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May 222022
Everest 2022: Weekend Update May 22 - The Season That Won't End

This Everest season is like a runny nose that won’t stop. You blow hard, wipe it clean, and all of a sudden, there it goes again. Just as I thought base camp was empty, as well as the other 8000ers, people keep showing up at the South Col and summiting. I guess with winds so calm (relatively – there are still those moments) that leaders are demonstrating great patience and trust in the weather forecasters to let the route clear out before taking their peeps higher. And that’s how it’s supposed to be done. 

More Summits!

We have a few more summits to report as it seems the wind has picked back up but was still manageable last night. We’ll see how the week develops.

Pemba Sherpa of 8K Expeditions texted me that Norweigan Kristin Harila made the fastest link ever for males or females between Everest and Lhotse along with Dawa Ongju Sherpa. They summited Everest on May 22 at 8:45 am and then Lhotse at 5:50 pm – that’s 9:05 apart. Now she’s on to Makalu base camp by helicopter. She is trying to set a record for summiting all 14 of the 8000-meter peaks in the fastest time. Pemba tells me they will ask for an entry exception to climb Shishapangma in China. And they will climb Cho Oyu from Nepal. Thus far this season, she has summited Kanchenjunga on May 14, Dhaulagiri on May 8, and Annapurna I on April 28.

Another one we have been waiting for is German David Göttler, who summited Everest this morning. He climbed about as clean as possible these days with no O’s and no other human support other than using the fixed lines and ladders installed by the Sherpas. He summited on May 21.

May 202022
Everest 2022: Summit Wave 10 - Recap

This rare month of almost no winds on the summit of Everest has made for one of the calmest, smoothest, quietest seasons in history. Compared to the 2019 mess, this year is how it should be. But of course, the guides and climbers had nothing to do with it; all gratitude goes to Mother Nature. More summits Saturday morning.

But it has come at a cost. Northern India stills suffer from the unbearable heat, all brought on by climate change. We can expect to see this highly variable weather across all the world’s mountains, Time to adjust to a new normal.

May 172022
Everest 2022: Summit Wave 8 Recap

I may have to start using scientific notation for numbering the summits wave. We are now at number eight. In 2018, there were 11 consecutive days, and in 2019, only three. I’m expecting a pretty low number of summits this morning, but I’m always surprised.

Yet another day of manageable winds, albeit Madison Mountaineering is reporting that it is a bit breezy at Camp 3 tonight, May 18th. This spike was in the forecast. They appear to be targeting Friday morning for their summit, which could be one of the last this season.

Alpine Ascents Int. is currently on the summit push from the South Col where they spent two nights. It’s unclear if there are many other teams with them, as most have cleared out already. There are probably a couple of Nepali outfits there.

May 162022
Everest 2022: Summit Wave 7 - Recap

Wave Seven!, Yes, Tuesday will perhaps see wave seven depending on the winds.  At least 27 more summits Monday Morning, May 16, 2022, bringing the total on both sides to 396 on the Neal side and another 50 on the Tibet side. More going for Tuesday, depending on the winds. They are forecasted to gust to 45mph/70 kph on Monday night. By my count, there are around 40 to 60 people left to summit.

7 Summits Club is on their summit push aiming for Tuesday morning, May 18. No updates as of this post.  Alpine Ascents Int. is at the South Col where they are spending the night and will target May 18. And Madison Mountaineering seems pleased to hold out at Camp2 for a few more days.

May 152022
Everest 2022: Weekend Update May 15 - Summits, Summits, Summits in Great Weather

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.

May 142022
Special Podcast: Chatting With Jim Davidson about Everest Summits

While we watch summit after summit on Everest 2022, I reached out to 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.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything