Everest and Himalaya daily wrap-up: North Side summits, South hopes for a chance|
May 23, 2005 12: 27 EST
After several weeks where the action was on standby, Everest exploded this weekend. Contrary to tradition, the North Side grabbed the first summits of the year. Two Slovenians (Marko and Viktor) from the Seven Summits team, and Spanish climber Rosa Fernandez reached the summit on Saturday, among around 15 other climbers.
Until the CTMA issues the official confirmation report, it remains unclear who the first summiteer was. Sadly, Marko disappeared during his descent, and his body is now believed to have been discovered by the Chinese Everest measuring expedition, which summited on the North Side on Sunday.
Wind, snow, and cold have thwarted all South Side summit attempts. Many teams have aborted their final summit push, and are now leaving the mountain. With no apparent break in the weather until the end of May, South Side expedition leaders called a meeting to see if they could salvage the season. With cooperation between the teams, they will finish fixing the route to the summit. According to the new plan, the ice docs will keep the icefall open until June 4th. So if the weather opens up at the end of May, the South Siders may have a chance then and into the first few days of June. It’s going to be very close.
Everest Weather – Improvement End of May?
The jet is forecast to move in on Tuesday, bringing 25-30 m/s (56-67 mph) winds. There is some indication that the period of lower winds will start on May 29th or 30th. The weather now is mostly dry, with pockets of isolated showers after Thursday.
Supercouloir – Alpine style trio in BC
Ralf, Gerlinde, and Hiro are in Everest North Base Camp. They’ve made a recon trip to the base of the Supercouloir, and are now waiting for the right weather to launch their Alpine style attempt.
Everest Traverse – “All bets are off”
Luis Benitez reports: “This year, the catch phrase is ‘all bets are off.’ No models could have predicted such a year. North side is reporting over 15 summits, and us? None. Strong winds and deep snows have turned back all attempts (Koreans two times, and a loose group of clients from another company). Rope has yet to be fixed above the balcony (about ½ way point), so all teams are not only watching the weather, but also watching the larger teams to see how we use our resources.”
”There was a team meeting today among most commercial groups. The outcome? Watch, wait, and try to get a group of Sherpas, comprised of people from different teams, to assist in the front end fixing. Piers right now is actually considering flying to the North side with Lhakpa, due to their side being open at this point. He realizes this would negate his chance of traversing, leaving me to make the attempt if possible. I see his rationale as he is more focused on a summit attempt being his 1st time here, as I am focused on the traverse.
Everest North first summit on Saturday - but who was first? Several teams claimed the first summit of the season, but bad visibility, cold and dead sat phones provided for confusion. The climbing group of 15 people appeared to summit Mt Everest at 10 am with some stragglers approaching the summit closer to 12 noon.
An estimate from the north side has Arun Treks placing two or three members on the summit, Michael Frank (USA), Rosa Maria Fernandez (Spain) & possibly Karma (Bhutan) along with four climbing Sherpas Da Nima, Lhakpa, DaYula and Dawa. There were also people from Kari Kobler's team, Jocelyn from Monte Rosa, climbers from Summit Climb, and Slovenians Marko Lihteneker and Viktor Mlinar with 7-summit club.
Chinese Everest measuring expedition
15 Chinese surveyors and mountaineers made it to the summit on Sunday. They installed a beacon on the summit that will transmit GPS data and collect altitude and weather information. Everest’s precise elevation will be determined sometime later this summer. See separate story published yesterday for details.
Seven Summits – Body found
On Sunday, the Abramov/Kikstra team reported: “Victor Mliner & Vladimir Lande arrived at ABC. They feel well. Chinese expedition Sherpas found the body of a climber at the altitude of 8800 m. This body looks like Marko’s.” See separate story published yesterday for details.
Catalans – That’s it
The team is back in Chinese BC after a failed summit attempt. Xavi Arias and two Sherpas launched a bid on Saturday, but had to turn back about 300 meters shy of the summit due to bitter cold and strong winds. The team will be heading back to Spain in a few days.
Everest Vitesse – No O2 speed attempt
Yesterday, the team reports: “Today Bruno made a stop at 8,000 meters! Yesterday Bruno, together with Claudio B., decided at the last minute to climb to the ABC (Advanced Base Camp-6,375 m.) from the BC (Base Camp- 5,150 m.) and this morning he took advantage of the relatively calm wind and was finally able to go up and breathe the thin air at 8,000 meters. A call sent via radio signaled his presence up there, but the onset of snow forced him to turn back. ‘Excellent test,’ declared Bruno, ‘I felt very well.’”
Jagged Globe north – Holding out until the end of May
All the team are in ABC and all are well, though they are still not expecting to be making a summit until the end of May.
Project Himalaya – In for the long haul
Jamie reports, “We are waiting good weather out - how long for, we are not sure, but at the moment we are in for the long haul, and the first possible window is 28-29 May, and doesn't look particularly hopeful yet.”
Leipzigers w/o O2 – Calling it quits
“All attempts to summit were in vain yesterday. The Everest summit was not reached from South this year yet. Yesterday at 10 a.m., we decided to give off at about 7400 m altitude. The reason was the steadily increasing wind, another one the information that all the other teams cancelled their summit pushes as well.”
Team member Olaf was not impressed with the meeting of the South Side commercial expedition leaders. “I wondered about this discussion, in particular because no Shirdar (the chief of a Sherpa team) was there. But they talked about things that affect mostly the Sherpas! And no one accepted the fact that Everest cannot be summited from South this year.”
The team is planning to leave Everest on the 24th.
Team Honda (Samurai’s Soul) – New plan of attack
In an email, the team reported, “Now, Mr Michihiro Honda and Mr Shigeki Imoto are staying in C2 and plan to turn back to BC this morning. Mr. Takeshi Kodama already arrived in C2 yesterday. Mr. Honda has frozen his finger a little and Mr. Imoto has frostbite in his feet, however they are planning to climb after completing the set up of Camp 5 (Ed. note: The team is establishing a Camp 5 just as 70 year-old Yuichiro Miura did on his successful 2003 summit - Miura inspired Honda in his attempt). Mr. Kodama feels very good and has high spirits for the climb. The team is changing their plan. The new plan of attack is to make a summit push on the 27th or 28th.”
Mountain Madness – Double fixed lines
The team reports that double fixed lines will be added to bottle neck areas, in case the remaining teams leave for the summit on the same day.
DCXP – Many teams are leaving the mountain
“Our forecast still shows no safe weather window through to the 28-29th May at least. The long range forecast is that perhaps on the 4-6th of June is the first GOOD weather window, but this is a long way off (so it could disappear and the small chance window on the 28-29th might improve, many teams are leaving the mountain as they run out of food and gas for cooking. Many climbers are losing so much physical condition that even if the weather does come good, many will be too weak to climb fast. We have supplies through to the 7th June...lets hope we don’t need it all!!”
Alpine Ascents – South side meeting
“This morning the expedition leaders had a meeting by the clinic to discuss the current situation and decide the best plan to follow regarding fixing lines from the South Col to the Summit and avoiding the dreaded bottle neck along the knife-edged ridge that goes from the South Summit to the Hillary step.” See previous story for details on the meeting.
Adventure Consultants – Crumbling icefall
“The Sherpas as well get nervous towards the end of the month as they don't want to be working in an ever crumbling icefall any longer into the warm season than we do, so this factors into our equation as well.”
“At 3am on Saturday 21st May my attempt to climb Mt Everest came to a final close.” See separate story published this weekend for details on Keith’s summit push.
Summit pushes in the Himalaya
There’s been no news from Norbert of Alan Hinkes, but Araceli Segarra reported that she planned to launch a summit bid on May 22nd. Further news is expected soon about the results of that attempt.
The climbers are back in BC after 12 hours of rappelling. They turned back short of the summit when Yuri Koshelenko began showing signs of pulmonary edema. See separate story for details.
Adventure Consultants | Everest Traverse’s dispatches | Alpine Ascents Cybercasts | Esplugues al Everest (Catalan) | Jagged Globe dispatches | 7 Summits/Harry Kikstra’s dispatches | Everest Vitesse 2005 (Italian) | Keith Woodhouse’s reports | Mountain Madness dispatches | Ralf, Gerlinde and Hirotaka’s dispatches (German) | Japanese Team Honda’s website (Japanese) | Team Ogawa’s dispatches on HeraldNet | Project Himalaya | Leipzigers dispatches | DCXP
1. Climber on the Lhotse Face courtesy of www.leipzig-online.de.
2. Image of recent summiteers courtesy of Project Himalaya.
3. Image of Sherpas carrying Xavi (twisted ankle) courtesy of the Esplugues al Everest team.
4. Live image over Contact 3.0 of Everest South BC meeting courtesy of Adventure Consultants.
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