Everest: It’s Now or Maybe Never

8000ers Everest
Weather is improving on Everest, prompting climbers to push on toward the Lhotse Face. Photo: Seven Summits Club

Teams have moved to Camp 3 as weather has improved. Summit plans for the frontline climbers seems to be working because the summit window, although narrow, may be just enough. Today’s going proved tough for the climbers at these higher reaches, because it was still snowing hard. (Conditions are better now.) But the mental uncertainty, whether their effort will earn them a shot at the summit, surely preys on them.

Those waiting in Base Camp or at lodges further down the valley are much more comfortable, but their summit options are diminishing. They are staking everything on a window expected to open on May 26.

The Weather Verdict

Meteorologist Karl Gabl of Innsbruck, currently working with David Göettler, shared his forecast with ExplorersWeb:

“A cyclone will form over the Bay of Bengal in the next few days and it will reach the coast of India on the evening of May 26,” he said. “The center of the cyclone will move west over India and will lose strength continuously till the 28th.

“This cyclone will not directly influence the area around Mount Everest but between May 25 and 28, the models show snow and less sunshine. Because of this, May 23 would be a better time to summit.”

There will be no further summit chances later. The Icefall Doctors have confirmed to Alan Arnette that the route will close by May 29.

In this situation, teams currently below the Khumbu Icefall must either hurry up quickly starting today or risk a summit push during the second cyclone next week. Whatever happens, it will all come down in the next  few days.

The Everest-Lhotse-Nuptse area, still under the influence of Cyclone Tauktae yesterday. Photo: Seven Summits Club

Higher teams: Camp 3

Climbing the Seven Summits’ first team moved up to C3 today. “They made excellent time and the weather is quite reasonable — light winds and good visibility,” the outfitter reported.

A second team moves tomorrow from Camp 2 to Camp 3. The company has also given some details about Pemba Tashi Sherpa, who perished in a crevasse fall earlier this week. His body was recovered and flown home. Pemba Tashi had summited Everest just days before, with the outfitter’s first summit group. CTSS will take care of his two children’s ongoing education.

During a gear-carrying trip to the South Col, Sherpas with IMG reported very high winds above the Yellow Band. “They had to really struggle across the Geneva Spur and onto the Col, as they climbed above any wind protection afforded by Nuptse,” IMG wrote.

“It’s been a stormy day –- very blustery, lots of snowfall, and high gusts throughout the day,” Garrett Madison added from Camp 3. He had hoped to advance to Camp 4 today, but given the harsh weather, they decided to spend one more day in their tents on the Lhotse face. Himalayan Guides Nepal team is also hoping to move up to the South Col tonight.

Mountain Professionals and SummitClimb intended to reach Camp 3 today. Russia’s Seven Summits Club, whose members were about to retreat yesterday, had a last-minute change of mind. Instead of descending, they are going ahead. They will try to reach Camp 3 today. Leader Alex Abramov has abandoned his plans to climb without O2, “for the sake of the group”.

Lower teams: Decision time

Scott Woolums, leader of the Mountain Trip team, tested all his members for COVID. Everyone came up negative. While the HRA clinic is not allowed to do COVID testing, some teams brought their own antigen kits and are doing it themselves.

But all the precautions are not enough, as Lukas Furtenbach explained to ExplorersWeb. He isolated his group and was extremely cautious, but in the end, even they had seven positive cases.

“I am sure it must have been at the Khumbu Icefall,” Furtenbach said. “That was the only situation where we had close contact with other people.” He said that there are waiting zones before ladders on the steepest sections, where climbers stand together, close to each other and breathing heavily.

Climbers with one local operator told ExplorersWeb that they themselves had no tests in Base Camp. They had little sense of COVID’s presence at all. “People are cautious but not panicking,” said the climbers, who — given the paranoia around information sharing in this year’s Base Camp — asked to remain anonymous.

No-O2 climber David Goettler checked in yesterday from Pheriche, where he is training with Kilian Jornet, but shared no climbing plans. Csaba Varga, nearby, took a selfie with his fellow no-O2 hopefuls.

Kilian Jornet (left) and Csaba Varga yesterday. Photo: C.Varga/Khalifa

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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jmaf
jmaf
24 days ago

If they had evidence of Covid transmission outdoors they will have made medical history as that has never been proven/documented to date. UV light and fresh air are fatal to the virus so outdoor transmission is almost impossible. My guess is they contracted it at the hotels and guest houses with poor ventilation, amid the south asian pandemic spike, along the way to Everest. But who knows.

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Ash Routen
Editor
23 days ago
Reply to  jmaf

Outdoor transmission risk is low but certainly not impossible. See some of the latest evidence below.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33249484/

Consistent evidence suggests spread occurs by airborne transmission. Climbers in close proximity, even outdoors, could be susceptible to transmission.

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F v
F v
23 days ago

Oef saw the ig story of fahad917, no nepali climbers allowed in pk this summer…

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Don Paul
Don Paul
23 days ago

Where are all the bodies on Mt Everest?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnE_9XiZlrI

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Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins
23 days ago

55 Father of 3 trying to climb what is no longer considered a “feat. Pseudo “Mountaineers” are dragged up every year. Sad fir his loss but clearly a Narcissist.

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Last edited 23 days ago by Bilbo Baggins
Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
20 days ago
Reply to  Bilbo Baggins

Who are you talking about? Pemba Tashi Sherpa is the only death mentioned, and he was an employee, and certainly a mountaineer. I sure hope you are not insulting this man. And like it or not, the clients are not dragged up, much as you might like to think so. They are able to climb in more safety than once was the case because of the hard work of Sherpa teams fixing ropes and the Icefall, better weather prediction, and improved climbing technology. But they still have to climb it themselves. I think you and others that criticize commercial clients… Read more »

David Pons
David Pons
23 days ago

Very good current commentary; thank you Angela. Please keep us posted. Why is Kilian so secretive about their route and plans?

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