Thursday, May 05, 2016

Himalaya Spring 2016: North Side Route on Everest Could Open Today

As the spring climbing season on Everest continues we could reach a major milestone on the North Side of the mountain today, while on the South teams continue to wait and watch the weather forecasts. Summits pushes are still at least a week from getting underway, but we're nearing the endgame of a season that had to bring some sense of normalcy to the mountain, and so far it has done just that.

So far this year we haven't had a lot of news from the North Side of Everest in Tibet. That's mostly because there are fewer climbers there, and things have just been moving along about as smoothly as possible. The teams have been making regular acclimatization rotations, and for the most part there hasn't been any drama to speak of. Now, we get word that the ropes to the summit could be in place as early as today. On that side of Everest, the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association handles all of the installation of the ropes rather than the teams themselves, and according to their latest updates they say that they "hope to go to the summit on the 5th." Meaning that if all goes as expected, the work will be wrapped up today and the route to the summit will be complete.

With the summit open, the North Side teams will start to look at their schedules and weather forecasts to determine the best time to start a summit bid. Some of those teams are now wrapping up their acclimatization process, so they'll return to Base Camp to rest and regain their strength before starting up. But it won't be long now before they start thinking about the final push.


Meanwhile, on the South Side, the rope fixing efforts have reportedly stalled out after reaching 7900 meters (25,918 ft). Minor avalanches along the Lhotse Face have kept the team that handles those duties from going higher. The teams have organized the rope fixing work on the Nepali side of Everest, and it seems they had a meeting yesterday to start plan their strategy moving forward. The hope is that the weather will hold, and the avalanches will cease, in order to allow the rope-fixing Sherpas to finish the job.

The concern amongst expedition leaders on the South Side now is that the summit schedule could get backed up, or more teams will try to take advantage of a narrow weather window, causing traffic jams on summit day. But its too early to worry about that at this point, and for now the focus should be on getting the ropes in place and acclimatizing for impending summit bids.

Finally, we have no real update from Shishapangma regarding Ueli Steck and David Göttler's new route on that mountain. The duo are still in BC and waiting for a good weather window. But, there is more information on their plans. Ueli and David hope to make a direct ascent on Shisha, and then potentially make a traverse down the opposite side. The weather will dictate if that is possible, but it does give us an idea of these two talented mountaineers' plan for the days ahead.

That's all for now. More to come soon.

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