Monday, March 25, 2013

Everest 2013: Season Begins As Teams Trek To BC

The 2013 spring climbing season in the Himalaya is about to get underway as scores of climbers and trekkers began to descend on Kathmandu this weekend. They arrive at that colorful and bustling city as their last stop over before beginning their trek to Everest Base Camp or starting their transition to Tibet for those climbing on the North Side. Ahead of them is two months of hard work that will hopefully culminate with a successful summit sometime in mid to late May.

Last week I mentioned that Base Camp on the Nepali side of the mountain was already open and teams were starting to erect their tents there. But more importantly than that, the famed Everest Ice Doctors had already performed their Puja ceremony and have started work on route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. That section is one of the most dangerous on the mountain and climber must navigate it multiple times throughout the season. The Ice Doctors create the route by placing ladders across open crevasses in the icefall, which the teams then use to safely traverse the crumbling glacier. It is slow, difficult work to create the route and it must be maintained and adjusted throughout the season, which makes the role of Ice Doctors extremely important to the success of anyone hoping to summit.

Over the weekend, Alan Arnette posted a new blog story that shares insights about the trek to Everest Base Camp. He indicates that several teams are already on the trail and starting the hike to EBC, which can take anywhere from 7-10 days to complete. He also mentions how important that trek can be to the acclimatization process which is also crucial to the success of any climber.

It was on that trek in 1997 that Alan fell in love with the Himalaya. Little did he know that he would be back there on multiple occasions climbing several of those peaks – including Everest – himself. I'm sure he also had no idea that he would eventually be chronicling the expeditions to the mountain on an annual basis either. In this latest post, he shares his thoughts not only on the trek, but on an Everest climb as well. He talks about the camaraderie that is built with teammates on that adventure and the feeling of being in Base Camp when other climbers return, some triumphant and some defeated. it is a good read for those of us who will likely never get to experience that climb for ourselves and a nice piece to set the tone for the season to come.

Over the next week or so, there won't be a lot of news to report just yet. But as the teams arrive in BC on the South Side, they'll take very little time to rest before they start heading up the mountain. We're in the calm before the storm, but things are just about ready to get very busy indeed.

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