Namaste Family & Friends:
Big news yesterday. Russell Brice, of Himalayan Experience, decided to cancel his Everest expedition. I understand he based his decision on the dangerous condition of the mountain, particularly the Khumbu Icefall and the Lhotse Face and above. His Sherpa team made an emotional plea for this action based on their experience in moving through the Icefall and up the Lhotse Face. One of my own team members reported experiencing a hail of rocks coming down on him as he moved up the Lhotse Face a few days ago.
Mr. Brice leads a very large expedition on the mountain and his leadership and experience in Everest expeditions, both North and South, is well known. His departure is a blow to the line fixing (currently fixed to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face) as he has a large team of experienced Sherpas who will now be moving down.
However, the other teams on the mountain are strong and well equipped to pick up the slack. As far as I know, no other team is moving down and they plan to continue line fixing on the mountain. Everyone is hoping for more snowfall so conditions on the mountain are safer. Additional snow will hold the rocks in place and allow the lines to be fixed to the summit.
At the very least, all of these developments spell some significant delay in fixing the lines to the summit. My best guess is that the lines will be fixed to the summit around May 18-20.
Here’s my dilemma. My goal is a double summit from both the South and North sides of the mountain. Failing that, I would prefer to summit from the North side in Tibet since I have already summitted from the South side in Nepal. In order to accomplish a double, I would need to summit on the South side by May 15-18. This does not now seem possible. If I stay here and wait for better conditions, I would likely find myself summitting for a second time on the South side and missing the opportunity to summit on the North side.
For these reasons, I have decided to flip my expedition to the North side. I will depart Base Camp on May 7 and move down to the village of Lobuche. On May 8, I will take a helicopter to Lukla and from Lukla I will fly to Kathmandu. I will stay in Kathmandu until May 12. On May 12, I will be transported by land rover across the border into Tibet. I will stay in the village of Nyalam on May 12 and drive to Chinese Base Camp on May 13. I plan to rest in Chinese Base Camp on May 13-14, trek to Intermediate Base Camp on May 15 and then trek to Advance Base Camp on May 16 where I will join the North side team. If I am fortunate enough to summit early on the North side, I will consider a return to the South side for a South side summit.
Unfortunately, my dear friend Allan will not be able to join me on the North side expedition because of a serious medical condition on the part of a family member. I will dearly miss Allan as well as my other dear friend and climbing partner, Bud Allan. Bud is currently resting in Pheriche (missing all of the drama at Base Camp). He will probably return to Base Camp tomorrow and resume his South side climb.
Allan has been very busy shooting film and taking photographs at Base Camp. I believe his documentary will offer a perspective on Everest never seen before in filmmaking.
I am feeling really good. I am especially excited about my move to the North side of the mountain, although I wish Allan was coming with me.
My apologies for the length of this report. I wanted to give you a full accounting of my thinking and strategy in making this change of plans.
My next report will be from Kathmandu. Incidentally, the stay in Kathmandu will be excellent for my acclimatization.
ps: I will turn on my Spot tracking device so you can track my progress to Chinese Base Camp on the North