Everest 2013: Acclimatization Rotations Underway, Rope-Fixing Logistics Sorted

800px Mount everest

It was a very active day on the South Side of Everest yesterday. After a delay earlier in the week thanks to the collapse in the Khumbu Icefall, the teams were once again on the move. The Ice Docs restored the route through the icefall itself, allowing the climbers to proceed up the slopes. They can now begin their first acclimatization rotations as they prepare to deal with the altitude when they make their summit pushes in a few weeks time.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the South Side was that the team leaders all met once again yesterday to sort out the logistics of fixing the ropes. With Camps 1 and 2 firmly established – not to mention occupied – the work on the Lhotse Face will now begin. The strongest and most experience  Sherpas from each of the teams will be working together to carry 9200 meters (30,180 ft) of rope up to C2 where they’ll begin fixing it for the climbers who will follow. This is tough work that takes a great deal of effort and time, and without the Sherpas to do it for them, the vast  majority of the men and women in BC would never even sniff the summit. It will now take several weeks for them to accomplish their task, but look for the lines to reach the summit at the end of the first week in May, give or take a few days.

While the Sherpas will be focused on fixing the lines, the climbers themselves are simply going about their process of getting acclimated. The first teams moved up to Camp 1 yesterday, including IMG, RMI and the Peak Freaks. Most reported no issues with traveling through the icefall and the well established route to C1 was an easy traverse. Today, they’ll start heading up to Camp 2, where they’ll spend a little time before dropping back to C1 for another nights stay. All part of the process of getting their bodies use to the thin air.

On the North Side of the  mountain, the Altitude Junkies stayed put in Base Camp as they continue their prep work. They intend to start to move up to Interim BC and Advanced BC this weekend. Meanwhile, their Sherpas have already been stocking those camps in anticipation of their arrival. The good news is that the team from the CTMA (Chinese-Tibetan Mountaineering Association) has already started fixing ropes to the North Col and has reportedly already finished up to Camp 2, located at 7900 meters (25,918 ft). If that is true, they are well ahead of schedule when compared to the last couple of years when they lagged behind the activities on the South Side. AJ leader Phil Crampton says that if the weather holds, the lines could actually be fixed to Camp 3 at 8300 meters (27,230 ft) within the next few days. After that, it isn’t much further to the summit.

Back on the South Side, Denis Urubko and Alexei Bolotov have returned to BC where they are resting and completing their acclimatization. They will be attempting a new route along the Southwest Ridge in alpine style and without oxygen. They say that they have scouted their route and it is going to be tough, but they are eager to get started. Denis also reports that his friends Simone Moro and Ueli Steck are back in Base Camp as well and remaining tight lipped about their climb. That duo is also attempting a new route, although what it is remains a mystery.

Finally, another well known climbing personality has returned to Everest this spring. Chad Kellogg is back in Base Camp on the South Side where he’ll attempt another speed climb of the mountain. He has spent the last two weeks trekking over 200 miles (320 km) and gaining over 45,000 ft (13,716 ft) of altitude as he acclimated ahead of the start of his expedition. He arrived in BC a few days ago and is resting there before he starts his rotations. So far he hasn’t shared much about his plans, but I imagine that they stay pretty much the same as they have over the past few years. Wait for everyone else to get out of his way and then attempt a fast summit push. We’ll see how it plays out.

That’s all for now. Expect an active weekend with lots of teams moving up and down between Base Camp and C1/C2. Rope fixing should get underway on the South Side, as everyone gets into the full swing of the season now.

Kraig Becker