While I was away in South America, the spring climbs pretty much wrapped up in the Himalaya. Now, the monsoon looms, and with its arrival, comes plenty of rain and wind, which will shut off the big peaks in Nepal and Tibet until the fall. And while the final weather window on Everest didn't last as long as was hoped, and many climbers had their dreams dashed, there were a few notable climbs that I wanted to highlight, even though it has been some time since they were completed.
For starters, major congratulations to 16-year old George Atkinson of the U.K. Not only did George summit Everest, he also became the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits, which is a very impressive accomplishment. The young man was three days shy of his 17th birthday when he stood on top of the world, climbing from the North Side of the mountain. Hopefully he celebrated both the climb, and the birthday, at the Rum Doodle back in Kathmandu.
Meanwhile, a team of female air force officers from India also reached the summit of Everest from the South Side of the mountain. The team consisted of eleven climbers, three of which successfully stood on the top of Everest. The women trained for the past two years to prepare for this expedition, knocking off a string of summits that included Mt. Stock Kangri and Mt. Saser Kangri.
The Indian ladies weren't the only women making history on Everest. Forty-year old Suzanne Al Houby of the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab woman to summit the mountain as well, when she reached the top on May 21st from the South Side. She has now completed five of the Seven Summits, in her bid to become the first Arab woman to complete that quest as well.
Things didn't work out quite so well for Ueli Steck however. As you no doubt recall, he was attempting to climb three 8000-meter peaks in the Himalaya this spring, and seemed nearly unstoppable after finishing off Shisha Pangma and Cho Oyu in rapid succession. Ueli's bid on Everest didn't go as planned however, and the Swiss climber was forced to turn back 100 meters below the summit on the North Side. You can read his full account of the attempt on his website.
It was another successful season for the Sherpas working to clean up Mt. Everest as part of the Save Everest Campaign. Apparently, the group brought more than eight tons of waste down from the mountain, with much of that being deposited in Namche Bazaar, but a lot is being taken back to Kathmandu as well. There were 29 Sherpas involved in the effort, and they estimate that another 20 tons of garbage still covers the mountain.
Finally, this story has the tale of the tape on Everest this season saying:
"A total of 169 people from 42 teams scaled the world’s tallest peak between May 5 and May 27, while two foreigners and one Nepali died while trying to make it atop, according to statistics at the Mount Everest Base Camp. Two climbers have lost their fingers to frostbite, while 10 have been sent to Kathmandu for treatment. A woman from Taplejung has scaled the peak twice."Seems like a rather small number compared to the past few years, but then again, we knew early on that Base Camps on both sides of the mountain were quieter than normal. Not sure if that trend will continue, but at least for this season, the mountain wasn't over crowded.
Now on to the Karakoram summer season ahead...