Friday, May 10, 2013

Everest 2013: Ropes Fixed, First Summits Of The Season!

As expected, the Sherpa team has completed it's work and fixed the ropes to the summit of Mt. Everest from the South Side today. There were some fears that the winds would increase ahead of schedule and they might have to delay their final push to the top, but it now appears that everything has come together as planned. The strong group of Sherpas topped out at 11:30 AM local time and enjoyed a brief celebration on the summit before heading back down to strength some anchors and add some additional ropes that will hopefully alleviate traffic jams in the weeks ahead. With that work done, they then proceeded down to Camp 2 for a much deserved rest.

While details are scarce at the moment, it also seems that David Tait has topped out today as well, claiming the fifth Everest summit of his career. The announcement came via his Twitter feed, which boldly announced "He's done it!"not long after he reached the summit. We're still waiting on confirmation that he has gotten down safely, so hopefully all is well. I had been predicting that Tait would want to skip the crowds that come along with the true summit season that will start next week, and he has a history of grabbing the summit early.

Also going for the summit today is Spanish climber David LiaƱo. His last update put him in Camp 3 yesterday, but he is also hoping to take advantage of this narrow weather window to get his first summit of the year. Once he has done that, he intends to leave the South Side of Everest, then travel to Tibet where he can drive to the North Side Base Camp. From there, he hopes to make a second summit, becoming the first person to climb the mountain from both sides in the same season. An ambitious goal indeed.

Speaking of the North Side, the word from the Altitude Junkies is that the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association team was close to fixing the ropes to the summit on that side of the mountain today as well. There is no confirmation yet if they accomplished that task, but we're told that if they didn't reach the top today, the work would be complete tomorrow. Sherpas working with the AJ squad shuttled gear up to high camp at 8300 meters (27,230 ft) in preparation for the summit push to come. When exactly that will happen remains up in the air, as everyone watches the forecast for decreased wind speeds.

Now, the teams on both side of the mountain will play the waiting game. Alan Arnette is reporting that the Himalayan Ascent team has moved up to Camp 2 in the hopes of getting the jump on the other teams. Everyone is looking to avoid traffic jams as much as possible, particularly on the South Side, so any advantage they feel they can gain is taken.

Most of the other teams, including IMG, RMI, Himex, Adventure Consultants and the Peak Freaks are currently staying in BC and waiting for a clear weather window to develop. Right now the forecasts indicate that that will occur late next week, which is when the majority of the commercial climbers will begin their ascent. Remember, the teams need approximately 3-4 days of good weather to make a safe climb to the summit.

Stay tuned for more news. It's about to get a lot busier on Everest.

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