Monday, May 22, 2017

Great News! Anders on his way home and safe at C2!

We just talked to Anders.  He and Brent made the call (correct one in my view) to head down.  They left C4 about 3pm and descended all the way down to C2 in just 3 hours.  C2 to remind you is at the bottom of the Lhotse Face--very good to have that behind them.  Anders said he was sweaty and he was also a bit out of breath.  They down climbed with oxygen, which no doubt helped them move quickly down the Lhotse Face.  They just took their masks off so their bodies were readjusting to breathing the thin air at 21,500 feet.

Brent was also doing well and the two of them were joking around.  Judy told Brent how impressed she was with him and Brent said that was because she hadn't met him yet.....

Anders shared with us a bit of what happened yesterday.  He described it as the most intense and extreme 24 hours of his life and he is very much looking forward to sitting down with us and going through it.

The Balcony was very challenging.  The four of them made the decision to scrap their summit push to help the guy (a Slovakian) get down.  It was clear he couldn't make it on his own and he wouldn't last long if he didn't get down.  They tried to secure some support from others there but were unable to do so and so the four of them decided to take him down.  Garrett Madison got on the phone and arranged for one of the Madison climbing Sherpas to pitch in and Brent made the call that they could safely and quickly get him down with just two people.  Brent decided it made the most sense for him to go with the Sherpa (he was the most experienced and had summited Everest before).  This is an extraordinary sacrifice on his part (thank god there are people in the world like Brent, Geoff, John and Anders that make the right call).

Brent and the Madison sherpa escorted (carried) this fellow down but unfortunately he later died at C4.  Heartbreaking.  Also, it's hard to imagine the physical effort necessary for Brent and the Sherpa to bring him down....

Meanwhile, Anders, Geoff and John, after having spent almost two hours at the Balcony started climbing up again.  They had started relatively late the night before (11pm) because they had anticipated being relatively fast.  Now the late start and the rescue effort at the Balcony put them behind many, many (slower) people climbing up.  Anders said they climbed aggressively and had to frequently unclip to pass folks.  During this process, Anders became separated from Geoff and John and ended up ultimately getting to the summit by himself, about 30 minutes ahead of John and Geoff.

However, a ways off from the summit Anders ran out of oxygen.  This had a profound physiological impact on him but he could see the summit and then HE PROCEEDED TO CLIMB ON HIS HANDS AND KNEES to the summit.  (As his parents we are thankful that we did not have real time coverage of this!).

Of-course he was exhausted when he arrived on top of the world and it was very cold (and he needed to find oxygen) so he only stayed for 2 minutes or so (its a crazy thing this mountaineering--50+ days of effort in Nepal plus literally years of training for that 2 minutes!)  As he headed down he crossed paths with one of the Madison Sherpas and was able to get another tank of Oxygen.

We'll share more of the details later when we talk with Anders at more length.

The plan is for Anders and Brent to get up early and head down through the Ice Fall (for the 8th time) and get to Base Camp early.  Judy and i are trying to arrange for there to be a helicopter there and have it fly the two of them down to Kathmandu tomorrow afternoon and from there, if all goes well, back to the states on Wednesday or Thursday.  I don't have any pics from his summit climb, but here are a couple to remind you of our Everest summiter and some of his journey:





















Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jersey Channeling Everest and Nepal--Anders you rock!

We are enjoying a beautiful day here at the Jersey Shore.  We are flying our Nepal prayer flags at the shore in honor of our son who climbed Everest!!!!

We just heard Anders and team are spending the night at C4 (sucking Os) and then heading down tomorrow.  Come on home Anders--let's start the party!



Just heard from Anders at C4--he did indeed successfully summit Everest!!!

Judy and I were just able to talk to Anders (5:30 am here on the East Coast and 3:15pm in Nepal).  We had a pretty good connection.  He was out of breath, dehydrated and in need of grabbing another O2 bottle but this is what we learned:

1. He climbed Mount Everest!  He was very happy about this.  He said the climbing was fantastic and that he felt very, very good throughout the climb.

2. The reason they spent so much time at the Balcony was they came across a "German or Scandinavian" who was not on O2 and who wasn't going to make it (survive).  They focused on rescuing him and Brent (Anders' guide) ended up bringing him down (we gather) and most likely saving his life.  Brent apparently is in a tent now at C4 and Anders was going to try to find out more.  They also came across another fellow they tried to save--Anders said his face was "completely frozen"--they injected him but apparently he was too far gone.  The Himalayan Times has confirmed the death of this man, an American, the 3rd death of this climbing season at Everest.

3. Anders ended up climbing a lot on his own.  High on the summit ridge he ran out of oxygen.  He waited for one of the climbing sherpas from Madison (I think there were two of them) and got a replacement.  We're not sure how long or how much climbing he did without oxygen.  But he did comment the being without oxygen "sucked".  (no pun intended)

4. The Hillary Step is definitely still there!  By this we guess he meant it was still very difficult to get past this challenging feature of the ridge, which is located between the South Summit and the true Summit.

5. He said it was a real mess (not the exact term he used) on the way down.  Lots of people struggling and short roped.  I'm sure this was a real challenge to move past them on the descent--with its steepness and exposure.

6. He said they climbed strong and ended up passing a lot of people both up and down(which entails a lot of unclipping from the fixed ropes).

7. The climb from C3 to C4 was amazing--especially climbing over the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur.  When they arrived at C4 they found other people "squatting" in their tent.  He said they were able to sort it out and it was ultimately all good at C4.

8. He didn't call from the summit because it was really cold and he was worried about how cold his hands were (we told him we were very fine with this decision).

9.  He was definitely tired as they left at 11pm and it was after 3pm when he arrived back at C4--which means at least 16 hours door-to-door.

10. He was going to get together with his team now and see what the plan was (after getting some O2 and fluid).  We hope they will head a bit lower but they could certainly spend the night at C4 if necessary.

We may not hear from him until he is back down at Base Camp.  We'll feel a lot better when he gets there but we are relieved, proud and very excited about his accomplishment.  Last night was definitely pretty stressful (to say the least).

We know there is probably a lot more to this story--and we probably have some of the details wrong-- but we'll update more as soon he's able to call back.

Whew!  Our son climbed Everest!

Onward and Upward!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

yes--they all made it and are coming down now....

Details are sketchy and we did not get a call from the summit but it looks like they made it....

We hear they all made it together but again, we're dying to hear any details but Madison Base Camp has confirmed....

Apparently windy up top and hard to get a lot of details....

Anders on final steps to the summit...we hear....


very close

Just heard they are close

very near the South Summit

My guess is they are at or very near the South Summit.  This means they will have a descent before they begin the final push up to the summit.  It means they should be able to see the whole path ahead, which is a real positive when you are strung out after a long climb, like they no doubt are.

My guess is we are 60 to 90 minutes away.....

8718 meters

They are now higher than any other mountain in the world besides the one they are on.

Look at that sentence.  Pretty cool in my view.

This is less than 100 feet from the South Summit.

I'm projecting right around midnight here on the East Coast.

The guys are doing great.  Slower than projected.  We just heard about a climber evac both we don't know who, where, when or why (how was probably a helicopter)--perhaps this has slowed them down a bit.  It could be crowds, weather or any other factor.  We don't know.

That said, my view is they are doing great and should be on the final approach from the South Summit to the true Summit very shortly.

Go guys!  Onward and upward!

Adventure Consultant team summits

Ang Dorjee and his private client just reached the summit.  they left a little over 2 hours before our boys.  They reported that they were experiencing some wind, but evidently not enough to stop them.

Our guys seem to be moving well and the 11:30 East Coast arrival time (9:15 am in Nepal has been holding pretty steady as of late).

It's all about execution at this point.  They worked so hard to get ready for this moment....now it's time to bring it home!

Onward and Upward!

8560--more than 2/3rds!

The team has been moving quite quickly over the last hour and the estimated duration of the C4/summit transit has fallen by over two hours during the last hour.  This is probably a function of them moving and normalizing out the extended rest they had at the Balcony.  Also, they may have had some crowds that slowed them down for a while and now are moving a bit more quickly.

In any event, we have them at 8,560 meters (28,380 feet).  In any event, they are only 300 feet below the South Summit and once there, they should be able to see the true summit.  That plus I'm sure it's light out now.  They are shortly to reach an altitude that only K2 and Everest itself are higher than....

My model is predicting 11:32 on the East coast--less than 3 hours....

8379 meters--almost half-way

Latest update has them at 8379 meters, which higher than all but the following five mountains:

1. Everest
2. K2
3. Kangchenjunga
4. Lhotse
5. Makalu

I show them reaching the summit around 9:30am/11:45 on the East Coast.  If this is true, it is slower than expected but not a huge concern.  I expect their average pace has been impacted a fair amount by an expected rest at the Balcony.  Perhaps we'll see the estimated summit time trend earlier.

In any event, they are just about half-way there from a vertical ascent perspective....

Here is what it looks like--looking up the SE ridge:

 

At the Balcony--moving up as a group

Just received a text from Andrew at EBC that our group of 4 was at the Balcony and moving up together.  Looking at the live tracking data, they clearly spent some time there.  They could have been resting (very likely), maybe changing O2 tanks.

Andrew also just told us that it didn't appear to be that crowded and that the team was moving well.  They (at EBC) are estimating a 7:30 summit, which would be a bit before 10 here on the East Coast.  My handy-dandy spreadsheet has it a couple of hours later--but this could be impacted by a relatively long rest at the Balcony.  We'll know more in the next 20-30 minutes.

The good news is weather does not appear to be a problem at this point.....

Here is the path up from the Balcony:

 

Current Status

Sorry about the delay--I went out for a walk....back tracking Anders' progress.

Here is a spreadsheet that tracks his progress so far:

 They above tells you that they are coming up on 3 hours in elapsed climb time.  They have climbed 314 vertical meters, which is 36% of the vertical distance to the summit from C4.  At this pace it will take them a total of 7 hours to reach the summit--which put them there at a little past 9 tonight--a bit more than 4 hours from now....

Good progress.  A critical point will be whether or not they get past the Balcony, which is at 8380 meters.  Here is where, if the wind is bad, we might expect them to have to make a call about whether to proceed or not....

They are on their way

We have them starting the track at 11:03pm (7,897 meters).  This is 25,908 feet at 1:18pm our time.  At 11:53 (2:08 our time) they were at 7,977 meters or 26,171 feet.  In the screen shot below, you can see the purple "pins" marking their progress from the South Col:


And just a few minutes ago they are just under 8,000 meters (they have progressed 20 meters vertically in the last 10 minutes or so--this is about 400 vertical feet/hour):

May have ability to track their progress Live....

We may be able to follow Anders' climbing partner's Spot positional tracker.  For example we know that yesterday they climbed from 7,180 meters (23,556 feet) up to 7,891 meters (25,889 feet).  We also had them at the South Col as late as 5:04pm Nepal time (6 hours ago)--which is probably when the tracker was turned off.  If it's turned on again we'll follow it live....

A new data point just popped on at 10:53pm their time--this is 1:08pm our time and this probably indicates they are leaving for the summit very soon.....

Weather looks good enough for a go

Madison Mountaineering posted that the weather looks good for a summit attempt.  Adventure Consultants reported that there was some wind at the South Col but conditions were good enough for a small team to go for the Summit.  They left at 9:45pm local, which was about 45 minutes ago--noon on the East Coast.

No news on our team yet, although our assumption is that their departure for the summit is imminent.

Alan Arnette update on Everest status

Alan Arnette, an American mountaineer who blogs extensively on all things Everest.  He just posted an update that thought I'd selectively quote:

On the unpredictability of the weather:

I have been forecasting here since 2003 and never seen a season like this with forecast model runs changing every 12 hours.  (Michael Fagan with Everest Weather)

Another trusted weather advisor, meteorologist Chris Tomer agreed and suggested that there will be a few days each on either side of 22 May: 18-21 or 23-25. He further suggest a “wind plume” arriving quickly on the 22nd so climbers need to be down or not headed up during that period.

Clearly the next week will be tricky. I don’t want to add anxiety to any friends and family but this is the reality of climbing Everest for those back home: nervousness, sleepless nights, no news, mixed messages – all culminating with that call or message that everything is fine, coming home soon.

----------------------

South Summits Began

On the South it was a mixed bag once again as the weather continued to play with the climbers. As I have detailed ad nauseum, the weather forecasters are as frustrated as the climbers this season on the south side.

It appears that high pressure was playing favorites this year by keeping the clouds, wind and moisture sequestered on the Nepal side while occasionally leaking over to the Tibet side just to keep teams honest.

The end result has been a steady stream of summits on the north and occasional summits on the south – sometimes with a bold gamble by leaders on both sides. Again, thus far this has been a relatively safe season.

Perhaps the lessons from last year, or the last 50 years have sunk in with new expedition leaders. On 19 May, a few teams took off from the South Col intending to summit in difficult weather. Thankfully, they turned back to try another day.

----------------------

Hard to Turn Back

One of the more poignant post came from Larry Daugherty climbing with Adventure Ascents who turned back at the South Summit due to winds. Also with him was Thomas Wilkinson and Brandon Fisher.  Larry posted:

Mountain clearly in charge  Our team turned around at the south summit due to building wind – disappointed but safe at C4

However, one of their members, David Snow stayed back for another attempt. Not willing to give up, David found that elusive balance between giving it everything he could without giving himself to the mountain. Well done, well done David.

He posted early Saturday morning:

After being in Nepal for over a month I’ve discovered a few things.

For years, you can plan, ponder, prepare every last detail, and stand where no other mountain is higher and still not reach your goal. After 7 hours of climbing in the wind our guides made a choice to turn us around at the South Summit. Disappointment and discouragement were higher than we were. But we were also reminded just a few feet off our route why this is the world’s highest graveyard and why there’s wisdom in listening to those who have been where you have not.

Refusing to be done with the climb, I discovered mother nature controls summiting big mountains and not once but twice was crushed by attempts that would not happen.

I witnessed strength and determination in my climbing buddies Thomas Wilkinson Larry Daugherty Brandon Fisher who could have summited a peak twice as high as Everest.

The majesty of the Himalaya has changed my DNA.

I’ve made eternal friendships from the trek to base camp and with mountain guides that could have formed in no other way. My wife continues to elevate her rock star status. I’ve realized once again across all 7 continents and all the experiences this wonderful world affords, what really matters is
what’s back home.

----------------------

Summits

Ascent Himalayas aka Ireland to Everest had a big week with 17 total summits including several first. See this post for details. Adventures Global put two on Everest from Nepal. Horia Colibasanu summited without Os.

Just In

Satori Adventures put 5 members and 5 Sherpas on the summit early Saturday morning, 20 May. This is one of the teams that tried the earlier day but bad weather forced them to stay at the South Col and extra night. They had prepared for this contingency with extra oxygen.

Kuntal Joisher reported in for their team:

When they started from South col it was quite windy. However once they were on the mountain the winds subsided and 5 of the climbers reached summit at 6.45 nepali time. One japanese climber reached at 7.15. They all descended together. They reported of a very cold summit day. But as far as I know all climbers are in good condition.

Mega Adventures turned back on their summit push. Summit Climb posted they hit high winds but was unclear on their exact status.

The large Indian Navy team was supposed to start their summit push late Friday night but reports are in that they have returned to the South Col citing high winds at 100kph/60mph.

------------------------

Big Changes at the Hillary Step!

Tim Mosedale confirmed what was rumored last year – that the rock formation that defined the legendary feature called the Hillary Step had changed either by the 2015 earthquake or by the way mountains have forever- wind, rain and erosion.

He posted:

It’s official – The Hillary Step is no more. Not sure what’s going to happen when the snow ridge doesn’t form because there’s some huge blocks randomly perched hither and thither which will be quite tricky to negotiate.

As regular readers may remember in 2016, it was reported the Hillary Step was “gone”. Speculation ranged from the rocks that defined the 50 foot high crack had collapsed in the earthquake to it was just covered in snow. Now we know.

It does appear the a large boulder to the clibmers left is missing. But you and count on thousands of suggests on which rock, how far, when, by whom 🙂 ..  If you want to explore this further a good start is with Mark Horrell‘s investigative report on his blog from last year.

Regardless of the what, how and when we can see the one of the most famous features in mountaineering has changed. Time will tell what impact this has on climbing to and from the summit.




Finally a couple of recent pictures:

Our team of four (Anders, Brent, Geoff and John) at 2:15 am as they set off for their summit rotation:


The night before, celebrating with the Gurkhas after their successful summit:


Going for the summit in a few hours!

Judy received a text from Andrew, the Base Camp manager, that Anders and team had a successful climb up from Camp 3 to the South Col, where they are resting in their sleeping bags and breathing bottled oxygen.  We expect them to leave for the summit, some time in our early afternoon today--a little before or near midnight of the 20th in Nepal.

First off, I think it's appropriate to stop and reflect that Anders and his team have now successfully climbed to 26,000 feet, which is higher than all but 17 mountains in the world.  If he reaches the Balcony tomorrow, which should take 2-3 hours, just 3 will be higher.  Of course, his objective is to reduce that list to zero.  Still it's remarkable what he has accomplished, as a high altitude mountaineer, already!  That, and executing a demanding regime of climbing, eating, sleeping, staying healthy and focused for the last 50 days, in some pretty challenging circumstances.  Anders is a remarkable young man.  We are very proud of him.

That said, the next 12-18 hours will be some of the most important and consequential that Anders will face in his life.  As you might expect, we are on "lock down" and will have our phones ready and waiting for updates from Andrew, who will be sleeping in the Comm. tent at Base Camp, and from the team itself via Sat phone.  We'll share as soon as we get it.

We're worried of course, but very confident in his and his team's fitness, preparation, skill, and most importantly, judgement.  If the weather permits, we believe he will get there, and most importantly back again (under any circumstance).

Here we go! (Send good Karma his way!)


On the way to the South Col/Camp 4

We heard from Anders just before 10pm last night (East Coast time).  He called us via Brent's Sat Phone from C3.  They were preparing for an 8am (Nepal)/10:15pm (ET) departure from C3 to move up to the South Col.

He said their move up to C3 from C2 was great--a really good day.  It only took them 3 hours and Anders said that the O2 they were all using helped a lot.  He said there were quite a few people there at C3 but that they hoped to move up in front of them on this move.

We haven't heard an update this morning but would expect Anders and team to already have arrived at C4/South Col.  We anticipated about a 6-7 hour trip up to C4, which would have put them into the South Col sometime around 5am ET this morning.  We would expect them to have a lot to do at C4, melting water being the first task--both to rehydrate and to make sure they enough for the summit push.  Boiling water at 26,000 feet and 10 degrees below zero is an arduous process at best.  Hopefully as time permits we'll here from the team.

The picture below depicts the whole SE Ridge route from Base Camp to the Summit and it gives you a good view of how far they have come to get in position for the summit--remember, it took us 10 days just to get to Base Camp in the first place:


We believe that they are trying to set up for a summit push in a few hours.  Normally, teams upon arriving at Camp 4, will rest for a few hours (5-8 typically) and then leave late on the evening they arrived at Camp 4 and climb through the night to get to the summit in the early morning of the next day.  What that means for Anders and team is they would probably depart around 1pm this afternoon East Coast time with a potential summit around 7-10pm tonight.

The picture below (which is shot from Lhotse) depicts the upper mountain that they will have to navigate during their night of the 20th.  We've heard there is quite a bit of snow on the Triangular Face, which will help a bit in that section.  Once they reach the Balcony the route is very steep--probably 45 degrees plus on a narrow ridge.  At the South Summit (which is higher than any other mountain in the world), the slope lessens but climbing at nearly 29,000 feet of course presents it's own challenges.  We've also heard that the topography of the Hillary Step has changed a bit since the earthquake of 2015 and apparently it is a bit easier to navigate now--which would be great if true because the Step is frequently a bottle neck on summit day.


Here is a picture from the net showing the SE Ridge climbing up towards the summit (which is behind you in the picture) from the South Col:


It's a bit hard to tell if Anders and team are timing their push optimally.  It seems like a lot of teams are targeting more the 22nd-26th for a summit, so they are a day ahead of a bunch of other people.  However, we heard there were high (60+mph) winds up on the summit later in the morning on Friday (yesterday).  We heard that a number of folks had to turn around before the Balcony--probably missing their chance.  There were also reports of frostbite.

However the most recent weather reports seem to indicate that winds will pick up on the 22nd so maybe, (we need to stress maybe) the 21st will be a nice window when the team will have a good shot.

At this point we are for the most part putting our lives on hold and waiting for further news--we'll update when we get it.

Climb strong and safe, Anders!


Friday, May 19, 2017

Locked and loaded, sleeping at Camp 3

We don't have a lot of info but we know Anders, Geoff, John and Brent did successfully transit up to Camp 3 on the 19th (Nepal time).  Andrew, the Base Camp manager for Madison, confirmed this and we had a very brief exchange with Anders via sat phone as well.  It was too short to get any of the details and frankly, given that Camp 3 is cut into the side of a 50 degree slope, we prefer that he stays inside the tent and focus on the task at hand.

I imagine they used O2 and that the trip took them about 3 hours or so.  But I can't confirm either.  I do know that Anders is now sleeping higher (24,000 feet) then he ever has before (the O2 will help) and this is his high altitude record as well (he was also at Camp 3 for about 20 minutes during his 2nd rotation).

Here is a depiction of the route up the Lhotse Face.  They are likely somewhere between the lower and upper camp 3 locations indicated on this picture.  Tomorrow, the plan would be to progress up to the South Col, where Camp 4 is located, rest there for a half-day or so and then go for the summit:


Up above, we know some climbers did successfully summit Lhotse on the 19th and that at least some folks who tried to summit Everest yesterday, had to turn around due to high winds.  How this will impact Anders and indeed what the weather will look like over the next couple of days are of course big and potentially important unknowns.

The forecasts I have access to continue to look good for the next few days:


We'll post any further news when we receive it.

All good!  Onward and Upward!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

On track--resting at Camp 2!

We heard from Anders this morning, at what was about dinner time in Nepal on Thursday 5/18.

They had a successful trip once again through the Ice Fall (7th transit).  They left at 2:15am local time and it took them just 5 hours or so to make it through the Ice Fall--which is very fast.  Anders said they had ideal weather.  Further, he said the Ice Fall had changed quite a bit from the last time they went through it.  It seemed more stable and avoided one area of potential rock fall--he pronounced it as "much safer and more stable" now.

When they advanced up into the Western Cwm, he said they ran into quite a bit more crowding and borderline, unbearable heat (from the reflected sun).  Anders said it felt like it was above 100 degrees and they had to wait a bit in a bunch of sections.  Anders does not do particularly well in the heat (a Christofferson trait) but they stayed on it and arrived at Camp 2 without incident, a little after 10--Base Camp to Camp 2 in 8 hours, which is their fastest trip so far and speaks to their team's fitness and acclimatization.

Anders spent the next 6 hours focused on resting and hydration and was in good shape and spirits when Judy talked to him this morning, our time.  The immediate plan was to get some dinner.  Tomorrow, they plan to wait until a bit later in the day and then head up to C3--hoping to by-pass any crowding on the Lhotse Face.  Anders says that they can see a lot of folks up at Camp 3 (we believe a large Chinese team is there).  He says there are still quite a few folks back at Base Camp and further that the majority of teams who reached C2 today would probably take a rest day tomorrow at C2.  with their plan, they hope to be in between two larger groups--hopefully this will play our for them, but many factors could impact that plan, the weather being at the top of the list--so we'll see.

As far as the weather goes, Anders reported calm winds at C2 but they could see wind up closer to the summit of Lhotse, which is consistent with the recent forecasts.  How this effects teams currently at C3/C4 is hard to predict--but it could delay them.

In any event, they are still on track to reach C3 tomorrow, the 19th (should be early on the 19th on the East Coast).  Move to C4 at the South Col on their 20th (probably late the 19th and early the 20th over here) and then go for the Summit at some point late on the 20th/early on the 21st.  They'd currently like to be on the Summit, early on the morning of the 21st (late the 20th our time).

More news as we hear it....

All good for now!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

it's on!

We talked to Anders just before his dinner on Wednesday night in Nepal and learned that he and his team are departing for the summit early tomorrow.  Their target for a summit attempt is in the 21st-23rd time period, depending on how the weather develops between now and then.   Tomorrow, the plan will be to progress up through the Ice Fall all the way up to Camp 2.  Here's the latest forecast:

 
The numbers in the circles are wind speed (mph).  Red numbers are snowfall in inches.  Negative numbers in the pink are hi/low temps in F.  Bottom numbers are wind chill forecasts....



We'll of course be updating as events unfold.

Onward and upward!

Monday, May 15, 2017

South side has first summits

Some very good news out of Nepal.  Asian Trekking announced that 14 people reached the Summit of Everest at 1:15pm local after fixing lines from the Balcony all the way to the summit.  It looks like 11 of the 14 where Sherpas and I'm guessing the others were affiliated with Asian atrekking in some way.

In any event, a key bottleneck has been removed and the prepared climbing teams just need a weather window to take their shot.  We obviously don't have access to the forecasting resources the Everest teams do, but web based forecasts look pretty favorable, especially early next week.

Anders is waiting at EBC for his teammates to return from Pangboche, which should be tomorrow.  I'm not sure what their plans will be but one scenario would have them leave around the 18th for a 21st/22nd summit attempt.  I'm just speculating here, as I'm sure there is plenty of discussion among the team leaders on how to best manage a lot of climbers who've been waiting for a window.

More as we hear more!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Light at the end of the tunnel?

The waiting game continues for Anders at Base Camp and the rest of his team down in Pangboche.

Two pieces of good news: 1. we've heard that the line fixing sherpas are up at the South Col and presumably with descent weather over the next two days, they'll have a good shot at getting lines fixed to the summit. There does seem to be some optimism that s short window will open up, hopefully enough to get the lines to the summit.  2. It looks like a decent window might open up a week or so from now.  Here is a snapshot of that window:


Anders sent along a couple of pics.  First, he climbed up to Pumori's Base Camp yesterday--this is above 19,000 feet and he did the climb from Base Camp in two hours door-to-door (this is very fast). In this picture, you can see Base Camp some 1,500 feet below:


 Here is pic from the same place he took back when I hiked with him.  The black triangle of Everest proper is peaking over the West shoulder on the left.  The upper part of Lhotse, and it's big Face is dead center--you can see the South Col between Lhotse and Everest.  Nuptse on the right in the foreground:


Finally a picture of a bit of a traffic jam from their last passage through the Ice Fall.  Crowds and how to avoid them will be a major challenge with the late window--more on that later:



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Waiting game....

The next viable summit window on the South side appears to be at least a week out....the 22nd is showing promise.

There is also some hope that a small window may exist in the15-17th time frame when potentially the final ropes from the Balcony to the summit might get put in.

Brent, Geoff, and John elected hike the 6 or so hours, and 5,000 vertical down to Pangboche, to see if it helps their respiratory niggles.  Anders has elected to stay at Base Camp, as his cold seems ok and he didn't want the risk of being exposed to new germs down below.

Anders is of course spending a lot of time hanging in his tent, surfing the net, playing hearts, watching Homeland, reading and basically waiting for his shot at the summit.  He said he might take a "hike" up to Pumori Base Camp for a little exercise.  Having climbed there a couple of times, I can tell you it's anything but little, and the rock scramble is no walk in the park, but given Anders' fitness and acclimatization I'm sure he will make short work of it.

It's hard to wait.  And wait.  And wait, but Anders knows the drill and is patient and focused on taking his shot if and when it comes.  Hopefully, he'll be on his way back to the summit before the week is out....


Friday, May 12, 2017

Weather news discouraging

The weather gods are not really cooperating on the South side of Everest.  There was some hope of potentially trying to summit around the 16th/17th but the latest forecast shows the jet stream oscillating back to the South and encompassing Everest again--which means very high winds and no chance to summit while its there.  At this point this looks to be the case out until at least 5/20.  So at this point, if South side summits are going to happen, it will be in the later part of May.

Anders and team are of-course disappointed, especially since it seemed like there was a good window to climb over the last couple of days.  However, for whatever reason, the Sherpas weren't able to get the lines fixed to the summit, so no one could take advantage of that window.

The guys are now assessing what the best course of action going forward will be.  I'm hopeful they take a helicopter down to Namche and recharge for a few days at a lower altitude.  In any event, the game is to wait patiently now and hope a window opens up.  Its tough work, but if I know one thing for sure, Anders is well prepared for this and comfortable doing so--this is not his first big mountain rodeo.

We'll update when we hear more definitive news...Anders may send us some pics from Nepal in the interim....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Latest pictures from Anders!

Anders sent us from pictures from Rotation 3 and from EBC:

I'm not sure exactly where this one is from, but my guess is it's up near the base of Lhotse Face (which would be behind us in this picture) looking down towards where EBC is.  If so, that's Nuptse on the left and Everest (west shoulder) on the right:


I'm guessing this is a snowy Camp 2:


This is a look over Brent's shoulder down to Camp 1.  Pumori stands prominently to the left:


More of Camp 1, with a cloud bank hanging over the Upper Ice Fall:


Our four heroes heading down after learning the summit push would have to wait:


Having to navigate the Ice Fall after dusk was an extra challenge for them:


Back at Base Camp in the Long Tent (Brent, Geoff and John):


Anders sharing a little bit of "tent life" at EBC:



Anders shared with us a bit of the plan going forward.  We'll update on that in the near future....


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Calm before the storm?

Anders and team are hanging at Base Camp, generally recharging their motors and of-course mostly waiting for a green light to go for the summit.  We don't know when that will be but are hopeful they can head up again in a few days.  Their team is talking about leaving the 12th/13th but at the same time we hear the earliest that the rope-fixing sherpa team would head up is as late as the 15th -17th.  It's hard to imagine our guys would venture up through the Ice Fall again without some pretty clear intel that says the ropes will be fixed to the summit very soon....things are unclear at this point.

This year is very late but it's not unprecedented.  For example, in 2005 the first summits didn't occur until May 21st and 230 people ending up summiting that year.  Norgay and Hillary first climbed Everest on 5/29.  2012 was a season like this one, where the first summits were on  5/18.

So bottom line, there still is a lot more to this story and I suspect it will come soon enough....

We hope to get some pics from Anders from his recent rotation, and if we do, we'll be sure to post....

here is one we just received....Anders leading up into the haze....



Onward and Upward....

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Safe at EBC, yet again...

We heard from Anders that he and team are back down at Base Camp.  They made good time coming down from C2, although they had to traverse some of the Ice Fall using their headlamps, as it turned dark.

They were eating a late dinner and enjoying a whiskey and reflecting on the recent turn of events.  They are of course disappointed to be all ready to go and yet have to head lower...Anders was not relishing another couple of trips through the Ice Fall, which he feels physically is equivalent to somewhere between a half and a full Ironman--at least the climb up from EBC to C2 feels like that--"a real bear"...

That said, all four of them are experienced climbers and they well know that sometimes mountaineering is all about patient waiting for the right opportunity.  We're crossing our fingers that this opportunity will come soon.

For now, they are hoping to take advantage of this unexpected time at Base Camp and do everything in their power to be ready to go when they get the green light....

More as we learn more...

No go for now, back to Base Camp

Some disappointing news this morning from Nepal.  The Sherpa rope fixing team retreated from high up on Everest reportedly due to bad weather.  It's unclear when they will return, but the initial word is it might be as much as a week delay.  I'm not sure why that would be, but hopefully we'll get some more news soon--I'm sure it's a fluid situation up there (even though it's cold....that's a (weak) joke...)

As for the home team, we learned that they had wisely elected to stay at C2 until they heard it was a go up top.  When they heard the bad news they made the decision to pull all the way back down to Base Camp, which I'm sure is not that exciting to them, but I'm equally sure is the right thing to do.

The good news is they are not up high in what potentially is a bad climbing environment.  They also haven't tapped their O2 resources and they'll return to lower altitude, which will be easier on their bodies.

We just got a call from Anders where we learned they are heading down right now (3:30 pm local), which is late, but will hopefully put them in Base Camp right before dark.  Anders was disappointed, but as he does, was looking on the bright side (they are all healthy and ready to go, etc.).  He also mentioned, that there was some uncertainty as to why the Sherpas turned back.....so things are a bit murky right now.

The bad news is this adds to Ice Fall transits, meaning to summit, they are looking at a minimum total of 8...not ideal, but they are fast and strong and I'm confident they will do so without incident.  Their current transit will be number 6.

Further, and perhaps more importantly, this pretty significantly changes this year from a so-called "normal" year to one where the summit window will most likely be late and this of course ups the probability of crowding during a smaller window, and concurrently lowers their overall odds of summiting.

However, having said that, most teams are not in position to go for the summit right now, and if Anders and team can return to Base, and then leave around the 12th/13th, they most likely would still be in front of the majority of climbers.  This would of course require good weather and the Sherpas fixing to the summit, events as we have seen that are hard to predict and impossible to control.

The old adage in high altitude mountaineering is the mountain often decides what happens and right now, the decision is No. The right thing to do is wait and hope the No becomes a Yes in the not too distant future...

We'll update as we learn more today....

Additional info:  this is from a post just published on the Adventure consultants website:

This morning we were all excited by the prospect of the rope fixing team, including our Sherpas, reaching the summit of Everest.


However a deterioration in weather, with significant snowfall, has altered that plan. The fixing team had no choice but to retreat lower, and for now, all plans are on hold. A few teams were already high on the mountain, planning on maximising on the rope fixing, and the good forecast. For now the summit remains untouched, despite best efforts. This phase of the expedition can be the most challenging, with already huge efforts made, but the final piece remaining elusive. Weather and weather forecasts become all important, as we study and plan. For those not used to this, the process and uncertainty can be frustrating and seem haphazard. For those of us used to this, we are making informed decisions based on the best available information. Patience at this stage is paramount. We need to wait until ropes are fixed, our camps are in place, and the weather is suitable for a summit bid. 



Monday, May 8, 2017

Good Progress--Anders heading up!

We learned that there was very good progress made by the Sherpa rope fixing teams high up on Everest.  They had calmer winds and good conditions and apparently they were able to fix all the way to the Balcony.  The Balcony is around 27,500 ft and is about half the vertical distance from the South Col (26,000 ft) to the Summit.  It sits below the South Summit and the Hillary Step but is high up on the Southeast Ridge.  With good weather tomorrow there is a good chance that the ropes will be fixed all the way to the Summit.  The first Westerners presumably could reach the summit on 5/10.

Anders and team will be leaving shortly (early morning on 5/9) and climbing on O2 to C3.  They would then move to C4 on 5/10 and hopefully summit 5/11 their time (late 5/10 on the east coast)...

more as we hear!

Anders holding at C2

Andrew, at Madison Mountaineering Everst Base Camp, just texted that Anders, John, Brent and Geoff elected to hold another day at C2 to give the Sherpa rope fixing team some more time to fix ropes up above the South Col.

It's early afternoon in Nepal, so we haven't learned as of yet if they were able to push the fixed lines up closer to the summit today or not.  We'll probably hear later and report back when we do.

Staying at C2 for another day is probably net neutral.  It's very high but the boys are very well acclimatized at this point and a rest day is a rest day.  If they get the green light, then it's off to C3, travelling on O2 their tomorrow and late tonight our time.

The latest forecast shows low winds, reasonable temps (20 below), but some snow for the next week....

More later

Sunday, May 7, 2017

We hear from Anders at C2

Anders was able to get a short Sat. phone call out to us.  He's doing pretty well--he has a bit of head congestion (that will probably stay until he returns to more normal altitudes) but otherwise feels fine--he has an excellent appetite, which is a great sign.

Their trip yesterday was long and demanding--he said about 8 miles to C2 and close to 4,000 feet of vertical--but they made it faster than last time--a clear sign of their acclimatization progress.  he said his team was pretty "beat up" but that they all have more than enough in the tank to take a shot at the summit.

Weather-wise, it was over 100 degrees in their tent this morning and very warm with the sun beating down on the Western Cwm.  It was very warm outside of their tent as well.  However, just before dinner the sun is down and Anders is in his full body down suit.

They are awaiting a report on rope fixing progress and what they should do going forward.  Anders guess (which i agree with) is that they are likely to take another rest day at C2, which would push back their schedule by one day (earliest summit attempt would be on their 11th and the night of the 10th for us on the East coast).

The weather, especially the wind, continued to be challenging yesterday and the sherpa rope fixing team decided to delay further fixing above the South Col for another day.  If they were able to make some progress today, then there is a chance that the ropes would be fixed to the Summit by end of the day tomorrow.  We'll know more shortly.

In any event, Anders said that there weren't too many folks at C2 geared up for a summit push, which is good news.  Most of the rest of the Madison team is down at Namche, breathing in the thicker oxygen while they rest for their summit rotation.  We read that there is a Himex team at C2, which is good news, as they are the ones responsible for fixing the ropes to the summit.

More news when we hear it....

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Anders and team safe at C2!

We heard both from Andrew at Madison Mountaineering and from Anders via text, that their team is safe at Camp 2, below the Lhotse Face, and preparing to get some shut eye.  Anders said it was a long, hard day but a good climb and that they are all in good shape.

There was also some bad news from Everest as apparently a Sherpa fell on the Lhotse Face.  Thankfully, the man survived, but we don't know anything about how it happened and the extent of his injuries.  Also, we just learned that Min Bahadur Sherchan, a Nepali man who was a former British Gurkha soldier, died of a heart attack at Base Camp.  He was 85 and was trying to become the oldest person to climb Everest.  He previously held that record when he was 76, but was surpassed by an 80-year old several years ago.

We don't know how the Sherpa's fall might impact rope fixing higher on the mountain and in turn Anders and his team's target summit attempt of May10th (if at all).  We'll update when we learn something new.  As for now, the current plan is to sleep tonight and tomorrow night at C2, and then move up to C3 on 5/8, Nepali local time (late on 5/7 here).

Here is a view looking up Lhotse and Everest from C2, courtesy of Greg Vernovage at IMG--Lhotse is the peak near the center and the lower portion of Everest is to the left:


The Bergschrund, is a very deep crevasse near the bottom of the Lhotse Face and is the separation of the moving ice below and the more stagnant ice (called firn) on the Lhotse Face above.  You can see Camp 3's location above the Bergschrund, part way up the Face.  On 5/9, the current plan is for Anders and team to climb up past the Yellow Band (a distinctive geologic formation in the Himalayas) and the Geneva Spur to the South Col, where Camp 4 is.  Both the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur require some scrambling and the team will use the fixed ropes to help there.

Camp 3 is at about 24,500 feet and Camp 4 is at about 26,000 feet.

Finally, a picture of our intrepid climber from earlier in the trip in front of Ama Dablam:


And lastly, the fantastic four: Anders, Brent, John and Geoff:


Sleep well tonight!

Friday, May 5, 2017

He's off....

Anders texted just prior to his departure from base camp at about 7pm EST....he's on his way....

A look back......

I'm back in DE doing some post production work on the 1800+ pictures i took while in Nepal.  I'm about a third of the way through them and thought while we wait for Anders and team to head up in a few hours, I'd throw up some pics from the first 7-8 days of our journey: