Everest 2010: South Side Update and Safety On The Mountain

Inside Khumbu Icefall
It’s clear that the Spring Season in the Himalaya is looming closer, as there are now more reports coming in on expedition plans and climbers are preparing to set out to Kathmandu in just a few weeks time. For those heading to those mountains, that time will go by way too quickly, and before you know it, we’ll be getting all kinds of progress reports from the region itself.

A few weeks back we received a report on the outlook for climbing the North Side of Everest this year courtesy of Alan Arnette who was interviewing Jamie McGuiness, who operates a trekking and climbing guide service on that side of the mountain. The North Side has been difficult, at best, to access the past few years, but Jaime seems to think that it’ll be open to business as usual this year.

Now, Alan is back with another new interview, this time looking at the outlook for the South Side of the mountain in an interview with Eric Simonson of International Mountain Guides. IMG is one of the big players on the Nepali side of Everest and they are in a good position to weigh in on what is to be expected there this spring. Eric says that the IMG team is essentially full, and that everything is on track for the season ahead. He also talks a bit about working with Discovery Channel, touches on a few improvements to climbing the mountain (new bolts in the Yellow Band), and gives his thoughts on the season ahead.

Judging from Eric’s comments, it seems that having Russell Brice’s HiMex team on the South Side has been a good thing. He mentions that Russell was the one who helped organize a “a consortium of outfitters” last year that saw the bigger teams working more cooperatively with each other. Those efforts benefited everyone on the mountain, and it seems that that attitude will continue this year, and all-in-all, that’s a very positive step to keeping things safe there.

Speaking of safety, there is another good Everest article today, this time from Stephanie Pearson who is part of the Climb WIth Us Team this spring. Stephanie has put together a good story about how things have changed on the world’s highest mountain over the past 14 years since the tragic events that killed nine climbers back in 1996. The article takes a look at some of the circumstances that led to that disaster, and the way things have changed now to help avoid a repeat. Several of the guides interviewed by Stephanie point to improved coordination and communication on the mountain as the key to making the climb safer, although Dave Hahn ominously notes early on that “Yeah it could still happen. You bet. It will happen again,”

Lets hope that he’s wrong about that.

Kraig Becker

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