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Everest and Himalaya daily wrap-up: "This season is a tough one, and it just got tougher"
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May 20, 2005 12: 40 EST
Most of the South Side teams that were making summit pushes have turned around, and are making their way to Camp 2 and Base Camp. There are reports that a few small teams remain near the South Col, still trying to sneak up to the summit. But weather conditions remain far from ideal. As the population of Base Camp swells with returning climbers, the threat of crowding on the slopes during a late May summit push becomes more serious.

On the North Side, Alexander Abramov reports that up to 50 climbers are ready to take a shot at the summit tonight! Sherpas have already left to fix the route above the First Step, and Camp 3 is fully stocked. The next wave of summiteers is expected between the 25th and 30th of May.

The action has slowed to a halt on other Himalayan peaks. Teams on Annapurna South, Dhaulagiri, and Melungtse have aborted their summit pushes.

Everest Weather – Still no sign of the window

As of this morning, there’s still no sign of the weather window. Adventure Weather predicts the weekend winds will be around 15-20 m/s (34-45 mph), with an increase up to 20-25 m/s (45-56 mph) expected starting Monday. There’ll be occasional showers on Saturday and Sunday, with drier conditions moving in on Monday and Tuesday.

Chinese Everest measuring expedition

Sunday or Monday summit

A team of 22 Chinese surveyors and women mountaineers, working to re-measure the height of Mount Everest, left their 7,028-meter-high camp Friday to head for a camp at higher elevation. The team expects to rest at another camp at 7,790 meters before hiking to the summit Sunday or Monday, said Zhang Jiangyuan, the leader of the group.

The second group of 22 surveyors and mountaineers will set off from the base camp towards the 7,028-meter-high camp Friday afternoon. They are expected to reach the summit a day after the first group, Zhang said.

Everest Traverse – Summit push teams retreat

In a phone message to Exweb, Luis (currently in BC) described the conditions further up the mountain as “not heartening.” Most of the summit push teams on the South Side have turned back, but a few remain at the South Col despite heavy winds and snow. See separate story for details, and check out the webcast later today to hear Luis’ audio dispatch.

Everest North

Seven Summits – Up to 50 summiteers tomorrow?

Alexander Abramov has predicted that roughly 50 people will be going for the summit tonight, following a group of Sherpas who are on their way to fix as much as they can on the upper sections of the route. See separate story for details on the North Side summit schedule.

Catalans – Pressing on

The team continues their march to the summit. They’re at Camp 2, and today they plan on heading up to Camp 3.

Jean and Monica (supermom) – Getting into position for a summit push

“Many teams are positioning themselves for the summit push. The Chinese team climbed yesterday to the North Col, other teams have moved to Camp 2. We are waiting a few more days before starting on our summit push. Yesterday I climbed to North Col to check the camp and condition, all is set and ready.”

Everest Vitesse – Slim window for record attempt

The team is in BC now, and the weather reports continue to frustrate them. It looks like May 27-29th may be the only window for their no O2 speed record attempt. Bruno Brunod and company are planning a non-stop ascent and descent from BC to the peak, and back.

Everest South

Alpine Ascents – Team recalled to BC

Willi Prittie reports: “I recalled the entire expedition to Base Camp yesterday due to continued very low temperatures up high and continued strong winds, forecasted to increase significantly in the next few days. Winds as high as 80 knots and temperatures of -37 degrees are in the forecast. There is a group of Koreans and two British-based groups trying to sneak in a summit bid before the strongest of the winds in two days. We wish them well, but this morning, which was supposed to be lower winds, dawned very breezy here at Base Camp with obvious signs of high winds on all the peaks in view around Base Camp.”

“So, now we play the immensely unpopular and difficult expedition waiting game at Base Camp along with most of the other expeditions here. My crystal ball says that we will be here at least three days before going up again, perhaps longer. Meanwhile, Nigel eats, and Danielle has set up quite a business repairing all the fixed line damage to everyone’s gloves.”

Adventure Consultants – Big time crowding and safety concerns

Mike reports, “This season is a tough one, and it just got tougher. Today several more of the teams trying for the 20/21 'summit window' backed off while en route between C3 and C4. This was probably a good call but nevertheless sobering. This means more folks trying for the next available 'weather window' which equates to crowding. Potentially big time crowding and this causes safety concerns. It appears a small number of climbers still plan to set out tonight for the summit; the forecast indicates they had better be prepared to deal with wind.”

Jim Williams – Hoping to gain insight on what to expect

“Today two of the remaining groups heading for the South Col turned around after Camp 3. This leaves only small teams still trying to take advantage of this possible small window. We wish them all the best of luck. It is to every teams’ advantage if any team makes it to the summit, as it will help us all know what the conditions are up high and what to expect next time we head up the mountain.”

Jagged Globe south – Pulled back above C3

“We've heard from Kenton this morning - they've pulled back from above Camp 3, based on the latest forecast that indicates winds are unlikely to drop as much as hoped. Some of the members will stay at Camp 2 for the time being, whilst Kenton, John and Nick are returning to Base Camp today. The current forecast suggests that the winds might start to die down between 25 and 31 May, due to early indications of the monsoon starting to form.

Valencia – Brazilians return

The team reports that the Brazilians (Waldemar and Irivan) are on their way back to BC. The weather was bad, and they were feeling weak on their way to Camp 4. The Valencia team has decided to join forces with the Brazilians, and launch a new summit bid together in a few days.

Summit pushes in the Himalaya

Annapurna South – Summit push ended

After fixing 3 km of rope, working under avalanches, and enduring terrible weather, Piotr and the rest of the team called it quits on Annapurna. They are now all in BC. See yesterday’s special story for pictures and full details of the climb.

Dhaulagiri – Nothing else to be done

The remaining Dhaulagiri climbers aborted their fourth summit bid. They made it up to 7700m, but could not overcome a dangerous snow slope below the summit. The climbers are safely back in BC, and have cancelled plans to go to Annapurna. See separate story for details.

Melungtse – Koshelenko shows signs of HAPE

After completing the most difficult sections of the climb, the team has aborted the climb. Yuri Koshelenko was showing symptoms of pulmonary edema. See separate story published earlier for details.

Adventure Consultants | Jim Williams’ Exploradus dispatches | Jean Pavilliard and Monica Kalodzi’s dispatches | Esplugues al Everest (Catalan) | Jagged Globe dispatches | 7 Summits/Harry Kikstra’s dispatches | Valencia expedition’s website (Spanish) | Everest Vitesse 2005 (Italian) | Russian Climb | Alpine Ascents Cybercasts | Inaki Ochoa (Spanish) | Ivan Vallejo (Spanish)

1. Live image over Contact 3.0 of climbers on their way to higher camp courtesy of Jean Pavillard and Monica Kalozdi.

2. Live image over Contact 3.0 of climbers testing out O2, courtesy of Adventure Consultants.

3. Image of Irivan courtesy of the Valencia team.

4. Live image over Contact 3.0 of Jose Luis, Danielle, Dave, David and Esther courtesy of Alpine Ascents.

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