As we enter the last week of April, the climbing on Everest is in the full program. Climbers are all over the lower mountain from EBC to Camps 1 and 2. Sherpas are incredibly busy stocking camps. Meanwhile, on the other 8000ers, progress was stalled by weather, but still climbing underway on some others. All in all, it’s a low-drama year thus far.
As of April 24, 2022, the Ministry of Tourism has issued 876 total climbing permits, with 302 for Everest, including 72 female climbers, or 23%. Since 1953, of the 4524 members, not Sherpas, to have summited, only 674 are female or 16%. The United States represents the largest number of members on Everest this spring with 63, followed by the UK-33, Nepal (non-Sherpas)-20, India-22, Canada-17, Russia-16, France-12, China-10, and Austria with 10. There are 37 countries represented by a single climber.
Everest Base Camp is rapidly filling up with most teams reviewing basic skills and preparing for their first walk into the Icefall, a big day ahead. A few have already completed their first rotation to Camp 2. See the tracking table for the latest team locations.
Climbers on Dhaulagiri and Annapurna are climbing with summit pushes expected as soon as the weather calms. Also, climbing has begun on Kachchenunga and Makalu.
A bit of a surprise was learning that there are two Chinese teams on the Tibet side. China has closed Everest on their side since 2020 to foreigners but allowed a small number of Chinese nationals to climb. Last year they pulled the plug even on those expeditions fearing their members would contract COVID on the summit from climbers coming up from the Nepal side.
Ukrainian Antonina Samoilova, 33, left her father and his brother who stayed in their country to fight. Upon her arrival in Nepal, she told the press, “… climb Everest with a message of peace and to show my opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” She is the sole Ukrainian on Everest this season while permits were issued to 16 Russians.
Some teams begin their rotations by climbing to Camps 1 and 2 while others, stuck their toes in the frozen water with a trip halfway up the Khumbu Icefall. I like this post from Devin Gala:
EVEREST UPDATE: Today we went half way through Khumbu Icefall for a dry run, getting ourselves familiar with ladder crossing and more practice of Jumaaring and Rappelling. For me it was like a kid left in the playground, but I was fully aware that this section has taken away a lot of lives. Tomorrow night we move from Base Camp to Camp 1 crossing this Icefall as fast as we can during the night time. And then hopefully progressing to Camp 2 and touching Camp 3 and returning back all the way to Base Camp. I will not have internet for the next 7 days and will post an update once I am back at Base Camp.
Hi Alan, greetings from Everest base camp, just got down from our first rotation up at camps 1 & 2. The icefall wasn’t bad, it was okay for the 60+ times I’ve been through it! Not too close to the West shoulder, but there are some leaning ice towers as usual along the route.
Leave No Trace – Including Poop
We SST, have taken an initiation of using biodegradable prayer flags (Lundar) in the Himalayas, considering the current challenge and concerns over climate change. From this year, we will replace all summit prayer flags (normal- made from nylon) with biodegradable one. All our climbers and Sherpas will be using this prayer flag made by biodegradable material during the entire expedition. We hope our eco friendly awareness and startup will help to keep mountain clean in upcoming days.
Everest Base Camp
Internet is spotty from EBC, so if you are not getting as many posts or updates from someone you are following, they are probably as frustrated as you are. It usually takes some time to get sorted out unless there’s a serious downstream issue.
One of the best ways to measure how things are going at EBC is from EverestEr. They gave this update:
Our team have had 157 patient visits so far and this years top diagnoses are no different from the last 20 seasons on Everest: upper respiratory complaints and high altitude cough. The air is so dry (relative humidity runs as low as 5% at times!) and our bodies breathe much faster at extreme altitude, especially while doing hard work- the combo makes it hard to keep the airways moist. Sore throats and cough are nearly ubiquitous with high altitude living, so preventive efforts focus on wearing a buff especially when climbing, and breathing mist and steam at regular intervals. Photo of our docs in the tent getting familiar with ECG equipment.
Teams are reporting wicked fast time from EBC to C1, a gain of over 2,000-feet when you take into account all the ups and downs. While the mileage is minimal, as it is for most large peaks, it’s the altitude and the constant undulating route that creates the tension. These are the distance for the Southeast Ridge route on Everest’s Nepal side:
- Base Camp: 17,500’/5334m
- C1: 19,500’/5943m – 3-6 hours, 1.62 miles
- C2: 21,000’/6400m – 2-3 hours, 1.74 miles
- C3:23,500’/7162m – 3-7 hours, 1.64 miles
- Yellow Band – 1-3 hours
- Geneva Spur – 1-2 hours
- South Col: 26,300’/8016m – 1 hour or less
- Balcony: 3 – 6 hours
- South Summit : 28500′ – 8690m – 3 to 5 hours
- Hillary Step – 1 hour or less
- Summit: 29,035′ / 8850m – 1 hour or less
- Return to South Col: 3 -7 hours
- Return to C2: 3 hours
- Return to Base Camp: 4 hours
Next Week – Rotations
This next week the teams already in Everest Base Camp will take their first steps into the Khumbu Icefall, with a few going to Camp 1 and a few teams to Camp 2 for their first rotation. The Sherpas will be in full-on work mode ferrying supplies to Camps 1 and 2, so expect to see a steady stream of headlamps in the Icefall starting in the wee hours of each morning.
8000ers – Most are Holding
Over on Annapurna, Allie Pepper gave an update:
Hey everyone this is Allie Pepper and Dawa is posting for me as he has walked to get internet! Everyone at Base Camp planned to summit on the 19th so we all left to Camp 2 on the 16th. On that day we had a big snow storm that stopped the fixing team finishing the way to Camp 3. The next day almost everyone went back to Base Camp as we missed the summit window.@fishtri and I waited in Camp 2 another day until they finished the way. On the 19th night we went up to Camp 3, 6425m to sleep in a tent on a ledge under a serac because the fixing team weren’t able to make it higher to somewhere flat. It took us 8 hours and it was very difficult and steep. Dawa went to find the route higher in the afternoon and he believes he found the way but then got stopped due to a snow storm. We slept for a few hours and came down at 1am to avoid crossing the avalanche zone at a dangerous time. It was also difficult to come down but only took 2:20min to Camp 2. We slept a few hours and came back to Base. We don’t know the next weather window yet but we think sometime after the 27th. So we will rest and then try again! There is a lot of work to be done to be able to summit because there are many large crevasses to find a route through. So we hope we all find a way. Send us good vibes mission not finish ye
And on Dhaulagiri: Holding at BC
Carlos Sori, 83, Sito Carcavilla, and the six Sherpas are at Camp 2 of Dhaulagiri with a solid weather forecast. They acclimatized in the Khumbu, reaching a high of 5,850-meters. Their home team posted on social media:
Today we have arrived at the BC after 5 days through the altitude camps. The weather forecast was good, our fitness was good, and our Sherpas were highly motivated, so even though we had only been in base camp for 4 days, we decided to climb as high as possible.
Mimnga G of Imagine Nepal is moving to more 8000ers, with many of the climbers who summited Dhaulagiri last week:
Half of our Imagine Nepal Everest+Lhotse Expedition Team yesterday reached Base Camp. Spent two nights there and flew back to Kathmandu today. We will be flying to Kanchenjunga base camp tomorrow and then start leading team there. Very excited to go back on Kanchenjunga after 2018. Here our Nepal’s Melody king @therajulamaofficial throwing his sweet words before cutting welcome cake.
Over on Makalu, Alpenglow’s Adrian Ballinger sent me this update along with some serious action photos, taken by Karl Eglof.
Good progress yesterday until the wind came (jet is expected on Himalaya until 27th now)? Rope fixing sherpa (4 from seven summits, 2 from alpenglow, 1 from pioneer) fixed to 7200m in challenging conditions. Karl and Nico also reached this high point. And Carla touch C2 in 6640m. I climbed to c1 the day before yesterday at 6300m and skied c1 to crampon point in dangerous icy conditions. Very happy to complete this part of the ski and will probably not repeat it unless conditions improve. I did use a rope in sections due to blue ice but kept skis on for the entire descent. Great energy here amongst teams thus far. We count 9 climbing without oxygen so far. A lot! Progress above 7200 will probably now wait until the wind drops on the 27th, but teams will be carrying loads to c2 (6640) in the interim
Nepal Permit Update as of April 24, 2022 – Everest Holding at 300, 100 less than 2021
The permits for Everest are leveling out albeit around 100 less than the record set in 2021 of 408. Climbing permits have been issued for 876 climbers from 73 countries for 25 peaks. Looking at Everest only, the US has the largest representation with 63 members, followed by the UK-33, Nepal (non-Sherpas)-20, India-22, Canada-17, Russia-16, France-12, China-10, and Austria with 10. There are 37 countries represented by a single climber.
These permits have generated $3.7M in royalties for the government. Almost all of this revenue stays in Kathmandu, with some in various personal pockets and none to the Sherpas, porters, or other high-altitude workers. The Nepal Ministry of Tourism posted these foreign permit tally as of April 24, 2022:
- Everest: 302 on 37 teams (many very small teams this year)
- Ama Dablam: 97 on 9 teams
- Annapurna I: 26 on 4 teams
- Annapurna 4: 9 on 1 team
- Baruntse: 20 on 3 teams
- Bhemdang: 8 on 1 team
- Dhaulagiri: 27 on 3 teams
- Gangapurna: 2 on 1 team
- Himlung: 35 on 4 teams
- Khangchung: 68 on 7 teams (many very small teams this tear)
- Kangchung/UIAA: 2 on 1 teams
- Lhotse: 103 on 11 teams
- Makalu: 39 on 4 teams
- Manaslu: 9 on 1 team
- Mukot: 4 on 1 team
- Norbu Khang: 5 on 1 team
- Nuptse: 57 on 7 teams
- Phu Khang: 5 on 1 team
- Pokhar Kang: 9 on 1 team
- Putha Hiunchuli: 14 on 1 team
- Ratna Chuli: 9 on 1 team
- Saribung: 10 on 2 teams
- Saula: 2 on 1 team
- Thapa (Dhampus): 12 on 4 teams
- Urknmang: 2 on 1 team
Into The Icefall
During the shutdown in 2020, I wrote a ‘Virtual Everest’ for the season to raise money for the out-of-work Sherpas. It’s fictitious but strongly based on my experience. This is an excerpt about the first steps into the Khumbu Icefall that can be shocking. It starts steeper than most thought, has more ups and downs than advertised and when you see that first ladder, second thoughts are common.
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 were not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either were products of my imagination or were 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.
“Try to keep it down tonight. We need our sleep,” She and Dutch asked Snorer. “Yeah, I’ll do my best, but can’t really control it.” He sneered. “We may have to move his tent,” Dutch said.
Inside their tents, they packed for the short trip into the Khumbu Icefall. They planned to leave at four tomorrow morning. Boots were parked outside in the vestibule. Liners would go inside the sleeping bag to keep them warm. They didn’t need very much for this trip: a water bottle, a few snacks, extra layers.
They would be wearing most of the gear: base layers, climbing pants, shirt, gloves, hat, sunglasses around their neck. They would start in a medium-weight down jacket but have their Gortex Shell in the pack along with mittens.
As She got ready to crawl into her -20 down sleeping bag, She reached for the picture album. She turned each page slowly, looking at their eyes, their smiles, their expressions. God, She missed her family, and She had only been gone for a little over two weeks. She fluffed her pillow, put in the earplugs, and pulled the knit cap over them hoping that would help. “Goodnight, boys,” She called out.
She set her alarm for 3:00 am, knowing it was unnecessary, just hoping to get a couple of hours of rest. The Khumbu Icefall. She had seen so many pictures, a few videos, and recently studied it from Kala Patar, and her base camp tent, but now it was time for the real thing.
Switching on her headlamp, She pulled on her climbing clothes. This was just a trip halfway up, but it still required warm layers, and technical gear – crampons, harness, jumar, cows tail, ice axe – the works. The 3-person tent seemed big when She arrived but now felt like a closet as She swung her legs off the mattress to pull on her pants. Her arms hit the sides as She wiggled into her top. Next came the warm boot liners. She was glad She had kept them in her sleeping bag overnight. Scooting to the door, She pulled on her outer boots.
Finally, dressed for action, She stumbled outside her tent only to trip over a line. Laughing, She said,” And I’m going to climb Everest?” Standing in the cold, crisp air, She paused. Looking around, She saw her teammates performing the same circus act. Looking at her red 8000-meter boots, the contrast against the white snow was vibrant. Without thinking, a smile grew on her face. She was about to enter the Icefall.
Glancing at the Icefall, She could see headlamps, “Um, someone was already up there. Probably Sherpas carrying a load to Camp 1 or Camp 2.” She told herself. She could hear the low hiss of stoves as the cooks were already making breakfast. The Sherpas, gathered by the cook tent, were eating an unidentifiable concoction of rice, milk, and sugar. They ate with the enthusiasm of a starving teenager.
As She walked over and entered the dining tent, the cooks had already brought out toast and a boiled egg for each climber. She spread some jam on her toast and stared at the egg. Snorer pushed some coffee her way. A grunt was all She could muster. Without warning, the Personal Climbing Sherpas entered the tent calling out names. Not sure if She was being recognized or punished, She stood up quickly and followed Mingma. He set a brisk pace through the maze of paths in base camp. Switching on her headlamp, She followed closely, still unsure of the correct turns to make. Crampon Point was their destination.
With the finesse of a lightweight boxer, Mingma weaved between the tents. He dodged a yak standing on the trail, careful not to touch the sleeping beast. After 20 minutes, they reached the perimeter of base camp and took a step onto a flattish section of the Icefall. She was here a few days ago to run through her gear on the obstacle course, but this time it was for real.
The route became circuitous, up and down small ice hills, stepping over small sections of running water, maneuvering around growing ponds. Careful not to get her boots wet, She took as big of steps as She could. Mingma seemingly floated over them. Her breathing increased—tiny drops of sweat formed on her forehead. The doubts returned. “Oh my God, if I’m struggling just to get to Crampon Point, what will …” She stopped herself remembering the value of mental toughness.
She and Mingma arrived at Crampon Point with the energy of a Formula race car coming into the pit for a tire change. Taking her crampons out of her pack, She sat on it to attach the spikes to her oversize boots. Right, then left; thread the safety strap around her ankle and through the ring; double back the strap. Mingma inspected her work. Feeling like a child, She also looked to make sure She put them on the correct foot; buckles go to the outside for safety. She looked for Mingma, but he had already moved on.
The first few steps into the Icefall proper were steep. “Who put the route over a 30-foot ice bump at the start?” She said to herself. Her breathing picked back up. Mingma’s headlamp seemed like a searchlight, not looking ahead but side to side using the eyes in the back of his head to see if She was keeping up. He slowed down a bit.
Reaching the beginning of the fixed-line, She took the carabiner attached to a piece of webbing fixed to her harness and clipped-in. She’d repeat this motion several hundred times over the next few weeks. Seeing more people ahead, She silently hoped they would slow down her Super Sherpa.
Moving steadily, they gained altitude in the Icefall. The wee hours of the morning were cold. It was dark; there was no moon tonight. Maybe for summit night? The Sherpas often say a full moon is an auspicious sign. Headlamps showed the way, but so did the line of climbers ahead, and the thin white nylon line—another part of climbing Everest that She would get to know well.
Soon the conga line came to a halt. Actually, it was just She and Mingma because he has no patience for slow climbers, and he passed each of them pulling her along in his slipstream. They were the first of Mount Everest Guides to this point. At the fast pace, She struggled to breathe, but She knew this was a good sign as they would reach the summit and not let anyone or anything slow them down.
Looking ahead, the emerging sunlight revealed the reason for the sudden stop – a ladder. A ladder? A ladder! Suddenly her mind became focused, no more idle thoughts, no more complaining, no more breathing. She stared at the single ladder stretched across a crevasse. In the dawn light, She couldn’t see how deep it was. Just as well.
Mingma looked at her as She took a second carabiner off her harness. He went across first. Clipping in ‘biners to the two safety ropes on either side of the ladder, he stepped onto the first rung, then the second, and without so much as a pause he was across, standing there staring at her. She could almost hear him in a deep JohnWayne drawl; “OK, kid, I showed you how to do it, now get on with it.”
She leaned over and grabbed the safety line, left one first. Clipping in, She felt secure. Then the right; now more secure. Moving her right boot off the snow, her front crampon points touched the first metal rung. A metallic clink sound provided the feedback. Her left foot followed stepping on the second rung. She was on the ladder. Now it was time to move.
The death grip on the safety line hurt her hand even through her thick gloves. She relaxed the grip. Her right foot inched forward, not too high off the ladder. She made a sudden decision to take it one rung at a time, not two or three like Mingma. Her front points made a successful landing on the next rung.
She felt good, proud of her baby step, but then everything changed. Feeling panic, She sensed something was wrong. She stopped with her right foot ahead and her left behind. She looked over at Mingma; then, it occurs to her – breath.
Welcome to the Icefall
Memories are Everything
I’m updating 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. Likewise, please contact me if you prefer not to be mentioned. Finally, if you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.
Here’s the video podcast version of this weekend’s update:
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
You can listen to #everest2022 podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and more. Just search for “alan arnette” on your favorite podcast platform.
Why this coverage?
I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I’m just one guy who loves climbing. With 35 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 so I ask for donations to non-profits where 100% goes to them and nothing ever to me.
Previous Everest 2022 Season Coverage Posts
- Everest 2022: Welcome to Everest 2022 Coverage
- Everest 2022: Climbers Leave for Nepal
- Everest 2022: Icefall Doctors leave for EBC and Ukraine Guide Bans Russians
- Everest 2022: A look at This Spring’s 8000ers
- Everest 2022: Leaving Nothing Unsaid
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update March 27 – And We’re Off!
- Everest 2022: Climbers to Watch – Updated
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update April 3 – Trekking
- Everest 2022: The Moments I First Considered Climbing Everest, and Your’s?
- Everest 2022: Interview with Garrett Madison from Namche Bazaar
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update April 10 – First 8000er Summits
- Everest 2022: First Death on an 8000er this season – Update
- Everest 2022: Teams Arrive at Everest Base Camp
- Everest 2022: Sherpa Death on Everest
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update April 17 – First Deaths, Carlos on his Way!
- Everest 2022: A Solemn Day of Remembrance on Everest
- Everest 2022: How Fast Can You Climb Everest?
- Everest 2022: Teams in Tibet?
- Everest 2022: Climbers Begin Rotations and Into the Icefall
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update April 24 – First Rotations Begin