More news from the Himalaya this morning, where we’ve learned that rope fixing efforts on the North Side of Everest are now complete. According to The Himalayan Times, nine Sherpas from Kathmandu-based Arun Treks recorded the first summits of the season at 4:30 PM local time today.
This news means that climbers on the Tibetan side of the mountain can now begin planning their summit window, as the weather is reportedly quite good there at the moment. Whether or not that forecast will hold long enough for teams to make their push to the top remains to be seen, but the route is now open and ready to go. Eager climbers will now wrap up their acclimatization efforts and starting looking for the proper timing, with the first commercial summits possibly coming as soon as early next week.
Meanwhile, on the South Side of Everest the story is a completely different one. Yesterday, the rope fixing team descended to Camp 2 to rest and avoid incoming poor weather conditions. The upper flanks of the mountain are reportedly very windy at the moment, delaying all efforts to install the fixed lines above the Balcony. The Times indicates that efforts to finish installing the ropes are now delayed until early next week while the Sherpas rest and wait for better conditions.
If the ropes are installed as planned, expect the first commercial summits from that side of the mountain to occur not long after. By now, the teams have mostly wrapped up their acclimatization rotations, and are heading back to BC to wait for conditions to improve. When that happens, they’ll be ready to head up, with mass summits likely coming within a day or two of the ropes being fixed.
For now, the spring season is still proceeding as expected with only a slight delay in the schedule. If a proper weather window doesn’t open however, things could get very interesting. With mid-May quickly approaching, and the summer monsoon now just a few weeks off, persistently poor weather conditions could make reaching the summit a real challenge. That isn’t likely to happen of course, but Mother Nature is fickle, and the weather always decided when climbers can go up.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on things and report any changes as they occur. For now though, it looks like the North Side climbers can start planning their summit bids, while those on the South Side will have to continue to wait.