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Mount Everest Special: The Weather and the Ropes
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May 18, 2005 17: 35 EST
It's May 18, and still no summits have been made on Everest. The late date has tension mounting in Base camps - and with it confusion. There are two main concerns: The ropes (or lack of) on Everest North side. And - the weather.

The weather

First, let's start with the forecasts. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: When reading the weather reports, it's important to focus on the man made synopses rather than the computerized tables. Especially in times of shaky weather patterns and varying winds.

The weather situation is unchanged. AdventureWeather has not indicated any window for either the 16-18 or the 19-21. We are expecting a decrease in wind from today or tomorrow, but they are not stable conditions. A window will bring a prolonged period of less wind, but we have not seen indications of that yet.

A summit could be possible - but the push will be a gamble

This is what SMHI says today:
9000 m: During Wednesday decreasing westerly winds from 20-25 m/s to 10-15 m/s. The following days winds will be west, 10-15 m/s, at times 15-20 m/s. WNI confirms the report but pushes the decrease of winds until Thursday. The decrease is shaky, however. Winds will jump back up again after a few days, and keep alternating over the period until next week.

The current weather pattern is typical of summit pushes ending with different results. One party can go up and make it in a pocket of low winds; the second will be turned back by high winds the very next day. All that can be said about the current weather is simply that a summit could be possible - but the push will be a gamble.

More info requested

Historically, the Everest window has sometimes arrived very late - sometimes not until the very last days of the Month. This year however, India has predicted a normal monsoon movement. ExWeb has asked the meteorologists for more information on the monsoons outside of Sri Lanka, which would normally be the start of the really good weather.

The ropes on the North side

Next, there is the question of ropes on Everest North side, where an increasing number of climbers now are growing unhappy with Russell Brice. Not only are the ropes not fixed to the summit - more importantly, Russell is said to not communicate well with the teams.

The Norwegian expedition report on their website, that the plans for a summit push are constantly changing due to new and confusing weather reports. They say that the Indian, Chinese, Russian, Dutch and other expeditions are trying to work together, whilst others are very secretive, unwilling to share information.

BC expedition leader meeting today

Abramov reported a few days back that Russell's Sherpas would start to fix rope to the summit of Everest sometime around today. Harry Kikstra wrote that "we still have the problem of the ropes above the 2nd step. They have not been put there, even though many parties have paid Himalayan Experience to take care of it. But their clients might not be ready, so we will need another meeting of the heads tomorrow to check the possibilities..."

Harry's report was confirmed in an e-mail to ExWeb today, from another expedition leader: "You would be aware that Russel Brice had agreed earlier to fix all rope on the mountain at $100 per climber. All this money had been paid up in advance and Russel's team fixed only 300 m of rope. Most of the rope had been fixed by the Norwegian team and the Indian Army team.”

Feel cheated

“Today in a big meeting at ABC we asked Russell what his intentions were? He could not state when he would get the rope fixed and even refused to contribute any Sherpas for fixing the rope around the 20th, stating that he wanted to use his Sherpas for sending gear and oxygen for his clients."

Expeditions now say that they have no choice but to take on the job of fixing rope themselves, and: "Russell’s attitude after having accepted responsibility for fixing rope has left everyone baffled. He has not bothered to contact us or inform us of what his plans were and now this... if we had known we would have come prepared with ropes and equipment. But now we feel cheated by Russell’s actions (or inaction)."

Image of Makalu viewed from Everest summit, ExplorersWeb.
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