We were forced to cut our Camp II rotation short by one day due to weather and retreated back to Advanced Base Camp yesterday. We climbed through the steeper than normal serac wall at ~22,000′ between Camp I and Camp II (pictured above: mine is the next behind/butt – what’s left of it anyway – up the fixed line above our Matt Moniz in the foreground) and got a good feel for the most technical part of the route.
Despite not spending the night at Camp II (23,500′) as planned, our team is sufficiently acclimatized for our summit push. The weather of late has been unstable with lots of afternoon snow showers and a stronger system pushed through today with a lot of snow, as forecasted. The good news is that there appears to be a short but solid summit window opening up through May 8th. Therefore, we are pulling together our resources to fix the upper mountain, get in position and go for it.
We will depart the day after tomorrow (May 6th) for Camp I, move to Camp II on the 7th and depart for the summit (26,906′) at ~2am on the 8th. This should put us on the summit, if all goes well, at ~7am on the 8th, so we can descend as far as possible (maybe even all the way back to Advanced Base Camp if we’re feeling strong enough) to get us off the upper mountain by the time the winds pick-up dramatically on the 9th of May. Should the weather not cooperate or we cannot summit on May 8th as planned for any reason, the next weather window does not appear to open until the 20th of May due to jet stream winds on the summit. So, let’s hope the forecast holds and we are able to briefly visit the summit of the world’s 6th highest peak – Cho Oyu (i.e. “Turquoise Goddess”).
Obviously, we are intently focused on the next several days, but many are wondering (as are we) what will be next now that the climbing season on the south side of Everest has come to an unfortunate conclusion. We are looking at all options, but the Everest-to-Lhotse link-up is no longer possible due to us being unable to climb from the south side as we had originally planned. Our preferred Option B has been thwarted thus far due to an inability to obtain the climbing permit we need, but we are pulling out all the stops and will not give up until time runs out on us. We have Options C & D in our sights as well, but we will not pivot to those until we absolutely must. Sorry to be so cryptic, but I will share our plans once we’ve completed our adventure on Cho Oyu and know with certainty what our next objective will be. Stay tuned.