily:
Today, we woke up at 6:30am to say goodbye to Simon and Wendy as they are descending today from Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Afterwards, I showered, did laundry, and organized my equipment. We had another delicious lunch, then visited with Rosa Fernandez, Alex Gavan, and Simone La Terra. The remainder of the afternoon was spent packing our backpacks for tomorrow’s climb. We plan on climbing to Camp I, sleeping a night there, then climbing to Camp II and descending to Camp I to sleep there another night, then descending to base camp before the start of the heavy snow.
Kanchenjunga – 42 climbers
Last year was one of misery for Kang climbers after mistake after mistake prevented their summit, including running out of ropes. This year many are back with more determination than ever. Chris Jensen Burke is amongst them as is Maya Sherpa looking to set a record for female Sherpas summiting 8000ers. She is married to Dutch guide Arnold Coster. Other climbers include Sophie Lavaud, Zdravko Dejanovic, David Liano and Csaba Varga.
Shisha Pangma – 10 or less
Maybe on a new route, Ines Papert and Luka Lindic from Slovenian-German are on Shisha. I’m covering Bulgarian Boyan Petrov while he is on Everest now but immediately after he plans to travel to Shisha and join up with Italians Mario Vielmo and Sebastiano Valentini, and Hungarian David Klein.
There are eight people with permits on Manaslu but no names. And last but certainly not least is Korean Climber Hongbin Kim seemingly alone on Annapurna I.
So, we have activity on all the 8000ers located in Nepal and Tibet but no climbing at the moment I’m aware of on the five Pakistan 8000ers. Best of luck to all and ranks to Altitude Pakistan as a source for some of this post.
Memories are Everything