Everest/Lhotse 2016: Winds Let Up for Next Summit Push

After the surprise wind storm on Tuesday 17 May, the winds seem to have let up on Wednesday 18 May and teams at the South Col are preparing to give it a go tonight – in a few hours actually. Potentially close to 200 people.

Those positioned at Camps 2 and 3 will move up to the South Col for their summit attempts hoping to top out on the 19 of May.

Punishing Night

Those that spent last night and today at the South Col were punished. I had a similar experience in 2003 when we expected good weather but it turned ugly and were forced to spend a night at the Col.

Usually you squeeze 3 or 4 people into a tent for a few hours – not a big deal – but when you need to spend 30 hours … You try to sleep but at almost 8,000 meters it is difficult, and you try to eat but there is no desire. Every time the winds calms, you perk up hoping the storm has passed but then it comes back with double the force.

For those who reed to a lower camp to spend the night, the mental and physical game is even tougher. They have just used a lot of energy to go higher, along with a lot of mental focus only to be asked to retrace their steps lower.

All in all these events are a true test of determination, and for some strength to go higher.

A Cyclone Plays with Weather Mix

Meteorologists Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions based in Denver has been providing weather forecasts for climbers on Everest, the Karakoram, South America and Denali for several years now. He gave me his thoughts today on what Everest and Lhotse climbers might experience over the next several days, and it involves a Tropical Cyclone!

As the 2nd Everest summit window closes fast will there be a 3rd window for climbers? The answer is “Yes” with an important caveat. The caveat is Tropical Cyclone 01B. Tropical cyclone 01B developed off the coast of India and will hug the coast of India as it tracks into the Bay of Bengal over the next 5 days. To be clear, Tropical Cyclone 01B will NOT deliver a direct hit to Everest. But, it will slightly influence the larger weather pattern over Everest by dropping atmospheric pressure levels and possibly increasing humidity levels. So, how reliable is this 3rd Summit Window? If you just look at summit winds the answer is that it looks pretty good this weekend. And get this: There could be a 4th window early next week. But, as Tropical Cyclone 01B approaches the chances for snowfall on Everest increase at the same time. It will be a balancing act with more weather risk than what is considered normal. It will be critical for Teams to stay up-to-date with every new weather update.

Meteorologist Chris Tomer Tomer Weather Solutions


Meanwhile, there might be some crowding as teams seem to be in a rush to push for the summit. Nepal Tourism Board representative, Gyanendra Shrestha, based at Everest Base Camp reported there could be as many as 474 people summit just from Nepal over the next four days!

He outlines the season thus far and provides this estimate based on talks with team leaders at base camp. These numbers include the military expeditions that are sometimes left out of the permit numbers.

May 2016 Summit Days Sherpas/High Altitude Workers Foreigner Summits Day Summits Total Summits
11 9 9 9
12 3 3 6 15
13 13 14 27 42
14 2 1 3 45
15 13 9 22 67
16 11 9 20 87
2016 summits thus far 51 36   87
18 58 41 99 186
19 110 97 207 393
20 70 56 126 519
21 21 21 42 561
Estimated total 2016 summits 310 251   561

18 May Nepal Departures for South COL for Summit

(representative, not full list)

  • Adventure Consultants – 10:00 pm
  • Furtenbach – 7:00pm
  • Madison Mountaineering
  • Summit Climb
  • Alpine Ascents
  • Asian Trekking
  • Altitude Junkies
  • more

Climbing as Usual from Tibet

Over on the Tibet side, while there has been quite a bit of frustration posted about how long it has taken to get the lines fixed to the summit, long time Everest climber and leader of 7 Summits Club, Alexander Abramov thinks everything is right on schedule:

usually we climbed Everest from 20 to 25 May … There is nothing strange happens – it happens every year. Chinese (Tibetan) climbers are going to go to complete the processing of the route, the expedition is expected in full combat readiness

In fact a team of 8 from 7 Summits left the North Col just now targeting the summit for 20 May. Best of luck to all.

18 May Tibet Departures from North Col for High Camps

(representative, not full list)

  • 7 Summits Club
  • Adventure Peaks
  • Asian Trekking

Climb On!


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