Everest 2013: Mopping Up

The end of the spring climbing season is now in sight on Everest and just a few stragglers remain behind with the hopes of a late summit. There are already reports of the weather starting to change and as June grows closer, the annual Monsoon will arrive, shutting off the summit for good. In the meantime, the Sherpa teams that have been so instrumental in ensuring that the climbers get safely up and down the mountain are continuing to do their work. While most of the commercial teams are either already gone or will be by this weekend, the Sherpas remain to clean up the trash, collect the gear and tidy up Base Camp as best they can. It is a thankless job for the most part, but one that they do well and without much recognition.

One climber who still hopes to summit next week is Min Bahadur Sherchan. The 81-year old still has dreams of topping out, despite the fact that he has dealt with a stomach bug for much of the past few weeks. He is feeling better and says that he is strong now, so he hopes to wrest the title for being the oldest person to climb Everest away from Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura, who set the new mark just a few days ago at the ripe-young age of 80. (Ed Note: When I’m 80 I’ll be happy to climb out of my rocking chair!) I’ll try to keep an eye on Sherchan’s progress to see if he can summit next week, although it is tough to say how much longer the Ice Doctors will keep the Icefall open this spring.

Dave Hahn, head guide of the RMI team, successfully nabbed his 15th career summit yesterday and he reports that the shift in weather has already started on the upper slopes. Dave said that while conditions were good, if a bit cold on the summit yesterday, he can tell that things are already starting to warm up. That is another signal of the impending Monsoon, which will close things down at least until fall. Dave said that some of the anchors on the ropes were starting to come free from the snow and ice in which they are fixed, which can lead to dangerous conditions. Fortunately, as far as I can tell from yesterdays reports, it didn’t have any effect on the climbers. But Sherchan should be careful going up next week.

The Himex Team finally posted their latest update saying that Summit Day yesterday was pretty uneventful. The climbers had good weather all the way to the top and they all topped out, enjoyed the view then descended all the way back to Camp 2 for a rest. It was a long, tiring day of course, but it sounds like everyone came through it in good health and spirits. They’ll descend the rest of the way today and get ready to depart for home.
The Adventure Consultants posted some nice shots of a few members of their team from the summit. If you want to catch a glimpse of the joy and relief that people feel when they top out, you can view the gallery here. Meanwhile, IMG says that their entire team of climbers have left, but they still have 37 Sherpas working at various points on the mountain. They won’t begin to celebrate until everyone is safely down.

Still no word on Chad Kellogg and his Everest journey. You may recall that Chat was attempting a speed run on the mountain and he set out on Wednesday from Base Camp for a straight shot at the summit. Hopefully he got up and down safely and will update us all soon as to the results of his expedition.

That’s about all there is to report at this time. Kathmandu is getting crowded again as all of the climbers return to the city and prepare to head home. The Khumbu region will still have some trekkers, but it will soon empty out as well. The Monsoon brings plenty of rain to the region, making it an uncomfortable place to be during the summer months. This all but closes the book on another climbing season in Nepal, although I imagine there will still be a few lingering stories to share over the next few days.

Kraig Becker