Hello from the Mt Trip Everest Team! Yesterday, seven of us descended down to the small village of Dingboche. What an an amazing relief to be lower in altitude. Even though Dingboche is still at 14,000 ft, it feels like sea level. One member Chuck was feeling a bit off so decided to wait before coming down and should be here this afternoon. Lots of news from the mountain. Yesterday the lines were fixed to the South Col, which is great news. Our sherpa team is now at Camp 2 and yesterday carried to Camp 3 to setup that camp. After a rest they will put 2 loads into Camp 4 over the next few days. So everything is on schedule and going well.
Some interesting news from some other teams. Himalaya Expedition (HimEx) team has decided that the mountain is too dangerous to continue this year. So their team has helicoptered and hiked out and will not continue. This is one of the largest teams on the hill this year and is quite big news. This clearly represents a difficult decision on Russell’s part and we respect and support his concerns. From Mt Trips’s perspective, the mountain did start as being more dangerous in a couple ways early on. Most critical was the lower part of Lhotse Face where there were 5 separate rockfall incidents (people injured). Now with the new variation on the whole lower part of Lhotse Face, it has made the route far safer with little risk compared to the normal direct route up the lower Lhotse Face. We will support using this route in following years as its both easier and safer. Thank you Damien for sorting this out! Also of concern is the upper section of the Khumbu Icefall which traverses directly under a fairly active ice cliff band. This is almost identical to the last years route and is really no different risk than past years. A place to move quite quickly! Overall the route through the icefall is very direct, few ladders and quick. The question is, is that safer or more dangerous if it goes quickly through a slightly more active area? With no accidents so far due icefall collapses, we feel this area offers a similar risk as the last few years. We are extremely conscious of risk to both members and our Sherpa team. If we felt in any way that the risks this year were higher than normal, this would effect our decisions with all things on the mountain.
On a lighter note, we are quite comfortable here and now and are planning 4 nights here in Dingboche before starting to move back up to base camp. This is a critical time to recover and re-energize. We are staying in the wonderful Snow Lion Lodge and French Bakery! We have seen a number of other teams on similar plans. As for the forecast, it appears this week looks good for the sherpas to place Camp 4, with the jet stream moving back over the Everest region and associated high winds starting again on the 13th through the 19th. This works well with our plan, giving the sherpas time for a rest before the winds again back off on the longer range forecasts around the 20th-21st. No definite plans yet, and forecasts this far out are less reliable, but this looks good without going too early. Every year some teams will summit early, but invariably early summits are in shorter, colder, windier windows and are of definitely higher risk.
Scott Woolums reporting from DIngboche at 14,000 ft.