The 2013 Everest climbing season is upon us and the Khumbu Valley is now alive with climbers and trekkers making their way to Base Camp. Most are taking their time in getting to BC as they slowly acclimate to the changes in altitude and temperature. None of the teams have arrived in the South Side Base Camp just yet, but I would expect the first climbers to reach that point in the next few days.
IMG has three different squads headed to Everest this spring and two of them are now on their way to Lobuche BC to start an acclimatization climb on that peak. Lobuche is a 6119 meter (20,075 ft) mountain that isn’t a particularly difficult technical climb although its height and location make it a great place to hone a climbers skills ahead of the more difficult challenges on Everest. The IMG teams will now set their sights on the summit as they begin their Himalayan climbing adventure in ernest.
Meanwhile, not far behind them in the Khumbu is the RMI squad led by Dave Hahn. They took a rest day in the town of Pheriche on Tuesday and should have been back on the move again yesterday. That would put them on pace to arrive in Gorak Shep, the last village (and I use the term loosely) possibly as early as today. From there, it is just a couple of hours walk up to Base Camp, which they could reach as early as tomorrow.
Other teams, such as the Adventure Consultants, Jagged Globe and Peak Freaks are now stretched out across the Khumbu Valley as they begin to make their way towards BC. Several are now in Namche Bazaar, another popular place to take a rest day before proceeding higher. Namche is the largest town in the region and a good place to get last minute gear items before proceeding up. After that, the villages tend to get smaller and smaller and the places to actually purchase items become increasingly rarer.
Russel Brice’s Himex squad is back on Everest again this year and the climbers are now gathering in Kathmandu. By Himex numbers it is a relatively small group this season, although they’ll be joined by climbers heading to Lhotse and Nuptse as well. Journalist/mountaineer Billi Bierling is back with Himex again this season and she is one of the climbers who hopes to summit Nuptse. She’ll also be writing the expedition newsletters for the team once again while also serving as an assistant to Miss Elizabeth Hawley, the Grand Dame of the Himalaya herself.
Also back for another go at the mountain he just can’t seem to get out of his system is David Tait, who has summited Everest in the past and even completed a North-South traverse. He is trekking in the Khumbu with his family at the moment and reading his daily dispatches are certainly a treat. David is wildly descriptive of his experience and his love for the Himalaya is evident. Some of the highlights from his trek include him sharing the place that he loves with his less enthusiastic wife and son and a vain attempt to retrieve his spouse’s sunglasses which she accidentally dropped into the hole that serves as the latrine. Good stuff so far and I expect it will remain as such throughout the season.
That’s about where everything is at today. The firs teams should arrive in BC over the next few days and as soon as the Ice Doctors complete the route through the Icefall, teams will begin heading up. Meanwhile, the Tibetan border is set to open early next week and we’ll see our first teams moving to the North Side as well. It is a busy and exciting time in the Himalaya at the moment.