Everest 2014: Weekend Update May 4: Climbing Continues, South Withdrawal

Climbing continues on Everest’s north side with over 100 climbers making steady progress with their acclimatization rotations. Also, teams on Cho Oyu and other Himalayan 8000m mountains are preparing for their summit pushes.

The only place it is not business as usual is on Nepal’s side of Mt. Everest where April 18th will be remembered forever as the day 16 Sherpa climbers lost their lives.

Courtesy Adventure Peaks
Courtesy Adventure Peaks


The rope fixing by the Tibetans from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association, CTMA, continues toward the summit as members with commercial teams are spending time at Advanced Base Camp and even the North Col to acclimatize. The reports have been steady with no issues noted, including decent weather for a change on that side of the mountain.

7 Summits Club noted:

Hello! This is Alex Abramov from a height of 6400 meters, from advanced base camp. Today the first team (8 people) is here . We had breakfast , now it will be held ice classes. We will train ascending on fixed ropes, because tomorrow is our first team goes to the North Col of Everest in order to spend the night at an altitude of 7000 meters. The second team of 11 people spent the night in the Middle camp , and now rises toward the ABC camp. Tonight should all meet here. All feel fine, acclimatization goes according to plan, that is, sufficiently smooth, soft acclimatization.

Adventure Peaks gave us a great shot of Chinese Base Camp with Everest looming in the background.

The Triple 8 Team looking to summit Cho Oyu, Everest and Lhotse is leaving today for the summit of Cho Oyu. But they have also been working hard to find a way to keep part of their dream alive now that climbing from Nepal is not an option. Jim Walkley posted this on his blog:

Obviously, we are intently focused on the next several days, but many are wondering (as are we) what will be next now that the climbing season on the south side of Everest has come to an unfortunate conclusion.  We are looking at all options, but the Everest-to-Lhotse link-up is no longer possible due to us being unable to climb from the south side as we had originally planned.  Our preferred Option B has been thwarted thus far due to an inability to obtain the climbing permit we need, but we are pulling out all the stops and will not give up until time runs out on us.  We have Options C & D in our sights as well, but we will not pivot to those until we absolutely must.  Sorry to be so cryptic, but I will share our plans once we’ve completed our adventure on Cho Oyu and know with certainty what our next objective will be.  Stay tuned.


There are few if any teams now left at Everest Base Camp on the South. A few gave it a valiant effort to stay in hope the Icefall Doctors would relent and manage the route, but it does not appear to be the case.

Local helicopter companies offered to ferry climbers into the Western Cwm for $2000 per climber per trip, but no one took them up on this offer.

The operators began the long precess of negotiating with the Ministry of Tourism for refunds of permits, trash deposits and other costs associated with Everest 2014.

Guy Cotter, Adventure Consultants told of his unsuccessful efforts to use helicopters to bypass the Icefall for gear. The Nepal Government did allow helicopters to retrieve some gear this year and to store gear in the Western Cwm. I fully expect this to become the standard and for 2015, almost all gear, but not members and Sherpa climbers, will be taken to the Cwm using Helicopters and not Sherpas.

They also began the process of dealing with members wanting refunds. Others are already promoting their autumn climbs on Cho Oyu or Manaslu or even for Everest in 2015.


But the real mourning began for the families of the fallen Sherpa.

Apa Sherpa, who is tied for the most Everest summits with Phurba Tashi at 21 gave a impassioned plea to “Leave Everest Alone” to his local Salt Lake City newspaper:

“It feels like the mountain needs to rest,” Apa said from his Draper home after returning this weekend from a trip to Nepal for the Apa Sherpa Foundation. “Too many people are climbing. Leave Everest alone. Everest will always be there. The mountain isn’t going anywhere. They can try next year.”

Other Sherpa began to weigh in as well with a few high profile ones saying privately they will never climb on Everest or any other dangerous mountain again.

Some member climbers tried to switch to the North but were told that the CTMA is not issuing new permits at this time. Others are still trying to leverage their travel to Nepal with climbs on Manaslu, Makalu or some of the trekking peaks.

Those back home or in Kathmandu are posting their own views of what happened this year as well as their future plans. Use the list on the side of this page to see if your favorite has updated their blog.


Finally, The Discovery Channel will broadcast the 90-min documentary, “Everest Avalanche Tragedy,” in the US tonight. They were at Everest to film Joby Ogwyn‘s wingsuit jump off the summit but canceled the broadcast after the Sherpa deaths. Alpine Ascents was providing support for the filming and lost three Sherpa in the serac release. Ogwyn told the Los Angeles Times:

“I think it’s their right to,” he said of the Sherpas’ strike. “It’s very fresh in their minds… But life goes on. It’s going to be pretty hard for a lot of guys to make a living if they don’t want to work, including myself. I don’t want to find something else to do and I think a lot of Sherpas in that region take a lot of pride in what they do. Everybody, Western people and Sherpa, needed to take some time to let this sink in and go away a little bit before we start planning the next season on Everest.”

The broadcast tonight is billed as a tribute to all the Sherpas and their families affected by the recent Mt. Everest avalanche. It airs 9 EDT.


This is the program from last night:

Climb On!


Memories are Everything

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52 thoughts on “Everest 2014: Weekend Update May 4: Climbing Continues, South Withdrawal

  1. As a friend of one of the Google members, I know personally that they have deep respect for the fallen and all the Sherpa people. As a Naval Aviator I have lost many friends. We mourn the dead and we blow off steam to be able to fly another day. In this case, to climb another day. Having met some of the Sherpas supporting the Google team, I’m aware they were proud to be apart of the production, even after the accident.

  2. Has anybody else heard that Jagged Globe’s top dog Sherpa Pasang Tenzing was one of the agitators in the threats inflicted on the Sherpa? I anxiously wonder if it’s members are aware that $59,000 has helped pay one of the troublemakers?!

  3. Clyde, focus here….. In my opinion, you made an offensive comment: “ain’t none here” regarding climbers on Everest. As one who just went thru the tragedy I have to ask: Have you been there? Do you even do any technical mtn climbing? How the F— would you know who was and was not on the mtn? Do you know that there were loads of folks like me who have been climbing for 10+ years who have given up careers (and risked personal relationships) to humbly stand on the top of Everest? Do you know that I, as a doc, took care of 8 people at the HRA clinic followed by going to the heli pad to assist with body identification (worse experience of my life which i wish I could erase from my memory…..). Seriously? “Ain’t none there”, Clyde….You have no idea what you are talking about.

    1. Many, in the ‘armchair climber’ set, know not to believe all of the knee-jerk publicized fiction and hype regarding Everest, from those professing climbing knowledge, who’s experience actually equal nil or none. Why? Informative, unbiased, and educational webblogs, from experienced climbers such as Alan Arnette, Tim Rippel, yourself, and Bill Burke, to name a few.
      I believe there are many out here, like myself, who have nothing but respect for you, the other true climbers, and for what each of you stand for.

  4. Thank you Alan for keeping us in the loop on all things Everest and beyond.

  5. Ellen, don’t let Clyde bait you, he is one those who hates all things Everest except for what he thinks is the right way which he alone defines.

  6. “Google climbers” seems like a particular breed of climber we don’t need, judging by that story Ellen. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Hello,Clyde. I was a “climber”. You are not correct; sounds like you have been watching too much television. Cheers.

  8. The use of the word “climbers” is offensive. Ain’t none there.

    1. Clyde, it’s better to have people suspect you are ignorant vs opening your mouth and remove all doubt. Please don’t reply as I wish no battle of wits with an unarmed man.

    2. So, what are YOUR credentials? Which hills did you climb? Strawberry Hill?
      Please, as my friend Robert just wrote, spare us your nonsense! There are unexperienced “climbers” on Everest, too many,yes, but don’t you dare say there are none.
      This is heresy – or stupidity. Chose what suits you.

  9. So let me make this all even worse (and I may get my hand slapped for this….) Do you all know that Google had a team of climbers on the mtn (WITH film-makers). No one has told me I am not allowed to say this….The plan of the Google team was to take some sort of camera to the summit of Chomolongma in order to map the mtn for Google Earth…. the Thursday after the accident, the very day that IMG (and a number of other companies) told their climbers that the expedition was over and their dreams were over and 17 climbers (16 on that Friday plus 1 young man a few weeks earlier) had died, the Google climbers had the loudest party I have heard since college when I lived next to a frat house. Late-afternoon that day as I was ready to cry in my tent, the Google climbers had music and alcohol flowing; they were dancing in our basecamp. That night over dinner, two of the Google climbers came into our tent (a woman who was wearing a red devil costume including a cape and a man who was wearing an Abraham Lincoln costume including stove-pipe hat; no names here….). They invited all of us to the party next door. Loud music (and I suspect alcohol) flowed for the next few hours as I (and most of my co-climbers) laid in our sleeping bags. It was embarrassing; I kept thinking “what do the sherpas think of this????”. The Google climbers were in the midst of some drunken, loud celebration despite so much tragedy.

    1. Eh? Let us hope that after this performance by the Google team they will never go there again. I am shocked, really shocked.

    2. Is it possible to name and shame these louts! Mountaineers they certainly are not. What expedition team were they with? Google is a company and, as such, would have paid for the google team to be on the mountain. Perhaps letting the people who pay their wages know what a disgrace they were might be a good idea. Perhaps Google will be a bit more selectively on who they send next time.

    3. Ellen, you shouldn’t get your hand slapped for letting this be know – and nobody should tell you to keep it to yourself. They behaved badly and they should face the consequences. I am really shocked by this

  10. Around here, folks who were on Everest are starting to get home – Jim got back on Thursday. A few others are considering the North side but most are opting out to come home.

  11. I understand Ellen, give it time. While I didn’t experience the same tragedy you did, after my “non-summit”in 2008 due to letting the Chinese closure of the mountain for the Olympic torch stuff get to my mind, I gave away all my gear to any Sherpa I could find. Time will give you, and us, perspective. Overall I thought Discovery did a good job of showing respect for the fallen.

  12. Hi, Alan. Saw the program last night. Tough to watch for two reasons: First, I am not a fan of that Joby guy….Despite the tragedy, Discovery made the film “the Joby show”. In my humble opinion, that guy should not have been on the mtn for his stunt; I agree with Apa Sherpa that the mountain is tired. I have seen interviews with the Joby guy from a few years ago where he talks about climbing for the sake of the beauty of the mountain and NOT for the circus. Hmmmm….He definintely created a circus and bad feelings. Second, I have spent the last17 days thinking about where I wanted to be right now at this minute. It was hard seeing video (in the docu) from prior years of climbers high on the mtn. This was a humble dream for 12 years. I have a hole in my heart (for so many reasons which there is no space to elaborate on now), and I am done, not with climbing but with Everest. I cannot possibly justify a second attempt with the financial, personal, and professional tolls this first one took. Just my random thoughts….. My amazing brother did not even watch the film for reasons above…. that said, please choose to watch Thom Pollard’s film about the men who died.

  13. Kate – I found the Discovery Channel program on Youtube – you may be able to see it there!
    Cheers! Sue

  14. Alan, Do you see the guide companies giving any type of refunds to the climbers after climbing was cancelled? A group of us were discussing this last night. Some of these guys have saved up their entire lives for this, and risked their employment, possibly wuit a job, etc. Seems if no refund was given, the guide companies are set to make a higher profit margin this year since expenses surely are less if he teams never started up the mountain. Your thoughts or have you received any indication from them?

    1. Wendi, this is a hot question that brings out strong emotions and feelings. There is no one answer as each company will handle it differently. The contract most members sign with their companies are very clear that there will be no refunds under any circumstances. That said, most companies will work with members but what that is varies all over the place. Future discounts are common.

      members should work with their company directly.

  15. Busy following climbers on the North now. The Discovery channel in the UK is not showing the Everest programme so disappointed. Cheers Kate

  16. In regard to the 2 Sherpas still listed as missing, do you know anything more about them, or if their families will be compensated for their loss?

    1. Deborah, it appears their bodies are not recoverable at this point but in the past, bodies have been recovered the next season. I have no information as to compensation but would assume it will be handled like all the other deaths.

    1. Peak Freaks blog now reporting a new fatality up there as of yesterday. 🙁

  17. Hi Alan,
    I’m sure most people who are interested in following Everest climbing have watched the Discovery Channel series of climbing from the North side, but if you haven’t, then well worth watching. Specifically I am referring to two series of DVDs ‘Beyoind the Limit’ and ‘The Deadliest Climb’. They show the route really well and how difficult the undertaking really is. The various characters are also interesting and one can see how easy it is to die up there – in some cases from ‘summit fever’. The Sherpas are amazing. I hasten to add that I have no commercial interest in promoting these DVDs – just an interested armchair climber!

    Thank you for the brilliant coverage and good luck on K2.

  18. There are more and more climbers rocking up in Kathmandu by the day, all having had their goals and aspirations adjusted by the circumstances this year.
    Whilst most none climbers think that the vast majority of people simply throw money at a company to get them on the top of the world, this is clearly not the case, most people I have met have got their heads around the issue as only a true mountaineer can and cannot accepting that it is mot going to be for them this year.
    The mountain will still be there regardless of the people who are currently trying to gain influence in how it is climbed.

  19. Alan,
    I have watched and read much about Everest expeditions.
    The one question I have not answered is: “How do climbers
    take in fluids or hydrate on the summit day?

    1. Derek, you try to drink as much as you can at the South Col/C3 on the North before heading to the summit but it is difficult as it requires fuel and snow/ice. Most people take 2 liters wrapped in “bottle parkas” to reduce freezing or keep them stored in the inner pockets of their down suit.

  20. I think helicopters flying back and forth from basecamp to above the ice fall will really kill any feeling of remoteness and adventure on everest.

    1. Choppers are flying in and out of base camp fairly regularly as it is. Base camp is buzzing with activity so the feeling of remoteness kinda goes out the window there also.

      At the end of the day I don’t think choppers ferrying goods to camp 1 is compromising the style that most climb Everest in, which I personally think is in fairly poor style anyway. So if it reduces the objective risk of the ice fall for sherpas then why not?

      I still maintain the best way to fix so many issues is to have a system of granting Everest permits to only those who have proven themselves on other suitable peaks first.

  21. Probably fair to point out that the ratio of more deaths on the north side may be due to the fact that most of the more organized and well funded guide services operate on the south now. Most deaths on the north occur when climbers run out of oxygen on the summit push. I think it is reasonable to assume that if the larger operators (IMG, AA, Himex, etc) were on the north, it could very well be the safer option.

  22. On Discovery Channel they are giving a documentary about the Everest avalanche right now.

  23. Thanks again Alan . The ratio of casualties speaks for itself. However, you are right, each side has its own dangers and one just hopes they don’t get caught in those situations. Bet you are getting excited for K2! Hope you are enjoying all the training. For me, I’m getting a bit (just a little bit) tired of training everyday after work. Can’t wait to actually get on the mountain soon. 🙂

  24. Neither is safe, easy or guaranteed. It is all about your skills, experience and style of expedition you are ing. I know you want a simple answer and I’m not trying to be evasive or difficult, but it is to personal to each person to research the options and make the right decision for themselves. However, some statistics: The south side (Nepal) remains more popular with 4416 summits while the north (Tibet) has 2455 summits. Overall 265 people (161 westerners and 104 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to 2014, 157 on the Nepal side and 108 from Tibet.

  25. Thanks Alan , but as a first timer would you recommend picking the south side due to better logistics, less exposure and ease of climbing due to snow? I know North side is colder, windier and more exposed. After the recent events and considering the objective dangers if the south side, I’m thinking North but I’m sure that’s not any easier either. Your thoughts?

  26. Priya, given I been to the South 4 times, the North calls out for the challenge and history. But I would return to either in a heartbeat.

  27. Alan, if you had a choice again, would you go from the south side or north?

  28. Paul, I always say it is pick your poison – the north is colder, winder and can be technically more difficult if there is little snow so you are climbing on steep, smooth rock with crampons, but there is no “objective danger” like the Icefall. That said, there are avalanches like the one that killed 7 Sherpa at the North Col in 1922. There are also crevasses. The majority of 265 total deaths on both sides have historically occurred on the summit pushes above ~26,000′ and not in the Icefall obviously with 2014 as the exception, sadly.

  29. How does the north side route compare in difficulty to the standard route besides not having to pass through the icefall?

  30. Because you can, in many cases surely means you should. In the case of using choppers for safety sake, or O2 etc where the technology now allows for it, and that can be balanced where appropriate to preserve the spirit of the venture it just makes sense to do so, and it will saves lives.

    And following all the recent sadness at EBC can I just remind folks at home not to move on too fast. Those in the midst will be wearing their grief for weeks, months and years to come. Let’s not be too rushed to forget that, or them, in their many long days ahead.

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