As last week was so quiet, this upcoming week will be like riding a wild horse. It appears, the winds have finally calmed and the jet stream has moved away from Everest thus allowing the ropes to be set to the summit on the Nepal (South) side Sunday afternoon and perhaps early Monday morning on the Tibet (North) side. Hold on tight, its summit season!
The Big Picture
While there has been chatter on the Nepal side that the ropes are in late, actually they are pretty much on time comapred to previous years. It appears there will be summits daily until the weather moves back in. I’m more hopeful than I have been over the last several season that we may see a safer season filled with limited problems like bottlenecks and crowds. I base this on several private comments I’ve received over the last few days that there is a sense of calm at the base camps. Also, while there is always controversy, there hasn’t been the high profile public spats we’ve seen in the past. Maybe there are just happening in private – as they should 🙂
Everest by the normal routes, Southeast Ridge and Northeast Ridge have become what I call “formula climbs”, similar to Denali, Mont Blanc or Aconcagua. The guides use the same route year in, year out and know the terrain well. They know where to set up camps and what to expect. In other words there are limited surprises. This has resulted in Everest death rates dramatically lower comapred to 20 years ago. Also improvements in oxygen delivery, clothing and boots have reduced the incidents of frostbite. If it happens these days, it is probably a mistake by the climber (or guide) and not an equipment failure.
Weather Outlook – Summit Door Wide Open!
Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions last week made the call that the jet stream will retreat from the Himalaya around May 11 thus the summit door would swing wide open for optimal summit conditions from Dhaulagiri to Everest. Today he feels “…the ingredients are coming together for a big week of summits on most of the 8,000m Himalayan peaks. The jet stream moves away and summit temperatures warm as the week wears on. There are two wildcards. One is small chance for snow early in the week, and second is whether the jet stream returns over the weekend.“
Nepal Update – Ropes to Summit!
Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Liaison Officer based at EBC, Gyanendra Shrestha texted me that the ropes were fixed to the summit at 3:30 pm, on 13 May 2018. The team was formed by Mr. Pasang Tenjing Sherpa, Mr. Pasdawa Sherpa, Mr. Lakpa Dendi Sherpa, Mr. Jen Jen Lama, Mr. Siddi Bahadur Tamang, Mr. Pemba chhiri Sherpa, Mr. Tenzing Gyaljen Sherpa, Mr. Datuk Bhote. They did a great job in what must have been bone chilling cold – temperatures hovering around -20F/-28C. They all work for Himalayan Guides and also support Madison Mountaineering.
Steve Plain hoping to break the time record for the 7 Summits is leaving for the summit late Sunday 13 May. He along with Jon Gupta and Pemba Sherpaplan to summit 14 May and meeting his deadline of 21 May by a week. You can follow his climb on his GPS Tracker. Mingma G Sherpa along with Chinese double amputee, Mr Xia Boyu are hoping also summit Monday morning.
It appears there are many, many teams preparing to summit at the end of the week when it should a bit warmer but summits will probably occur daily now.
Tibet – Summit Monday?
The rope fixing team was planning on leaving Camp 4 around 27,500’/8,400m early Monday 14 May. There are climbers trailing them. A team of 9 from 7 Summits Club is also heading upon hoping to summit on 17 May. Both “speed” teams, Alpenglow and Furtenbach are doing well with the Furtenbach “Flash” team reaching the North Col 23,000’/7,000m after only arriving in Tibet 7 days ago. They both heavily use “pre-acclimatization” techniques before arriving. Nepali Anish Luitel climbing on behalf of Boy Scouts around the world is hoping to summit in a day or so.
Fantastic picture posted on Facebook by Dmitriy Klimchuk as he was climbing! “Today came to 7.700, accidentally caught the internet, storming the summit supposedly from 14 to 15 may. Hello everyone!“
The Other 8000ers
Lhotse – Summits!
Ascent Himalayas reported that their team summited Lhotse:
Our team members Viridiana Alvarez(Mexico) & Dean Christopher Carriere(Canada) has successfully summitted Mt Lhotse(8516m) at 04:00pm along with our climbing guides Pemba Sherpa(Phortse),Tsering Dawa Sherpa(Rolwaling) & Tsering Pemba Sherpa(Rolwaling).Tsering Pemba Sherpa summitted Lhotse in 2017 and he was the main guide to fix the route last year being the first team to summit Lhotse.We would like to congratulate all our member for the successful summit.
Last week we saw six climbers summit Lhotse There are 88 climbers for Lhotse this season.
Cho Oyu – Summits!
SUMMIT OF CHO reached this early AM. Sheena And Roger with Phemba reached the summit at 1030 am and 11 am. Superb news! A HUGE congratulations to them. Paula’s high point was a wee bit lower having dug deap but the summit wasnt for her this time. AMAZING news, they all worked hard and dug deap! Now its down time. A huge well done to Rolfe and Phemba for helping make this all possible and of course our amazing 360 climbers. Sheena Roger and Paula. I should add Sheena now holds the record of the oldest British woman to have summited Cho oyu ! Taken from Charleen who was there with us in 2016! AMAZING!!!
Also, Bulgarian Atanas Skatov summited with no Os.
Makalu – No Update
Dhaulagiri – Summit Plans
The 26 people on Dhaulagiri have had some of the worse weather of all the 8000ers this spring. It looks like they have one chance to go for the summit and should combine forces. Seven Summits Treks is supporting Carlos Soria Fontán at age 79 with a strong team of 11 Sherpas who have fixed the route to C3. My buddy Ryan Kushner tells me this have not been able to up as high as they wanted for acclimatization so “Long way to go. Might have to do a no acclimation summit attempt but probably our only shot” Nike Rice update his blog with their schedule
Our plan is to begin our summit bid on Monday, May 14th, climbing to Camp I. We will then ascend to Camp II where we will take a second rest day. We will leave Camp II for Camp III on the 17th of May and attempt the summit on the 18th of May, assuming the weather doesn’t change. The weather after this remains good enough for contingency days and for our descent. The evening brought snow and lightning on May 13th, adding to the anxious mood in base camp.
Kanchenjunga – Summit Push
Most of the climbers are on their summit push. No updates if there are summits yet. David Liano is one of the 42 climbers there along with Don Bowie , Maya Sherpa and Chris Burke with a good overview of their plans on her blog.
Annapurna – Summit!
Korean climber Hongbin Kim with four Sherpas from Seven Summits Treks summited on 13 May. They were the only team on Annapurna this spring. The 53 year-old lost all his fingers on Denali in 1991 due to frostbite. He now has 12 of the 8000ers.
Shishapangma – Hope Fades for Boyan
The team on Shish of Klein Dávid and Varga Csaba left for their summit push this weekend. Italians Mario Vielmo and Sebastiano Valentini are also there. Its reported they reached Camp 2.
And not good news on the search for Shishapangma climber Bulgarian Boyan Petrov, a helicopter took two passes over the route he was last seen on. They took video and pictures that were analyzed back at base camp yielded no evidence he was there. Also a search team arrived at his tents at both Camps 2 and 3. They found his tent but no signs of him except single dose of insulin. He is diabetic. His wife, Radoslava Nenova, posted that he appears lost to the mountain and doesn’t want the search team to risk their lives going higher, but it appears they will continue their efforts to the summit:
Yesterday in a very difficult conversation I made a decision not to climb the top today. From Camp 3 up, we won’t find him alive. As much as I would like not to lose hope – for me, the life and survival of all the participants in the rescue action is very important, and although it is very difficult for me – I see no point in being threatened or other lives. So, I prefer the rescue teams to search the areas where there’s a chance to find bojan alive… If for bojan the battle is over, let him stay in the mountains. Whatever happens by the end of the day, I am grateful for all my efforts and reward them. This is the life of the sherpas, I know that when they come down, they’ll take another risk, on another slope, for another climb…, but personally, I don’t want to risk it. All the search decisions from here are theirs.
Due to the great flow of information and comments that hovers, I have decided to describe a very detailed timeline, facts, correspondence and prices. I haven’t decided whether to do it in a post or a book. One thing’s for sure we wrote a story and she deserves to be remembered. Because of bojan!
Manaslu – Over
Over on Manaslu, a Swiss team abandoned their effort due to avalanche conditions.
It’s going to be a huge week across the Himalayas with high pressure parked over the region. Hopefully it will stay, we like high pressure 🙂 Best of luck to all and I wish them a positive experience regardless of the result. I’m going to close this weekend update with a look at what the climbers might be thinking as they prepare to leave base camp for the summit.
Inside a Climber’s Mind
Leaving the dining tent, you switch on your headlamp to help find your tent even though you have made this walk almost nightly for the last four weeks. But tonight feels differently to you. Its cold and calm compared to the overcast windy ones you recently fought to sleep through. But something else is different, you were just told that you need to pack your summit pack because you leave tomorrow night at 2:00 am for your Everest Summit Push. “Everest Summit Push” you say out loud. This is really happening.
Reaching your tent, you bend over to unzip the front door. Crawling in still feels awkward, you laughed at those “box” tents in the next camp, now you look at them with more than a curiosity. You could sit in a chair, have your sleeping bag on a cot, you could … Everest Summit Push. Three words you have dreamed about for a long, long time. Your headlamp lights up the inside of your tiny home. There are your snacks, book, dirty clothes in the corner. Yeah it’s just like home. Your two duffle bags are crammed in the back rain fly. “Hmm, maybe I should start packing now.” You say out loud but quickly dismiss the thought as your breath condenses in front of your face. Time for bed.
Everyone was a bit quiet, introspective at breakfast the next morning. Everest Summit Push. Walking back to your tent now in the bright morning sun, you walk with a quick step, a new purpose. Grabbing your duffles, you unzip each one with care and stand back. “OK, what do I need.” You have visualized this moment – packing the summit pack but all of a sudden its like you know nothing, have forgotten everything. Sitting on one of the duffles, you take a long drink of tepid water. Your goal today is to drink six liters. You know this will be your last chance for a few days to get all you want. Up “there” getting water is time consuming and something you don’t get as much as you want, or need.
Your mind starts to focus. “What’s already up there?” Your second -20 sleeping bag is at Camp 2 along with your down suit, extra socks and your summit gloves. Your oxygen mask and regulator are also there, or are they? You think for a second. “Yes. I’m certain.” You will wear the same clothes that have done the job on the last couple of rotations: base layer, climbing pants, several jacket layers, helmet, gloves, buff – the regular stuff. Of course you have your sunglasses always on or around your neck and goggles in your pack. “What have I forgotten? Damn, I should have a checklist but I didn’t think I would be this fuzzy.” Funny thing about altitude, it makes you kind of fuzzy at times.
Your pack is lying on the ground. At 70 liters it looks big but all this stuff seems to make a lot of space. It’s not real heavy, maybe 15 pounds max thanks to the Sherpas. A quick glance sees them congregated outside the cooking tents laughing up a storm, kidding each other. This is not their first rodeo. Pasang sees you looking at them and comes over. “Everything good?” He asks with a genuine tone. “Yeah, just trying to remember what I have up there and what I need to bring. The mask and reg are there, right?” “Yes, of course.” He answers probably laughing to himself as he carried them for you on your last rotation when he picked up your pack and simply said “Too heavy.” He started pulling stuff out to put in his pack. “That’s right!” You quickly agree and begin to stuff a few more things in your pack for the climb to Camp 2 in about 12 hours.
After lunch, you take a walk around base camp. Its kind of a strange place with yaks standing on a trail, sound asleep. A random dog will go running by. The sounds are endless, a symphony of sorts. Chanting, rap music from a tent, card players, someone giving a lecture to their team on how to climb. A bit of everything as you walk by the many camps placed side by side on this melting glacier. But soon you are deep in thought. Everest Summit Push.
You have visualized this so many times, its almost like you have been there, but you haven’t. Now you know what its like to go through the Icefall. It’s not as bad as advertised but you know that can change in a blink so this time will be your next to last time and you are glad. The Western Cwm was hot and kind of boring in some ways. You are also glad to get his section behind you. Camp 2 is, well C2 a kind of camp purgatory. A weigh station between better places. The Lhotse Face. “Oh my God, climbing the Face another time.” You remember your first time to C3, while you only tagged it, it was a struggle. No O’s, hard packed ice, crowds. In some ways the worse of Everest and the best. Amazing views – one of a kind.
A smile comes across your face as you step aside to let a train of climbers go past you while you are on your leisurely stroll. You continue your mental climb of Everest. “The South Col, what will that be like?” Described like being on Mars, a stretch because “Who has been on Mars other than Matt Damion? Really how do they …” you calm down a bit and sit on a boulder. You know the schedule. Arrive before noon, try to seep, albeit on Os, drink a bit, force down some Ramen “I hate Ramen Noodles.” You declare out loud. The sleeping yak looks at you and you decide it time to keep walking.
You don’t sleep that night, flipping side to side, your mind races with every thought imaginable. You review your gear list, again. When you do drift off, you wake back up with start. Eyes wide open, you stare at the tent ceiling. Then it happens, “Time to go!” you hear the call from the Sherpas along with the cook banging a metal skillet. I guess it fair that if you have to get up at 1:30 am, so will everyone else! Pasang comes over to check on you as you are pulling your 8000-meter boots on. His headlamp shines in your face. You crank out a weak “Good morning Pasang.” He smiles back. “Namaste.” Your stomach flips.
Everest Summit Push.
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.
This Weeks Posts
- Everest 2018: Summit Strategies as Forecast Improves, Helicopter for Boyan
- Everest 2018: Stunning Video of Fall, Helicopter for Boyan, Teams Prep for Summit
- Everest 2018: Waiting and Packing-Summit Time Approaches
- Everest 2018: The New Generation of Everest Guides Making Their Mark
- Missing Climber on Shishapangma
- Everest 2018: Summit Plans Developing
- Everest 2018: Nepal Silly Rules Strikes Again