Everest Summit: Some Wait, Some Go

Push or patience? Some vanguard climbers are following the Sherpas who summited Everest on Friday, while others hold off for strategic or physical reasons. Meanwhile, the Sherpas themselves have safely returned to Base Camp, after spending the night at Camp 4. They have also posted the first summit pictures of the season, above.

It is not unlikely that some of these Sherpas will climb again with clients in the days ahead.

Of the major teams, only the Bahrainis have announced a full-on summit move. They aim to reach the top on Tuesday. Shehroze Kashif of Pakistan, aka Broad Boy, is with them.

British guides Kenton Cool and Jon Gupta are on their way up with one client each, however. Neither has updated his position since setting off.

No-O2 strategies

It is too soon for those climbing without supplementary oxygen to consider a summit push. Colin O’Brady explains that a no-O2 climb must consider a number of factors, besides the weather. Namely, extra acclimatization and avoiding crowds. For safety, they need to get up and down fast and can’t wait hours in a queue. O’Brady has been in Base Camp for the last week with his wife, Jenna Besaw, “relaxing, recovering, and strategizing”.

Csaba Varga of Hungary has returned to BC after two acclimatization rounds up to 7,500m. “I have already spent two nights in Camp 2 (6,400m) and two other nights in Camp 3 (7,150m),” he said.

A climber at a snowy camp on Everest

No-O2 climber Csaba Varga. Photo: Kalifa.hu


Alex Txikon spent a night at Camp 1 on nearby Pumori, then headed up Everest’s normal route. He is currently in Camp 2 and bound for C3 tomorrow. He hopes to approach the South Col, then return to Base Camp.

Kilian Jornet: First climb, then talk

Kilian Jornet and David Goettler have also done an acclimatization trip to Camp 3 and then hustled all the way back to the village of Pheriche. Their pictures show them using air-filtering masks and climbing some metres away from the fixed ropes. Even these lung-busting athletes may struggle more than usual in their masks. A recent study shows that wearing masks can lower VO2 Max by an astonishing 29 percent!

Two climbers wearing air-filtering masks move up Everest

Kilian Jornet and David Goettler near Camp 3. Photo: Kilian Jornet


The pair continues to maintain a strategic silence about their exact plans. “Making plans on a map is easy, but then you have to actually climb,” Kilian tweeted, in response to a question about his secrecy. “Alpinism is about adaptation. To speak beforehand simply makes no sense. Once you get something done, you talk about it.”

Crowds ahead?

Most of the big outfitters’ teams are finishing their acclimatizations to Camps 3 or 4. Afterward, some are shedding as much altitude as possible to rest before the final push. In previous years, some went all the way back to Kathmandu for R&R, but with COVID rampant in Nepal’s capital, they are staying close to the mountain. Nirmal Purja and his clients, including 19-year-old Adrianna Brownlee, are recovering in Namche Bazaar, before heading for Everest and Lhotse.

The urgency to summit and leave as soon as possible might lead to massive crowding on the next massive push. If the picture shared by Kami Rita Sherpa today, below, showing lines of climbers (around the Yellow Band?) represents this week’s action, and all those climbers plan to summit by mid-May, the traffic jams of 2019 would repeat themselves.

A crowded line of climbers moving up a snowy flattish area on Everest.

Crowds on Everest. Photo: Kami Rita Sherpa


Speaking of secrecy, the COVID situation in Base Camp remains elusive. Some sources hint that the situation is now under control and that teams are now taking care. But detailed reports are lacking, and official sources continue to deny the presence of COVID and are obviously not reliable.