The Himalayan spring climbing season is rapidly approaching its busiest time, with teams on Everest preparing to finally make a run at the summit. The stage was set for that to occur yesterday when the first climbers of 2009 reached the top, as an extremely skilled group of five Sherpas completed fixing the lines to the peak.
First to top out was Mingma Tenzing, closely followed by Panuru Sherpa, both climbing with the International Mountain Guides team. Next was Kami Rita, climbing with Alpine Ascents, and finally Dorje and Nima Tsering, who are part of the Himalyan Experience team. On the south side of Everest, teams work together to set the ropes up the mountain, and these three teams are the biggest, and most well funded on the mountain. They pooled their resources to help ensure that everyone has a safe road to the top.
British climber David Tait was not far behind the Sherpas, and he became the first non-Sherpa to summit this season. For Tait, this is his third time on top of Everest, making the journey without the use of supplemental oxygen. This is an unusually early summit, as generally weather slows down the progress, but until this past weekend, it has been very calm in the region.
No more summits are expected to take place until next week. The other teams are just now finishing their acclimatization process, and more bad weather is expected in the next few days. The First Ascent team, consisting of climbing legends like Ed Viesturs and Dave Hahn, have projected that they will begin their summit bids on May 8th with the hope of reaching the top on the 12th. Looks like next week will be very busy on the highest mountain on Earth.