One of the last teams known to still be on Everest made a gamble that they could catch the last available window, but as usual this year, the weather had the last word.
Scott Woolums with his single client, John, along with three Sherpas: Migma,, Karma, and Namgyl spent much of April trekking in Nepal to acclimatize hoping they could then go hop over to the Tibet side and catch an early window. But Scott, a seasoned mountain guide and Everest summiteer knew it may take patience. I’m not sure he new it would take another month of waiting but they were willing.
They watched from the relative comforts of Chinese Base Camp while team after team pushed the limits , sometimes fighting, other times waiting out the crowds and high winds that marked Everest 2019. They went to Advanced Base Camp based on a favorable weather forecast but turned back a short time into that effort, finally they made the call to head up early this week. Almost every other team was off the mountain on both sides.
He posted on May 20:
Lots of wind in the forecast! We’re launching today for ABC at 21,000 ft. on a 7 to 10 day rotation up high, hopefully up to the summit on 27, 28 or 29. Discussed fixed lines with the Chinese Sirdar (boss) this morning and he is saying tomorrow lines go into 8500 meters and then 22nd to the summit weather permitting. Again the 24th in the afternoon the wind is back for a couple days. We have been planning the next good day after the 25th, which looks very windy. Will be in good position to go in a few days! Good luck to all teams going for 23rd!
Scott wrote on my Facebook page on May 24 after I reported on some of the deaths and summits from this year that had occurred during crowded, windy summit windows:
Tradgic, but it’s all about timing! We’re here at 25,000 ft on the north ridge of Everest, 36 hrs away from the summit right now, and we’re the only team on this side!
Today, May 30, he posted on his website:
No Summit, but we’re back down and safe! John and I made a decision to turn around just below Camp 3 on the north side. High winds on the summit ridge above, combined with a short weather window made our choice clear. Safety before glory! We’re in bc now getting ready for the drive to Kathmandu tomorrow, which is probably more dangerous than climbing Everest! A quick note on this season. We made a choice to go after the crowds, and enjoyed a pure mountain experience with only our extended group.
Great effort and patience by a veteran.
Now that it appears (I think!!) the season is over, I’m writing up my annual recap looking at the entire Everest season. I will look at the hundreds who celebrated achieving their long time dream of standing on top of the world. Yet also never dreamed they would be delayed by man-made forces that were completely avoidable if the mountain were managed differently.
I’ll take a closer look at the 21 deaths across the six 8000ers this season and the 11 on Everest alone (hint – crowds were a small reason for the overall deaths.) And I’ll make an attempt at a few recommendation, as if anyone Kathmandu will take notice, it will at least make me feel like I’m doing more than just reporting (and complaining!)
This may take a while so look for it next week sometime. I’ll let you know!
I did my best to track the teams I could during the summit push and have a preliminary update on how many people summited. I’ll be refining this over the next few days but the true numbers will come from the Himalayan Database later this year. You can see what I am reporting now on the tracker table.
As always, thanks for following this season and for your thoughtful comments and …
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.
Memories are Everything