Himalaya Spring 2018: Last Teams Head to Summit, Others Cancel, and Further Information on the Hillary Step

Tenji Sherpa Everest

The unprecedented climbing season in the Himalaya continues with yet more summits to report and a few remaining expeditions that are still unfolding. It has been a very long summit window this season, although weather reports indicate that it is likely to come to a close tomorrow with high winds returning to the summit. But before things close down for good, there are a few more stories to report.

First off, Tenji Sherpa and Jonathan Griffith have completed their summit bid on Everest, with the 27-year old Nepali climber reaching the summit without supplemental oxygen this morning, while his British partner followed along, filming the entire climb while using bottled oxygen. Both men were climbing in memory of their friend Ueli Steck, who lost his life in the Himalaya last year while training for a Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse traverse. Sherpa and Griffith now intend to head to Lhotse for a second summit before the weather window closes completely.

The initial plan was for this summit push to be live streamed on the National Geographic Adventure Facebook page, but it doesn’t seem as if that has happened. Perhaps the video footage will be shared later, once the climb is completed. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for it and possibly share it here as well.

Meanwhile, Horia Colibasanu and Peter Hámor were making an Everest-Lhotse traverse of their own, with the intention of climbing along the very difficult West Ridge. Now, the team has announced that it is abandoning those plans due to the shifting weather conditions. They’re now heading back down the mountain and preparing to go home.

A few days back we had an update on the current status of the Hillary Step, which apparently was an off-limits topic for climbers with media this year. But now, The Himalayan Times has weighed in on the current status of this iconic point on the mountain, and as suspected it is getting harder and harder to deny that the Step has been altered by the 2015 earthquake. In that article, it is revealed that what was once a 12-meter (39 foot) rock wall is now a snow slope that makes the final approach to the summit much easier and faster. This will likely aid future climbers of the mountain, and probably help reduce traffic jams near the summit as mountaineers come and go, but from a historical standpoint it is sad to see such an important part of mountaineering lore disappear.

That’s about it for today. The news from the Himalaya is slowing down to a crawl at this point with very few teams still climbing. By the end of the week, the big mountains will likely be all-but abandoned. The season is nearly at an end. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on things to see if any more stories develop, but it is safe to say that this has been one of the more remarkable seasons in reasons memory.

Kraig Becker