With nine Sherpa fixing the ropes to the summit of Everest over the weekend, they were quickly followed by the first international climber this year, and the second overall Pakistani woman to summit, Naila Kiani.
She reached the top with her lone Sherpa, Pasang Temba. With a host of Pakistani 8,000rs, including K2 already climbed, she will most likely be headed for another peak or two soon.
She was closely followed by her compatriot Sajid Sadpara, who climbed without oxygen, the first Pakistani to achieve this.
With the weather window looking ideal over the next week, if not longer, climbers are thronging onto the mountain, making their way up to Camp 2, onto the Lhotse Face and Camp 3, before heading for the South Col. Most are targeting mid this week, and with the winds forecast to drop as low as 5 km. on Wednesday and Thursday, who can blame them.
While many would seem to be rushing up, and it is hard to sit in Base Camp while others head out, the more experienced teams are likely to follow along later over what looks like a long period of relatively settled weather. As Garrett Madison stated about waiting a bit longer:
“Now we are patiently awaiting the winds to drop, the rope fixing to be completed, and other more eager teams to climb during the first weather window, before we make our summit push a little later in the season on Mount Everest.”
Patience has often proved a virtue on Everest. This season, with high camps still being stocked and the winds abating, and as every passing day proves a bit warmer, waiting may prove a good tactic to avoid the crowds.
Often it seems the less experienced teams head up the first chance they get.
There are certainly added dangers in going early, being impatient and climbing just to get it over with.
However, the only thing certain on Everest is that right here and right now, things look positive, and if things change, it is nothing less than depressing to be caught out in Base Camp if things suddenly change for the worse.
A less than positive update is that Guy Cotter’s Adventure Consultants team has had equipment stolen at the South Col, which on Everest is not just dishonest, but potentially life threatening. When you climb expecting to have gear and most importantly, oxygen awaiting you at your camps. One can only think it is unlikely the thief’s karma will be enhanced by this activity.
The other major factor is if the record numbers currently registered for Everest head up simultaneously, even an extra rope going up and down may not be enough and climbers could end up waiting in line, another potentially deadly option. Competing in an Everest climbathon, while in many ways safer than in previous years, none-the-less certainly has its’ own unique challenges.
With the high winds and snow earlier in the season, the nine man Sherpa fixing team were pushing to get the ropes up as soon as the weather broke, and kudos go out to Dawa Gyalje Sherpa, team leader, along with Nima Nuru Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa, Dipen Gurung, Pasang Ngima Sherpa, Lhakpa, Tenjing Sherpa, Phur Galjen Sherpa, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa and Suman Guru. They headed up in less than ideal conditions, to get the ropes in on the first realistic day and open the route to the top.
Amidst the record number of permit holders, there are also those who have reached Base Camp and retreated, ventured into the icefall and retreated, or even gone high, camped out and retreated.
Coming back from anywhere on Everest besides the summit is a very hard decision, but often not an unwise one. The current assumption that you can train for Everest, go to Everest, climb Everest and go home, often plays out quite differently when you actually reach the mountain.
Even for experienced climbers, it’s rare to hear much once they have to turn around, which makes posts like the Ukrainian’s Tonya Samoilova, so poignant.
This time of year, may the winds remain low, the climbers go high, and all return safely.