Third time is a charm? According to the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua, a team of the Chinese expedition on the Tibetan north side of the mountain set off again yesterday, Sunday, from the Advanced Base Camp at 6,500 meters towards the summit of Mount Everest. If this time the weather and conditions on the mountain play along, the climbers would reach the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters on Wednesday. The first two attempts had failed due to bad weather and high avalanche danger. On 12 May, the team that fixed the ropes via the Northeast Ridge turned back at 8,600 meters, on 21 May they reached an altitude of 8,000 meters.
Light snowfall expected
Tibetan north side of Mount Everest
Meteorologists expect light snowfall and wind speeds of between 17 and 26 kilometers per hour for the now planned summit day. Chinese surveyors have been commissioned to redetermine the exact height of Mount Everest at the summit. The values of previous measurements vary between 8,844 and 8,850 meters. The result of a Nepalese survey in spring 2019 is still pending.
While an attempt was made by the Chinese team to summit last week, weather drove the team back down and they are starting back up again this week.
As always, this is dictated by the weather and more specifically, the wind. The North Ridge and final section of the Northeast Ridge is brutally exposed on the final days climbing up to High Camp and on to the summit.
While Mountain Forecast isn’t the most sophisticated modeling and some data doesn’t change out all the time (conversions from c. to f. a bit glitchy) it does give a surprisingly good overview. This weeks high pressure moving in, with little snow forecast, is showing a real improvement from Wednesday onwards.
The Chinese team appears to be moving in a few waves, with a group going first and fixing ropes, then teams of more communication/scientific oriented climbers going up to remeasure the peak, as well as chat away on 5G, and hopefully update us.
That this is primarily a funded public relations exercise to take 5G to the top of the world and transmit from there is hard to overlook. With the Chinese being the only team on Everest this year, it will certainly clear the media for a story that should be broadcast loud and clear around the world.
The National Geographic Weather Stations on the South Side of Everest seem to have intermittent reception (not unexpected in those conditions), we are still getting a live temperature reading right now from the South Col of minus 18 c. (- 22 f.) That it will still be the minus 25 c. or lower up higher is pretty predictable, quite livable in the heights with the low winds that are forecast.
Mt Everest (arrow) hidden behind Mt Kang Nachugo and Mt Chobutse from Chobar in Kathmandu on 10 May. Photos: ABHUSHAN GAUTAM
The reduction of vehicular emission due to the COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned the air over Nepal and northern India. So much so that the Himalaya is visible from Chandigarh, Kangchenjunga is visible from Siliguri. And for the first time in many years, Mt Everest can be seen again from Kathmandu Valley even though it is 200km away.
Despite the sharp reduction in fossil fuel consumption due to restricted mobility, air quality of Kathmandu did not improve as much as expected in April. The reason was wildfires in Dhading, Nuwakot and Chitwan in early April and open garbage burning in the Valley, as well as crossborder haze.
The lockdown, however, did prove that we can improve Kathmandu’s air quality by reducing vehicular emissions, which contribute 70% of the particulates in the ambient air.
These breathtaking images were taken from Chobar in Kathmandu Valley on 10 May on a remarkably clear evening.
All photos: Abhushan Gautam
A panoramic view of Kathmandu as seen from Chobar on 10 May. From left to right, Gang Chhenpo, Urkinmang, Kangshrum, Gurkapo Ri, Dorje Lakpa, Lonpo Gang, Gyalzen Peak, Phurbi Ghyachu, Choba Bhamare, Gauri Shankar, Kang Nachugo, Mt Everest, Chobutse and Trakar Go.
Gauri Shankar, Kang Nachugo, Mt Everest, Chobutse.
Gurkapo Ri, Dorje Lakpa, Lonpo Gang and Gyalzen Peak.
The ever-growing urban sprawl of the Valley with Gang Chhenpo, Urkinmang, Kangshrum, Gurkapo Ri, Dorje Lakpa, Lonpo Gang, Gyalzen Peak and Phurbi Ghyachu 50km away to the north.
The trinity of Baudhha Himal, Himalchuli and Manaslu are silhouetted to the west of Kathmandu by the sunset.
Actually seven climbers from the team of the Chinese expedition operator Yarla Shampo wanted to fix the ropes up to the summit of Mount Everest at 8,850 meters today. However, according to information from Tibet, nothing came of it. The wind blew too strong over the highest mountain on earth. According to Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, who has close contacts with the Chinese expedition, the team turned back at 8600 meters. The climbers had spent the last night in Camp 3 at 8,300 meters. For Wednesday the meteorologists expect even higher wind speeds.
Only expedition on the mountain
While the rope-fixing team was working on the Northeast Ridge, Yarla Shampo’s clients summited the 7,045 meter high Lhakpa Ri to further acclimatize. The Chinese expedition is the only one this spring on Mount Everest. Due to the Corona Pandemic, the mountain is completely closed on the Nepales south side this spring. On the Tibetan north side the ban applies only to foreign mountaineers.
Namche Bazaar in the Everest region depends on tourism
The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) raises the alarm. “The crisis is deepening and set to get even worse,” NMA president Santa Bir Lama told the Kathmandu-based newspaper The Himalayan Times: “It seems that there will be no trekking and mountaineering activities in the upcoming autumn or winter season and thousands of people, who depend on tourism activities and products, will be unable to make their daily ends meet.” More than 3,500 travel and 2,600 trekking agencies have closed their operation due to the nationwide lockdown, he said.
No more income
Trekking in the Khumbu region
Lama’s predecessor as NMA head, Ang Tshering Sherpa, had also recently warned – as reported – of the collapse of mountain tourism in Nepal. According to him, around 80 percent of bookings for the coming autumn have been canceled. If, after the spring season, which was completely canceled due to the lockdown, foreign tourists were now to stay away in fall too, many of the Nepalese expedition operator and trekking agencies would be faced with bankruptcy. Not to mention the thousands of guides and porters who, as freelancers, depend on being booked by the agencies. It would also get tight for the owners of lodges, restaurants or shops in the regions around Mount Everest and Co.
No government aid program yet
Tourist district Thamel in Kathmandu (in 2016)
In Nepal, the call for state aid is becoming louder at increasingly shorter intervals. Tourism entrepreneurs have suggested to the government to use the budget originally intended for “Visit Nepal 2020” – the advertising campaign was discontinued due to the pandemic – to boost domestic tourism. Others proposed to defer loan payments until the crisis is over.
The government has so far been reluctant to act, but at the same time thin-skinned when criticized. Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai, for example, condemned the announcement by the Nepalese hotel association HAN to shut the hotels they represent by mid-November and to pay the employees 12.5 percent of their wages as rash: “The government is aware which sectors are suffering due to the crisis and will make efforts to address them.” But this hasn’t yet happened after all.Wenn dir der Artikel gefallen hat, teile ihn
In 1856, the Maharaja Gulab Singh ruled the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, with the blessing of the British. Lieutenant Thomas George Montgomerie, commissioner of the Great British Trigonometric Survey of India, was trying to ascertain the heights of the peaks in northwestern Kashmir, but he couldn’t actually get close to ones he wanted to measure: He was ordered not to cross the Indus River, in order to avoid the rumored “unfriendliness of the Gilgit people”.
Instead, they managed to set stations on a series of peaks, some above 5,000m and not easy climbs. Once, a fierce storm trapped them at altitude for 22 days. When they climbed the sacred summit of Mt. Haramouk (5,142m), which the locals considered the home of the God Shiva, Montgomerie spotted two prominent peaks about 200km to the north, in the so-called Karakorum. He sketched and tagged them K1 and K2.
Masherbrum as seen from Baltoro. Photo by Wikimedia commons
Those were not meant to be their definitive names; the surveyors planned to later assign to them their proper local names. In the case of K1, they soon confirmed that the Balti people knew it as Masherbrum. The more remote K2, however, did not appear to have a name. Surrounded by gigantic glaciers and secondary massifs, it was out of sight of all the villages in the area. The most the researchers could coax from the Balti in Askole was something like “Chhogo ri”, literally “Big Mountain”. It was not clear whether that was its actual name or just description of the peak. The surveyors soon determined that the semi-anonymous mountain was taller than all others in the region.
One of Montgomerie’s team, Henry Godwin-Austen, conducted some remarkable explorations in the Karakorum. He reached the base of Masherbrum and K2 and fixed both their heights and exact locations. What was “temporarily known as K2” was found to be 8,623m — “second only to Mount Everest,” as one official of the time pointed out. That early measurement was uncannily accurate: today, K2’s official height is 8,611m.
Godwin-Austen never saw K2 from this angle, but painted it in crayon and watercolour from a point about 1,000m above Urdukas. Photo: Sergi Mingote
The mountain could easily have been re-labelled after the some prominent member of the Trigonometrical Survey, as Everest had been, but it wasn’t. Godwin-Austen gave his name to the huge glacier at the base of K2, but although his name was also put forth as a candidate for K2 (and still so appears on some maps), he ran afoul of the Geographic Society, which refused to grant him the honor. What his political faux pas? He had had the “very undesirable” idea of falling in love and marrying an Indian woman. This also kept him from advancing further in the civil service of the time.
Years went by, and explorers ventured into the Karakorum until finally they stood face to face with the mighty pyramid. In 1954, nearly a century after Montgomerie and Godwin-Austen’s findings, Italians Lino Lacedelli and Achile Compagnoni stood on the summit for the first time.
And yet, the name K2 remained. Chinese or Urdu names didn’t manage to become popular. Eventually, no other name could fit the peak. Even the Balti people know it as K2, or in Balti pronunciation, Kechu or Ketu. George Bell, a member of Charles Houston’s 1953 American expedition, dubbed it the Savage Mountain because, as he told reporters, “It’s a savage mountain that tries to kill you.” That nickname has stuck.
Map of K2 area, with the peak tagged as Peak Godwin-Austen, AMS 1956
By the way, Mongomerie’s original survey listed three other “K” peaks: K3, K4 and K5. These eventually became Gasherbrum IV (the Shinning Mountain), Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak).
Actually the first summit success on Mount Everest in 2020 was scheduled for this Sunday. Until then, the rope fixing team of the Chinese expedition on the north side of the mountain wanted to have worked their way up to the highest point at 8,850 meters. But due to snowfall, the Tibetan climbers returned to the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,500 meters, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa informs me, adding that the next good weather window is to be used for the summit push.
The head of the Nepalese expedition operator Imagine Nepal has close ties to members of the Chinese team. Already at the beginning of the week the route had been secured up to 8,300 meters, Mingma writes to me. Meanwhile, the clients of the Chinese operator Yarla Shampo Expeditions have descended to the base camp at 5,300 meters to rest there. The Chinese-Tibetan authorities had closed Everest to foreign mountaineers because of the corona pandemic, but allowed a Chinese expedition of 21 members to climb the highest mountain on earth. The Nepalese government did not issue any Everest permits this spring due to the corona crisis.
High-speed Internet even on the summit
5G base station near the Chinese Base Camp
Meanwhile, the only Everest expedition is turning into a big Chinese show act. The Chinese telecommunication companies China Mobile and Huawei made sure that the climbers can easily send live videos in high quality from the summit. Technicians installed base stations for the super-fast 5G standard at the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) at 5,300 meters, the so-called Intermediate Camp at 5,800 meters and at the ABC at 6,500 meters. According to the companies, data can now be downloaded at the CBC at a speed of 1.66 GB per second. This is more than five times faster than the LTE standard commonly used in German cities. The G5 base stations are to be removed after spring.
8848, 8850, 8844 …
Everest North Face
“It comes on the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest from the northern slope and the 45th anniversary of China’s first official accurate measurement of Mount Everest,“ China Mobile’s press release said. The 5G network will also be used to re-measure the mountain. According to the Xinhua state news agency, a 53-member survey team is working to determine the exact height of Mount Everest. In 1975, Chinese experts had confirmed the altitude of 8,848 meters, which is also officially recognized in Nepal. In 2005, Chinese surveyors found out a height of 8,844 meters. In between was a measurement by US scientists, who determined an altitude of 8,850 meters by GPS evaluation in
Gone on this day……The greatest Alpinist of all times – Ueli Steck – Ueli Steck, a Swiss Alpinist was born on 4th October, 1976 in Ventura, Langnau im Emmental, Switzerland. He died on 30th April, 2017 after a fall from North face of Nuptse while preparing himself for Everest-LhotseTraverse. He intended to reach the summit of Everest thru West Ridge and then to Lhotse after spending a night at South Col.
He is best-known and recognized for his speed records he set on the North Face trilogy situated in the Alps. He is also considered as one of the great mountaineers ever to live on this earth. Unfortunately, there is not much information regarding his early life and childhood. However, he developed a keen interest in mountaineering, hiking, and adventurous stuff since his childhood.
In June 2004, he climbed the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau within 25 hours with Stephan Siegrist.
Another success was the so-called “Khumbu-Express Expedition” in 2005, for which the climbing magazine Climb named him one of the three best alpinists in Europe. The project consisted of the first solo-climb of the north wall of Cholatse (6440 m) and the east wall of Taboche (6505 m)
Steck set his first speed record on the North Face of Eiger in 2007, climbing it in 3 hours and 54 minutes, the record was lowered by Steck himself to 2 hours 47 minutes 33 seconds the following year.
In 2007, while climbing up the direct line on the southern flank to the summit of Annapurna in the Himalayas, he was hit by a falling rock which smashed his helmet. He was knocked unconscious, slipped more than 200 feet, but survived with only bruises and a concussion.
In May 2008, again climbing Annapurna, he broke off his ascent due to an avalanche threat, but the next week climbed to assist a Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa de Olza, who had collapsed. Medical help was slow in coming and the Spanish climber died despite Steck’s help.
In 2008, Steck was the first recipient of the Eiger Award for his mountaineering achievements.
In April 2013, Steck and two other mountaineers, Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith, were involved in an altercation with local Sherpas while on the west face of Mount Everest which became an international media hype.
Ueli Steck is a pretty private, mellow guy, and Simone Moro is fiery—what was it like working with them? Both those guys are great, great guys. They could not have been more welcoming and friendly. But for obvious reasons, at first they weren’t totally psyched to make a movie about being attacked by Sherpas and not completing their dream climb.
In 2014 Steck made the first solo ascent of Annapurna, and he won his second Piolet d’Or.
In the late 2015 he set a new record for the North Face of the Eiger, having soloed it in 2 hours 22 minutes and 50 seconds.
On April 27 2016, Steck and his German mountaineering partner, David Göttler, found the bodies of Alex Lowe and David Bridges. In 1999, both Lowe and Bridges were killed in an avalanche while Lowe attempted the first ski descent from Shishapangma.
Eiger north face, where Ueli Steck established his speed records and opened new hard routes 1995 Eiger north face, Heckmair route (1800 m)
1998 Mönch, Haston couloir, solo in 3.5 hours (1000 m)
1999 Eiger northeast face (Lauper route), solo in 5 hours (1800 m) 2000
Eiger north face, Yeti route, second ascent (7c/A0)
Mönch north face, Direttissima, first ascent (1000 m M5/Wi5) 2001 Grandes Jorasses Walker Spur, winter ascent (1200 m)
Pumori west face, first ascent (1400 m M4/80 degree ice) with Ueli Buhler Eiger North Face, first ascent via “The Young Spider” (1800 m M7/WI6; 7a/A2
2002 Mount Dickey, Alaska, east face, first ascent (“Blood from the Stone” route, 1700 m M7 + AI6 5.9/A1
2002/03 Two attempts at Jannu north face (7710 m) Nepal, along with Erhard Loretan
2003 Punta Heron (Patagonia)
Eiger north face, La vida es Silbar redpointed, (900 m 7c
Eiger north face, Paciencia, first ascent (900 m 8a) with Stephan Siegrist
2004 Trilogy Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (north faces) in 25 hours
2005 (Khumbu-Express) First solo ascent of Taboche east face (6515 m) and Cholatse north face (6440 m)
2006 Matterhorn north face, solo ascent
Eiger north face, winter solo ascent of “The Young Spider”
Gasherbrum II East (7772 m) NE face, first Alpine Ascent
2007 Eiger north face, Heckmair route, speed record in 3:54 hours, solo
2008 Eiger north face, Heckmair route, speed record in 2:47:33 hours, solo Grandes Jorasses north face, Colton–McIntyre speed-record route in 2:21 hours, solo
Tengkampoche north face (6500 m, Nepal) with Simon Anthamatten, first ascent in alpine style (no bolts, no fixed ropes, four days for the ascent and descent), winner of the Piolet d’Or. Eiger north face, Paciencia, first free ascent (900 m 8a) with Stephan Siegrist. This route represents the hardest rock climbing route on Eiger north face
2009 Matterhorn north face, Schmid route speed-record in 1:56 hours, solo
Gasherbrum II, solo ascent
Makalu, normal route
2011 Shishapangma south face solo in 10:30 hours.
Cho Oyu, via the northwest face (normal route), 18 days after the Shishapangma solo ascent
2012, Everest, via the South Col – southeast ridge (normal route) without supplemental oxygen
2013, Annapurna, solo ascent via the South Face in 28 hours, winner of the Piolet d’Or.
2015 Eiger north face, Heckmair route, speed record in 2:22:50 hours, solo
2015 (Courtesy – Rock and Ice) Ueli Steck began the 82 Summits project on June 10, alongside German mountaineer Michi Wohlleben. Their goal was to climb all 82 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps in 80 days, using human-power—hiking, biking, paragliding and skiing—to travel between and ascend each summit.
On August 10, Steck bagged his last two peaks, the Les Ecrins, 19 days ahead of schedule. He celebrated with champagne and a trip to Céüse, to, as he puts is, “see if we can hold on to steep Limestone.”
While Steck was not trying for a record, he came one day shy of the the Italians Franco Nicolini and Diego Giovannini’s 2008 linkup of all 82 summits in 60 days. They too employed only human-power, hiking, skiing and biking up and between peaks.
2016, Ueli Steck, Mathieu Maynadier and Jérôme Para climbed North Couloir Direct VI Al6+ M8 800 m on Les Drus.