The 2017 spring climbing season on Everest is about a month from getting underway at this point. The first teams will begin arriving in Kathmandu around the end of March, with more streaming into Nepal – and eventually Tibet – in the early days of April. For most, it will be a two-month long adventure, during which they will be attempting to reach the summit of the highest mountain on the planet. Right now, those climbers are putting the final touches on their preparation, organizing their gear, and starting to look ahead to the challenges to come. But, before we also look ahead to the season that is now fast approaching, it might be appropriate to first look back at seasons past.
Our friend Alan Arnette has been covering Everest for 15 years, and is now gearing up for the 2017 season as well. Over the past decade and a half, he has offered some of the best insights and commentary on the evolving climbing scene, which has undergone a lot of change since he penned his first blog. To start his coverage this year, Alan has written an excellent post in which he looks back at each of the seasons from 2010 through 2016.
If you follow Everest closely, you probably already know that some of those years were amongst the most unusual and tumultuous ever. For instance, 2013 was when the now infamous brawl took place on the Lhotse Face between a group of Sherpas and a team of prominent European climbers. At the time, that incident shocked the mountaineering community and sparked debates about who was wrong and who was right. The following two seasons, 2014 and 2015, were marred by tragedy with significant loss of life both years. Those seasons also ended abruptly, with climbers and Sherpas leaving the mountain.
To wrap up this blog post and set the scene for the season ahead, Alan has also posted his thoughts on what he thinks 2017 will be like. He predicts a record number of summits, but also expects disorganization on both the North and South Sides of the mountain. There will be more new operators guiding clients on Everest this year, many of whom will be inexperienced. Additionally, more climbers are also flocking to the Himalaya as prices for climbing continue to drop. That inexperience could show through as well.
The article, which you can read in full here, is a good introduction to the current climate on Everest. It also sets the stage nicely for what is to come. In a few short weeks, I’ll begin my regular Everest coverage as well, and as usual it promises to be another interesting year.