News from the North Side of Everest has been difficult to come by this spring. Following the closure of the mountain due to the coronavirus, China announced that it would allow a team of Chinese nationals to attempt the mountain. From what we know, that squad has about 26 members, but how well the expedition has been progressing has largely remained a mystery. Updates have been few and far between, although we have had occasional new from the mountain. Now, we have more information at long last, and it looks like the group is now preparing for a summit push, which could come as early as this weekend.
According to Stephen Nestler’s Adventure Mountain blog, the team has now wrapped up its acclimatization efforts and is waiting for a proper weather window. According to Nestler, who has received his information from Mingma Gyalje Sherpa—who in turn has close ties with the expedition leader—the Chinese squad is currently in Base Camp resting up for their summit push. Originally, that was expected to begin in the next day or two, with potential summits coming on Sunday. Right now however, the team is in standby while it waits to see if the weather will cooperate.
While we haven’t had good updates on the team’s progress at all this spring, we could take educated guesses as to when a summit push would get underway. In recently years, May 10-15 is pretty much when most climbers would top out on the world’s highest peak, although this year this team can afford to be patient. Since there won’t be any crowds on the route to the summit this year, the mountaineers who are there will not have to rush to take advantage of a narrow window. That said, they will need about four days of relatively good weather to get up and down the mountain safely, which means they will likely take the first good opportunity that comes their way.
In addition to this lone commercial team, which is led by a Chinese outfitter known as Yarla Shampo, we also know that there is a large contingent of climbers and surveyors who are on Everest to remeasure the height of the mountain. They will likely be launching their summit push around the same time. So while it won’t be nearly as busy as it is in a regular year, there will still be a reasonably sized group heading up the North Side sometime in the next few days.
Stay tuned for further updates. We should know more soon.
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