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May 032018
Everest Plume

Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. But right now, the pressure is building to get the last acclimatization rotations in as the weather looks to be turning on Everest for the worse. After a fast start for the rope fixing teams, they may get stalled for a week or more.

Weather Woes

7 Summits Club said “Tomorrow we again go up to the North Col. 7000 m, where we plan an overnight. All 3 groups must have time to make this acclimatization hike before May 8. After May 8, a storm wind comes.

Madison Mountaineering, who is leading the rope fixing efforts along with Prestge Adventures warns that it could be late next week when the ropes reach the summit, around 11th May. In 2017, the ropes reached the Nepal side summit on 15th May and on the Tibet side, 13th May. In 2016, it was 11th May on Nepal side.

According to our weather forecasts, it appears that a major wind event is approaching Mount Everest, probably in the next day or two. Our Sherpas will make good use of tomorrows marginal weather forecast to position additional loads at the South Col high camp, and then see if the following day is appropriate for climbing above 8000 meters. The jet stream will likely cover the Mount Everest region for up to a week and no climbing will take place above 8000 meters during this time, so we are preparing to hold tight and wait for the opportunity when the Jet Stream passes and the winds are calm enough for a summit attempt! Until then we plan to rest and enjoy the amenities of our Everest base camp!

Jon Griffith who will live stream Tenji Sherpa‘s attempt to summit both Everest and Lhotse in one push with no O’s posted this amazing photograph along with “A massive sun dog sits atop Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse. A phenomenon created by high altitude ice crystals which is normally indicative of moisture and bad weather in bound. Not sure I’ve ever seen such a big one before though.” I will be posting my interview with Jon and Tenji today or tomorrow.

Ssun dog sits atop Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse.Courtesy of Jon Griffith.

Slowing Down to go Faster

Alpine Ascents delayed a few days to avoid being in the rush earlier this week and felt it payed off. Note that their acclimation plan is working as they are getting stronger and going faster. Ben Jones, Alpine Ascents: “the team was very efficient getting to Camp 1 today. We cut an hour and a half of time off of our first rotation time to Camp 1 without intending to. You just feel that much better on the second rotation and very obvious to us guides that our team is getting stronger, taking less time to catch their breath, and moving through the obstacles of the icefall much more efficiently now

Not everyone is slowing down however. Matt Moniz and Willie Benegas skied the Lhotse Face today after reaching Camp 3 for acclimatization. They intend to ski the Lhotse Couloir later this month.

Lower right corner see Matt and Willie skiing the Lhotse Face Courtesy of Mikey Foreal

Rescue Resources

Seven Summits Treks made an interesting comment regard safety on the Nepal side. For years, there have been calls for a “rescue team” to be stationed at Camp 2 throughout the season and it appears they are doing just that. I’m unclear if these are dedicated Sherpas who will not be assisting other climbers or regular duty Sherpas who would be called away in case of an emergency. In any case the training they are doing is excellent and welcomed on the Nepal side:

Each year numbers of rescue between C1 to Summit Level has to be conducted, we can not stop accident in the mountains but we can reduce and make it more safe. With the same purpose SST has been appointed a rescue team of 10 climbers, which will be at Camp 2 and will be ready to operate rescue in an emergency.

Nuptse Attempt

Guy Cotter and his member are attempting to summit Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse this season, something rarely accomplished. Jumping on a good idea Tim Mosedale and Jon Gupta asked to join them and they made a strong attempt yesterday. Tim does a nice detailed write up well worth a read if you are into serious mountaineering but this is the money quote:

After the next short pitch there was a lot of snow which had been blown across an open slope. It was the dreaded wind slab – wind blown snow that gives the impression of being strong and uniform but which can fail catastrophically … especially when 11 people are walking across it making perforations and lines of weakness in it and adding an extra ton of weight.

Sadly this was to be our high point just 200m from the summit. It was a slightly crushing blow especially as we had spent three quarters of an hour lower down waiting for the weather to improve and when it had it had seemed that the mountain gods were on our side. It would have been very, very easy to try and force the route, push the boundaries and compromise rational decision making but this is not the place for taking risks. Firstly it wasn’t a personal decision, secondly if anything were to go wrong then the implications don’t bear thinking about and thirdly a risky and foolhardy choice would have far reaching consequences for anyone coming to the rescue. It is, after all, only the summit!

 Nuptse has only been summited 20 times and has a reputation as a difficult and steep climb. The summit itself is heavily corniced and few actually stand on the literal top stopping a few meters lower. Of course this is the route where Ueli Steck fell to his death last year.  Jon posted this super video clip of Tim on the ridge:

Makalu Summit

This is the second summits of an 8000er this season after Lhotse last weekend. Xiaodan Gao (35) from China summited Makalu with three sherpas, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, Jit Bahadur Sherpa and Ang Dawa Sherpa. Gao didn’t use supplemental oxygen.  There were 27 permits issued for Makalu this season.

Wishing everyone on both side fast and efficient climbing before the winds hit.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

  6 Responses to “Everest 2018: Pushing Hard before the Wait”


    Hi Alan
    Great article as ever… Can I ask if the whole ‘Everest’ thing has sped up these days…? I used to be addicted to all things Everest in and around the late 90s/early 00s and it seems climbers are not having to spend quite as long to make their summit pushes now . I’ve been a keen follower of Kenton Cool’s, Victoria Pendleton’s and Ben Fogel’s attempt and to say they’re mostly in place for their summit push after just been on the mountain 3 weeks, seems really short period of time…

    I could have sworn these things used to take a lot longer 🙂

    Exciting couple of weeks ahead… Thx


      Yes and no. In the late’90s/early 2000’s it was about 2 months home to home and that is similar to today. But the number of rotations could have been 4, even 5 if you didn’t reach the high point for acclimatization. Today, the thinking has changed. For example, some teams only “touch” C3 on the Nepal side and never spend the night, others just climb to 7000m and return. The feeling is it’s diminishing returns to invest that much energy for a few minutes at that altitude.

      Also, the climbers used to use 2lpm oxygen flow, now it is 4 or even 6lpm with some teams starting as low as camp 2 thus diminishing the need for higher acclimatization – yes there are all sorts of “style” discussions around this. Of note, Pendleton is reportedly have acclimatization issues with their short schedule. I hope they slow down a bit and take time.

      In any event, all of this has had some teams arriving much later and only doing 2 rotations so you may be seeing that. Finally, the whole wave around “pre-acclimatizing” has left some with the impression you can dramatically reduce the number of rotations. See this article by Steve House on why that may not be true, but advocates strongly believe in it. I think it’s highly personal and if you are willing to sleep in a plastic bag for 2 months before your trip, you are probably a determined individual who would summit no matter.


        Thx Alan for the very informative response… I wasn’t aware of the increased oxygen climbers are now using… Pretty sure Victoria Pendleton is now home bound, as you say, because of acclimatisation issues…

        Thx again


    Hi Alan. Just wondering in regards to the SST “rescue team,” will this be for their members only or are they willing to share their resources with other teams? If so, will there be a cost associated with this? Will rescued climbers be free to choose their Heli Evac company or will they be forced onto an SST Heli?


      It’s all unclear to me and could be a marketing ploy or a business opportunity. SST nows owns their own helicopter and there is huge money to be made “rescuing” people and have their insurance company fund the flight. I would assume – assume – that they would use their own helicopter which could be a problem if the climber’s insurance company doesn’t have a pre-approved contract with them. In almost all cases the major insurance companies like Global Rescue and TravelEx had a discounted price with a helicopter company and requires the policy holder to contact them before rescue otherwise they will not pay for the evacuation. All complicated.

      Usually if it is an on-mountain “Sherpa” rescue, there is no charge. SST presents their service as something for everyone and I hope we never test that! Last year the same team did a very difficult rescue near the West Ridge successfully. I never heard of any charge for that.


    I’m getting very excited for everyone there. Thanks for the reports, Alan.

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