Virtual Everest 2020: Personality Clash

Weather report courtesy of Michael Fagin of Everest Weather

Some people make massive sacrifices to climb Everest. When things don’t go the way they think it should, they become demanding, and occasionally, a bit hard to manage as our fictional team is finding out.

In the real world, the Tibetan rope fixing team was stopped by heavy snow and didn’t get the ropes to the to summit on May 12 opening the route for over 30 Chinese.

Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas is a joint project of Alan Arnette and several global guide companies. Our objective is to entertain Everest fans during the Coronavirus spring closure and raise money to help the Climbing Sherpas who are not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please join us by making a donation using the links below plus by adding your Everest experiences in the comment section.

Demanding Members in Base Camp

Guide followed Loner out of the tent. “Hey, what’s up?” He asked his fickle team member. “What do you mean? Loner replied, then blurted out, “I’ve had enough.” 

At times during a long expedition, clients get frustrated with the expedition leadership. Sometimes they feel their input is being ignored, or that weaker team members are pulling everyone down, and the leadership is not properly addressing the issues.

Loner stopped, turned on his heels, and took a step towards Guide. Their height and weight difference amplified that a physical altercation would not end well for one of them.

“OK, here we go.” Guide thought to himself. He had dealt with demanding clients in the past and had the skills to manage this one. However, it was the last thing he wanted to be doing at the moment. His weather forecaster in the US had just sent him an update, and he was eager to review and tell the rest of the team. But for now, he needed to figure out why Loner was so upset.

“Look, I slept in an altitude tent for two months before coming over here. I’m in the best shape of my life and the perfect age. I’ve made a ton of sacrifices to get here. I lost my job, my girlfriend. I sold my car to pay you. I’m not going to be stopped because some old man can’t cut it or some kid doesn’t know what he’s doing. Or some guide who thinks he knows it all.” Loner was on a rant. Guide stood still, relaxed, back arched, hands in his pockets, a small smile on his face.

A yak walked by. They both looked at the big furry animal. Guide saw the beauty of Nepal and Tibet in her. The strength, the determination, the mantra of ‘living in the moment.’ Loner saw a beast of burden, a tool to help him climb. But they both admired the Nak, as she walked by, oblivious to the humans.

“I’m not stupid, I know if the weather is bad then no one goes up. But during the last 48 hours, there have been over 200 summits, that’s half of base camp, and we’re just sitting around drinking tea.” Loner, realizing he was crossing a line between feedback and respect backed off. “I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough of all the happy talk in the dining tent. Is there any way I can go up separate from the group? I’m ready now, and I’m not getting any stronger sitting around here.”

Guide shuffled his feet and poked at a piece of ice jutting out of the dirt. He took a moment to look around Everest Base Camp and then the Khumbu Icefall. He loved this place. It was his church. He felt alive being on an expedition, any expedition. He started guiding on lower peaks years ago, but when he made his first trip to Everest, he found his sanctuary.

About this time, a helicopter took off from a nearby helipad carved out of the glacier. Guide was happy for the diversion. Gave him time to think.

“I understand.” Guide began. Loner sat down on the edge of a car-sized boulder, halfway covered with fresh snow. “Being part of a team with different experiences, skills, and personalities can be difficult at times. But we are a team. I was proud of our collective effort the other day to get to C3. Yes, you did well; you did it with style. Of course, you will get your shot if the weather and conditions allow. But I need to balance each person’s capabilities appropriately. And I need to give each person a shot if they have earned it. On the summit push, it will be you and Lhakpa, your Personal Sherpa. Ideally, we’ll climb as a pod, all of our team together. Realistically, we will spread out, just like on the Lhotse Face. If you and Lhakpa are moving strong, then you’ll naturally move ahead. I’ll be monitoring the radio for any problems, but if another member has a problem, it shouldn’t impact you.”

Loner looked away, feeling foolish and selfish. “Look, I’m not a bad person. If one of the other members needs help and I’m there to do something, well …” His voice trailed off, not sure he could follow-thru on his promise.

Guide sat down next to him on the rock, his leg almost touching Loner’s leg. “Let’s check out the weather forecast. Might be some good news, and we can go sooner than I thought.” Loner moved his gaze from his shoelaces to Guide. “Thanks, man.”

The weather forecast gave a mixed message:


The forecast models are bringing a strong trough of low pressure into the Bay of Bengal Tuesday, May 19 (see map below which a 500 mb at 18,000′).

Will this become a tropical depression? Time will tell. As of 5 am PT Thursday May 14 there was not a tropical storm warning out for the Bay of Bengal. However there is a tropical disturbance “Invest 91 B” in the Bay of Bengal and this could strengthen in the days ahead to become a strong cyclone. Everest climbers should be concerned.

Many of you might remember last year in early May when Cyclone Fani hit Everest hard with strong winds and heavy snowfall Climbing Season On Mt. Everest As Cyclone Fani Approaches.

Will this trough of low-pressure impact Everest next week? Too early to tell, but it is getting very close. Interesting that there is a tropical storm (Typhoon Ty) in the Western Pacific on May 13 off the coast of the Philippines Typhoon Ty Tracker | Weather Underground Tropics are starting to get active.

Weather report courtesy of Michael Fagin of Everest Weather Weather report courtesy of Michael Fagin of Everest Weather

Guide read the update to the entire team in the dining tent. “Well, I’ve seen this movie before. I’d say, let’s give this a day or so to see what develops. If the tropical depression stalls or moves away and Everest won’t be impacted, then I want to move up our summit plans. I don’t like the comment of ‘Tropics are starting to get active.’ This suggests an early monsoon.”

She smiled, looking at Guide, “So May 19 it is!”

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Climbing Sherpa Support

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