Things seem to be running like clockwork in Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. As reported last week, the first teams have begun to arrive and settle in, while the Ice Doctors have now completed a critical piece of their work that will soon allow the climbers to begin heading up the mountain. The trek to BC is a beautiful one and helps to get the teams acclimated to the Himalaya, but it is a simple prelude to the challenges they are about to face.
The big news coming out of the weekend is that the Docs have completed the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall, which has allowed Sherpas from several of the teams to head up the mountain. They have already established Camps 1 and 2 on the mountain, although at this point that just means staking their claim to a section of the mountain and stashing some gear there. Over the next week or so, they’ll be back up to build the tents and prepare for the arrival of the climbers, who will most likely start making their way through the icefall for the first time later this week.
Of course, no one goes up the mountain without first completing their Puja ceremony. The Puja is an important tradition during which the climbers, their guides and Sherpas – along with their gear – all receive blessings from a Lama to keep them safe while on the climb. No one proceeds through the icefall until after they have taken part in a Puja and the first of those ceremonies is set to take place in BC today.
Some of the teams are already stretching their legs in preparation for the climb up the mountain. Over the weekend, the RMI squad hiked the glacier near BC which gave them the chance to practice some of their more rudimentary skills. While out on the ice they made a cool discovery coming across a pair of old crampons that date back to an Indian expedition that took place back in 1962. This was confirmed by the old newspaper that was discovered with the old gear.
The IMG team has been acclimatizing on Lobuche over the past few days but the climbers are now in Everest BC. They’ve scheduled their Puja for today and will probably make their first hike up to Camp 1 later this week.
Other teams, such as the Adventure Consultants, Himex and the Peak Freaks are still further down the valley and making their way up to EBC. Most will arrive within the next few days as they prepare for a long stay on the mountain.
The weather in BC and the Khumbu Valley is reportedly quite cold and even snowy. Reports are that Everest has a nice layer of ice and snow on it as well, which bodes well for the climbers. They’d much rather have those conditions rather than walking on bare rock in the crampons. The frozen ground helps to keep the rock in place as well, which make the ascent much safer. This wasn’t the case last season, and as a result it was the most dangerous year on Everest in recent memory. It sounds like it’ll be a much better experience all around this spring.
On a closing note, teams heading to the North Side of Everest in Tibet will be able to start crossing the border tomorrow. Expect several teams to be traveling overland in that direction while others will fly to Lhasa. Activity on the North Side Base Camp is already underway, although teams are still several days from reaching that point.
More updates in he days ahead.
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4 thoughts on “Everest 2013: Icefall Route Complete, Camps 1 And 2 Established”
There are reports about the unfortunate demise of a Sherpa, Mingma, above C1 yesterday. It's a tragic start to the season.
Nonetheless, docs deserve a standing ovation for the feat.
Sad news indeed. Thanks for sharing Raheel. The Sherpas always take the brunt of the fatalities on Everest.
And yes, great job out of the Ice Docs as usual.
The Puja ceremony sounds really interesting. I've read a few blog posts/books/articles/etc that talk about hiking Everest but for whatever reason I've never heard of that ceremony. Do they have Lamas there waiting for people to go up? Do you have to request a ceremony? Let me know!
Trekkers don't take part in a Puja, only the mountaineers who are heading up the mountain itself. Although anyone who is lucky enough to be in BC can join in on the ceremony.
It's considered bad luck to attempt to climb without getting a blessing from a Lama first and no one who respects the traditions of the mountain would skip out on the Puja. Some attend multiple ceremonies. A Lama from near by Pangboche comes up to BC in the early part of the season to administer the blessings.
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