It has been a long and tumultuous spring climbing season on the world’s tallest mountain but for the climbers who have been on Everest since the beginning of April, the end is nearly in sight. Earlier today the Sherpas charged with installing the ropes on the mountain completed their work, reaching the summit at last. That clears the way for the commercial climbers to follow, but first they’ll have to wait for the perfect weather window before they can begin their summit bids.Over the past five weeks, the climbers have spent most of their time slowly acclimatizing to the thin air by alternating between Base Camp and a series of high camps located at various points on the mountain. That process has allowed their bodies to gradually become accustomed to the altitude, making it possible for them to now safely proceed further up the mountain. All of their hard work is just about over to payoff, as most of the teams have now completed their final rotations up the mountain and are now waiting for the go head to attempt to reach the summit.
While the climbers were focused on adapting to the thin air, a group of veteran Sherpas took on the task of fixing the ropes up the mountain. If it weren’t for this dedicated team accepting this responsibility each season very few western mountaineers would ever reach the top of Everest at all. The Sherpas wrapped up their work this morning and have in a sense now built the road that everyone else will use on their way to the summit. With the ropes now in place, the stage is set for the commercial teams to follow.
Unfortunately a system of bad weather has now moved into the Himalaya and high winds have closed off the summit. The forecast indicates that hurricane force winds will blast the upper slopes of Everest until May 15 or 16, making it impossible for anyone to go to the top. But after that, the winds are expected to dissipate and a weather window will open that will give the climbers several days of good weather. Since a summit push generally takes three to four days to complete, that means that the first commercial teams should top out starting next weekend.
Patience, hard work and determination are what has gotten the climbers to this point. Now, their goal is closer than it has ever been. Once the weather finally decides to cooperate, they’ll get the chance to stand on top of the world at last.
[Photo Credit: International Mountain Guides]