The 2013 spring climbing season on Mt. Everest is now officially underway and the first teams are arriving in Base Camp to begin their acclimatization. The vast majority of those climbers will stick to the traditional routes along the North and South Col, straying very little from the path that has been used for the past 60 years. But a few teams are traveling to the Himalaya this spring to attempt bold new routes that haven’t been taken before. Those teams will avoid the large crowds that have become common on Everest as they strive to show the mountaineering community that challenges still remain on the world’s tallest mountain. Opening a new route on Everest requires mountaineers to be dedicated, experienced and incredibly fit. Those are qualities that Wenger Ambassador Ueli Steck and his partner Simone Moro certainly possess. The two men are amongst the best high altitude climbers in the world and they’re joining forces on Everest for the first time this spring. Ueli and Simone haven’t revealed exactly which route they plan to take to the summit, saying only that they intend to do something “different.” The plan is to wait until they are on the mountain, at which point they’ll survey the conditions there, and test their own health and fitness levels, before deciding on a line to the top. They have indicated that no matter which route they choose however, they will be climbing without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support as they look to climb in as pure a fashion as possible.
Russian climbers Alexey Bolotov and Denis Urubko are also preparing to open a new route on Everest this spring. Like Ueli and Simone, they intend to climb without oxygen and in alpine style without the assistance of Sherpas. But Alexey and Denis have already announced their intended route, saying that they plan to take on the mountain’s very steep and difficult Southwest Face. In fact, the two men are already on the mountain and have begun scouting their intended path to the summit. They are sharing their updates and dispatches at RussianClimb.com.
We’ve all seen images from Everest that show just how crowded the mountain has become over the past few years. Long lines of climbers waiting to go up the mountain have become common place, drawing criticism from many who fear Everest is a disaster waiting to happen. Opening new routes isn’t likely to change that but it will show climbers that there are alternatives to the traditional routes and may inspire other mountaineers to shift away from the well-trodden paths to the summit and try something different. These expeditions are returning the spirit of exploration to Everest, something that has been lacking there for some time.