Sad news from Everest with the third death of the season. A second cyclone is developing in the Bay of Bengal that has the potential to impact Everest around May 25, as Cyclone TC01A aka Tauktae bears down on Nepal but should clear out soon. Teams are leaving C2 for their summit bid now, targeting May 22 for the summit.
Lukas Furtenbach, of Austrian-based Furtenbach Adventures made global headlines after he canceled his spring 2021 Everest expedition on the Nepal side last Friday. This follows the Chinese decision to cancel their only team on the Tibet side. Meanwhile, the officials responsible for the safety of guests climbing in Nepal deny climbers have COVID at Everest Base Camp. I interviewed Lukas from Everest Base Camp on his Tuesday morning, may 18, 2021. We covered a lot of other topics including:
Planning knowing COVID was a possibility at base camp
Furtenbach Adventure’s COVID protocol from vaccines (members and Sherpas) to time in Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp, and the High Camps
Quarantining members and SHerpas
Other teams at EBC
Final events leading to the cancellation decision
Getting members and support back home with the airport closed
Donating Furtenbach’s oxygen and bottles to hospitals in Nepal
Pakistan climbing plans (also canceled)
What could have been done differently?
The good news is the jet stream is easing off Everest as it moves north, the bad news is a cyclone skirting the west coast of India is expected to turn right running perpendicular to the Himalayas bringing strong weather along with it. It could “flood the mountain” according to meteorologist Chris Tomer and Everest Weather’s Michael Fagin. Chris has told his clients on Everest and Makalu to “stand down” and wait this event out.
Cyclone TC01A aka Tauktae is predicted to bring heavy snow, perhaps two feet to Dhaulagiri, and strong winds to Makalu and Everest on May 18-21. Chris and Michael both think it will be a relatively fast event and summit bids can continue after the 22nd. That would leave plenty of time for the remaining 300 climbers to get up and off before the traditional end of Nepal side around May 31. So much for my talk of a “short season” just yesterday!
Furtenbach Adventures canceled his entire #Everest2021 expedition citing COVID risks at base camp. This follows the Chinese decision to cancel their only team on the Tibet side. Meanwhile, the officials responsible for the safety of guests climbing in Nepal deny climbers have COVID at Everest Base Camp.
At least 50 people summited on Tuesday morning, May 12, 2021. This takes the total to over 150 for the first two summit waves of commercial clients. By my count, there are as many as 350 clients with their Sherpas yet to make a summit attempt. We may see a few more for Thursday, May 13 summit morning.
The second summit wave is taking place starting late evening May 11 with summited expected around dawn on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Bad weather appears to be getting closer, including a potential cyclone outer bands so anxiety is inching higher to get up and out as fast a possible. If they miss this window, they be looking for a summit bid after May 20.