Jake Norton and Mingma Ongel Sirdar
Jake Norton and Mingma Ongel Sirdar. (Grayson Schaffer)

Dry and Warm Weather Hampers Climbing Conditions

Jake Norton and Mingma Ongel Sirdar

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We’re a few weeks into the Everest climbing season, and the peak still hasn’t given up any summits. Conditions on the mountain remain unseasonably dry and rockfall is pervasive. This week, Russell Brice’s outfit, Himalayan Expeditions, was the first of a few expeditions to call off their summit bids because the risk of injury—or worse—was too high. Other expeditions, like the North Face’s South Col team, continue to acclimatize and wait for a favorable weather window to push for the summit. The best guess for the first summit looks to be mid-May.

Some encouraging news is that it’s been snowing a bit over the last few days, and, according to RMI and First Ascent Guide Dave Hahn, lighter winds are in the forecast and conditions on the upper mountain have been improving, at least a “little bit.” Yesterday, Hahn posted the following on RMI’s blog: 

Hello, this is Dave Hahn calling from Everest Base Camp. We’re resting and hiking and we’re watching the progress of the weather conditions. It has been snowing a little bit every day and it seems, from what we have been told, that conditions have gotten a little bit better on the upper mountain. There was significant progress yesterday. A team of climbers, sherpas made it to the South Col. The route is fixed all the way to 8,000 meters now. Our sherpa team is going up tomorrow morning up to Camp 2 to check out conditions and see whether it makes sense for them to get on the wall to establish our Camp 3 and Camp 4. There is supposed to be, the next few days, supposed to be calm with continued light snow each day and we are seeing that is a good thing. Then the winds are supposed to come back, the jet stream is supposed to move into the mountains, but briefly, and then we are hoping for a break in conditions after the middle of the month. So it is going to be a little bit of a down time for the climbing team and we are keeping ourselves busy, like I say, with hiking and eating and resting and games. So far so good. Things seemed to have calmed down on Mt. Everest. Bye for now.

As for the climbers attempting the West Ridge, the National Geographic team of Conrad Anker and Cory Richards fell apart on April 28 when Richards was evacuated to a hospital in Kathmandu because of deteriorating health. He’s now healthy but will not return to Everest Base Camp. Conrad Anker is hoping he’s found a new partner in Italian mountaineer Simone Moro and, if the weather holds, apparently still plans to attempt the climb. Eddie Bauer’s West Ridge team is on the mountain now. They’ve plumbed fixed lines up to Camp II. Listen to to the above audio update from expedition leader Jake Norton for more on what’s it like above 23,000 feet.

—Additional reporting by Kyle Dickman.

Lead Photo: Grayson Schaffer