Himalaya 2011: Teams Jockey For Position On Everest’s South Side

800px Mount Everest by Kerem Barut

As predicted last week, the teams on the South Side of Everest are working to get themselves into position for summit bids later this week. With the ropes fixed to the summit, and the acclimatization rotations complete, everything now hinges on the weather. Team leaders currently have their eyes on the sky and are intently watching the forecast to try to judge the best time to make their summit bids. High winds have been buffeting the mountain the past few days, but it looks like they are calming down now, right on schedule for the mid-month push.

The IMG team has sent their first climbers up the mountain, with the lead squad resting in Camp 2 today and planning on heading up to Camp 3 tomorrow. They’ll likely spend the night there as well, and if the weather window looks good, they could begin the final push on Thursday with an eye on topping out on Friday. The other IMG climbers will go up in stages, staggered a day or two behind. That includes Alan Arnette, who returned to BC from a Camp 3 acclimatization rotation yesterday. He’ll most likely rest in Base Camp for a few days before starting his climb, with an eye on standing on the summit sometime next week.

The Peak Freaks are one day ahead on their schedule, as they are expected in Camp 3 today, moving to C4 tomorrow and a possible summit bid on Thursday. By all accounts, the team is doing well, and all the members of the team are healthy, save one, who is headed back down the mountain due to stomach issues.

The Himex squad are in their traditional wait-out-the-rush mode, save one of their climbers. David Tait, who has summitted the mountain on three previous occasions, is already on the move, heading up to Camp 2 today. He is planning on being on the summit by dawn on Friday, provided his health and the weather cooperate.

So there you have it. It looks like things are moving right on schedule at the moment. Teams are jockeying for position and looking to take advantage of the current good weather conditions. If the weather holds, I suspect we’ll see a steady stream of summits over the course of the next week or so. The past few years has given the climbers a fairly narrow window to reach the top, and then once that window was closed, the season was rather abruptly over. Perhaps that won’t happen this year, but it has been an odd season on Everest in terms of weather.

One other note, the IMG update also said that due to the high winds, the rope fixing up Lhotse. That work is now scheduled to be finished on Friday of this week, allowing the climbers (and skiers!) to make their final push on Everest’s neighbor as well. I’m sure that there will be some Lhotse Teams in Camp 4 that will be ready to pounce on the opportunity.

Stay tuned! It’ll definitely be a busy week on the Big Hill.

Kraig Becker