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Monday, May 22, 2017

Himalaya Spring 2017: Weekend Brings Numerous Summits, 4 Deaths on Everest

As expected, it was an incredibly busy weekend on both sides of Mt. Everest. Weather forecasts had called for calming winds on top of the world's tallest mountain, which had led to many teams getting themselves into position for a massive summit push. The weather was a bit dicey at times, but ultimately Mother Nature allowed climbers to reach the top, although unfortunately four climbers also perished in the process.

According to The Himalayan Times, at least 70 climbers reached the summit of Everest yesterday alone, and there are some indications that that number might be conservative. For instance, the IMG team alone put 27 climbers on the summit. Numerous other teams were within striking distance of the top as of Saturday, although some were still watching the forecasts closely to determine whether or not they should sit tight or make a dash for the top. High winds are expected to return today, although there was a narrow weather window that may have allowed even more teams to summit early this morning.

Alan Arnette estimates that as many as 150 more climbers could have been staged for an early summit attempt today, or they could be waiting out the winds for a second window that is expected to open later in the week. At the moment, it is unclear whether how many more may have gone up today, while others await their turn.

Meanwhile, The Times is also reporting that a number of climbers had to be rescued from the South Side today due to severe altitude sickness. The climbers in question were apparently of Nepali, Pakistani and Argentine descent, and apparently ran out of oxygen near the balcony and had to be assisted back down the mountain by other climbers. Once low enough, they were also airlifted to Camp 2, where they were receiving further attention and getting help with the descent back to BC.

Sadly, there were also four deaths reported over the weekend as well. 51-year old American Doctor Roman Yearwood perished near the Balcony at 8000 meters (26,200 ft) on the Nepali side of the mountain. Also not the South Side, a 50-year old Slovakian climber by the name of Vladimir Strba and a 27-year old Indian climber named Ravi Kumar died as well. Sadly, a 54-year old Australian by the name of Francesco Enrico Marchetti also died while attempting the North Col route in Tibet too. Our condolences go out to the friends and families of the deceased.

These deaths put 2017 on pace to surpass the number of climbers who perished last year on Everest, with more summit bids yet to come. Hopefully, those still heading up will get back to Base Camp in a safe and timely manner.

With this first massive summit push now mostly behind us, we'll have a bit of a lull today and into tomorrow as the remaining teams watch the weather closely. There are still a lot of climbers waiting for their opportunity to summit, and that chance should come within the next few days, particularly if the winds subside as expected. For now though, we continue to wait and watch just like everyone else.

Congrats to everyone who successfully summited and good luck to those who have yet to set out.

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