Everest’s Quiet North Side: Summit Pushes Begin

Just a week after teams received their permits to enter Tibet, two of the four teams currently climbing on the North Side of Everest have started their summit pushes. The experience will be very different from the crowded South Side.

“Our summit push is on, we’re starting May 17 from Base Camp,” Lukas Furtenbach told ExplorersWeb yesterday.

A Chinese team has also left for ABC today, heading for the summit. They have had plenty of time to acclimatize, since the ropes on the north side of Everest were fixed to the summit on May 7.

The Furtenbach Adventures team will go one camp per day, sleeping in an intermediate camp at 5,800m tomorrow, and then Advanced Base Camp (6,450m). Following this, they will stop at Camp 1 on the North Col (7,000m), Camp 2 (7,800m), and Camp 3 (8,200m).

From here, they’ll launch their final push. That arithmetic makes May 23 the estimated summit date.

Furtenbach said they are the only team planning to summit that day — not counting, of course, the crowds from the South Side that they will meet at the top.

The Chinese will surely head for the top around the same time. The other two teams, Climbalaya and Alpenglow Expeditions, may pick a later summit date since they still need to do some acclimatization and supply camps.

Flash team on single push

Furtenbach’s Everest group is what he calls a “Flash” team. They acclimatize mostly at at home in hypobaric tents, then do the actual climb as quickly as possible. Everest typically takes them just three weeks.

This year, because of the long delay in getting permits for Tibet, the climbers made the best of their time and climbed Mera Peak (6,471m) in the Khumbu for acclimatization. Now, they are ready to attempt Everest in a single push.

Everyone on the North Side will use supplementary oxygen. The China-Tibet Mountaineering Association forbids no-O2 climbs on their side of Everest.

The Climbalaya team is also progressing. They were the first to enter Tibet on May 9, and their Base Camp was ready by the time they arrived. After their traditional puja ceremony in Base Camp last weekend, they have just moved to Advanced Base Camp (6,400m). They have not yet revealed their summit plans.

Tents on a rocky plain at the foot of Everest, Tibet

A comparatively tranquil Base Camp on Everest’s North Side. Photo: Climbalaya


Relaxed pace

Meanwhile, Alpenglow Expeditions is taking a more relaxed pace.

“My teams are moving up to ABC over two days, today and tomorrow,” leader Adrian Ballinger told ExplorersWeb from Base Camp. “We will spend a couple of mellow days in ABC at 6,450m, then we will begin a rotation to sleep at the North Col. Meanwhile sherpa will begin stocking oxygen at Camps 1, 2, and 3.”

Three tents on rocky ground by a moraine, Everest north side in background

The small, interim camp between Base Camp and Advanced BAse Camp on the north side of Everest. Photo: Adrian Ballinger


“The weather looks fantastic for the next week and we will use this time to get ready for a summit push,” Ballinger explained. “We will not summit until late May or early June.”

Alpenglow has 11 summit climbers and 10 more aiming to reach the North Col, plus 14 high-altitude sherpas.

group photo at Everest Base Camp

Alpenglow team on the north side of Everest, including climbers and BC staff. Photo: Adrian Ballinger


Meanwhile, on the South Side, the human tsunami of summiters is expected from Sunday, May 19 to May 23.

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.