Everest 2012: And So It Begins!

Sign to BC

Over the past few weeks we’ve had a few teases for the start of the 2012 Everest and Himalaya climbing season as some climbers began arriving early and have already set out for Base Camp. But as we all know, April 1st is the unofficial start to the season and right on cue we’ve started to get a slew of updates from Nepal and Tibet.

As usual, one of the bigger teams on Everest each year is the Himalayan Experience (Himex) team which always brings a large and experienced contingent to BC. This year is no exception of course and according to the expedition’s first dispatch, there are 24 climbers hoping to get a crack at the summit this season. The group spent two days getting to know one another in Kathmandu before setting out to Lukla and beginning their trek to Base Camp on Saturday. Today they should be enjoying a rest day in Namche Bazaar and starting their acclimatization process for the long days ahead.

Similarly, the Peak Freaks, IMG and Jagged Globe teams have all started their treks to BC over the weekend as well and they’ll soon be joined on the trail by the Altitude Junkies as well. That trek will take each of the teams roughly ten days to complete, depending on how many rest days they take or if they stop to acclimatize on nearby peaks before proceeding to Everest itself. Those long and winding trails to Base Camp are very crowded at the moment with plenty of climbers, guides, and most importantly Sherpas carrying gear to what will be their home for the next two months. It is an exciting time in the Khumbu to say the least.

Amongst those climbers is Ian Ridley, who is currently in Dingboche on a rest day as well. Ian says that he’s been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days, which is not uncommon when trekking through the region. A combination of the cold weather and exertion from the trek can develop the “Khumbu Cough,” which I can tell you from experience is not a lot of fun. Additionally, a lot of people are simply fatigued from the travel and it is easy to pick up a virus or bug from others or develop a stomach issue from the food. Fortunately it sounds like Ian is on the mend, and his team will be hanging out in Dingboche for several days as they acclimatize on nearby hills.

Phil Purdy seems to be on the same schedule, and may be traveling with Ian, as he is also in Dingboche, which is a popular spot along the way. I spent a couple of days there on my trek a few years back and found it to be a beautiful place for a rest day. The views of Ama Dablam are excellent and will remain with me always.

Finally, the North Side of Everest should start to see some action soon. The border into Tibet opened yesterday and teams are already moving into the country, but they usually spend a few days in Lhasa before starting the drive to Base Camp. Yep, that’s right, on the North Side of the mountain climbers can actually drive to BC. They generally take a few days doing do so that they can slowly acclimatize as well, but it is an easier way to get to the start of the climb. The 7 Summits Club has arrived in Kathmandu, but they don’t plan on leaving for Tibet until the 12th of April, which gives you an idea of the schedule some of the North Side teams are currently on.

If you’re an Everest junkie there are certainly plenty of dispatches and team updates to read today. They’ve left me a little wistful for the Khumbu as I read about the treks that are currently underway. Enjoy the start of another season. Plenty of action to come.

Kraig Becker