Everest: The Final, Massive Summit Push Begins

8000ers Everest
A long line of climbers sets off through the Khumbu Icefall. Photo: Kami Rita Sherpa

Nearly 400 clients, porters, and guides have started up Everest on a last-minute summit push before the season shuts down. Long lines crossed the Khumbu Icefall toward Camps 1 and 2 today, ready to wait out days of bad weather before heading further up.

After over 170 summits yesterday and 100 more today, you might think that Base Camp is almost empty. In fact, a number of large expeditions, including several teams outfitted by the big Nepali outfitters, are taking positions for next week.

In the last few days, two major obstacles have suggested that this final push might not happen at all. First, the Ice Doctors planned to close the route up the Khumbu Icefall on May 28, which meant that climbers had to be down by Friday. Second, Cyclone Yaas — the second in two weeks — has formed in the Bay of Bengal and will hit the Indian subcontinent on Wednesday. While it is yet unclear how much this will affect the Himalaya, conditions on Everest will surely worsen.

But teams have come up with a strategy to sort both problems out.

Somehow, the Ice Doctors have agreed to keep the route to Camp 1 open until May 31, according to Alan Arnette. To get around the cyclone, expedition leaders have planned a week-long, two-stage summit push.

Virtually everyone in Base Camp has jumped up at the green-light signal. “This is the moment we have all been waiting for,” the Climbalaya team posted today.

Clouds show wind and unstable weather ahead on Everest. Photo: Alex Abramov

A risky strategy

Teams crossed the Khumbu Icefall today in good weather, en route to Camp 2. Here, in this relatively comfortable and sheltered spot, safe from avalanches, they can ride out the cyclone. Forecasts suggest that conditions will improve by May 27-28. If the cyclone does not deposit too much snow and the wind drops acceptably, the remaining climbers can then summit on May 29 and 30.

If so, the final summit score on Everest could increase by hundreds. However, the strategy requires good luck and involves significant risks.

Even in the best-case scenario, conditions will be not ideal. The cyclone will bring snow. Wind speed on the planned summit days is unpredictable. Tired climbers wait at altitude amid uncertainty, then will have to rush to get their cherished summit.

Furthermore, as the monsoon approaches, temperatures typically rise, making the Khumbu Icefall more unstable. A few might inelegantly call for an airlift from Camp 2, although that wouldn’t be an option in bad weather.

Finally, COVID continues to present a threat, no matter how desperately everyone tries to pretend that it doesn’t exist. A second outfitter, Mountain Trip, had to cancel their summit push when six Nepali staff fell sick only three days ago. Lukas Furtenbach, who also aborted his company’s expedition because of the coronavirus, told ExplorersWeb that the members of his team who fell sick probably caught it at the Khumbu Icefall.  This was the only time Furtenbach’s careful group was close to other teams, everyone breathing heavily as they waited.

Furtenbach’s clients developed their symptoms back in Base Camp, an easy location from which to evacuate. It won’t be straightforward for any climbers in Camp 2 or higher, especially given the unstable weather.

+5

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!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter Klauza
2 months ago

Nice article. Let’s face it tho Everest is now like a post office queue. It’s not a climb, all those fixed ropes
Ruined it

+8
Adrian
Adrian
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Klauza

Where have you been all this time? This has been the sentiment since 1996.

+1
Chaitanya
Chaitanya
2 months ago

They dont have much time left as Cyclone Yaas is going to make landfall soon.

0
Mr Alex p stephen
Mr Alex p stephen
2 months ago

A real mountaineer did everest in just over 8 hours. If you can’t climb it with your own skill and talent then you should leave it alone. Just because you have money it means nothing if you pay to the top. I’ve never climbed anything over 5500 and I wouldn’t pay for somebody to take me up a mountain. People who can’t climb using fixed ropes and pay for their summits and relative safety is a joke. I’d have more respect for someone who walked the matterhorn on their own than was handheld and nursed to the top of everest.… Read more »

Paul
Paul
2 months ago

8 hours from where?? 8h is the speed record with O2, hard to expect that time from all. Do we should expect all climbers to climb El cap in Yosemite in 2h because it is the speed record there?

+3
Rhys Davies
Rhys Davies
2 months ago

What Alex is saying is in Essence correct timing a bit off but messege is clear it’s not a tourist attraction and if u are gonna do it do it right. That’s from me someone who attempted it in 20015 with a 8 man team without sherpas I sadly did not summit only 2 from team did I sadly had to turn around at Hillary step I’m now planning a k2 trip

0
Dr. Vikram Vir Bharti
Dr. Vikram Vir Bharti
2 months ago

I’m mountaineer myself, & I can correlate it well. I am strongly agree with your point of view. In contemporary climbing world, there are very fewer real climbers who get a chance to climb Everest or any 8000der, because of monetary constraints. It is a sad part. In our part of the world, such Everesters hardly seen climbing in self-sufficient climbing expeditions, & the reason is that they lack in climbing skills. Ironically, they are cherished as motivational speakers…

0
Sujit kumar rout
Sujit kumar rout
2 months ago

Mije. Chad na he jan kari kese milega mujhe help chahiye

0
Sujit kumar rout
Sujit kumar rout
2 months ago

Mujhe mount everest chadna he jankari keliye help chahiye

0
Robert Jones
Robert Jones
2 months ago

This doesn’t look good and could easily go wrong.

+1
Gangadhar Pattnaik
Gangadhar Pattnaik
2 months ago

My child hood dream climbing Mount Everest plz any support

0
Maysnow
Maysnow
2 months ago

All customs,who were experienced in alpin/ high mountain winter climbing or something like that will get now a new lesson of Sargamatha, All those, are only experienced on rock climbing with fix points every 3 meters will have a live changing experience, hopefully they are able to reflect themselves and their decisions. Everest summit should be an option of climb, not a “must try”. Its about learning to turn around, its about to focus the “safe control” if you are not professional. We can not follow R. Messner at all that Everestis completly for professional or special skilled climbers, but… Read more »

×