May 20, 2003 Everest Base Camp is emptying today, as some thirty different teams push for the top of the mountain. The first summits from the North Ridge occurred this morning. A team comprised of five Japanese and French climbers reached Everest's highest point at approximately 9:15 A.M. (Nepal time). International Mountain Guides' Sherpas Danuru and Phu Nuru reached the summit at 9:40 A.M. (Nepal time), and fixed rope for their team.
Climbing a ladder on Everest's Khumbu Ice Fall
On the mountain's Southeast Ridge, the Japanese Miura team is resting in Camp V (approximately 27,560 feet), while a number of other teams are in Camp IV, deciding whether to make a summit bid soon, or wait until tomorrow to see if the winds will wane. (Click here to see a 30 second video clip from Mounteverest.net, shot today at Camp IV!)
Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, who will attempt this season to break Babu Chiri Sherpa's Everest speed climbing record of 16 hours 56 minutes, is currently waiting in Base Camp for the crowds to subside a bit before he begins to climb.
Meanwhile, as festivities wind up in the Himalayas for Everest's golden jubilee celebration, Sir Edmund Hillary criticized the increasing commercialism surrounding the world's highest mountain. The UK's Weekly Telegraph reported that at an event in New Delhi marking the 50th anniversary of his ascent of Everest with Tenzing Norgay, Hillary said that the practice of guiding clients up the mountain for fees of up to $65,000 was "more like a conducted tour" than a true adventure. "We were the lucky ones" he said, "who picked our own path and never walked in other people's footsteps."