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Everest climbers possibly close to Balcony
20:28 p.m. EDT May 25, 2003
3 expeditions are heading for Everestís summit just now and should be somewhere below the Balcony, 8500m.

Through the past week, the weather reports forecasted higher winds for this upcoming Monday-Tuesday, just before the expected weather window on Thursday. The expeditions have had a tough time deciding what to do.

The weather in the past week has been very unstable, high winds one day, and then calm the next. It is frustrating to wait down and watch summiteers make it, one after the other. Take for instance Borge Ousland, the strong polar veteran who was the first person to reach the North Pole unsupported. Whilst he was waiting in camp 2, Everest was scaled by a 70 year old man (who even skied down parts of it) and a 15 year old girl!

However, the unstable weather has been clearly reflected in the uneven numbers of summits. Most expeditions could only reach the summit with a few members each. Large, veteran outfits have only had their sherpas and/or the occasional client making it. While it is possible to make the summit in this kind of weather, it is very much subject to chance. If you want better odds for a summit, you should wait.

The current expeditionsí choice thus boiled down to waiting for the forecasted window. The trouble with the window, however, is that it's arriving late this year. If the forecast is only a few days off, the window will not arrive until end of May, when the permits to climb Everest expire and the icefall is taken down. Damned if they do and damned if they don't, the climbers decided to take their chances tonight.

ExplorersWeb archive image: Climbing just below Balcony, 8500 m. A plume from Everest's South Summit, 8750m can be seen on the left

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