Everest: Summit News

8000ers COVID-19 Everest
A wind plume on Everest's summit today. Photo: Dan Mazur

An estimated 165 climbers summited Everest today, despite the persistent winds. Many others have turned around or stayed at the South Col.

Yesterday, teams gathered at Camp 4 in preparation for an early start. But the wind didn’t drop as much as expected, putting some climbers off. Those who did brave the elements began to summit Everest and Lhotse around 6 am.

At last word, Madison Mountaineering reported 14 members and guides and 22 Sherpas on top. Climbing The Seven Summits also had reported some early success, but a larger group of their climbers decided to stay in Camp 4. They are likely to retreat to Camp 2 today, the outfitter reports. The team already experienced a fatality earlier this week, when one of their Nepali guides died in a crevasse fall.

Pioneer Expeditions’ team also posted a summit list of five clients and seven Sherpa guides. IMG had 23 summits, split between clients and a large Sherpa force that included a father, son, and daughter: Tenzing Dorjee Sherpa (father), Sonam Tashi Sherpa (son), and Pasang Kanchi Sherpa (daughter). Seven Summit Treks had three Indian climbers and four Nepali guides on Lhotse’s summit. The rest of their Everest and Lhotse climbers will push for the summit during the next weather window.

Conflicting views on the weather

Different teams are interpreting the weather differently. IMG wrote of “excellent weather”. Alex Abramov, leading a Russian team, said that the summit was windy but not too severe. The Russian team has two more groups in Camp 2. Dan Mazur’s team decided to wait at the South Col. They posted a video on FB today, showing flapping tents and a long wind plume on the summit.

Climbers prepare in Camp 4 for their summit push. Photo: Dan Mazur

Otherwise, details are still scarce. Mountain Professionals’ members were in Camp 4 but they had planned on setting off relatively late, in order to minimize their exposure to early high winds. “The weather continues to be volatile and unpredictable, making summit attempt planning akin to shooting a moving target,” the outfitter explained.

More COVID; Nepal’s dire situation

Meanwhile, COVID has forced another outfitter to call off its expedition. U.S.-based Mountain Trip had six of their high-altitude porters evacuated with COVID symptoms: “While they are thankfully doing well, they are no longer able to help the team progress higher.”

Mountain Trip also noted that the short summit window was going to produce long lines of climbers near the summit. They didn’t specify whether they meant the present window or a potential opportunity next week.

Finally, they also feared that a summit push so late in the season would be risky for the local team dismantling the camp. A late push would mean working until June, with the Icefall unacceptably active because of rising temperatures. We’ll know more next week, when the Icefall Doctors confirm whether they still intend to close the route through the Khumbu Icefall before next weekend.

Whatever happens on Everest, it is impossible (and unfair) to ignore the terrible situation in Nepal. Sir Edmund Hillary’s son Peter, who continues his father’s legacy through the Himalayan Trust charity, describes it as an “absolute calamity”.

“We desperately need help irrespective of what, how much, or from where,” his Nepali friends told him.

Nepal’s hospitals are in a dire situation. Photo: Niranjan Shrestha/AP/Stuff

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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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20 days ago

Closure of the icefall extended till 31st of may, giving some extra time to teams who are still at ebc

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