Despite continued cold and snowy conditions in the Himalaya, work towards the various summits progresses on schedule. As the first of May quickly approaches, it seems that it is all about the acclimatization process, building high camps, and stashing gear for the eventual summit push.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day is that the Sherpa teams fixing ropes on Everest's South Side have reached the Yellow Band, located at 28,000 feet. According to an update from IMG, they'll now descend back to Base Camp for a few days of rest before returning to that point on the mountain. My guess is they'll finish the last sections, up to the 8848 meter (29,029 ft) summit on their next go, clearing the way for the commercial teams to follow in a few weeks time.
With the ropes fixed so high up the mountain, some teams have begun to climb up to C3, including the Peak Freaks who will likely have climbers there as early as tomorrow. Part of their team is at Camp 1 now, and another part is in Camp 2. They'll all "touch" Camp 3 tomorrow or Wednesday, and immediately descend to C2 for the night. Other teams are sure to follow of course, with most spending at least a night at C3 as part of their acclimatization.
Things are progressing a bit more slowly on the North Side, where the weather has been even dicier. Teams on that side of the mountain have gone up to Camp 1, where they've spent a few nights and stashed some gear. Most are back in BC now, awaiting a chance to go higher. On that side of the mountain, a team of climbers from the Chinese-Tibetan Mountaineering Association handles the fixing of the ropes, thus all the teams are at their mercy while they wait for them to finish the job. Last year, they lagged a few days behind their counterparts on the South Side because it took a bit longer for the Sherpa team to complete their tasks. It is beginning to look like that will hold true this year as well.
Over on Makalu, David Morton and Melissa Arnot have completed their Puja ceremony and have started their work on the mountain. You can read their updates on the Born Out There blog. In his latest update David talks about the challenges of sleeping at high altitude, a subject that I found all too familiar while reading his dispatch. In short, it can be a not so pleasant experience.
Finally, Ueli Steck is en route to Cho Oyu, the next challenge in his Himalaya Triple Header. According to his website, he and the team are in Namche Bazaar at the moment, but will be back on the trail tomorrow. With any luck, they'll be in BC on Cho Oyu in a few days time, and we'll start the countdown on his attempt at his next big peak. Any one want to start a pool on how fast he'll go up this mountain?
To see what it is like behind the scenes on Ueli's adventure, check out the video below.
Project Himalaya: Behind the Scenes in Namche from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.
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