A very important meeting took place earlier today on the South Side of Everest where the team leaders came together to discuss how they’ll handle the logistics of fixing ropes to the summit and setting the high camps. The teams will now share the workload and resources, in exchange for everyone gaining access to the ropes on the route, as they start to climb up to Camp 3, 4 and beyond.
According to an update from Tim Rippel, leader of the Peak Freaks, the schedule has been set in place and if everything goes according to plan the ropes will be fixed all the way to the top around May 5-7. That means the first summiteers of the year, in this case the Sherpas fixing the ropes, will top out in the first week of May. The climbers will soon follow with some of the more experienced and independent teams going up first and the larger, more commercial, squads following behind.
Tim notes that there are still plenty of details to work out and a second meeting will take place tomorrow to finalize the approach. He says there are some teams still arriving and getting settled in Base Camp and they’ll need to be brought up to speed, but the plan is in place and most of the larger teams know their role moving forward.
This kind of cooperation and organization hasn’t always taken place on the South Side. Much of the credit for the teams working together should go to Russell Brice from Himex. For years Brice operated on the Chinese controlled North Side of the mountain where his squad usually took charge of fixing ropes and handling the logistic, in part because no one else did. But after getting squeezed off the North Side when Tibet was closed off to travelers a few years back, Himex made the jump to the more stable South Side where Russell brought his organizational skills to bear and convinced the other teams to cooperate a bit more with one another. The system has worked well ever since and it seems to have become the standard approach on everest now.
Mark May 5-7 on your calendar. It looks like things will REALLY start to get interesting around then. Until that time, there is still a lot of work to be done.
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