The spring climbing season on Mt. Everest is barely a week old and the mountain has already claimed its first death of the year. On Sunday, 45-year-old Mingmar Sherpa took a fatal fall into a crevasse while descending from Camp 2 on the mountain’s South Side. His companions attempted to mount a rescue operation but it took several hours to retrieve his body from the crevasse, at which time it was already too late.
Mingmar was a member of the famed Everest Icefall Doctors, a highly trained group of Sherpas whose job it is to build and maintain a safe route through the Khumbu Icefall each year. The group places ladders across open crevasses and fixes ropes through this dangerous section, allowing the climbers that come after them to pass through quickly and safely. That route had just been completed on Saturday and the Icefall Docs were helping to shuttle gear up the slope to two of the higher camps when the accident occurred.
Last spring was a particularly deadly season on the world’s tallest mountain where ten people lost their lives in pursuit of the summit. Unusually warm and dry conditions helped to make the mountain unstable, causing rocks to tumble down its slopes and forcing climbers to scramble across bare rock rather than the more preferred snow and ice. The 2013 season doesn’t appear to be a repeat of those conditions, however, as it has been a long, cold winter – with plenty of snow – in the Himalaya this year. As a result, the entire mountain is more stable, which should translate to fewer hazards and fatalities in the weeks ahead.
The mountaineering teams are just now arriving in Base Camp and will begin heading up the mountain in the next few days. Most will spend several weeks acclimatizing to the altitude while honing their skills and watching the skies for a weather window that will allow them to make a summit bid. Traditionally, the first summit attempts from the commercial climbing teams begin around mid-May.
Hopefully this early-season death isn’t a sign of things to come this year.
[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]
Eighty-year-old Japanese skier and mountaineer Yuichiro Miura has announced his intentions to attempt a summit of Mt. Everest this spring, returning to a mountain that made him famous back in 1970. If successful, Miura would become the oldest person to ever climb the mountain and the first octogenarian to do so.
This won’t be Miura’s first visit to the world’s tallest mountain. He first climbed it back in 1970, stopping short of the summit because he had another goal in mind. As an accomplished high alpine skier, Miura had traveled to the Himalayan peak in an attempt to become the first person to ski down its slopes – something that had previously been unthinkable. But the Japanese man, who was 37 at the time, achieved his goal and inspired the Oscar-winning documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.”
After completing his quest to ski the Seven Summits – the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents – in 1985, Miura then chose to lead a quieter life for some time. But as he grew older, the Himalaya called to him once more and in 2003 he declared that he would return to Everest, this time to climb all the way to the summit. He was 70 years old at the time and when he was successful in his attempt, he became the oldest person to accomplish that feat. He would return five years later to scale the mountain again at the age of 75 and staying on his five-year schedule he is returning this year as well.
At the summit of the 29,029-foot mountain, the air is so thin that it’s roughly one-third of what you find at sea level. That’s enough to make climbers half Miura’s age gasp for air while their legs scream out in exhaustion. The 80-year-old says that he’ll need to regain the strength and energy of a much younger man if he hopes to be successful. He describes his quest for a third summit of the mountain as the “best anti-aging” activity that he knows.
The spring climbing season on Everest begins in early April and will run into June. We’ll know then if it is possible for a man who has passed his 80th birthday to climb such a daunting peak.
[Photo Credit: KYODO]
On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hilliary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to summit Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Their daring and historic climb ended a decades-long quest to conquer the 29,029-foot mountain and by accomplishing that task, the two men became instant celebrities across the globe. To celebrate that amazing feat, adventure travel company Ace the Himalaya is organizing a 60th anniversary Everest Base Camp Trek that will allow guests to walk in the footsteps of the two legendary climbers and leave a lasting impact on the mountain at the same time.
The 18-day itinerary starts on May 19 when travelers first begin arriving in Kathmandu. They’ll spend the following week trekking through the beautiful Khumbu Valley, passing snowcapped peaks and tiny villages before eventually arriving in Everest Base Camp on May 28 – exactly one day before the 60th anniversary of Hilliary and Norgay’s climb. After camping overnight in BC, the trekkers will spend May 29 contributing to the environmental cleanup in and around Base Camp by collecting trash that has accumulated there. They’ll then wrap up the day with a special celebratory dinner prepared to honor 60 years of climbing on the world’s most iconic peak. The final days of the trek will be spent descending back down the Khumbu Valley and returning to Kathmandu. The itinerary ends on June 5 when the travelers depart for home. Click here for a detailed look at the full schedule.
An Everest Base Camp trek is one of the best adventure travel experiences that active travelers could ask for. The Himalaya are simply breathtaking and the hearty people that live in the mountains are friendly and accommodating. Making the trek to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain would make for an unforgettable journey. But if you’re looking for the complete Everest experience, Ace the Himalaya also offers a full climbing expedition that will take you all the way to the summit. That one takes adventure to an entirely new level.
[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]
We all know that Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain on the planet, standing some 29,029 feet in height. But unless you’ve actually been there, it is difficult to get a true sense of the scale of the peak. But now, thanks to an impressive new image released by GlacierWorks, anyone can witness just how large the mountain is without ever leaving the safety and comfort of their home.
The photo, which you can view by clicking here, was shot this past spring by famous documentary filmmaker David Breashears. He was on another mountain known as Pumori, which sits just five miles to the west of Everest, when he snapped the photo using a special camera designed to capture extremely large images. Where as most photos are measured in megapixels, this one is actually more than a gigapixel in size, displaying an unprecedented level of detail and a sense of scale unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Don’t believe me? Click on the image yourself and look for the tiny yellow dots in the lower left corner. Those yellow dots are the tents in Everest Base Camp where the climbers make their home for about two months while they are climbing the mountain. A set of controls at the bottom of the screen allows you to zoom in or out of the image to see things close up, while also moving the camera around to take in all of the amazing details. If you look closely, you can even find some of the higher camps on the mountain and spot a trail of mountaineers making their way up the South Col. To truly take in the shot, I highly recommend you put the photo into full screen mode.
The image was taken as part of GlacierWork’s efforts to document the impact of global climate change on glaciers in the Himalaya. Everest’s Khumbu Glacier is one of the most famous in the world, and like many others across the region, it is in full retreat. Because these glaciers are a source of fresh water for the people that live in the Himalaya Range, their disappearance could cause massive problems in years to come.
[Photo Credit: Pavel Novak via WikiMedia]
Thirty-year-old Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki had to be evacuated from Mount Everest yesterday after suffering severe frostbite to his fingers, toes and nose. He had spent the past six weeks climbing one of the most difficult routes on the mountain, but was turned back from the summit due to poor weather conditions.
Kuriki had been attempting one of the boldest climbs on Everest in recent memory, going up the seldom-visited West Ridge alone and without the use of supplemental oxygen. He launched his summit bid last Wednesday after spending several days in Camp 2, located at 6500 meters (21,300 feet), waiting for the weather to improve. At the time, forecasts had indicated that high winds would drop in velocity, allowing access to the top of the mountain for a limited time, but even though he was able to climb as high as Camp 4, at 7920 meters (26,000 feet), Kuriki was never able to go higher.
On his descent, high winds and very cold temperatures likely contributed to the Japanese climbers frostbite, which was exasperated further by his decision to not use bottled oxygen. His numerous days at altitude were also likely contributing factors as well. A rescue helicopter was able to evacuate him from the mountain, taking him directly to a hospital in Kathmandu, where the extent of his injuries is still being evaluated.
Unlike the spring climbing season, in the fall Everest is practically deserted. This year, in addition to Kuriki, there was only one other team on the mountain. The unpredictable weather in the autumn makes it much more difficult to climb as well, and while in the spring there were more than 500 successful summits, it appears there won’t be any this fall.
[Photo credit: Nobukazu Kuriki]