Everyone is safe, including guides, Sherpas, and members but there is a serious situation on the North side of Everest early Wednesday morning 16 May. Teams are turning back from the summit.
I spoke live by satellite phone with Adrian Ballinger, founder of Alpenglow, at 6:47 am, Everest time. He was at 8500 meters, near the 2nd Step on the Tibet side when he said they had 10 of 39 oxygen bottle regulators fail and had to turn back. Everyone was safe and below C3 at 8300 meters as of our conversation.
The regulator controls the flow of oxygen between the bottle and the mask. If it fails, there is no oxygen in the mask. Alpenglow was using Summit Oxygen (SO) systems. I reached out them but could not connect with such short notice. I have used SO several times with complete success. Adrian was strong to say he was not criticizing SO but wanted to get the word out that there may be a bad manufacturing batch out there in use. He has used SO for 6 years with no problems.
The guides and Sherpas are now without supplemental oxygen as they gave up their regulators to the members and all are safely descending. Adrian said the regulators spontaneously failed without warning within 3 minutes.
He said all members were below Camp 3 now, but there was a large Chinese team above. He was not sure what oxygen system they use. Furtenbach also used Summit Oxygen and promoted a special mask developed for them to run at 8lpm and just reported all members have summited with no issues.
In my experiences over 16 years, this is an extremely rare event. I will update this post as new information is available.
Update at 9 am Everest time from Adrian: “all alpenglow now at or below c2, 7700m. 4 more regulator failures since we spoke (all 4 recent failures happened between 8300 and 7700).”