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May 022019
 

Which is it? Big snow or no snow? Even the professionals are tossing coins these days and our climbers on Everest are making tough decisions. Should I stay or should I go? I’ve heard that someone before 🙂

Headlines

Now there are a record 377 permits issued to member climbers on the Nepal side. No updates from Tibet.

Great news that the fixed ropes are now to the South Col at 7950-meters/26,082-feet. As soon as the weather allows, tents, stoves, fuel and oxygen bottles will be ferried up to support the summit bids in a week or so.

Flu or No Flu?

A very strange article in National Geographic with the misleading title “Flu outbreak rages near Everest base camp” but cites data from last autumn and concludes with “By and large, the Everest climbing community seems to have been spared so far. We haven’t seen a lot of the flu up here.” So, which is it? Please let me know if there is a flu outbreak at EBC this spring. Thanks!

Maybe a Lot of Snow, Maybe No Snow!

I’ve been talking about the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal for a week now and it made landfall today. I checked back in with Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions for his crystal ball on what Everest can expect:

The amount of moisture in the atmosphere over the Foothills will run +5 standard deviations.The question is how much makes it up to the 8000m peaks on the eastern Himalaya. I projected a rough foot for Makalu and Everest but the amount could vary wildly. Looking down the road, big jet wind SUN-WED then big drop and potential summit opening May 12-ish.

Cyclone Fani makes landfall

Nepal – Preparing for the Worse, or Not!

Stay Put!

Adventure Consultants, arguably the most experienced operator on the Nepal side has decided to stay at base camp and not risk a Camp 2/3 rotation:

Well, tonight we thought we would be getting ready for an early start to climb to Camp 2 but the latest weather forecasts predict snow followed by high winds above Camp 2. Now we are already acclimatised to 6,500m, spending excessive time there could be detrimental to our overall condition. Also, the longer we spend there, the more food and fuel we consume which will need to be restocked in the future. So, a difficult decision was made and we are on hold again. This is part and parcel of climbing a mountain the size of Everest, and that’s one reason we have additional time in our schedule for unforeseen delays.

As frustrating as this is, our inconvenience is minimal compared to the thousands of people in India awaiting the potentially destructive landfall of Cyclone Fani. Again, time will tell how the cyclone develops

And Mike Hammil, Climbing the Seven Summits, also locked his team down:

With eagle eyes on the expert forecast, we’ve made the decision to pull the whole team down to Base Camp today.

As you may know, there is a significant cyclonic storm about 450km from the Odisha Coast in East India called Cyclone Fani (pronounced Foni) which has been moving North. While it’s meant to weaken, the effects of that storm mean we are likely to see significant snowfall and high winds on the mountain. We are erring on the conservative side and will have the entire team wait it out for few days in the safety of Base Camp until that storm has passed and things have settled.

Go Higher!

But Madison Mountaineering headed up and reported on the rope team he is hosting and managing:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Everest climbing team.  We had a great day!  And we are up at Camp 2 and all settled in here.  We had a nice dinner and we’re going to take a rest day tomorrow.  Some exciting news:  our Sherpa rope fixing team, eight of our top Nepal Sherpas, were able to fix lines to the South Col today to Camp 4!  Dispite the high winds, they got to Camp 4 with the fixed ropes.  So now the route is open all the way to the South Col for other teams to carry loads and acclimitize.  Everyone’s doing great up here at Camp 2!  Sounds like there might be a little bit of snow in the forecast, but there’s clear skies at the moment.  We will keep our eyes on that and everyone’s doing well.  So, we’ll check in soon.  Thanks so much!

IMG moved up as well and noted high afternoon winds but calmed down by evening.

A few teams are tagging Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face from Camp 2 and not spending the night. Over the past few years, it has become questionable if the 12 hours spent at C3 acclimatizing does more damage than good. It seems many of the teams feel just spending a few minutes around 7,000-meters is good enough. The science says you need to spend longer to allow the body to respond but the tag technique has proven effective in recent years.

Tibet 

And Summit Climb reports good day at the North Col

Hi this is David O’Brien from a very sunny North Col. We’re up at 7000m to sleep for continued acclimatisation. The weather getting here was the best I’ve ever had not too hot , not too cold , bit of a breeze. There were a lot of people heading up today , the forecast is due for a change tomorrow, the Sherpas have just brought around hot sweet tea and it’s time loft dehydrated meals soon. I’m up for beef and pearl barley from Firepot, smells better then at home . Everyone is doing well and all got up here in good time.

Love this short clip of Cory Richards scouting out his new route on the Tibet side. His commentary:

It was a wee bit breezy at 7,000 m today. Because of high winds on the mountain, Topo and I decided the best move for acclimatization would be to spend the day on the standard route. We only saw three tents blow away! Anyway, thanks for the video Topo…I’m pretty pleased we turned around when we did…tho I know you would’ve kept going

Annapurna Death

Finally, very sad news that Annapurna climber, Wui Kin Chin, has died in a Singapore hospital after being rescued four days ago from 7,500 meters. My deep condolences to his family and friends.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything!

  4 Responses to “Everest 2019: Big Snow, or NO Snow”

  1.  

    I watched a video of the clean up by Sherpas on Mt Everest. It was amazing how hard they worked and how much was still left. They knew of two men who had died and they had to wait for their government to give them permission to bring bodies down off the mountain even though the families wanted them. Why is this? Especially since these mountain villages get and depend on the water they have from the run off the mountains.

    •  

      Please don’t ask me to explain the Nepal Government! 🙂 But it can be complicated when it comes to dead bodies with the mixtures of religions and the need for sensitivity to culture and families.

      I wrote this a few weeks ago about this year’s trash effort:

      Before I go into details on what happened this week, I wanted to highlight the efforts on both sides of Everest to remove the accumulated trash from decades of climbing. In the early days, no one envisioned that there would be hundreds, if not over a thousand people on Everest each season. Knowing they might never come back, and no one would ever know, they left a lot of trash, tents and oxygen bottles on the mountain.

      Fast forward to the early 1990’s when Adventure Consultants pioneered commercial guiding on Everest, more care was taken to remove the trash. And this trend accelerated but the efforts were dwarfed by the volume of expeditions. The Chinese side around 2010 was filled with shredded tents, empty oxygen bottles and general trash mostly above the North Col.

      The pivotal moment for the Nepal side was in 2015 when the earthquake hit. With the Icefall thought to be impassable, helicopters rescued over 150 people in one day and the leaders were forced to leave all the tents, food, stoves – everything – behind. With the harsh winter winds, the tents became shredded, exposing the supplies and spreading them over the Camp 2 area in the Western Cwm. When I was there in 2016, I was appalled.

      Sadly, this combination of a natural disaster and human arrogance lead to a couple of teams actually cutting their logos off their tents and leaving them at Camp 2 to become shredded pieces of nylon the last few years making the problem even worse. Now, today in 2019, climbers will see a very disturbing scene as they arrive at Camp 2. And for those who reach 8,000-meters on either side, will find a wasteland, literally as human feces does not degrade, it merely blows “away” or becomes stuck in the rocks. These highest camps need to use “blue bags” where the solid waste is brought down by each donor.

      As for the bodies, in 2010, an effort was made by one Nepali guiding company to remove bodies from the south side at the request of the local Sherpa and Lama community. They considered leaving the dead on Everest disrespectful to the Mountain Gods. Two bodies were removed but the families intervened on others requesting they stay where they died per the climber’s wishes.

      So it’s complicated.

  2.  

    I have seen several articles today on major news sites like CNN and Fox which talk about a 14 person garbage recovery team having already collected something like 3 tonnes of garbage this year and it also mentioned that 4 bodies have been found…the bodies were mentioned in a way that made it seem like their discovery was unexpected.

    Anyway if the actual expeditions are only part way up the mountain by this point, where is all this garbage coming from? Does the garbage team just do their own thing and climb ahead if everyone else? And how is it so shocking when bodies are found? People generally know who didn’t come down and what route they were on or approximately where they were last seen, right? I’d hope these bodies are identified for the sake of the families etc.

    •  

      The trash is an accumulation that started in 1952. Companies like Asian Trekking has collected trash for year with their Eco Everest climbs and Cash for Trash programs. But as the volume increased, and some operators tried to save money by leaving junk all over the mountain, no single company could keep the mountain clean.

      There are a few bad actors who leave more trash than others but it’s really up to the paying clients to hold their operator accountable.

      I’m vey pleased to see both the Chinese and Nepal governments, plus some private companies like Coca-Cola and WWF help fund this year’s effort.

      Also, due to a rapid evacuation from C2 and C1 in the Western Cwm in 2015, a lot of tents and supplies were forced to be left as the government shut down the mountain. That is where a lot of the trash is coming from. The South Col is a different problem with human solid waste and teams must begin to use “wag bags” to bring it back down.

      As for the bodies, its unclear if they are bodies or parts as the glacier tends to reconstitute items. Parts have been know to show up , deposited by the glacier, from decades earlier. No one should be surprised but it makes for provocative headlines that sells clips and ads. I suspect some form of DNA testing might take place, at the families’ expense.