Insider Report: Everest BC to Camp 2 in Great Shape

While the climbing world’s attention shifts towards light, no-O2 climbs on 8000’ers such as Kangchenjunga, Annapurna or Dhaulagiri, Mount Everest continues to fascinate the general public. With a record 375 climbing permits issued this year, the south side Base Camp teems with expeditions beginning their first partial climbs to higher camps.

This involves confronting one of the most daunting features of any big mountain: the ever-moving, gigantic seracs and crevasses of the Khumbu Icefall. Ryan Waters, veteran Everest guide, head of  Mountain Professionals and ExWeb ambassador, has sent a detailed report on conditions up to Camp 1 (Western Cwm) and Camp 2 (Valley of Silence). According to Waters, this may be a good season to face the Icefall.

Everest South side, Khumbu Icefall, 2019

No significant bottlenecks so far on Everest’s Khumbu Icefall. Photo: Ryan Waters


Ryan Waters’ Report:

The route to Camp 1

The Icefall is in relatively good shape this season, with very few ladders, which makes things move along pretty smoothly. The route is almost identical to last season, with many of the same seracs and other features still in place, but lower and rounded as opposed to huge and jagged.

There is only one moderately challenging vertical ladder section near the last hour of the Icefall. So far, this has been the only ladder section to produce any bottlenecks, but they have been minor. Our Mountain Pros team descended this morning from C1, and there was not a single person at this ladder section.

The number of horizontal ladders is strikingly low, and all of them are a single ladder crossing, [although] this will change as the weeks progress. Some will need to be extended or possibly moved as the season progresses. The left side exposed section before Base Camp has a fairly smooth and efficient meander through short steps, and does not go way left as in some past years. The rest of the way to C1 has the usual ups and downs, but no change from years past.

Camp 1 to Camp 2:

The route likewise follows a similar path to previous years. The large and challenging vertical ladder section of 2018 is in the same place, but this season it is much shorter and mellower and does not pose any real slow-down. The usual meandering beyond is the same, with a few short one-section horizontal ladders and additional five-meter ice steps that are fairly easy to jumar up. This brings you to the long, slow walk up to C2.

Jumaring up a vertical section between C1 and C2 on Everest South Side.

Jumaring up a short ice step beyond Camp 1. Photo: Ryan Waters