Last week was important for climbers across the Himalayan. The ropes were fixed to the summit on four separate 8000-meter mountains all on the same day, May 14, 2019. This was historic in that it has never happened on so many peaks on the same day. With that, many peaks, including Everest, were summited in cold temperatures but manageable winds.
Then something else historic occurred. Seven climbers lost their lives and three went missing, presumed dead. Add in one more death on Annapurna two weeks earlier, it totals 11 deaths and this is even before the largest summit push in history on Everest that begins early next week. The deaths occurred on Everest, Cho Oyu, Annapurna, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse. They have included one Sherpa, two climbers not using supplemental oxygen and five Indian climbers.
Each weekend during the season I’ll post a “Weekend Update” summarizing the main stories for the past week.
The jet finally moved off the summit of Everest long enough for a very strong team of Sherpas to fix the ropes to the summit on the Nepal side. While a bit late being on May 15, it was still not the latest. In 2014 they made the summit on May 23. Most years since 2009, the ropes were in during the second week of May. Meanwhile this year, a week after the ropes reached the summit on the Nepal side, they still are not there on the Tibet side.
With the ropes in, a few aggressive teams positioned at Camp 2 or higher, over 100 people soon made the summit in what was forecasted as a narrow two day window that actually turned into three. But when it slammed shut as the jet returned, teams looked ahead to May 20th and on for the next suitable period of low winds.
And that’s where we are this Sunday. However the big unknown is if the pesky jet will make a another appearance in mid-week spoiling all the plans. Literally hundreds of climbers are betting they can get the summit this week and are staged high today ready to go at a moments notice.
Oxygen bottles, tents, food, stoves and fuel have all been cached at the camps where the summit bids will start from the South Col on the Nepal side and the North Col on the Tibet side. At this point, anything can happen so this week will define the Everest 2019 season … along with a string of tragic deaths across the Himalayan 8000ers that, in my opinion, most could have been avoided.
A beautiful image from Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering at Camp 2. They will go for their bid this week.
Jet Stream – Wobbly until 22-24
This site indicates the jet will move away starting Monday, May 20th but may return in a few days. But as I always advise, using internet forecast is no substitute for paying a human for a professional forecast.
Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions commented on the jet stream situation:
The biggest summit window of the season is here. I’ll echo the words of meteorologist Marc De Keyser that while it’s a window it’s not wide open. Why? The jet will definitely weaken but it will wobble back and forth. There will be periods of dead calm summit winds mixed with brief spikes in wind. And, this kind of pattern can mean important differences in wind on the North side of Everest versus South. Timing the keyhole drops will be critical. The first big wind drop occurred on the 19th with another to follow on the 20th. The sweet spot may very well be 22-24. Then the jet slams the summit. The period after is less certain regarding jet positioning. I see no signs of the Monsoon at this point before the 28th.
Everest Nepal – 100+ Summits, 2 Deaths
It was mostly a good week on the Nepal side of Mt. Everest. The first summits in the Everest/Lhotse/Nuptse Horseshoe were on Lhotse by Mingma Sherpa’s Imagine Nepal 12 person team. Christina Flampouri became the first Greek woman and Sirbaz Khan became First Pakistani to summit Lhotse.
A large Indian Army, Chinese and an International team all from Seven Summits treks summited. Kami Rita Sherpa who broke his own record with his 23rd on Everest, will do another effort this upcoming week for his 24th. Also a team from Satori and Climbing the Seven Summits. Kenton Cool got his 14th summit. Saray N’kusi Khumalo became the first black woman from Africa to summit. The first African American woman to summit Everest was Sophia Danenberg in 2006.
In the department of outstanding efforts, Myrmidon Expeditions’s team of Kirstie Ennis, Rob Gowler, and Christopher Paul along with the support of climbing Sherpas (Sange Sherpa – climbing lead, Dharche Bhote, and Chhebi Bhote) turned back around 8600-meters/28,215-feet due to reportedly running out of time.
Kristie posted this video along with a promise to return:
I gave Everest Hell, and she gave it right back. More details to come soon, but time and oxygen wasn’t in our favor. We spun at 8684 m. (28,490 ft). Tough call being so close to the top, but it wasn’t worth anyone’s injury or death. God bless the ten lives lost this season in the Himalayas already. Thank you guys for all of the love and support. Everest round two coming soon… 😜
And to all the naysayers and those who said an above knee amputee wouldn’t make it past camp 2 (6400 m) — I got your camp 2, the next two camps, and another +2200 meters in my back pocket.
Two Everest Deaths
An Irish climber, Seamus Sean Lawless, 39, went missing at 27,500-feet on Everest when he became separated from his group. Witnesses report that he fell
near the Balcony, a key feature on the route, somewhere above Camp 4 aka South Col and disappeared. Search efforts were called off Friday, May 17, when high winds returned to the peak.
Everest – Tibet
Adrian Ballinger gave me this update early Sunday morning Tibet time:
My teams at 6400m now (abc) and it’s a calm beautiful day (as was the move up here yesterday)! Winds dropping up higher today. Still may not be the perfect window (cold temps and American and euro models diverging on how much wind we may seee this week)….
Guides I’m talking to on both sides are “agonizing” over whether the lower gfs winds are correct (making it a great summit window) or the higher “euro” winds are correct, making it a potential shitshow with lots of people and too cold conditions
But for today at least – T-shirt weather in ABC! Time for some coffee and more poring over jet maps 😝
Note that Adrian is going to attempt K2 with no Os after this Everest experience.
New Route Update
Cory Richards and Topo Mena are at ABC ready to go when the conditions allow. Topo offered:
It’s time to pull the trigger! Today we got a spell of favorable winds, not as good as we would like, but it’s the mountains right? You gotta play with the cards you’re dealt! So tomorrow we are coming back to Base Camp and moving onward to get in position to attempt that beautiful line next week! 📸 @coryrichardscoming down from the North Col (7100m) during our last acclimatization jaunt… #everest2019 🔥
Ambitious Climbers Update
Tim Mosedale had to end his attempt to summit Nuptse after the route finding became difficult as they ran out of sunlight. They wisely retreated but will attempt Nuptse again then go directly for Everest and Lhotse then move to the Tibet side and summit Everest again.
Sergi Mingote summited Lhotse this past week as part of his 3×8000 Solidary Project. Last summer he climbed K2, Broad Peak and Manaslu. Now he is aiming for Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga this Spring – all without Os. If he does summit he will beat the current record holder, Silvio Mondinelli, who climbed the three highest mountains in 3 years and 64 days.
Nirmal Purja has summited Annapurna, Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri as the phase one of his project to summit all fourteen 8000ers in 7 months, and break the current record of 7+ years. His next phase includes Everest, Lhotse and Makalu but he is now saying he doesn’t have enough money and may cancel the entire program.
David Göttler is looking for a no Os summit of Everest. He headed back up this weekend looking to summit earl this week.
The “Other” 8000ers
This is what is happening on the other 8,000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet.
Annapurna – Over
The snow constantly falling for the last few days is proving that our decision to turn back was the only right one. The weather forecast for the next week is miserable. The weather does not give us a chance to climb the beautiful and difficult mountain such as Langtang Lirung. Annapurna is also under the constant snowfall and our acclimatisation is too weak to allow us to climb a new and difficult route on an eight-thousander. We are forced to end our expedition.
Annapurna Standard – 32 Summits, 1 Death
On Annapurna, which is considered the most deadly of the fourteen 8000-meter mountain, 32 people using Seven Summits Treks summited on April 23. Chinese climber Wui Kin Chin died in Singapore two days after being rescued from at 27,500-feet. He had spent 3 days stranded around 7400-meters after developing altitude related illness.
We are presently at basecamp. The weather is cold, windy, with rain and snow. There is absolutely nothing we can do. Hopefully we’ll be spared another cyclone. On the upside, this is our chance to rest. Considering how things are at the moment, it is certain that we only get one weather window, one shot at attacking the summit. It will be a steady and continuous climb. From the moment we head out, our target is the peak. It will be a major challenge, which we expect will take 5 days. When climbing, we’ll have to take it easy, in order to acclimatize. Once we are past the chimney we have already secured, we can go by foot. We are hoping for good weather, it is what matters most to us.
Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja and Mingma David Sherpa and Gesman Tamang made the summit. He has three 8000ers: Annapurna, Kanchanjunga and Dhaulagiri thus far.
Lhotse – South Face on Weather Hold
Sung Taek Hong team established their Camp 4 and are now resting in the village of Chukung. This is his sixth attempt to scale the face.
Lhotse – Standard route – 20+ Summits and 1 Death
After Imagine Nepal put 12 on the summit on May 13, a four more climbers using Seven Summits summited On May 16 including Moeses Fiamoncini, Sergi Mingote, Juan Pablo Mohr and Carloz Garranzo summited not using supplemental Os. On another push, Bulgaria Ivan Yuriev Tomov, was found dead in his tent after summiting Lhotse without Os.
Makalu – 42+ Summits and Deaths
- Seven Summits Treks International: 5 members, 2 Sherpas
- Altitude Junkies summited at 3:30:Phil Crampton with “Margret” Watroba
- Seven Summits Treks’s Indian Army: 16 members, 13 Sherpas (Narayan Singh died of altitude illness at 8200m)
- Pioneer Adventures: 4 members, 4 Sherpas
- Peak Promotion: 1+
Well known Peruvian climber, Richard Hidalgo, was found dead in his tent at 20,669-feet on Makalu. He had spent the previous day with a Sherpa team installing the fixed line used for safety. He was climbing not using supplemental oxygen identical to Bulgaria Ivan Yuriev Tomov, who was also found dead in his tent after summiting Lhotse.
Also on Makalu, Indian climber Narayan Singh died of altitude illness at 26,900-feet and Dipankar Ghos, 52, from Kolkata, India is missing after he summited on May 17, 2019.
And rescues are still ongoing for Makalu climbers. Lakpa Sherpas from Expedition Base said:
EB Makalu Rescue operation: EB Sherpa guide, Pem Dorje Sherpa, and Sanu Sherpa (SST) climbed up to C3 last night from ABC to take O2 and altitude medicine and other supplies up to the Indian Army Team and assist with their descent. EB team member, TM, a medical doctor, is providing medical assistance to injured climbers from other teams at ABC. A really tough couple of days. More to come.
American Doctor, Tracee Metcaff who summited Makalu earlier, is the doctor staying at base camp providing medical care.
Kanchanjunga – 28+ Summits, 3 Deaths
- Peak Promotion: 5 members, 5 Sherpas
- Seven Summits Treks/ Elite Himalayan Adventures: Mission Project Possible 14/7: 3 Sherpas
- Seven Summits Treks: Internationals 5 members, 8 Sherpas
- Shangri-La Nepal Treks: 1 member, 3 Sherpas
Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja and Mingma David Sherpa and Gesman Tamang made the summit. He has three 8000ers: Annapurna, Kanchanjunga and Dhaulagiri thus far.
Kangchenjunga at 28,169 feet, is well known as one of the more difficult 8000-meter mountains. This week two climbers, Biplab Baidya and Kuntal Karar, both from India, died from altitude related issues and one, Chilean Rodrigo Vivanco, is presumed dead after getting separated from his group and never arriving at camp after his summit.
Cho Oyu – Cancelled and 1 Death
The Summit Climb team canceled their climb after the death of Phujung Bhote who fell in a crevasse near Camp 2.
Next Week – Summit Week!!
Mingma Sherpa’s Imagine Nepal has left for the summit of Everest tonight, Sunday, May 19. At 18:00 they reported in from Camp 4:
Our all team reached south col (camp4). Weather is good with no wind. Only our team for tomorrow summit push. 5 chinese+2greece women planning for first women on everest+1 indian and 8 sherpa.
They appear to be the only team attempting to summit tonight but there are many others staged at ABC, and Camp 3. I anticipate several busy nights Monday through at least Thursday. Teams looking summit Tuesday morning are at C3 on the Nepal side. They include:
- Summit Climb
- Jagged Globe
- 65 degrees North
Damian Benegas of the renowned Benegas Brothers said:
Well, after what’s been a truly amazing season up until now for us, we are delighted to announce our summit push is finally underway. Damian, Lopsang Sherpa, Kike and the team of 3 members Jorge George and Rowena left base camp at 0400 and have checked in from Camp 2 already. An exiting few days lie ahead!! We hope for an early summit on Wednesday or Thursday. Right now, skies are clear and winds dropping…. If everything goes well, the plan will be to then rest another day at C2 and then push on for C3, C4 and the summit. Lopsang and Jorge will also be headed for Lhotse if all goes well.. We’re delighted with the weather forecast and the number of summits so far.
And Alex Abramov 7 Summits Club told me “2 teams each 6 members and 1 guide plus 9 Sherpas are planning summit push at 23 and 24.” But, there still no ropes to the summit!
Several times a day, I’ll update the team location table with last known camp and latest headlines. Also I usually do two post a day during the big summit week, one reaping the day and one for the next wave. 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: Next Summit Waves Prepare
- Too Many Deaths – Opinion
- Everest 2019: Quiet after 3 Successful and 10 Dead Thus Far
- Everest 2019: Summit Wave 2 Update and Recap, Kang Deaths – Update
- Everest 2019: Kanchenjunga Indian Climbers In Trouble – Sad Update
- Everest 2019: Summit Wave 1 Recap, Wave 2 Underway
- Everest 2019: Summit Wave 1 – Update
- Everest 2019: Summit Wave 0 – Everest, Lhotse and More!!!
- Everest 2019: Ropes Make Progress, Lhotse Bid Underway NOW
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update May 12
- Everest 2019: Anticipation
- Everest 2019: Here We Go!!!
- Everest 2019: Weekend Summits?
- Everest 2019: Another Himalayan Death
- Everest 2019: Loads to South Col
- Everest 2019: The Jet Takes Over
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update May 5
- Everest 2019: Big Snow, Now Calm
- Everest 2019: Big Winds!!!
- Everest 2019: Annapurna Climber Dies – Blame Game Continues
- Everest 2019: Big Snow, or NO Snow
- Everest 2019: Eye on the Weather
- Everest 2019: Rotation Crux Time
- Everest 2019: Near Death on Annapurna. What Happened?
- Everest 2019: Ropes to North Col!
- Everest 2019: Weekend Update April 28
- 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