Everest 2013: First Teams Into Base Camp

from Lobuche to EBC

Just a brief update today as not much has changed since I posted about the early Everest climbing season yesterday. Most of the teams are still trekking in the Khumbu Valley with small groups of climbers strung out over a myriad of villages along the route. But the first teams should arrive at South Side Base Camp today, which means that place will now start to become a hub of activity as the real work begins.

It now appears that the RMI squad, led by Dave Hahn, will be amongst the first to reach BC. Yesterday the team arrived in Gorak Shep, the tiny hamlet that is the last bastion of civilization before reaching Base Camp. It is a relatively short walk up to the tent city that the climbers will now call home for the next six weeks and they should get there today. They’ll find a whole support team eager and waiting for their arrival with tents erected, communal domes in place and a cup of warm tea and a plate of tasty food all prepared. I’d venture to guess that they will have lunch in the shadow of Everest today.

Word from the Khumbu is that it is colder there than it has been the past few years. The region had a long and tough winter with plenty of snow, which is making some things uncomfortable for the trekkers and climbers at the moment, but actually bodes well for the mountain. The glaciers actually added some ice and snow this winter and the South Col and Lhotse Face are likely to be less dangerous as climbers head up over the next few weeks. Last year, those areas of the mountain were actually quite unstable, so it will come as a relief to have more snow and ice to help keep the rocks in place in the days ahead.

As we’ve heard several times on the lead-up to the start of this season, one of the biggest expeditions, at least in terms of media coverage, is bound to be Simone Moro and Ueli Steck’s attempt along a “different” route. The two high-altitude specialists, perhaps the best of their generation, have joined forces to make an alpine style climb up Everest. What route they are going to take remains open to speculation and the two men say they don’t even know for sure yet either. They plan to check conditions on the mountain when they arrive, determine how they feel and how strong they are and then pick a line after that. It certainly is a unique approach to the tallest mountain in the world and one that will be interesting to follow. You’ll be able to get at least weekly updates to what they are calling the NO2 Limits expedition, in an obvious nod to their intention to climb without bottled oxygen, from both Simone’s website and Ueli’s as well.

Finally, another familiar face is now making her way to Everest Base Camp after arriving in the Khumbu a few days ago. Four-time Everest summiteer Melissa Arnot is back for another go on the mountain. This year she’ll be guiding an all female team, which should be another interesting expedition to follow. If she nabs her fifth summit, Melissa will extend her record for the most successful Everest climbs by a woman. Something tells me that unless something unexpected occurs, she’ll be standing on top of the world again come mid-May.

Good luck to everyone!

Kraig Becker