Bargiel on Everest: Sherpas Begin Fixing Khumbu Icefall

After a night in Lobuche and a hike up Kala Pattar on Saturday, the Polish team has reached Everest Base Camp. They are the only living souls at the head of the Khumbu Glacier — a far cry from the situation during spring. The Sherpa team with them has made progress opening the Khumbu Icefall, despite loads of snow and bad weather.

 

As he did on K2, Andrzej Bargiel intends to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen, then ski down the entire mountain via the normal SE Ridge route. If he succeeds, it would be a world first. Previous ski descents were either not complete or done with supplemental O2.

However, Bargiel is not intending to climb solo or alpine style. His is a smaller, yet classical expedition-style team. This means that someone has to fix and maintain the Khumbu Icefall, lay ropes, and set camps.

For that, the Polish expedition has a strong supporting team with them, organized by Pioneer Adventure and led by company founder and director Ngaa Tenji. The Nepalis are already working hard on the snowy mountain. The monsoon has not entirely disappeared yet.

The Pioneer Adventure crew in Kathmandu has confirmed to ExplorersWeb that the Nepalis have fixed some ropes across the Khumbu Icefall and managed to set up Camp 1. They also tried to get to Camp 2, but heavy snowfall stopped them. Nevertheless, the Icefall could be completely open within two days, spokesperson Nivesh Karki said.

Karki confirms that no helicopters have been deployed on Everest this season. In recent years, it is not unusual for fixing teams and their loads to fly by helicopter up the Western Cwm, above the Khumbu Icefall. This time, the fixing team proceeded in the traditional way, by fixing ropes and carrying ladders.

 

Introducing the team

After arriving at Base Camp, Bargiel introduced the Sherpa team. In addition to Ngaa Tenji, the climbing Sherpas include Nima Tendi, Cho Temba, Sangee Dorchi, Pasang Sherpa, Dorchi Sherpa, plus climbing instructor Pemba Rita. In addition, Ang Serki will be in charge of keeping open a route through the Icefall. Rounding out the team is Base Camp cook Sony Ale and a second cook in Camp 2 at 6,400m, Lakpa Sherpa. [Names are spelled as in Bargiel’s report].

 

Janusz Golab will team up with Andrzej Bargiel during the climb, and Andrzej’s brother Bartek will film and fly the drone, as he did on K2. The expedition also includes photographer Bartek Pawlikowski and cameraman Carlos Llerandi. It is not clear yet how far up will each will go.

The members in the Polish team greet the camera from the top of a rocky bouder, in a snow covered Base Camp, with mountains around invisible in the cloudy weather, and prayer flags hanging from long lines.

The Polish team in a foggy Everest Base Camp today. Photo: @pawlikowski.media

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.