Flipping to the North

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


24 thoughts on “Flipping to the North

  1. Hi, Bill. I totally agree. It will happen. All the best. Ed PS: Still wish I could be there with you.

  2. Your good decision making abilities have always been as important to your success as your amazing fitness and stamina. Good fortune and God bless.

  3. Bill, thank you so much for sharing both the events and your analysis with us in such good detail — I agree that your decision making abilities are some of your best strengths! That said, we will be praying for safety for all teams (South and North), and specifically for success for yours. Am so sorry about Andy’s family member, and that a good duo is parting. Can’t wait to follow your Spot, and to hear how it looks from the North!

  4. Glad to hear of your decision after reading other reports from the mountain! I’m so confused by all of the “Allans.” I mistakenly signed up for Alan Arnette’s blog, thinking I was signing up for Bud Allan’s blog, but Arnette sends good information so I’m glad I did. I’m not sure who the other Allan is, but sorry to hear he had to leave. Really glad to hear you are going to the North side! Stay safe!

  5. Bill:

    Common-sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom, and I totally agree with the wisdom of the decision that you made. Good luck on the north side.



  6. I am certain that God has blessed you with wisdom in this. I pray for a safe journey and that your summit(s) will be memorable. Speaking of memories, while you are on the mountain, please keep a dear friend in mind. Her name is Lee… she has two young daughters. Her husband, Mark (a Manhattan Beach police officer) died last year (May 15 to be exact). His birthday would have been May 22. Both of his daughters celebrate their birthdays in May as well. I know that you take inspiration from many places …. including those that are dear to the hearts of those you care about. As Lee passes the milestone of the first year of not having her amazing husband by her side, please keep their family in prayer. Wonderful things will come from these three girls, of this I am certain. Blessings to you Mr. Burke!
    Debra 🙂

  7. BILL: A very sound decision understanding the condition that exist. The best luck to all remaining members of your team and also to you. We pray to allow you to make it all three steps and summit! Emmett

  8. Namaste, Bill. Wisdom is knowing what to do; Virtue is doing it. There is a landslide of reaction favoring your decision to move north to Tibet. I’m sorry that Bud Allan and Allan Smith will not be accompanying you–they bring such positive energy. You have what Alexander Solzhenitsyn refers to as “a light within…and there will never be any darkness.” May that “light’ guide you to the North summit. Blessings,


  9. Good luck, Bill!

    Seems like a tough season with some hard decisions.

    Look forward to your reports from the North Side!


  10. I believe that God is with you in your decision making process so I trust that it is the best for you. Take good, loving care of yourself as you foster that awesome positive attitude. May God’s loving blessings go with you wherever you go. Love & Hugs, Betty

  11. I know you are making the best decision, Bill. I hope you are able to at least summit, if not make the double. I know you can do both, so good luck and Godspeed!

  12. Hi Bill,
    I’m sure you have your own sources. For all it’s worth, and for the info of all readers, here is an update of a Russian expedition on the North Side ([email protected] ):
    Acclimatization of our expedition is over. All members and guides, except two sick, overnight on the North Col twice. And now we booked a bus and go down to a height of 4200 meters, to the villageof Tashidzong. We will rest there for three days. Our goal – to restore our lost power. The mood is good. Below we will eat sheep, just relax. Weather Forecast: Snow will continue till the 9th of May, then begin the wind. Normal condition will be only after May 19th. For this time we plan our ascent of Mount Everest.
    07.05.2012 – 17:04
    It would seem then, that you did not lose any time from switching sides.
    Good luck.

  13. Stay safe, Bill. This is a very exciting adventure that you are allowing us to follow. thanks you so much for that. god Bless! Marian

  14. Smart decision, Bill . Our knowledge of mountain climbing would fit in a thimble; what we do know is that the endeavor requires nerves of steel , good preparation ,sound decision-making, and lots of faith. You have it all!
    We’ll keep you in our thoughts as your adventure continues. Judy and Jeff

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