Spring climbing in full swing

Spring 2018 looks like the year Nepal’s mountaineering is finally picking up, three years after the earthquake. There are 865 climbers attempting 22 Himalayan peaks in Nepal this spring season. In all, the over 55 expeiditons have created employment for 1,200 high-altitude guides and many thousands of porters.

Of them, 346 mountaineers and most of the porters are on Mt Everest. Of the climbers, most are from India this season, and the second largest contingent is from the U.S. There are 15 Nepali women, including a female journalists’ group, hoping to make it to the summit. Among the climbers is Kami Rita Sherpa who is hoping to climb Mt Everest for a record-breaking 22nd time. Steve Plain is attempting to complete seven climbs of seven highest peaks on seven continents in record time.

In addition, two American climbers are on Everest this season while their twin brothers are at sea levels. The expedition hopes to replicate NASA’s famous twin study that compared astronaut Scott Kelly’s body functions with his earthbound identical twin brother. The climbers on Everest and their twins will be studied for genetic changes in their blood cells.

There are another 180 climbers attempting Mt Everest from the North, and they include Lhakpa Sherpa from Nepal who is trying to climb Mt Everest for the ninth time, the most any woman has summited the world’s highest mountain.  

Mt Everest is still being battered by high winds and the jet stream is expected to persist till the end of this week. Some expeditions are planning to make a summit push as early as 13 May. Despite the wind, six climbers made it to the top of the adjacent eight thousanders, Mt Lhotse and Mt Cho Oyu last week. Two other climbers summited Makalu. There are expeditions on Manalsu, and a lone Korean trying to climb Annapurna I.

So far, there has been one fatality, veteran mountaineer Simone La Terra from Italy, who was blown off Dhaulagiri by high winds. Some Nepali workers were injured during a serac collapse on the Khumbu Ice Fall last week.

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