The May 12 team called it and they are making their way down the mountain. Every team has what is known as an “up or down day,” meaning the day by which they need to move up to either high camp or attempt the summit, so that they will have sufficient food supplies to make it back down to Base Camp without running out. Also, team members have life constraints, such as those pesky jobs that require them to not have the ability to spend an unlimited amount of time in pursuit of their alpine goals.
The team’s up or down day is Saturday, and the last day for their food and fuel supplies is Tuesday, June 3rd. Most team members do not have the flexibility to remain on the mountain any longer than Tuesday, and given the consensus of the numerous weather forecasts that we track, it looks highly unlikely that they will have an opportunity to move higher on the mountain before tomorrow. Therefore, they collectively decided to start their descent yesterday afternoon. One climber really wanted to remain on the mountain, and we looked at every option available to us, but we had no way to enable her to remain, due to our guides having commitments shortly after Tuesday’s planned departure and our other teams not having any extra space to accommodate her. It’s fairly gutting to not be able to help someone so committed and determined, but some times we just have few options open to us.
The team departed the 14,200′ basin in the afternoon and made it down to their Camp2, at 11,200′. They are currently sort of stuck at camp, due to whiteout conditions below them. They will await the first chance to continue their descent, but they are not in any rush, because there are well over a hundred other climbers stuck at Base Camp, awaiting flights off the glacier.
This is a pretty major storm, not so much in intensity, but in duration. The timing of the storm is unfortunate, but sometimes the mountains have plans different than those of us climbers.