Everest 2018: Climbers Say Hello to Kathmandu.

Thai TG319 at Kathmandu

Right on time, climbers and trekkers from around the world are arriving in Kathmandu. Some have already flown to Lukla to begin their trek to Everest Base Camp.

I say this every year – if you ever get the chance to trek in Nepal, or the Khumbu especially, jump on the chance. I promise you it will change your life. My first visit was in 1997 for a trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) via the Goyko Lakes. I was captivated by the people of Nepal, the Sherpa culture, the villages, teahouses, monasteries, monks, yaks, the pizza 🙂  … well you see what I mean. I returned home with new sense of the world and how we might possibly could get along. Thankfully I have returned to Nepal 13 times since then.

International Mount Guides, aka IMG, has checked in from Kathmandu with their usual large team. Between their Sherpa lead team and the Western guided team, I expect IMG to have over 30 clients. They usually have the largest team but recently, Seven Summits Treks who has been aggressive with offering low cost climbs (as low as $20K compared to IMG’s $45K) has easily hosted over 60, or even 100 clients in a single season.

IMG will acclimatize on Lobuche East at ‎6,119 m (20,075 ft) to eliminate one rotation through the Icefall. They still have their members sleep at Camps 1, 2 and 3 with at least two rotations before going for the summit. Himalayan Experience aka Himex does something similar.

IMG's 2018 team hearing a welcome by Greg Vernovage

IMG’s 2018 team hearing a welcome by Greg Vernovage

Another variation on acclimatizing before climbs is shown by Tim Mosedale who takes his climbers on a three-week trek instead of arriving at EBC then going through the Icefall or using Lobuche. Still, Tim has his climbers do a couple of rotations.

Guy Cotter of Adventure Consultants is guiding one private client who is said to be attempting Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse this season. While this has been done, it is quite rare. Kenton Cool was the last to get all three in a single season in 2013.

The teams climbing from the Tibet side usually arrive in Kathmandu, or Lhasa, in early April. Since they drive to base camp, it is shorter but they still spend a few nights along the way for acclimatization.

EverestER is already up and running. This valuable medical service is staffed by volunteers and offers medical services for foreigners for $100 for the season. All Sherpas, porters and locals are treated free of charge. They posted last week that they have already treated 50 patients and had one helicopter evacuation for HAPE.

Expect Another Big Year and Deaths

In 2017 there were 648 summits, 237 from Tibet and 411 from Nepal including 11 climbers who didn’t use supplemental oxygen. There were 6 deaths. I expect about the same number on both sides this year. Some climbers will be using their 2014 permits. Nepal extended those for five years to 2019 after a Sherpa strike closed that side of the mountain. But the 2015 permits that were extended for two years after the earthquake closed Everest have now expired. Expiring permits were one factor in the 2017 season with 166 people using permit extensions.

If the weather holds, there could be over 200 summits from the Tibet side and over 400 from the Nepal side. Sadly I believe 6 to 8 people will die on Everest this spring, mostly on the Nepal side from inexperienced climbers climbing with unqualified guides. This has been the pattern the past few years. Also, I expect to see record frostbite and helicopter “rescues” since the helicopter services are now controlled by Nepali guide companies and they make a significant profit from the insurance coverage of climbers and trekkers.

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Everest 2018: Final Preparations and More Rules.

Khumbu Icefall routes

As we approach mid-March, some families around the world are shifting their minds to Everest. Soon they will make that drive to the airport to send their loved-one away for two months knowing they are going on an adventure of their life. For the climbers, this is all about the dream. For the ones left behind, they only have one dream – to hug them once again.

By now, all the gear is bought, the training is complete and all that is left is to leave nothing left unsaid. For the climbers, once they sit down in that airplane seat, the journey begins. Hopefully all the work over the last year, all the climbs over the past decade have lead to this point. They are well prepared and empowered with positive support.

Icefall

The Icefall Doctors are almost to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side per this article in the Himalayan. This is normal and there have been requests from the large commercial operators to get the route in by 1 April to allow the upper camps to be established and reduce the crowds on the route by spreading the climbers out.

I like that the article list the Sherpas names, who will make $3,000 each for the two month season. Climbers pay $600 each to use the route. This fee is usually part of their overall expedition price.

  • Ang Kami Sherpa of Chaurikharka – 66 year-old Leader
  • Ang Sarki Sherpa
  • Ngim Dorjee Sherpa
  • Mingma Chhiri Sherpa
  • Yangda Sherpa
  • Mingma Temba Sherpa
  • Nima Wangchu Sherpa
  • Dawa Jangbu,
  • Ngawang Thangten Sherpa – kitchen staff
  • Mingma Dorjee Sherpa – kitchen staff

Route Evolution

The route thru the Khumbu Icefall has changed over the decades based on ice conditions and objective dangers. Of course the ice serac release in 2014 that took 16 lives was the most recent, and deadly, Icefall tragedy. That year the route followed the 1952 Swiss attempt hugging the left shoulder. While the ice was more stable (glaciers move less at their edges) it was directly underneath tons of hanging ice seracs.

The next year it moved more towards the center and last year was even closer to Nuptse. Obviously there are hanging seracs off Nuptse so it becomes a judgement call as to where to put the route. Ang Kami Sherpa, the leader of the Icefall Doctors has been fixing the route for 20 years. A couple of years ago, long time Everest climbers and observers, Pete Athens and David Brasheres provided consulting to the Doctors on route placement based on high resolution aerial photographs.

This year, 2018, the Docs have a slight benefit in that Alex Txikon’s team put the route in for their ill-fated winter attempt. It’s not known which route they selected i.e. left, center, right but most certainly it was more to the right than left.

Khumbu Icefall routes

Khumbu Icefall routes

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38th anniversary of the first Everest winter ascent.

February 17, 1980 – First winter ascent by Andrzej Zawada’s team from Poland: Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki.

This was also the first winter summit of any of the world’s fourteen 8000 metre peaks.

Completed in 1980 by a team of phenomenally rugged Polish climbers, this ascent was led by … Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki reached the summit on February 17.

wielicki-cichy
Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy celebrate winning Mount Everest in Winter.

One might say that winter expeditions into the Himalayas were invented by Polish people, mainly by Andrzej Zawada, becouse he is considered as the originator of the idea.

It’s important to remind that first 7 of all eight-thousanders mountains were reached by Poles who became famous and British mountaineers called them “ICE WARRIORS”.

These first 7 peaks were reached by Polish climbers between the years of 1980 – 1988. That is why those times are also called “The Golden Decade” of Polish Himalaism.

You can see..

Krzysztof Wielicki – detailed diary of First winter ascent of Mount Everest, Please click the links below :

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 1

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 2

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 3

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 4

* more on –   37th anniversary of the first Everest winter ascent.

** I invite you to relationships with expeditions Polish mountaineers.

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38 rocznica zimowego wejścia na Mt. Everest: droga do sukcesu.

February 17, 1980 – First winter ascent by Andrzej Zawada’s team from Poland: Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki.

This was also the first winter summit of any of the world’s fourteen 8000 metre peaks.

wielicki-cichy
Completed in 1980 by a team of phenomenally rugged Polish climbers, this ascent was led by … Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki reached the summit on February 17.

Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy celebrate winning Mount Everest in Winter.

You can see ..  – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition 2017/18.
–  Krzysztof Wielicki: Historia zdobycia K-2.

38 rocznica zimowego wejścia na Mt. Everest: droga do sukcesu.

38 lat temu 17 lutego 1980 r na szczycie Mount Everest stanęli pierwsi ludzie w zimieKrzysztof Wielicki i Leszek Cichy. Obydwaj Polacy staneli na wierzchołku najwyższej góry świata o godzinie 14.30

Należy przypomnieć iż na drodze do tego sukcesu były takie wydarzenia jak wyprawa zimowa z 1973r, która dokonała pierwszego wejścia zimowego na Noszak (7492 m) – najwyższy szczyt Hindukuszu Afgańskiego. Szczyt zdobyli wtedy : Tadeusz Piotrowski i Andrzej Zawada.

Zawada był pomysłodawcą i głównym orędownikiem wypraw zimowych i to za jego sprawą udało się zorganizować m.in wyprawę na Everest. Nie zraziły go pierwsze niepowodzenia w zdobyciu ośmiotysięcznika zimą co miało miejsce podczas nieudanej wyprawy na Lhotse (8501 m) w 1974r. Osiągnął wtedy wraz z Zygmuntem A. Hainrichem wysokość 8250m, a to skłoniło go do pozytywnego myślenia, że zdobycie ośmiotysięcznika w zimie jest możliwe. Wyprawa mimo , że nieudana miała też inne walory, zdobyto nowe doświadczenia i rozpoznawano teren, co miło zaowocować w przyszłości.

Zawada przez dłuższy czas nie mógł przekonać do swego pomysłu władz Nepalu, które uznawały jedynie dwa sezony: wiosenny i jesienny. Dlatego gdy władze wydały pozwolenie na organizowanie polskiej wyprawy narodowej, która miała zdobywać Everest drogą przez południowy filar na wiosnę 1980r to nie spowodowało to zaniechania przez Zawadę starań o wyprawę zimową. Długotrwałe starania (ich początki to 1977r) oraz wsparcie ze strony polskiej dyplomacji w Kathmanu nie od razu dały pozytywny skutek, Nepalczycy długo zwlekali, aż wreszcie w listopadzie 1979r wydali zgodę i polska wyprawa narodowa dostała jako pierwsza zezwolenie na zdobywanie Everestu w sezonie zimowym.

Mount Everest od południowego zachodu (fot. Krzysztof Wielicki)

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Everest and K2 in the Winter by alanarnette.com.

Recommended by us…. amazing website …

Everest and K2 in the Winter.

Will there be a winter summit of Everest and finally on K2 this winter? This is always a question as we approach winter. And teams usually keep their plans quiet. The recent suspects include Alex Txikon on Everest and the Poles on K2.

To claim a true winter ascent of a northern hemisphere peak, the summit must be reached during the calendar winter of the northern hemisphere. For 2017/18 this begins with the winter solstice on December 21, 2017 at 11:28 am EST and ends with the spring equinox on March 201, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT.

Also to be fully certified as a winter ascent, not only the summit has to be reached within the winter calendar, but the start of the expedition cannot be before winter solstice either. Practically this means that the Base Camp must be reached after the winter solstice.

8000ers in Winter

As this table shows, Polish climbers have dominated first winter ascents of the 8000 meter peaks.

K2 This Winter?

Of course, K2 remains the only 8000er not summited in winter. Last year, Nanga Parbat succumbed to the team of Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro, and Tamara Lunger. It took 31 winter attempts before summiting Nanga in winter.

Now on K2, Krzysztof Wielicki, 67, who was in the first team to scale Everest in winter in 1980 will lead the Polish K2 attempt this winter.

Funding had been a problem but it appears they have received $275,000 from the Polish Ministry of Sport and Tourism according to this article.

They will be a team of 10 but only four will be on the “summit team.” They will climb in traditional siege style establishing several camps along the route. Of course weather is the primary concern as K2 is always hit with high winds but in winter the jet stream tends to sit on top of it with 200 mph winds and experience heavy snowfall.

The team is scheduled to include: Janusz Goląb, 50, with a Gasherbum I ascent, Artur Małek, who made the first winter ascent of Broad Peak, Marcin Kaczkan, K2 in the winter of 2002/03 to 7,600m and summited K2 and Nanga Parbat in the summer, plus Marek Chmielarski, summits of Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak.

Other team members include Rafał Fronia (Lhotse and Gasherbrum II), Piotr Tomala (Broad Peak and Cho Oyu), Dariusz Załuski (filmmaker / climbed five 8,000-metre peaks) and doctor Krzysztof Wranicz.

They are not sure which route they will take but it most likely will be either the Abruzzi or the Česen.

See this post for a nice overview of K2 winter attempts. But these are the highlights from Gripped:

  • 1980 Reconnaissance: Pol Andrzej Zawada and Canadian-resident Polish national Jaques Olek
  • 1987/88 Attempt: 13 Poles, 7 Canadians and 4 Brits / made to Camp 3
  • 2002/03 Attempt: 14 climbers from Poland, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia / made Camp 4
  • 2011/12 Attempt: 9 climbers from Russia / made Camp 2
  • 2014/15 Near Attempt: Denis Urubko and team lost permit

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

* source: – Everest and K2 in the Winter

** see also – Polish Team Prepares for Winter Ascent of K2.

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37th anniversary of the first Everest winter ascent.

February 17, 1980 – First winter ascent by Andrzej Zawada’s team from Poland: Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki.

This was also the first winter summit of any of the world’s fourteen 8000 metre peaks.

Completed in 1980 by a team of phenomenally rugged Polish climbers, this ascent was led by … Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki reached the summit on February 17.

wielicki-cichy
Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy celebrate winning Mount Everest in Winter.

You can see ..

Krzysztof Wielicki – detailed diary of First winter ascent of Mount Everest, Please click the links below :

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 1

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 2

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 3

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 4

** I invite you to relationships with expeditions Polish mountaineers.

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Everest & Himalaya 2010 Season’s End Chronicle, take 5: Special report – The Spring of Annapurna.

“When one thinks about Annapurna the first impression that comes to mind is danger,” ExWeb contributor Rodrigo Granzotto states.

Nevertheless, Anna was the most visited 8000er after Everest this past spring, and coped headlines as some pages of mountaineering history were written on its slopes.

Sixty years after becoming the first 8000er ever summited, the peak has witnessed three climbers finishing their 14×8000 quest on its summit (including the first female) the highest chopper rescue in history and, sadly, yet another man lost to the mountain.

Therefore it deserves a special chapter on the massive chronicle compiled by exWeb contributor Rodrigo Granzotto. Enjoy!

Everest & Himalaya 2010 Spring Season´s End Chronicle–Special on Annapurna’s Diamond Jubilee
by Rodrigo Granzotto Peron

I–The first ascent:

Annapurna just completed the Diamond Jubilee of the first conquest. On June 3, 1950, the French duo comprised of Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal stood at the top of an 8000er for the first time. Sixty years has passed and again Annapurna was the main stage of the Season. Several expeditions showed up, including five Spanish, two South Korean, one North American, one International, plus other climbers, such as Amir Hossein Partovinia from Iran, with an unprecedented amount of climbers on the regular route.

II–Danger level:

“When one thinks about Annapurna the first impression that comes to mind is danger.” This can be further exemplified by quoting some of the top climbers:

“It is not one of my favorite mountains, I must confess. It is dangerous due to avalanche risk on the North Face…” (Iñaki Ochoa de Olza).

“Annapurna is not too difficult, but dangerous.…” (Ivan Vallejo).

“Annapurna is on my mind all the time. It´s hard and dangerous.” (Silvio Mondinelli).

“Annapurna is beautiful and it looks big and dangerous” (Simone Moro).

“Annapurna isn’t the toughest summit, but there is always danger when someone climbs the mountain.” (Ueli Steck).

“Annapurna has the most dangerous standard route of all 8000ers.” (Reinhold Messner).

In spite of the risk level, the danger level has been dropping over the past years. It reached the maximum point in 1985, with almost 91% (bordering a suicide), then lowered to 62% in 1991, 49% in 1996, 43% in 2002, 40% in 2005, and, after the present season, now we have 183 ascents and 61 fatalities. This results in about 33%, which is almost one-third of the 1985’s ratio. If considering only the occurrences of the 1990’s and 2000’s, then there were 124 ascents and 22 deaths, on a level of 17%. Focusing only the last ten years, just 10%. So, Annapurna is dangerous, but not “that” dangerous anymore.

On the other hand, the mountain showed all her wrath in 2010. It was the seventh year straight with fatalities registered on the mountain, taking the life of Tolo Calafat, who died at 7,600 meters, probably due to AMS (his death was the first on the regular N Face route of Annapurna in almost three years).

Also several climbers had close encounters with the major avalanche concern on Annapurna. Xavi Arias broke two ribs on an avalanche; Amir Hossein was carried down for 200 meters after one; Kang Ki-Seok was hit and injured a leg; Nick Rice was hit by fallen ice and suffered bruises. Other incidents were reported by nearly all the teams.

III–How to race on the tenth highest mountain:

The danger level explains why almost all racers save Annapurna for the last steps in the pursuit for all 14.

None of the 22 climbers who completed the race started on Annapurna. The mountain was among the five last peaks of 15 racers who completed all (68% of them). And six racers let Anna for the last: Juanito Oiarzabal (SPA), Alberto Iñurrategi (SPA), Ed Viesturs (USA), João Garcia (POR), Piotr Pustelnik (POL) and Oh Eun-Sun (S.K.).

Of those active collectors with seven 8000ers or more, these are the people still needing Annapurna:

Abele Blanc (ITA)
Alberto Zerain (SPA)
Alexey Raspopov (KAZ)
Carlos Soria (SPA)
Dachung (CHIN/TIB)
Jean Troillet (SWZ)
Jyabo (CHIN/TIB)
Kazuyoshi Kondo (JAP)
Kim Chang-Ho (S.K.)
Kim Jae-Soo (S.K.)
Mario Vielmo (ITA)
Nives Meroi (ITA)
Osamu Tanabe (JAP)
Oscar Cadiach (SPA)
Radek Jaros (CZE)
Romano Benet (ITA)
Serguey Lavrov (RUS)
Taro Tanigawa (JAP)
Waldemar Niclevicz (BRA)
Zdenek Hruby (CZE)
Zsolt Eross (HUN)

IV–Regular route:

The classical, standard route of Annapurna, is the French (N Face). But in recent times, two more routes from the South Flank, emerged as “regulars” as well. The British Route (1970) and the East Ridge Route (1984) have become quite popular. By the British Route eight climbers summited recently and the East Ridge conducted two climbers to the summit in 2002, four in 2006 and one more in 2008. But after the deaths of Iñaki Ochoa de Olza (SPA) and Martin Minarik (CZE) in the past two years it is possible that the “East Ridge fever” might slow down a little bit.

V–2010 Spring Season:

What a memorable season on Annapurna!

Two very early summit waves, the first on April 17. According to Himalayan Database, this was the earliest ascent of Anna this spring. The second, ten days later, resulted in the record of 26 summits–the most successful season ever!

Several records were broken: 

1. Spain is now the nation (excluding Nepal) with the most summits

2. This was the first time that three different climbers ended the race on the same mountain (Garcia, Pustelnik and Oh)

3. The oldest person to summit was Ruediger Schleypen, 54, (GER), in 1991. In 2010 three climbers passed this mark and thus became the oldest. Third place, Piotr Pustelnik, 58, (POL). Second place, Serguey Bogomolov, 59, (RUS). And the oldest person to summit Annapurna is Evgeny Vinogradsky, 63, (RUS). Now Annapurna is the 12th 8000er to be summited by a sexagenarian. Only Gasherbrum I and Kangchenjunga have not yet been conquered by someone 60 years or older.

4. Horia Colibasanu is the first Romanian to top out

5. Edurne Pasaban is the first lady climber from Spain

6. Peter Hamor (SLK) is the first western climber to summit Annapurna twice and the first from both sides.

NOTE: It is important to mention that some “summits” are being contested, and still investigated. For example, in descent Juanito Oiarzabal (SPA) and Carlos Pauner (SPA) were airlifted by chopper from C4 (c6,900m). There are also strong rumors, reported by Kinga Baranowska in an interview to website rp.pl on May 21, that Serguey Bogomolov (RUS) and Evgeny Vinogradsky (RUS) did not actually reach the highest point.

VI–Feminine Invasion:

Summits by women were very rare on Annapurna. Only six until the beginning of the season: Irene Miller and Vera Komarkova (1978), Wanda Rutkiewicz and Ingrid Baeyens (1991), Ji Hyung-Ok (1999), Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (2004). In 2010 three more names were added to the list: Oh Eun-Sun, Edurne Pasaban and Kinga Baranowska. Like Kangchenjunga and K2, Annapurna was like a forbidden territory for women, but in the last few years things are changing for these peaks.

VII–The second summit wave on Annapurna:

On April 27, seventeen climbers made it to the top of Annapurna. The sequence was like this:

10:00AM: Jorge Egocheaga (SPA) and Martín Ramos (SPA)

1:30PM: Piotr Pustelnik (POL), Peter Hamor (SLK) and Horia Colibasanu (ROM)

1:45PM: Kinga Baranowska (POL)

2:30PM: Evgeny Vinogradsky (RUS) and Serguey Bogomolov (RUS)

3:00PM: Oh Eun-Sun (S.K.), Jung Ha-Young (S-K), Nha Kwan-Joo (S.K.), Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa (NEP), Pema Tshering Sherpa (NEP) and Sonam Sherpa (NEP)

4:00PM: Carlos Pauner (SPA), Juanito Oiarzabal (SPA) and Tolo Calafat (SPA)

After all the joy of so many successful ascents, including TV footage on the conquest of Oh Eun-Sun, the descents were very rough. In the words of Dr. Morandeira, it was an “uncontrolled retreat on summit night, with each participant fighting for his own life.” In particular, the last summits by the Spaniards were very late and problems started to appear on the way down. Calafat could not move on at about 7,600 meters and sadly died. Pauner and Juanito were airlifted from C4. The Russians also suffered greatly on descent, with Peter Hamor helping both Serguey and Evgeny.

VIII–Numbers:

In 2010 there were registered 26 ascents of Annapurna by climbers from eight different countries. Nine summiters from Spain, seven from Nepal, three from South Korea, two from Russia and Poland, one from Romania, Slovakia and Portugal. Now, Annapurna has 183 ascents at all, by 178 climbers!

With the three lady summiteers, Annapurna has now nine ascents by women. Before the beginning of the season, women made up 3.8% of all summiteers–now almost 5%!

Tolo Calafat was the 61st victim of Annapurna. Fatality rate of the spring season was 3.8%.

ExWeb Note, Aug26: Juanito’s summit of Annapurna is valid according to mountaineering tradition and Explorersweb. The views expressed is the author’s only. Check a related story here.

NOTE: This Chronicle is based on preliminary data and is under analysis. Some numbers will be revised in the following months, with possibly a few corrections made by then.

* Previous story :

Everest & Himalaya 2010 Season’s End Chronicle, take 4: Serial summiteers, lower peaks, new routes, rescues and Sherpa racers.

Everest & Himalaya 2010 Season’s End Chronicle, take 3: Firsts, records and 14x8000ers happy endings.

Everest & Himalaya 2010 Season’s End Chronicle, take 2: The final chapter of the women’s race.

Everest & Himalaya 2010 Season’s End Chronicle, Take 1: 8000er Collectors, Everest Serial Summiteers and Lost Climbers.

* Related Links :

StatCrunch: ladies of thin air – beyond Wanda’s footprints.

Oh Eun-Sun summits Annapurna – becomes the first woman 14x8000er summiteer!

Edurne Pasaban the first European and second woman in the world to complete the 14x8000ers.

Piotr Pustelnik summits Annapurna – bags the 14x8000ers!

Veikka Gustafsson completes the 14×8000ers list!

Andrew Lock completes the 14×8000ers list!

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.

e-mail or call +1 212 966 1928

* Read these stories – and more! – at ExplorersWeb.com

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