I am very happy that our team experienced a high level of success and safety with all climbers who embarked on the summit attempt from Everest base camp reaching the top between May 14th and May 18th. Our small private teams (Kenton Cool’s group and the team of Ant Middleton & Ed Wardle) along and our main team of climbers are back in Kathmandu and heading home, some are home already.
We also had climbers complete the Everest and Lhotse combination climb, going from the summit of Mount Everest to the summit of Mount Lhotse the next day, altogether 36 climbers and Sherpas reached the summit of Everest plus another 6 from our rope fixing team. As in previous Everest seasons there were no injuries among our climbing team. We were supported by our incredible team of Sherpas who are an integral part of our success.
This season on Mount Everest is likely the most successful ever, given the number of collective summits versus permits issued and taking into account overall accidents / fatalities. The reason for this very high level of success all around I believe is due to 2 factors, the fact that our rope fixing team opened the route earlier than in previous Everest seasons and because a period of very good weather then manifest which allowed climbers to take advantage of the open route and good mountain conditions to climb. Because our rope fixing project was on time and well communicated to teams in Everest base camp, climbers were able to plan and prepare for summit attempts in advance of the good weather that materialized May 13th onward.
Our rope fixing team had to work hard, despite unfavorable conditions in April and early May such as a very icy Lhotse Face combined with high winds, our team was still able to fix the ropes to the summit of Mount Everest by May 13th, with double lines in places to ease congestion such as on the Lhotse Face up to Camp 3, the Yellow Band, and on the Geneva Spur. The rope used was 10.5 mm static rope, a very strong and durable rope, the anchors (primarily Black Diamond 22 cm ice screws) were placed appropriately to support large numbers of climbers.
The small number of accidents / fatalities this season were unfortunate, but on average less than what we normally see on Everest. Generally there are some accidents / fatalities related to climbers getting stuck up high on Everest in bad weather or on a very crowded summit day and then running out of oxygen (I was witness to this in 2012 when 4 climbers perished up high on Everest because the rope fixing was delayed to May 18th and few good weather days were available). Because the weather window has been favorable, climbers were able to spread out summit attempts over a week long period, so that no single day was problematic from a congestion standpoint.
Additionally, because our rope fixing project was well planned and executed on schedule, climbers were able to take advantage of the good weather window by making plans in advance of the arrival of this stable weather period.
The rope fixing project this year was coordinated by my team, with support from Adventure Consultants and our local operator in Nepal, Himalayan Guides. Initially there was some contention from other teams that this was a good idea, as traditionally the rope fixing project was managed by the ‘old guard’ on Everest and the work shared by many teams. However, the challenge of managing members from many teams often led to some confusion regarding work days, and lost efficiency when Sherpas from different teams worked together for the first time.
Our approach, keeping the project contained within essentially one team, provided us the opportunity to utilize our most capable high altitude Sherpas to complete this difficult project in an efficient and safe manner. Myself and Guy Cotter (CEO of Adventure Consultants) both climbed Mount Everest & Mount Lhotse this season, so we were able to actually be on the mountain to oversee various aspects of the rope fixing project in person rather than manage from Everest base camp as was traditionally the case by the managing teams.
I believe this “hands on” approach by the leadership influenced the rope fixing project in a very positive manner, as is evident by the outcome. We hope this example of project management, where the end result is safer and more successful climbing on the world’s highest mountain, can be carried forward to future seasons on Mount Everest!
Lhotse summits by our three members – Garrett, Josh & Mingmar Sherpa climbed Mount Lhotse, next to Mount Everest. Its the 4th highest mountain in the world. They climbed today at 9:15 am. And , now are on their way down the Lhotse Face with the other Mount Everest climbers to Camp 2.
All our Sherpas and climbers team are healthy and coming down to camp 2 . Some are in Everest Basecamp, the others will descend tomorrow from Camp 2 .
The main Everest team is at camp 3, with guides Garrett, Conan, Sid with climbers Josh, Matt, Randy, Tym and David. Everyone is doing well. We had a great day with nice weather climbing from our Camp 2 to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. The total climb took us about 5 hours. Additionally, After moving into camp 3 we had some soup and have been rehydrating, and enjoying the views from this spectacular location.
Also, we had the pleasure of seeing our advance team of Everest climbers Ed & Ant as they descended the Lhotse face after their successful summit of Mount Everest yesterday with 4 of our amazing climbing Sherpas. They were a little tired which is to be expected. But, they were in good spirits as they made their way down the Lhotse face to our camp 2 where they will spend the night. Tomorrow, they will descend to our Everest base camp.
Furthermore, our second team of Kenton, Ben, and Mark decided to rest today at the South Col high camp (Camp 4) with their Sherpas. They are planning to start their climb tonight! Fingers crossed for good weather!
Our team of Ed & Ant along with our Sherpas Dawa & Sangbu have reached South Col and staying there tonight! They have good conditions and are planning to come down tomorrow to Everest Basecamp.
Additionally, Our second team of Kenton, Ben, & Mark are planning to move up from Camp 3 to Camp 4 today in preparation for their summit attempt!
Also, Our main team members of Garrett, Conan, Sid, Matt, Tym, David, Josh, & Randy are resting in Camp 2 . They are evaluating the weather conditions and preparing to head up to Camp 3 for the summit push tomorrow.
Our First Team of Climbers reached the summit of Mount Everest today, after our Sherpas fixed the rope yesterday.
Time of Climb – 8:50 am 14th May 2018
Team Members: Mr. Anthony Peter Michael Andrew Middleton (UK), Mr. Edmund Philip Wardle (UK).
Mountaineering Sherpa Guides: Mr Dawa Phinjo Lama, Mr Phurba Ridar Bhote, Mr Kul Bahadur Thapa Magar, Mr Sangbu Bhote
They have returned safely to the South Col high camp and are now resting.
Our team of Sherpas left Everest base camp early this morning and climbed to Camp 2, twenty two Sherpas in all. They will rest tomorrow and then 6 of our Sherpas along with 2 from Adventure Consultants team will head up to the South Col high camp (Camp 4), as long as the winds die down. Then, begin the final stage of the rope fixing project to the summit of Mount Everest. Our plan is to have the route finished to the summit by May 12th, weather pending. Usually when the first climbers are setting the route to the summit they have to break trail through waist deep snow, and set the anchors and climbing rope along the route.
The first stage will be to move to the South Col and establish camp, the second stage will be to fix ropes up the Triangular Face to the Balcony (27,500 ft. / 8333m), and the third stage will be to fix ropes from the Balcony up the South East ridge to the rock bands just below the South Summit of Mount Everest, over the South Summit, and then along the summit ridge to the top of Mount Everest! We hope the weather and route conditions will be favorable for our Sherpas as they work hard to establish the final section of the climbing route to the top of the mountain for our team and all teams on Mount Everest, so that all climbers may have the opportunity to climb safely and efficiently.
Our climbers are all now in Everest base camp and some who took a 4 day rest in Namche are back now so we are all together as we make final preparations for our summit attempt! We are checking our equipment and readying our minds and bodies for this epic challenge, the culmination of our last 6 weeks here in Nepal. In the next couple of days we will be moving up to Camp 2 (our Advanced Base Camp) and from their we will reassess the summit rope fixing progress, the weather forecast, the mountain conditions, and make a final decision on moving up to the higher camps on schedule for our summit attempt!
We are now resting in Mount Everest base camp, waiting for the high winds to die down so that we can begin our summit rotation. All of our members are down in base camp or in Namche resting and recovering from our last rotation when we touched Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. Our Sherpa team is also resting in Mount Everest base camp and also in Camp 2, waiting as we are for the good weather window to materialize. We are doing base camp chores such as laundry, resetting our tent platforms as the glacier ice melts during the season, and enjoying the occasional hot shower in Everest base camp! The days have been sunny and warm, with a small amount of light snowfall at night.
Today we took our breakfast (French toast, fried eggs, bacon, fresh yoghurt, & espresso coffee) outside our dining tent in the morning sun! We are soaking up the stunning views of Mount Everest and the surrounding peaks and preparing ourselves for our final objective in a few days time, when we will depart Everest base camp for our summit rotation, our journey to the top of the world!
We concluded a great second rotation today by descending from our Camp 2, known as our Advanced Base Camp, all the way down to our Everest base camp. While on our rotation we spent three nights at our Camp 2, and were very lucky to have great weather. To begin our rotation, we departed our base camp at 4 AM and climbed all the way to Camp 2.
Then, we took a rest day to recuperate and recover from the big climb, nearly 4,000 ft (1,212m) of vertical gain. After our rest day we planned to climb to our Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face, so we departed our Camp 2 (Advanced Base Camp) at 8 AM .We climbed with our down suits to the base of the Lhotse Face, then began our ascent up the steep ice wall on the fixed ropes towards Camp 3. It is situated about halfway up the Lhotse Face at approximately 23,500 ft. (7,121m).
The Lhotse Face is notably icier this year and requires good crampon technique! After 5 hours of climbing we reached our Camp 3 and took a long break to rest, hydrate, and eat a few snacks. We also had the privilege of enjoying an amazing view from Camp 3, looking down over Camp 2, the Western CWM, and Camp 1. We then descended the fixed rope designated for rappelling and made good time in our descent, reaching our Camp 2 just an hour later for a late afternoon lunch. It was a very productive rotation in that we accomplished our goal of climbing to Camp 3 to acclimatize . Additionally, we also familiarize ourselves with the steep and technical terrain of the Lhotse Face.
Our Sherpas have been busy carrying loads of equipment to the South Col high camp (Camp 4) for the final stage of the rope fixing project . This involves setting the ropes from the South Col to the Summit of Mount Everest. They have done an exemplary job so far by setting two lines up to Camp 3. One for ascending and one for descending, as well as an additional line above Camp 3 to ease congestion on the route. We have received many compliments regarding how the lines are set in a safe and desirable fashion on the Lhotse Face which makes for efficient climbing.
Lines have also been set on the Geneva Spur, the final rock ridge before the South Col, so that climbers can go up and down on separate lines for safety and efficiency. At this time Sherpas have been utilizing these ropes to carry loads of oxygen cylinders, tents, food, and fuel to position at the South Col for the eventual summit attempt on Mount Everest!
According to our weather forecasts, it appears that a major wind event is approaching Mount Everest, probably in the next day or two. Our Sherpas will make good use of tomorrows marginal weather forecast to position additional loads at the South Col high camp, and then see if the following day is appropriate for climbing above 8000 meters. The jet stream will likely cover the Mount Everest region for up to a week and no climbing will take place above 8000 meters during this time, so we are preparing to hold tight and wait for the opportunity when the Jet Stream passes and the winds are calm enough for a summit attempt! Until then we plan to rest and enjoy the amenities of our Everest base camp!
Yesterday the weather was good up here , we took some rest in Camp 2. Today we departed Camp 2, our Advanced Base Camp, at 7 AM to climb up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3 at nearly 23,500 ft. (7120m) We donned our Down Suits to stay warm in the early morning before the sun arrived on the Lhotse Face at around 9 AM. Climbing up the steep ice was challenging, but our steel crampons held firm as we made our way up the face to Camp 3.
Upon reaching Camp 3 we took a long break and had a snack before making our way down the Lhotse Face, rappelling the steeper line over the blue ice to the base of the Lhotse Face near the Bergschrund. We then made our way back to Camp 2 for dinner and a restful sleep. Our plan is to either descend tomorrow or take a rest day and descend the following day down to Everest base camp, and then take a long rest before embarking on our summit rotation!
Today our climbing sherpas carried loads to the South Col high camp (Camp 4) in preparation for the final rope fixing to the summit of Mount Everest – Our Rope fixing team fixed the rope upto South Col! . Now that all of the essential equipment is in place for the rope fixing (ropes, ice screws, carabiners, oxygen, etc) we are keeping an eye on the weather for an opportunity to fix the final portion of the route up the Triangular Face to the Balcony (27,500 ft / 8335m), then up the south east ridge and over the rock bands to the south summit, along the summit ridge to the top of the world! Stay tuned for updates from our rope fixing team!