(By Raheel Adnan) Unlike South side where climbers have fully acclimatized and are well prepared for summit push now, North side teams have been battling against brutal winds since a week. Prior to weather deterioration at the start this month, all teams had completed first rotation.
Starting from BC (5200m), the majority of teams spent a couple of days at ABC (6400m) and slept a night in C1 (North Col) above 7000m. Some climbers ventured beyond North Col and tagged C2 (7500m) before turning back to BC. Few members, who were caught in bad weather, had to turn back before reaching C1.
None of teams could fully materialize their second rotation plan. Now teams are getting ready for the summit push that would supposedly coincide with their Southern counterparts i.e. around the end of next week.
Summit push via North side standard route (Northeast ridge) is reliant on fixing of rope line to the top. On Nepal side, rope-fixing is done by a team of sherpas from different commercial expeditions. But on North side, the task is managed by Chinese-Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA).
In the past, there had been complaints of delays in rope-fixing that affected the schedule of different teams on North. But the situation has been quite different this year. It’s reported that guides from Tibet Guide School (Lhasa) fixed ropes to 7900m as early as 19th April when majority of teams were still settling in BC and the route to C4 (8300m) was ready by 25th.
Then hurricane winds halted the progress until May 8th. Latest update is that sherpas at C3 have spotted rope-fixing guides moving up. If weather remains fine, the team might concluded the rope-fixing job very soon. Meanwhile, update from South side is that sherpas were hoping to fix ropes to the balcony (8450m) May 9th and make it to the top on the 10th. So, May 10 might be the first summits day on Everest.
On May 20th, 2009, 66 years old Eddy III E Dawes became the oldest American to summit Everest but the record was surpassed in less than 3 days, when Bill Burke (67) summited. Now Eddy Dawes is back to Everest at an age of 70 and if successful, he would reclaim the honor of being oldest American to summit the highest mountain in the world. Eddy says he has dedicated his life to getting adequate exercise and eating quality diet. By climbing Everest at this age, he wants to set an example of the benefits of proper diet and exercise for everyone in general but American youth in particular. Eddy is joined by Yoshiharu Nakamura of Japan and Chi Sing John Tsang of China, while their expedition is facilitated by Asian Trekking. They reached North Col (7200m) on April 29th but retreated to BC once winds paced up.
7Summits Club team has queer facilities at their BC. They have billiard and table tennis facilities in their sports tent where they arranged an “International Billiards Tournament at 5200m”. On May 3rd, the team celebrated birthday of Thomas Senf in ABC (6400m). They think the cake cutting at 6400m is a record in itself. As far as acclimatization is concerned, they went to North Col on May 4th. But unfortunately while returning from North Col, one of their team members Sergey Ponomarev died because of cardiac arrest. On May 8th, the team said they are descending to 4200m for rest and recovery before summit push.
Lead by professional guide and two times Everest summiteer, Arnold Coster, Summit Climb team consists of 17 members of about a dozen nations. They arrived in BC on April 14th and moved forward to ABC on 21st. Before starting acclimatization, a training session was conducted to practice ice-climbing and using ropes. In the first attempt the majority of climbers couldn’t reach the North Col because of wind and cold. But in the second rotation all members slept in C1 at the North Col and many touched C2 at 7500m. A few members have just joined the group and are still adjusting in thin air.
Similarly, as per latest updates Adventure Peaks, Altitude Junkies, Kobler Partner and AMICAL Alpin are also in BC and are getting ready for the summit push. Altitude Junkies expedition leader Phil Crampton has lead more than 30 expeditions to different 8000ers. While the 10 member AJ team includes 2011 & 2012 USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis who is climbing to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's Disease.
Edita Nichols is the first Lithuanian lady with two 8000er summits (Cho Oyu and Manaslu). If successful, she would be the only female from her country to summit Everest. She is climbing with Altitude Junkies.
Although, the spring climbing season might conclude within a couple of weeks, some climbers are still to arrive on Everest North Base Camp:
1) Austrian Rupert Hauer who summited Shishapangma on 30th April would join AMICAL alpin team. Rupert would climb Everest without bottled oxygen. (Another Shishapangma summiteer Santiago Quintero from Ecuador is also attempting Everest now, but from South side).
2) Austrian Zoltan Benedek and Spanish David Liano Gonzalez have permits to climb Everest North and they might join Asian Trekking Expedition. Currently Zoltan is climbing Shishapangma with Asian Trekking’s Shishapangma Expedition. As per weather updates and other Shishapangma team reports, summits are expected on May 10th.
3) David Liano wants to climb Everest from both South and North sides in one season. If successful, he would be the first person to do so. David has started his summit climb from South side base camp. His plan is to reach summit from south on May 11th and quickly shift to North side.
Lead by Ivan Vallejo (14x8000ers), Somos Ecuador (We Ecuador) is a five member all Ecuadorians team. They want to reach summit without supplemental oxygen. It would be first occasion when a pure Ecuadorian team reaches summit.
Speed climber Patricio Tisalema from Ecuador seems ready for summit run. His project is ‘Everest in one day’ without using bottled oxygen. Here is the link to Exweb’s candid interview with Pato.
Italian Silvio (Gnaro) Mondinelli (14x8000ers) has also acclimatized above 7000m. He is currently resting before the decisive climb aka summit push. Silvio has already climbed Everest from both South and North sides without oxygen.
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.
Everest North Expeditions Update - April 26, 2013
ExWeb interview with Pato Tisalema: Skyrunner in position for Everest Speed Ascent
Everest South: Ready to Fix to Summit, Rundown of Climbers to Watch
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