8,000m Roundup: Everest Crowds, Cho Oyu Gets a South Side Attempt

The latest list of permits issued by Nepal’s Department of Tourism includes a single unnamed climber willing to tackle the formidable south side of Cho Oyu. This does not mean a solo climber, but a single foreigner. Nepalese nationals don’t need to pay the royalty fees and are not included on such lists.

Chinese authorities have closed the normal route on Cho Oyu again this season. While it’s possible to climb the mountain from the Nepal side, it is a daunting task. Only a handful have ever managed to succeed on its highly difficult ridges and faces. Nepalese teams have been trying for years to open a suitable route for commercial expeditions, but all attempts have failed so far.

A climber looking tiny on a huge, broken ridge of snow and rock

Russian climbers on the south-southwest ridge of Cho Oyu. Photo: Andrey Vasiliev/Russian Alpine Federation


Last fall, a Russian team nearly completed the long south-southwest ridge but ran out of time before reaching the summit.

List of climbing permits on April 24.

List of climbing permits on April 24.


The permit list also shows several one-foreigner teams heading to Nepal’s 6,000’ers. Some of these are non-technical (but harder and less visited than popular trekking peaks) like Putha Hiunchuli (Dhaulagiri 7), Saribung on the upper Dolpo, and Tengkoma in the Kangchenjunga region.

There are also more technical alpine climbs like Bhemdang Ri (also known as Morimoto Peak) in Langtang, Malanphulan (also known as Fluted Peak) in the Khumbu, and Tengkampoche, another Khumbu peak on the radar of some elite teams. We expect to hear news shortly about the Korean teams on Khangri Shar and the Jugals.

Everest North Side

When China delayed the opening of Everest until May 7 earlier this week, some expeditions, such as Arnold Coster’s team, gave up and switched to the South Side.

“I feel like waiting any longer [for the North Side] is too risky,” Coster wrote. “Yes, there been years when people summited late, but I have also seen years when the season just abruptly stops when the monsoon arrives.”

Climbalaya has kept its North Side plans for its five clients and told ExplorersWeb that a Base Camp is ready to welcome them.

Everest South Side

Everest and Lhotse climbers are already tackling the Khumbu Icefall. Some have made it through and are in Camps 1 and 2.

“The Icefall route is longer than usual and very circuitous,” Mike Hamill of Climbing the Seven Summits told ExplorersWeb. “There are some spots where ice towers hang over the route, but that is pretty normal. Part of the team is currently in Camp 1 while others are back in Base Camp.

Members of Climbing the Seven Summits at the Khumbu Icefall earlier this week. Photo: Josh McDowell and Nani Stahringer


“The Icefall is starting to get busy now but it’s not too bad,” Hamill added. “It’s mainly the last vertical ice wall where there can be a bottleneck.”

Climbing the Seven Summits team in (still quiet) Camp 1.

No-O2 Everest climbers

Hugo Ayaviri of Bolivia planned to set off for Camp 2 today. Others, like Norrdine Nouar and Valery Babanov, have been acclimatizing on Pumori’s high camp (5,700m). Frank Locke of Norway has just summited Lobuche East, and Tunc Findik of Turkey has been on Island Peak and is currently climbing Ama Dablam.

The delay in opening the route, however, has affected the entire climb. Camp 2 should be buzzing with activity, but this is not the case. It seems to be still under construction. “Our Camp 2 should be ready in a day or two, but we are one of the first teams,” Hamill noted.

Ayaviri takes a selfie whosing him and nother climbers as they head up the Khumbu Icefall on Everest

Hugo Ayaviri at the Khumbu Icefall. Photo: Facebook

The Khumbu’s 2nd largest town

As peak season approaches, the latest count indicates 388 foreign climbers with a permit for Everest. While that’s less than last year this time (454), the numbers may grow unexpectedly as some teams transfer there from the North Side.

In addition, a significant number of climbers are on nearby peaks. Some, such as ultrarunners Tyler Andrews and Chris Fisher, are acclimatizing and training for Everest on Pumori. Lhotse has 130 permits already. Some are aiming for the Everest-Lhotse double header, while others are doing Lhotse only, including several without oxygen.

On Nuptse, Madison Mountaineering will fix the ropes and lead a team to the summit. The peak has 24 permits, but some are getting a Nuptse permit simply to access Camp 2 on Everest and not go any further. Friends of Everest climbers often go to Camp 2 in support. For them, a Nuptse permit is much cheaper than an Everest permit.

Two teams, totaling 11 climbers, are even going to the rarely visited Lingtren. Last year, Simone Moro attempted Lingtren.

Nuptse's flanks and ridge in the sun

Nuptse. Photo: Valery Babanov


All these people at Everest Base Camp at the beginning of May could make it the second largest “town” in the Khumbu Valley after Namche Bazaar. Note that it’s hard to find current population data for Namche. Wikipedia notes 1,647 people in 2001. But Emelie Forsberg, Kilian Jornet’s wife, mentioned in a blog post last year that there may be 5,000 people living there.

As things look now, the attempt by local authorities to reduce the size of Everest Base Camp may have proven fruitless.

Partial view of Everest Base Camp, showing the Furtenbach Adventures site. Photo: Furtenbach Adventures

Other 8,000’ers

“We are in Camp 1, and tomorrow we will head to Camp 2, where we will spend the night,”  Anna Tybor and Paul Lafaille reported from Dhaulagiri. “Anticipating strong winds in the coming days, we decided to take advantage of the current situation and start our first phase of acclimatization.”

The latest news from the rope-fixing team confirmed the route was open to Camp 3.

Tybor and Lafaille with skis on their backpacks at the foot of the mountain on moraine terrain.

Anna Tybor and Paul Lafaille on Dhaulagiri. Photo: Anna Tybor/Facebook

Oswald Pereira and Bartek Ziemski are on Makalu, where teams are currently acclimatizing between Camps 2 and 3. Progress is slightly slower on Kangchenjunga, with a longer normal route and fewer climbers on the mountain. 8K Expeditions, in charge of fixing the ropes, reports they’ve reached Camp 3, about halfway to the top.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering 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.