Everest Climbing Season Ends on a High Note

This past weekend, the final wave of climbers reached the top safely

Everest climbing season ends on a high note

Everest climbing season ends on a high note     Photo: Grayson Schaffer

Last Saturday, when the final wave of climbers safely reached the top of the world, the season on Everest effectively came to a close. While it’s still theoretically possible that someone might still try to dash to the summit (especially from the north side), there are no more major bids planned that we’re aware of. Grayson Schaffer, who had been reporting from Base Camp for the past five weeks, is currently on his way back to Kathmandu.

According to Everest expert Alan Arnette, nearly 200 climbers topped out safely this past weekend. Among them was a team sponsored by Eddie Bauer and led by legendary guide Dave Hahn—who now has 14 Everest summits under his belt, the most of any Westerner, and renowned alpinist Conrad Anker, who had originally hoped to climb the mountain's notoriously difficult West Ridge. Anker, who summited via the South Col route without oxygen, was part of a team sponsored by National Geographic and The North Face, whose members also included alpinist/photographer Kris Erickson; climbers Sam Elias and Emily Harrington; ski mountaineer Hilaree O’Neil; and alpinist and frequent Outside contributor, Mark Jenkins, all of whom also topped out.

The fact that the last major push up the mountain was both successful and safe was a major relief. If you’ve been following all of our Everest coverage, you know that May 19th was one of the worst nights in Everest history, when six people total died. (Our coverage was mainly focused on the south side, where four people died. Two others also died on the north side.) Over the course of the entire climbing season, 10 people have died, making this season one of the deadliest on record. For comparison, 15 people perished in 1996, the deadliest year to date. (The tragedies of that season having been famously chronicled by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air.) More recently, 11 climbers died in 2006.

In other news, the Canadian press is reporting that Sherpas were finally able to retrieve the body of Shirya Shah-Klorfine of Toronto, one of the six climbers who died on the 19th. According to various reports, as many as six Sherpas began the retrieval on Saturday, but due in part to bad weather, the body was finally flown to Katmandu earlier today. (Dozens of bodies still remain on the mountain. Recovering a body is both expensive and dangerous, and sometimes climbers bodies are left behind at the request of family members.)

Finally, on a more uplifting note, more than a 150 competitors completed the 10th annual Tenzing-Hilary Everest Marathon earlier today. Beginning in Gorek Shep, a tiny outpost close to Everest Base Camp, the all off-road, full-length marathon descends some 6,000 feet of narrow, rocky footpaths before finishing in the town of Namche Bazaar. This year’s winner was Phurba Tamang, who finished with a time of just three hours and 41 minutes. It was the second win for Phurba, who two years ago completed the course 11 seconds faster.

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