Following the snowstorm that hit the mountain on Sunday, a number of teams were hunkered in on the South Col of Everest, waiting for an opportunity to go up to the summit. Thankfully for them, the weather cleared yesterday, allowing for another round of bids that resulted in more climbers from both the North and South Side of the mountain standing on top. It wasn’t easy however, as when the skies cleared, the cold the weather moved in, making it a very chilly ascent. Reports have the temperatures sitting at -18ºF at the summit.
Perhaps the biggest news of this most recent round of summits is that Dave Hahn, climbing with the First Ascent Team, topped out for the 12th time of his climbing career. That breaks his own record for the most summits by a non-Sherpa, and definitely puts him in rarified air with the best climbers in the world. Dave was also guiding climbing royalty to the summit, as he took Leif Whittaker with him up the mountain. For Leif, it was his first summit of the mountain, as he followed in the footsteps of his father, Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to successfully climb Everest back in 1963.
The Outdoor Research Veritculture website has an update on Chad Kellogg and his attempt to make a speed climb of Everest. Reportedly, he was on track to reach the summit, but turned back in the high winds that hit the mountain a few days back. Apparently, Chad was approximately 400 meters below the summit when he made the decision to abort the climb with 40+ mph winds whipping around him. He is now back in BC, and will wait to see if another weather window opens, as he would like to complete the climb, although it will now not be for a speed record.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for everyone however, as both Alan Arnette and Explorers Web are reporting of rescues on the mountain. In his latest update, Alan indicates that he has heard about a number of rescues, but few confirmations, although it is believed that Melissa Arnot and Dave Morton, also on the First Ascent team, helped a Sherpa down the mountain after a large piece of ice broke off a serac and struck him, breaking either an arm or a leg. The man has already been evacuated to Base Camp and should recover just fine.
Similarly, ExWeb says that a pair of Spanish climber had to be helped down from C3 after their successful summit bid. The two were out of oxygen, exhausted, and possibly suffering from frostbite. They did set off under their own power, but were met by a group of Sherpas delivering extra oxygen at about the 8000m mark. They are expected to recover as well.
Weather reports indicate that conditions are now worsening on Everest, and it is likely that we may have seen the end of this year’s spring season. There will be a few holdouts in base camp on both sides of the mountain, as they wait to see if they can get one more crack at the summit this year, but right now, things aren’t looking great for that to happen. The annual monsoon is brewing, and will close off the mountain until fall. If conditions do improve however, I’ll post updates on late season summit bids.
Congratulations to all the climbers who made the climb this year.
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