The #Everest2023 season is starting to take shape, with guides establishing their base camp and the Icefall Doctors working in the Icefall. China reopened, but it’s too late for Everest this spring.
Teams are flying to or have already arrived in Kathmandu for this spring season of climbing in Nepal. Of course, the primary targets are the eight peaks higher than 26,000 feet or 8,000 meters in Nepal or straddle the border with either India or Tibet: Everest, Cho Oyu, Annapurna, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kanchenjunga will all see climbers this spring. Cho Oyu might be quiet since the standard route is from Tibet, not Nepal.
The Ministry of Tourism, which issues climbing, permits each season, has awarded only fifty as of March 19, 2023. This is not unusual, as most Everest teams have not arrived and will get their permits during the last week of March or the first week of April. Each year, it seems the team arrives in Nepal later and later due to improving technology, like acclimating at home in altitude tents. But look for Everest Base Camp to start filling up around April 15.
China did reopen to tourists but nothing for this spring. Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow gave me an update earlier this week and posted this on IG:
China has re-opened its borders for tourist travel. Over the last four years, the north side of Everest has been closed due to covid. As the world has re-opened and started to recover from the pandemic, the final hurdle to us returning to Everest was the ability to have our team members travel to China with a tourist visa. As of March 15, foreign offices can process applications for Chinese visas.
What does that mean for us? That’s means our fall Cho Oyu expedition and Spring Everest 2024 expeditions are on! If you’ve been waiting to climb in the Tibetan Himalaya since the start of covid, the time has come. We’re the longest standing American operator on the north side of Everest, and we’re incredibly excited to get back to Everest and Cho Oyu. It’s been a long time, but the wait is finally over.
So we can expect a reasonably large number of people on the Nepal side. I’m estimating around 400 clients supported by 400-500 Sherpas spread across thirty teams. So doing the math, look for about 1,000 people living at Everest Base Camp at times between April 15 and May 31, the end of the season.
Annapurna used to be the domain of only the world’s best climbers; however, with guide companies using the 8000er formula of heavy Sherpa support, and extra oxygen, it’s grown in popularity, especially for people collecting 8000-meter summits. This year is no exception, with thirty-four permits issued. Summits usually come early in spring, given its location and weather; however, heavy snowfall have thwarted early-season summit plans. Guided commercial teams are reporting to tagged Camp 2 and are waiting for the upper mountain to be fixed along with a good forecast before heading back up.
There is a nice attempt on Annapurna’s rarely climbed Northwest Face by Mariusz Hatala, Felix Berg and Adam Bielecki. They will climb with no supplemental oxygen, ropes or Sherpa support.
Manaslu has limited activity, which is not usual for Spring, as most teams prefer Autumn. 8000er collectors Adriana Brownlee, and Kristin Harila, supported by Gelje Sherpa and a seven-person rope team, have tagged Camp 2 in harsh snow conditions. As followers from last year recall, Harila wants to set an 8000er speed record, and Brownlee is targeting the be the youngest
No further updates on the ban on solo trekkers. I doubt this rule will be enforced. The Nepal government posted this rule for foreigners traveling to Nepal about Covid in 2023: “The Visa on arrival and no quarantine needed for those who have completed vaccination, those who have not been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated.”
Multiple teams are already at Everest Base Camp setting up their home away from home for the next two months.
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee posted nice pictures of the Doctors setting the fixed line in the Icefall. No estimate of when it will reach Camp 1, but I’d guess no later than April 1.
EverestER volunteer medical clinic located at Everest Base Camp is up and running. The team includes Lakpa Norbu Sherpa, Dr. Sachin Subedi, Dr. Suraz Bhatta, and Dr. Andrew Nyberg
I use the Himalayan Database as my primary source of Everest summit statistics. If you are climbing in 2023, 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 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.
Memories are Everything
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I am over the climbing age but I sure like to keep in the loop. 76yo
Thanks for your continued coverage. I’ve been to Nepal several times as a trekker, and your coverage always reminds me of the beautiful mountains and friendly people.