Early summits mean the route is ready to go
Well, good news from the North Side. A number of Sherpa working with Himalayan Experience reached the summit late in the day April 30.
This is truly an exceptional effort on behalf of the Sherpa and the entire team led by Russell Brice. While some may feel that attempting to go to the top is dangerous so early in the year it appears that the weather recently has been unseasonably good. Russell always has the best weather information and takes great pains to look after the safety of his team so I can only imagine that the conditions were perfect.
Word is that the team left 7,900 meters at 2:00 with no wind and was on the summit ridge by 7:15, still with only light winds. They were sheltered by the ridge as the wind was out of the east at about 5 km/hr. Normally summit attempts occur with winds up to 25+ km/hr.
Progress was slow due to their job of fixing rope along the ridge but they reached the second step a bit after noon. Then it was another three hours to the summit where they enjoyed temperatures of zero degrees and sunshine. I wish the weather would have been as balmy the day my partner Greg Vadasdi and I stood on top last year (June 2). The team was back in ABC by 20:45 and proud of their accomplishment. No frostbite, just smiles.
One of the most frustrating things about climbing Everest can be the disputes over the fixed rope. Clearly having the entire mountain fixed as a unified effort is the safest and most economical way to prepare the route for the climbers attempting the summit. Despite this fact it is amazing the number of arguments that ensue between different teams over who should risk Sherpa fixing rope and when. Clearly Russell made an informed decision this year as a result of great weather. As such I hope that the disputes at ABC will be kept to a minimum this year. But, that’s probably wishful thinking.
More teams are set to attempt in early May. Looks like a great year shaping up on the North Side. At this rate there will be plenty of time to relax on the beaches of Bali or Phuket as climbers make their way home.