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May 192019
 

Last week was important for climbers across the Himalayan. The ropes were fixed to the summit on four separate 8000-meter mountains all on the same day, May 14, 2019. This was historic in that it has never happened on so many peaks on the same day. With that, many peaks, including Everest, were summited in cold temperatures but manageable winds.

Then something else historic occurred. Seven climbers lost their lives and three went missing, presumed dead. Add in one more death on Annapurna two weeks earlier, it totals 11 deaths and this is even before the largest summit push in history on Everest that begins early next week. The deaths occurred on Everest, Cho Oyu, Annapurna, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse. They have included one Sherpa, two climbers not using supplemental oxygen and five Indian climbers.

Each weekend during the season I’ll post a “Weekend Update” summarizing the main stories for the past week.

Headlines

The jet finally moved off the summit of Everest long enough for a very strong team of Sherpas to fix the ropes to the summit on the Nepal side. While a bit late being on May 15, it was still not the latest. In 2014 they made the summit on May 23. Most years since 2009, the ropes were in during the second week of May. Meanwhile this year, a week after the ropes reached the summit on the Nepal side,  they still are not there on the Tibet side.

With the ropes in, a few aggressive teams positioned at Camp 2 or higher, over 100 people soon made the summit in what was forecasted as a narrow two day window that actually turned into three. But when it slammed shut as the jet returned, teams looked ahead to May 20th and on for the next suitable period of low winds.

And that’s where we are this Sunday. However the big unknown is if the pesky jet will make a another appearance in mid-week spoiling all the plans. Literally hundreds of climbers are betting they can get the summit this week and are staged high today ready to go at a moments notice.

Oxygen bottles, tents, food, stoves and fuel have all been cached at the camps where the summit bids will start from the South Col on the Nepal side and the North Col on the Tibet side. At this point, anything can happen so this week will define the Everest 2019 season … along with a string of tragic deaths across the Himalayan 8000ers that, in my opinion, most could have been avoided.

A beautiful image from Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering at Camp 2. They will go for their bid this week.

Everest 2019 Camp 2. Courtesy of Madison Mountaineering

Jet Stream – Wobbly until 22-24

This site indicates the jet will move away starting Monday, May 20th but may return in a few days. But as I always advise, using internet forecast is no substitute for paying a human for a professional forecast.

Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions commented on the jet stream situation:

The biggest summit window of the season is here. I’ll echo the words of meteorologist Marc De Keyser that while it’s a window it’s not wide open. Why? The jet will definitely weaken but it will wobble back and forth. There will be periods of dead calm summit winds mixed with brief spikes in wind. And, this kind of pattern can mean important differences in wind on the North side of Everest versus South. Timing the keyhole drops will be critical. The first big wind drop occurred on the 19th with another to follow on the 20th. The sweet spot may very well be 22-24. Then the jet slams the summit. The period after is less certain regarding jet positioning. I see no signs of the Monsoon at this point before the 28th.

Everest Nepal – 100+ Summits, 2 Deaths

It was mostly a good week on the Nepal side of Mt. Everest. The first summits in the Everest/Lhotse/Nuptse Horseshoe were on Lhotse by Mingma Sherpa’s Imagine Nepal 12 person team. Christina Flampouri became the first Greek woman and Sirbaz Khan became First Pakistani to summit Lhotse.

A large Indian Army, Chinese and an International team all from Seven Summits treks summited. Kami Rita Sherpa who broke his own record with his 23rd on Everest, will do another effort this upcoming week for his 24th. Also a team from Satori and Climbing the Seven Summits. Kenton Cool got his 14th summit. Saray N’kusi Khumalo became the first black woman from Africa to summit. The first African American woman to summit Everest was Sophia Danenberg in 2006.

In the department of outstanding efforts, Myrmidon Expeditions’s team of Kirstie Ennis, Rob Gowler, and Christopher Paul along with the support of climbing Sherpas (Sange Sherpa – climbing lead, Dharche Bhote, and Chhebi Bhote) turned back around 8600-meters/28,215-feet due to reportedly running out of time.

Kristie posted this video along with a promise to return:

I gave Everest Hell, and she gave it right back. More details to come soon, but time and oxygen wasn’t in our favor. We spun at 8684 m. (28,490 ft). Tough call being so close to the top, but it wasn’t worth anyone’s injury or death. God bless the ten lives lost this season in the Himalayas already. Thank you guys for all of the love and support. Everest round two coming soon… 😜

And to all the naysayers and those who said an above knee amputee wouldn’t make it past camp 2 (6400 m) — I got your camp 2, the next two camps, and another +2200 meters in my back pocket.

 

Two Everest Deaths

An Irish climber, Seamus Sean Lawless, 39, went missing at 27,500-feet on Everest when he became separated from his group. Witnesses report that he fell near the Balcony, a key feature on the route, somewhere above Camp 4 aka South Col and disappeared. Search efforts were called off Friday, May 17, when high winds returned to the peak.

Also on Everest on Thursday, May 16, Indian climber Ravi Thakar died inside his tent at the South Col, about 26,000-feet after his summit. Its thought he ran out of supplemental oxygen while sleeping after a long hard summit push.

Everest – Tibet 

Adrian Ballinger gave me this update early Sunday morning Tibet time:

My teams at 6400m now (abc) and it’s a calm beautiful day (as was the move up here yesterday)! Winds dropping up higher today. Still may not be the perfect window (cold temps and American and euro models diverging on how much wind we may seee this week)….

Guides I’m talking to on both sides are “agonizing” over whether the lower gfs winds are correct (making it a great summit window) or the higher “euro” winds are correct, making it a potential shitshow with lots of people and too cold conditions  

But for today at least – T-shirt weather in ABC! Time for some coffee and more poring over jet maps 😝

Note that Adrian is going to attempt K2 with no Os after this Everest experience.

One objective that may be in jeopardy with the fickle jet stream is Alpenglow Expeditions‘s Roxanne Vogel who is trying to summit Everest in 14 days, home to home. She is climbing with Lynda Bradey.

New Route Update

Cory Richards and Topo Mena are at ABC ready to go when the conditions allow. Topo offered:

It’s time to pull the trigger! Today we got a spell of favorable winds, not as good as we would like, but it’s the mountains right? You gotta play with the cards you’re dealt! So tomorrow we are coming back to Base Camp and moving onward to get in position to attempt that beautiful line next week! 📸 @coryrichardscoming down from the North Col (7100m) during our last acclimatization jaunt… #everest2019 🔥

Ambitious Climbers Update

Tim Mosedale had to end his attempt to summit Nuptse after the route finding became difficult as they ran out of sunlight. They wisely retreated but will attempt Nuptse again then go directly for Everest and Lhotse then move to the Tibet side and summit Everest again.

Sergi Mingote summited Lhotse this past week as part of his 3×8000 Solidary Project. Last summer he climbed K2, Broad Peak and Manaslu. Now he is aiming for Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga this Spring – all without Os. If he does summit he will beat the current record holder, Silvio Mondinelli, who climbed the three highest mountains in 3 years and 64 days.

Nirmal Purja has summited Annapurna, Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri as the phase one of his project to summit all fourteen 8000ers in 7 months, and break the current record of 7+ years. His next phase includes Everest, Lhotse and Makalu but he is now saying he doesn’t have enough money and may cancel the entire program.

David Göttler is looking for a no Os summit of Everest. He headed back up this weekend looking to summit earl this week.


The “Other” 8000ers

This is what is happening on the other 8,000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet.

Annapurna – Over

On the other side of Annapurna from the normal route which climbers finished up last week, Felix Berg and Adam Bielecki ended their effort due to snow and weather conditions:

The snow constantly falling for the last few days is proving that our decision to turn back was the only right one. The weather forecast for the next week is miserable. The weather does not give us a chance to climb the beautiful and difficult mountain such as Langtang Lirung. Annapurna is also under the constant snowfall and our acclimatisation is too weak to allow us to climb a new and difficult route on an eight-thousander. We are forced to end our expedition.

Annapurna Standard – 32 Summits, 1 Death

On Annapurna, which is considered the most deadly of the fourteen 8000-meter mountain, 32 people using Seven Summits Treks summited on April 23. Chinese climber Wui Kin Chin died in Singapore two days after being rescued from at 27,500-feet. He had spent 3 days stranded around 7400-meters after developing altitude related illness. 

Dhaulagiri – Weather Hold, Summits
Horia Colibasanu along with Marius Gane and Peter Hamor were last reported at their higher ABC around 5,600-meters .This update from Horia:

We are presently at basecamp. The weather is cold, windy, with rain and snow. There is absolutely nothing we can do. Hopefully we’ll be spared another cyclone. On the upside, this is our chance to rest. Considering how things are at the moment, it is certain that we only get one weather window, one shot at attacking the summit. It will be a steady and continuous climb. From the moment we head out, our target is the peak. It will be a major challenge, which we expect will take 5 days. When climbing, we’ll have to take it easy, in order to acclimatize. Once we are past the chimney we have already secured, we can go by foot. We are hoping for good weather, it is what matters most to us.

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja and Mingma David Sherpa and Gesman Tamang made the summit. He has three 8000ers: Annapurna, Kanchanjunga and Dhaulagiri thus far.

Lhotse – South Face on Weather Hold
Sung Taek Hong team established their Camp 4 and are now resting in the village of Chukung. This is his sixth attempt to scale the face.

Lhotse – Standard route – 20+ Summits and 1 Death

After Imagine Nepal put 12 on the summit on May 13, a four more climbers using Seven Summits summited On May 16 including  Moeses Fiamoncini, Sergi Mingote, Juan Pablo Mohr and Carloz Garranzo summited not using supplemental Os. On another push, Bulgaria Ivan Yuriev Tomov, was found dead in his tent after summiting Lhotse without Os.

Makalu – 42+  Summits and Deaths

  • Seven Summits Treks International: 5 members, 2 Sherpas
  • Altitude Junkies summited at 3:30:Phil Crampton with “Margret” Watroba
  • Seven Summits Treks’s Indian Army: 16 members, 13 Sherpas (Narayan Singh died of altitude illness at 8200m)
  • Pioneer Adventures: 4 members, 4 Sherpas
  • Peak Promotion: 1+

Well known Peruvian climber, Richard Hidalgo, was found dead in his tent at 20,669-feet on Makalu. He had spent the previous day with a Sherpa team installing the fixed line used for safety. He was climbing not using supplemental oxygen identical to Bulgaria Ivan Yuriev Tomov, who was also found dead in his tent after summiting Lhotse. 

Also on Makalu, Indian climber Narayan Singh died of altitude illness at 26,900-feet and Dipankar Ghos, 52, from Kolkata, India is missing after he summited on May 17, 2019.

And rescues are still ongoing for Makalu climbers. Lakpa Sherpas from Expedition Base said:

EB Makalu Rescue operation: EB Sherpa guide, Pem Dorje Sherpa, and Sanu Sherpa (SST) climbed up to C3 last night from ABC to take O2 and altitude medicine and other supplies up to the Indian Army Team and assist with their descent. EB team member, TM, a medical doctor, is providing medical assistance to injured climbers from other teams at ABC. A really tough couple of days. More to come.

American Doctor, Tracee Metcaff who summited Makalu earlier, is the doctor staying at base camp providing medical care.

Kanchanjunga – 28+ Summits, 3 Deaths

  • Peak Promotion: 5 members, 5 Sherpas
  • Seven Summits Treks/ Elite Himalayan Adventures: Mission Project Possible 14/7:  3 Sherpas
  • Seven Summits Treks: Internationals 5 members, 8 Sherpas
  • Shangri-La Nepal Treks: 1 member, 3 Sherpas

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja and Mingma David Sherpa and Gesman Tamang made the summit. He has three 8000ers: Annapurna, Kanchanjunga and Dhaulagiri thus far.

Kangchenjunga at 28,169 feet, is well known as one of the more difficult 8000-meter mountains. This week two climbers, Biplab Baidya and Kuntal Karar, both from India, died from altitude related issues and one, Chilean Rodrigo Vivanco, is presumed dead after getting separated from his group and never arriving at camp after his summit.

Cho Oyu – Cancelled and 1 Death

The Summit Climb team canceled their climb after the death of Phujung Bhote who fell in a crevasse near Camp 2.

Next Week – Summit Week!!

Mingma Sherpa’s Imagine Nepal has left for the summit of Everest tonight, Sunday, May 19. At 18:00 they reported in from Camp 4:

Our all team reached south col (camp4). Weather is good with no wind. Only our team for tomorrow summit push. 5 chinese+2greece women planning for first women on everest+1 indian and 8 sherpa.

They appear to be the only team attempting to summit tonight but there are many others staged at ABC, and Camp 3. I anticipate several busy nights Monday through at least Thursday. Teams looking summit Tuesday morning are at C3 on the Nepal side. They include:

  • Summit Climb
  • Jagged Globe
  • 65 degrees North

Damian Benegas of the renowned Benegas Brothers said:

Well, after what’s been a truly amazing season up until now for us, we are delighted to announce our summit push is finally underway. Damian, Lopsang Sherpa, Kike and the team of 3 members Jorge George and Rowena left base camp at 0400 and have checked in from Camp 2 already. An exiting few days lie ahead!! We hope for an early summit on Wednesday or Thursday. Right now, skies are clear and winds dropping…. If everything goes well, the plan will be to then rest another day at C2 and then push on for C3, C4 and the summit. Lopsang and Jorge will also be headed for Lhotse if all goes well.. We’re delighted with the weather forecast and the number of summits so far.

And Alex Abramov 7 Summits Club told me  “2 teams each 6 members and 1 guide plus 9 Sherpas are planning summit push at 23 and 24.” But, there still no ropes to the summit!

Follow Along

Several times a day, I’ll update the team location table with last known camp and latest headlines. Also I usually do two post a day during the big summit week, one reaping the day and one for the next wave. You can sign up for (and cancel) notifications on the lower right sidebar or check the site frequently.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything


Why this coverage?

I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I’m just one person who loves climbing. With 37 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.
donate to Alzheimers

Ida Arnette 1926-2009


Previous #Everest2019 posts:

Everest 2019: Team Locations and Headlines

  3 Responses to “Everest 2019: Weekend Update May 19”

  1.  

    What do you think of people dying in their tents without using supplemental oxygen or running out?

    I haven’t heard that happen before in your blogs but I could just not remember

    •  

      It happens and becoming more common as people climb on low-cost outfits with the minimum supply of Os. They get too tired to go lower than C4 after a long hard summit, run out of Os and. …

      A could of years ago, an identical scenario occurred with similar climbers and companies.

  2.  

    Fantastic coverage once again Alan, thanks once again Cheers Kate (UK)

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