Everest 2013: Summit Wave 4 – Update 3

Southeast Ridge

Update 3:

There were over 100 summits Sunday on Everest. See the details in the Everest 2013:Wave 4 Wrap up.

Summits continue with great conditions on the south. No issue with lines at the usual bottlenecks.

This just in from Asian Trekking:

Congratulations !!! Great news. Asian Trekking’s International Everest member David Liano and Sirdar Mingma Sherpa summited Mt.Everest this morning at 4:35 am Nepal time. David Liano is now the first person to complete the double in one climbing season. Asian Trekking family extends hearty congratulations to them and wishes for the safe descent.

Summits are starting to roll in with members from Asian Trekking (11), hospital Jagged Globe plus Sean Mooney and Pho Temba Sherpa, and Peak Freaks. 7 Summits Club reports everyone from their first team made the summit from the North.

Update 2:

At 5AM Nepal time, climbers are at South Summit, next is Hillary Step then the summit. Normally takes 1-2 hours.

If you have a loved one up there, it looks like a decent day to climb with winds could be gusting to 30 mph, temps -20F! Remember, they are dressed for this 🙂 The will tell us soon what the conditions are really like.

A tip of the hat to all the climbers and Sherpas today but especially for the ones who saved and sacrificed to pay for the climb, trained hard  and are now living their dream.


Mike Roberts and Tendi Sherpa, Adventure Consultants, have summited, 120 are behind them

minor update: teams are reported at the Balcony on the South side at 2AM which is about on schedule for a 7 AM summit. So far so good with no winds or crowds reported.

The climb from the Balcony to the South Summit is, in my opinion, the toughest part of the entire expedition. It is dark, and cold. The sun has not risen and all you can see are the steps in front of you or a silhouette of the South Summit outlined by the moon. If you look carefully you can see headlamps ahead and behind you and even over on Lhotse. Looking at the stars takes your mind off the pain in your lungs and in your legs. But hearing your own breathing reminds you that you are you and you are climbing Mt. Everest.

This from Asian Trekking from the South:

The following 14 member and sherpa team of Eco Everest Diamond Jubilee Celebration Expedition 2013 Team 1 & 2 left Camp 4 (South Col 7950m) at 7:30 pm today. They are on their way to the summit. Weather condition is good.

Name list of Members and HAS for summit attempt team

1. Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa                    – will lead team the first summit attempt team
2. Ngawang Kalden Sherpa                      – Assist by
3. Horacio Daniel Galanti
4. Ang Mingma Sherpa
5. Horacio Luis  Cunietti
6. Phurba Sherpa
7. Allan Arthur Johnson
8. Tenjing Dorji Sherpa
9. Barnabas Borbely
10. Pemba Tshiring Sherpa( Maila)
11. Udo Ing. Ebner
12. Phura Nuru Sherpa
13. Susen Mahato
1. Phura Jangbu Sherpa

There are many people (around 121 total) so the decided to leave early to avoid traffic jams.


Follow a Peak Freaks Everest summit live via SPOT tracker at bit.ly/10EKSoF

From Asian Trekking on the North:

Asian Trekking’s International Everest Expedition 2013 members and sherpas David Liano, John Tsang, Sirdar Mingma Sherpa and Pasang Dawa Sherpa are at Camp 3 (8300m) and are leaving at 11 pm tonight for summit. If David Liano summits from North side (Tibet) he will be the first person to summit both from South side (Nepal) and North side (Tibet) in one climbing season.

Yoshiharu and Gyaluk Sherpa are at Camp 2 and Dawes and Phurba Namgyal Sherpa are at North Col.

Update from 7 Summits Club on the north:

We are at 8300. It is OK. Konstantin Morozov, Murad Ashurly, Jaroslav Sabyrbayev and Vitaly Simonovich. Guides: Alexander Abramov and Mingma. Wind is very strong. Start at midnight. Sergei Shevchenko went down from 8000 m. At 8100 m a corpse of a Sherpa lies. Probably the accident happened after hard climb on 15th of May…

I hesitate to post his comment but it the reality of climbing. Bodies are seldom removed from these extreme altitudes and in many case is what the climber would have wanted. RIP.

Update 1:

Summit pushes are moving forward. Kenton Cool has just reported he has summited Nuptse along with the all womens Himex team and five Sherpas. He is planning on Everest tonight followed by Lhotse tomorrow.

Several climbers including guides from Asian Trekking (14), AAI and Adventure Consultants (2) are planning to summit Everest Saturday morning then Lhotse immediately after.

 With the weather finally cooperating, it is the heart of the summit period today. Multiple teams and individual climbers are pushing to the summit Saturday night. Many have already left the South Col or Camp 3 on the North.

A pair of climbers who have attracted a lot of well deserved attention, Samina Baig and Mirza Ali, brother-sister, are going for the summit tonight. He is not using supplemental oxygen.

Several commercial teams are in place including Peak Freaks, more from IMG and Jagged Globe. There are many, many independents and climbers from teams who do not post updates.

The North teams are making steady progress through the extreme high camps on that side. Altitude Junkies has 22 spending the night at Camp 1 near 7700m. Similarly the 7 Summits Club is nearby with half their team.

David Liano, going for his second summit this season, is at Camp 2and moving to Camp 3 soon.

Best of luck to all tonight. I will update this page throughout the push.

I posted this last year and it was very popular so I thought I would post it again.

The Descent – an Essay

Sometimes reading Everest stories is like that old joke: “How do you make a million dollars and not pay taxes? Well first get a million dollars, then …” Wait! Something has been left out.

Many reports simply state –  I stood on the summit and we returned to base camp. The End. It is not that simple.

My descent was one of the toughest days of my life. With the final climb from the South Col to Camp 2 taking me to my limits. So in the spirit of the other essay on going to the summit, I respectfully submit my last one on getting back down. I hope you enjoy. You can also read my 2011 summit “report” by downloading this PDF.

Leaving the Summit

“Ready to go?” your Sherpa said confusing a question with a statement. It takes a moment for it to sink in but then you remember the famous Ed Viesturs statement, often repeated primarily by family members of Everest climbers: “getting to the summit is optional but getting down is mandatory.”

You put your pack back on, adjust your oxygen mask for the billionth time, take one more long, very long look around the summit of Everest, hoping to sear the image into your mind; like that of watching your child take their first bike ride and you are off.

The first few steps feel weightless, both mentally and physically and then your body jerks back to reality as the slightest use of energy drains your remaining strength.

The Last Step

It doesn’t take long to reach the top of the Hillary Step. The entire time you spent on the summit, others were climbing higher. If you are lucky, there is a gap in the line and you can quickly rappel down. It was hard climbing up not being able to see your feet due to the oxygen mask but going down is worse.

Most people wrap the line around their arm, an arm wrap, and do a controlled fall while other take an inordinate amount of time to use their rappel device ensuring safety but taking precious time and stalling everyone else. Either way you blindly reach the bottom, once again gasping for breath. It is so easy to stop breathing … The most valuable role a teammate can do is to remind you to breath.

Other climbers on your team are not so lucky at the Hillary Step. They arrive only to see tens of people standing in place, one behind the other, all clipped into the single fixed rope – down covered robots. If there are two ropes, some are going up while others are going down. But the Step itself is narrow and people jostle for position.

A Western Guide seeing the stau, screams to those coming up to stop. No one hears her over the winds and their own breathing. She unsuccessfully gestures widely to get their attention. Finally a Sherpa forces his way down into the melee bringing the climbing to a halt.

One by one the Western Guide gets her climbers down. Climbers stare at one another, some curse, some just disappear into their own world; most stand, shuffling feet, swinging arms, clapping hands yet getting colder by the moment. You are glad to get by this.

Another Summit?

With the sun shining, it is starting to feel hot, but the winds keep you cold. You are closer to the sun the ever before and against the pure white snow and ice it creates a glare. You can easily loose your vision to snow blindness if you take your glasses off, even for a few moments. Once gain, your full concentration is required; it is time to forget about the last 8 hours – you need to get down.

Crossing the narrow Cornice Traverse is more of an afterthought, but probably shouldn’t be. The fixed line keeps you on the straight and narrow and then the route goes uphill. Wait, you are going down so why now up? But then remember that down climb from the top of the South Summit, it is OK. You make good time getting up to the top of the South Summit but use more dwindling energy along the way.

Taking a moment on the South Summit, you turn around to see the true summit one more time from a vantage point you will probably never have again. Years later, this image will come to you in dreams, in the strangest moment, a memory that last forever. A good memory.

Down the Ridge

Cresting that small rise on the Southeast Ridge you now have a full view of the South Col, Lhotse, Makalu off in the distance; yet in spite of this your eyes focus on the ridge itself and the fixed line, and the people climbing higher. You remember the rock outcroppings and how difficult it was to climb them in the dark. How will they be down climbing in the light, with people all around?

You continue to stay clipped into the fixed rope but the people coming up make swapping your lifeline tedious. Each maneuver feels like driving through a city street with you in a sports car and other driving earth movers. The pace going down is light speed; up is a black hole.

Slowly you reach the outcroppings. They are as steep going down as going up. You arm wrap again but this time hold on with fear, a slip would be serious. Waiting for a gap in the climbers, you make your move and scurry down. You rip the seat of your down suit against the sharp rocks and curse under your breath as feathers fly out of your pants. You then have to laugh at yourself.

The angle eases as you approach the Balcony and a long needed break. It has taken a couple of hours to descend, maybe more for your teammates stuck in the crowds. Once again, you separate yourself from the anxiety, the turmoil, the pressure and let the moment ease into your consciousness, into your memory; into your essence. Yes you are changed forever.

Back Home, Almost

This break is long, the longest of your climb. You are enjoying the sunlight, the oxygen. The knowledge that the most difficult part of the climb is behind you. All that is left is the climb down to the South Col, your tent, your sleeping bag – wonderful motivation to continue.

Again, the fixed ropes serve as your compass. Clipped in you avoid any mistakes and take each step, one at a time, careful with your footwork, your breathing is more relaxed but you are beginning to feel the fatigue. Your legs are getting weaker, you are aware of your lower back, your arms, hands. Your eyes have a slight burn, your mouth is dry. You move steadily.

At the top of the blue ice bulge you are only a few minutes from your camp. A Sherpa from your team steps out of his tent and calls out your name. You stomach flips. Maybe he bangs two pots together, a traditional greeting for an Everest summiteer. The emotions began to return – combination of joy, exhaustion – relief. It is almost over. It is almost over. It is almost over.

Stumbling near your tent at the South Col, the Sherpas help you take off your crampons, pack and harness – you have no pride anymore and take any help willingly. You drink the tea they offer. You try to take off your boots but quickly understand you can’t be bothered. You fall back in a limp pile onto your sleeping bag and quickly enter a state somewhere between sleep and a coma.

However in what seems like an instant you hear your name. It has been an hour. It is time to get ready to climb down to Camp 2 – a storm is moving in as forecasted and the last place you want to be is on the South Col, 8000m, in a hurricane. Everything happens now in reverse: gather your gear and put in your pack, lace up boots, crampons, harness on, pack on the back. And you start walking.

Saving Face

The route back to the top of the Geneva Spur is on smooth shales plates, it is easy to slip, and you do. Your legs are watery, you left your strength somewhere higher, a lot higher. Where will the energy come from to get down safely, certainly not from you, you begin the lecture – a few minutes later you are looking down on the Geneva Spur and the route over the Yellow Band towards Camp 3.

No long lines now – they are all still up on Everest! You smile that you beat the masses, gather your wits, your determination, your willpower – that is all you have left.

With a grunt you begin the down climb and back onto the Lhotse Face. Again it is all about fundamentals – footwork, staying clipped in, sunglasses. Your steps are labored, Once again you feel yourself weakening but you continue – you have no choice. Approaching Camp 3 you think for a moment that this is far enough, I  can stay there. But that notion is quashed as the Sherpas tell you, there are no tents, no stoves, no fuel – you must go on.

The lower you go, the better you should feel according to theory. But this is harsh reality and the further you go, the less you have. You go on, now approaching the bottom of the Lhotse Face. You know a mistake here will cost you your life – it has others. When will this end? You push on. Your footwork stinks, you stumble, trip over your own feet – you act like a late night drunk; if only …

Then you take the final step onto the Western Cwm. But you still have an hour to Camp 2. This is impossible. You gave it your all to get here. They will have to move camp to you! You go on, taking small steps, baby steps, you occasionally let out a whimper.

This is it, it all over. But you go on. The cook boy runs out to meet you a few minutes from Camp with a thermos of cold lemon. Mother’s milk, you begin to see the end of the tunnel and then you finally arrive at camp 2.

Your Everest summit day is over – it was 60 hours ago you left this tent – now you are back; and an Everest Summiter.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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21 thoughts on “Everest 2013: Summit Wave 4 – Update 3

  1. Thanks so much for your detailed description of the decent, so often on reading summit reports is as if climbers are somehow magically transported from the summit back to base camp yet we know that it is actually the most dangerous part of the climb.Great detail.

  2. Oh the satisfaction these guys must feel to be standing on top of the world.

  3. WOW! Alan thank you for that stunning description of the descent! And also thank you so much for keeping me informed via twitter of the EPIC night on Everest whilst I worked until the early hours of sunday in london. What an year of firsts #Everest2013 is proving to be. The 1st woman from India,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,this will hopefully do great good for women’s rights in these countries. The 1st double summit from the south and north in one season by David Liano. The 1st video link from the summit by Daniel (raising money for Comic Relief) to the BBC news http://new.livestream.com/everestmillion/live/videos/19184342 And good luck to Kenton attempting summiting the 3 peaks in one season! Truly truly momentous! I am both humbled and inspired to save and train hard to have a go myself 🙂

  4. at 7.30 am, twin sisters from India, Nungshi-Tashi, aged 21, have become FIRST TWIN SISTERS IN THE WORLD TO SCALE EVEREST. Icing on the cake is: Pakistani Samina and her brother Mirza too climbed with them as a team and hoisted the two national flags together atop Everest for the first time!!
    Even more, the team also had twin sherpa brothers thus making it a first twin sisters-twin brothers atop Everest event!!! congrats to all!

  5. Thanks Alan for mentioning Mirza and Samina from Pakistan, they got very little support in Pakistan for this climb. I hope they both summit as they are two fine young people with outstanding humanitarian values, encouraging women and young men in their country to get out and about and into trekking, climbing etc 🙂

  6. Alan

    “A tip of the hat to all the climbers and Sherpas today but especially for the ones who saved and sacrificed to pay for the climb, trained hard and are now living their dream.”

    This is the true spirt of Everest to me, not all these people saying guided and O2 people are cheating, doing your dream is what it all about. Standing at the to of the world, living the dream no matter how you get there, is the challenge, these people are not every day climbers, but people that have had a dream and are making it a reality,
    Thank you so much for not being biased against them, and keep up the fantastic work

  7. David Liano, Mexico, just summited from the North, a week after he summited from the south. 1st person to ever do this. Gee, what I did do the last 7 days 🙂

  8. Summit reports are starting to roll in at 5:30 Nepal time. Adventure Consultants, Peak Freaks and Jagged Globe are starting the party.

  9. Alan I never tire of reading your beautiful blog re your Everest climb. You take me in spirit to that early morning summit and I can feel the same emotions for my lost family that you felt for yours and the closeness of the ones still around me.When anyone feels a little sad or low in spirit it’s the beautiful piece of writing to read. Thank you Alan Kate

  10. Alan….. I truly love your EVEREST coverage year after year. I want to especially thank you for your personal input, experience and most of all your gained wisdom.
    Each year I save a file of your dailies and have gone back over and re-read your posts as well as those BLOGS you refer to. I made my Alzheimers donation again and assure you that your passion and ability to call attention to the sadness and loss associated with the disease brings a much broader awareness. Keep on keeping on with Everest AND Alzheimers! Ginny in Sunriver,Oregon

    1. Thanks Ginny. I sincerely appreciate your kind comments and wish safe climbing for everyone today. Also, thank you for your donation to an Alzheimer’s cause. That is why I do this – you just made my day.

  11. Visit the link for ongoing updates. At 2AM Nepal time, Teams are on SE Ridge in cold and dark. read why I think this is the toughest section of the entire Everest climb.

  12. Hello Alan,

    Just wanted to highlight to you and all readers of your blog that today we had the first Saudi Woman Summit the mountain. Raha Moharrak climibing with Alpine Ascents summited this morning and is safely back now at C4. Alpine Ascent second climbing team labled “Arabs with Altitude” which consists of 3 Arabs from UAE, Qatar and Palestine should attempt their summit attempt in the next few days. I take this oppourtunity on congratulating Raha on a great achievement and for showing Arab Women that nothing is impossible ….

  13. Thank you for these wonderful updates (reading about your own experiences is a real treat too). I am very excited to see so many are on their way and will be looking forward to any news you can bring to those of us who are sitting at home in front of our fires and mentally climbing with them.

    My Mum is 86 and in the later stages of Vascular Dementia. I am her full time carer, it can feel like you are climbing a mountain ever day, all be it one of a different kind. Thank you for all you do on behalf of OUR Mums.

  14. Thanks for that write on getting back down. I have always wondered if fear comes into play at any time? But with fear one can’t let it get the best of them. Amazing the strength we humans have, mind and body!

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