Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Variables in climbing Everest

We’ve been around working at altitude since 1991 and conclude that the rules of climbing in these extreme environments are not absolute, nothing in mountaineering is. There are too many variables for consideration.

Key to mountain guiding is being aware of those variables and that’s where experience comes to play. It’s a balance between, health, weather, functional equipment, good leadership, nutrition that works, stability of the terrain, make-up of the team, their experience or ability to adapt and learn and mental preparedness. Some of these variables we can control and others we cannot. When we can’t we will try to work around it or we will work with it.There are no rules really, we are living and climbing on glacier and a mountain that’s constantly changing and weather that’s never the same.

This past year we had an earthquake, one can’t possibly predict what we are up against so we have to adapt.

Each year is different how we approach Everest considering all the variables. One year we spend one night at the South Col, the next time we may spend two, Camp 3 same thing. In 2008 during the Chinese Olympics when the Chinese stopped climbers from going past Camp 2 till May 10, we had no choice but to blast all the way up without a pre-acclimatization climb to Camp 3, it all worked out and it was a good year for summit success on all teams- we were forced to adapt. It's not uncommon for international climbers to have to adapt for political reasons, that's not the case this year.

This season Everest is extremely dry and at each incline loose rock that is typically bonded by ice and snow is sitting there waiting for a trigger. We’ve certainly got some work cut out for all of us to see how we can manage these areas to make them safer. There's a lot of head scratching going on up here right now to see how we can work with these conditions. These are the same conditions we were facing first Ama Dablam, then Pumori and now the bigger ones like Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are now calving. What to do?

On a lighter note, team Peak Freaks had a fantastic time together last night at EBC. Stephen and BG streaked down to Pheriche to begin vacation a day early and the others will follow tomorrow. Over and out ... Tim


No comments:

Post a Comment