Himalaya Spring 2009 Update: Weather Window Closed on Everest

As you know doubt have heard by now, the predicted weather window on Everest slammed shut over the weekend, with high winds and cold temperatures hitting the upper slopes of the mountain. A number of teams were preparing to make their summit bids late last week, with an eye on reaching the top tomorrow, but as of now they are all off the mountain, and safely back in Base Camp, eagerly watching the weather reports, and wondering when they’ll get another crack at it.

The First Ascent Team details what is happening in their latest video, available below. They talk a bit about their disappointment and frustration with being in BC when they’d rather be climbing, but they understand as well as anyone the need to be safe. They also reveal that their weather sources say that the next weather window is shaping up to begin around the 17th of the month, which is next Sunday, so for now, they’ll make that their target.

The IMG Team was actually attempting to reach the summit earlier today, and according to Alan Arnette, they climbed above the Yellow Band before bad weather turned them back. The IMG dispatches say the team returned to C2 safely and were descending back to BC to rest.

The Peak Freaks report that it is snowing on Everest today, but in a glass half-full approach, they also see that as a good thing. Snow will allow them to create steps on the Lhotse Face, making the climb safer, as they’ve mostly been dealing with ice up until now. They also speculate that the Monsoon may have come early, although that seems highly unlikely. They are probably just experiencing some typical precipitation that has been long overdue.

The Adventure Consultants Team is back in BC as well, but they’re returning from the opposite direction of most others. While some teams were planning their early summit bids, the AC squad went down valley to Pheriche for a little rest. They’ve returned to base camp now, and are waiting and watching along with everyone else.

As a side note on Everest, anyone else think that David Tait is laughing and relaxing right about now? You may recall that David climbed up the mountain behind the five Sherpas who finished setting the fixed ropes last week, and claimed the first summit of the season fro a westerner. He came down in one piece and is now done for the year, while the rest of the poor schmucks sit in BC waiting and watching. For all we know, David’ back in Kathmandu, kicking it at the Rumdoodle, a frost beer in hand, and laughing at the others.

Moving away from Everest for a moment, we have some updates from other expeditions in the region. Over on Nanda Devi, the Polish Team has established their base camp and are now scouting the mountain for the best approach. It has been several days since their last dispatch however, and it is quite possible that they have established a couple of high camps by now as well.

Finally, our friends on the Ski The Himalaya Team continue to make progress on Baruntse continue to make progress as well. They are now above 21,500 feet, with Camp 3 firmly established, following a very long technical climb. The team is hoping to complete this new route to the 23,390 foot summit before stepping into their skis and gliding back down the mountain. If all goes as planned, they could be making their summit bid later this week.

Kraig Becker

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