Today was a case study in approaches to climbing Everest.
The weather forecast called for diminishing winds on Thursday, May 16 and that held true as teams left for the summit around 9:00 PM.
But as the IMG team made their way up the Triangular Face between the South Col and the Balcony, they were hit by high winds and freezing fog. They reported a cloud cap over the summit and turned back.
They are currently in their tents at the South Col along with several other teams who choose not to go last night. They are expected to attempt again Friday night but that could change.
However, in yet another twist in this season, climbers from the Giripremi Pune team pushed on and summited around 8:00AM on Friday morning. No word yet on the total numbers but they had six summit climbers plus Sherpas.
Berg Adventures put four on the summit. I contacted their home team and this was relayed from Everest and Wally Berg directly:
… the team left at 7:00pm last night and reached the summit this morning at 7:15 (Steve Whittington and Danuru Sherpa) and 7:30 (Todd Pendleton and Phu Tashi Sherpa). Conditions were tough with moderate to high winds. As they neared the summit, the wind luckily started to quiet down. As of 9:30 this morning local time, they were on the Balcony and they are making their way towards the South Col.
Another tight summit was by Karina Oliani and Pemba Sherpa who topped out at 7:38. Karina is reported to be the youngest Brazilian to summit Everest at age 31.
This is a good example of how different teams view the conditions and risks on Everest. Neither is right or wrong as long as the climbers return home safely.
Congratulations to these climbers. There may have been other summits but no formal reports as of this post. There were summits reported from the north but no details.
The Alpine Ascent (AAI) team reported in:
Just received a satellite phone call from Garrett at the South Col where the team just woke up and it’s 8:15 AM local time. Quite windy last night and the winds are forecast to continue for a bit, so they have decided to to spend another day at the South Col and push the summit attempt back ~24 hours. Their Camp 4 at the South Col (26,000 ft.) is well stocked with plenty of oxygen so no problem hanging out there longer. With the revised plan, you should expect to see them start moving on Saturday, May 18th around 9:30 AM PDT (10:15 PM Nepal local time).
AAI is a bit unique in that as part of their normal summit strategy they stay one night at the Col anyway before attempting the summit, whereas other teams arrive from Camp 3, spend that afternoon and leave that night for the summit. This means, the AAI team will stay three nights – two before and one after the summit, perhaps they will descend to Camp 2 after the summit this time. See my interview last year with AAI owner Todd Burleson about their strategy.
As the winds played with the teams at the South Col, more at Base Camp made their moves to the higher camps in preparation for their summit bids. It appears forecasting this season has become very difficult but based on the recent versions, this window will last several days so we can expect to see many summits throughout this weekend.
I will use this same format throughout the summit pushes: A summit wave post with multiple updates followed by a recap and setup for the next wave.
Hold on, the ride is about to get wild for our climbers and especially those back home. If anything, tonight shows that Everest is not a walk-up that just anyone can climb. Well done to all tonight and over the next few days.
Memories are Everything