Bad Weather Thwarts Efforts on Everest

Yesterday we reported that a team of sherpas was preparing to fix the ropes to the summit of Everest. The group of seven climbers had reached Camp 3 on the North Side of the mountain and were ready to make their final push to the top, paving the way for others to follow. But as it turns out, those efforts were hampered today due to poor weather conditions, which sent the team back down the mountain to wait out the storm.

Mingma G of Imagine Trekking has been keeping close tabs on the progress of the two teams on Everest this year and providing occasional updates. He says that the rope-fixing squad reached 8600 meters (28,215 ft) before turning back. That puts them within striking distance of the summit, but with another 250 meters to go before they’ve completed the work. That likely means that once conditions improve, it shouldn’t take too long to finish installing the lines.

With Everest completely closed on the South Side in Nepal and only open to Chinese nationals on the North Side in Tibet, the mountain is extremely quiet this year. There is one commercial squad—led by outfitter Yarla Shampo—and a state-sponsored survey team that is there to remeasure the height of the world’s tallest peak. Neither of those teams can make a serious attempt on the summit until after the ropes are fixed. Hopefully that will only take another day or two complete.

According to various reports, the survey team is holding tight at Advanced Base Camp, located at 6500 meters (21,312 ft) They’ll stay there until they are given the go ahead to move higher, which will now be dictated not just on when the ropes are in place, but when a weather window will open too. It is still possible that they could launch their summit bid by the weekend provided the storms abate in time.

Meanwhile, the commercial team organized by Yarla Shampo has been making an acclimatization climb on nearby Lhakpa Ri, a 7045 meter (23,113 ft) peak that makes for a good tune-up ahead of a serious summit push. That group reached the top of that mountain earlier today, indicating they are all ready to go once conditions improve on Everest.

Traditionally speaking, this is about the time when most summits occur. Heavy snow and poor weather may have put a damper on those plans for now, but there is still plenty of time to wait for things to improve. We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and share updates as more news arrives.

Kraig Becker