Tuesday, May 9, 2017

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. 

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