Everest 2012: Camp 3 and Beyond!

doctors examine cory

While I was away playing in the desert work continued unabated on Everest where the teams have now climbed up to Camp 3 as part of their acclimatization rounds. Meanwhile the Sherpa teams are busy fixing ropes and paving the way up to the summit.

Perhaps the biggest news to come from Everest this past weekend is the report that photographer/filmmaker Corey Richards had to be evacuated from Base Camp by helicopter after suffering signs of altitude sickness. Richards, who is part of the National Geographic team taking on the West Ridge this spring, had gone up to Camp 2 where he started to experience problems with his breathing. Corey managed to make his way back down to BC where he was then flown to Lukla to allow his body time to recover. If he feels strong enough, he intends to rejoin the team, but we’ll just have to wait to see if this is possible.

The Peak Freaks have now completed their first stay in Camp 3 on the South Side and are acclimatizing on schedule. Today the team is heading down to Pheriche where they intend to rest for a few days before proceeding back up to BC. With the bulk of their acclimatization out of the way, they’ll now wait for the ropes to the summit to be fixed in place and start watching the weather for a viable window for Summit Day. That’s probably at least a week to ten days off yet, but we are definitely getting closer.

The IMG squad completed their second acclimatization rotation last week and will likely be headed to Camp 3 soon as well. In their latest dispatch they report that the Sherpas have now set the lines all the way up to the Yellow Band, which is located at about 8535 meters (28,000 ft). They had hoped to go higher, but high winds turned them back yesterday. If the weather allows, they’ll likely be back at it today and it is possible that we could see the first summits of the season before the end of the week.

Most of the Himex team is now in the middle of a rotation in Camp 2, where they plan to spend four nights, ending tonight. They’ll then climb up to Camp 3 for a brief stay before heading back down as well.  They won’t just be hanging out in camp however as they’ll be working on the Bergschrund, which is a slice of the mountain that connects the Western Cwm with the Lhotse Face.

Meanwhile, on the North Side things are progressing as well and the climbers have been spending time in Advanced Base Camp as part of their acclimatization as well. Among them has been the Altitude Junkies who spent some time in ABC and even had a few members climb up to the North Col before proceeding back down.

Unlike on the South Side, where the teams work together to fix the ropes, on the North the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association is in charge of those duties. As a result, the teams have to wait for progress to be made, which can be slow at times. In recent years, the ropes to the summit along the North Side have been completed after those on the South, but the work is always finished in plenty of time and the teams are given a fair opportunity to make their summit bids. I suspect this year will be no exception.

Also on the North Side is Grant Rawlinson who has completed his first rotation in ABC and gone up to the North Col as well. Grant is sharing some great photos from his expedition thus far and his dispatches have been very compelling as well. To get a sense of what he’s been up to, check out the video below, which offers good insights into the approach from the North thus far this season.

Kraig Becker