Himalaya Spring 2019: Everest North Side Numbers Announced

A few days back we shared the news that Nepali Ministry of Tourism had announced the number of permits it has issued for Everest this spring. Those numbers were at a record level for the South Side of the mountain, which means the potential is there for traffic jams and long lines once the summit push begins in a few weeks time. Now, we also have an idea of the number of climbers who will be approaching the mountain from the North Side in Tibet as well, with the potential for an even bigger year in terms of summits than 2018.

Alan Arnette is reporting that China has issued permits to 144 foreign climbers for Everest this spring. Another 12 permits were given to Chinese alpinists as well, with 208 Nepalese Sherpas crossing the border to serve as guides and high altitude porters. That brings the numbers up to 364 mountaineers climbing from the North Side this year, with perhaps a few more to join before things are all said and done. That’s roughly on par with the numbers we saw in 2018, which as we know as a record breaking year on the mountain.

The 364 climbers on the Tibetan side of the mountain is just about exactly half of the number that the South Side in Nepal will see. Earlier in the week we learned that there would be roughly 725 climbers in South Side Base Camp this year, which brings the grand total to 1089. That puts our prediction of possibly 1000 summits this season into the realm of possibility, although it isn’t especially likely. Everest teams see a roughly 70% rate of success, which means we’re more likely to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 760 summits. A resectable number, but still well below last year’s 800+ summits.

In 2018 the summit window was as large as we’ve ever seen on Everest, offering 11 days of unprecedented access to the mountain. That doesn’t seem likely to happen again this year either, which could also limit the number of summits too. Of course, it is far too early to even begin to think about summits in anything but the broadest sense. The first teams are only now making their way up to Camp 1 and acclimatization efforts are just getting underway. But by early to mid-May we’ll start to get a clearer picture of what to expect, with the plans and schedules of the various teams coming into focus.

That’s it for now. More news to come from Everest and elsewhere soon.

Kraig Becker