Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Himalaya Spring 2017: New Round of Summit Pushes Begin, Illegal Traverse, 4 More Deaths on Everest

As expected, yesterday was a windy one on the summit of Mt. Everest, but conditions should improve today, allowing another round of climbers to launch their summit bids. The next couple of days should be extremely busy, with some large groups now on the move. This will likely be the last weather window of the seasons, as May is starting to run short of days. Still, the forecast is good and things look promising heading all the way into the weekend.

Despite high winds yesterday, The Himalayan Times is reporting that 30 more people managed to top out on Everest. Conditions on the summit were reportedly challenging, but the climbers were able to get up and down safely. This brings the total number of summits from the Nepali side of the mountain so far this season to over 220, with more yet to come.

Amongst the climbers who summited earlier this week was Ang Dorjee, a Sherpa guide from the Pangboche region of Nepal. It was his 19th successful trip to the top of Everest, putting him within striking distance of the record, which currently stands at 21 summits, and is held by Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi.

Some of the teams that have now launched their summit bids include IMG, Himex, and Alpenglow, all of which have waited for the winds to subside before making a push. A number of teams are eyeing tomorrow – May 25 – as the day they stand on the top, and right now it appears the weather will cooperate for a safe climb and descent. Expect large numbers of mountaineers and potential traffic jams on both sides of the mountain.


Also on the move is Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, who left Camp 2 yesterday and is now making his way up the West Ridge. He then hopes to summit along the Hornbein Couloir, which is one of the toughest routes on the mountain. Kuriki was also eyeing a potential summit tomorrow as well, but he is climbing solo and along a route that no one else is using, so it could be slow going.

Meanwhile, there is sad and strange news from the mountain today as well. The Times is also reporting that four climbers were found dead in Camp 4. The names of the climbers have not been revealed yet, but it is said to be two Nepali guides and two clients. The bodies were found inside their sleeping bags in their tent. The cause of death is unknown, but it is believed to possibly be suffocation. All four climbers were on the same team, which is new to guiding on Everest. This brings the death toll so far this season to at least 10.

Yesterday I reported that a Polish climber named Janusz Adamski had made a rare traverse of Everest, summiting from the Tibetan side and descending into Nepal. Now, it appears that that traverse may have been done illegally, without even his guiding company knowing what he was up to. Reportedly, Adamski summited without oxygen, but did use bottled O's on the descent at Camp 3 on the Nepali side. According to his Facebook page, he has now arrived in Lukla and is working his way back to Kathmandu.

The problem is, he only obtained a permit to climb on the North Side of Everest and not the South. That means the descent was done illegally, and he could now face charges. Authorities are likely to be awaiting his arrival in Kathmandu to further investigate the situation.

That's all for now. It looks like we'll still have plenty of news to report from the Himalaya over the next few days, so stay tuned. It has certainly been a busy, active, and interesting season so far, and that doesn't seem likely to change soon.


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