It’s May Day on Everest and some teams are having a party, while others are focused on their acclimatization schedule, and some now eying the summit. But everyone needs to wait for the fixed ropes. The upper mountain may have some moderate winds that may delay the rope team. We saw summits on a few 8000ers but the conditions remain iffy. Still, thus far 2022 is a low-drama season.
With so many climbers high on Everest, the news is scarce due to a lack of comms. Teams are doing their rotations on Everest to Camp 2 and sometimes a bit higher to Camp 3, few if any thus far are following the traditional model of sleeping at Camp 3, nearly 7,000-meters. Those who won’t be using Os will need to go to 8,000-meters before their summit attempt. But for now, several teams declared good enough and are settling in to wait for the summit weather window. It will be at least two weeks or so until the forecast shows a few days with the summit winds under 30mph/50kph. Some teams are now doing the fashionable “touch grass” down valley, ready to return at a moment’s notice for the summit push.
Pete Athans gave an update on preparing the weather stations on Everest. I’ve reached out to him for an interview, but no response yet. I think he’s kind of busy!
Over the past week, our #returntoeverest team completed essential maintenance of Base Camp and Camp II weather stations and completed the first rotation to Camp I and Camp II. Stay tuned for more updates! Tom Matthews Ari Khadka Dawa Yangzum Sherpa Pete Athans Tenzing Gyalzen Sherpa National Geographic Society ROLEX Appalachian State Department of Geography and Planning King’s College London Jiban Ghimire Shangri-La Nepal Trek P. Ltd #PerpetualPlanet
I like this update from Devin Gala on his experience thus far:
EVEREST UPDATE: Our final acclimatization rotation is completed. We reached the max height of approximately 22,500ft (below camp 3) and in total spent one night at Camp 1 (19,900 ft) and three nights at Camp 2 (21,300 ft). Crossing Khumbu Icefall to reach Camp 1 and then on the return trip was absolutely mesmerizing and one of the toughest things I have ever done.
Looking at climbing Sherpas do load ferry and run through Khumbu is absolutely insane and jaw dropping.We now are looking forward to much needed rest and recovery, planning to hike down to Deboche village (12,000 ft) from Base camp to get some fresh oxygen. Then hike back up after a few days and prep ourselves for the final summit push which might happen after couple of weeks depending on weather window and rope fixing.
PS: This was my first time using an 8000m suit, it was not needed, but I wanted to get the feel of it before using it on summit day. I felt like a penguin! Behind me is the Lhotse Face and the Lhotse summit, to the left is the Everest summit (not in the picture)
I always find it interesting how teams report their experience the first time through the Icefall, some say fast and easy, others long, dangerous, and difficult. Alexander Abramov, 7 Summits Club, commented on enormously long times for the first rotation. Last week, multiple climbers told me of getting through the Icefall in around five hours:
Today, our team went up to Camp 1 (6000 m) in order to acclimatize. The path is really difficult and dangerous. In order not to walk in a crowd, the team was divided into three parts. The first ones arrived in 11 hours. The second for 13 hours. The last team wandered around the glacier for 17 hours. The icefall has changed a lot this year. A very difficult move. Especially for people who see such an ice jungle for the first time.
Ropes to the Summit?
Now that we are into May, anxiety rises each day the rope doesn’t reach the summit. Currently, the schedule calls for May 10 and the real action takes place during the third week of May, every year. Specifically, 80% of all Everest summits occur between the 15th and the 27th of May. Slicing even finer, May 19th is THE day on the Nepal side.
I went back 11 years to see the dates the ropes were fixed to the summit on the Nepal side and May 10 is in the range.
- 2021: May 7
- 202: Closed due to COVID
- 2019: May 14
- 2018: May 13
- 2017: May 15
- 2016: May 11
- 2015: The season ended early after the earthquake
- 2014: Season ended early after 16 Sherpas Deaths in the Icefall
- 2013: May 10
- 2012: May 18
- 2011: May 13?
- 2010: May 5
The historical weather pattern on Everest has been a calm April, a rough beginning of May before calming again starting around May 15 for about two weeks. I’ll be doing Podcast with Michael Fagen of Everest Weather, Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions, and Marc De Keyser of Weather4expeditions next week on what to expect this May.
Meanwhile, Ryan Waters of Mountain Professionals is already thinking about it:
Great first rotation for the #everest climbers to C1 and C2. The team is back in basecamp taking some restnow and enjoying the comforts down low. As is typical with this time of year, the upcoming weather will begin to determine a bit of the next rotation. Early indications show a weather system developing in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of India. Last year these cyclones played many games with the weather on Everest. So far this year, the ropes are well on the way to camp four, which is quite early and a positive development.
It’s been snowing and foggy today. It’s supposed to have some snow tomorrow and little more cloudy weather for the next day or two, but we’re all doing great. We did some training today out on the Khumbu Icefall and Glacier just next to base camp and everyone’s doing good here in base camp.
Rescues on Annapurna
In a bizarre, twisting tale of having, then losing radio contact, refusing assistance, then finally, apparently needing aid, Italian Giampaolo Corona, and Sweed Tim Bogdanov grabbed a helicopter longline from two locations near Camp 4 at 7,000-meters on April 30, 2022.
They were attempting Annapurna in the so-called Alpine Style where you don’t establish a series of tents while climbing ever higher for acclimatization, rather they climb as swiftly as possible in a direct route.
Also, they had shunned supplemental oxygen and any on-mountain support. They are both in Kathmandu for medical treatment, primarily for frostbite. There seems to be a bit of secrecy with the story, so a lot more to this story, I’m sure, but we will likely never know the entire story.
The big news last week was the 30 summits on Annapurna. Several female climbers, some claiming records. Congrats to all. Pemba Sherpa of 8K Expeditions praised his team:
Finally successfully summited Mt. Annapurna1 (8091m),Date:-28 Apr 2022Time:- 4:31:51pmName:-Dawa Wongchu SherpaMt Annapurna1 is one of the most difficult and dangerous mountain in Nepal. It’s my great honor to write that finally after our hard work and dedication to we have successfully summited Annapurna 1 (8091m). I summited on Thursday 28 April 2022 at 4:31 pm and while we were coming back there was squall and the way was blocked out totally as a whiteout and could not find the way. After 6-7 hours of our best dedication we succeed to come back. I am very thankful to all my well-wishers who pray for me and also thanks to 8kexpeditions who always gave me challenging opportunity.I also would like to thank all my well wishers who made me strong to achieve my challenges .
The Nepal Government, acting on behalf of the safety of the Sherpas allowed helicopters to fly to Camp 2 to ferry ropes and gear to fix the line to the summit, including Italian Alpinist and helicopter pilot Simone Morro plus choppers from Seven Summits Treks. This is tremendous because it limits scores of trips through the Icefall by Sherpas, and reduces their overall risks.
After dropping off the gear, trash was loaded from the area and flown back down valley for proper disposal. Many teams were forced to abandon tents and gear in 2015 after the earthquake hit. With people needing to hustle to get flown out so the helicopters could be used elsewhere in Nepal, Camp 2 became very littered. There have been multiple clean-up efforts since then, but this year, we are seeing a more coordinated effort. Thanks to all.
And EverestER continues to save lives. This startling report of a climber returning from C2 with oxygen sat at an alarming 58%.
We have had a few cases of HAPE in the last week. Here’s a capsule of one case for the medics reading along:
One case of a climber who presented to us around in the evening with complaints of cough and breathlessness for the past 2 days; returned from camp 2 the same day. Interestingly, he said he had been vomiting small amounts, but was actually coughing up pink frothy sputum. We did a quick physical examination. Oxygen saturation was 58% on room air, other vitals were stable. Auscultation of his lungs revealed coarse crepitations in bilateral middle and lower fields. Ultrasound Fuijifilm Sonosite of the lungs showed diffuse B lines over all lung fields (a picture attached here). We started him on oxygen and nifedipine. Oxygen was titrated to 2 liters at which he had a saturation of 93%. He was maintained on oxygen overnight, with two more doses of nifedipine, and flown down the next morning. We expect and hope to hear good news of a full recovery!
Our team has successfully completed the final rotations with nights at Camp 2 and camp 3 with a touch down at 7100m and have returned back to basecamp. Now for much needed rest at BC and the lower altitude and wait for a favorable summit window.
Next Week -Rotations and the Window-Waiting begins
It looks like weather many move-in delaying some of the rotations but also getting the fixed rope to the summit. Currently, it’s estimated to arrive around May 10, which is about normal by recent standards. Sherpas will begin establishing their camps at the South Col, ferrying tents, stoves, fuel, and oxygen to the 8,000-meter site. It’s getting serious now.
IMG notes their members have completed their first rounds of rotations and are preparing to go to Camp 3 on their next. A wise move by this veteran operator:
The entire Everest and Lhotse Team is now resting at EBC. The snow has stopped, and it is now time to make plans for heading back up the mountain for the Camp 3 rotation. Our Sherpa Team has also had some rest time after getting all of the gear and food up to Camp 2.
The logistics are in place, and the weather is looking favorable to get Camp 3 chopped out and set up for our next rotation. This will be a big rotation for the team, and with a successful climb to Camp 3, they will put themselves into position for an attempt at the summit!
8000ers – Summits, Carlos Climbing
And on Dhaulagiri, Carlos Sori, 83, Sito Carcavilla, and the six Sherpas have left Dhaulagiri Base Camp. His home team posted:
At 83 years old, he has started in Nepal the ascent to Dhaulagiri , the 7th highest peak in the world, 8,167 meters high
Mimnga G of Imagine Nepal appeared to have aborted bis summit attempt on Kanchenjunga. The word is the team basically got lost in the upper sections of this dangerous, complicated and difficult mountain. This is not the first time it’s happened, and won’t be the last. But the good news is everyone descended and is safe. One comment on social media said, “The whole team returned safely to base camp last night! We are now flying to KTM to regroup” Some may give it another attempt.
However, the KanCan2022 team seems to be working hard and are now ready for their summit push on:
The team made it to camp 2. It was a 9 hour day with bad weather all afternoon. Looks to be the pattern for the next few days, unfortunately. Plan to head to camp 3 tomorrow if snow allows! Bad weather at camp 2. Snow and poor visibility. Fixed lines are buried so we might need to wait here a day. It’s a waiting game now!
Over on Makalu, Kobler & Partner, one of the oldest operators out of Europe, is working hard on their acclimatization, “The K&P team around Expedition leader Andreas Neuschmid is currently acclimatizing themselves at 8167 m high Dhaulagiri.” And Alpenglow’s Adrian Ballinger gave this update:
“It’s a process that I know and love deeply, and one that still excites me after doing it in the Himalayas for almost 20 years. This last rotation I climbed up to C2 (6,600m, 21,700’) and stayed the night before carrying my skis ⛷ and some other equipment up to C3 at 7,450m, (24,500’). It was a hard day, but so much fun!! Now Im back in ABC, resting, looking at weather, and trusting the process.
Nepal Permit Update as of April 29, 2022
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 889 climbers from 74 countries for 25 peaks. Looking at Everest only, the US has the largest representation with 64 members, followed by the UK-34, Nepal (non-Sherpas)-21, India-23, Canada-17, Russia-17, France-13, China-14, and Austria with 11. There are 37 countries represented by one or two climbers.
These permits have generated $3.8M 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 29, 2022:
- Everest: 316 on 39 teams (an unusual amount of 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: 112 on 12 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
May 1 is a moment on Everest each year. It’s a milestone, an inflection point, a time to evaluate, hope, and dream. But, for many climbers, it represents half-time, a chance to rest but not relax.
Many have successfully managed the Khumbu Icefall, some more than once. You have slept at Camp 1, surviving the sweltering heat, paradoxically surrounded by snow and ice-covered rock walls. The nights at Camp 2 tested your metal. You didn’t sleep very well. You began to miss home, your family, your bed, your dog. The ground was cold and hard. When the winds picked up, and even the shelter of your tent failed to comfort you. Yes, you are learning what it was like to climb Everest. It’s not the cakewalk some told you back home, but what’s to come?
If you climbed the Lhotse Face, it was an eye-opener. It was steep, icy, long, and hard. No O’s for you as you needed to push your body, and get the factory optimized to manufacture those red blood cells. Many people just get to 7,000-meters, about the same height as Aconcagua in Argentina, and return to Camp 2.
Today’s guides think that is fine because many put you on using supplemental oxygen from Camp 2. You never considered using Os on Aconcagua, so why lower on Everest? You dismiss the thought, lost in thought about the summit, another almost 3,000-meters higher.
Somehow, climbing Everest over the last several weeks has become a bit routine. Similar food, same routine for so-called ‘active rest days.’ Your tent is now organized. You had plenty of downtime to rearrange everything at least a dozen times. But still, you search for something every day. But your tent is your home, your sanctuary where you look at pictures from home and dream of what’s to come.
The meals in the dining tent have become the Town Hall. You’ve made close friends with many of your teammates. But there are few you still avoid. The conversations over dinner span the spectrum from politics and religion, the ones you try to stay out of, to family and work. You especially like hearing the guides and more experienced climbers tell their tall tales about exploits around the world. It feeds your imagination. You begin to lay out a plan for “what’s next?”
When you are at Base Camp, you are eager to use the Internet. Yeah, you still browse the same sites you did back home, old habits are hard to break. But it’s FaceTime with your family that you covet. Seeing their faces, hearing their laughter brings you a sense of calmness, peace. The basecamp noise becomes quiet, even if for only a moment. You wonder how the early explorers had no contact with loved ones for months or even years a hundred years ago. Not sure you could do it.
Each night, you thank the cooks for filing up both 1 LIter Nalgene bottles with boiling water. Once in your tent, you turn on the headlamp and carefully tighten the lids before placing them at the foot of your sleeping bag. The warm bottles feel nice on your cold toes.
Getting on your hands and knees, head above, your gingerly crawl into your in a Noth Face VE-25, a traditional Base Camp 3-person tent. Others paid a lot more to sleep in ‘box-tents’ where you can stand up and have a full bed. There’s even an ‘office’ as part of the two-room tent. No, you don’t like that. You are more old-school, except for using the Internet. You like crawling into your tent, bumping your head against the tent walls, feeling the condensation rain down on you. Yeah, you didn’t come to Everest to stay at the Four Seasons.
The sleeping bag feels good. Still, in the soft Moreno wool top and bottom, you pull on your wool cap. With all of your nighttime rituals complete, it’s time to go to sleep. Time to let your mind and body heal from the day, the weeks on Everest. You need to restore. Letting out a big sigh, your eyes blink, ready to enter this healing state, forgetting all the struggles of yesterday. Your shoulders relax, feet touching the hot bottles. You roll over on your right side.
You close your eyes, hoping sleep will come quickly but then, they pop open. They lock into the yellow nylon tent fabric. Blink, blink. The same view. So tired, so needing sleep. So awake.
It’s half-time, time to rest, renew and focus on the second half.
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
- Everest 2022: When Will They Summit?
- Everest 2022: Acclimatization Protocol
- Everest 2022: 8000er Summits!
- Everest 2022: Weekend Update May 1 – Summits, Rescues, and Climbing – A ‘Normal’ Season
I read on an Iranian climber’s insta that the two fellows rescued from Annapurna got lost on the way back to Camp 4 – he had a pic of one of the helo rescues with one of the climbers with snow and frost on his hands – said he was without gloves for 12 hours (https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdFZiltL1uj/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=). Interesting as it was the first account of the rescue I’ve read that had more than minimum details.
I am not going to lie to you my first impression of the khumbu icefall last year was a bit intimidating and I have been in very cracked glaciers. This year I don’t think there is very much different. Khumbu is and will be a nerve wracking place.