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…