Everest ER Sees Record Number of Patients

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High winds this week on Cho Oyu, west of Everest

So far at Base Camp during the 2011 climbing season, Everest ER has seen 276 patients, a number they say is on target “to break all previous clinic visitation records.”  The doctors are unsure if the high number of cases is due to the number of people on the mountain, more people attempting the summit in poor shape, or individuals taking bigger risks.

Climber and Outside blogger Alan Arnette was one of those patients. He's now at Base Camp recovering from head congestion and infection before rotating to Camp 3 early next week. “In spite of the delays from the heavy snows,” he said, “there is no sense of panic here at Base Camp. Remember the traditional Everest summit window is around May 21 plus and minus a week. Of slight concern is the unsettled weather that never seems to let up.”

Most expeditions progressing smoothly, despite some recent foul weather.

The week started with Everest forecaster Michael Fagin calling for high winds over the Everest area. As predicted, the Jet Stream moved in and soon wreaked havoc on several teams' tents, including that of Rodrigo Raineri, the Brazilian who is planning to hang-glide from the summit.

As the winds calmed and climbers resumed their acclimatization rotations, the snow set in. Guides from Adventure Consultants reported from Camp 2 yesterday that 15-30 cm of snow had fallen. International Mountain Guides also reported 12 inches of fresh in the Western Cwm between Camps 1 and 2. Fixing Sherpas, meanwhile, have continued fixing ropes higher up the mountain, reaching the base of the Yellow Band, the first exposed rock on Everest that sits on the Lhotse face near 25,000 feet.

Also making their way into the area were Jamie Laidlaw, Kristoffer Erickson, and Hennie van Jaarsveld, who plan to reach the summit of Lhotse and ski down the west face. They're currently at Camp 1.

–Michael Webster

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