Everest Team Safely Returns From Acclimatizing Up High

Kancha Nuru Sherpa, Kurt Wedberg, and Fred Simmons near the base of the Lhotse Face during an acclimatization day hike on May 1.

Camp 2 and the Lhotse Face at night. Look closely and three headlamps are visible at Camp 3.

It is snowing in Base Camp today May 5 as we write this. After spending several days sleeping up high we are safely back to rest and recuperate. We started off on schedule on April 28 and moved straight up to Camp 2 at 6495m/21,309′. Our plan was to rest a day, then take a couple day hikes, followed by a move up to Camp 3 at 7406m/24,300′ to sleep.

We acclimatized well at C2 and after three nights we were ready to move up to C3. We nixed that plan when we got to the base of the Lhotse Face, which is the next portion of our route. It turns out the Everest region is very dry right now. It hasn’t received much snow from the past winter. Normally the face would be solid firm snow but instead it is hard ice. Additionally, rock faces above that are usually frozen and covered in snow are now exposed with loose rock. Rocks are coming down the slick icy Lhotse Face at high speeds. We didn’t think it safe to ascend it in these conditions so we didn’t. Concerns were shared among several guides who were at C2. A bunch of us got together for a meeting to discuss route conditions and options. We decided a few people who were still fresh would explore a different way up to C3. The good news is a route was found to the lower end of C3 and a small party anchored fixed line into that area. We spent one more night at C2 then returned to Base Camp.

Our four nights we spent in total at C2 were productive. We got noticeably stronger each day and stayed healthy the entire time living at 6495m/21,309′ and above. In spite of falling short of reaching C3 we feel that after our time up high followed by a few days rest at Base Camp we will be ready to make a summit attempt. Before trying for the summit though we also need a big change in the weather pattern. The upper reaches of Mt. Everest have been pummeled by 120+ mph winds for several weeks now. With conditions like this a summit bid isn’t realistic. We also need some fresh snowfall; preferably 1′-2′. This would offer some anchoring of the slopes containing loose rocks. Fortunately our forecast over the next dew days is calling for just that; decreased winds and snowfall through May 10. Let’s hope the weather forecast is correct!

Up until this point our expedition has gone according to plans almost as smooth as clockwork. This is the first time we have encountered any amount of resistance from the mountain. In mountaineering there are things you can control and others you can’t. Our strategy now is to take care of the things we can control and set ourselves up for success should Mt. Everest present an opportunity to climb it. We are back at Base Camp resting, hydrating, recuperating, getting strong after spending time up high, staying healthy, and are preparing ourselves physically and mentally for a summit attempt. In spite of the conditions we recently encountered we are optimistic we will have an opportunity make a summit attempt soon! Thanks to everybody for your continued prayers and support. Your comments on the blog are awesome too! We will try to update you as soon as conditions on the mountain shake out over the coming days and we have our next plans in place.

Here are a few pictures from the last few days:

April 28, 6am: Looking back from the lower Khumbu Icefall at the early morning light on Pumo Ri (7165m/23,507') rising high above Everest Base Camp still in shade below.

April 28: Fred crossing a crevasse at the top of the Khumbu Icefall en route to Camp 2.

Camp 2 with the Lhotse Face behind.

May 1: Kurt and Fred near the base of the Lhotse Face. The people in between their heads behind was as close as they were willing to get to the face without being exposed to rock fall from above.

Climbers starting up the Lhotse Face in spite of constant rockfall. The source of the rockfall is from the Geneva Spur out of the photo to the left. Rocks small and large were raining down at a rate of 2+ per minute. These climbers were yelling "rock" while they slowly ascended completely exposed to the barrage.

Mt Everest guides discussing route conditions and options on the Lhotse Face. We all agreed exposing our clients, Sherpa's, and guides to the current conditions is unacceptable. Seated far left Max, Damian Benegos, Dave Hahn. Far right Eric, Adrian, Kurt Wedberg. (note: some full and last names left out upon request).

This cut away photo of the Lhotse Face attempts to show the old and new routes to Camp 3. The new route starts at the lower right of the photo and ends on the upper left. The location of the route exposed to rockfall starts on the lower left of the picture where the large horizontal crevasse ends on the right.

Some of our crack group of Sherpa's. There are no stronger people on the planet at extreme high altitude. Some of them will assist in carrying loads to our high camps and some will climb along side our team members on our summit attempts. From left to right: Pasang, Pemba, Cheten Dorjee, Phinjo Dorjee, Nima Nuru, Kancha Nuru (Phortse), Dasona, Phura Ongel, Kancha Nuru (Pangboche).

A helicopter hovering above Camp 2. Since the 1996 disaster on Everest it hasn't been until now that a helicopter can reliably reach this camp. The helicopter took two test flights with separate pilots taking turns at the controls. The following day they flew to 7600m/24,934'!!!

May 2, 7:30am: Fred crossing over a deep crevasse on a ladder in the Khumbu Icefall on our descent back to Base Camp.

May 4, 9pm: Headlamps light up team member's tents in this moonlight photo from Base Camp. Nuptse is to the right of the moon, and the West Shoulder of Everest is to the left. From Base Camp the West Shoulder obscures our view of Everest's summit.

May 5: The entire Mt Everest massif is shrouded in clouds as a storm brings much needed snow to the upper flanks of the mountain. This should help improve climbing conditions up high.

18 comments on “Everest Team Safely Returns From Acclimatizing Up High

  1. lynnaroo on

    It was so good to see an update this morning. I am so happy to hear the tides meet to discuss safety issues before proceeding to higher elevations. I had previously thought climbing conditions would be better if the ground was dryer with no snow…I was definitely wrong…snow is better…ice is bad….falling rocks is really bad news.

    Fred, how do you communicate with the Sherpas? Do they speak English? Do all the guides speak English or do you speak more than one language?

    Fred you’re looking good crossing the crevasses and I am getting less nervous seeing you cross them but I still hold my breath until I get to the nest photo.

    It is nice to know how much care is taken by Mount Everest Expedition guides to ensure the safety of their clients….their Sherpas….and other climbers on the mountain.

    I love the night time photos with the glowing tents and I could see the three headlamps illuminating from Camp 3.

    Great update and photos. I look forward to your next update.


  2. lynnaroo on

    Kurt and Fred

    I meant to write the word Guides instead of Tides in my first paragraph…also my question about speaking different languages and communicating with the Sherpas and other guides is meant for both of you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 1982jeep on

    Thanks again for the update and pictures. I agree smart move to not ascend with falling rocks every 2 minutes. The pictures you take are spectcular. Gives me a sense of being there. I will continue to pray for you and the team adding extra prayer for snow an conditions.

  4. hikerhill on

    We are tracking you from here in the Pasadena area — Chuck, Matt, Rob and I — and we are cheering you on. Thanks for all the great pictures and description of what is happening there. We pray for your safety and success. We are also counting the days till our mini expedition with you in July to the Palisades.

  5. kkz-53 on

    Fred and Kurt–SO GOOD to hear you arrived back safely at EBC…the description of your journey is so very interesting as well as the intense photos of crossing the crevasse…your tents lite up at night against the ridges of the mountains…I am sending prayers to all. love-Kay

  6. tater on

    Ya’ll rock. How cool to hang out in that real estate for 4 days with Kurt and the other mountaineering legends too. Photos are super bad ass awesome. We have been eagerly watching the site multiple times daily anxious for news. I’m glad the weather is moderating and hoping you get a summit shot soon. We’re rootin for ya like you were actual members of the Bulldawg Nation. That’s serious rootin. Stay safe!

  7. John Dahlem on

    Kurt…sounds like you are doing well…hang in there. Just returned from the North Pull pulling the last 120 kilometers…cold. Stopped by your office on the way to Mammoth.
    Ryan will be married this July and sends his best.
    Climb on “one step at a time.”
    John Dahlem

  8. BIZ on

    FRED ….Enjoying the blog but getting a little nervous about you as you get closer to the top. The pix of you crossing crevasses (especially the May 2 one) make me crazy…apparently you didn’t get mom’s fear of ledges and sudden drop-off’s. Stay safe…we’re all pulling for you! Hi to Kurt…tell him he takes some mightly fine photo’s.

  9. lynnaroo on

    Kurt, Fred and Kancha Nuru Sherpa,

    You guys are a hit on the WZ … you have 891 views as of 5/8/12 at 7:00 p.m.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. flight40 on

    Greetings Kurt from an A16 Whitney talk/Baldy hike acquaintance. I’ve been following your progress and you and Fred both look happy and healthy! Your photos are fantastic-especially the night shots. Savor each moment!

  11. BIZ on

    KURT: Your blog entries are awesome! The the info and all the details you give us are spot on…We love the photos. So when you decide to give up scaling mountains, I think you should work in photojournalism or National Geo etc! BIZ

  12. kkz-53 on

    Fred and Kurt–How is life going at EBC? Any ideas when you might try for the Summitt? Also Kurt I second what Biz said…your blog entries truely bring us into this experience w/ you all. As always…sending you all daily prayers for strong legs, high spirits and safe climbing. love-Kay

  13. Michael Stone on

    Super pictures, details, and info Kurt and Fred. Outsider magazine talks about helicopters at Everest, and you have a great picture of one and info! Wish all of you and the teams on the mountain the best! Looking forward to a possible itinerary so we can follow you in our dreams! Mike …and students

  14. Jacqueline on

    Kurt today is 10th May and you and your Team are constantly in my thoughts.I wonder if the weather turned out the way you hoped it would.
    Your pictures are splendid, i can just imagine how awesome it must be being out there!How is Fred and Lisa?Please send my regards to them.
    I sincerly wish with all my hart that you’will be able to keep your morale high and that the mother goddess will be kind to you.

    I’am thinking of you guys.VASBYT!!

    Jacqueline from South-Africa

  15. lynnaroo on

    It has been a week since we have heard from the two of you. I do not recall you letting us know when you will post again. Sunday May 13 is Mothers Day in the USA…..maybe you will post a message from EBC to the Moms back home.


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