As the Everest spring season nears the end, we see more Everest summits and peak bagging. With at least fifty more summits on Wednesday, May 24, the season is approaching 600 total summits by members and Sherpas, with the majority being Sherpas. Another climber, this one not using supplemental oxygen, is now considered missing.
Two of the largest US operators put climbers on the summit Wednesday morning, May 24, 2023. When I spoke with Garrett Maddison several weeks ago, he said that May 23 or 24 would be their summit days and allow the other teams to get up and down to avoid any problems. Well, it appears his strategy worked, as he reported:
Hello! This is Garrett calling in from the South Col (7900m/25,919ft) for the Madison MountaineeringEverest (8848m/29,032ft) and Lhotse (8516m/27,940ft) expedition team. We had a great summit today on Mount Everest! Best summit day ever that I can remember.
We started about 2:00 AM after a brief snowstorm here on the South Col, made our way up the triangular face to the balcony, up to the south summit, and up to the top of the world – summit of Mount Everest, about 9:30 – 10:00 AM. It was a glorious day! The best conditions and best route conditions that I can remember, perfect weather. It was warm, hardly any wind, hardly any other climbers on the mountain. We spent about two hours total, some of us, after summit just basking in the views, warmth and enjoying being at the top of Mount Everest. So, we had eight clients, four guides and 15 Nepal Sherpas get to the top today, including Aang Phurba Sherpa. And now, we’re all back safe in Camp 4 (7900m/25,919ft)!
Our plan is to go to bed, we just had some dinner. Some of us are going to wake up in a few hours, and head off to climb Lhotse – a neighboring peak of Mount Everest, the fourth highest mountain in the world. So, the perfect summit day! (I) can’t believe how lucky we were, it was so nice up there. So lucky in so many ways! It was a glorious day and glad we’re all back safe. Tomorrow some of us will go to Lhotse, the rest of us down to Camp 2 (6500m/21,325ft), and the following day down to base camp (5364m/17,598ft). All is well here on Everest! Check in soon.
Alpine Ascents also had a nice morning with seven on top, three clients, one guide and three Sherpas. Seven Summits Treks have a few remaining climbers, and that may be all, but never say never!
The very accomplished Hungarian climber, Szilard Suhajda, is missing on his summit bid. Highly respected Hungarian journalist, Laszlo Pinter, has been reporting on him all season. The last reports said that Szilárd checked in from the Balcony approximately before 4 a.m. About 8400 meters. He was in a good mood, in good weather conditions (at the moment, it is sunny, windchill of minus 30 degrees). He was completely okay, physically and mentally. Pinter just gave this update (translated):
We are still waiting for news about Szilárd SuhajdaThank you very much for the overwhelming love, concern and interest, I think I can say this on behalf of Timi, Szilárd’s wife. We would love to keep everyone updated, but at the moment, we are doing all our best to clarify the situation. We respectfully ask you to be patient, not every little detail is disclosed exactly because it will feed unnecessary speculation. Hardly anyone who is close to Szilárd waits for the news better, they know this even on the home base.What you know: Szilárd’s satellite follower worked with quite large omissions during the summit attack. The latest indication, at 19:30 Nepali time, she walked 8795 metres at Hillary’s staircase and moved upwards. This is 50 meters in elevation from the summit, but in the case, this could be several hours of climbing. His beacon has not sent any more signals since, and he has not contacted me in any other way.This in itself isn’t necessarily a curiosity. During his climb to Lhotse last year, we had no idea for two days where he was going, what was going on with him, he didn’t report from the top, while he thought that we were following his progress in a premier plan at home based on the tracker. Assuming that we can’t see his tracker data, he is still descending down nicely slowly from the mountain. We have no information about why the transmitter does not work and we do not want to guess.Szilárd was very late than usual on very high and has been on the road for a long time. Nevertheless, we are confident that he made a decision to the best of his knowledge and to the best of him, he will return safely.We asked Szilárd’s agency for two Sherpas to go up from of camp 4 so that when he hopefully gets down in the morning, they can wait for him with water. This is not a rescue operation. In parallel, we contacted several agencies to find out who else could be counted on to obtain information or even help. A big thank you to Martin Peter Price, who reached the peak on 14 May, to whom we may be thanks to the most valuable contact. There are still leading parties who are in peak attack right now and have offered their help if they meet Szilárd and need it.Waiting for the morning for now and hopefully positive news.
From 1922 to May 20, 2023, 193 members and 125 Sherpas died on Everest on both sides by all routes. The top causes of death for all 323 deaths include avalanches (78), falls (72), Acute Mountain Sickness-AMS (38), exhaustion (28), illness-non-AMS (27), and exposure (26).
This spring season is well above the historical average of four. The top years for deaths on both sides, by all routes, were 2014 (16), 1996 (15), 2015 (13), 2019 (11), 1982 (11), and 1988 (10). These are the deaths during this 2023 spring season:
1-3. On April 12: Tenjing Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa, and Badure Sherpa, all working for Nepali operator Imagine Nepal, died when the upper section of the Icefall collapsed
4. May 1: American Jonathan Sugarman, 69, died at Camp 2 climbing with American operator International Mountain Guides (IMG)
5. May 16: Phurba Sherpa passed away near Yellow Band above Camp 3. He was part of the Nepal Army Mountain Clean-up campaign
6. May 17: Moldovan climber Victor Brinza died at the South Col with Nepali operator Himalayan Traverse Adventure
7. May 18: Chinese Xuebin Chen, 52, died near the South Summit with Nepali operator 8K Expeditions
8. May 20: Malaysian Ag Askandar Bin Ampuan Yaacub got above South Summit, then became ill and died. He was climbing with Nepali operator Pioneer Adventures
9. May 21: Australian Jason Bernard Kennison, 40, died near the Balcony. He was with Asian Trekking
10. May 23: Ang Kami Sherpa, camp cook died at Camp 2. He worked for Peak Promotion
11. May 18: There was another death, Indian Suzanne Leopoldina Jesus, 59, who intended to climb Everest but left EBC ill and died in Lukla, so not technically a climbing death.
Nepal RECORD Permit Update as of May 14, 2023
Government officials say they will not issue any more Everest climbing permits this season, stopping at a record of 478. The previous Everest record was 408 for the 2021 season of 408. Nepal issued climbing permits for 1,176 climbers from 80 countries for 27 peaks. Looking at Everest only, China has the largest representation with 97 members, followed by the US at 89, India–at 40, Canada-21, and Russia-20. There are 44 countries represented by three or fewer climbers.
These permits have generated $5.8M 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 tallies as of May 14, 2022:
- Everest: 478 on 47 teams
- Lhotse: 156 on 17 teams
- Ama Dablam: 79 on 8 teams
- Nuptse: 63 on 6 teams (only a few will attempt to summit, most will stop at C2)
- Makalu: 63 on 9 teams
- Annapurna I: 54 on 5 teams
- Kanchenjunga: 44 on 5 teams
- Himlung: 41 on 5 teams
- Dhaulagiri: 37 on 4 teams
- Manaslu: 15 on 4 teams
Memories are Everything
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level, from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 25 years of high-altitude mountain experience, including summits of Everest, K2, and Manaslu, and 30 years as a business executive.