Everest 2013: Progress In The Icefall As Teams Head To BC

Rest stop after Namche

The weekend saw some progress for the climbing teams heading towards the South Side of Everest with several groups now well into the trek to BC. Most are slowly making their way up the Khumbu Valley as they begin the all-important acclimatization process. Some should arrive in Base Camp by the end of the week, while other teams are just now arriving in Kathmandu ahead of their own departures for the Himalaya.

Most of the updates from teams such as the IMG squad, the Peak Freaks and RMI involve sharing their experiences on the trek, including some great photos from the trail. The lead teams arrived in Debouche yesterday, which is a popular stop over along the route. The Khumbu is reportedly still fairly quiet at this early stage of the season, but with trekkers and climbers arriving in Kathmandu daily, it won’t stay that way for long.

While the climbers continue to make their way to BC, the Sherpas that are already there are busy preparing for their arrival. Base Camp is turning into a tent city as more shelters are erected each day. By the time the first teams arrive they’ll find their homes for the next two months ready and waiting, along with the communal domes, kitchen tents and the all important latrine. Modern Everest BC is actually quite the bustling hub of activity and had a surprising number of comforts to help make life there more enjoyable.

One Sherpa team that isn’t waiting for the climbers to arrive is the Ice Doctors. They are already very busy making their way through the Khumbu Icefall and are putting together the route that will allow others to safely pass through as well. This section on the South Side of the mountain is amongst the most dangerous areas of the entire climb and the Docs need to carefully constructed a safe path using fixed ropes and ladders. Completing this route is one of the early milestones of any Everest season as it allows the climbers to proceed up the hill to Camp 1, where they continue the acclimatization process. It’s hard to say exactly when the route will be finished, but I would expect that they’ll try to wrap it up just as the first teams arrive in BC.

While the South Side is already a hive of activity, the North Side Base Camp remains relatively quiet. That part of the mountain falls on the Tibetan side of the border and China won’t allow climbers to begin passing through until April 9. Most climbing from that side of Everest will be arriving in Kathmandu this week in preparation for that border crossing. Some will travel overland while others will fly to Tibet before spending a few days driving to Base Camp. Even though the journey to North Side BC is easier, they still must go slowly and acclimatize ahead of their arrival.

If you’re following the progress of the teams closely, expect to see more updates and photos from the trek throughout the week. Some of the teams will head over to other mountains in the region, such as Island Peak, first in order to do short acclimatization climbs before going to Everest. It’s all part of the process of getting accustomed to the thin air and ready for the challenges ahead.

Stay tuned for more updates as the week goes along.

Kraig Becker

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