Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Himalaya Spring 2018: Season Winding Down But Isn't Over Yet, Avalanche in the Icefall

The end is in sight for the 2018 climbing season in the Himalaya, but it isn't quite over yet. There are still a few teams heading up the mountain as the good weather continues on Everest and Lhotse. This has been one of the longest weather windows in recent memory, and climbers who have remained patient are finding the mountain to be nearly empty, setting the stage for a few late season summits to wrap up what has become one of the most successful campaigns ever.

According to reports, the number of Everest summits this season has now exceeded 600, making it one of the busiest years ever on the world's highest peak. Yesterday, Furtenbach Adventures put 17 people on the summit with few traffic jams or crowds to contend with. They're one of the last commercial teams on the mountain as many of the squads have now packed up and are starting to head home. Base Camps on both sides of Everest are now nearly deserted with only a few last minute groups still there. In Nepal, the Summit Climb team is pushing to the top today, but there is still no word on their status.

The duo of  Horia Colibasanu and Peter H├ímor are still on Everest as well and hoping to make an historic ascent. Their still trying to climb the very difficult West Ridge with the hopes of summiting by Friday then traversing to Lhotse before descending. Weather reports indicate that conditions will start to change by the end of the week however, so they may see their window close before they are done.

They aren't the only ones hoping to make a late season summit either. Tenji Sherpa and Jon Griffiths are on their way up to Camp 4 today with the hopes of submitting tomorrow. What could make this climb special is that they intend to live stream it on the National Geographic Adventure Facebook page. Exactly when that is going to happen remains to be seen, so you'll have to watch the page closely.

Despite the fact that things are winding down there are still plenty of challenges to contend with. For instance, the Khumbu Icefall remains a hurdle for the few remaining teams on the South Side and it reminded everyone of this when an avalanche struck that section of the mountain earlier today. Details are a bit light, and it seems no one was hurt, but despite the fact that so many people successfully climbed Everest this past week, the dangers remain until the very end. Hopefully the remaining teams get up and down safely.

Over on Kangchenjunga, history was made earlier today when Nepali alpinist Nima Jangmu Sherpa reached the summit of that mountain. With that successful climb, she has managed to top out on Everest, Lhotse, and Kangchenjunga all in the same season, taking roughly 25 days to get them all. That gives her the first, third, and fourth highest mountains in the world all in a matter of a few weeks.

Sadly, there is another death to report on Everest as well, this time on the North Side of the mountain. Pasang Norbu Sherpa apparently suffered a stroke while attempting to reach the summit with 7 Summits Club and passed away at High Camp. He was 41 years old. This death brings the total to 6 for the 2018 season. Our condolences go out to friends, family, and teammates.

More news to come in the next day or two I'm sure, but things are rapidly winding down now. We've almost closed the book on another season.

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