The news of the death of Alexey Bolotov has moved through Everest Base Camp like a wave. The 50-year old Russian climber was well known amongst many of the team leaders and guides, and the loss of such a skilled alpinist has certainly muted the excitement over the summit push that is about to begin. The details of Alexey’s passing remain sketchy at this time, although Alan Arnette has compiled what little information we know and shared it at Outside Online. It should come as no surprise that Alexey’s climbing partner, Denis Urubko, is devastated by this loss and will now cancel his expedition. There will be no new routes opened on Everest this year.
While many climbers will press on with a heavy heart, there is still work to be done and most of the teams have now turned their attention to the task at hand. The upper slopes of the mountain are reportedly still being buffeted by high winds, but they are expected to dissipate today. That will mark the beginning of this weather window, which numerous teams now seem to be in position to take advantage of. There were a few brave teams that moved up to the South Col yesterday with the hopes of topping out today, but there has been little word on whether or not that happened. The real push will begin tomorrow and continue through the weekend and I know expect that there will be dozens who will summit in the next few days.
One of the teams that is leading the way is IMG. They have three distinct squads heading up the mountain at the moment with the first of those teams arriving at Camp 4 today. They’ll try to reach their tents by noon, rest well into the night and then start the summit push around midnight local time. If the weather holds, they’ll reach the summit sometime early tomorrow. The other two IMG teams will roate up to Camp 3 today, then C4 tomorrow before following a similar plan.
The Peak Freaks have their climbers in perfect position to pull of their plan. They’ll move up to C3 today where they’ll rest tomorrow before proceeding to C4 on Saturday. They are now planning on topping out early Sunday morning when the winds are expected to be at their lightest. Similarly, the Adventure Consultants will depart BC today to start their push, which will put them on track to summit early next week.
The climbers on the RMI team are remaining patient and plan to stay in Base Camp, waiting out this round of summits. They have been content to rest, eat, prep their gear and play horseshoes while they await their turn. The very experienced RMI guides are counting on another weather window opening after this one which will allow them to make their summit bid while also avoiding the massive crowds that are sure to come on this climb. The Himex team seems content to wait with them.
Over on the North Side of the mountain the plans are starting to take shape as well. Phil Crampton, team leader for the Altitude Junkies, tells us that a number of teams there have braved the high winds and have moved higher in anticipation of reaching the summit as early as tomorrow. His group has elected to sit tight for now and wait for a better window before climbing up the slopes. Their weather data tells them the winds will be at the weakest around May 21 (next Tuesday) so they are now planning to top out then. That means they’ll move up to Camp 2 on Saturday and then proceed from there.
That’s about all for today. I’m sure we’ll have news of successful summits later but for now, everyone is still jockeying for position. Not long now though. Keep your fingers crossed that these climbers get up and down safely.
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