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Old 04-07-2014, 11:20 PM   #1
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Default Everest Climbing Season 2014

I'm an avid armchair Everest climber. Damned good thing I'm an 'armchair' climber because I wouldn't know a jumar from a jalepeno jambalaya. I've forgotten everything I ever used to know about jury rigging a rappel harness with A 12' rope. I've climbed... things. A few half mile high or so hills & thoroughly enjoyed it but... the real stuff is not for me. I'm too old these days. Back me up 40 years - maybe I'd start learning to climb but even so, I'd not be one to go over 8000 meters - I likes me my oxygen, I does!

On my increasingly unrealistic bucket list is a nice several month long jaunt to Everest Base Camp. I'd love to trek there & spend climbing season there collecting autographs, watching the action higher up through a telescope & generally absorbing the ambiance. If I was really lucky, someone would take the time to teach me the little I needed to know to do a couple of hundred yards of the Khumbu Icefall. I would love to climb ONE ladder vertically & cross one crevasse by ladder... then turn around & scuttle back to my base camp tent, impressed with how brave & daring I was!

Climbers are an impressive lot - especially those who are genuinely mountaineers - pure alpine type climbers who know what they're doing on a mountain; who belong there. The Sherpas? They're in another league entirely. I sneer when someone triumphantly brags to the press about having summited Everest with minimal climbing skills. What they conveniently neglect, (often), to mention is that before they got to the snow slope just below the summit - long before - climbing Sherpas were up there ahead of them fixing the ropes, securing old pitons & driving new ones. They've already, without fanfare, been to the summit. Two Sherpas, Apa Sherpa & Phurba Tashi share the record for summits - 21 each! Many of those summits came, not with clients in tow, but on 'working trips' - fixing rope, hauling oxygen up to high caches - then 'rabbiting up' to the top.

Summiting Everest - I get it. It's not ever been something I want to do but... I get it. I get a whole lot less 'cheating' your way to the top through 'excess' help & technology. Short roping - when you're essentially tied to someone else via a short length of rope to your harness, (I'm simplifying), & at times helped by being towed a bit - cheat; as far as I'm concerned.

I understand the commercial expeditions & there are some VERY good ones out there wanting to make sure the same number of climbers who headed up come down - preferably still inhaling & exhaling. I understand Tibet & Nepal make a fair bit of money selling expedition permits & the money that can be earned by trekking & climbing porters, climbing Sherpas & all the camp staff is a great boon to the economy.

I feel at this stage though, it's getting too crowded up there. It seems too many think of it, not as genuinely an epic battle of man against mountain but as an other bought tourist experience. Be in reasonable shape, make sure you've got a couple of outstanding Sherpas with you & you can get there.

This is not, never has been; a stroll in the park. There is a lot of work involved in preparing the route, the camps & all the infrastructure & support services needed. Some years, the weather window for a decent summit attempt is very short - a few days at best. On either the classis route - the North Col route & the south route pioneered by Hillary, significant bottlenecks exist - the Hillary Step on the southern route & Second Step on the northern route. On these particular sections, it's one at a time - going up AND down. Of note, the IMG commercial expedition outfit fixed a rappel route as an alternative way down around the Hillary Step last year - I don't know much about it or how well used it will end up being.

Get too many people going for the summit on any given day & the potential for disaster rises exponentially. With so little oxygen up there, you MUST keep moving, no matter how slowly you're managing, to stave off hypothermia & digit stealing frostbite. Having to park your half frozen ass staring down 8000 feet below you while you wait your turn to go up or down isn't good for your body or brain... you're also burning through your limited oxygen.

People die on the mountain every year - that's a given. Already this season with only two groups at base camp on the southern route, a Sherpa is dead. He developed pulmonary edema at base camp & although evacuated down the mountain & given all the correct treatment, the edema couldn't be controlled & he passed away. A second Sherpa broke his leg after falling into a crevasse while fixing the route through the Khumbu Icefall - he's expected to fully recover.

What really scares me this year is that over 800 people will be 'on the mountain' - certainly not all will be making summit bids but as it stands now, I'm counting well over 120 with summit ambitions & only half those granted permits, (commercial expeditions & other teams), have reported their numbers so far. The count could approach 200 or more.

Cerebral edema, pulmonary edema can strike at any time. They can strike climbers with decades of experience & no previous illness. People can develop frostbite so bad, they can't walk or use their hands. People might slip, fall & have that fall arrested by a rope but break ribs & limbs. Get up past a certain height & it is next to impossible to rescue anyone. Choppers can't fly that high. There's no room for stretcher parties without risking the lives of 5-10 stretcher bearers. People barely have what it take to get themselves up & down, never mind help someone else. People get stupid - between exhaustion, oxygen deprivation & 'summit fever', they lose all reason. There are acknowledged 'turnaround times' - if you're not on the summit by x o'clock on a given day, you must, for your own safety, turn around & start down the mountain. Those who ignore those timings run huge risks - we've seen that, most infamously in 1996.

I don't know why this year - maybe it's a combination of the weather, the numbers heading up the mountain & those seeking 'firsts' - but I've got a bad feeling about it, especially on the south side. I have a dreadful feeling that the Khumbu Icefall is going to be particularly active this year & catch out climbers with many & severe avalanches.

Gawd, I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:16 AM   #2
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800? That is a crazy-ass number. I thought the Nepalese gov't was going to start limiting access.

Sue, have you ever read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air? I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
What really scares me this year is that over 800 people will be 'on the mountain' - certainly not all will be making summit bids but as it stands now, I'm counting well over 120 with summit ambitions & only half those granted permits, (commercial expeditions & other teams), have reported their numbers so far. The count could approach 200 or more.
That is nuts. 800/120 summit?

I get it. It is about the hard currency coming it. Nepal is poor, you can't believe how much.

But they are going to have to get control of this. The mountain is bad with trash, bodies, abandoned gear.

I am not a rule making kind of guy but they need to make this some kind of world heritage site, and let some international body control access.

Perhaps with Nepal letting this come to a world body, some monies can be spent developing Nepal and broadening their income in other ways.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for the awesome post, CS. Nice thing to wake up and read.

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800? That is a crazy-ass number. I thought the Nepalese gov't was going to start limiting access.
Unfortunately, they need the money. It is like Grand Central up there. The "good" summit days are so limited, that everyone goes at the same time. They desperately need to control the bottlenecks, e.g. Hillary Step, or there is going to be another incident like 1996. I think the guide companies have taken a crack at this, but ultimately they are competitive with one another and anyways its the government that calls the shots in terms of how many can go to base camp.

Quote:
The Sherpas? They're in another league entirely.
I also am in awe of the Sherpas. So was Hillary, who would never say one way or another who summited first. Tenzig Norgay says it was Hillary, but I like Hillarys explanation better: neither would have gotten up there without the other, so who cares who was first. Hillary's foundation did a lot for the Sherpas. His acknowledgment that without them he would not be Sir Hillary.

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I'm an avid armchair Everest climber.
Me, too. I met Jim Whittaker (1st American team to summit), who is in our climbing club here in Seattle. What an amazing (and humble) guy. They actually did the North face route. I also rock climb regularly with a fellow who summited. Twenty years ago, I would have thought about it (the regular route), but it is not an option anymore. I only really got going on mountaineering in the last five years, and I don't think I will ever be comfie enough with my skill level (or the risk) to do it. I will do the other six summits though. DW and I are going to do the Annapurna Circuit as soon as our son is in university.
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:02 PM   #5
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Well, I have no idea where I got the idea that Nepal was limiting permits. They actually DROPPED the fee this year from $25K to $11K! So, no wonder that there are big crowds going up this year.

Quote:
Though still not cheap, the new fee structure would appear to make an Everest expedition somewhat more affordable and thereby available to more climbers. But veteran Himalayan guides say a closer look at the numbers tells a different story and raises old questions about safety and the economic health of the area surrounding the world's tallest mountain.
Great article at NationalGeographic.com; also shows some of the geography for those of you are not veteran armchair climbers.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ees-adventure/
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:55 PM   #6
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Several comments... these last couple of weeks, I've been watching a ton of different Everest videos. I've got a few more to watch...LOL It's pretty clear Nepal is very poor, as is Tibet - the other country issuing permits to climb but from the north side - fewer do that route. I expect it's a decent source of money for both small, impoverished nations. I've caught some background stuff on the Nepalese - not just the Sherpas & I have some documentaries about the people & countries to watch as well.

Outside the few 'cities', most live through subsistence farming & a limited amount of trade. The two Everest seasons - there's a smaller one after the monsoon - provide a good income for the Nepalese involved. A lot of 'kit' is bought locally; especially base camp food. It's a two week trek simply to get to base camp on the south side & enough food & supplies have to be brought up to keep an expedition going for up to 3 months - time to acclimatize is vital. Porters & yaks do the heavy humping & I hope they're decently paid.

Base camp 'staff' are hired by the different expeditions - cooks, laundry, cleaners; whatever jobs & errands need doing up there - I'm no climber so am not sure. A special team of Sherpa experts known as 'The Icefall Doctors' are paid very good money to initially fix & maintain the route through the Khumbu Icefall. That puppy can move up to 3-4' per day! Crevasses appear, suddenly close up - it takes some stones to keep that route open & unlike the climbers, this Sherpa team is up there every day. Incidently most Everest deaths occur not at high altitude but in the Icefall - mostly by avalanche but you can fall into a crevasse they can't get you out of!

More Sherpas - porters & climbers are needed to establish the higher camps & they're bouncing up & down from base camp at a rate that exhausts me just reading about it. These are physically a small people yet can carry enormous loads. When double leg amputee Mark Inglis summited, he was so badly frostbit, a Sherpa CARRIED him from camp four down - all 120 lbs. of him!

On summit bids, there are as many Sherpas on the high slopes as 'climbers' - sometimes more, depending on what part of the route. They're making sure fixed ropes stay fixed, encouraging climbers to keep moving forward, in some cases trying to get their stubborn asses to turn around & go down because they're in rough shape. They check oxygen, effect rescues when they can. Very few have summited Everest without Sherpa support. The better commercial operations have some long standing relationships with some of the Sherpas - the respect is mutual. Insurance coverage is provided by these companies for their Sherpa team mates. I wish I could say all the climbers treat the Sherpas with the same degree of respect. I've seen some video & listened to some comments that had me hissing.

A fair number of climbers later do some decent work with Sherpa communities - opening schools & hospitals & helping maintain funding... vital work in poor nations.

So - a long winded way of saying yes, it can get bloody crowded up there & I think it could be far better managed at the national or even international level. This year, the \Nepalese government is providing a security force at base camp comprising of military & police - yeah, base camp is big enough to turn into a small village & sadly, problems are arising. Several 'clean up Everest' expeditions have been done these last several years, trying to get crap off the mountain - old oxygen bottles, abandoned gear. This year, each climber must bring down 18 kg. of garbage - not including human waste.

The bodies generally remain where they've fallen. It's too hard & far too risky to bring them down, especially when you can barely move yourself. In fact it's common to go by or in a few cases, step over the dying - same reason. There have been some interesting ethical discussions on this issue over the last few years. I do not have an opinion or judgement; I can't possibly as I have no idea what conditions are really like up there. It's not unknown though for summit attempts to be abandoned by climbers trying to save other climbers - as was done for Lincoln Hall. Rob Hall - not related, gave up his own life in 1996 rather than abandon a client who could neither go up or down.

So far, Everest has been a combined effort of different climbers & commercial operations. The big companies get together, share resources & split the rope fixing duties & costs of doing so - that's a lot of rope. Not uncommonly on a summit day, those same companies find they can't easily access their own ropes! Other climbers are ahead of them & there's not exactly room to step around. Summit days - conventions be damned! Everybody wants up & some don't care if their very slow pace holds up others or places them at risk. Those going up are using the same rope as those going down - I shudder imagining the potential disasters if someone unclips, then slips.

Sysiphus, you're going to try 6 of the 7 summits? Wow! Denali should be something else. And the Annapurna Circuit would be a trip of a life time in its own right.

As for me - I'll be watching more documentaries about Nepal & the Sherpa people & other climbs - especially some of the classic European mountains. But if I were 35 years younger, I might be training for a new hobby!
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Old 04-18-2014, 08:48 AM   #7
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Unhappy I KNEW This Was Going To Be A Bad Year

***Avalanche kills 12 in single deadliest accident on Mount Everest

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- A high-altitude avalanche Friday killed 12 Sherpa guides and seriously wounded three in the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said.

Four others are missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal's Tourism Ministry, adding that six people were injured in total.

A group of about 50 people, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by the avalanche at more than 20,000 feet, said Tilak Ram Pandey of the ministry's mountaineering department.

The avalanche took place just above base camp in the Khumbu Ice Fall...***

More at link:


http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/18/world/...html?hpt=hp_c2


This is literally the worst single highest fatality causing incident on Everest. The Khumbu Icefall - I've said it here - IS the most dangerous part of the mountain. Base camp is below & all the other camps are above. Those other camps have to be set up, staffed & stocked for the climbers heading up on summit bids. At this stage of the season, a hundred or more Sherpas can be hauling up kit, then coming back down for more. As well, the climbers who've recently arrived at base camp are climbing up the icefall, (2 miles in length) to acclimatize. They will do this a number of times, initially taking short climbs partway then the entire way through the icefall. After doing that several times, they cloomb up to camp one, spend the night to acclimatize more, then back to base camp to rest before heading up the mountain 'for real'.

So the icefall is a crowded place. If you're in the wrong place when an avalanche lets go - forget about it. As the sun rises & heats surrounding air |& ice, the risk of ginormous chunks of ice, (up to the size of a LARGE house or more), can fall off overhangs & either trigger avalanches in their own right or squish flat whoever/whatever is below them. Not sure what triggered this specific avalanche - it was early in the morning but it was a big one.

The 'missing' - if they're found, it won't be alive.

The tough part for those new to 'big climbing' will be carrying on. Once they've finished the search, the Sherpas be checking & maybe re-roping that part of the route before the climbers carry on. I was more than a bit miffed at some of the expedition comments: "None of our climbers, (meaning westerners), were hurt, thank goodness. But yeah we had a Sherpa injured. Or... what come across as not entirely sincere condolences for the Sherpas. Let me rephrase that - they're sad for the for the Sherpas but not entirely secretly relieved none of their fee paying climbers were hurt.

I have a feeling this won't be the last death in the icefall this season.

... then they go higher up the mountain, catch summit fever & get stupid.

Sincerest condolences to the families of those injured & killed & yes, the good commercial outfits cover their Sherpas in terms of insurance..
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Old 04-18-2014, 09:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadaSue View Post
I was more than a bit miffed at some of the expedition comments: "None of our climbers, (meaning westerners), were hurt, thank goodness. But yeah we had a Sherpa injured. Or... what come across as not entirely sincere condolences for the Sherpas. Let me rephrase that - they're sad for the for the Sherpas but not entirely secretly relieved none of their fee paying climbers were hurt.
I was surprised non of them said "Well, that is one avalanche we won't have to worry about getting our customers."

Just rewards is that they take a lot of extra days to rerig, the good days is during that extra time, and then the window closes very fast p*ssing off all of the customers.

It barely made a peep in the press in the US. It was like someone said "Hey a lot of people on Everest got killed. Wait, what, just Sherpas? Never mind."

Is they were white westerners? All of the western news agencies would be flying to Kathmandu giving Live update on the "Rescue on Everest".
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Old 04-18-2014, 07:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potemkin View Post
I was surprised non of them said "Well, that is one avalanche we won't have to worry about getting our customers."

Just rewards is that they take a lot of extra days to rerig, the good days is during that extra time, and then the window closes very fast p*ssing off all of the customers.

It barely made a peep in the press in the US. It was like someone said "Hey a lot of people on Everest got killed. Wait, what, just Sherpas? Never mind."

Is they were white westerners? All of the western news agencies would be flying to Kathmandu giving Live update on the "Rescue on Everest".
It's been heavily covered here in Seattle. In part because a local team is at Base Camp right now, in part because there is a large alpine climbing community here. I do agree that if some foreigners had been among the lost, there would be considerably more coverage. It's not helping that there is no shortage of terrible disasters and accidents at the moment.
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Old 04-18-2014, 08:37 PM   #10
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Latest reports from Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side - where the avalanche struck.

12 bodies have been recovered, one spotted but not collected... possibly it's far down in a crevasse. 8 were rescued & treated for injuries, either at base camp for minor stuff or air lifted to Katmandhu. I've not yet checked individual expeditions reports of the affected commercial outfits to check on severity of injuries. 25 in total were hit by the avalanche so by that count... 4 got off very lucky - just getting knocked off their feet or dusted.

Currently 100 Sherpas & climbers are 'trapped' above the icefall & will remain so until the route can be re-established & ropes fixed. There's the difference between too many Everest climbers & true alpinists - the alpinists could get down if they had to. Probably smarter not to try unless they run short of food - doubtful.

There will be a aeveral day break from climbing as they hoist aboard what's happened as well as get the icefall route re-rigged.

On the Nepalese side of the mountain, 31 permits were issued by the Nepalese government covering 334 westerners. I'm trying to imagine a short summit window with perhaps half that number plus Sherpas lined up at the summit ridge or Hilary Step.

With weather coming in...

ugh.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:03 PM   #11
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Default Everest Climbing Season Still in Doubt

From npr:

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Despite Government's Concessions, Many Sherpas May Leave:

The likelihood of the upcoming climbing season on Mount Everest being canceled altogether seemed to veer from very possible to very unlikely to somewhere in between within the space of less than an hour on Tuesday as news reports came in from the world's tallest mountain.

http://tinyurl.com/kx7nd3x
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:26 PM   #12
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I've not made time to comment on this the last several days & to be honest, I'm not completely up to date with the latest from various expeditions.

I was aware the climbing season was very much in doubt. That's a huge hit to the climbing community - Sherpa or non-Sherpa. Yes, they're paid a lot compared to non-Everest compatriots but they work like bloody dogs & frankly, some of the expectations placed upon them by Western, (using this to mean non-Sherpa in this case), climbers strike me as breathtakingly arrogant. Yes, Sherpas live at altitude & thus are better able to cope with high altitude work but they're not super human. "Why didn't they drag down this climber in trouble - they left her to die!" Yeah, try dragging a semi-comatose climber across a knife like ridge where a misstep to the left means falling 12,000 feet into Tibet & on the other, a 'mere' 8,000 feet into Nepal. The overwhelming majority of Sherpas are quite happy to be on oxygen about 8000 meters & with reason - only 4% of the oxygen available at sea level is found up there - good luck with that!

Sherpas never, EVER climbed Everest before western expeditions decided to try & tackle the world's highest peak. Today, they don't climb for shits & giggles either - well, most don't. A few love climbing but in roughly the same proportion as people from any nation. They climb because in one season, they can earn ten year's worth of average salary & they start at the bottom - literally, as porters up to base camp. You move up to base camp staff, laundry, cooking - think of high altitude hotel staff & care for any yaks; lots of fetch & carry. Then, they graduate up to portering between base camps & the higher camps, learning rope use, crampon techniques etc. The number of high altitude Sherpa climbing GUIDES - the ones who can help you to the summit - THOSE make the most money & by Gawd, they earn it.

The climbers climb to earn money so they can buy their kids an education so those kids don't have to climb when they grow up.

For a few days, when it seemed clear no Sherpas would climb; that they were preparing to leave the mountain, there was much consternation among many of the commercial expeditions. How will we climb Everest without the Sherpas? "My paying clients won't be able to reach the summit!"

In other words, bluntly, a high percentage of those attempting the summit have no damned business on that mountain. They can barely use crampons, can't cross anything without ladders & lots of fixed ropes, need Sherpas to change their oxygen tanks & in some cases, to short rope them to the top. No Sherpas, no hope in hell.

In 2012, it was a zoo up there. A Canadian of Nepalese descent decided a year earlier - she was going to summit Everest. Mountaineering experience - zero. Climbing experience - zero. Any alpine stuff - zero. She didn't know how to tie knots, use ropes or climb a rock face - oh she'd practiced on climbing walls at gyms - sorry. But she had never been near a mountain in her life. At base camp she needed to learn 'Crampons 101', as well as every other aspect of mountaineering. She 'trained' by doing a lot of hiking in Ontario hilly country. We have nice hiking hills here - nothing even close to what's needed for prep.

She turned out to be a very slow climber but to her credit, made the summit... with a LOT of help from two inexperienced climbing Sherpas. There are some superb commercial expedition organizations out there. She went with the equivalent of ACME Trekking - a fly by night, start up trekking company where none of the owners or Sherpas had done Everest. The owner was more interested in his own summit bit & essentially abandoned her to the devices of very inexperienced Sherpas. She couldn't be convinced to give up her summit bid, even when it was clear she was too slow & didn't have nearly enough oxygen. She died on the way down. To their credit, her Sherpas stayed with her as long as they could, trying to get her on her feet to get down. Couldn't be done & they are not paid to die up there.

Nepal, if they're not going to cut down on the number of permits, should establish some sort of minimum criteria for climbing permits. Let's say - membership in a climbing club with verified climbs of some tough stuff to show you at least have some basic skills.

I'll be catching up on expedition news reports later but I can almost guarantee this. Even though the mood among western climbers may be sombre now - especially the underprepared climbing newbies - they're AT base camp. They've seen the mountain. They've already got a small taste of summit fever & they're going to try anyway.

I suspect, unless a significant number go home NOW & unless the summit weather window lasts a goodly period of time, another half dozen or more will die this year. ONE rope - that's all they've got & there are some significant choke points where you can't move past someone 'resting' or half dead. The lines moves no faster than the slowest climber.

Let me go find a photo that's pretty classic in demonstrating how insane it can become...
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:31 PM   #13
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Got it! And unbelievably, other photos taken that day from the top of the summit & various points further up show the rest of the line - this is just part of it. The comments from the climber who took the shot are interesting:

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor...d-Everest.html
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:46 PM   #14
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I would not go that far and spend that much just to get killed...........

Ever hear of Mt.Cook N.Z. Spectacular cheap alterative

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=m...1680&bih=9 59
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:21 PM   #15
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Mount Cook can be a killer too. Mark Inglis was lucky to survive 13 days in a snow cave during one of the worst blizzards in recorded history on that mountain. It cost him his legs & his climbing partner's life.

Inglis went on to summit Everest in 2006. That resulted in bad frost bite, close to 2 months in hospital & even more of his legs lost.

And this was an experienced mountaineer. Any mountain, a rock face or cliff can bite you in the butt - no matter how well trained or experienced you are. That training & experience helps prevent a lot of trouble though thus my belief that only climbers experienced with some of the really big ones as well as solid, solid basic experience & exposure to brutal weather should even think about trying it.

Keep the bloody tourists off the mountain. Treks to base camp okay - I'd love to do that myself. But one one step into the icefall or higher without experience.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:25 AM   #16
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Think I've caught up on what's going on so far - matters are still very much up in the air.

17 have died in total - all Sherpa & 3 are still missing. The Sherpa climbing community is fairly small & tight knit. Many Sherpas with various expeditions are related to the dead & missing. The grief & shock is reportedly enormous & there's a growing anger amongst the Sherpa community. Many have gone home for the funerals and/or to absorb what's happened - to grieve with friends, family & community. How many will choose to come back is uncertain. Some of the larger commercial expeditions with excellent working relationships with their Sherpa have told them if they choose not to work this season, they will be paid regardless. These 'senior' teams have always seen their Sherpas as active partners, as the experienced professionals most of them are. They respect them as people & they respect their culture, their beliefs, their knowledge of the mountain.

There is a lot of discussion among the Sherpa & a group of more militant, younger porters & guides want the season cancelled outright, stating they refuse to work the mountain this year. They state there will be more deaths if they continue to climb. Older guides know full well a cancelled season may result in financial hardship for many Sherpa - they're trying to find a compromise position. 600 or so Sherpa were working this year, at base camp & above. If a significant number don't come back, it will severely hamper operations. The Icefall Doctors who fix & maintain the route through the Khumbu Icefall are loathe to return but the consensus is if the other Sherpas decide to work, they will as well; albeit reluctantly. Many of the expeditions have been talking with each other about sharing resources to ensure summit attempts.

Of the roughly 350 western climbers who'd arrived at base camp - a good 10% have left - some swearing they'll never climb again. Others are still trying to make a decision & are waiting the results of meeting to be held today with the Nepalese government. The Sherpas have a list of demands they want met to continue - I'll post a link at the end of this.

Clients of the Alpenglow commercial expedition have been told not to fly to Nepal. Adventure Consultants lost 3 Sherpa - they've cancelled their expedition completely as have Alpine Ascents who lost 5 Sherpa. The latter two are well known commercial operations owned & led by extremely experienced, competent climbers. Other teams are also waiting on news from the meeting between Sherpa representatives & the Nepalese government. Larger teams whose Sherpas return to base camp still have a decent crack at it - weather depending & if they co-operate with other teams in fixing ropes & sharing other resources. That might not be the case with smaller teams & the fly by night outfits. I don't know how many very small or individual attempts are being made or the status of those.

I do know NBC has cancelled the attempted wing suit jump from the summit - yeah, you read that right - by Joby Ogwyn. The majority of support for that was being provided by Alpine Ascents & with them out, NBC is packing it in. There's a rumour the climber is still planning on summiting, then getting down via wing suit - but it won't be televised... which might be a good thing!

At least one experienced climber has commented that the mountain, especially in the area around base camp has been warm these past three years. This has resulted in much more ice movement, including ice avalanches in the Khumbu - a higher risk for climbers.

The next few days will hopefully clarify the situation somewhat.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:13 PM   #17
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Wow - some huge announcements today.

Firstly, the most angry & vocal Sherpa at base camp, those arguing against working at all, apparently consist of a few very young, Maoist guys. They are alleged to have threatened Sherpa who want to continue to work as well as their families. As a result - the Nepalese military will be arriving at base camp to ensure order is maintained. It seems the Sherpa are splitting into two opposing groups - it's getting political & it's getting ugly.

IMG - the largest commercial expedition firm has cancelled their season. Their website very diplomatically states the consensus is that the icefall is too dangerous without serious repair work to the route & that the Icefall Doctors are not able to resume their work. It is crucial the Icefall Doctors bridge crevasses with ladders which they secure to ice, fix ropes - fixing ropes in mountaineering terms means securing the using ice screws in ice, pitons in rock so they stay there. If the crevasses aren't safely bridged - the majority of western climbers simply don't have the ability or skills to negotiate the icefall themselves. Another commercial expedition states the Icefall Doctors are flat out saying the icefall is simply too active this year for a reasonable margin of safety. Large ice avalanches are still occurring.

As a result this outfit - IMG - has cancelled their Everest season. That's huge - they hires the most Sherpa & do a great deal of the route setting & rope fixing higher up the mountain in conjunction with one other very well known firm - who has yet to announce a decision. IMG has Eric Simonson on staff - he knows that mountain & safe climbing. If he feels it's not worth the risk - I'd be listening. RMI has also cancelled. One of their better known guides is Dave Hahn - he's the man who found George Mallory's body some years ago - he also knows the mountain extremely well. Peak Freaks from Canada has cancelled. They stopped climbing a few other |Himalayan peaks a few years back - climate change has made the glaciers & ice packs too unstable & his operation may not return to Everest at all for the same reason. Exploradus has also cancelled.

One of the reasons the Nepalese army is coming is to try & protect any Sherpa from any expedition who decide to try to continue to climb. There may be small teams or single climbers trying to do small, fast climbs.

This may also kill climbing on Lhotse as the route up both mountains is identical for a good half of the way.

There will still be Everest summit attempts from the north side - through Tibet. I believe there are roughly 100-200 climbers, guides & porters - it's a tougher route.

I expect more cancellations on the south side over the next day or two.
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