2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Update on Everest Hanging Serac

Last Autumn, several teams abandoned their Everest climbs fearing a teetering serac above the Khumbu Icefall. It was so massive that if it fell, it would shatter directly on top of their route killing anyone there instantly. Echos of a similar release in 2014 were loud. That incident killed 16 Sherpas. So the big question has been, is it still there?

Hanging Serac Icefall in autumn 2019 Courtesy of Andrzej Bargiel
2019.10.05 The Serac circled is still hanging on up there seems to be leaning more every day but just hasn’t fallen yet. Courtesy of Madison Mountaineering


Photo of serac above, with 3 climbers below...
Photo of serac above, with 3 climbers below… Courtesy of Madison Mountaineering

The serac hangs about 3,000 ft​【914 m】up off of the Khumbu Icefall on the west shoulder of Mount Everest, midway above the Icefall’s Football Field spot. It was estimated to 200-300 feet tall.

Jost Kobusch is taking the West Ridge thus has not made a comment, however, last Autumn, Garrett Madison of Madison MountaineeringKilian Jornet, and Andrzej Bargiel made ongoing comments about the status as they observed it from base camp or from a drone. Jornet sped through the icefall a few times taking the risk.

Still There

I reached out to Alex Txikon‘s home team for an update, and it looks like it’s still hanging up there.  This is the direct answer from Angela Benavides, their Press Manager:

I’ve asked Mingma, the ice doctor in Txikon’s expedition. He says that the serac is still there and still dangerous, but that they have come up with an alternative, safer route through the Icefall.

Also, Alex mentioned that the wind is so strong, it has made many seracs crumble down, leaving instead lots of chaotic rubble, difficult to traverse but otherwise somehow safer.

What are the implications for the spring season remains unclear. I anticipate a few teams will cancel their Nepal side expeditions altogether or switch to the Tibet side. I’ve already had one team tell me they will not climb from Nepal this year for a number of reasons. I’ll do a separate post on them later this week, its an interesting story and perhaps a harbinger of things to come for Nepal if nothing changes.

Winter 2019/20

Everest At Camp 2

K2 – Over

Broad Peak, then K2? – On BP Summit Push

  • Denis Urubko – On Summit Push

Batura Sar – Climbing at C1

Ama Dablam

  • Zoltán Szlankó, Alex Goldfarb – Summitted

Gasherbrum I/II – Over

  • Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger – Over

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


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