Everest: The Story So Far
The traditional late-May peak for summit bids is only now upon us, and 29,029-foot Mt. Everest has already seen a full season’s worth of highjinks. During a week and half of generally good weather, more than 200 climbers have summited the world’s highest peak. Meanwhile, half a dozen mountaineers have died on the mountain’s slopes this spring. A few notable moments:
• An attempt to ski Everest’s north side ended in tragedy. Scandinavian skiers Tormod Granheim and Tomas Olsson, who skied Cho Oyu in 2004, summited Everest on May 16 and started skiing down the north face via the Norton Couloir (Great Couloir). Lack of snow forced them to rappel over a rock band, and Olsson, rapping first with his skis still on, fell and disappeared. His partner downclimbed after him, but Olsson has not been found.
• A British Army team is sieging the rarely climbed West Ridge in traditional heavy style and has reached Camp 5 at around 26,250 feet; the team hopes to summit on Saturday or Sunday.
• Another British expedition concluded the “longest climb in the world,” summiting from the north side after cycling about 5,000 miles to base camp from the Dead Sea (1,373 feet below sea level), starting in December.
• Martyna Wojciechowska of Poland is likely the first Playboy cover model to reach the summit.
• Double amputee Mark Inglis of New Zealand reached the top, claiming that while the effort was perhaps 20 percent harder than climbing as a fully able-bodied person, he had the advantage of greater blood circulation because of no need to pump blood into his lower legs.
• Takao Arayama of Japan, age 70, set a new age record for summiting Everest—he was three days older than the previous record holder, also from Japan.
• A dog named Shipton made it to Camp 2 on the south side before being carried down the mountain because he was raiding supplies.
Most of the other Nepalese 8,000-meter peaks also have seen successful climbs this spring, with ascents of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Manaslu (including a new route by Kazakhs Serguey Samoilov and Denis Urubko), as well as Cho-Oyu and Shishapangma in Tibet.