It was a good week for all those heading towards Mt. Everest. The weather was fine and reports from Base Camp included cold and snow – both good news after the dry and dangerous 2012 season.
In 2012, salve I posted this for the April 8th Weekend update:
In Nepal, Everest Base Camp received a few inches of fresh snow throughout the week but there are reports that Everest proper is pretty dry which will make the climbing a bit more difficult with crampons on rock. But we have heard these reports before only to find the route above the South Col fully snow covered.
Well, those reports were spot on with little snow the winter of 2011/12. That combined with high winds created a missile zone of flying rocks that injured many Sherpas. It was one of the most dangerous seasons on record.
The difficult weather of 2012 conspired to squeeze all summit efforts into 4 days instead of the normal 8 to 12 thus creating the massive traffic jams at the bottlenecks. However, those crowds had nothing to do with the deaths of 10 climbers on both sides. You can read my recap of last year at this link.
Thankfully, it looks like 2013 will be quite different.
With more snow, the rocks are cemented in place and less likely to tumble downhill hitting climbers. It is easier for the Sherpas to place anchors for ropes and generally easier for climbers to gain traction with their crampons. Let’s hope this is the case and 2013 will be a safe season for all.
The blogs were active as trekkers used the high speed Internet available in Namche. As they trekked higher, there were fewer posts with less pictures as the connection went from slow to absent. Those with satellite phones are saving their minutes.
The excitement grows for both trekkers and climbers as they reach the higher altitudes of the Khumbu. Almost everyone flew into Lukla at 9,250 feet. The next milestone was Namche Bazaar at 11,300′ then Tengboche (12,683′), Periche (13,907′) and finally Gorak Shep (16,924′). It took most teams 10 days to reach Base Camp at 17,500 feet.
The 38 mile trek is designed to allow the climber’s bodies to gently adjust to the higher altitude through creating more red bloods cells and adapting the body’s chemistry. But even with this, they will feel the real effects of altitude once they settle in at Base Camp.
IMG’s Eric Simonson reports on progress of fixing the rope in the Icefall:
Jangbu reports that the Icefall doctors have now opened the route up the Icefall, and tomorrow the IMG sherpas will be heading up to claim campsites at Camp 1 and Camp 2. Good news!
Teams climbing from Tibet are still waiting for the Nepal/China boarder to open. This is more or less a normal occurrence with the Chinese often changing dates, but for now it looks to be open between April 8th and the 10th. Some north side teams, like Adventure Peaks, are trekking in the Khumbu to get a jump on their acclimatization during the wait.
This weekend is a unique time for Everest climbers. They are finishing up their trek but shifting their thoughts to the climb ahead. For most teams, they have trekkers with them, so reaching Everest Base Camp becomes their ‘summit’. Bonds are made between the groups so saying goodbye is always tough.
The first order of business upon arriving in Base Camp is to find your personal tent and get your gear sorted. This means taking out your sleeping bag, and maybe an additional pad. Putting up pictures of important people in your tent. Changing into some clean clothes from the dusty trek. Perhaps making a quick call home to let everyone know that you have arrived.
For the next few days, most people will rest, drink and eat. They will makes short walks around camp, perhaps to the edge of the Icefall. Some will take a quick skills review on a nearby ropes course the Sherpas set up on the glacier. But overall, it is a time to prepare mind and body for the next part of climbing Mt. Everest.
Memories are Everything