With the spring climbing season in Nepal now fully underway we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what life in Everest Base Camp is beginning to look like. Already a bustling tent city, BC is now seeing teams arrive on a daily basis as the number of people who will be living there for the next month or so continues to grow. But it seems that 2019 will be a banner year in terms of numbers, as it is now abundantly appears that a record number of climbers will be attempting the world’s highest peak this season.
Yesterday Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism updated its official numbers for the spring 2019 climbing season and according to Alan Arnette officials there now claim that they have issued permits to 361 people. Of those, the bulk of the climbers now come from India, with 83 people from that country signing up to give Everest a go this season. The next largest group of climbers comes from the U.S. with 67 individuals, while China is sending 59 climbers to the South Side this year. The U.K. –– with 40 climbers –– and Nepal with 12, rounds out the top five. Alan is quick to point out that the 12 Nepalis are there to climb and are not working in any capacity. Obviously the bulk of the alpinists on Everest are Sherpas, who are there to guide clients to the summit.
While it is getting to be late in the season now for new permits to be issued, it is not out of the question for this number to grow even higher. Last minute permit requests could push the total number of paying climbers on Everest this season to 370 before the season is done. When you consider that most of the operators on the mountain now offer a 1:1 client to guide ratio, that means there will be somewhere in the neighborhood of about 720 climbers on Everest this spring, which could make for some hectic days once the summit push gets underway in roughly a month’s time.
Last year the the weather window during the final weeks of the climbing season offered unprecedented access to the summit with more than 11 days of good weather. That is highly unusual, but it allowed a record number of climbers to go to the top of Everest and get down safely. In fact, it seemed as if the waves of climbers would never end at times. We shouldn’t expect that same spate of good weather this year however, which means there could be some crowding and traffic jams to deal with once the final push to the top begins. Hopefully this large number of people doesn’t cause too much difficulty nor create safety concerns, but it could play an important factor into how the season unfolds.
Right now, the teams are getting settled into Base Camp and are preparing for their first trips through the Khumbu Icefall and up to Camp 1 and 2. There is a team of Sherpas already in C2 that are preparing to install the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 and Camp 4 over the coming days. Look for them to complete their work to the summit sometime around the first week of May, with the major summit waves coming not long after.
So far, everything is going right on schedule. Expect more updates in the days ahead.
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