It has been a strange and turbulent week for Alex Txikon and his climbing partners. This time last week, the Spaniard, along with Nurbu and Chhepal Sherpa, were waiting for weather window to open to make a push to the summit. But when good conditions failed to materialize, they found themselves retreating to Base Camp to escape brutal winds and cold temperatures. But on the descent, Chhepal was injured by a falling rock, which forced the entire team back to Kathmandu, with the expedition apparently coming to an end. But Alex has vowed to return and says that his dance with Everest is not over just yet.
The unexpected return to the Nepali capital came about when news of Chhepal’s injury reached the owners of Seven Summits Treks. Fearing for the safety of its employees, the entire squad was recalled to Kathmandu via helicopter, with Alex going with them. Once there, it seems there was a disagreement with how to proceed – or whether or not to continue with the winter attempt on Everest at all. But Alex says on his Facebook page that they are all preparing to return, and that his business has not yet been concluded.
The most recent update indicates that the team is still in Kathmandu, but that they intend to return to Base Camp very soon. Exactly when they’ll arrive back in BC remains to be seen, but the forecast does not indicate that a good weather window is imminent for the coming week, so they may well take their time before heading back up. They’ll travel by helicopter once again as well, so it is possible that the conditions could delay the flight too. Still, Alex and company are as determined as ever to reach the summit, so look for them to be back on the mountain as soon as possible.
As I write this, there is exactly one month left in the winter season. That is plenty of time to still make the ascent as Alex has envisioned it, which is without the use of bottled oxygen. But, the expedition has taken its toll. Living on the mountain for six weeks has been a challenge, with brutal weather conditions at times. Worse yet, the Spanish climber says that he has lost 12 kg (26.4 pounds) so far, which isn’t great for his overall health either.
We’ll keep an eye on the team’s progress and post updates as warranted. Right now, the next step is just getting back on the mountain. From there, we’ll have to wait to see what happens.