Everest 2012: First Summits of the Season!

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Now that the weather has fallen into line, the Everest season is going according to plan and this morning we had our first successful summits of the season. As predicted throughout last week, the winds have quieted down and it looks like the current weather window will remain open through the weekend. But things look dicey after that, and so there has been a bit of a rush up the mountain as the climbers get into position to summit over the next few days. Traffic jams are now expected.

This morning the very experienced and strong Chilean team was the first to top out, and Alan Arnette is reporting that 10 members of that squad reached the summit. Climbing from the South Side, the team scrambled up the Balcony with the fixed lines already in place, but above that they went without the benefit of those ropes already being set down.

The Chileans were moving a bit ahead of the Sherpas, who followed not long after, setting the ropes all the way to the summit. Alan says that 10 Sherpas also reached the summit while finishing the task of fixing the lines. With that important work out of the way, the commercial teams are now free to follow.

Also of note, Alan is reporting that Ueli Steck may also have topped out this morning without the use of supplemental oxygen. Ueli hasn’t confirmed this yet on his website, but he was planning on leaving Base Camp yesterday and heading straight up to Camp 4, which would have put him in place for a quick climb up this morning ahead of the crowds that will start tomorrow. This wasn’t the speed attempt that we thought that he might be planning, but still an impressive display of climbing none the less.

Most of the teams like the Peak Freaks and IMG, were in Camp 3 yesterday and will proceed up to Camp 4 today. Once there, they’ll rest and wait one final time, collecting their strength for the long push up to the summit and back down once they’re mission is complete. Tomorrow will certainly be a busy day at the top of the world.

On the North Side they’re still working on fixing the ropes but that work is expected to be wrapped up soon. Teams now have a staggered starting assignment that will begin late tonight and they’ll all be heading up in waves. Among those hoping to top out tomorrow are the Altitude Junkies and the 7 Summits Club, both of which have climbers in Camp 3 now.

There was a bit of a disturbing note earlier that said that there were already traffic jams on thew up the mountain as some of the teams that had been planning on climbing next week have now moved their summits to this weekend instead. Apparently winds are already starting to pick-up on the North Side and the weather window may not last as long as some had hoped. Hopefully those traffic jams are alleviate over the weekend and everyone has quick and safe access to the top.

Keep your fingers crossed that everyone gets up and down the mountain safely over the next few days.

Kraig Becker

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