When will they summit?
08:52 a.m. EDT May 14, 2003
“We knocked the bastard off”, Hillary said when he came down from the summit almost 50 years ago. Well, not quite. The success for him and Tenzing was more about the timing of a good weather window May 29th.
When the Jet Wind hits the summit at 100 miles/hour the chances of human survival are extremely slim. As Jagged Globes sherpas stated the other day, “If we had not gotten the weather warning last weekend when the storm hit – many climbers would have blown of the mountain.” The infamous storm of 1996 which killed 13 climbers was not even close to the strength of a Jet wind.
The climbers are affected by Jet Winds, low pressure systems, snow fall and the Monsoon. The fact is that not many days are a good day for a summit.
When to expect a weather window
Until now the weather has been typical for the season (except for this year's unusually fierce wind storm at lower levels). The Jet wind has been positioned over or in the vicinity of Everest and low after low has been moving in from west. The result is unstable weather, with pockets of “good” summit conditions but no real, safe summit push opportunity.
A weather window most often appears after the Monsoon starts moving in over Sri Lanka, thus pushing the Jet and bad weather north of Everest. The result is a week or two of low summit winds and great climbing conditions.
Statistics for most successful summit days
The first reports of the Monsoon movement should be in any day now, and there are indications of better summit weather for the beginning of next week. The highs for summits in the past five years are as follows:
Year Most Summits
1998 May 20 - 25 climbers
1999 May 26 - 23 climbers
2000 May 16 - 23 climbers
2001 May 23 - 88 climbers
2002 May 16 - 77 climbers
So why has Lhotse been summited three times already this year and not Everest?
Even though Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain, and the closest neighbor to Everest, the route to the summit is less exposed for the wind than the Everest climb.
As of late, the North Side Chinese are poised for a summit in just several days. On the South Side of Everest, many teams are shooting for a summit between the 19th and 21st of the month.