Sadly, Nepali officials report that there are four confirmed deaths high on Everest from the 5/19-20 summit push with an additional three confirmed missing. The majority of these appear to have occurred during the latter stages of this weather window as conditions deteriorated in the early morning hours of 5/20. This is a very sad turn of events and my sincere condolences go out to the families of the deceased climbers. This is very sobering news, to say the least, especially as we depart base camp for the upper mountain. These are in addition to the four previous Sherpa deaths that have occurred thus far this season, making this indeed a very sad and tragic season on Everest.
This most recent tragedy appears to have been the worst since the tragic events of 1996 that we all know all too well. Certainly, now that this news has hit the blogs, it will be a matter of days, if not hours, before the mainstream media begins its frenzy over this and analyzes the “whys” and “hows” and opines endlessly on the merits of climbing the world’s tallest rock. I just wanted to prepare those of you closest to me that will undoubtedly be asked innumerable questions on this situation over the next week or so.
The reality of my situation is that I’m climbing with a very strong team and with the undisputed best organization on the mountain with the best logistics and safety nets in place. Our weather window of 5/26 looks excellent, which is a huge determining factor, and we will continually assess ourselves, the conditions, and the weather with each step we take upward. Of course there are never any guarantees, but I have the utmost confidence in my team, my support and my abilities, so it is with this confidence that I head off for my summit attempt in roughly 12 hours.
IMG’s site (link in the previous blog post below) will be the best source for information on my team’s progress over the next 6-7 days, while Alan Arnette’s blog (links to his website in below posts as well) will be the best source for information on any of the other developments on the mountain.
I will post about my experience on the upper mountain upon my return next week at some point. In the meantime, my best to everyone. The adventure continues.