The excitement is building as team after team is packing for their summit push. All the years of saving, dreaming and training are coming to a head over the week. A large snow blast hit the upper Khumbu Icefall in mid day but no one was injured.
While they were packing, It was quiet with the exception of a huge lightening and thunder storm on the Nepal side. At 4:00 am his time on Wednesday morning, Kuntal Joisher texted me “It’s windy here at the base camp as well and crazy amount of thunder and lightning. What a show by nature. Been awake for last half hour listening to all the thunder and seeing the lightning flashes.” Then a few hours later:
It’s time!!! Tonight I leave to begin my summit push for Mt Lhotse. Team Satori will first move to camp two where we would be stationed for two nights. We would then move to camp three, and then next day to camp four. We’ll spend a few hours at camp four of Lhotse and then begin our final climb to the top of Mt Lhotse through the Lhotse couloir. This would be on the morning of May 14th. Hopefully mountain and weather permitting we would spend some time experiencing the amazing Himalayan panorama from top of Lhotse and we hope to be back at the base camp by May 15th!
But not everyone is chomping at the bit to go, many are on holiday in Namche or even Kathmandu. Another nice update from David Snow‘s wife, Tiffany. I enjoy hearing her point of view. Click on the link to see some great photos.
The team took a helicopter this morning down to Namche (11,000 feet) for rest, relaxation, normal(ish) food, real beds, hot showers and much better internet! The air is thick and they all are a lot happier 🙂 It’s amazing the difference (last year and this year) when talking to Dave at Namche. He is upbeat, energetic and overall more relaxed. They will be there for a few days while waiting for the fixed lines to go all the way to the summit. By all accounts it seems like this season is going fairly well and they expect the lines to be in soon. Some weather reports indicate a summit window coming soon, next week we might hopefully see the first summits on the south side. I have learned not to get excited about that (and they have learned that too.) It’s still too early to count our chickens. But keeping good thoughts and positive vibes!
It used to be that climbers would walk, I know – how old fashion – back down to a lower village for this pre-summit “touch grass.” These days they hire a helicopter for several thousand dollars and split it between several people. Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals, had a nice post describing the pros and cons of going back down valley. This is snapshot of the post:
The pros being, resting the body at lower altitudes, eating different foods that often simply revolve around being able to sit in a cafe and eat cake, showers, etc. All of the arguments outside the Physiology aspect can be argued that we actually have better of all this stuff at our base camp. Our cooks great food, showers, constant internet in our camp, huge personal comfortable tents with beds, and showers. The possibility of instagraming from Namche probably more of a fashionable trend than anything is a big driver in many climbers minds at this point.
The cons of dropping down; you are eating other peoples cooked food, the chance of maybe picking up an illness from this or other trekkers who are coughing away in teahouses, outsiders who have not lived in our little bubble for weeks on end can be a major risk. And probably most importantly, getting away from the mountain, not watching its rhythms and staying focused here with our staff and being present with Everest.
He also posted a nice picture of this year’s Camp 2 on the Nepal side:
The Alpineglow Everest team is on the mountain now, arriving late per plan. The have completed an acclimatization rotation and are also waiting on weather:
Continuing to acclimatize for their summit push, the Everest team completed a rotation to North Col/C1 (23,000’/7,000m) and returned to ABC (21,300’/6,400m). The North Col is a severe sharp-edged pass that was formed by glaciers- it forms the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier. The glacier marks the first point in the route where crampons become necessary for climbers. In anticipation of summiting, the whole team has their eyes glued to the forecast. Wind patterns are looking increasingly variable with a lot of up and downs. “Winds have been ripping really hard for the past serval days and will continue for several more… but after that??”
Even though its a bit out of focus, I like this shot Arnold Coster posted along with he caption “waiting for weather”
Boyan Petrov Missing on Shishapangma – Update
There is no real news on missing Bulgarian Boyan Petrov (45), who was climbing solo on Shishapangma without supplemental oxygen or a radio. He left base camp on 29th April but stayed behind as teammates left Camp 2 on 3 May due to poor weather. He was spotted through a telescope on 5 May but nothing since. The upper mountain has been socked in with high winds, similar to Everest. A rescue team has been put together by Chinese mountaineering officials and his fellow climber at base camp but poor weather has thwarted their efforts. Also the Chinese approved the use of a helicopter to aid in the search but it can only fly to 5,000 meters and he is thought to be higher.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was quoted in the Bulgarian media “We are in full communication with his relatives, as well as with the authorities in Nepal and China, and I have summoned the Chinese ambassador to provide a helicopter route if it can fly,”
And Petrov’s wife, Radoslava Nenova, made this statement:
Being Bojan Petrov’s wife has always been an honor and punishment at the same time. I spent the last few days in insomnia and not because I quietly hope, but because I can’t stop acting. All institutions have been activated. The Foreign Ministry is around the clock, constantly exchanging information with minister zaharieva and deputy. Minister Georgiev who is helping to lift a helicopter from the nepalese country to Tibet. Prime Minister b’s support. Borisov. On the tibetan side, the boys from the expedition are already on the slopes of the shisha pangma… today, rescuers have joined China. We’re setting up a satellite for a satellite photo on the slope… I have all the support in the world the alpine insurance company in Austria where bojan is insured, also tracks things. In a world full of possibilities, don’t tell me something is impossible!
A difficult situation as we enter the fifth day of his disappearance.
Waiting on the Other 8000ers
Over on Dhaulagiri, similar to the other 8000ers, teams have been in low-activity mode waiting for better weather. Nick Rice gave this update on their plans to leave for the summit in a few days:
We have had intense wind and heavy snow in base camp. Many of our already old tents in base camp have broken, and there have been many sleepless nights as winds gusting as high as 50mph (80km/h) have rattled our camp all night. We have light at the end of the tunnel, however, as there may be a window for a summit attempt or anther acclimatization cycle, depending upon our condition in Camp III in the coming days.
We plan tentatively to climb to Camp I on 11th, Camp II on the 12th, Camp III on the 13th and depending on our conditions, remain a day to rest in Camp III on the 14th or attempt the summit on 14th. This plan of course is contingent on us feeling good at each camp, and on the weather window remaining good as the days in question are quite far off and our confidence in the weather report is low.
CarlosSoria posted this nice video:
My best to all the climbers on all the mountains as they begin to pack for their summit pushes.
Memories are Everything