There Was a Summit Bonanza on Mount Everest This Week
More than 100 climbers reached the top on Wednesday, May 17, but the day was not without tragedy
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A window of calm conditions on Mount Everest allowed more than 100 climbers to reach the summit on Wednesday, May 17.
The Himalayan Times reported on the successful ascents on the world’s highest peak, which brought the total number of climbers to reach the summit this year to 166. While that number may sound big, the record for Everest summits happened in 2019, when an estimated 891 people summitted. Last year, 690 reached the top.
Multiple expedition operators reported their successes throughout the day, among them 8K Expeditions, Furtenbach Adventures, Climbing the Seven Summits, Elite Expeditions, and Imagine Nepal. “Today, our whole Everest expedition team summited Mount Everest in the morning in perfect conditions,” Furtenbach Adventures wrote online.
“26 climbers, guides and Sherpa touched the roof of the world and experienced vistas over the Tibetan Plateau and into the valleys and gorges of Nepal,” Climbing the Seven Summits posted on its Facebook page. “There is no feeling quite like it.”
The day was not without tragedy, however. According to reports, Moldovan climber Victor Brinza died at the South Col, becoming the sixth fatality of the year on the mountain. Brinza was climbing alongside Nepali operator Himalayan Traverse Adventure, which has not commented on his death or provided information on the cause.
His death came a day after a climber named Phurba Sherpa died near Camp III. According to The Himalayan Times, Phurba was participating in a cleanup expedition with the Nepal Army at the time of his death.
Elsewhere on the mountain, climbers had to navigate other challenges, among them a collapsed section the Khumbu Icefall that blocked the route between Base Camp and Camp I.
Guide leader Garrett Madison says the blockage has prevented climbers from reaching high camps, and it could impede those descending from the summit to Base Camp later in the week.
“After leaving Base Camp and just about getting into the icefall, we encountered some climbers coming back down who had tried to go up, and had encountered a collapse in the icefall where the route was broken about half the way up,” Madison wrote in an update. “So, we’re going to rest today and hopefully the icefall doctors can get up there and repair that section of the route that’s broken, and then our plan is to go again tomorrow.”
Earlier in the spring, the Khumbu Icefall was the site of deadly tragedy when a collapsing ice block buried three sherpas. Crews have yet to locate the men.
Among the list of climbers to summit on Wednesday were a handful of Mount Everest celebrities, as well individuals who claimed historic marks for reaching the top. Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa, 53, claimed his 27th Everest summit, which places him one ahead of Pasang Dawa Sherpa, who recorded his 26th successful climb on the mountain earlier this week. Kami Rita was guiding a Vietnamese client for expedition company Seven Summit Treks when he reached the top at 8:30 A.M. Nepal time.
“We’re trying to get details. For now it’s 100 percent confirmed that Kami Rita scaled for the 27th time,” Thaneswar Guragai of Seven Summit Treks told media.
Another Everest veteran, British guide Kenton Cool, 48, recorded his 17th summit on Wednesday, setting a new record for successful climbs by a non-Sherpa mountaineer. Cool, who hails from Gloucestershire, was guiding Richard Walker, the executive chairman of Iceland Foods, when he made the top.
Other climbers to reach the summit include Igor Kushnir, 51, a former deputy minster of defense for Ukraine, and his wife, Oksana,46. A 16-year-old Chinese climber named Sui Cho Yuan also summitted, as did a retired sniper from the British Royal Marines named Aldo Kane.
Yandy Martinez Nunez, a Cuban national who lives in Iceland, also reached the summit, and is believed to be the first climber from Cuba to successfully ascend the mountain.
The push for the summit on Wednesday came after high winds delayed climbers for more than a week. Rope-fixing teams affixed lines to the summit on Thursday, May 11, and the first trickle of climbers to the top happened in the ensuing days.
May is the busiest month on Mount Everest, and according to The Himalayan Database, a website that tracks Himalayan mountaineering, approximately 80 percent of the 11,341 successful Everest summits have occurred between the dates May 15 and 26. Historically, this year’s May 11 date for fixed ropes to reach the top is slightly later than usual, but there have been later first summits on the peak. In 2014, the first climbers didn’t reach the Everest summit until May 24. According the Himalayan Database, May 19 is the date with the most successful Everest climbs, with 13 percent of the total summits; May 21 second at 11 percent.