Saturday, May 20, 2017

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.



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:

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