(By Raheel Adnan) Everest ascents in recent years average around 500 per year, and 99% of them take place via standard routes (Southeast Ridge and Northeast Ridge). As per Nepal Ministry of Tourism report shared by Alan Arnette, this Spring 29 teams with 315 foreigners are on Everest South side while 10 teams with approximately 100 foreigners are attempting from the North side.
Success of teams climbing standard routes relies greatly on rope fixing to summit. Icefall doctors install and manage ladders and rope-lines in Khumbu icefall and lower sections of the climb. While high altitude sherpas fix the route on the Lhotse Face and onwards to the summit.
After a temporary halt in rope fixing on April 27 due to the Lhotse Face scuffle, the team resumed the job on the 29th and fixed the route up to the Yellow Band (between C3 & C4). But strong wind and snow halted the progress to C4 (South Col). On May 2nd, sherpas completed the route to South Col in bad weather. Since then furious winds on upper sections of the mountain haven’t allowed the team to fix last section from C4 to summit.
Some forecasts suggest a weather window with gentle wind on May 9th & 10th. Sherpa teams are getting ready to utilize the opportunity for route fixing and first summits of the season.
While the rope-fixing sherpa team is busy with establishing route to the summit, other sherpas are shifting summit-push gear to upper camps C3 and C4. C3 is ready for almost every team, while the majority has established C4 too. Similarly most of the foreign climbers are done with acclimatization and are now resting in BC before the summit push. A weather window for the summit push is expected around May 18th.
Despite all precautionary measures, Everest is still a dangerous mountain. Every year many climbers lose their lives on its slopes. This spring, there have been three deaths on South side, while Russian climber Sergey Ponomarev died of cardiac arrest near North ABC.
On south side
1) Icefall doctor Mingmar Sherpa (45) died early in the season because of fall into a crevasse.
2) DaRita Sherpa (37) of IMG Team died because of cardiac or cerebral event at C3 on May 5.
3) 22 years old Lobsang Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks died because of a fatal fall between C3 & C2, while returning from C4.
New route attempts on Everest are limited. There have been only two successful new route climbs in the past decade (2004 Russians/Uzbek and 2009 Koreans). This year was an exception as two teams were going for new routes, but unfortunately, the C2 attack incident thwarted the ‘different’ route expedition of Simone Moro and Ueli Steck.
Russian duo Denis Urubko and Alexey Bolotov are attempting a new route on the SW Face in alpine style. They are required to be super fit and extra-acclimatized before climbing the technically challenging route. Hence after a week's rest in Deboche, the duo returned to Everest and spent a couple of nights on the South Col (around 8000m). Yesterday they returned to Deboche for recovery in the green-zone before the ‘actual’ climb. Alexey has been having some health issues but he is positive to continue the expedition.
Spaniard Carlos Pauner is aiming to summit Everest and accomplish his pursuit of climbing all eight-thousanders (14x8000ers) without oxygen. In the second rotation, he spent a night in C3 (above 7000m) and reached back at BC yesterday. Carlos seems ready for the summit push.
80-year-old Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, (well known for ‘the man who skied down Everest’ - Lhotse Face in 1970) is also attempting Everest this season. If successful, he would become the oldest person to summit the mountain. Miura completed his C3 acclimatization few days ago and is currently in BC.
Speed Climber, Chad Kellogg, reached the Yellow Band as part of his acclimatization trips. He spent nights in C2 and C3 before returning to BC. Chad says he will make two more rotations before his summit push that might appear after May 20th. Speed climbers rush towards the top when the majority of mountaineers are done with the summit push and rope lines are available without traffic jams.
Pakistani Siblings, Mirza Ali and Samina Baig are climbing with the slogan of Gender Equality. They are part of Seven Summit Treks Everest expedition. Although their first rotation was disturbed by bad weather, in the second rotation they spent two nights in C2 and climbed to C3. Samina Baig is the first Pakistani female to attempt Everest (or any 8000er) while her brother Mirza Ali wants to reach the summit without using supplemental oxygen. The Pakistanis have developed a good friendship with Indian twin sisters, Nughsi and Tashi, in their group. They intend to hoist the Pakistan and India flag together at the summit and spread the message of peace and friendship.
Climbers from Pune, India are attempting Everest and Lhotse this season. As per last update, the team was setting up C3 on the Lhotse Face.
British climber Kenton Cool is back at BC after C3 rotation. He is attempting to reach Everest summit for the 11th time.
Climber and polar explorer from Singapore, Khoo Swee Chiow is back to BC after his second rotation with 1 night at C1, 2 nights at C2 and day trip to C3. He is trying to recover from a throat infection and cough before his summit push.
Based in Lahore, Pakistan telecom engineer and mountaineering enthusiast Raheel Adnan is contributing reporter for ExplorersWeb's mountaineering sections. He runs his own blog at Altitudepakistan posting initiated climbing news from Himalaya and Karakoram.
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