April is just about over and everything on Everest is mostly on schedule. High winds were reported on both sides. Lots of information in this Weekend Update. The #Everest2019 season is in full swing!
The lack of rope to the North Col is a bit disturbing and suggest the objective dangers are growing on that side but I’ll get to that in a moment. Last week saw the first 8000-meter summits of the season on Annapurna – 32 in all but one climber is now in serious condition in Kathmandu after getting separated from the group and left behind.
Each weekend during the season I’ll post a “Weekend Update” summarizing the main stories for the past week. Also, now that the season is well underway, I’ll strive to post my daily updates for all #everest2019 each day before noon, Mountain Daylight Time, GMT -7.
Teams are all over both sides of the Hill from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camps. Some have competed their first acclimitzatin rotation and now are back resting up in their BC. For a complete list see the Tracker Table which is updated often and with the latest headlines.
The permit numbers continue to grow a bit. Nepal has issued a record 375 climbing permits to foreigners as of 25 April and, while not confirmed, the Tibet side has 364 total people made up of 144 foreigners, 12 Chinese and 208 Nepalese Sherpa. An additional 73 are reported to be visiting or working at base camp. source If anyone has the correct numbers for the Tibet side, I would appreciate receiving them and will pass them along. The Chinese and CTMA do not respond to inquires.
Now onto a few big stories.
Female Climbers of 2019
For many decades climbing in many forms was a male dominated sport – some would say it still is. However, many, many women have made significant contributions to the sport. Climbing did an excellent look of the history of female climbing starting with a summit of Mount Ventoux in 1336 by the Italian poet Petrarch!!
This year on Everest there seems to be more female climbers than usual. Through 2018, of the 4,738 individuals to have summited Everest, 605 were female – 12%. Some trivia: 7 summited not using supplemental oxygen. There have been 14 female Tibetans and 35 female Sherpas including 9 by Lakpa Sherpa!
Last year, 2018, there were 61 female climbers on the Nepal side and 49 summited, or 18% of the total summiters.
This year, the Nepal Department of Tourism released a gender mix that showed 76 female climbers (20%) out of 375 permits issued to foreigners. China had the most female climbers at 20 followed by India – 18, Nepal – 6, US at 4, Lebanon/Norway/UK/Greece all with 3. Last year, the female summit success percentage was 80% so using the same number, we can expect to see 61 summits this year, perhaps a record!
Let’s take a quick look at the female climbers I’ve identified thus far. Note in many cases, only first names are provided and this is not intended to be an exhaustive list.
It’s virtually impossible to get the same information on the Tibet side other than from the teams themselves. Alpenglow has a strong female presence. The team that includes Caroline, Christina, Kara is being lead by Carla Perez, the first South American woman to summit without supplemental oxygen. And in a private setup, Roxanne is being guided by Lydia Bradey, the first woman to summit without oxygen.
Madison Mountaineering has a four member Arab female called the Dream of Everest. They are Joyce Azzam- Lebanon, Mona Shahab – Saudi Arabia, Nadhirah Alharthy – Oman and Nelly Attar – Lebanon. Also from the Middle East, Dubai, is Tima Deryan with IMG. She tells me there other females from the Middle East including 6 Lebanese, 2 Saudi’s, 1 Qatari, 1 Emirati, 1 Jordanian, 1 Egyptia, 1 Omani, 1 Syrian on the Nepal side and a Jordanian attempting from the North.
Two Greek female climbers are Vanessa Archontidou and Christina Flampouri. One American female who has received a lot of publicity is Kirstie Ennis, She was injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, losing her left leg above the knee. She is climbing Everest with a prosthetic leg.
South African, Saray N’kusi Khumalo, is trying to summit again this year and has as dedicated her 7 Summits project to building libraries for schools in South Africa. Caroline Gleich is climbing for gender equality.
Two female climbers I introduced a few weeks ago are on the Hill now. Nima Doma Sherpa, 36, and Furdiki Sherpa, 42, are seeking to finish the climb to the summit their husbands never did. Furdiki’s husband died while fixing ropes in 2013 and Nima Doma ‘s husband died in an avalanche near the base camp in 2014. You can follow them at Two Window Expedition.
These are the ladies I’m following. Obviously I don’t know every name on the Hill this year, so please introduce yourself in the comment section, if you like!
Nepal – Challenging Lhotse Face
There are multiple teams all over the mountain this weekend on their first acclimatization rotation. High winds are reported near C3 and are forecasted for the next several days.
Madison Mountaineering, Garrett Madison, gave me a good update on the conditions between EBC and Camp 2. I posted the entire update on Friday. Here’s the money quote:
My general sense of the route through the Khumbu Icefall is that it is easier and safer than in previous years. This is perhaps due to the changing nature of the glacier / icefall as it melts and settles.
Maybe the biggest news is that the fixed ropes made it to Camp 3 and a bit beyond, the Sherpas now building tent platforms at C3 on the Lhotse Face and the Face is hard packed blue ice – not a good thing. Let’s hope either a bit of snow will fall to soften things up a bit or the usual traffic will kick in steps lessening the physical toll on the members.
Adventure Consultants once again gave a candid report on the conditions of the mountain:
The Icefall had changed a lot in the few days we had last been there. Temperatures have gone up and there is a lot more running water at lower levels.
When I was there in 2015 and 2016, I noticed running water at EBC in mid April when everything should have been frozen. Seems like this condition is continuing. It used to be the Icefall was frozen solid until late May. One day, these peaks may become unclimbable by today’s routes.
Tibet – Avalanche Danger before the North Col
High winds hit the Tibet side. Adventure Peaks noted:
Di called this afternoon to say they have had some very strong winds last night which caused damage to the mess tent. Everyone is fine, but Kirsty, Nick & Paula have decided to head back down to base camp to get some proper rest while the rope fixing is still taking place up to the North Col. ]
Similar to the Nepal side, many teams are now at ABC with some hoping to go onto the North Col as part of their acclimatization program. But the Chinese rope fixers have a firm rule that no one can climb higher than the rope team. Such a rule doesn’t exist on the Nepal side but is tradition.
This is all well and good except the Chinese have stopped fixing the rope due to avalanche danger on the headwall going to the North Col. This is pretty rare but does happen and I’m sure is a bit disappointing to a few. Hopefully, the snow will settle and progress will continue. I’ll be interested to see if this is an isolated area or indicative of the entire Tibet side of Everest.
Michael Fagin of Everest Weather tells me of an early season disturbance in the Bay of Bengal that bears watching:
Tropical cyclone 01B (Fani) has formed in the Bay of Bengal. This is forecasted https://www.metoc.navy.mil/jtwc/products/io0119.gif by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to strengthen during the upcoming week. At this point this cyclone is forecasted to make landfall close to Friday May 3 with wind gusts up to 149 mph (238 km/hr.).
On May 3 this cyclone will be well south of Mt. Everest (746 miles-1194 km). Thus no impacts on Everest through May 3. However we need to monitor this as this moves inland and if the moisture from the cyclone tracks towards Everest and bring increase chances of snowfall after May 3. Just too early to tell now as the track can change. Here is a good site to monitor the storm track. https://www.metoc.navy.mil/jtwc/jtwc.html
The “Other” 8000ers
While everyone gets focused on Everest, there are serious efforts, and drama, underway on several of the other 8,000-meter peaks.
Annapurna – Rescue Finger Pointing
Not only did Nirmal Purja Purja Purja lead the rope fixing team, he also summited and then went back to help rescue a missing climber! Now, he is on to his next climb as his goal with his project to summit all 14 of the 8000ers in seven months.
However, he is the middle of a finger pointing episode around the rescue of 49 year-old Malaysian Anesthesiologist Wui Kin Chin on Annapurna. Nirmal Purja Purja Purja sent a strong message to the “insurance” company covering Chin. Note, they are not insurance but rather a membership program that pays for authorized emergency evacuations. He put this out on Instagram
“The level of damage and risk to Dr Chins life may have been avoided, if the emergency insurance company had acted quicker …We were waiting for Oxygen to get dropped off at us by helicopter so we could go start searching for him on the mountains. (This is all what his insurance company had to do , just drop 6 bottles of Oxygen at Camp 4 where I was on standby with my rescue team) . I was told that the rescue company denied the emergency help and I couldn’t hold my team any longer at the extreme altitude risking their life. I was the last man to leave camp 4 and I had thought he was possibly dead by then on those dangerous slopes.”
Global Rescue was the evacuation company Dr. Chin had contracted with. They posted this on Facebook:
After supporting a successful rescue on Thursday on Annapurna, Global Rescue is currently participating in the coordination of a Malaysian climber’s medical care in a Kathmandu hospital. We stand prepared for further medical transportation as necessary. Global Rescue initiated the evacuation as soon as the member’s location was known and he could be safely reached.
Seven Summits also got into the blame game early telling the Himalayan Times:
According to him, the search couldn’t be conducted today due to a lengthy insurance process. “It’s highly impossible to carry out search on foot above Camp IV on Mt Annapurna,” Sherpa claimed, adding that insurance clearance procedure has ultimately delayed the search mission.
Dr. Chin is now in Kathmandu with hospital in critical condition, with low heart rate and body temperature and frostbite on his hands and feet and respiratory issues related to spending 43 hours fully exposed and without supplemental oxygen above 7,000-meters.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Dr. Chin’s situation. He was with 17 Sherpas and 16 other climbers on the day he summited. He had a personal Sherpa, Nima Tshering Sherpa looking after him. Chin was reported to be weak on the ascent and barley able to walk on the descent. His Sherpa reportedly gave him his supplemental oxygen and left him to get help but became injured on his descent. Its unclear if anyone had radios that day. Seven Summit Treks was managing the logistics and has a strained relationship with evacuation companies.
The Other Side of Annapurna – Progress but Difficult Conditions
We went up the mountain twice so far. The first time we established advanced base camp – ABC at 4700 m. and we analyzed our possibilities to reach southeast ridge. Difficult snow conditions and a large number of avalanches forced us to retreat. The second time we managed to reach the ridge and set up C1 at 5300 m. The next 200 meters of difficult technical climbing confirmed that we acquired the ridge too far on the left, so we were forced to take down camp 1 previously carried up with so much effort. Tomorrow we are going up again. We are afraid of avalanches so we climb mainly at night and only in cold days. We learn to be patient and we are carefully getting familiar with the rhythm of the mountain.
Dhaulagiri – Progress
Horia Colibasanu along with Marius Gane and Peter Hamor are making progress on the unclimbed Northwest Ridge to the summit at 8,167-meters/26,794 feet. Their summit bid is planned for the May 15th-25th window.
Acclimatisation Output to French Saddle (5460 M). All three of them spent the night there and the next day they came back. The acclimatization ascent into the French couloir (5460 metres). All three of them spent the night there, and came back the next day.
Lhotse – South Face
Sung Taek Hong team is now at base camp. No word on his progress. This is his sixth attempt to scale the face. Looking at the other side and the normal route, 66 permits have been issued for this spring for this 8,516-meters/27,939-feet summit. Not an 8,000er but close, Nuptse at 7,861-meters/25,790-feet has 27 permits issued. They have climbed to their Camp 2
team is doing well … feeling strong and good. slept C1 (5900m) and now time for the second rotation to C2.
the face has to much snow … have been snowing almost every night … we pray for better weather.
Altitude Junkies, fed up with Everest politics switched over to Makalu this spring. They began on April 14. They won’t be done as there have been 53 permits issued for four teams. It is 8,463-meters/27,765-feet high. No updates thus far.
This next week teams on both sides continue their acclimatization rotations. Perhaps the rope fixing team will reach the North Col and the South Col but it appears ropes to the summit will be a bit later than the usual May 5. Not a problem in the grand scheme.
I am monitoring the mountain conditions with avalanche danger on the Tibet side and Blue Ice on the Lhotse face. This could be a challenging for the climbers. But again, its way too early to set off any alarms.
Several times a day, I’m updating the team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar). If you have a team not listed, please let me know and I will add them if I can track them. If you prefer not to be mentioned, please contact me. You can sign up for (and cancel) notifications on the lower right sidebar or check the site frequently.
Memories are Everything
Why this coverage?
I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I’m just one person who loves climbing. With 37 serious climbing expeditions including four Everest trips under my belt and a summit in 2011, I use my site to share those experiences, demystify Everest each year and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease. My mom, Ida Arnette, died from this disease in 2009 as have four of my aunts. It was a heartbreaking experience that I never want anyone to go through thus my ask for donations to non-profits where 100% goes to them, and nothing ever to me.
Previous #Everest2019 posts:
- Everest 2019: Climbing Conditions Could be Difficult this Year
- Everest 2019: Madison Mountaineering Exclusive Report on Everest Conditions
- Everest 2019: Missing Annapurna Climber Rescued Alive
- Everest 2019:Remembering The Day Nepal Shook
- Everest 2019: Missing Annapurna Climber and Quiet on Everest
- Everest 2019: Camp 2 Mirage
- Everest 2019: Monday Crevasse Fall
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update April 21
- Everest 2019: Sleeping In The Cwm!
- Everest 2019: Climbing!!
- Everest 2019: First Impressions
- Everest 2019: Before the First Steps into the Icefall
- Everest 2019: Training Before Climbing
- Everest 2019: Deadly Crash at Lukla
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update April 14
- Everest 2019: Prayers Before Climbing
- Everest 2019: Avoiding the Icefall
- Everest 2019: First Days in Base Camp
- Everest 2019: Everest Base Camp!
- Everest 2019: The Trekker’s Summit
- Everest 2019: Leaving the Grass
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update April 7
- Everest 2019: When is a Rest day, a Rest Day?
- Everest 2019: Morning View and Prayers at the Monastery
- Everest 2019: Trek to Tengboche Monastery
- Everest 2019: Namche and Everest View
- Everest 2019: The Namche Hill
- Everest 2019: The Trek to EBC Begins
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update March 31
- Everest 2019: Kathmandu Gets Busy
- Everest 2019: Interview with Garrett Madison – A Leader on Everest
- Everest 2019: Stories to Watch This Season
- Everest 2019: Climbers to Watch
- Everest 2019: New Route Attempt on Everest
- Everest 2019: Welcome to Everest 2019 Coverage