Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Turned Out to be a Mixture of Success and Failure on Everest

The Nepali Department of Tourism has released its final numbers for the 2017 spring climbing season, and the numbers are mixed bag to say the least. At the start of the season is was expected to be a record setting one, with perhaps the highest summit total in the history of the mountain. But, now that the dust has settled, it seems that while there were plenty of successful summits, there were also quite a few that never reached the top as well.

According to The Himalayan Times, a minimum of 449 climbers reached the summit of the mountain this year, with most of those being local climbers and guides. Of that number, 190 were foreign alpinists, with most climbing as part of one of the  42 teams that was issued permits for climbing this spring. According to the article, this brings the total number of summits of Everest to 5328 since 1953 when it was first scaled by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

While those numbers are solid and represent a healthy year on Everest, perhaps most interesting is that of all the permits that were issued for this season, 164 people failed to reach the top of the mountain. That is a fairly high number of people that weren't able to summit at some point during the season. The Times indicates that the dicey weather conditions, and short summit windows are mostly to blame. DOT officials say that overall, it was another successful season, but high winds above Camp 4 during the final weeks of May created an abbreviated weather window that helped teams avoid traffic jams, but kept some squads from ever making a legitimate push to the top.

Sadly, the official numbers also say that six people perished while attempting to climb Everest this spring. They included Roland Yearwood, Vladimir Strba, Ravi Kumar, Min Bahadur Sherchan, Goth Kuber Rai and Ueli Steck. While every death on Everest is a tragic loss, that is a fairly modest number as well considering the large number of people that were on both the North and South Sides of the mountain.

Elsewhere in Nepal it was a healthy climbing season as well. Officials say that in total, there were 109 expeditions with 840 climbers who were issued permits for climbing this past spring. Aside from Everest, the next most popular peak was Lhotse (113 permits), followed by Dhaulagiri (77) and Makalu (45). Annapurna received an additional 14 permits as well.

With the monsoon now descending on Nepal we won't see any significant expeditions until the fall at the earliest. And while the spring season may not have ended up being quite as successful as everyone had hoped, it was another good season overall. That should set the stage for big things in 2018 and beyond.

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