It is going to be a very strange year on the world’s highest mountain. Typically at this time of year, scores of climbers are arriving in Kathmandu and are preparing to head to Base Camp on bot the North and South Sides of Everest. That isn’t the case this year, as Nepal has now gone into full lockdown thanks to the coronavirus and China has closed the Tibetan side of the mountain to foreigners as it continues to recover from COVID-19 itself. But, the mountain is open to Chinese nationals to climb and reportedly a team of alpinists is now en route to begin their expedition.
Organized and led by an outfitter called Yarla Shampo, the team consists of 26 total climbers, six of which are women who are looking to summit together as a group. Unlike on the South Side in Nepal, where a week or more of trekking is required to reach BC, North Side climbers can actually drive to Base Camp. The Chinese squad is said to be on its way there now, where they will assemble, establish their campsite, and being the acclimatization process. If everything goes to schedule, they’ll be looking to summit sometime in early May, with the exact dates dictated by the weather.
Apparently it has been a rough winter on Everest, as there is an unusual amount of snow on the mountain. Warming spring temperatures should help to clear some of that well ahead of any summit push. For now, the goal will be to get settled in BC, begin some acclimatization treks, and shuttle gear and supplies up to Advanced Base Camp. The team is likely to be a few days away from starting the really tough part of the climb, but it won’t be long before the begin heading up the mountain.
This will certainly be the quietest Everest season in quite some time. Even in 2015, when the earthquake abruptly put an end to all expeditions, there were still things to report. This year, updates will likely be few and far between, although hopefully we’ll get some news on the progress of this single team from time to time. They should have a unique experience on the mountain this spring. An experience that hasn’t been seen there most likely dating back to the 1980s, before commercial climbing really took off. There is a purity in that which would be nice to see, it’s just a shame that it took a pandemic to make this happen.
Stay tuned for more updates when we can get them.
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