We hear evolving news in Everest Base Camp that the south side route to the summit (i.e. the fixing of the ropes we all need to climb safely) was finally done today by a team of Guhrka, the elite Nepalese / British military unit. I am very hopeful, both that the news is correct, but more importantly they made it back down safely, in what were expected to be difficult conditions. All fingers and toes crossed (and warmed)!
Why is the fixed line date important? Anchoring it to the mountain is a difficult task which requires a window of good weather – usually 2 days or so – to make it the last bit to the summit. Most of the time the weather forecast is only long enough to show one window, so that first one must be used for the fixed rope team. Now that is (expectedly) done, WE as climbers can use the next forecasted window as a potential summit day. It is HUGE green light!! The countdown to summit day for all of us has begun (we hope!).
The big bosses of the expedition will now start figuring out when we can start moving up the mountain in preparation for any new weather windows we should get. As for me, I’m keen both to spend a little extra time up there to get both physically and mentally reacquainted with those high altitudes, and to wait a few extra days to hopefully let the masses attempt before me. Standing in line at 28,600ft / 8,700m as some people ahead stop and discuss their Kathmandu weekend plans, as happened to one of our guides last year, is not my vision for the big day!
So all to play for now, looks like things are slowly grinding forward. Fingers crossed!