Everest 2013: High Winds Keep Summit Out Of Reach

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Yesterday was a busy day on Everest where multiple teams were moving up and down the mountain in an effort to complete their acclimatization rotations prior to the first round of summit bids, which typically come by mid-May. Early in the day there was hope that the Sherpas could possibly complete their rope fixing efforts and even stand on the summit for the first time this year. But unfortunately the high winds that the weatherman has been warning us about arrived as predicted, shutting down those efforts for now. Those winds are expected to continue to buffet the upper slopes for the next few days, which means the summit will remain out of reach until at least the end of the week. The plan now is to resume rope fixing on Thursday (May 9) and have the lines installed to the summit on Friday (May 10). After that, the climbers will enter a “wait and see” period during which time they’ll watch the forecasts closely for an opportunity to go up at last.

One of the teams that is close to finishing up their rotations is the IMG squad. They have three distinct teams on the mountain once again this year and the final group is headed to Camp 3 today. After spending a night there, they’ll all begin the descent back to BC, where they’ll be standing by for the summit push to come. In the team’s latest dispatch they reveal that the Sherpas are hoping to install two sets of ropes on the Hillary Step this year in an effort to cut down on the traffic jams that occur there. The Step is one of the more technical portions of the climb and is always a place where snarls occur as climbers go both up and down this tricky section. Any efforts that can be made to help alleviate those problems will be most appreciated for sure.

RMI team leader Dave Hahn is reporting that his group has come down with a nasty cough – something that is all too common on Everest this time of year. That cough is keeping everyone from feeling their best, so rather than go up the slopes for another round of acclimatization, he has made the choice to keep the team in Base Camp and let them rest up. The climbers’ health is trumping acclimatization efforts for now and they’re going to need to be in tip-top form come next week.
In his latest blog post, David Tait continues to share his very personal experience with climbing Everest once again this year. If you want to get the true sense of what is happening there, I definitely recommend you read his journal entries. He does an excellent job of conveying both the highs and lows of climbing the world’s tallest mountain, sharing details of just how miserable and wonderful it can be. As I have suspected, David is hoping to nab an early summit so as to avoid the crowds. In his blog post he confirms that the plan is to install the final ropes by the 10th and he hopes to summit on the May 13, which would be next Monday. If the narrow weather window opens as predicted, he’ll be ready to start moving up on Friday. That will likely put him amongst the first westerners to go to the summit this year.


Chad Kellogg has also posted an excellent account of his past few days on the mountain. He and his teammate Rory Stark have been shuttling gear to their high camps and have now gone up the South Col all the way to the Yellow Band as part of their acclimatization efforts. He reports that all is going well and that on the way up to Camp 4, he and Rory bumped into Denis Urubko and Alexi Bolotov who were headed up to spend some time at 8000 meters (26,246 ft) before they start their alpine style climb up a new route on the Southwest Ridge. Chat also shares his thoughts on why he is on Everest to attempt a speed climb once again as he learns how to fine-tune his body for further project he has in mind down the line. Very interesting stuff all around.

It should be noted that Chad also indicated that while descending from Camp 3 he not only witnessed the body of the Sherpa that passed away over the weekend, but saw a couple of other injured climbers. One of them was a Sherpa who was struck in the head by a falling rock on the South Col. As Chad and Rory neared Camp 2, they saw a helicopter making several runs to collect the injured and help evacuate them from the mountain. The pilot of that helicopter was none other than Simone Moro, the same Italian climber who was assaulted by the Sherpa mob in Camp 2 last week. While his teammates went home, Simone has stayed behind to lend a hand in just these kinds of situations.

Jumping over to the North Side the teams are in a similar holding pattern at the moment. High winds have confined them to Base Camp as well, but as the Altitude Junkies report, that has given everyone a chance to get healthy ahead of their planned summit attempts. A number of members of the team had picked up a nasty bug or cough, but now all are on the mend and anxious to get going. The winds are not expected to subside for a few more days however, so they have to be patient a bit longer. The Sherpas are in ABC though and will be shuttling gear up to Camp 4 a 8300 meters (27,230 ft) over the next couple of days.

That’s all for today. Hopefully the weather pattern will improve in the next few days and the climbers can truly start to plan for the final summit pushes soon.

Kraig Becker