Multiple teams left Base Camp Friday and Saturday preparing to spend that all important night at Camp 3, case 23, 500′ half way up the Lhotse Face. Other teams are just on their second rotation and will spend up to five nights above Base Camp.
But first for those looking to go to Camp 3 the route needs to be set by the Sherpas and this is proving to be more difficult than anticipated.
Earlier reports had the route to be set to the right of center line towards Nuptse. This was to avoid the rockfall that created havoc last year. But once the Sherpas began climbing in that direction, they ran into trouble.
Ang Jangbu of IMG reported late Friday night of the plan for today, Saturday, Nepal time:
… the fixing crew explored the original 1953 route on Lhotse Face, which is further to the climbers’ right and meanders through the ramps and seracs on the lower part of the face (see pictures on the IMG site of the route used in 2012). However, they ran into a lot of small crevasses on the lower part and a large crevasse near lower Camp 3 that are problematic. So, the fixing crew decided that it would be better to revert to the direct route, which climbs straight to Camp 3, to the left of the seracs. They returned to Camp 2 and will head back up tomorrow to get the direct route fixed to Camp 3.
Phunuru walked around the different camps at Camp 2 this evening and we have commitments from these teams for the fixing tomorrow: Himex: 4 Sherpas; Astrek: 2 Sherpas; AAI: 2 Sherpas; AC: 2 Sherpas; JG: 2 Sherpas; Miura: 2 Sherpas; IMG: 4 Sherpas for a total of 16 Sherpas. They are planning to leave Camp 2 at 6:30 AM, split into 2 teams, and try to fix two lines all the way to Camp 3. We will see how it goes and keep you posted. All our Sherpas carried to Camp 2 today and are taking a rest day tomorrow. Then, half of the team will move to Camp 2 the day after to stay, and the second half will carry more supplies to Camp 2.
However, Garrett Madison, AAI, noted an incident on the Lhotse Face Saturday that has stopped the work this weekend. There are no further updates at this point on the extent of the Sherpas’ injury:
The route fixing project had a setback today when one of the fixing sherpa was struck by ice, possibly generated by a climber above, we believe he is OK. The fixing team of sherpas will take a rest day tomorrow and resume fixing work the following day weather pending.
The Lhotse Face is one of many dangerous sections on the South Col route. It is steep, usually hard blue ice that is difficult to climb even with sharp crampons. It takes tremendous concentration with an altitude over 21,000 feet. Climbers have been known to loose their “” and slide down the Face to their death. Others have stopped their climb half way to Camp 3 with their bodies just giving out.
Sherpas seem to suffer the most, with their frequent carries, being hit by falling rock, ice and avalanches. 2012 was a difficult year but with the recent snows, it was hoped that 2013 would be a bit safer. Once again, time will tell.
The winds on the North side continue to be an issue for the teams. Phil Crampton, Altitude Junkies, posted this for Saturday:
The plan this morning was to take a 5.30 am breakfast and be on our way to the Col at 6 am. Unfortunately we received some snow last night at advanced base camp and we know there is more at the Col and on the route. With the constant winds present all evening we collectively decided this morning that the chance of a wind slab on the route was too great and we held everyone, both Sherpas and team members back at ABC.
People often ask which side of Everest is easier, North or South. Well it depends on your experience, comfort with exposure on the steep rocky ridge and tolerance for wind. The North, year after year, hits climbers almost continuously with strong winds. For some it can wear on them mentally, for others, it is no big deal.
By the way one of our elder climbers (age 70), Dawes Eddy with Asian Trekking is reported at ABC.
The current Himex newsletter makes an interesting point about the experience on their team this year:
We have a strong group and most of our members have climbed one, two or even more 8,000m peaks either with us or another expedition. This is the way, Himalayan Experience wants to head more and more in the future – making sure that Everest aspirants will have been on at least one expedition to an 8,000m peak before they head to the highest mountain on earth. “It would be great if they had reached an 8,000m summit, however, what is more important is that future members have been on a big expedition before they attempt Everest,” Russell explained. “Of course, they need the climbing skills and altitude knowledge but being on an 8,000m expedition also takes a lot of mental preparedness, which can only be achieved if you have been on such an expedition before.”
Starting in the early 1990’s as Everest become more commercialized with guided climbs on the normal routes, climbers with a wide range of experience became the norm. The vast majority had climbs on Aconcagua, nearly 7000 meters and/or Denali which offered snow skills as their evidence of experience. Most do well with this but some do not.
Personally, I know having a climb on 8000m Cho Oyu prior to my first Everest climb was a good thing but did not guarantee a summit.
Memories are Everything