Everest: Progress on the South Side; North Side Stalled

The route to Camp 2 on Everest’s Nepalese side has finally opened and is about to get busy. Over the weekend, sherpas quickly pitched Camps 1 and 2, just in time for the first climbers on rotation.

The Ice Doctors have briefed expeditions about certain areas in the Khumbu Icefall that require special care, but teams report that conditions are good enough.

“Safe but long, with lots of zigzagging,” Lakpa Sherpa of 8K told ExplorersWeb, based on what sherpas in Camp 1 told him.

Climbing The Seven Summits team members are already in Camp 1. More of them will follow throughout the week.

Climbers not affected by delay

The delay in opening the Icefall has stressed the sherpa teams. Their clients, however, are okay with the timing. Many have simply delayed their arrival in Base Camp. Instead of acclimatizing through several rotations, more commercial climbers opt for acclimatizing on 6,000m peaks or even at home, in hypoxic tents. This way, they avoid going through the Khumbu Icefall several times. They also reduce their overall stay in Base Camp. In spite of all its comforts, Everest Base Camp is cold and high enough to feel less than ideal.

Check Tashi Lakpa Sherpa’s aerial footage of Everest Base Camp this year:

Silence from Tibet

At the time of posting this story, there is still no news from the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association about permits and visas to enter Tibet. Frustrated climbers are trying to make the best of their time by acclimatizing in Nepal. Clients with Seven Summit Treks, Climbalaya, and Furtenbach Adventures have just finished a trek in Langtang Valley. See the video by Uta Ibrahimi below.

Andreas Neuschmidt of Kobler & Partners is leading his Everest team on Mera Peak (6,476m) to gain some altitude while they wait for news.

If permits take so long that expeditions lack enough time to summit, North Side Everest teams could switch to the South Side, especially if, like Furtenbach Adventures, they already have another team in place. For the time being, everyone is waiting and hoping.

As for Shisha Pangma, most of the climbers who hope to climb the mountain are on their last 8,000’er. It is unlikely that they would agree to switch to some other peak in Nepal. Unlike Cho Oyu, which has a (difficult) Nepalese side, Shisha Pangma is fully within Tibet.

It is not clear how much longer the climbers can wait. A hurried pace is not a good idea for Shisha Pangma, as we saw last fall.

Other 8,000’ers

Climbing on other 8,000’ers seems to be proceeding at a more relaxed pace. On Dhaulagiri, the route has been opened to at least Camp 3 for over two weeks. There is no summit news yet, even from the sherpa team laying the ropes. Several climbers are reporting from Makalu’s Advanced Base Camp but no further, although the route is fixed to the summit.

There is good news from the Manaslu area, where Birendra Lake’s water level is back to normal, The Himalayan Times reported. A massive avalanche on Manaslu’s southern slopes hit the lake yesterday, causing it to overflow into the river below and destroy a wooden bridge. Warnings were issued to the villages down the valley about potential flooding. In the end, there was no serious damage or victims.

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.