The calendar has turned to May, and while the rest of the world is dealing with the dreaded swine flu, in the Himalaya there is an altogether different ailment they are dealing with. it is right about this time each year that a nasty case of summit fever hits, and it seems to be indiscriminate in who it affects.
It seems Dhaulagiri may be the latest mountain to feel the impact, as ExWeb is reporting that Czech mountaineer David Fojtík topped out over the weekend, and completed the first summit of the season on that mountain by skiing most of the way back down. It is also reported that an unnamed Korean climber also reached the summit, although one of his teammates was not so lucky, and suffered severe hypothermia and frostbite on his descent back down the couloir. Congrats to the first summitteers of the season on Dhaula!
Meanwhile, things are really heating up on Everest’s South Side, where Alan Arnette is reporting that the lines could be fixed to the summit as early as tomorrow, with Sherpas reaching the summit for the first time in 2009. The prediction is that the weather will turn bad after that, stranding the teams in BC while they wait for the first window of the season, which is expected to come early next week. Everything is in position, and the stage is just about set. It is nearly go time on Everest.
Alan also reports of another significant development on Everest that should hopefully make the mountain safer this year and in years to come. It seems that fresh bolts have been dropped into the Yellow Band, a notorious bottleneck on the mountain, and new lines have been put into place. There will now be a rope for climbers going up, and climbers going down, which should help to move things along a bit more quickly. It is also reported that the guides who installed the new lines, Willie Benegas and Adrian Ballinger, also cleared out a lot of old rope that was just hanging on the face. That should greatly improve the route as well.
You may have heard that an avalanche hit Everest over the weekend, and you can checkout some video of it from the First Ascent Team below. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it sure looks scary enough. The Peak Freaks are reporting more ice slides today, and can’t help but wonder if global warming has anything to do with it. Speaking of the First Ascent team, Ed Viesturs and Peter Whittaker went up the mountain yesterday and established Camp 3 at 23,400 feet, where they also waited out the storm that hit over the weekend.
Finally, the Boys of Baruntse are taking a much deserved rest day today following a few days of scouting the mountain. They received a dusting of snow as well, but everyone is in good spirits and health, and they are preparing to make their assault on the 23,390 foot mountain, along a new route, and then make the first ski descent as well. Of course, they’re capturing the entire thing on video for future episodes of The Rest of Everest too! Can’t wait.
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