Tension on Everest — Jost Kobusch Descends at Night

Everest Winter 8000ers
Jost Kobusch's recorded position at 9:16pm local time. (2:30pm London time and 11:30am Eastern time). Graph: Everest3d.de

Alarm mounted for several hours at Everest Base Camp this evening, when Jost Kobush’s tracking device located him around an unstable ice wall at about 5,700m, near Lho La. The dots indicating his live-time position drifted far off-route and eventually stopped just after 9pm local time, well after nightfall.

In Base Camp, one of Alex Txikon’s expedition crew became concerned and went to the German’s camp to see if he was there. He wasn’t, but there was good news: Kobusch had been sighted moving down.

“We can see his headlamp from here, he is descending,” he reported.

Alex Txikon was far up the mountain, in Camp 2 on the South Col route with all his climbing team. They were too far to lend an immediate hand, if needed. But just in case, the Base Camp team alerted Mingma, the Ice Doctor working with the Spaniards.

The terrain on the way to the wall is very difficult, but Kobusch had apparently been in contact with his own cooks at Base Camp to say he’s okay. “Hopefully there’ll be no need of assistance,” said the Spanish team member, “but we’re going to wait until he’s safely back. We have pointed our lights at him and he has responded with flashing. If he asks for help on the walkie-talkie, we’ll go immediately.”

Some avalanches had run down the wall down from Lho La, but not exactly on Kobusch’s route.

Despite high winds, low temperatures and his injured foot, Jost Kobusch set off from Everest Base Camp toward the Lho La early this morning. According to his tracking device, he climbed up all day and started descending after 5pm. Then his signal sent strange positions, far off-route. According to RaceTracker CEO Josep Añols, such confusing data are known as “dirty points” and may occur when the climber carries the device inside his down jacket, obstructing the signal to the satellites.

This happened, for example, during Txikon’s recent climb up Ama Dablam. “The device works best in the open air, but in the Himalayan winter at -30ºC, batteries run flat at an amazing speed. So climbers just carry the device inside their warm clothes, so that they can send an SOS immediately in case of emergency.”

The blue dot is thought to be Kobusch’s current position, two-and-a-half hours after the 9:16 location.

Updated, 6:40pm London time, 1:40 pm Eastern time: Kobusch safely back in Base Camp.

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Sport journalist, published author and communication consultant. Feeling back home at ExplorersWeb after five years exploring distant professional ranges. From Dec19 to Feb20, I'll be also working as press manager for Alex Txikon's expeditions to Antarctica, winter Ama Dablam and winter Everest.

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2 Comments on "Tension on Everest — Jost Kobusch Descends at Night"

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Sana Sayeed
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I guess the devices need to be checked before a climber takes it along high altitude places like Everest Base Camp. Also, he was in constant touch with the Spanish team and his cooks so there wasn’t much to worry about. I wish to go to Everest Base camp but these things scare me too much.

Jay B
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I’m unclear of the objective. Is the German climber the only one attempting the West Ridge route or is the whole team trying it? That would be the fourth-most badass climb on the mountain behind the first ascent, Messener’s solo run and the first ascent of the W Ridge.