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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
May 152022
 

We saw hundreds of people summit Mt. Everest with almost unprecedented weather this past week. And from all indications, summits will continue into next week, albeit at a slower rate, with the exception of Tuesday, May 17th, when the winds will spike over 30 mph/50kph. However, at this rate, this season could be over soon.

No on-mountain deaths or rescues were reported, but we may still learn of difficulties. Overall, the weather was ideal, with low winds and temperatures around 0F/-20C.

Big Picture

We have what I’d consider a ‘normal’ season for once in a long, long time. Of course, it’s mostly due to the lingering impact of COVID – the Chinese closed its border, and India was hesitant to sponsor the droves of young climbers who have filled the slopes for the last several years. But the big deal is the missing Jet Stream resulting in this period of low summit winds, thus allowing team after team to thoughtfully plan their attack.

So how to sum up the week and season thus far – two words – low drama. Well, at least what we know of. Sadly, today’s social-media-driven mountaineering has turned into a public relations game where no one will admit they messed up, from clients to guides to anyone. Thus it’s hard to know if a helicopter flight was a rescue or a resupply of oxygen at a high camp.

We have seen many summits. I estimate 341 from the Nepal side made up of 140 members supported by 201 Sherpas, or high-altitude workers of other ethnicities. And on the Tibet side, 50. There have been many, many people who fought a good fight but came up short. Sometimes due to lack of preparation, others from illness, personality conflicts, logistics miscues, or just bad luck. It’s all part of climbing an 8000-meter peak. Most will try again.

There have been a plethora of ‘records.’ Many of these are from a person who is the first from their country to the summit, and then others have a personal story that they view as a record. We’ve also seen an unusual linking of multiple 8000-meter peaks.

Again well done, but we need to look deeper into style. By that, I mean what most veteran climbers call “fair play.” Use of oxygen starting at what camp? Level of support to break trail? Use of helicopters to shortcut treks to base camp. Did they reach the true summit or a false one? All of these are fair questions in my mind. And, to be clear, they don’t invalidate a genuine summit but only put the achievement into perspective, especially if the climber claims a ‘record.’ Many of these claims are solid, and the individual deserves the praise they receive back home.

I’ll try to recap all the records in my annual season summary without comment. 🙂 However, records are not in my lane, so I leave it to Guinness and the Himalayan Database to vet these claims. But congratulations to those who made X summits in Y days or were the first from your universe. I’m sure that 2023 will be a record year on Everest, especially when (if) China reopens its side. 

So with all of this, teams are taking their time and spreading out their pushes so as to minimize but eliminate the ques in the traditional bottlenecks.

Last Week

Summits, lots of summits across Everest, Lhotse, Annapurna, Kangchungua, and Dhaulagiri. Speaking of Dhaulagiri, Carlos Sora threw in the towel for the 13th time and is already back in Spain.

One of the big ones and a true record was on Makalu by Adrian Ballinger, co-founder of Alpenglow. He skied from the summit to base camp. Others have skied Makalu, but most started at 7000 or 7500-meters on the 8495-meter peak. Adrian texted me, “I summited today with Dorji Sonam and Pasang Sona (Alpenglow Sherpa). We fixed to the summit from where rope fixing ended by French couloir. And….I skied Makalu!!!!!! I just got back to ABC. First on top for season. Alpenglow pride “

Another noteworthy achievement was from the first 100% Black team, Full Circle Everest, which had all the members who attempted the summit make it with support from 10 Sherpas. They made a documentary that I’m eager to see when it comes out, probably in 2023. This is a significant accomplishment and shines a bright light on the lack of diversity in mountaineering. I explored that question with some of the team back in November when we did a Podcast.

Maybe the biggest surprise for the week was when Portuguese climber Pedro Queirós, 41, texted me that he had made the first ‘member’ summit of the season at 9:39 am on Monday, May 9, 2022, with Mingma Sherpa of 14summit. It was a surprise because the first summits were expected by one of the large commercial teams. He said a tip from the NatGeo team preparing weather stations gave them an opportunity to climb alone, and it was just the two of them on the summit. What a gift! Speaking of NatGeo, I heard they also summited, but there are no details as to who and when.

The commercial teams of Furtenbach Adventures, Seven Summits Treks, and Climbing The Seven Summits had monster weeks with a combined 125 summits. What stood out to me was the support ratio of 54 members with 71 Sherpas or 1.3. When I asked Lukas Furtenbach about this, he sharply defended his approach:

For our standard Flash clients we have 2 sherpa for each client. but not to carry them up. only one Sherpa is climbing with each client. the extra Sherpas are carrying the extra oxygen and redundant o2 systems and are there for rescues in emergency situations. in our summit night 12/13 may for example we could have climbed c4 to summit in 4-6 hours easily with out clients. but we were blocked by two very slow teams that did not let anyone pass. so it took us 11 hours up and down also delayed and we were standing around waiting in traffic for hours. if in such a situation, you don’t have enough spare o2, you either have to turn your clients around, or they run out of o2 and die. I saw many clients and sherpas from other teams running out if o2 that night and day (and I saw sherpas carrying 25kg backpacks to c4 without o2).

While I understand this model, it does explain the long lines of headlamps we see in the pictures. So the next time an Everest climber complains about crowds, perhaps they should look at how much support they require. I already highlighted a low-impact case in point with German David Göttler, who is not using supplemental oxygen and carries all of his gear – tents, sleeping bags, food, fuel, stove, etc. He appears to be using the ladders installed by the Icefall Doctors in the Khumbu Icefall and the Western Cwm and the fixed ropes.

Kenton Cool just got his 16th Everest summit breaking Dave Hahn’s long-standing 15. A non-Sherpa record. And South African Pierre Carter flew his paraglider from the South Col to Gorak Shep.

An impressive and fun performance to keep track of is Norwegian Kristin Harila, 36, who plans to summit all 14 peaks in six months. This season, she already has Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and  Kanchanjunga. Now, she is going for Everest and Lhotse, then Makalu.  She’ll then go for the Pakistani 8000ers after these. She will do her Everest/Lhotse summit bib on May 21st. Pemba Sherpa, 8K Expeditions, is handling her logistics.

And finally, such a moment for 18-year-old American Lucy Westlake, who set an American female record. She was with Nepali outfit Xtreme Climbers‘ Mingma Chhiring.

There were other impressive summits that I’ll discuss in the season wrap-up, probably late next week.

Next Week – More Summits

It looks like the winds will stay under 30 mph/50kph through May 25 except for Tuesday, May 17, when they will spike to over 40 mph, along with some snow at midnight, just as the climbers are moving towards the Balcony. That said, other models are showing low winds through the next ten days, so it’s best to check with a human forecaster before heading up.

 

10 day Everest wind gust forecast courtesy of Weather.us

We still have teams on the move on Everest, including:

Also, we have more climbers seeking records, such as all 14 8000ers in record time or multiple 8000ers, so there is still a lot of climbing to be had. But the monsoons will be here sooner or not!

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything


Nepal Permit Update as of May 8, 2022

The permits for Everest have leveled out at 317, around 100 less than the record set in 2021 of 408. Climbing permits have been issued for 953 climbers from 74 countries for 26 peaks. Looking at Everest only, the US has the largest representation with 65 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. Nepal generated $3.9 million in royalties from these permits.


Follow Along!

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:

No Weekend Update Podcast this week since I had a great time chatting with my long-time friend, mentor, and climbing partner, Jim Davidson, to take a trip down memory lane and talk about our Everest experiences. We talk training, preparation, and being on Everest during the tragic 2015 earthquake, and of course, my summit in 2011 and Jim’s in 2017. It’s a fun, fast-paced conversation that I know you will enjoy.

235 views
Jim Davidson and Alan Arnette

Another special Podcast was Tim Bogdanov, 37, who was rescued from Annapurna last month. He tells a chilling tale of getting lost and multiple mistakes he made during his no Os climb. See it at Rescue and Frostbite on Annapurna 2022: Tim Bogdanov

The Podcast on alanarnette.com

You can listen to #everest2022 podcasts on SpotifyApple PodcastGoogle PodcastsPocket CastsRadioPublicAnchor, 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.
donate to Alzheimers

Ida Arnette 1926-2009

Previous Everest 2022 Season Coverage Posts

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