Monday, May 14, 2018

Himalaya Spring 2018: First Summits of the Season on Everest and Other 8000-Meter Peaks

It was a very busy weekend on Everest and other 8000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet. After waiting for the wind to die down late last week, most of the teams were in a holding pattern as they waited for  conditions to improve. That didn't happen on Saturday as expected, but by Sunday the jet stream started to shift and things changed very quickly and as a result, we saw the first summits of the year on several different mountains.

We'll start on Everest, where things are beginning to get very busy indeed. The rope fixing team on the South Side in Nepal finally managed to install the lines early Sunday morning, with eight Sherpas reaching the top of the mountain shortly thereafter. They finished their work around 8:00 AM with Pasang Tenjing Sherpa, Pasdawa Sherpa, Lakpa Dendi Sherpa, Jen Jen Lama, Siddi Bahadur Tamang, Pemba Chhiri Sherpa, Tenzing Gyaljen Sherpa and Datuk Bhote all part of the initial summit team.

This has now cleared the way for more teams to follow and at least four or five teams are expected to go to the summit today with others to come later in the week. But, there were some teams hanging in Camp 4 just behind the rope fixing squad that were able to go up and grab the summit yesterday too. Among them was Chinese double-amputee Xia Boyu, who managed to top out at long last. It has been a 40-year odyssey for Boyu, who lost his legs after contracting frostbite in them in an attempt back in 1976.

The Himalayan Times is also reporting that Nepali Nima Jangmu Sherpa has become the first woman to summit both Everest and Lhotse this year. She took a team of foreign clients to the summit of Everest yesterday and topped out on Lhotse back on April 29.

Also, Australian climber Steve Plain topped out on the South Side of Everest yesterday as well. This allowed him to set a new speed record for the fastest time to complete the Seven Summits, wrapping up his expedition to do just that in 117 days. The previous record was held by Polish climber Janusz Kochanski who did it in 126 days.

Meanwhile, over on the Tibetan side of the mountain, the rope fixing team finished their work today and have opened the route to the top of the mountain too. That means the North Side squads should be open the move as well, with summits expected from that direction starting tomorrow.

Elsewhere, they have been summits on Cho Oyu, where the 360 Expeditions team topped out yesterday. Three members of that squad completed their ascent around 11:00 AM local time, with everyone descending shortly there after. Over on Annapurna, there was a successful summit as well, with South Korean Kim Hong-Bin reaching the top. This is especially remarkable because he lost all of his fingers to frostbite after climbing Denali back in 1991.

The summit-spree is just getting started on Everest, so expect a steady-stream of reports throughout the week. Summit bids are also underway on Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, and Makalu too, so the promised mid-May weather window is open across the Himalaya.

More news to come soon!

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