Everest Tension: Uncertain Weather and 200 Would-Be Summiters Tomorrow

Climbers heading toward the summit of Everest in huge numbers are facing two problems. One is, obviously, crowding. The traffic jams between Camp 3 and Camp 4 were bad today — “a big snake of people,” as Piotr Krzyzowski described it. The delays inherent in big, slow lines could become deadly tomorrow when 200 climbers are expected to go for the top.

The second problem is the weather. The summit window has not opened as expected. Conditions were reportedly very tough last night, and several climbers were frostbitten.

Ayaviri frostbitten

Hugo Ayaviri, who summited Lhotse yesterday without oxygen, reported some concerning news as he returned to Camp 2.

“The climb was very hard, the weather was very bad, we had a lot of snow, and It’s still snowing,” Ayaviri said. “It was polar cold. I got frostbite on one foot and couldn’t feel my toes.”

Ayaviri is confident in a swift recovery, if he manages to rest today at Camp 2, but the weather must improve for a no-O2 attempt.

“If the weather doesn’t improve, I will have to give up my attempt to climb Everest. We will wait for the weather forecast and then I will make my decision.”

Close shot of Ayaviri

Hugo Ayaviri of Bolivia. Photo: Facebook

Weather not ideal

In yesterday’s forecast, Marc de Keyser of Weather4Expeditions warned of variable weather until May 22, with sunny spells, cloudy periods with snow squalls, and sudden gusts of strong wind.

For May 21 (tomorrow), de Keyser announced a clear start to the day, with convection clouds beginning to build up around noon, their tops eventually reaching 8,000m+, with snow. This will clear after 8 pm. De Keyser noted a 70% chance of snow.

Weather chart for Everest

Precipitation and freezing levels on Everest this week.


Forecasts last week suggested that May 21 would be a good summit day, but later revisions point to May 23 as the best day this week. Charts also show very cold temperatures at the summit. That is bad news for no-O2 climbers, especially if they also have to deal with crowds.

temperatures chart for Everest

Temperatures are cold but improving through the week. Forecast by Weather4Everest


More crowds to come

Some 200 climbers are expected to attempt the summit tomorrow. That is the estimate of Nga Tenji Sherpa, formerly of Pioneer Adventure and now with his own company, Summit Force. His team will be in the crowd, as they planned a May 21 summit when they left Base Camp four days ago.

Story with a picture of Everest as seen from camp 2 and text announcing 200 summits the following day

Instagram story by Nga Tenji Sherpa on May 20.


This morning, the second summit team from Climbing the 7 Summits was on its way to Camp 4, but some clients thought twice.

“Some… decided to stay at Camp 3 one more night to avoid some crowds and a bit of wind this morning,” they reported.

The problem with this last-minute change of plans is that the climbers have limited supplementary oxygen, and the camps are already crowded. If they delay for a day, they might find themselves in an even worse jam on the following morning. Such conditions significantly increase the risk for every climber on the mountain, but most of all for those without bottled oxygen.

Injured climbers abandoned

According to some climbers, the situation today was far worse. Piotr Krzyzowski, climbing Lhotse without O2 or sherpa support, wrote he was caught in a traffic jam between Camp 3 and Camp 4, but that was only one of the reasons why he needed eight hours to reach Camp 4.

“Right after leaving Camp 3, I participated in the rescue of a Macedonian climber who had [tried to climb] Lhotse yesterday,” he explained.

Krzyzowski said that conditions overnight had been tough, with high winds. He added that the climber was in serious condition, unconscious, with his hands terribly frostbitten.

“What disgusted me was that over 150 people had passed him in the morning and no one was interested [in helping],” the Polish climber wrote.

He believes the Macedonian was given oxygen and Dexamethasone, and then airlifted from Camp 3.

Another climber, a Ukrainian, had to be rescued shortly below Camp 4, also in serious condition, Krzyzowski said.

Tents in Camp 3 lit by the early morning sun, on the snowy Lhotse face, the Western Cwn wrapped in clouds below.

Camp 3 as seen from the top of the Lhotse Face. Camp 2 is hidden among the clouds below. Photo: Josh McDowell/CT7S


Sypavin on top again

One day after summiting Everest for the second time this season, Valentyn Sypavin stood on top of Lhotse with a fellow Ukrainian client. Sypavin intends to summit Everest one more time before the season ends.

Yet his record has “raised some eyebrows,” according to The Himalayan Times. It notes that the guide only has one permit for Lhotse and one for Everest, although he intends to end the season with at least four summits between the two peaks. The paper questions whether a single permit allows several summits.

As the paper reports, Nepal’s Department of Tourism is unclear on whether they will award a certificate for the first summit and consider the others unofficial but not illegal.

Already 200 summits…

Although the summits on Everest started relatively late this year, and summit days are more concentrated, the final numbers are impressive.

“The first wave of the summit push [resulted in] around 100 successful ascents from May 11 to May 14,” Khimlal Gautam, Chief of the Expedition Monitoring and Facilitation Field Office told the Everest Chronicle.

“As of May 19, around 200 people have climbed Mount Everest,” he added.

The number should increase greatly today, with a projected 150 more summits. With 419 permits granted so far just for Everest (not counting sherpas and other local climbers), the final tally should be as high as in previous years.

Gautam works with a laptop in front of the transparent side of a tent in Everest Base Camp

Khimlal Gautam, Chief of the Expedition Monitoring and Facilitation Field Office at Everest Base Camp. Photo: Baker Perry/X

First Bhutanese

Setting a national record, Jigme Pelden Dorje became the first Bhutanese citizen to summit Everest. Pelden Dorje is a lieutenant in the Royal Bhutan Army. Bhutan was the only Himalayan nation with no Everest summits until today.

Jigme Pelden Dorje holds the flag of Bhutan while sitting on Everest summit.

Jigme Pelden Dorje of Bhutan on the summit of Everest today. Photo: Pioneer Adventure

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.