Monday, May 16, 2016

Himalaya Spring 2016: More Summits on Everest, Earthquake Alters Hillary Step

It is summit season on Everest, where the weather has been cooperative over the past few days, leading to successful ascents to top of the mountain over the weekend. Meanwhile, as the first climbers go to the summit for the first time in two years, were learn that an iconic point on along the route has been altered by last year's earthquake, making the climb just a bit easier.

Last week we told you that Sherpas had fixed ropes to the summit, and that the first foreign climbers had followed not long afterwards. That cleared the way for the first two waves of commercial teams to make their summit pushes, with as many as 23 people topping out last Friday, and another large group summiting yesterday as well. Amongst those groups was the Himalayan Experience team as well as several of the other larger operators on the mountain. It is unclear at this point how many climbers were on the summit push yesterday, but it seems like it was a large number.

Other teams are waiting for a new, more stable weather window to open this week so we should see yet another large group of summiteers in the days ahead. The route is clear now and it appears that conditions will be great throughout this week. More teams are standing by to take advantage of that opportunity as soon as they can.

On the the North Side of the mountain, it is unclear exactly where everyone is at right now. There have been a few summits, but the major push doesn't seem to have begun just yet. Look for the to change this week too, with lots of teams now on the move.

One of the more interesting stories to come out of the early Everest summits on the South Side is that last year's earthquake has altered the route dramatically. Apparently, the quake caused the iconic Hillary Step to collapse, and from most accounts it is now easier to get over that section of the climb than it was in the past. This portion of the route was where a lot of the bottlenecks occurred in the past, and at what point there was even talk about putting a ladder on the step to help speed things along. That never happened, and from the sound of things it won't be necessary now either.


Alan Arnette said...

Kraig, it is not certain the Hillary Step was altered but rather a meter of snow has made it look different. I spoke with Russell Brice and his Sherpas confirmed this.

Asim said...

Dear Kraig, Glad to hear the summit waves from different teams to the top of the world. However i am concerned to read the comments of Alan Arnette, who thinks that alteration of Hillary step is associated with a meter of snow making climbing difficult, hence keep your fingers crossed.