Spring is here! Our Everest & Lhotse climbing team is packed and heading off to Nepal to climb Everest and Lhotse (4th highest). An exciting change for us this year is that our team is involved with the rope fixing from Camp 2 all the way to the summit of Mount Everest, as our local agency, Himalayan Guides Nepal PVT LTD has secured an exclusive contract with the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal for this project. Our expert team of sherpas will be leading the effort in finding the best route and placing the fixed ropes up the Lhotse Face, across the Yellow Band & Geneva Spur to the South Col high camp, up the Triangular Face to the Balcony (27,500′) and onward to the summit! We are excited to “lead the way” up the mountain and prepare the ropes so that our team and others can ascend safely on Mount Everest. We aim to complete this project earlier than in past seasons so that more time is available for teams to make a summit attempt during the good weather window in May. By controlling the rope fixing we can control our climbing schedule better than before.
Check back soon for more photos and video as the expedition prepares to launch!
Our unclimbed peak expedition team is now in base camp, preparing to make a recon up to the peak to scout the potential climbing route. Our peak, Tharke Khang, looks to have a ridge line beginning from the west that appears climbable, with steep snow and ice slopes. Our base camp is comfortable with a heated dining tent and great food!
We made our from Machermo up the valley to the village of Gokyo, situated next to a beautiful aqua marine lake. After lunch a few of us hiked up nearby Gokyo Ri, at just over 17,500’. We glimpsed our unclimbed peak in the distance, still a long way off…with major challenges between us and the start of the route, about 10 miles of glacier moraine and glacier/ icefall. This will not be an easy walk to say the least…accessing the base of the route is one thing, climbing the technical ridge is another.
Exploration in essence is venturing into the unknown… and that is exactly where we are headed.
Our team is good, everyone is acclimatizing well. The weather has been favorable and we hope this trend continues. We look forward to reaching our base camp the next day or two.
Tham Serku peak
Trekking through the high country towards base camp
First view of the unclimbed peak, Tharke Khang
At the top of Gokyo Ri today, 17,500′
The village of Gokyo, at 15,600′ high in the Himalayas where we are staying
At one of the Gokyo lakes today
Our head Sherpa, Aang Phurba
Stairway to heaven
Old chorton (in Sherpa language) means stupa
Namche Bazaar! Despite the flights, the time in Kathmandu and the preparation, for me it always takes until Namche to start feel like we are moving forward. Yesterday we trekked from Phakding to Namche under a low cloud ceiling keeping it nice and cool. Arriving around 2 in the afternoon we all had time to wander the narrow streets and relax at the beautiful Panorama Lodge. This morning we woke up, ate breakfast and took a nice acclimatization hike up to the Everest View hotel. There we took in stunning views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and the crown jewel of the Himalaya, Ama Dablam, our objective after our unclimbed peak. Now back at the Panorama, we eat lunch, rest and prepare to head off towards Khumjung in the morning. The team is healthy, strong and psyched to get moving!
Namche is the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region with many Nepalese officials, a police check, post and a bank
Team lunch with Ama Damblam in the background
Greetings from Lukla! We made it! After a couple of days of preparation in Kathmandu, today we boarded our Dornier aircraft and landed on Lukla. With most of our bags accounted for we are about to start off towards Phakding for the night. The crew is well rested, healthy and excited about finally being on our way to our unclimbed peak.
The Himalayan giants greeted us on arrival!
Madison Mountaineering Everest 2017 Recap, “The Leader” on Everest
Success / Safety:
All of our climbers and Sherpas are off the mountain and now and preparing to head home! We have had a fantastically successful expedition, with all 8 of our clients reaching the summit of Everest, along with 4 American guides, and 15 Sherpas. We also had several of our climbers complete the Everest & Lhotse “peak to peak” combination, where they climbed Mount Lhotse (4th highest mountain) the day after reaching the summit of Mount Everest. This amazing and unmatched level of success among all the teams on Mount Everest is secondary to our number one priority, that all members (clients, guides, & Sherpas) made it safely off the peak.
Rope Fixing to the Summit:
Our team took the lead in partnership with the British – Nepal Gurkha team in fixing the ropes to the summit of Mount Everest on May 15th. This was not part of our original plan, as the rope-fixing project was taken upon by several other teams at the start of the season. Unfortunately, after several mishaps, the lead team had to abandon the rope-fixing project along with their partners. Without any clear consensus on how or when the lines would be put in to the summit, our team stepped up to finish the job. This “mission critical” project was necessary so that teams could begin their summit attempts on Mount Everest, with teams reaching the summit the following day on May 16th and continuing to reach the summit today. We are glad that our team had the capability and prowess to organize and execute such an important task, when no other teams on the mountain could summon such an effort, at such a critical stage in the climbing season.
Our team was at the South Col when several climbers who had pushed themselves very hard on summit day returned and needed critical medical attention. Our guides came to assist with medicine (dexamethasone, etc) and supplemental oxygen. However, what stands out the most is that one of our veteran guides, Brent Bishop, along with our Sherpas, rescued the Slovak Climber from the Balcony (27,500’), lowering him all the way down to the South Col high camp. Our Sherpas gave up their oxygen for him to use on the descent. This heroic effort by Brent and our Sherpas involved abandoning their own summit attempt, just hours away from the top, and spending the day giving their all in an effort to save a life.
We feel very fortunate that our expedition was a stunning success. We attribute this to our careful team selection and training, our top notch Everest guides and leadership, and of course our incredible Sherpa team who we invest heavily in year after year.
Photo: At the top of Mount Everest on May 23rd, 2017
Our Sherpa team in base camp
Descending Mount Everest with a little wind on our summit day!
View from the top!!
Summit ridge of Mount Everest all to ourselves May 23rd, 2017
We are now going to relax and enjoy the post summit euphoria before returning to our friends, families, and loved ones, as well as our busy lives back home! Thanks for following along!
Mount Everest 2017 Guide Billy Nugent
Moved from the Chicago area to Washington in 1999 to attend the University of Puget Sound where he found the Cascade Mountains and ultimately climbing. Before starting out as a professional guide in 2005 he spent the previous several years completing his BS in chemistry, working as a fisherman in Alaska, and as a chemist in Seattle. And for the last ten years he’s been guiding a seasonal circuit that takes him from Argentina and Ecuador, to Alaska, and then back to Rainier and the North Cascades, with an occasional bonus trip to Mexico or Antarctica. Billy loves living outside and enjoys surfing, riding, climbing, and music in his spare time.
Mt. Everest (3 expeditions)
Mt. Rainier (125+ summits via 6 routes)
Denali (9 expeditions)
Aconcagua (8 expeditions)
Vinson Massif (1 expedition)
Orizaba (2 expeditions)
Cotopaxi and Cayambe (8 expeditions)
Mt Baker (4 summits via 4 routes)
Mt. Adams (3 summits via 3 routes)
North Cascades (numerous alpine routes)
Wilderness First Responder, CPR
Outdoor Emergency Care
AIARE Avalanche Level II
Leave No Trace Trainer
AMGA member and Rock Guide Course graduate
Our Trekkers left Kathmandu this morning on the way to Lukla, but due to quickly deteriorating weather conditions the aircraft was diverted to Phaplou, nearby Lukla. The team will spend the night there and attempt to finish the flight tomorrow morning. All is well, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow!
Today we caught the first flight out of Kathmandu to Lukla! We lucked out before the clouds and rain, and trekked through lush green river valleys and over suspension bridges to our destination for the evening, the Paradise lodge in Phakding. We are very happy to be on our way to Everest base camp! The fresh mountain air is a nice change from the bustling capital city of Kathmandu. Our trekking team’s flight could not land at Lukla so currently they are in Phaplu, and will try to fly to Lukla later today or tomorrow. Here is a photo of our team on the trek today, and another of our plane taking off on the runway at Lukla after dropping us off.
Arrival into Tenzing Hillary Airport, Lukla