Everest 2013: A Normal Day

Everest from Pumori
Everest, thumb Lhotse and Nuptse from Pumori Camp 1. © alanarnette.com

For a change, Thursday was a normal day on Everest, whatever that means! Good weather allowed climbers to move among the camps accomplishing their acclimatization program objectives while Sherpas continued to ferry gear up the mountain.

While at Base Camp on the Nepal side, climbers will often take a few hours to climb up to Camp 1 on Pumori. This is a good way to stay active while getting a view of Everest seldom seen.

Pumori at 23,494 feet (7161 m) is the iconic pointy shaped mountain that dominates Base Camp. Expeditions previously climbed it as a training peak for Everest but in more recent years avoid going beyond Camp 1 or 2 due to extreme avalanche danger.

The hike to Camp 1 takes climbers along narrow dirt trails then onto the large boulders and a bit of loose rocks aka scree before reaching the flat spots overlooking hazel blue lakes to the West and Everest to the East.

Avalanche off Pumori
Avalanche off Pumori near EBC

The view is similar to what is seen from Kala Patar but being more northerly, provides a clear view of both sides of Everest. Climbers typically reach around 18, 300 feet or 5800 meters.

The Base Camp cooks will pack a lunch of a juice carton, boiled egg and piece of bread plus an apple for the climbers. You kind of feel like a 4th Grader going to school.

This spot offers amazing views of Base Camp, the Khumbu Icefall plus both sides of Everest. If you go high enough, you can easily spot the Steps on the Northeast ridge.

Back at Base Camp, it is not unusual to be sprayed by an avalanche off Pumori. I have vivid memories of relaxing on the rocks like skinks only to hear the peaceful quiet broken by a loud crack, then a whoosh of noise.

Looking towards Pumori, a living avalanche flowed toward us. A few minute later, we all enjoyed a nice spray mist from the remnants.


Ang Jangbu, expedition leader, IMG noted this cooperation among the teams to fix the Lhotse Face starting Friday, April 26th.:

Up at Camp 2, Greg and Phunuru coordinated a meeting at our camp among the various teams that are helping do the fixing. For tomorrow we have 15 climbers heading up to start working on the Lhotse Face: IMG: Chewang Lendu + Nima Karma; AAI: Fura Kancha + Karma Serki; AC: Sange Dorje + Kami Rita; HIMEX: Ang Rita + Nima Tenzing; ASTREK: Shera Gyalzen + Pemba Tshiri; SEVEN SUMMIT: Lhakpa Nuru + Lhakpa Sherpa; JG: Pema Tshering; MIURA: Nima Nuru; PBE: Damian Benegas.


Yesterday, I noted Nelson Dellis’ difficulty at altitude so I thought it was only fair to post that he is doing remarkably better today as he and the Altitude Junkies team prepare to tag the North Col. Must be the Crossfit!

I felt like crap yesterday, but feel great (as great as I’m ever gonna feel at 6400 meters).

Urubko and Bolotov are reported on Russianclimb to have made their final rotation before their still unknown summit route:

Yesterday the duo reached 7400 and set C3 on normal route for other climbers. Then descended to BC. Today they’re going to the valley, Deboche village, for some days rest in green zone, – before the start to the main goal – newroute in alpine style on Everest SW Face.

We will see many teams return to the relative comfort of the Khumbu once they compete their acclimatization programs. “Touching the grass before the summit” was coined by the late Anatoli Boukreev.

Bob Kerr with Adventure Peaks has a nice update on their rotation towards the North Col. He makes a comment on the ladders that are near the base of the climb towards the Col:

As we got higher up the route towards the North Col I was surprised by the number of ladders crossing crevasses. This was the first time that I have ever used horizontal or gently angled ladders to cross crevasses. I am glad that my feet are fairly large as crampons mounted on my altitude boots comfortably span the distance between two ladder rungs – this is not something that I could reasonably train for in the Scottish hills before coming out here. It was a good new experience.

The ladders in the Khumbu Icefall on the South get a lot of attention but there are also multiple ladders on the North. They are back at CBC now.

Other 8000 meter spring Climbs

In spite of the focus on Everest each spring, there is other mountaineering activity throughout the Himalaya each year. Most expeditions are small, private or even individuals so usually there are not a lot of updates.  Altitude Pakistan does a great job of covering these climbs as does the Adventure Blog along with outdoor adventure in general.

Currently there are active climbs on Makalu (27,825’/8481m), Dhaulagiri (26,795’/8167m), Manaslu (26,759’/8156m) and Kanchenjunga (28,169’/8586m). Conditions vary greatly across the 8000m mountains but heavy snow has been reported stalling several efforts thus far.

Finish climber, Samuli Mansikka has been active on Twitter with colorful updates on his private Makalu attempt. I climbed Alpamayo last summer with Sammy, quite the guy!

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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9 thoughts on “Everest 2013: A Normal Day

  1. Hi Alan;

    Just want to say thanks for doing these updates. I’m not a climber, never will be, but have read as many books as I can find. This is an amazingly challenging sport that I’m trying to understand the desire for and your blogs each year get me a little closer! Bless you.

  2. Hello Sir,

    It is real treat for me to discover your website. One small question: are there many teams on Everest this year going alpine style? And, do any of the major companies ever do an alpine style ascent?

    Thanks a lot,

    1. Hi Dragos. With alpine style meaning no intermediate camps and climbing from the base to the summit more or less in one straight push carrying all your gear along the way, it is rarely done on Everest. There was a plan for one team to attempt an alpine style new route on the north but it fell through but apparently Italian Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli is doing an alpine climb on the North. All commercial teams use the standard expeditions style with several camps and multiple carries.

  3. I wanted to ask from all your expeditions and the large variety of mountains that you’ve climbed which did you enjoy the most and which do you consider it to be the most challenging?

    From your writing and the photos/video that 80′ traverse on Carstensz Pyramid makes my legs feel weak that looks like such a wild climb in such an exotic location and comes across to me as much scarier than anything else

    Also on the front page wtf are you standing on in that photo that looks like such a cool location

    1. Thanks Matt, Everest notwithstanding, Ama Dablam was perhaps my most satisfying climb given when I first saw it in 1997, I quickly dismissed my ability to climb such a challenging peak. Summiting Ama a few years later was mind-expanding. Carstensz was certainly an exotic experience amazing with fun climbing fun, and difficult logistics. The Tyrolean Traverse was the highlight. The picture on my home page of alanarnette.com was taken near my favorite training peak, Longs Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

  4. Thanks again Alan!

    I can’t seem to think that your blog posts have been 10x better this year with explaining the actual process that the climbers go through. But my memory is short so please take that as praise!

    I can’t help but ask a ton of newbie questions… Would it ever be possible to build permanent structures at Base camp on the south side? I understand there are no roads but do the glaciers and avalanches affect that entire region so much that its just not possible?

    Another noob question – Is there any sort of genetic testing to see if your body can survive on limited oxygen? I read another blog today where someone had eye problems and had to be evacuated to Katmandu or risk permanent vision loss… I know that its not an exact science but perhaps there is a variety of tests one could go through before investing 50k.

    I had a dream the other night that there was a observation deck on the peak complete with oxygen, coffee and a swiss alps style ski lift back down to base camp… Everyone was cheering the climbers as they summitted.. Of couse I just watched the Hunger Games movie the night before…Luckily the coffee appeared to be locally brewed and not a Starbucks franchise!

    Please keep up the good work!


    1. Thanks Bob, I appreciate the comments. I like to tell the inside story but want to highlight climbers that are there today and help tell their story.

      EBC is on a moving glacier, with harsh harsh winters and in a Nepal National Park so building a permanent base camp is unlikely. Even the closest, highest permanent village, Gorak Shep, shuts down tight in the winter. Also, I think the overwhelming majority of climbers, guides and especially the Sherpa community would not think it is a good idea. Everest is commercialized enough.

      As for testing, I’m not a Doc so not really qualified to answer your question. There are measurements like VO2 that can suggest how well someone does at altitude but my experience and observations is that altitude is random and can hit anyone, anytime without warning even if they did well before or never had problems.

      As for your dream, you may have had a premonition 🙂 of the north side. The Chinese appear to be doing just what you suggest with power lines, cell stations and paved roads under construction or already there. Everest “holidays” is probably not far away on that side, hotels, restaurants – the works.

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