The past two years have been very difficult on Everest, with only a single summit from the South Side in Nepal during that time period. In 2014, an avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Nepalese porters, and last year’s devastating earthquake killed another 19 people, not to mention thousands more across the country. Both incidences resulted in the complete closure of the mountain and left many climbers scrambling to pay for expeditions that never got off the ground. Now, as we prepare for the 2016 season to arrive this spring, it seems that the tallest mountain on the planet could be a very different place this year.
Expedition leader Russel Brice, who runs Himalayan Experience, the largest and most well known company that operates on Everest, was interviewed by Stefan Nestler for his adventure sports blog. In that interview, Brice says that the demand for climbing Everest and Lhotse with Himex this spring has “Very small numbers compared to past years.”
This is probably to be expected considering the issues that teams faced both in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but it is still noteworthy none the less. For years Everest has been seen as a place that has become too crowded, with climbers often standing dozens deep waiting for a chance to go up to the summit. That doesn’t seem like it will be the case this year however, because if Himex is seeing low numbers of climbers signing up for the climb, the other major outfitters probably are too.
Brice goes on to say that many would-be clients are watching the 2016 season closely. They want to see that Everest is safe again before the spend their hard earned cash on a climb. The events of this spring will go a long way towards luring them back, provided everything goes according to plan.
As usual, Brice doesn’t hold anything back when he speaks about the Nepali government and its inability to make meaningful change that can be beneficial to the climbers and Sherpas working on Everest. In the interview he shares his thoughts on new regulations for climbing 6500 meters peaks prior to Everest, the enforcement of age restrictions (no one under 18 or over 75 years old), and the honoring of past permits for these disrupted seasons. He also shares his disappointment with Nepalese officials for not being able to distribute earthquake relief funds properly, and his fears over whether or not the current fuel embargo on Nepal will be lifted before the start of the season. If it isn’t, logistics on the mountain will be very difficult indeed.
If you’re someone who follows the Everest season closely, this is an excellent interview you won’t want to miss. It provides some good insights into how things operate in Nepal and on the mountain in general. Brice is a guy who has years of experience running expeditions in the Himalaya, and elsewhere, and he never pulls any punches when it comes to speaking his mind.
The 2016 climbing season will be a fascinating one to watch unfold for sure.