Everest 2023: Cho Oyu Summits and Everest Weather

Cho Oyu route

Peak bagging season continues with summits on Tibet’s 8000ers. Look for some of the Annapurna summiteers to bag Makalu or Dhaulagiri, then combo Everest and Lhotse. The weather is the wildcard this year if we see long lines like in 2019.

Big Picture

Teams are now scattered all over the Big Hill, working on their acclimatization, from EBC to Camp 3 just below the Lhotse Face. A spat of bad weather slowed some teams for a couple of days, but nothing serious. However, over on Dhaulagiri, reports from base camp note five feet of snow in the last few days. Carlos Soria must be quite nervous given this is his fourteenth at, and he’s 84 years old.

Everest Weather – 2019 or 2022?

I asked Everest weather experts Michael Fagan of Everest Weather and Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather Solutions about the long-range forecasts for the Everest area. Both gave the warning that forecasts beyond seven days are of little value.

Tomer starts with a look at the primary weather maker on Everest, the jet stream, “You might recall the 2022 and 2018 Everest seasons both with huge summit weather windows. Anyone capable of summiting was able. Why? Both seasons had a missing jet stream. In other words, climbers found dead calm wind on the summit of Mount Everest for abnormally long periods. This helped alleviate overcrowding. Will the 2023 Everest season have a missing jet stream and accommodating summit window? My short answer is ‘No.’ I think we’re looking at more of a standard season with a powerful early May jet stream, then it weakens and moves off the summit for one to three-day periods after 5/10. And I think we’ll also see a very late May window (think Dave Hahn) just before the Monsoon kicks in.”

Fagin looks more short-term, “Many models show the jet stream close to or over Everest at times early next week. Thus, some strong summit winds at times. Then by May 12, two key models, European and the US-based GFS models, suggest no jet stream over Everest, thus a reduction in summit winds by Friday, May 12, perhaps several days beyond. However, the US Navy model suggests that the jet stream will still be over Everest on May 12 and probably beyond. Many meteorologists do not follow the US Navy model since they think it does not have the same skill as the GFS or European model. I think the US Navy has some skills.”

Historically, storms and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal have been the primary driver of moving the ever-present jet stream away from Everest’s summit. This results in suitable summit days. They can also wreak havoc on the mountain with high winds and heavy snow, so meteorologists watch these storms closely.

Again, Fagin adds, “These tropical storms that form in the Bay of Bengal and move toward Everest bring heavy snowfall. We had one of these storms that hit Everest in 2020 and two in 2021. We will see what happens this season. I did see a tropical depression forming in the Bay of Bengal on May 11; however, it will not track toward Everest. That is good news. I would suspect that we will have more tropical depressions that form in the Bay of Bengal and will need to watch the track to see how close to Everest they get.”

Tomer agrees with Fagin on cyclones, “Should we worry about tropical systems in the Bay of Bengal? Yes, there is some sign of a tropical disturbance on/after 5/12. But accurately forecasting the track of these disturbances so far in advance is very challenging. This is the wildcard.”

Cho Oyu Summits

Norwegian Kristin Harila summited Shishapangma a few days ago and now got Cho Oyu, thus completing her collection of 8000-meter peaks in under one year. Ngima Rita Sherpa and Tenjen Sherpa also summited. As on Shish, she used supplemental oxygen. She will continue her 8000er peak bagging moving to Nepal and then Pakistan, hoping to get all fourteen in under six months. They climbed from the easier Tibet side after trying the very dangerous and difficult Nepal side a couple of times.

Annapurna Rescue Update

Indian climber Anurag Maloo, 34, who was rescued on Annapurna on April 20 after the rappelling of the untied end of a rope, is still in critical condition at the Medicity Hospital in Lalitpur near Kathmandu. India Today reported, “Anurag’s health condition is gradually improving, but he is not out of danger,” his brother Ashish Maloo told PTI, quoting doctors involved in the treatment.

Personal Note

I’m stepping away from reporting until May 7, so I will not be posting unless there is a massive event. I will do a weekend update for this upcoming weekend on May 7.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Nepal RECORD Permit Update as of April 28, 2023

The permits for Everest are leveling out, albeit at a record of 466. The previous Everest record was 408 for the 2021 season of 408. Climbing permits have been issued for 1,079 climbers from 80 countries for 24 peaks. Looking at Everest only, China has the largest representation with 96 members, followed by the US at 87, India–at 40, Canada-21, Russia-20, France-13, and Australia at 12. There are 38 countries represented by three or fewer climbers.

These permits have generated $5.6M 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 28, 2022:

  1. Everest: 466 on 42 teams
  2. Ama Dablam: 74 on 7 teams
  3. Annapurna I: 54 on 5 teams
  4. Dhaulagiri: 35 on 3 teams
  5. Himlung: 16 on 2 teams
  6. Kanchenjunga: 42 on 4 teams
  7. Lhotse: 111 on 13 teams
  8. Makalu: 58 on 7 teams
  9. Manaslu: 15 on 4 teams
  10. Nuptse: 63 on 6 teams

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