The #Everest2022 season is starting to take shape with guides establishing their base camp, the Icefall Doctors are on their way to EBC, but the war in Ukraine is beginning to take a toll on some.
In 2021, China closed Everest to foreign climbers while Nepal issued a record 408 Everest permits to foreigners. However, with COVID spreading throughout base camp, only 190 members summited, 47%, compared to 76% in 2019. And an astounding 339 Sherpa summited, continuing the trend of Sherpa dwarfing foreigners for Everest summits.
Now that the pandemic has eased but not entirely disappeared and probably never will, the all-important Nepal tourism industry is seeing signs of life again. But this is complicated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drawing NATO and other countries into the war. So there will be no Ukrainian climbers with all the men between 19 and 60 called to fight. More on this later, but there will be few Russian climbers or those from many Eastern European countries. In addition, two other factors will reduce the number of climbers on the Nepal side: travel restrictions for Chinese nationals in China and fewer overall climbers from India. So taking all of this into account, I’m lowering my expectation to less than 350 permits issued by Nepal to foreign climbers and maybe significantly less to under 300.
There will be climbing on the other Nepal 8000ers – Annapurna, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kanchenjunga, which may be pretty crowded for a change. Despite this past winter’s efforts, I don’t see a meaningful attempt to climb Cho Oyu from the Nepal side. More on this later as well as well.
Teams making their moves
International Mountain Guides gave an update on their Everest 2022 progress. They usually have a large team of 20 to 30 members with another 50 to 75 Sherpas in support. They use the same spot for their EBC each year so all of their planning is rote these days. From IMG:
Ang Jangbu checked in with news from Kathmandu and the Khumbu Valley. Our first big gear load is on the move after being loaded in Kathmandu and driven to Thaksindu. From Thaksindu, the gear takes scenic flight via helicopter sling load up to Pangboche where it is welcomed by long time Senior IMG Guide Ang Pasang. Most of the gear made it before the winds picked up and shut operations down for the day.
The IMG Advanced Sherpa Team is also getting ready to head up to EBC. The Team will depart Phortse on March 20th and will stay in Gorakshep for the night before heading to EBC the following morning. The 20th of March is an Auspicious Day on the calendar and perfect for heading to EBC to begin building camp for the season.
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee released information on the Icefall Doctors
As the spring climbing season is approaching, our icefall doctors’ team left for Everest Base Camp today [March 13, 2022] from our head office, Namche Bazaar. The team will fix and maintain the Khumbu icefall route for climbers attempting Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Nuptse in the spring 2022 climbing season.f
The team includes Tshering Tenji Sherpa (Base Camp Manager), six icefall doctors (Ang Sarki Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa, Sonam Tshering Sherpa, Chewang Nuru Sherpa and Ngima Gyaljen Sherpa), and two kitchen staff (Ngawang Thanten Sherpa and Ongdi Gelu Sherpa).
Summit Route Fixers
The route fixing from C2 to the summit will be performed by a team of Sherpas from the Nepali operator Seven Summits Treks, SST, under the supervision of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal (EOA). From SST:
Legendary climber Kami Rita Sherpa will be leading the fixing team, Kami aims to break his own record for the most ascents (25 times) of climbing Mt.Everest. The route from base camp to Camp II will be fixed by the sherpas (icefall doctors) deployed by SPCC., and Camp II to the summit of Everest and Lhotse will be fixed by the Sherpas from Seven Summit Treks. The team has a plan to fix the summit rope by the 1st week of May over both peaks. Rope Fixing in the higher 8000m is multi-days of altitude work and a challenging task – which then allows permitted individuals climbers, small or big teams, to make altitude activities on the mountain.
Fixing Team Members:
1. Kami Rita Sherpa – Leader (25 times Everest Summiteer)
2. Sona Sherpa Co-Leader (K2 Winter Summiteer)
3. Ngima Tashi Sherpa
4. Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa
5. Fura Tshering Sherpa
6. Phurba Chhotar Sherpa
7. Phurbu Kusang Sherpa
8. Lakpa Tenjing Sherpa
Autumn Nepal Cho Oyu Buzz
This past winter, two separate teams attempted to demonstrate the feasibility, and safety, of climbing Cho Oyu from the Nepal side. That side is rarely climbed due to avalanches and other objective dangers. Of the 3,923 summits on Cho, only 135 have been from the Nepal side.
Neither team made the true summit due to dangerous conditions and poor weather. They even joined forces in the end but couldn’t claim success after tagging 7650-meters on the 8201-meter peak. However, both Pioneer Adventures’s Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, and Gelje Sherpa said they believed the route was feasible. Now several teams are pre-announcing their intent to conduct a so-called ‘commercial’ expedition from the Nepal side this Autumn.
Mingma G who made news with a dangerous, alternative route to Manaslu’s true summit is marketing the Nepal route with this wandering, puzzling statement:
This is opportunity for many climbers to climb NEW ROUTE on 8000m peak Cho Oyu was the most climbed Mountain after Everest till 2008. In 2008, China Government didn’t give a climbing permit to climb any 8000m in Tibet considering the 2008 Olympic. In that year, Expedition operators chose Manaslu as Cho Oyu’s option and then Manaslu became the most popular 8000m peak after Everest.
Cho Oyu is said to be lying in Nepal but the climbing route is easier and popular from the Tibet side.
Since it is mostly climbed from the Tibet side, we don’t have the impression Cho Oyu is actually in Nepal and I am happy to blame my country’s tourism related organs, organizations and travel agencies including myself. Our department of tourism collects huge royalties from different mountains but it can’t spend a small portion of it on exploring new destinations and new routes on big mountains like Cho Oyu. Isn’t it a pity?
The two sherpa teams tried to explore a new commercial route on Cho Oyu on their own but they made it in winter. Yes, right, during the season, they have to work for their own living. Actually I am thankful to them for making their effort and Mingma Dorjee’s team actually found a commercially possible route. If the government of Nepal can join hands, then we are happy to be part of it in the coming Autumn season to explore commercial routes which will generate high revenue for the country in future.
Now I am looking and discussing with an expert sherpa team to explore a route making my own commercial team. If anyone is interested in exploring a new route on Cho Oyu then join us. I would be able to run the expedition with a minimum of 7 participants. We will run the Cho Oyu expedition from October 01 to November 10, 2022. #Winter_K2_Team will be leading Cho Oyu team and we don’t make excuses in our work.
Seven Summits Treks also announced that they will run a commercial attempt from the Nepal side this Autumn:
Upcoming Autumn 2022 (7 September – 30 November) we intend to take a team to reopen the Route in Cho Oyu via Nepal Side. So far 14 successful ascents were made to date, including 1 Nepalese. Certainly, opening the route in Cho Oyu from the Nepal side will be way difficult, however, we are determined and undertaking this challenge.
2022, it seems climbing Cho Oyu remains closed from the Tibet side. Now, we are trying to make a team and figuring out the way to guide and take experienced climbers to the top through the safest variant, most probably the S-SW. This expedition could be a great opportunity for those climbers doing 14 Peaks and Cho Oyu is on the list. Also, the climbers with the pre-acclimatization in Manaslu (which ends till 5 Oct) may join the expedition as it will last till Nov.
I assume Pioneer will also offer a commercial expedition.
It will be interesting to see if any of the long-time, western commercial guide companies use this new route in the prime spring or autumn seasons. The traditional Tibet-side route is considered very safe with little objective danger. While dealing with the Chinese is always a gamble, and the permit prices have gone up significantly in the last few years, most commercial operators are risk-averse and will want to use the safest route, even if it is more expensive. As I suggested a few months ago, it appears only a few Nepali companies wanting to distinguish themselves from the pack will offer this option.
Ukraine Guide Company Refuses Russian Climbers
In a well-written, well-research article posted on UK Climbing, Editor-in-Chief Natalie Berry, reports that Ukraine’s largest mountain tourism company Kuluar’s owner Taras Pozdnii has banned Russian clients and went on to call for other guides, worldwide, to do the same. Pozdnii is quoted:
“This war will forever remain a wound on the heart of every Ukrainian. Thousands of dead civilians, destroyed cities already. Ukrainians simply will not be able to communicate normally with Russians in the same group, there will be no friendly atmosphere, which is so necessary in the mountains. I understand that many Russians oppose Putin, but now, during the war, we do not have the moral strength to divide them into “good” and “bad.” The entire world should say: “Do not be silent! Stop Putin! Stop the war! Hundreds of civilians die every day!” Let there be peace!”
Berry develops the theme around geopolitics and mountaineering with a fascinating history lesson starting in 1937. The article is well worth a read.
The Moscow-based company 7 Summits Club, founded and run by 10-time Everest Summiter with five more on 8000ers, Alexander Abramov, is reportedly still planning on climbing Everest from the Nepal side next month. He posted on February 14, ten days before the invasion of Ukraine that they will have “17 participants, 4 guides, and 20 high-altitude Sherpa porters.” Nepal has not banned flights or climbers from Russia.
With such a fluid situation, much will change between now and the true start of the Everest season around May 1.
I use the Himalayan Database as my primary source of Everest summit statistics. If you are climbing in 2022, they are asking you to fill in an electronic web-based survey. This replaces the time-consuming process of visiting each team in their hotel before the climb. Please use this link to complete the survey. You can now download the HDB for free at their site.
I have begun to create my annual team location table and track 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.
I will post a few background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.
Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill.
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