It is sad to start the week with the report of the death of Mingmar Sherpa. One of the Icefall Doctors, he is reported by AFP and the Himalayan Times to have died after falling into a crevasse between Camps 1 and 2 in the Western Cwm.
His body will be retrieved by helicopter once the weather allows. He was 45 years-old and was from Goratapting of Solukhumbu. He lived in Dingboche with his wife and son. He had been an Icefall Doctor for nine years.
It has been a difficult season for the Doctors when the long time leader of the Icefall Doctors, Ang Nima Sherpa, died at his home in Pangboche at age 59 in January.
The fixed line and ladders have been set all the way to Camp 2 just under the Lhotse Face and is open to climbers. Currently only Sherpas are actually using the route to establish those camps as most teams are still trekking to Base Camp or climbing lesser peaks to acclimatize.
The Western Cwm is heavily crevassed around Camp 1. The Doctors regularly set ladders across them both at the top of the Khumbu Icefall and just beyond Camp 1. It is common to see three to five ladders lashed together to cross some of the widest crevasses.
The Icefall can move up to three feet a day at the steepest sections and moves slower in the Cwm proper but is still moving thus the need to reposition ladders throughout the season.
The Icefall Doctors are a small team of four to six Sherpas who are paid to establish and maintain the route from Base Camp to Camp 2 in the Western Cwm. This entails carrying heavy nylon rope, anchors, stakes or pickets and aluminum ladders into the Icefall. They work on behalf of all the teams.
It is dangerous work as they are the first to see the route each year. This is the first reported death of an Icefall Doctor during the season according to Asian Trekking founder Ang Tshering Sherpa.
Back in 2001, famous Sherpa, Babu Chiri Sherpa also died after falling into a crevasse near Camp 2. At the time he held the record for summits with 10, had spent 21 hours on the summit without supplemental oxygen, and claimed the fastest ascent at the time of 16 hours and 56 minutes.
Last year, Peak Freaks’ Namgyal Tshering Sherpa fell from a ladder into a crevasse near C1. Sherpas are known for not using the fixed lines or clipping into the safety lines on ladders.
New Route Update
ExplorersWeb has a report on Denis Urubko and Alexei Bolotov and their attempt to climb a new route on the Southwest Face. There is not a lot of new information and a bit vague because they do not know the route conditions but is a good read for those interested in their effort.
North Side Update
North side teams are preparing to cross the Nepal/China border on Wednesday. There are reports that the north is not very crowded this year. Altitude Junkies, SummitClimb and 7 Summits Club all report their members are in Kathmandu and ready to go. Adventure Peaks is climbing Island and Mera Peaks in the Khumbu area to get a jump on acclimatizing.
To get an insight into the pre-climb thoughts, Phil Crampon’s Altitude Junkies team posted a very well done video. The video is courtesy of Berta Tilmantaite, a Lithuanian filmmaker who is documenting Edita Nichols’s ascent of Everest.
Videos have become very popular for Everest climbers with the advent of GoPros. But don’t expect too many as it takes a huge amount of satellite time, a stable data connection and money to transmit them to websites.
Base Camp Update
The Khumbu remains filled with climbers and trekkers. There are only a few teams now at Base Camp but this week most of the large teams will arrive. One of those teams, Dave Hahn’s RMI team is passing the time while adjusting to their new home by doing a little treasure hunting:
We were also keeping our eyes peeled for artifacts on the ice. Yesterday James and Seth each found crampons from 1962 (as evidenced by the 1962 Indian newspaper I found with them
Again a sad start to the season proper. There have now been 13 Sherpa deaths since 2000. My sincere condolences to his family.
Memories are Everything