Winter Climbs 2020: A Third Team Makes a Late Arrival on Everest

It has been a surprising winter climbing season on the world’s 8000 meter peaks, with a number of ups and downs for the teams involved. In fact, over the past few weeks, we’ve seen those teams dwindle in number due to a number of factors. As of last Friday, we thought we were down to just two teams left, both of which were on Everest. But today, a third group of climbers has launched a late season bid to summit Everest in winter in what could be a record setting affair.

According to Explorers Web, a squad made up entirely of Sherpas will arrive in Everest Base Camp via helicopter today. This group will include Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, the CEO of Seven Summit Treks, along with Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa and Halung Dorchi Sherpa. The four men made a surprising announcement of their plans, which includes an ambitious climbing schedule that would see them arrive on the mountain and summit in less than a week. Here is the plan that they have in place, which includes going straight to Camp 2 tomorrow.

Feb 24: Kathmandu to Everest Base camp by helicopter.
Feb 25: BC to C2
Feb 26: C2 to C3
Feb 27: C3 to C4
Feb 28: C4 reserve day
Feb 29: Summit and back to C2
March 1: C2 to BC and chopper back to KTM

As you can see, they haven’t left much room for error, although there is a “reserve day” baked into the plans in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Currently, the forecast calls for a winter storm to hit sometime around February 26 or 27, which could put a hiccup in the schedule. If successful however, the team will have set a new mark for climbing Everest the fastest in winter. They’ll also look to summit before March 1, which some climbers consider the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Alex Txikon and his squad are prepared to welcome the newcomers to BC. The arrival of the new team may take some pressure off his squad, which have done much of the work setting the ropes so far. When the weather improves, both teams will likely launch a joint summit bid with one another, with the eye on reaching the top this coming Saturday. Txikon has been attempting a no-oxygen summit of Everest in winter for three of the past four season, but so far has come up short. With the added strength that the four new Sherpas bring, he may get his chance at long last. For now though, he and his teammates sit and wait for things to improve.

Finally, Jost Kobusch continues to push up the Everest. He’s currently climbing a variant of the West Ridge route and continues to make slow, but steady progress. He too is attempting to summit without oxygen and is going it alone on his chosen route. He hasn’t posted any updates on his progress, but his satellite tracker came back online over the weekend, indicating that he was alive and well, and still moving upwards.

That’s all for today. This coming week looks to be a big one. We’ll continue to monitor progress.

Kraig Becker